Richard Leigh papers, 1875-1937 (bulk 1875-1899)

Overview of the Collection

Leigh, Richard, d. 1899
Richard Leigh papers
1875-1937 (bulk 1875-1899) (inclusive)
.10 cubic ft. (1 folder)
Collection Number
Diaries and correspondence of a fur trapper in Wyoming's Jackson Hole in the last quarter of the 19th century.
American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming
American Heritage Center
University of Wyoming
1000 E. University Ave.
Dept. 3924
Laramie, WY
Telephone: 3077663756
Access Restrictions
Access Restrictions

Originals may be accessed with permission of the archivist.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Richard ("Beaver Dick") Leigh was a trapper and scout in the Jackson Hole area of Wyoming from the 1850s to the 1890s. Born in Manchester, England, in 1831, Leigh was the son of a British Navy officer. Leigh came to the United States while he was in his teens. He participated briefly in the Mexican war of 1848 and then went to the Teton Basin where he stayed for the rest of his life. Richard Leigh guided several expeditions of territorial survey parties in the 1870s. He was twice married to Indian women: his first wife, Jenny, was Eastern Shoshone, his second wife, Susan Tadpole, was Bannock. In 1876 Leigh survived the loss of his entire first family due to smallpox. Richard Leigh died in 1899 in Wilford, Idaho.

Jenny and Leigh Lakes in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, were named after Richard Leigh and his first wife. In addition, Beaver Dick State Park near Rexburg, Idaho, was dedicated in 1963.

The story of Richard Leigh's life was described in a book by his granddaughter-in-law, Edith M. Schultz Thompson, written in collaboration with his great-grandson, William Leigh Thompson. The book was published as Beaver Dick: The Honor and the Heartbreak (1981).

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Collection contains diaries for 1875, 1876 and 1878 noting everyday life, seasonal and family activities, the settling of the Jackson Hole, Wyoming area, mining, and Indian activities in the area. The collection also contains Leigh’s correspondence, especially with his friend Charles B. Penrose on hunting in the Jackson Hole area and surveys of Yellowstone National Park; and correspondence between Penrose’s son Boies and Leigh’s granddaughter-in-law Edith M. Schultz Thompson, regarding Boies’ possession of Leigh’s diaries.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Copyright Information

The researcher assumes full responsibility for observing all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Preferred Citation

Preferred Citation

Item Description, Box Number, Folder Number, Collection Name, Collection Number, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Alternative Forms Available

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital reproductions of Leigh's diaries are available online at:

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


The collection is arranged in two series.

Related Materials

Related Materials

There are no known other archival collections created by Richard Leigh at the date of processing.

Acquisition Information

Acquisition Information

After his death in 1899, Richard Leigh's papers came into the possession of his good friend, Charles Penrose. In the early 1950s the papers were donated to the Library of the University of Wyoming by his son, Boies Penrose.

Processing Note

Processing Information

The collection was processed by D. Claudia Thompson in December 2009.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Series I. Diaries, 1875-1878Return to Top

Contains accounts of day-to-day life and activities.

Container(s) Description Dates
Safe 1875
Diary (photocopy)
2 1875
Safe 1876
Diary (photocopy)
4 1876
Safe 1878
Diary (photocopy)
6 1878

Series II. Correspondence Files, 1891-1937Return to Top

Contains letters to and from Richard Leigh, Charles B. Penrose, Boies Penrose, and Edith M. Thompson concerning hunting options in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and the Richard Leigh papers.

Container(s) Description Dates
Richard Leigh
Richard Leigh (photocopies)
Richard Leigh
1899, undated
Richard Leigh (photocopies)
1899, undated
Charles B. Penrose
Charles B. Penrose (photocopies)
Boies Penrose and Edith M. Thompson

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Bannock Indians
  • Frontier and pioneer life -- Idaho -- Teton River Valley
  • Frontier and pioneer life -- Wyoming -- Teton County
  • Indians of North America -- Idaho
  • Indians of North America -- Wyoming
  • Trappers -- Wyoming

Geographical Names

  • Jackson Hole (Wyo.)
  • Teton County (Wyo.)
  • Teton River Valley (Idaho)
  • Wyoming -- History -- 1890-1918
  • Wyoming -- History -- 1919-1945
  • Wyoming -- History -- To 1889
  • Yellowstone National Park

Form or Genre Terms

  • Diaries

Other Creators

  • Personal Names
    • Penrose, Boies, 1902-1976
    • Penrose, Charles B. (Charles Bingham), 1862-1925
    • Thompson, Edith M. Schultz, 1907-