In the fall of 1881,
Philip J. Yoder and his
oldest son, Benjamin F. or "Frank" as he was called, came to Wyoming. Frank spent the winter
there, while Philip returned to Iowa. The following spring, Philip brought his wife, Barbara (Miller)
Yoder, and their three sons and four daughters to Wyoming: Benjamin F. (born Shanesville, Ohio in 1863); Amanda
(born Swedesburg, Henry County, Iowa in 1865); Jesse (born Iowa 1869), Oscar (born Iowa about 1871), Clara (born
Iowa in 1873), Ida May (born Iowa 1876), and Sadie (born Iowa 1882). A fifth daughter, Nina, was
born in Wyoming.
Philip settled his family settled in
Goshen County on a ranch along Bear Creek, where he prospered raising cattle and horses. In late 1905, after an absence of 42 years, Philip and his wife
traveled back to their native Ohio to visit. Mrs. Yoder suddenly took ill and died in the community where
she had been born. Her remains were returned to Cheyenne, Wyoming for interment. Four years later, Philip J. Yoder died on July 28, 1910.
There was no town
named Yoder during Philip's lifetime. In 1921 the Union Pacific railroad laid track from Gering, Nebraska to
South Torrington, the county seat of Goshen County. The tracks passed several miles east of the
Yoder ranch. Jesse Yoder, Philip's son, organized the Goshen Townsite Development Company to build a new
town beside the railroad. The buildings from two tiny crossroad settlements, Springer and Lacy Corners,
were moved to the new town site. The name "Yoder" was chosen in honor of the Yoder family who had lived
in the area since 1881 and for Jesse Yoder who had headed the town site company.
Real estate offices, measuring a mere
4 by 6 feet, sprang up almost overnight at Yoder. Grocery, hardware, and dry goods stores were soon
constructed; also a bakery and a cream station. In 1922 a brick schoolhouse was built and a weekly
newspaper was started. That same year, electricity came to town, including electric street lamps. A
rodeo was held that summer to celebrate the founding of the town.
In four years' time, Yoder
grew from nothing to a town of between 500 and 600 people There were three drugstores, two barber shops,
three hardware stores, two cream stations, a hotel, a bank, several churches, a bakery, a doctor's
office, a community hall, three lumber yards, a telephone office, a rooming house, and a livery stable --
this in addition to all the homes.
In 1973, the Yoder
ranch was still in the family. Philip's grandson, Oscar T. Yoder purchased it in 1931. Oscar's name is
familiar to Goshen County residents for he served ten years in the Wyoming legislature (1955-1965), six
in the house and four in the senate.
Yoder thrived for about ten
years. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, one business after another closed and people moved away.
The population fell so that by 1970 the citizens numbered 101.
Today Yoder is a sleepy country town
with a total population of 169 (Census 2000). A new water tower has been constructed and a sewer system
was installed several years ago.
Source: Yoder, Wyoming
by David Luthey