From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Stepp, Alonzo Theodore “Lon”

(born: September 20, 1874  -  died: December 5, 1941) 

Alonzo T. “Lon” Stepp was born in Berea, KY.  He was the son of Archie Stepp and Anne Blythe Stepp. Lon enrolled in Berea College in 1893. His future wife, Esther Jane Yates was also a student at the school.

In 1893, with the encouragement of a friend, Lon visited Fontenelle Creek in Wyoming where he learned ranching at the Rathburn Ranch. He became a cowboy and a bronco rider. He returned to Kentucky and married Esther Jane Yates in 1894. The couple had three children. Lon longed to return to Wyoming. In 1898, he took his wife and children to Opal, Wyoming. The couple would have four more children. Lon's parents would later move out west to join his family. Lon would own at least 1,700 acres by 1930s.  

In 1912, Lon was voted a Lincoln County road supervisor for road maintenance. He was also a rancher, road shotgun on the stagecoach, was a brand inspector, an assistant Lincoln County assessor, a lay preacher, and served as postmaster for Fontenelle from 1920 to 1941. He also built the Stepp-Olson Schoolhouse. Lon's three sons ran his ranch while he was away from home. Lon started a cattle herd of his own and joined the Wyoming Stock Growers Association where he was the only African American member. His son John would later become a member of the organization.

The sons of Lon and Esther Stepp were musicians and formed the Stepp Family Jazz Band: William Gary Stepp, John Fee Stepp, and Horace Greely Stepp. The brothers also helped found the LaBarge Bible Church that was renamed the Fellowship Baptist Church. The Stepp family remained on the land until the 1960s when their land, and that of others, was taken by the U.S. Government's claim of eminent domain, and the area was flooded to develop the Fontenelle Reservoir.

In 2020, the Stepp family was inducted into the Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame. They are among the few black cowboys inducted into the hall of fame.

For more see Candy Moulton, "Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame: Stepp family forges way for Black cowboys," Cowboy State Daily, 07/18/2023 (online); WYOHISTORY.ORG & Jonita Sommers, "Breaking a Stereotype: Black Rancher Alonzo Stepp," online at the WYOHistory.org webpage.

*This entry was suggested by Berea College retirees Sharyn Mitchell and Melissa Osborne.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Madison County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Berea, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Stepp, Alonzo Theodore “Lon”,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 20, 2024, https://ukscrc001.net/nkaa/items/show/300004936.

Last modified: 2024-06-17 15:53:52