J.M. Carey's Law Books


Early laws of Wyoming, as part of the Dakota Territory

Personal copies of senator & governor J.M. Carey

Justice, lifestyle & land on the plains in the 1860s


As Territorial Delegate for Wyoming, J.M. Carey introduced the statehood bill to congress - before which these leather volumes formed the law of the land, as much of modern day Wyoming transferred from the young Dakota Territory to the Wyoming Territory.  Carey would go on to be senator, governor, and mayor of the capital.  The laws in these volumes were continued in the newly formed Wyoming Territory, until the legislature amended or repealed them.    

This set includes the first legislative session of 1862 (the year the Dakota Territory was formed) and includes 1864-5 (4th session) and 1867-1868 (7th, final session to include Wyoming before it became a separate Territory in 1868).   Laws and resolutions in the three volumes include a variety of pioneer-era topics, from criminal procedure to deeds & mortgages, religion, revenue, roads, Indian Treaties, mail routes, cavalry, “bastards,” and even a section on swine run rampant.

Joseph M. Carey was the first United States Attorney to the region that had just become Wyoming Territory, the first United Stats Senator from the new State between 1890 and 1895, as well as a onetime Mayor of Cheyenne and the 6th Governor of the state. Carey ran at different times as a Republican, a Democrat, and an Independent, and was also a rancher, a lawyer, a judge, and a businessman.  While it is challenging to choose between his diverse legacies, perhaps most notably: as Territorial Delegate to the United States Congress, Carey was responsible for introducing the Wyoming statehood bill and guiding its eventual passage.


Between 1864 and 1868, Wyoming was a part of Dakota Territory, which also included pieces of modern day South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, and Montana. A bill for the Territory of Wyoming was introduced and passed in Congress in 1868, separating the land out from the Dakota Territory.  Cheyenne had early on requested severance from Dakota after being added in 1864, primarily on the grounds of distance and communication: the two territories were remote, with Indian lands between them and no direct lines of communication. With the arrival of the railroads, the population of the western side of the territory (modern Wyoming) was growing (and with the population, the need for governance and laws). In the Encyclopedia of Wyoming, Nancy Capace writes, "After completion of the railway, the people living between Cheyenne and Green River had more convenient access to the capitals of Nebraska and Utah, and even of Nevada, than to Yankton in Dakota Territory." The Dakota Legislature agreed that if their distant efforts did not satisfy the needs of those westerners, they ought to organize separately. Congress agreed, with an act that declared the Dakota laws should continue in force until repealed by the Wyoming Legislature.

Condition:  Soft tan leather with gilt-on-red spine, with the exception of 1864-5, which was covered in blue paper on board, now missing or wrinkled in patches. Binding is sound on 1862 and 1864-5 volumes, front cover nearly detached at hinge on 1867-8 volume. Worn at edges and spine, board is worn through on one outer corner, 1862. Sticker on spines denoting previous Law Firm ownership of Rooney & Horiskey.  Joseph M. Carey has written his name, now somewhat faded, on the leather on the front cover and on the first endpages and, on 1864-5, on the spine. One of the names appears to be a stamp or inscribed with a tool other than a pen, but the inked signature inside matches the others. Pages in fine condition, type clean and crisp.

A worn but uncommon set of these 3 rare volumes,

a picture of changing law and politics in early Wyoming and Dakota Territory.



General Laws, and Memorials and Resolutions of the Territory of Dakota, Passed at the First Session of the Legislative Assembly, Commenced at the Town of Yankton, March 17, and Concluded May 15, 1862. Yankton, Dakota Territory: Josiah C. Trask, Public Printer, “Dakotaian” Office, 1862.

General and Private Laws, and Memorials and Resolutions of the Territory of Dakota, of the Fourth Session of the Legislative Assembly, Commenced at Yankton, December 5, 1864, and Concluded January 13, 1865. Yankton: G.W. Kingsbury, Printer, Union & Dakotaian Office, 1864-5.

Public and Private Laws, Memorials and Resolutions of the Territory of Dakota. Passed by the Legislative Assembly at the Seventh Session Thereof, Begun and Held atYankton, the Capital of Said Territory, on Monday, December 2nd., A.D. 1867, and Concluded January 10th, A.D. 1868. Yankton, Dakota Territory, George W. Kingsbury, Public Printer, Union and Dakotaian Office, 1867-8.


Capace, Nancy. Encyclopedia of Wyoming. Somserset Publishers, 2001.

Erwin, Marie H. Wyoming Historical Blue Book. Denver: Bradford-Robinson Printing Co., 1946).

Larson, T.A.  History of Wyoming, 2nd ed. University of Nebraska Press, 1990.


Contact us to learn more about this unusual piece of Wyoming history.

Christy Shannon Smirl