Hiram S. Manville migrated from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to a cattle ranch about 7 miles west of Hat Creek Stage Station on the Cheyenne-Deadwood Stage Route in 1879. He partnered with James Peck, and then became ranch manager for the Converse Cattle Company in 1880 (Converse Cattle Company was a member of the Wyoming Stock Grower's Association, famous for their role in the Johnson County War). Addison Spaugh was hired as Manville's ranch foreman. When the Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley Railroad was built through the area in 1886, there was a new siding built close to Manville's ranch. Spaugh was asked for a good name and he suggested Manville.

Then Oscar Selden bought the land all around the railroad siding and had it surveyed and platted, filing the paperwork in October, 1886. He offered lots for sale but also said he would give a lot to anyone who would build a home of value on it. Shortly after that someone fired a shot through the window of his home and killed him. The shooter was never found (all part of the tactics of the Johnson County War). However, the town plat lived on and eventually, a town did grow.

The oil boom that happened at Lance Creek in 1917 pushed Manville's population to 1,500. Several oil companies built offices and warehouses in town but when the boom was over, nearly everyone left. Almost no one has come back.