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Frank W. Mondell [left to right] Gilbert M. Hitchcock, Henry Cabot Lodge, Joseph W. Fordney , Frank W. Mondell, and George B. Christian, c. 1921. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-97866).


Mondell, Frank Wheeler (06 November 1860–06 August 1939), congressman, mine operator, and lawyer, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Ephraim Wheeler Mondell, a laborer, and Nancy Brown. Orphaned at the age of six, Frank lived for a short time with relatives in Iowa. When he was eight, he moved with an itinerant Congregational minister named Upton to Dickinson County, Iowa. Mondell did not graduate from high school and, at the age of eighteen, held various jobs in Chicago for a year, then migrated to Colorado in 1879. For the next eight years, he pursued employment in engineering and construction projects, roaming over a ten-state area. In 1887 the Kilpatrick Brothers and Collins, railroad contractors from Beatrice, Nebraska, hired Mondell to prospect for coal in northeastern Wyoming. His discovery in 1886 of a major bituminous coal deposit at Cambria altered his life. Mondell became the mine manager at Cambria. In 1889 the town of Newcastle, Wyoming, was surveyed, and Mondell became Newcastle’s first mayor, 1889–1895. Concurrently with his mayoralty, he served two terms in the Wyoming State Senate, 1890–1894; he was elected president of the senate in 1893 and declined that position in 1894....