Jane Ivinson—Laramie property owner in her own right

Albany County historical records are loaded with men who are known for their property acquisitions. Ora Haley, Edward Ivinson, Robert Homer, the King brothers are among them. But there were also women who owned significant parcels of land in early Laramie. Jane Ivinson was one of those women.

After the Civil War, 29 of 36 states existing then, plus Wyoming Territory, allowed some form of property ownership to married women.

Jane Ivinson came to America in 1853 and at the very young age of 13 entered into a 61-year marriage to Edward Ivinson. The Ivinsons, Edward, Jane and daughter Maggie, arrived in Laramie, Wyoming Territory, in 1868. Jane was a key to the earliest public education in Laramie and to bringing church services to the Gem City.

But she was not only about social services; she was also a businesswoman, taking advantage of the newfound right to own property. She began to buy and sell property within a couple of years her arrival—to what she termed an “expanse of rolling plains hemmed in by the mountains to the west and the east.”

Property records in the Albany County Clerk’s office show that as early as 1870 Jane purchased two lots on what is now the Episcopal Cathedral block. It is likely that Jane acquired the property with a mind for future support of the Episcopal Church as no buildings were erected on those lots for over 50 years.

In 1875 she purchased almost half of the block bounded by 2nd, 3rd, Ivinson and Grand from dry goods store owner Walter Clark. This was the heart of the Laramie business district. Lot 20 in that block is most likely where the Ivinsons had their dry goods store from 1868-1871 (where Cartouche Day Spa is today but in a different building).

In 1891 she bought most of the block on what we now call the West Side that is bounded by Cedar, Spruce, Kearney and Sheridan Streets. C. H. Clark, foreman of the Union Pacific Railroad shops, previously owned it. There were three other families living there, the Larsens, the Carrolls and the Wolbrils. The vacant lots, as with the ones downtown, were sold to various individuals over the next 20 years.

Most interesting, however, is that in the summer of 1893 Jane came to own the entire block where the brand new Ivinson mansion was located. In a period of about two weeks the property was transferred from Jane and Edward to Edward’s sister and brother-in-law and then back solely to Jane. A possible reason for these transfers was a lawsuit against Edward that may have endangered the property if it were in his name (the lawsuit did not materialize).

Finally, in 1905 she bought about 40 acres of land where War Memorial Stadium and the Ivinson Home for Ladies now sit. The land had been a ranch that was foreclosed on by the First National Bank and then sold to Jane (Edward was the president of the bank at the time).

At the time of her death in 1915, her husband inherited all of her remaining property. Over the course of the next six years, he gave all of it away.  The two blocks next to the Episcopal Cathedral was given to the church in 1919 as were the 40 acres. The latter gift was used to support the Cathedral Home for Children. The mansion was donated to the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming in 1921 and used as a boarding school for girls.

While Jane Ivinson is mostly known in Laramie history as the wife of Edward Ivinson, she was almost as actively invested in the community as was her husband.

By Kim Viner

Caption:  Jane Ivinson, c. 1870, one of a number of women who were significant property owners of Laramie in the early days.  Photo courtesy of the Laramie Plains Museum, from the collection of the Ivinson’s great-granddaughter, Billie Daly MacNeel