Archives On The Air 13: "Tom Dewey of the West"—Byron Hirst

Jul 9, 2018

Photo of Byron Hirst at age 15, undated. Box 2, Byron Hirst papers, American Heritage Center.
Credit American Heritage Center

Byron Hirst was called the “Tom Dewey of the West” after Thomas Dewey, a well-known New York prosecutor who fought organized crime.

Hirst was Laramie County’s prosecuting attorney in the 1940s. He became famous for his battles against gambling, racketeering, and prostitution.

At the time those practices were common in Laramie County and involved the Mafia.

Hirst stopped the illegal operations and won the respect of the mayor, the chief of police, and the chief of detectives.

For several years afterward Hirst received a potted lily on Easter with a blank card presumably from the Mafia.

Portrait of Byron Hirst in his ROTC uniform, undated. Box 2, Byron Hirst papers, American Heritage Center.
Credit American Heritage Center

Hirst’s daughter recalled her father carrying a loaded revolver in the family car’s glove compartment for several years after the convictions.

Hirst’s collection available at UW’s American Heritage Center contains correspondence, photographs, and an oral history of his early days in Cheyenne.