F. E. Moval Grant Statue Picture in Natrona County Library, Casper, Wyoming
So, passing through Casper, Wyoming, doing my usual library visit to get some work done, and what do I spy hanging on one of the walls? None other than this picture of a statue, and the statue being of F.E. Moval Grant!
Grant being the last person to have last seen The Hermit, alive, in the Autumn of 1907. And I couldn’t flippin’ believe it, not only do I see this photo of a statue that is this very same man! But, the statue in the photograph, is actually depicting that trip that Grant was on, the snowstorm he got caught in, where he got thrown from his horse, and The Hermit thankfully being not too far away to have come to his aid and saved him.
The little label placard at the bottom of the picture, just read that it was a statue of Grant depicting his trip, that the injury to his head occurred, and led to his death in 1909… o-kay. Kind of an odd thing to commission a statue to be made of, and to have actually been publicly displayed. Obviously, what little I knew of Grant, was just that – very little… must have been more.
So, couldn’t have been in a better place – the library, to find out what I could about him… hey – when in Casper!
The little that I did know of Grant, from The Hermit research, was just that he was the Editor of a newspaper he founded called the Caspar Citizen News (the Caspar spelling not being a mistype, as that was how the spelling of nearby Fort Caspar was, that the name of the town was derived from), that ran from 1906, until early 1908… In said paper, Grant wrote a story, in four weekly installments, telling of his trip in which he ended up meeting The Hermit… each short piece appearing in his paper over four weeks in October of 1907.
And since in my research, all I cared about was The Hermit, I just got the pertinent info that I found where The Hermit was involved, and that’s it… which with Grant and his newspaper, ended in early 1908 with the all too brief mention of The Hermit’s death… my thinking that because of Grant’s newspaper folding and going out of business a couple months later, being why perhaps The Hermit didn’t get more of a write-up of his death… Which also, again made me wonder why in the heck a statue, a freakin’ statue! somehow got made that shows of his trip that Autumn, where he ended up meeting The Hermit… from what quick follow-up I did on it back then, I remember having found something that mentioned that particular trip came to be of embarrassment to Grant, because of his having been thrown from his horse, and stuff… I can’t remember where it was I had read that, but did somewhere.
There in the library, went to the local history and archives section of Wyoming, Casper, and the area, and just looked for anything on Grant. He must have been someone of significance, other than someone who founded and ran a newspaper that only lasted for a year and a half in town… as to have a bloody photo of a statue of him, hanging to this day in the local library.
Turns out, that the statue was commissioned not too long after his death in 1909, by family, close friends, and donors, and that the statue was only ever located on his own property and ranch… don’t know if any of that is true to this day.
Learned though a little bit more history of Grant… he was born and raised in Casper, the middle of three kids, his father and mother came here with the railroad, which is humorously (well, to me at least) what his name is – the F. E. Moval stands for the Fremont Elkhorn and Missouri Valley Railroad… which, small world, ran from Omaha, to Chadron Nebraska, then had a northern route up through the Black Hills of South Dakota to Rapid City and Belle Fourche… and the western leg that went to Casper, which his father was involved with.
Grant, dying in 1909, at the age of 28, though young, far outlived his two siblings, his older brother died “of the fever” when Grant was still an infant, and his younger sister died when she was only six… she had been kicked by the family mule when she was four, and was “never right after that”… age six she went missing, and her bloated body was sadly found floating in the North Platte river, a couple weeks later. His father died while he was in college at the University of Wyoming.
Grant, was outlived by his mother, who was the one who wanted the statue done of her son, who from what I read, doted on her son, ever since the death of her other two children, had showered all that love and affection then onto him. She was fiercely proud and supportive of her son in all that he did. It turns out that she was the one to encourage him to go on that trip, as she felt he was working too hard, and worried of his health and well being, stress… from knowing that was what eventually led to taking her husband, who was only in his mid-fifties when he had passed… though, think that was a ripe ol’ age for back then.
After a year of working everyday for his paper, getting it up, and running it, that for it’s first anniversary, his mother encouraged him to treat himself and do something that would just be enjoying and relaxing for him, something he’s always wanted to do as a present for himself, after successfully forming the paper. The trip was that reward.
As I did write in The Hermit, Grant had been wanting to actually go to the Hole-In-The-Wall area, southwest from Kaycee, as he had always been a fan of cowboy outlaw lore and legend, and closely followed the reports of the Hole-In-The-Wall Gang of desperadoes who would seek refuge from the law at the location.
As I also wrote, he missed his target by going much further north, instead ending up in the southern edge of the Big Horn Mountains. Though, from his four piece story, I would have thought that the more severe of the injuries that he did sustain, would have been his broken arm, from the fall that he took… But, it was the blow to his head that he received, that led to his death. Apparently, it had caused some internal hemorrhaging in his brain, that initially went undetected, until it caused severe swelling, then a stroke, and loss of function, which led to Grant living in special care for the remaining months of his life.
So, guess that explains what led to his newspaper folding a half year after the accident, and other curiosities I had from surrounding that all. That’s too bad… I feel sad for him.
As to why the photo though was in the library, I found no info on, or reason in my reading… so, just went and actually asked one of the librarians. She didn’t know, and the person with her, didn’t either… and I actually started to feel embarrassed, as she then went to the trouble to go upstairs to get someone who might know, as he had been here for thirty-some odd years at the library… sorry, sorry… didn’t mean to make you go through such a hassle over it all…
Funny though, the gentleman just ended up telling me that the photo was probably just up there, as it was a historical photo with local ties to it, as he pointed out to me a painting, across the way, that was of an oil man from the mid-twentieth century, obscure to anyone except probably local historians or scholars… the librarian personally didn’t even know who Grant was…
So, well, okay… guess that solves that then.
Interesting though, while just happening to be here in this bloody town, I just happen to get bored one day in the library, to just happen upon a photo of a statue (that is mostly just up on the wall for only decorative reasons), and that the fellow depicted in the statue that the photo is of, was none other than F. E. Moval Grant! The last man to have seen, ol’ previous me, The Hermit, alive! And who most likely was the one who planted the love of photography in me, via The Hermit, by providing The Hermit with that old newspaper camera of his, sixty years prior to my inception!
Well, thank you, Mr. Grant. If no one else really seems to know, I know who you are, and were, Mr. Grant… and it was my, and I am sure, The Hermit’s, pleasure to have known you, and know of you.
Life is funny, how and where it leads you sometimes.
August 31st, 2016