TETON COUNTY, Wyo. —When Wyoming Governor Robert Carey signed the Teton County Validation Act dated Feb. 18, 1921, he gifted the pen he used to sign the bill to Representative W.C. Deloney from Jackson who had submitted the bill to propose the new county. Little did Carey or Deloney know that about 18 months of legal battles over the validity of the newly named Teton County would soon follow.
A few months later in April 1921, Carey appointed three preliminary Teton County Commissioners – T.R. Wilson from Alta; W.P. Redmond from Kelly; and P.C. Hansen from Jackson. Carey charged the three men with setting up the new county by holding a local election to approve the county’s creation and select a county seat. By June 1921, it became apparent both Jackson and Kelly were competing to be named the county seat.
Support for the new Teton County was easily confirmed in a June 30, 2021 election with 700 of 937 voters in favor of the new county. However, Jackon only narrowly won the county seat with 424 votes and 402 votes for Kelly. With the majority of the valley in favor of the new county, the county seat issue would turn out to be contentious enough to spark a lawsuit.
On Aug. 11, 1921, eight plaintiffs filed a suit against the formation of Teton County. The lawsuit halted county organization, including the primary and general election of County Commissioners, and it went to District Court in Lincoln County in June 1922.
Finally, Judge Tidball in Kemmerer declared the new County of Teton legal on Jan. 9, 1923, and W.C. Delonely quickly introduced a Teton County Enabling act on January 20. After passing with a near-unanimous vote in the state legislature (only one voter dissented), Governor Carey once again signed the Teton County Validation Act for a second time on Feb. 15, 1923.
Join Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum (JHHSM) for an online Beers and Banter on Thursday, Dec. 2 from 7 – 8 p.m. with former Teton County Elected Officials Sherry Daigle, Larry Jorgenson, Andy Schwartz, and Melissa Turley. Our guest speakers will talk about their experiences serving as Teton County elected officials during different time periods. To attend for free, register here.
Beers and Banter will be moderated by JHHSM Executive Director Morgan Jaouen, following an informal, conversational format. An online audience Q&A will complete the evening.
The program is part of JHHSM’s participation in the county-wide centennial celebration including the exhibit “100 Years Ago in Teton County” on view for free at the Teton County Administration Building and Home Ranch Welcome Center. For more centennial events visit tetoncounty100.com. For upcoming JHHSM events click here.
Written by Samantha Ford with JHHSM staff.