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How To Use This Site


This blog was updated on a daily basis for about two years, with those daily entries ceasing on December 31, 2013. The blog is still active, however, and we hope that people stopping in, who find something lacking, will add to the daily entries.

The blog still receives new posts as well, but now it receives them on items of Wyoming history. That has always been a feature of the blog, but Wyoming's history is rich and there are many items that are not fully covered here, if covered at all. Over time, we hope to remedy that.

You can obtain an entire month's listings by hitting on the appropriate month below, or an individual day by hitting on that calendar date.

We hope you enjoy this site.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

March 31

Today is Easter Sunday for 2013.

The April 8 entry on this blog has a discussion of how the date for Easter is determined.

1888  Elwood Mead, the predominate force in Wyoming's water law, took office as State Engineer. 

 Elwood Mead

1917   The Cheyenne State Leader for March 31, 1917: Zimmerman defends his note
 

Well, at least you have to give Zimmerman credit for not denying the plot.
The Wyoming Tribune for March 31, 1917: Colorado Guardsmen entrain for home.
 

The Laramie Boomerang for March 31, 1917: Mexican Situation Causing War Department Much Worry
 

And again, Mexico hit the front pages with concerns on the part of the War Department about Mexican and war.
1918 Daylight Savings Time went into effect throughout the U.S. for the first time.

1933 Congress authorized the Civilian Conservation Corps.

1942  Tim McCoy, Western actor and Wyoming, announced his candidacy for the U. S. Senate.  His campaign would not be a successful one and he entered the Army for the second time after losing in the primary.

1961  Detroit Transits Wyoming Terminal reopened as a bus terminal.

2004  Financial considerations caused the Wyoming Territorial Prison Corporation to cease operations.  The old State Prison would be transferred to the State's parks department the following day.

2016   Coal layoffs and Northwest Wyoming
 
Peabody Coal Company, the world's largest coal producer, and Arch Coal have announced layoffs in the Gillette area which amount to a combined 450 jobs lost.  And the losses won't stop there.  With that many jobs lost the local economy in Campbell County will be undoubtedly impacted.  Additionally, a loss of that many jobs clearly indicates big changes in operations at the mines themselves, and the energy infrastructure in Campbell County, which is what the economy of the county is based on, will be hit.  It's unlikely, therefore that the job losses will stop there.
This is a rim news for the area economy.  And for the state.  School funding is principally based on the coal severance tax.  Without ongoing major coal production, the schools are in big trouble.
Moreover, this may reflect such a major shift in the economics of coal that there may never be a return to its former position in the economy, either nationally or locally.  Wyomingites have been quick, in some quarters, to blame regulation and the current Administration for coal's demise.  One of the interviewed miners blamed the event on regulation and expressed the thought that things wold turn around under a new Presidential administration.  Our Superintendent of Public Instruction mentioned budget problems, in a recent op-ed, as being due to "the war on coal".  But people shouldn't fool themselves.  This likely represents a shift so deep in the economics and culture of coal that current events show an existential change much deeper than merely a current White House discontent with it. 
Indeed, even twenty years ago I was told by an energy company executive that "coal is dead".  I was surprised by his view at the time, but he was quite definite in his views.  But he was expressing an energy sector long term view, at that time, that coal wouldn't survive a switch to other forms of power generation.  Ironically natural gas, of which North America has a vast abundance, has really eaten into the coal market and that's not going to change.  Power plants take years to build and years to permit.  Coal fired plants are being built, they're being retired.  This not only won't change overnight, it won't change at all.  The coal industry itself pinned its hopes on the Chinese market, which uses a lot of coal, but China also has a lot of coal.  The Chinese economy is in the doldrums right now, and that will likely change, but when it does the question is whether China will enter an economic period mirroring Japan's long endured slow economy, or change to a more growth oriented but volatile economy like North America's and Europe's.  And a bigger question is whether China, which is under pressure from much of the rest of the world on emissions, will itself move away from coal.  It hasn't so far, but there's no guaranty that it will not.  Coal, to the extent it retains any popularity (and that's little outside of the coal producing states), is popular only in the US and China.  Indeed, in some areas of the US it is now so unpopular that efforts to ship coal by sea to China were opposed in Pacific maritime states, something that had not been worked out at the time the local coal producers went into this slump.
So chances are high that this is a sea change, not a downturn.  And if it is, it's one that has huge implications for the state.  The state didn't deal with them in the last Legislature, or even really discuss dealing with them. By the next one it will have no choice.

Elsewhere:

1879  Governor Lew Wallace asks for the Federal Government to declare martial law in Lincoln County, New Mexico.

1916  Battle of Aqua Caliente.

1939  Britain and France issue guarantees that they will declare war if Poland is invaded by Nazi Germany.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

March 30

1889  Butch Cassidy participates in a bank robbery in Denver with the McCarty brothers.

1891  The Shoshone National Forest was set aside by President Benjamin Harrison as the Yellowstone Park Timberland Reserve.

1909. On this day, the U.S. Army abandoned Ft. Washakie. The post had previously been also known as Camp Brown and Camp Augar.. The post had lately been a 9th Cavalry post.

The facilities for the post remain in large part today, having gone over to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Ft. Washakie, the town, is the seat of government for the Wind River Indian Reservation. The structures provide good examples of the period stone construction used by the Army at that time.


Ft. Washakie during a visit by President Arthur in 1883.


Some former cavalry structures at Ft. Washakie now in use as industrial or storage buildings.

1915  A quarantine on Wyoming livestock was put in place due to an outbreak of hoof and mouth disease.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1916  The Punitive Expedtion: The Casper Daily Press, March 30, 1916
 

1917   Colorado criminalizes marijuana 
 
On this day in 1917 Colorado's legislature passed a bill that criminalized marijuana.  The act passed on this date stated:
An act to declare unlawful the planting, cultivating, harvesting, drying, curing, or preparation for sale or gift of cannabis sativa, and to provide a penalty therefore.

Section 1. Any person who shall grow or use cannabis sativa (also known as cannabis indica, Indian hemp and marijuana) that he has grown shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction shall be punished by a fine of not less than ten nor more than one hundred dollars, or by imprisonment in the county jail not more than thirty days, or by both such fine and imprisonment in the discretion of the court.
The bill was in part inspired by the civil war in Mexico.  It was being asserted that Pancho Villa funded his Division del Norte in part through the sale of cannabis. Whether this is true or not, marijuana was not unknown by any means in Mexico and it shows up even in music of the period at least to the extent that it features in the Mexican Revolution ballad La Cucaracha.  The bill was introduced in Colorado by a Hispanic legislator from one of Colorado's southern counties which were and are predominately Hispanic in culture and where there was  strong desire to disassociate themselves from Mexican refugees, including any assertion that they might approve of the use of the drug.

Colorado was not the first state to address marijuana statutorily.  At least California (1907), Massachusetts (1911), New York (1914), Maine (1914), and Wyoming (1915) had.  Colorado was one of the states that enacted the prohibition of alcohol by that time and therefore not acting on marijuana would have been odd under the circumstances.  It had already been addressed by Federal law to some extent at that time.

There's a certain irony in this, I suppose, in that Colorado is now a pioneer in a national movement that has seen several states decriminalize marijuana, although the irony would be diminished if the entire matter is considered in the context of its times.  It remains subject to Federal penalties, something that has seemingly been lost in the discussion of this topic, and there is no sign that this will change any time soon.  The Federal government, however, seems to have basically stopped enforcing the law on the Federal level for the time being, although that could change at any moment.

Circling back to Colorado, while often not noted in the discussion on this, Denver Colorado has provided a big test of the impact of the change in the law, and not in a good way.  Almost any casual observer who is familiar with Denver over time has noted the impact of the change and Denver, which has had a fairly large homeless population for decades now has a larger, but rather weedy one.  Open begging downtown for cash for marijuana is now common, and encounters with stoned younger people who are part of a marijuana culture will occur at some point if a person spends any time downtown at all.  All of this is the type of discussion that does not tend to occur, for some reason, in discussions over the monetary impacts of the change or on the degree to which the substance itself is dangerous or how dangerous it is.
 
 

Ft. D. A. Russell was being used for Guard mobilization this time.  It hadn't been a year prior for the Punitive Expedition.
The Wyoming Tribune for March 30, 1917: Germans spur Mexican outlaw murder?
 

Mexico remained on the front pages even with the US on the eve of war, this time once again in association with the Germans.
1943  Lead by legendary UW basketball player Kenny Sailors, UW beat Georgetown 46 to 34 in Madison Square Gardens.  Sailors would enter the Marine Corps as an officer at the conclusion of that year.  UW would suspend basketball due to the war after that year.  Sailors eventually became a hunting guide in in Alaska, but returned to Wyoming in his old age, where he still lives, following the death of his wife.

1952  The ICC approved the abandonment of the Wyoming Railway between Clearmont and Buffalo.

2003  Teno Roncolio, Wyoming Congressman, and the last Democrat to have occupied that office, died in Cheyenne.

2009  The Wyoming Range Legacy Act signed into law by President Obama. 

2016  President Obama commuted the sentence of Angela  LaPlatney and 61 other prisoners.  She was a Casper resident who was sentenced to 20 years for possession of illegal drugs with the intent to sell the same and for hiding a man who was subject to a felony charge.  Her sentence will now end on July 28.  President Obama has commuted a large number of sentences during his time in office.

2016  Wyoming was hit by a massive Spring snowstorm that shut down much of the state, including offices in Cheyenne and, ironically, Casper's ski area.

Friday, March 29, 2013

March 29

1879  The Laramie County Stock Growers Association changed its name to the Wyoming Stock Growers Association.  The WSGA was to be a major political force early in the state's history.

1887  The following soldiers, stationed at posts in Wyoming, earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for action on this day:

Second Lieutenant Lloyd M. Brett, 2d U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At O'Fallons Creek, Mont., 1 April 1880. Entered service at: Malden, Mass. Born: 22 February 1856, Dead River, Maine. Date of issue: 7 February 1895. Citation: Fearless exposure and dashing bravery in cutting off the Indians' pony herd, thereby greatly crippling the hostiles.

 Brett in later life.

Captain Eli L. Huggins, 2d U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At O'Fallons Creek, Mont., 1 April 1880. Entered service at: Minnesota. Birth: Illinois. Date of issue: 27 November 1894. Citation: Surprised the Indians in their strong position and fought them until dark with great boldness.

1888  State Capitol completed. Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society. 

1906  Construction at Pathfinder Dam suffered a set back due to flood damage.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1916   The Punitive Expedtion: The Casper Daily Press, March 29, 1916
 


I think one of the most interesting items in this edition was the addition of extra train service, showing how extensive it really was at the time.

1917   The Cheyenne State Leader for March 29, 1917: More Guardsmen needed
 

The Cheyenne State Leader ran a story about the national mobilization of Guardsmen.  No way Wyoming could have mustered four regiments.

There was a tragic reminder, as well, that April and March are winter months in Wyoming.
The Laramie Daily Boomerang for March 29, 1917. Laramie's Guardsmen ordered to Ft. D. A. Russell as, maybe, the Kaiser makes a peace move?
 

The Medical Company of the Wyoming National Guard, based in Laramie, was ordered to Ft. D. A. Russell outside of Cheyenne. At the same time, the Laramie paper was hoping against hope that entry into the war might not be necessary.  Who could blame them?

The Connor Hotel, by the way, still stands in Laramie, although I don't think it's a hotel anymore.

1999     The Dow Jones industrial average closed above 10,000 for the first time.

2016   Waiting for the Storm
 
We're supposed to be getting a huge storm today and tomorrow.

I sure hope so.

These photographs were taken on March 20 in the foothills of the Big Horns:

Foothills of the Southern Big Horns

Elk carcass in the foreground.

Should be snow this time of year.  Not a good sign.
There should be snow everywhere in the photos.  And right now maybe there is, it's snowed since them. But we sure need more.

2017  By and act of Congress and as signed into law this day was designated National Vietnam Veterans Day.

Wyoming had the highest volunteer rate of any state for service in the Vietnam War.  This was not unusual.  It also had the highest volunteer rate for World War One and the highest Marine Corps enlistment rate for World War Two.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

March 28

1845   Mexico dropped diplomatic relations with US.

1846   US troops move onto the left bank of the Rio Grande River.

1865   The District of the Plains was established.  Attribution:  On This Day.

1870  Camp Augur reorganized and renamed Camp Brown.

1906  An ore mill at Encampment burned. Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1908  Fifty-nine people killed in a mine explosion at Hanna.  Attribution:  On This Day.

1916   The Punitive Expedition: The Casper Daily Press, March 28, 1916
 

Note in this one the fruit and vegetable advertisement.  Quite a difference in regards to how available these things are today.

1917   The Cheyenne State Leader for March 28, 1917: Calls to arms.
 

A general call to arms was going on, as Wyoming National Guardsmen were returning to service.
1970  The location of Ft. Reno placed on the National Register of Historic Sites.

1975   A 6.2 earthquake occurred about 93 miles from Evanston, WY.

1982  The Sheridan County Historical Society transferred title in the Trail End Historical Center to the State of Wyoming.

2008 Gray wolves removed from the Endangered Species List.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March 27

1836  Mexico takes the Goliad and executes 417 Texans.

1889   Francis E. Warren was reappointed the Territorial Governor.  Attribution:  On This Day.

1890  A party of "disappointed" Washington emigrants settled on Horse Creek in Laramie County.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1890  The House of Representatives passed the bill for Wyoming Statehood. 

1916   The Punitive Expedition: Casper Daily Press. March 27, 1916
 

1917   The Cheyenne State Leader for March 27, 1917: Wyoming National Guard Called Back into Service
 

After just a couple of weeks of civilian life, the Guard was called back into service.  A Colorado unit that had never demobilized was being retained at Ft. D. A. Russell.

Things were back on.
The Douglas Enterprise for March 27, 1917: Guard to get a big send off in Douglas
 

Douglas residents were going to gather at the LaBonte, long a hot spot in Douglas, to give Company F a big send off.

I don't know if the LaBonte is open again or not, but its still there.  It was open at least as late as the 1980s, and it might be now.
The Wyoming Tribune for March 27, 1917: State Troops Rushing Back
 

The Wyoming National Guard was in the throws of recovering troops it had only just discharged from active service.

And the Germans, it was reported, were going to sell the Belgians as slaves.  All while Wilson was "dodging war".
The Laramie Daily Boomerang for March 27, 1917. Laramie's troops not yet ordered to Ft. Russell.
 

The Medical detachment of the Wyoming National Guard was expecting orders to return to Ft. D. A. Russell, where they'd been only a couple of weeks ago, but they hadn't yet received them.

In other news, a big air force was being planned and the new Russian government was being reported as "very popular".
1964  Earthquake occurred near Van Tassell.

1909  The Trustees of the University of Wyoming fired the university's president.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

March 26

1804  The District of Louisiana, including most of Wyoming, established by an act of the U.S. Congress. Attribution:  On This Day.

1882  Frederic Remington's drawings published for the first time.

1890  Territorial Delegate Joseph M. Carey introduced a bill calling for Statehood for Wyoming.

1891  Joel Ware Foster took office as the State's first Bank Examiner. 

1895  The University of Wyoming Alumni Association founded.

1898  Miners in Diamondville formed a union. Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society. 

1917   The Wyoming Tribune for March 26, 1917: Guardsmen Return To Service
 

Guardsmen nationwide was the headline in the Wyoming Tribune, as opposed to the State's troops as discussed in the Laramie Boomerang.

Cheyenne's paper was noting that Colorado cavalry, just arrived at Ft. D. A. Russell fresh from border service, was now set not to muster out at all.  Late in the process of mustering out, it didn't look like they were going to.
The Laramie Boomerang for March 26, 1917. The Guard is mobilized again.
 

They'd barely made it home, and now they were being called back into service.  The Wyoming National Guard was mobilized once again.

This time the plan was for one of the battalions to be mounted, in what would prove to be an irony. while cavalry was not obsolete in 1917, a battalion sized cavalry unit would have been of more utility on the border than it would have been in Europe.  Of course, in March 1917 it wasn't clear that the Guard would be serving in Europe, or even that the Army would be.
1918  Elmer Lovejoy of Laramie patented a powered garage door opener.  Lovejoy had previously built his own automobile.

1926  Game and Fish planted 27 pairs of Hungarian Partridges.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1932  A magnitude 6 earthquake happened near Jackson.

1943  Wyoming beat Oklahoma, 53 to 50, in basketball.

1992  Big Horn Academy Building in Cowley added to the National Registry of Historic Places.

1993  The T A Ranch, scene of the siege of the Invaders during the Johnson County War, added to the National Registry of Historic Places.

TA Ranch.

Monday, March 25, 2013

March 25

1877  Deadwood stage driver and the son of Cheyenne's marshall, Johnny Slaughter, killed by outlaws two miles outside of Deadwood.

1879  Little Wolf surrenders to cavalry commanded by Cpt. W. P. Clark.  Little Wolf had fought in many significant Plains Indians battles including, it is believed, the Fetterman Fight.

1891  An opium raid was conducted in Newcastle.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1909  A well near Byron came in as a gusher. Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society. 

1915  Arminto Wyoming incorporated.  Arminto was a major sheep shipping point in the 20th Century and, at one time, more sheep were shipped from its stockyards, where they were loaded on trains, than any other place in the world.

Today, with the decline in the American sheep industry, Arminto is nearly a ghost town, with just a few remaining residents.  Here's a scene from just outside of the town.  The town's once busy railhead is now just a rail crossing.

1916   The Punitive Expedition: Casper Daily Press, March 25, 1916.
 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

March 24

1825 Texas officially opened to American settlers.

1834 John Wesley Powell born.

1890 School at St. Stephens opened. Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1916   The Punitive Expedition: Casper Daily Press, March 24, 1916
 

1917   The Cheyenne State Leader for March 24, 1917: Germans raising army in Mexico?
 


It's odd to see how focused on Mexico the US remained as it started to rush towards war with Germany.  In today's leader we learn, supposedly, that Germans were flooding in from Guatemala to form an army in Mexico.

Something like that, you'd think, would be fairly easy to notice.
1934 Rodeo promoter, race horse owner, and rancher Charles Irwin funeral in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Gen. Pershing was one of his honorary pallbearers.

Irwin is little recalled today, but he was a major entertainment figure during his lifetime. He is sometimes mentioned as possibly having a role in Tom Horn's attempted escape from the Laramie County jail, but there's little evidence to suggest that is true, and Irwin never commented on it. His weight climbed enormously in his later years, and as a result a special coffin had to be built for the 5'4" 500 lbs Irwin. He died at 59 years of age, from injuries sustained in an automobile accident, with the automobile having been driven by his son in law.

1939  Earl Durand killed while robbing a bank in Powell.  Durand has been popularized in legend as a latter day mountain man and the "Tarzan of the Tetons".  In reality, he was a Powell area farm kid with a fair degree of woodcraft knowledge, a not atypical set of regional skills then or later. He was arrested in the early spring of 1939 for poaching but broke out of jail and then took a deputy sheriff and town marshal hostage and forced them to  his parents home, where he killed them.  He lived in the mountains for a period of days, and then chose to rob the Powell bank for reasons that remain debated.

1966 The Selective Service announced the enactment of college deferments based on performance.
Elsewhere:

1883     Long-distance telephone service was inaugurated between Chicago and New York City.

1944   76 Allied officers escaped Stalag Luft 3, which was later the topic of Paul Brickall's book "The Great Escape."

1975 The North Vietnamese commence the offensive that would defeat the Republic of Vietnam.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

March 23

1806  Corps of Discovery leaves Fort Clatsop, Oregon.

1882  Oscar Wilde delivered a short speech on the Union Pacific Depot platform in Cheyenne. The UP depot there remains, and is self declared to be the most beautiful depot in the world. Whether or not that is true, it is undoubtedly a beautiful structure.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical sociey

1888  Ella Watson, remembered as Cattle Kate, filed for the patent on her homestead located on the Sweetwater, near the homestead of Jim Averell.

1911 The first insurance company in the state founded.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1916  Teno Roncalio, Wyoming Congressman, born in Rock Springs.  The son of Italian immigrants, he was a decorated veteran of World War Two who graduated with a law degree from the University of Wyoming in 1947.  He served as the prosecuting attorney for Laramie County for many years before entering politics. 

1916   The Punitive Expedition: The Casper Daily Press, March 23, 1916
 
Let's look at the entire evening paper this go around.


This is the first issue of the Casper evening paper in which a story about the troops in Mexico is not on the first page, since the raid on Columbus.



The editor was casting doubts on the distance between Villa and Carranza.


I've never even heard of Wyoming Light Lager.


1923 The start of thirteen minor shocks that were felt  at Kelly from March 23 to April 12, 1923.

1935  The first grazing district formed under the Taylor Grazing Act created, that being Wyoming Grazing District Number 1.

1942     The U.S. government began moving Japanese-Americans from their West Coast homes to detention centers which would ultimately include Heart Mountain, near Cody.

2016  Governor Mead directs the Attorney General of Wyoming to start proceedings to remove the Sublette County Sheriff after the Sublette County Commission requests the same.  Wyoming's governors have this power, but its use is extraordinarily rare.  The most pronounced examples came during Prohibition and a current use of this power is almost unheard of.  The Sublette County Sheriff has been the subject of controversy surrounded some expenditures associated with his office that were incurred for the department but prior to his being officially in office.


2016.  Perhaps showing how contested the election season really is this year, former President Bill Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders both planned whistle stop tours in Wyoming on this day, but both had to cancel due to the massive spring storm that shut down the Interstate and which closed the Denver airport for most of the day.  Clinton was to have campaigned for his wife in Cheyenne, which by early morning was impossible to get in and out of, and Sanders was to have campaigned in Casper and Laramie.  At least Sanders has indicated an intent to return to the state prior to the Democratic Convention taking place.

2016  For the first time since 2000, Wyoming's unemployment rate is higher than the national average.

The unemployment rate only comes in a little above 5%, which shows how high the rate of employment is statistically in the country right now.   This is high enough nationwide that we fit into what used to be regarded as technical full employment.  It's never possible to have 100% employment.  In recent years, however, figures in this area have been regarded in a negative light and some claim the actual nationwide rate of employment is higher.

At any rate, the real unemployment rate in Wyoming is undoubtedly higher.  Natrona County has a 7.2% unemployment rate and Carbon County has a 6% unemployment rate.  Both counties are energy dependent for their economies, as is of course the state generally.  Given as Wyoming had a high migrant employment rate in recent years the high unemployment rate now probably reflects a significant degree of reverse migration, so the actual rate is likely much higher than what we're now seeing reported.

Friday, March 22, 2013

March 22

1836  The Texas schooner Liberty seized the U.S. brig Durango in Matagorda Bay. Attribution:  On This Day.

1881   "Big Nose" George Parott lynched in Rawlins.  He was being held for murder and his lynching followed an attempted jail break in which he injured jailor Robert Rankin.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1881  The first telephone exchange in Wyoming established.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society. 

1882     Congress outlawed polygamy.  Only Utah had recognized it at any point.  In this time in Wyoming's history, the traditional "heart balm" statutes remained, which outlawed, amongst other things, unmarried cohabitation.

1889  President Harrison appointed Francis E. Warren as Territorial Governor, Warren's second period of occupancy of that position.

1916   The Punitive Expedition: Casper Daily Press. March 22, 1916
 

1933  President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a measure to make wine and beer containing up to 3.2 percent alcohol legal.

1972  Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment, but it did not become law as it did not acquire the sufficient number of state ratifications.

2007  Grizzly Bears removed from the Endangered Species list.  Attribution:  On This Day.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

March 21

1790     Thomas Jefferson took office as America's first Secretary of State.  


Jefferson, a collection of contradictions, had been opposed to a strong Federal government prior to his presidency but would turn out to be a zealous applicant of Federal power while President.  Amongst his decisions were the purchase of Louisiana, a vast wilderness, which Jefferson thought would take 1,000 years to settle.  Following purchase of the territory he would order the formation of the Corps of Discovery, a military expeditionary force, to explore a route to the Pacific through it.  Contrary to widespread popular belief, the Corps's members were not the "first white men" to arrive in most of the locations that they arrived in, but they were the first official representatives of the United States.  A person has to wonder to what extent his views on U.S. expansion were formed during his period as Secretary of State.

1804     The Code Napoleon adopted in France and its possessions.  A form of the Code applies to this day in Louisiana.

The Code was a codification of then existing French common law, which had been  heavily influenced by Roman law.  It's the model form of law in much of the world.  It was commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte to attempt to resolve the irregular nature of French law, a condition that similarly resulted in the earlier Roman Code Justinian.

1806  The Corps of Discovery started their trip back east.

1836     Mexicans capture Copano, Texas.

1862  Ben Holladay bought the Russell, Majors & Waddell stage line.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1890  Gen. George Crook, age 61, died while lifting weights.  Crook was a legendary Indian Wars' general, and later in life an advocate for Indians.  By most accounts, he was one of the most successful and thoughtful of the Indian Wars' campaigners, although he does have his critics.   Crook County Wyoming is named after him.

Crook, seated in middle, during the Civil War while serving under Sheridan, second from left.  Also depicted, General Wesley Merritt, far left, General James Forsyth second from right and General Custer far right.  All of these officers went on to post Civil War careers in the Army.

1899  The Wyoming Historical Society Museum in Cheyenne opened.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1916   The Punitive Expedition in the Press: Casper Daily Press for March 21, 1916.
 


Note how the horror of World War One has made its way back onto the front page of the newspaper.
1931  University of Wyoming geology professor S. H. Knight took these photographs of the Grand Canyon.

1954  Cheyenne's KFBC-TV Channel 5 started broadcasting.  Attribution:  On This Day.

2012  American Heritage Center, UW, Wyoming History Day  District 6 (Hot Springs, Fremont, and Teton Counties) competition in Dubois and District 7 (Uinta, Sweetwater, Lincoln, and Sublette Counties) in Pinedale.

Elsewhere:

1943  The second military conspiracy plan to assassinate Hitler in a week fails.  A week earlier, German military conspirators attempted to blow up an airplane in which Hitler was traveling, but the fuses failed to work.  On this instance, a volunteer officer was to carry bombs and get next to Hitler as he reviewed memorials,  Hitler's visit to the memorials turned out to be too short for the fuses to ignite, so the plat was not carried off.

2016:  University of Wyoming basketball coach Larry Shyatt resigned.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sidebar: The Irish in Wyoming

Just recently we posted our "green" edition of this blog with our St. Patrick's Day entry.  Given that, this is a good time to look at the Irish in Wyoming.

The Irish are a significant demographic, in terms of ancestry, in the United States in general, so a reader might be justifiably forgiven for thinking that the story of the Irish in Wyoming wouldn't be particularly unique, or perhaps even that such an entry must be contrived.  This would be far from the case, however, as the Irish were not only an identifiable element in European American settlement of the state, but a distinct one with a unique history.

 Bantry Bay, Ireland; where many of Wyoming's Irish came from.  This photo was taken between 1890 and 1900.

It may not be definitely possible to tell when the first Irishman or Irish American entered the state, but a pretty good guess would be that the very first son of Erin entered what would become the state in the service of the U.S. Army.  More particularly, it seems like that this would have been with the Corps of Discovery, that body of men commissioned by the Army to cross the continent from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean.  Sgt. Patrick Gass was definitely of Irish descent, although he himself came from Pennsylvania.  He's unique as he left the first literary work on the expedition.  George Shannon was of Irish Protestant descent and therefore, perhaps, arguably "Scots Irish," although his name would suggest otherwise.   The Corps, however, crossed the continent prior to the great migration caused by the Famine, and therefore its almost surprising that these men of Irish descent were on the expedition, as the Irish were a small demographic at the time.  Also revealing, at this time many, probably most, whose ancestors had come over from Ireland were of "Scots Irish" descent, those being descendant from the Scots population that the English had settled in Ireland to form a religious and ethnic barrier between themselves and the native inhabitants of the conquered country.

The fact that the first Irish Americans to enter the region, however, came in the form of soldiers was telling, as by the 1840s this was becoming coming common.  Up until that time the U. S. Army had been tiny and had very little presence on the Frontier at all.  The Mexican War, however, changed all of that and, at the same time, brought a flood of Irishmen into the enlisted ranks.  This was caused by the contemporaneous jump in immigration from Ireland at the time, which was coincident with a huge spike in German immigration as well.  There was a political element to both immigration waves, with the Irish being discontent with the United Kingdom, which disadvantaged them at law with statutes aimed against Catholics and with some German immigrants coming during the troubled times on the continent that would lead to European wide revolutions in the 1840s.  The Irish in particular, however, were also driven by extreme poverty and hunger as their disadvantaged state was further compounded by extreme crop failures in this period.  Taking leave to the United States or British Canada, many simply chose to get out of Ireland.  Upon arriving in the United States, still oppressed with poverty, and often just downright oppressed, many took a traditional employment route which was to enlist in military service.  Like their ethnic cousins the Scots, the Irish were not in actuality a particularly martial people, but standing armies provided an economic refuge for them.  In the United Kingdom this resulted in Irish and Scots regiments of the British Army.  In the United States, starting during the Mexican War, it resulted in a huge percentage of the enlisted ranks being made up of Irish volunteers.

 World War One vintage recruiting poster for "The Fighting 69th", a New York National Guard regiment legendary for being recruited, even as late as World War One, principally from Irish immigrants and and Irish Americans. At least one Canadian unit of the same period, the Irish Canadian Rangers, was specifically aimed at Montreal Irish.

The Irish, and the Germans, were at first resented in the service, even if their enlistments were accepted, and they were very much looked down upon by Southern born officers, who made up a disproportionate percentage of the Army's office class.  This had, in part, sparked a high desertion rate during the Mexican War and had even contributed to the formation of a unit in the Mexican Army made up of Irish and German desertions, the San Patricio's.  The Army, however, in what may be the first instance of a long U. S. Army tradition of adapting to social change ahead of the general population, made peace with the Irish enlisted men by war's end and they soon became an enduring feature of the Army.  By the time of the Civil War things had changed so much that there were now Irish American and Irish born officers in the Regular Army, such as Irish American Philip Sheridan, after whom Sheridan Wyoming and Sheridan County Wyoming are named. 

 "Little Phil" Sheridan, far left.  Sheridan was born to Irish immigrant parents, but his ties with Ireland were so strong that it is sometimes erroneously claimed he was born in Ireland.  The Irish American Cavalryman was honored in Wyoming with a town and county being named after him.  Oddly enough, in later years a 20th Century Catholic priest who was a relative of his would also serve in Wyoming.

This change started to take place almost as soon as the Mexican War was over, and was well established by the time the Civil War broke out.  Already by that time many rank and file members of the Army were Irish born and there were Irish American officers of note.  The controversial Patrick Connor provides one such example, with Connor having a major campaigning role in Wyoming during the Civil War period.  After the war ended, the post Civil War U. S. Army was full of Irish and German volunteers.  The list of the dead, for example, at Little Big Horn reads like an Irish town roster, so heavy was the concentration of the Irish born in its ranks.  Indeed, the Irish in the 7th Cavalry, and other U.S. Army units, had a permanent impact on American military music during the period, contributing such martial tunes as Garryowen and The Girl I Left Behind Me to the American military music book.

The controversial Patrick E. Connor, who campaigned in Wyoming, not always widely, but very aggressively, during the Civil War.

Irish born and raised 7th Cavalry officer, and former Swiss Guard, Myles Keogh.

After Irish soldiers came the Irish railroad workers, who arrived with the construction crews of the Union Pacific.  The role of Irishmen in the construction of the railway is well known. Along with other ethnic minorities, the Irish were strongly represented in the crews that made their way through the state in the late 1860s.  As towns came up along the rail line, some of these men would inevitably leave the employment of the railroad and take up residence in other occupations.  Cheyenne, Laramie, Medicine Bow, Rawlins, Green River, Rock Springs, and Evanston all share this Union Pacific source of origin.

Former railroad station in Medicine Bow, with the Virginian Hotel to the far left.

After the railways started to come in, cattle did as well. Rail lines were, in fact, a critical element of the conversion of the United States from a pork consuming to a beef consuming country, as rail was needed in order to ship cattle to packing houses in the Mid West.  Rail expanded into Wyoming at exactly that point in time at which the greatly expanded herds in Texas started to be driving out of that state.  Prior to that time, while beef was certainly consumed, it tended to be a local product and pig production provided the primary meat source in the United States, along with poultry, foul and wild game.  Texas' cattle had been raised primarily for their hides not their beef.  The Civil War, however, had seen an uncontrolled herd expansion which, with the war's end, became a nearly free resource, if a way of sending the cattle to central markets could be found.  The expansion of the rail lines soon provided that, and the long trail drive era was born..  And with the cattle, came some Irish cowhands, and ultimately Irish ranchers.

Ireland itself was nearly completely dominated by agriculture in the 19th Century, and indeed it was for most of the 20th Century.  Agriculture was the largest sector of the Irish economy as late as the 1990s.  In the 19th Century, as with every century before that, most Irish were rural and agricultural.  Looked at that way, employment in non agricultural activities really meant that most of the Irishmen taking them up were leaving their natural born employments for something else.

Moreover, while we today tend to think of Ireland exclusively in terms of potatoes, due to the horror of the famine, in reality the Irish have a very long association with horses and cattle.  In pre Christian Ireland, stealing cattle was virtually a national sport, and the great Irish epic work, the Cattle Raid of Cooley (Táin Bó Cúailnge)  concerns that activity.  In later years, during English occupation, potatoes became an Irish staple because Irish farmers tended to grow them for themselves, by necessity, while still often working production crops on English owned lands.  Even as late as the famine Ireland exported wheat to the United Kingdom.  Cattle raising never stopped, and indeed by World War One Ireland was a significant beef exporter to the Great Britain.  The same is also true of sheep, which were raised all over Ireland for their wool and meat, and giving rise to the idea that all Irish are clad in tweed at all time, a concept that also applies to the sheep raising Scots.

 The dramatic protagonist of the Cattle Raid of Cooley.

Horses, for their part, were and remain an Irish national obsession.  Unlike the English and Scots, whose routine farmers had little interest in riding stock, the Irish developed an early love of horse riding and everything associated with it. The Steeple Chase was and is an Irish national sport, followed intensively even now, and in earlier eras widely engaged in.  A person has to wonder, therefore, if the heavy Irish representation in cavalry formations in the U.S. Army of the 19th Century reflected that fact.  It certainly did in the English Army, which had at least one Irish cavalry regiment up until Irish independence.


All of this made the Irish a people that was particularly inclined to go into animal husbandry.  Other agricultural Europeans, except perhaps the Scots, had less exposure to this sort of agriculture than the Irish did.  It's no wonder therefore, that the Irish were well represented amongst 19th Century cowboys and, ultimately, amongst small scale 19th Century and 20th Century ranchers.  Indeed, in more than one occasion, Irish immigrant ranchers were able to convert humble beginnings into enormous agricultural enterprises.  One such example was that of Patrick J. Sullivan, an Irish immigrant who started ranching sheep near Rawlins. As his ranch grew, he moved to Casper and became a wealthy man from sheep ranching, which then translated into politics as he became Mayor of Casper, and ultimately a U.S. Senator upon the death of Francis Warren.  Sullivan had come a long way from his humble beginnings in Bantry Bay.  His Irish roots were reflected in the balcony of the large house he built in Casper, which featured a shamrock on the banister of the widow's walk, although that feature is now gone.



No story about the Irish in the United States would be complete without noting the role that Irish born clerics played, as the Irish were always closely identified with the Catholic Church, a fact which ultimately was pivitol in Ireland's independence following World War One.  In Wyoming, the presence of the Irish guaranteed the presence of the Catholic Church, and in many areas, but not all, Irish born parishioners and Irish American parishioners were the largest segment of any one congregation (although, again, this is not true everywhere in Wyoming).  Because the church was essentially a missionary church in Wyoming, the Church relied for decades on Irish priests.  The first Bishop of the Diocese of Cheyenne was the Irish born Maurice Burke, who served from 1887 until 1893, and who had to defend his Diocese from hostility from nativist elements, which were strong at the time.  He was succeeded by Thomas Lenihan, who was also Irish born.  Irish born priests continued to be very common well into the 20th Century and it only came to a slow close after World War Two, although at least one Irish born retired priest in residence remains at St. Patrick's in Casper.

In a state where they were fairly strongly represented, it's perhaps not surprising that the Irish were able to have some success in politics in the state even though there remained a strong anti Catholic prejudice in much of the United States prior to World War One.  Indeed, at least according to one source, some early Irish businessmen and politicians in the State made efforts not to make their Catholicism generally well known and were muted about their faith, being aware of the prejudice that existed against ti.  None the less, as the example of Patrick Sullivan provides, there were successful Irish born and Irish American politicians in the state fairly early.  Sullivan may provide the best early example, but others are provided by mid 20th Century politicians Joseph O'Mahoney and Frank Barrett.

An identifiable Irish presence in the state remained through most of the 20th Century, but by the last decade of the 20th Century it began to fade, as Irish immigrants aged and began to pass on.  Some still remain, but the era of Irish immigration to Wyoming is over.  Like most of the United States, a residual Irish influence lingers on in subtle ways, and in the memories of Irish descendants, many of whom, perhaps most of whom, can also claim ancestry from other lands by now.  But the impact of the Irish on the state, while not as open and apparent as it once was, continues on, and always will, given their significant role in the the 19th and 20th Century history of the state.

March 20

Today is the first day of Spring.

1836 Texan garrison of Goliad surrenders to the Mexican Army.

1876  The Chugwater division station on the Cheyenne to Black Hills stage line was established.  This is notable do a degree in that another 1876 event, the Battle of Powder River, had just occurred, in a year that would later see the Battle of the Rosebud and the Battle of Little Big Horn, showing that the region was far from settled.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1884  Laramie incorporated. Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1895  An explosion at the Red Canyon Mine in Almy killed 61 miners.  Attribution:  On This Day.

1916   The Punitive Expedition in the Press: Casper Daily Press for March 20, 1916
 

1917   The Wyoming Tribune for March 20, 1917. Colorado Cavalry at Ft. Russell. Lack of coat lethal?
 

Wyoming was contemplating adding cavalry to its National Guard, but Colorado had it.

Colorado cavalrymen were disembarking at Ft. D. A. Russell.  They were demobilizing late in comparison to the Wyoming National Guard.

And one Wyoming National Guardsmen wouldn't be called back up for World War One.  He'd died of pneumonia.

Pvt. Charles Schmidt of Company B, Lander Wyoming, had become ill after having to turn in his overcoat at Ft. D. A. Russell.  Apparently a lot of men were sick, and that likely explains the delay we recently read about in discharging from active service the men from Laramie, who made up the medical company.

March in Wyoming is cold and these papers have had stories of a cold spell being in the works in this time frame.  It seems a lot of men were sick and frankly viruses going through troops is a pretty common thing in military units.  Overcoats were an item of equipment, not a uniform item, which may sound odd to readers who have no military experience, but that's exactly how field jackets were viewed when my father served in the Air Force during the Korean War and how they were viewed when I was in the National Guard in the 1980s.  The National Guard had denied that it was taking the coats from the men when the story broke, but obviously there was some truth to the story for some units.

Would an overcoat have kept Pvt. Schmidt alive?  It sure couldn't have hurt.
1922 President Harding ordered U.S. troops back from the Rhineland.


Often forgotten, the troubles that commenced with the Mexican Revolution and more particularly the raid on Columbus, NM, continued, and remained a focus for the U.S. military. All Guard units, including Wyoming's, had ceased border service, however, with the start of World War One.

1995  An earthquake measuring 4.2 occurred 95 miles from Green River, WY.

2003 At 5:34 AM Baghdad time on 20 March, 2003 (9:34 PM, 19 Mar 2003, EST) the Iraq Invasion began.  Wyoming's Army National Guard would see service in this war with Iraq.