Albany County, Wyoming

Historical/geographic note of the day: There are two counties named "Albany" in the United States -- in New York, of course, and also in Wyoming.

As it happens, that county in Wyoming is named after Albany, New York.

How'd that happen? Well, there was this guy...

His name was Charles D. Bradley, whose career included serving as a federal judge and was instrumental in helping Colorado become a state.

Bradley was born in 1839 to a farming family in Berne, New York, the youngest of 12 children. From History of Colorado:

The youthful days of the future jurist were spent upon a farm, where he became familiar with all kinds of labor incident to the development and cultivation of the fields. One of the features of his boyhood's home was an excellent library and liberal education advantages had been given to his elder brothers an sisters. The same opportunities were extended him and, like the others of the household, he was also greatly indebted to the aid and influence of his mother, a woman of rare intellectual and moral qualities, whose training did much to shape the character of her sons and daughters. Judge Bradley was a youth of fifteen when he successfully passed an examination and was licensed to teach in the public schools and would have then become a school teacher had not his age prohibited.

So he was apparently pretty bright and had an awesome mom. Bradley spent some time in Illinois, living with a sister there, but family duties drew him back to the Albany area to help out with the family's farm.

After his parents' death he took up with an Albany law firm and passed the bar in 1867. He then faced a choice: become a partner in a brother's law firm in Newark, New Jersey or chart his own course. That brother -- Joseph P. Bradley, the oldest in the family -- apparently had a pretty good thing going because he'd be named to the Supreme Court of the United States just two years later. But Charles decided to find his own way and headed west.

windmill at Laramie WY 1876
"Windmill at Laramie," from The Pacific Tourist (1876). / via Flickr Commons

Bradley found his way to Denver, where he worked as an attorney for a mining company. The following year he opened a law practice in Cheyenne, Wyoming, which was then part of the Dakota territory and then onto Laramie, Wyoming. He was quickly chosen for the territorial legislature. From Proceedings - Wyoming State Bar Association:

I have heard of late inquiries of how Albany County got its name. Bradley was a graduate of Albany Law School of Albany, New York, and that city was much endeared to him and he desired to perpetuate the name in the great West. The county was organized during Mr. Bradley's term in the Dakota Legislature and he named the county Albany.

And get this: After getting the county named for home county, Bradley didn't return to Wyoming after the legislature's session ended. It was a drive-by (on a wagon, presumably) county naming.

That bar association account notes that Bradley "possessed in large degree those elements of character that make men popular." And those elements apparently served him well over the next few years Bradley would bounce around from place to place and opportunity to opportunity. He went to Iowa for a land and cattle speculation (that ended up losing). After that he set up a practice in St. Louis and then was named a US attorney for the Colorado territory. He became friends with the governor of the territory and ended up being active in Colorado's effort to become a state. He was later appointed to a district judgeship for a term, served in the state legislature, and worked in private practice before retiring in 1900.

Again from History of Colorado: "Public opinion rates [Bradley] as a man among men in Colorado, inscribes his name high on the list of its ablest jurists and lawyers, and names him as one of the founders and builders of the great commonwealth."

Albany County, Wyoming is located just west of Cheyenne on Wyoming's southern edge with Colorado. Its population was an estimated 37,422 in 2013, according to the Census Bureau -- almost all of those people in the city of Laramie, the county seat.

Comments

Enjoyable Capital Region oriented footnote in history. Ever hear the one about a small town near Napa, California named Calistoga (apologies for improper citation aka Google it)? "Fascinated by Calistoga’s natural hot springs, [Samuel] Brannan purchased more than 2,000 acres with the intent to develop a spa reminiscent of Saratoga Springs in New York. He is said to have intended to state "I'll make this place the Saratoga of California," but to have in fact uttered "the Calistoga of Sarifornia."

Albany, California is named after Albany, NY. It was called Ocean View but was later changed to Albany in honor of the city's first mayor, Frank Roberts, who was from Albany.

The City of Albany (California) has this page on their site: http://www.albanyca.org/index.aspx?page=63

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