A Whole-House Exhibit at the Trail End State Historic Site
March 2003 - December 2006
Trail End blueprints (Trail End Archival Collection)
A LOOK AT the history of Trail End's construction wouldn't be complete without a look at the man who built the house, the family which lived in it, and their reactions to its existence.
JOHN B. KENDRICK
Trail End was the home – and long-time dream – of cowboy-turned-politician John B. Kendrick (1857-1933). Kendrick family members say it was his vision that guided the project from the beginning. When his wife, Eula Wulfjen Kendrick, balked at the thought of living in such a large house, her mother advised her to support her husband’s wishes. As cousin Mary Kendrick Morgan told Manville Kendrick, "I heard your grandmother tell your mother not to oppose [your father] about the house, that he had worked hard and building that house had been a dream of his for a long time."
It was also John Kendrick who gave the house its distinctive name. In January 1914, Wilbur Burgess, owner of Burgess-Granden, noted in a letter to Eula: "I think the name Mr. Kendrick has chosen, 'Trail End,' is certainly very appropriate and original, and so different from what most people would select. I sincerely hope that the trail may not end for a great many years to come."
Unfortunately, Kendrick’s time in his new home was limited. After his election as governor of Wyoming in 1914, the family had to relocate to Cheyenne – only eighteen months after moving into the finished home. Two years later Kendrick was elected to the Senate and the family moved to Washington, D.C. After that, Trail End became just a vacation home for John and Eula.
In one way, Trail End did became the end of John Kendrick’s trail: following his death from a cerebral hemorrhage in 1933, his funeral service was held in the house.
EULA WULFJEN KENDRICK
According to family members, Eula Wulfjen Kendrick (1872-1961) was not eager to take on the responsibility of such a large home as Trail End. Mary Kendrick Morgan lived on the ranches during the planning phase of the project. She later told Manville, "I helped your mother a little on the plans when I was with you folks and she said then the house was going to be a big responsibility. I think that your Dear Father wanted the big house much more than she did."
Though she may have been apprehensive about managing a 13,748 square foot home, Eula was eagerly looking forward to living in town. Having attended finishing school in Colorado, Eula was trained in both music and public speaking, but had little opportunity to express herself with either. Long isolated on the OW Ranch, Eula was anxious to lead a more social life, similar to the one she’d known as a young girl.
Since 1895, Eula had been a member of Sheridan’s Cecilian Club, an organization of society ladies with a shared love of classical music and literature. Because the OW was so far from town she was not able to attend as many of the meetings as she would have liked. After moving into Sheridan in 1909, Eula was finally able to pursue her interest in the arts. She performed at meetings of the Cecilian Club and later served as president of the Sheridan Women’s Club (the successor to the Cecilian Club).
Under Eula’s guiding hand, Trail End was the site of frequent dances, dinners, teas and luncheons. An invitation to Trail End was an invitation to fine food, lively entertainment and a good deal of intelligent conversation.
When it came time to move into Trail End, the Kendricks’ eldest child, Rosa-Maye Kendrick (1897-1979), was apprehensive. The large mansion was very different from her lifelong home on the OW ranch. As she noted in her 1913 diary, "Have been in town two or three days now. House was bewildering when I first came in. Am just beginning to feel at home last day or so." It did not take long for Rosa-Maye to get into the swing of things, though. In no time, she was attending dances, hosting card parties and going to the movies. Even though she had to leave the ranch behind, she was able to bring a part of it with her: her beloved horses were moved to town and housed in the Carriage House.
In 1915, Rosa-Maye went east to continue her schooling, first attending Ely Court in Connecticut, and later Baltimore’s Goucher College. Until she married in 1927, she lived in Washington, D.C. with her parents, coming back to Wyoming every summer for vacation. When Rosa-Maye married Major Hubert Reilly Harmon, her whole life changed. She was suddenly an Army wife whose place was by her husband’s side. As revealed in a 1932 letter to his son Manville, John Kendrick knew full well that his daughter would never live at Trail End again: "Your sister will never find it possible to do this. An army officer is not unlike a Methodist preacher who has neither a home nor even a native state, but is constantly moving from place to place."
After initial postings in London and New York, the Harmons later lived in Kansas, Georgia, Texas, California and Colorado. In 1955, Hubert – by then a lieutenant general in the Air Force – served as the first superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy.
Along with the rest of the family, Manville Kendrick (1900-1992) moved into Trail End in 1913 - and out again in 1914. Following years of schooling at Philips Exeter Academy, Harvard University and Ames Agricultural College, Manville returned to the west in 1923 to work on the ranches. In 1929, Manville married Washington debutante Diana Cumming and moved with her into Trail End. While they saw it as a temporary stop on the road to home ownership, John Kendrick felt that the couple should make the mansion their permanent home:
My only interest in making recommendations is to aid you in avoiding mistakes. Real estate … is still on the toboggan and a man could not induce me to buy a single foot. … It ought to be more economical for you to live with us than in your own home.
Disregarding her father-in-law’s advice, Diana bought land in the early 1930s and had detailed house plans drawn up. Even so, she and Manville eventually abandoned such dreams. Continued family pressure, combined with the financial downturns of the Great Depression, convinced them to move into Trail End permanently.
Like his father, Manville centered his business activities in Sheridan. Following John’s death in 1933, Manville took over the reins of the Kendrick Cattle Company and held them until the properties were sold in the late 1980s. Manville and Diana lived in Trail End for thirty-two years. They raised two sons there and moved out only after Eula Kendrick’s death in 1961.
DIANA CUMMING KENDRICK
In 1929, Manville Kendrick married Clara Diana Cumming (1901-1987), only daughter of U.S. Surgeon General Hugh Smith Cumming. Following an extended honeymoon cruise through the Panama Canal, the couple moved to Sheridan, where Diana took over the management of Trail End. While she and Manville were new to the task, Diana was fierce about wanting an opportunity to prove herself to her new mother-in-law, as she noted in March 1929 (following a few staffing difficulties), "We truly, truly can handle this, and any situation – and we’d love an opportunity to prove it to you, and promise not to wreck the house in doing so! In any case, please don’t come west, or I’ll die of shame."
In the same letter, Diana expressed her willingness to learn more about what it took to keep a large home running smoothly and efficiently: "I’d be only too glad to pay the house bills. As you say, it would teach me something about housekeeping that couldn’t be learned any other way, and I’d love the experience."
Eula was away from Sheridan quite a lot – first spending time with her husband in Washington and later taking trips to warmer climates for her health. In her absence, Diana gained a good deal of practical experience in running a household. While she wrote to Eula about nearly everything that went on at home, Diana didn’t always seek permission before making changes. Once, she completely rearranged the furniture in the Drawing Room without first seeking Eula’s approval, only telling her mother-in-law about it – rather cautiously – well after the fact!
Trail End guests, 1913 (WSA Collection, TESHS)
State Historic Site