Pioneers of the western era were a unique sort of people, the likes of which haven’t been seen since. They were industrious, ambitious, and adventurous. Many traveled cross-country to move to greener pastures, such as Virginia City, Bozeman, Salt Lake City or the likes of California. The fortunate ones, of course, found themselves in the Goose Creek Valley.
Charles P. Story was one of those folks lucky enough to find himself in the valley Sheridan residents call home. Story arrived with his wife in Sheridan in 1883, hailing from Montana. They settled on a ranch on Prairie Dog Creek near Banner.
His resume, as it were, is typical of those of his peers, having served in public office in multiple capacities and was involved in many entrepreneurial endeavors. He served as county assessor, justice of the peace, owned the Sheridan Post for a time, served as mayor of Sheridan twice, state legislator for three terms, among many other things.
Among other experiences, Charles Story rode in one of the first automobiles in Sheridan. Dr. George Simpson owned a steam-powered automobile and once offered to give Story a ride to his home at 456 E. Burkitt St.
“I took a chance, and got in, but I tell you I was holdin’ on ready to jump any minute. I guess if he had looked at me all of a sudden I would have jumped.”
The automobile they rode in had large wheels like a carriage and a single bar to steer with, and was noisy according to Story. Speeding through town at 10 miles per hour, the trip was a blur.
“I couldn’t even see what everybody was doing, and I don’t know whether they were all looking or not, but if they knew what I was thinking they would have looked,” recounted Story.
After arriving home without any incident, Mr. Story garnered an earful from his wife. “…you should have heard what Mrs. Story said. She thought I was plumb crazy to risk my neck in that horseless wagon.”
The ride was unforgettable. Story recalled the event and stated, “It was just like riding a wild bronc that you don’t know what it’s goin’ to do next.”
While a terrifying experience, he would live nearly three decades more, passing away in 1930 at the age of 70. Mrs. Story stayed with him despite the wild ride with Dr. Simpson and the Storys enjoyed a total of 49 years of marriage.
When he passed away, Charles Story was in the process of serving his second term as mayor of Sheridan, the first term being in 1900. He had survived the early years of Sheridan, a car ride with Doc Simpson, and the consternation of his loving wife.