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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.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July 31

1867  Ft. Fetterman given that name.  It was only in its second week of existence.  Attribution:  On This Day.

1868  Ft. Phil Kearny abandoned.

From:   Some Gave All:  Ft. Phil Kearny, Wyoming 

These are monuments at Ft. Phil Kearny, the command which suffered defeat at the Fetterman Fight, but endured an attack later at the Wagon Box Fight.

This blog does not attempt to document battlefields photographically, and the same is true of historic sites. For this reason, this entry does not attempt to depict all of Ft. Phil Kearny. Those wishing to see more photos of the post should look here. Rather, this only attempts to depict a few things topical to this blog.

The monument depicted above is an early one, placed by the State of Wyoming well before any archeology on the post had been done, and very little about its grounds was known. Now, because of archeology on the site, this monument is in a location where it is probably only rarely viewed.


These photographs depict a common device for historic sites in Wyoming, a pipe used for sighting a distant location. In this case, the location is the location of the post cemetery. The cemetary originally held the bodies of the soldiers, and civilians, killed at the Fetterman Fight, but the bodies were later removed to the national cemetery at Little Big Horn.


1892  Legendary Wyoming geologist and University of Wyoming geology professor, Samuel H. Knight, born.  His parents moved to Laramie in 1893, so he was associated with Laramie his entire life, save for attending Columbia for his doctorate, and his service in World War One.  The geology building at the University of Wyoming is named after him.

1898  Wyoming volunteers, the Wyoming Battalion, land at Manila and disembark from the Ohio.  Attribution:  On This Day.

1899  The Wyoming Battalion, having been in the Philippines for exactly one year, embarked on the Grant at Manila and started their journey home. Attribution:  On This Day.

1914  Twenty-five Yellowstone coaches robbed.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1914     The New York Stock Exchange closed due to the outbreak of World War I.

1916   The Wyoming Tribune for July 31, 1916.
 
Cheyenne's more dramatic paper, the Wyoming Tribune, with a grim headline for July 31, 1916.

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Headlines like this one almost seem like something that's more from our own era, so perhaps it serves to remind us that giant natural disasters have been around for awhile.

The Wyoming National  Guard was still awaiting orders in that hot 1916 July.
1919  Sportscaster Curt Gowdy born in Green River.

1930 The radio program The Shadow airs for the first time.

1937  Wyoming deeded Ft. Laramie to the Federal Government. Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1943  The USS Sheridan, APA-51, an attack transport, commissioned.

1981     A seven-week strike by major league baseball players ended.

2003   Ft. Yellowstone designated a National Historic Landmark. Attribution:  On This Day.

2003  Jackson Lake Lodge designated a National Historic Landmarks. Attribution:  On This Day.

2006  Casper's Jonah Bank received its certificate of Federal Deposit insurance, essentially marking the commencement of its operations.



Tuesday, July 30, 2013

July 30

1863 Shoshone chief Pocatello signed the Treaty of Box Elder, bringing peace to the emigrant trails of southern Idaho and northern Utah.

1869  The first census of Wyoming Territory completed.  Attribution:  On This Day.

1869  Fort C. F. Smith burned down by Red Cloud's followers.

1916   The Black Tom Explosion: July 30, 1916
 
German saboteurs blew up New York's Black Tom pier, in a strike against the shipment of American munitions to the Allies.  The massive explosion caused some damage to the Statue of Liberty.  Necessarily, in a year in which the US had just averted one war, and was sliding towards another, a thing like this would have its impact.


The news hit the Cheyenne Leader that very day, suggesting that this paper, which I've been running some mornings, must have been an evening paper.

Note the rodeo news from Cheyenne.

1918. Poet Joyce Kilmer, U.S. Army sergeant, killed in France.


TREES

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree .
 
1930  This photograph taken at Independence Rock.

1941  It was reported that a  29-year-old car, a true antique, was donated in a Rock Springs scrap aluminum drive.  This demonstrates the level of patriotism that such events exhibited, even if the level of attention focused on scrap was in part for propaganda purposes.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1971 Apollo 15 astronauts David R. Scott and James B. Irwin landed on the moon.

Monday, July 29, 2013

July 29

1776  Silvestre de Escalante and Francisco Dominguez, two Spanish Franciscan priests, leave Santa Fe for a journey through the Southwest.  Their journey would take them all the way to the Great Salt Lake and ultimately they would make a round trip of 1,700 miles in 159 days, although the journey would see them eating their horses in the end.

1872  First claimed assent of the Grand Teton.   Nathaniel P. Langford and James Stevenson made the claim, but it is disputed with some feeling that they reached a side peak.

1878  Thomas Edison and Henry Draper view a total eclipse of the sun from Rawlins.

1916   The Cheyenne Daily Leader for July 29, 1916. Hope on the border?
 

The Cheyenne Leader was reporting today that there appeared to be some hope that border difficulties might be mediated through a commission.  Of course, it can't help but be noted that Carranza, who appeared to be willing to do this, had not caused the original border difficulty in the first place and Villa wouldn't be participating.

Otherwise, Frontier Days was making the news, as was the Russian offensive on the Eastern Front.

1946  USS Natrona decommissioned.



1977 Cantonment Reno added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Elsewhere:  

1907    Sir Robert Baden-Powell forms the Boy Scout movement.

1932  The Bonus Army disperses and heads home.


1950 Lieutenant General Walton Walker, regarding the Pusan Perimeter,  issued his "stand or die" order to Eighth Army, declaring, "there will be no Dunkirk, there will be no Bataan."

Sunday, July 28, 2013

July 28

1856  The Martin Handcart Company began its ill fated trip from Missouri, rather late in the season.

1865  Powder River Campaign commenced.  The campaign under the command of  Brigadier General Patrick E. Connor was to "rein in the Arapaho, Cheyenne and Sioux".

1866  Congress passed an act authorizing the Army to raise units of Black soldiers as part of the Regular Army.

1868     The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution went into effect.

1869  An Indian raid near Atlantic City kills three miners.  Attribution:  On This Day.

1898   Spain, through the offices of the French embassy in Washington, D.C., requested peace terms in its war with the United States.

1908.  The "Star", a Casper livery stable, burned down.  The fire was kept form spreading, but the fire was a major disaster in the town, resulting in the loss of eleven horses, a hearse, and a large amount of feed.

1913  Sheridan cattleman John B. Kendrick moves into his mansion "Trail's End."  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1917   Cokeville Telephone Company incorporated.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1920  Pancho Villa surrendered to the Mexican government.

1932     Federal troops dispersed the "Bonus Army".

1938  Cheyenne Light, Fuel & Power began to purchase power from the Seminoe Dam.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

July 27

1806 Attempting to stop a band of young Blackfoot Indians from stealing his horses, Meriwether Lewis shoots an Indian in the stomach in Montana. He and his companions (he was detached from the main body of the Corps of Discovery at the time) then flea in a ride that takes them over 100 miles, nearly non stop.

1840 Ranald Slidell Mackenzie, cavalryman, born.  Mackenzie proved to be a very effective leader and is responsible for the victory at the Dull Knife Fight.  However, even at that time he was descending into insanity, which would ultimately cause him to spend his final years insane.

1901  First smelter opens at Grand Encampment.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1920  William Jennings Bryan spoke in Casper.  Attribution:  Western History Center.

1922 Grasshopper infestation darkened Sheridan's skies.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1922  First recorded ascent of Mt.Moran. Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1940 Bugs Bunny made his debut in the Warner Bros. animated cartoon "A Wild Hare."

1964  Hilltop National Bank in Casper acquires Federal Deposit insurance, essentially marking the commencement of the bank's operations.

1995 The Korean War Veterans Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C.

2013  Today is National Day of the Cowboy for 2013.  Wyoming is the first state to recognize the day.

Friday, July 26, 2013

July 26

1845  The U.S. flag was raised on St. Joseph Island, Texas by a detachment of United States troops. Attribution:  On This Day.

1849   Company C, U.S. Mounted Rifles, arrived at Fort Laramie. Attribution:  On This Day.

1863  Sam Houston died in Huntsville Texas.

1865. On this day two battles were fought in what is now Natrona County, Wyoming, with the first being fought in attempt to avoid having the second occur.

The first battle is the Battle of Platte Bridge Station. Platte Bridge Station was one of a series of posts built on the Oregon Trail through Wyoming, which guarded both the trail and the telegraph line which already ran alongside the trail by that time. It was garrisoned by men of the 11th Kansas Cavalry as well as infantrymen from a galvanized Yankee unit.

Cheyenne, Sioux and Arapahoes gathered out side the fort in the days immediately prior to it, just across from it in what is now Mills Wyoming, in an attempt to draw the troops out. The Cheyenne and the Sioux were at war with the United States as a byproduct of the Sand Creek Massacre the prior winter. As a result of that they had fled north into the Powder River Basin, and had waged a war of raids. The strategy of trying to draw the soldiers out, which failed, is sometime attributed to Crazy Horse who may have been at the battle, although it is difficult to tell.

While the soldiers remained safely in the fort, and the Indians abstained from assaulting it directly (as they usually did) it became necessary to try to move the tribesmen off as an Army wagon train was expected to arrive. When it was in sight, a relief party lead by Lt. Caspar Collins, 11th Ohio Cavalry, crossed the bridge.

The battle was a short one as the troopers were outnumbered and the combined Indian forces had the advantage of terrain. The 11th Kansas attempted to rapidly advance to the trail, but were flanked by tribesmen from the hills, who had been hidden in the area which is now Boatright Smith, a gravel contractor in Mills, WY. Retreat was sounded, but several men were killed in the fight, including Collins. Stories as to Collins actions vary, but his horse is known to have turned into the advancing tribesmen. Some stated that he was attempting to rescue a wounded trooper. Others stated that his horse bolted. The Indian who acquired the horse later gave it away as it was excessively rank.

Collins was not posted to Platte Bridge Station, but had volunteered to lead the relief party after there had been some debate at the post as to who should do it. That has remained an enduring controversy. He wore his full uniform, frock coat and all, on the hot July day, as he did not expect to survive the battle.

The second battle is the Battle of Red Buttes. This occurred within sight of Platte Bridge Station, after the Battle of Platte Bridge Station. This battle occurred when the tribesmen discovered the wagon train that was coming east down the Oregon Trail, on its way in from the stations at Independence Rock and Sweetwater Station. Troopers of the 11th Kansas Cavalry who were posted with the horse herd some miles away, in Bessemer Bend, had attempted to dissuade the wagon train, with men of the 2nd Infantry, from going on as they had seen the large Indian party, but Sgt. Custard, who was in command of the wagon train, insulted the cavalrymen declaring them to be cowards, and proceeded on. Custard, a veteran of fighting in the East during the Civil War, shared the common trait that many with similar experience had, and greatly under estimated the fighting capacity of native inhabitants. When the wagon train neared the post, and the Indians noticed it, they attacked it and killed nearly every soldier save for a few with the train. A very few managed to escape on horseback, cross the Platte, and make their way to Platte Bridge Station.

A grand total of 26 US troops were killed in the combined battles, with 21 of those being at Red Butttes.  The mass grave of those who died at Red Buttes has been lost, and therefore its location is not known today. The town of Mills has undoubtedly grown out towards that location, and now Casper is as well.

A different account of the battle can be found here.

In recognition of his heroism, Platte Bridge Station was renamed Ft. Caspar, with the term "fort" recognizing  the more important and permanent nature of the post, over that of a "station".  Collin's first name was used, rather than his last, as the name Collins had already attached to Ft. Collins in Colorado, named after Gen. Collins, Caspar's father.  The honor was in some ways short lived, as the post was abandoned as part of the agreement that ended Red Cloud's War.  It was revived, however, when the town of Casper was founded a couple of decades later, albeit with a different spelling.


1871  Ferdinand Hayden and his government sponsored team arrived at the Yellowstone Lake and the geyser fields.

1915  The Casper Brewing Co. commenced operations in Casper.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1935  A section of the dance floor at Thermopolis' Washakie Ballroom gave way sending 50 people into the basement, none of whom were injured.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1936  A reconstructed Ft. Caspar is dedicated.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1977  A Thunderbird pilot's aircraft crashes at Frontier Park in Cheyenne resulting in the death of the pilot.

2016  The Wyoming Game and Fish Department reintroduced black footed ferrets to  the Lazy BV and Pitchfork Ranches in Park County after they were first rediscovered there, after they were believed to be extinct, thirty five years ago.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sidebar: Native Americans in Wyoming.

As followers of the blog know, I have, over the past few months, posted a few items on certain ethnic groups that have had a prominent role in Wyoming. Some may have wondered why, in doing that, I haven't posted any on Native Americans, or as the Canadians like to call them, the First Nations.  I don't have a really good excuse, other than its actually a surprisingly complicated topic and somewhat difficult to do.

 Bannocks in Jackson's Hole, 1895, by Frederic Remington.

It would be tempting to post one with this title, but I'm not going to, other than to introduce this topic, as it would be unfair to the various tribes that have in the past, or presently called Wyoming their home.  It's common to see terms such as "Plains Indians" and the like to describe the native inhabitants of any one region of the upper West, but the fact of the matter is that Indian tribes represent a group of ethnicities, rather than one single one.  Still, as an introduction, it makes sense to at least handle the topic collectively to get it rolling.

In the popular imagination, Pre Colombian North American was populated by rather fixed Indian populations.  In reality, however, this was far from true, and this was particularly untrue in the arid West.  Native populations were not only aboriginal, they were in a near constant state of migration, albeit slow migration, prior to their contact with European Americans, or even after it.  We know, for example, that both the Navajos and the Apaches are Athabaskan peoples, whose nearest ethnic relatives live in the Canadian far north.  The Navajos first, and the Apaches after them, started migrating south at some point for reasons not known, and when the Spanish first contacted them they were still on their way south.  Their cultural memories still retained memories of great white bears and fields of migrating birds, things their ancestors had observed in the far North decades and decades prior, but not so many prior that the memory was not retained. And so too with many other Indian cultures.

For the most part, the history of Indians in the West begins wit their first contact with Europeans operating out of the United States, Mexico or Quebec.  What occurred prior to that is a bit murky.  We know that Wyoming, in ancient times, had populations of natives that built pit houses, a practice not engaged in by any of the later tribes, and which may very well have been constructed by the ancestors of a people that had moved far to the south by the time the Corps of Discovery made the first U.S tour of the area. That early history is important, however, in that  these people left some sort of a record of their presence.  Seemingly living in a somewhat wetter era, they lived in a less nomadic manner than their later ancestors, and had seasonal fixed dwellings.  Theories exist as to who they may have been, and we don't really have a very solid idea of what people or peoples they were, other than that they were there.  They also seem to have been the first people to leave a record in stone, such as with the Medicine Wheel, with such structures remaining in use by later peoples, who perhaps conceived of them differently.  Research goes on, and perhaps some day we'll know a great deal more than we currently do.

More recently we know that Wyoming was the home of certain tribes in the 18th Century who remained in the 19th Century.  The Shoshone, a people speaking an Utzo-Aztec language, was one of those groups, and perhaps the most dominant.  

The history of the Shoshone will be dealt with in a separate entry, given that their presence in the state is so significant, and it will have to suffice here to simply note that this people had a long and significant presence in the state.  They still do, as they are one of the two tribes that have, as their reservation, the Wind River Indian Reservation.

The Crows, or Absarokas, likewise had a long history in the state..  The Crows speak a Siouian language and were a significant Plains people whose range stretched far into Wyoming when European Americans first entered the state.  Like the Shoshone, and the other peoples mentioned here, they'll be addressed separately.  It's interesting to note, however, that the Crows and Shoshone fought each other prior to European American contact, but they were both allies of the United States in the Indian Wars of the 1860s and 1870s, as the jointly attempted to arrest the progress of the Sioux and Cheyenne in entering the state.  Unlike the Shoshone, the Crows do not have a reservation in Wyoming, but they still have some presence, and the major Crow reservation is located just over the Montana border.

The Sioux, a collection of closely related people, and the Cheyenne, a group that was allied to them, likewise had a major role in the state.   Neither group had a long history in the state, or perhaps even any history, when European Americans first entered Wyoming. The Sioux and the Cheyenne were, rather, invaders, and highly successful ones at that. That too is part of the story.  Interestingly, their alliance was one that overcame an ethnic divide between the people, as the Cheyenne spoke an Angonquian language, not a Siouian one.  The Cheyenne, for their part, were a stunningly wide ranging people whose presence stretched northward into Montana and southward down to Oklahoma.  As with the Crows, neither the Sioux nor the Cheyenne have reservations in Wyoming, but they do have ones nearby, with there being a Sioux reservation in South Dakota and a Cheyenne reservation in Montana, respectively.

The Arapaho were another group that were allied to the Sioux, and their ancestry may have, at one time, united them with the Cheyenne, although that is not known.  They'd entered the state prior to European contact, but they too were relatively recent arrivals.   The Blackfeet, who were present in northern Wyoming, were closely related to them, and in fact may have really been the same people.  The Arapahos were such a a small group that the Indian Wars were particularly perilous to their survival, which they recognized, and they are the other Wyoming tribe which is present on the Wind River Reservation today.

Paiutes and Utes also entered Wyoming, although more on its fringes. These people, who seem to be rather ignored in the history of the Plains, also spoke a Utzo Aztec language and therefore are related to the Shoshones in some fashion.  Of course, not too much can be placed on mere language groups, as English and German are both Germanic languages in the Indo European Language group, which has not meant for historic alliances.

The Comanche had their origin in Wyoming, as will be seen in the history of the Shoshone, a fact largely obscured by their later history. And the Cherokee crossed it and left their name in the form of a trail.

A group largely and unfairly ignored in Wyoming's history is the Metis.  We associate the Metis, a "mixed" group of people, mostly with western Canada today, but their range stretched far to the south and into the Powder River Basin.

As we progress though this story and try to make it complete, we will not cover every single group.  As can be seen, some peoples had tangential roles in Wyoming.   The Shoshone and Arapaho must be covered, of course, and will be treated to separate entries. So too will the Cheyenne, Sioux and the Crows. 


July 25

1839   Stephen Wheeler Downey was born in Westport Maryland.  He served as a officer in the Union Army up until the Battle of Harpers Ferry, at which he was wounded.  Thereafter he resumed his studies and was admitted to the Washington D.C. bar in 1863.  In 1869 he moved to Wyoming where he practiced law, usually as a prosecutor, for the balance of his life, save for a period of time in which he was a territorial delegate to the U.S. Congress.  He also operated a survey office.  As a member of Wyoming's legislature, he introduced the bill sponsoring the University of Wyoming in 1886 and is therefore regarded as the Father of the University of Wyoming.  Downey Hall at the University is named after him.

1865  Lt. Bretney of Company G, 11th Ohio Cavalry, leaves Sweetwater Station with Cpt. A. Smyth Lybe of the 3d U.S. Vol. Infantry to go to Ft. Laramie, about 150 miles away, to collect their units pay.  On the way they learn of the presence of Indian activity.  They encounter Sgt. Amos Custard of the 11th Kansas Cavalry with a party of wagons about 25 miles west of Platte Bridge Station and encourage him to proceed on that day with them, but Custard refuses on the basis that his animals were tired.  Bretney and Smyth would not arrive at Platte Bridge Station until 2:00 am.

1865   Sioux and Cheyenne attacked "Camp Dodge" near present day Casper.  Attribution:  On This Day.

1868    Congress passed an act creating the Wyoming Territory.

1895 Bannock Indians surround 250 settlers in Jackson Hole but are dispersed by the 9th Cavalry.  This was part of the Bannock War of 1895, which was spared by the State of Wyoming prohibiting the killing of elk for their teeth and the subsequent arrest of several Bannock hunters that year.

Bannock Indians in Jackson's Hole by Frederic Remington.

1904  The Wyoming Humane Society was incorporated.Generally, Humane Societies did not have the same focus at the time, as they do now.  Indeed, a major effort of early humane organizations was in providing water for urban horses.

1910  A moderate earthquake near Rock Springs shook houses and could be felt in mine shafts.

1925  Vice President Charles Dawes visited the set of the movie The Pony Express in Cheyenne.

1962  Caroline Lockhart dies in Cody. Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1977   Captain Charles M. Carter, a Thunderbird USAF pilot, was killed when his T-38 crashed at the Cheyenne airport.

2001  The Queen's Laundry Bath House in the Lower Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park added to the National Register of Historic Places.  Attribution:  On This Day.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

July 24

Today is Pioneer Day in Utah.

Today is Stirling Settlers Day in Alberta.

1832 Benjamin Bonneville leads the first wagon train to cross the Rocky Mountains at South Pass. Bonneville was an Army officer on a two year leave of absence from the Army at the time, during which time he acted as a fur trader, but during which he also spent a great deal of time exploring.

1865  Sioux go into camp near Platte Bridge Station.

1866  The Battle of Clear Creek occurred near present day Buffalo in which Indians besieged a wagon train. The wagon train was able to send word to Ft. Phil Kearny and was relieved by a part of soldiers the following day.

1884   "Stuart's Stranglers", an anti rustling vigilante group,organized at Granville Stuart's DHS ranch in Montana.

1890  Ester Hobart Morris was an honored guests at a banquet celebrating Wyoming's statehood.

1897 African-American soldiers of the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps arrived in St. Louis, Mo., after completing a 40-day bike ride from Missoula, Montana.  Their route took them across north east Wyoming.

1915  A Cheyenne man beat a train in a Denver to Cheyenne race, of sorts. Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1925   Vice President Charles Dawes visited the movie set of The Pony Express in Cheyenne.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1928  Frontier Days started.  Apparently at this time it was the "daddy", not the "granddaddy" of them all.

1935  Frontier Days started.

1938 Instant coffee was invented. Nestle came up with the first instant coffee after 8 years of experiments leading to the Allied victory in World War Two.

1945  Frontier Days started.

1969 Apollo 11, the first manned mission to the moon, splashed down safely in the Pacific.

1972   Ames Monument added to the National Register of Historic Places.  Attribution:  On This Day.

1994  Union Pacific turntable and roundhouse in Cheyenne added to the National Register of Historic Places.

UP Cheyenne roundhouse.

2000  The entrance road, entrance station and the tower ladder at the Devils Tower National Monument added to the Nation Register of Historic Places.  Attribution:  On This Day.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sidebar: The British in Wyoming

Some time ago I did an entry here on the Irish in Wyoming, which has turned out to be one of the most popular threads on the blog.  People must research the topic and hit it.  Shortly thereafter I did one on Hispanics in Wyoming.  I've been meaning to follow up with a couple of other ethnicity based threads, but haven't had a chance.

Now, however, everyone in the United States is being bombarded 24 hours around the clock by the news of England's Prince William and Princess Kate having a baby. Why this deserves this level of attention, I have not a clue, but none the less, it's a Big Deal, at least to the press, and apparently some Americans. Given that, perhaps this is a good time to examine the topic of the British in Wyoming.

 Abbotsbury England, ca 1905.

When I used the term "British" here, I use it advisedly. That is, I'm not using the word British as Americans sometimes do to mean English.  I mean, rather, people from Great Britain, but not Ireland, which has already been addressed.  This may be, quite frankly, somewhat unfair, but I don't think it is entirely, and this topic has to be handled this way for reasons I'll detail immediately below.  In order to get to that, however, I have to run very briefly through a very partial and incomplete synopsis of the history of the British, in an extremely brief and unfair fashion, as that story ultimately impacts the history of Wyoming. For those who have an interest of the history of the British themselves, I'd recommend the still good, but dated history by Churchill, A History of the English Speaking Peoples or, for those who read blogs (and of course you are) or why enjoy podcasts, there's Jamie Jeffers entertaining, monumental and ongoing effort The British History Podcast which has its own blog and forum.

 Portland England.

The fact that I have to start which such a disclaimer, let alone address part of the history of the United Kingdom, probably demonstrates that this story is a bit more difficult to address, and subtle, than the story of the Irish in Wyoming (who were, at one time, one of the peoples of the United Kingdom). That is, it's obviously a different story, as I've had to start off with the disclaimer that I'm not dealing with a single culture, like the Irish, but more than one and that I have to cover their history a bit to get there. That's because the influence of the British in general and the English in particular has been overarching in American history; indeed to such an extent that it's difficult to overstate it, even if we don't commonly even notice it all that much.

 Aberystwith, Wales.

It may be best to just start off noting the obvious that the United States had its origin as thirteen states that had been thirteen English colonies.  But that might just be too simplistic. Those thirteen English colonies came about in as part of a colonization policy that was one of the successful examples of three European efforts, the other two being the French effort and the Spanish effort.  Each left their own marks in their own regions.  But even that would be a bit too simplistic, as the efforts sponsored by the English Crown and the British industry resulted in early colonization by two peoples, the English and the Scots, and that itself is part of the story.

The United Kingdom, which colonized the Atlantic seaboard, was the United Kingdom of England, Scotland and Wales at that time.  That was the union of that brought about a single British political entity on a formal basis with presumed finality..  The Act of Union in 1707 ratified what had been the actual fact for some time, which was that England and Scotland were really subject to a singular authority, and in fact their monarchies had been united since 1603.  Union with Ireland didn't come about, as a formal matter (as opposed to the reality of it) until 1801, after the United States had come into being.

 Loch Goil, Scotland/

The peoples subject to that union, while they may have had one singular monarch, were not, and are not, one singular people, which is important to our story here.  The Welsh, Scottish and the English are separate peoples, in terms of their ancient history and culture. The Welsh, it seems well established, were and are descendants of the original British inhabitants of Britain. The Scots, on the other hand, at least partially descend from the Irish, who started to colonize northern Great Britain in their pre Christian era.  The English no doubt descend from the Celts who first inhabited the land, but culturally and at least partially genetically they also descend from the Angles, Saxons and Jutes, Germanic peoples who started immigrating and invading the island in the 5th Century.  And we have some Viking ancestry mixed in, particularly in England, as well, as the Norwegians and Danes in particular were aggressive colonizers themselves in their own era, which was put to an end in 1066 when the descendants of other Scandinavian invaders crossed the English Channel and established themselves as the Norman rulers of England

The English, it seems, have always been the dominant force on Great Britain, since they've been there, and we need not explore how that came to be for our story here. Suffice it to say, the English outnumbered the Scots and the Welsh, and dominated the politics of the island, and even the neighboring island of Ireland, for centuries.   And such was also the case for the culture and ethnicity of the early United States.

The early US, ethnically and culturally, was British.  It wasn't uniformly English, although it certainly was in certain areas, but it was British.  In many regions English immigrants or the descendants of English residents were by far the most numerous colonial inhabitants.  In others, Scots or "Scots-Irish", the descendants of Scottish emigrants settled by the United Kingdom in Ulster between the English and the native Irish, were the majority, as in the Appalachians.  Anyway you look at it, however, in most locations the American populations, save for the native population, was overwhelmingly British.  This meant that, culturally, they looked back to a collective custom of English law and culture and they were overwhelmingly Protestant; being either members of the Episcopal Church or Protestant dissenters from the Church of England in the case of the English, or Calvinist in the case of the Scots or Scots-Irish.

This remained the case well into the early 19th Century and it reflects the makeup of the country at the time the US acquired most of what became Wyoming with the Louisiana Purchase.  It reflected the makeup of the Corps of Discovery, but it also reflected part of the purpose of the Corps of Discovery, as the United States was not only seeking to discover what laid within the new land, but to make a claim to it in an area where the British were already known to be.

In conventional wisdom, the Corps of Discovery was the first time "white", meaning European Americans, stepped foot in the region that would become Wyoming. This, however, was simply not true.  The British had already seen a British explorer cross British North America to the Pacific, and it was feared that British interests were making entries into what had been an unexplored French and Spanish land claim, thereby making it note much of a claim. And the fear was well placed.  The Hudson's Bay Company was already everywhere.

The Hudson's Bay Company was founded on May 2, 1670 and can make a legitimate claim to being the oldest corporation in the world.  Formed as a means of exploiting a vast land grant in British North America, the company's prime interest was in dealing with furs, which it acquired through the use of of French Canadian trappers and Indians who traded with the company.  Occupying an enormous tract of land, in which it built numerous trading posts and forts, it did not content itself with remaining within it, but sent explorers out into neigbhoring lands.  Its exploration efforts took its agents as far south as Texas, and its trappers almost certainly routinely entered Wyoming.

 
Hudson's Bay Company trading post.

Those trappers were French Canadians, where they were not Indians or later Metis, but they were part of a vast English industry which had shareholders extending up to the British monarchy.  It can be legitimately said, therefore, that the first example of British influence in Wyoming came through the Hudson's Bay Company, which sent its trappers into the state.

When the Corps of Discovery reached the Pacific Ocean, it found that a Hudson's Bay Company post was located where its intended camping spot for that winter was, and it had to locate itself in a new location.  But the Hudson's Bay Company's days on American territory were numbered with the arrival of the U.S. Army in the form of Lewis and Clark's expedition.  The first, but not insignificant, era of British presence, in the form of economic interests, was over, but in some ways it would set the pattern, in terms of economics.

Fur trapping remained the primary European American enterprise in Wyoming up until Western migration really commenced in the 1840s.  By that time, the United States itself had begun to change.  The result of the War of 1812 had been that the US was not to be a solely maritime Atlantic seaboard nation, which was confirmed by the great leap westward caused by the Louisiana Purchase.   The great Irish famine and the European revolutions of the 1840s started a process of German and Irish immigration that would forever change the makeup of the nation, and which was already causing significant domestic turmoil in the nation.  Much of that would come to a head, but not be worked out, during the Mexican War and Civil War.  By the time the Union Pacific came into the state in the 1860s, the United States was a much different nation than it had been sixty years prior.  By that time, the country itself was much less English, although the distinctions between various European cultures was much more significant than it is today.

The next major example of British influence in Wyoming came with the European ranching boom in the 1870s.  And a major influence, with permanent impact, it was.  

Ranching got its start in Wyoming partially due to the efforts of pioneers to provide beef to the Union Pacific and U.S. Army.  But the real expansion of ranching, and ranching as we know it, came with the introduction of Texas herds in the late 1860s and early 1870s. Almost coincident with this, however, British owned companies began to invest in Wyoming ranches, and create Wyoming ranches, creating very British ranching companies on the range.  One of the earliest of this was the Frewan ranch which was one of the very first to enter the Big Horn Basin, entering that area in 1876 and claiming the brand "76" as a result.  Others soon followed.

The first waive of British ranches suffered terribly in the killer winter of 1886-1887.  That winter wiped out many of the early big ranches of all types.  But as severe as that experience was, it did not keep British companies from investing in Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota ranches.  Fueled by investors in Great Britain, these ranches could become major ranching operations, such as the VR (Victoria Regina) in central Wyoming.  In northern Wyoming and southern Montana English and Scottish concerns also became significant in horse raising, with one such ranch even today being known as the Polo Ranch, both for the raising of horses and for the fact that it was associated with the game of polo.

At least one British owned operation was associated with the "big cattleman" side of the Johnson County War, but its association with that side of the conflict did not seem to hurt it in its overall operations.  By the early 20th Century many of these operations were well established, and certain communities in Wyoming and Montana had significant English and Scottish ranching populations.  Sheridan County Wyoming was notable in these regards, being a center of horse raising in Wyoming and, not coincidentally, the location of an Army Remount station as late as World War Two.  The British influence lives on today in the form of the still existing Polo Ranch and the Big Horn Polo Club, as well as in the architecture of the very English looking Episcopal Church in that town.  It can't helped be noted that, ironically, Sheridan and Sheridan County are named after the Phillip Sheridan, whose parents were Irish.



Southern Wyoming saw its own share of British influence, of a similar if less pronounced nature, at the same time. Albany County saw the Ivinsons come in, which left the town being the seat, at that time, of the Episcopal Church in Wyoming



Cheyenne, likewise, saw some similar English and British influence, leaving the town with impressive Episcopal and Presbyterian churches.
 
 Cheyenne's St. Mark's Episcopal Church, from 1888.

The Wind River Reservation was the cite of a significant missionary endeavor, sharing that distinction with the Catholic Church.  The Reverend John Roberts is well remembered for his service in that capacity in Fremont County.

Not all of the British influence of this period came from well funded British corporations.  Some came directly from much less well to do British immigrants as well. Scottish immigrants were present, perhaps not unsurprisingly, in the sheep industry but also in the cattle industry..  Casper apparently had a significant enough Scottish population in the early 20th Century that a Presbyterian minister who had hoped to form a church in Douglas Wyoming was sent, by another Protestant clergyman, to Casper on the basis that Casper was a "Scottish town."   Rock Springs Wyoming, which had an economy based on mining at the time, saw a significant immigration by Welsh and English coal miners, although not in the same numbers as Slavic immigrants to the same area. 

Ties with the United Kingdom were still so strong in some quarters that one ranching family that remained operating in Wyoming in the 1970s sent a member to fight with the Royal Flying Corps in World War One. That young pilot, who had been schooled in Canada, and whose family also gave its name it Irvine California, did not make it back.


 

World War One would be the end notable British enterprises in Wyoming.  The war brought about a boom in horse production, but the end of the war resulted in a crash.  The close ties to the UK seemingly went away, where they had existed.

Even if the influence in the ranching industry and through English immigrants largely ceased following 1918, the impacts have not totally gone away and linger here and there in the form of architecture and individual families.  It also exists, of course, as in every US state save for one in the form of the law.  Indeed, Wyoming formally adopted English Common Law early in its history, where it provided:
8-1-101. Adoption of common law.

The common law of England as modified by judicial decisions, so far as the same is of a general nature and not inapplicable, and all declaratory or remedial acts or statutes made in aid of, or to supply the defects of the common law prior to the fourth year of James the First (excepting the second section of the sixth chapter of forty-third Elizabeth, the eighth chapter of thirteenth Elizabeth and ninth chapter of thirty-seventh Henry Eighth) and which are of a general nature and not local to England, are the rule of decision in this state when not inconsistent with the laws thereof, and are considered as of full force until repealed by legislative authority.

July 23

1632  Three hundred colonists bound for New France depart from Dieppe, France.

1847  Founding of Salt Lake City by Mormons.

1864  The USS Wyoming docked for extensive repairs.

1874  George Custer climbs Inyan Kara Mountain in the Black Hills of Wyoming and carves his name there.

1888  Construction commenced on the State Penitentiary in Rawlins. 

1890   The official celebration of Wyoming statehood held in Cheyenne.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1890  Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show opened in Berlin, Germany.

1903  The Ford Motor Company sold its first car.

1929  Cheyenne Frontier Days commenced for 1929.  

1973   Old Faithful Inn was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Attribution:  On This Day.

1989  The Lake DeSmet portion, Stinking Water Gulch segment and Ross segment of the Bozeman Trail added to the National Register of Historic Places.

1989  The Powder River Crossing at Kaycee added to the National Register of Historic Places.

1989  Trabing Station in Johnson County added to the National Register of Historic Places.

1989  Antelope Crossing at Ross added to the National Register of Historic Places.

1989  Sage Creek Station in Converse County added to the National Register of Historic Places.

1993  A magnitude 3.7 earthquake occurred about 80 miles from Laramie.

Monday, July 22, 2013

July 22

1890  A marble quarry opened near Rawlins.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1894   The first ever motorized racing event is held in France between the cities of Paris and Rouen.

1897   The Hole In The Wall Fight between ruslters and ranchers happened near the Hole In The Wall.

1916  In San Francisco, a bomb at a Preparedness Day parade on Market Street kills ten people and wounds forty.

This item is particularly notable on this date in this current year, 2012 (when first posted), as we've just seen somewhat similar casualties in an act of violence in Denver Colorado.  In the 1916 event, the attack was no doubt politically motivated, but clearly by a person who had a complete disregard for human life.  In the Colorado act the disregard for human life is likewise evident, but it lacks even the cover of a political motivation which, at least, would provide the thin camouflage of deluded justification for such an act.

Now, in the US, there will be, and indeed already are, endless efforts to try to deduce the cause of the senseless act.  Was the perpetrator insane?  Was he motivated by some warped political or social goal? Was it the implements, and not the man, that was the cause.

None of this will serve in the end to reveal anything.  And next to none of it, if any of it, will address a simple fact which, in the modern world, is a fact that cannot be stated.

That fact is is that Evil is in the world, and some people are motivated by Evil.

That Evil is in the world should be self evident.  Hitler, Himmler, Stalin and a host of similar tyrants were not insane.  They were servants of evil.  Likewise, thousands of people in this era are simply evil.  Evil people have always been around. What hasn't always been around, however, is a denial that evil exists. And we're paying for it, and will continue to do so, until we realize that evil is an antiquated concept, but a reality.

1967  Cpt. William B. Graves shot down while piloting a OV-1C in Vietnam.

1922 Mount Moran ascended for the first time.  the climb was made by LeGrand Hardy, Bennet McNulty and Ben C. Rich of the Chicago Mountaineering Club via the Skillet Glacier route.

1937 The Senate rejected President Franklin D. Roosevelt's proposal to add more justices to the Supreme Court.

1942 US initiates gasoline rationing 

1950 The Department of the Army asked reserve officers to volunteer for active duty due to the Korean War.

1966  Six people were injured when a category two tornado struck Gillette.  Attribution:  On This Day.

1967   Capt. William B. Graves of Douglas is killed when his OV 1-C  Mohawk aircraft crashes in Vietnam.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

July 21

1860  Fenimore Chatterton born in Oswego County, New York. He was a businessman, politician and lawyer who had relocated to Sheridan and then was elected Wyoming's Secretary of State in 1898, after having served in two terms of the legislature.  The death of Governor DeForest Richards made Chatterton governor in 1903 but he was not reelected in 1905..  He resumed the practice of law thereafter.

1867 Ft. D. A. Russell established outside of Cheyenne on  Crow Creek.  It survives as an active duty military post today, now as Warren Air Force Base.
Veterinary Hospital at F. E. Warren.

1885  Owen Wister was in Medicine Bow again, this time spending the night in the corner of a store.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1890  H. G. Welch demonstrated that strawberries could be raised on the Laramie Plains, which are generally at least 7,000 feet in elevation. Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1941  President Roosevelt asks Congress to extend the draft period from one year to 30 months and to make similar increases in the terms of service for the National Guard.

So much for the lyrics of one of the then popular songs:

GOODBYE DEAR, I'LL BE BACK IN A YEAR

Goodbye Dear, I'll be back in a year
'Cause I'm in the army now
They took my number right out of the hat
And there's nothing a guy can do about that

But when you get back you'll be all tanned and brown
Say, couldn't we buy that cottage right outside of town

Goodbye Dear, I'll be back in a year
Don't forget that I love you

Don't fear, Dear, I'll be here in a year
'Cause I'm true to the Army now
Ah, what a soldier, you wait and see
Why, I'll be a big gun in the artillery

Now honey, be sure and keep cozy and warm
Gee, you look cute in that new uniform:
Oh, goodbye Dear, I'll be back in a year
Don't forget that I love you

Goodbye Dear, well I'm here for a year
I'm in the Army now
But don't you worry, the General and I
Are the greatest of pals

Now, Ronnie, don't you lie
Well, he fixed it up so I could have breakfast in bed
Well, why are you peeling potatoes instead?
Oh, he's just kidding me
Good bye dear, I'll be back in a year
Don't forget that I

Don't forget that I
BOTH: Don't forget that I love you
Another versions (multiple versions in one year were common at the time):
Goodbye Dear, I'll be back in a year
'Cause I'm in the army now
They took my number out of the hat
And there's nothing a guy can do about that

But when I get back, I'll be all tanned and brown
And we'll buy that cottage just outside of town
So, goodbye Dear, I'll be back in a year
Don't forget that I love you

Goodbye Dear, I'll be back in a year
'Cause I'm in the army now
Don't I look handsome dressed up like this
Stop your cryin' and give your soldier a kiss

They may send me out to the old Philippines
But, Sweetheart, you'll still be the girl of my dreams
So, goodbye Dear, I'll be back in a year
Don't forget that I love you
1942  Big Horn County's Fair cancelled.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1952 John Barrasso born in Reading Pennsylvania.  He was appointed to the U.S. Senate after the death of Craig Thomas in 2007 and has been serving in that office since that date.

1974  The Campbell County Rockpile Museum opened.  Attribution:  On This Day.

1987  The most powerful tornado in Wyoming's history,  the Teton–Yellowstone tornado,an F4, touched down in Yellowstone National Park and left a path of destruction 1 to 2 miles wide, and 24 miles long while leveling 15,000 acres of mature pine forest.

2010  The State Code adopted by the Legislature.

Wyoming, like most states has a set of state symbols.  I think I've listed them all over time, including now this one, the most recent to be adopted.

I've generally abstained from commenting on the symbols, even though a few of them strike me as a bit odd. For example, we have a State Insect, which I don't know that we need.  But so be it.

Here, however, I can't help but comment.

The State Code I guess, is okay enough.  Here's the statute that sets it out:
 8-3-123. State code.

(a) The code of the west, as derived from the book Cowboy Ethics by James P. Owen, and summarized as follows  is the official state code of Wyoming. The code includes:

(i) Live each day with courage;
(ii) Take pride in your work;
(iii) Always finish what you start;
(iv) Do what has to be done;
(v) Be tough, but fair;

(vi) When you make a promise, keep it; 
(vii) Ride for the brand; 
(viii) Talk less, say more; 
(ix) Remember that some things are not for sale; 
(x) Know where to draw the line.
There's nothing in here in particular that I disagree with, although that "ride for the brand" item doesn't really reflect a lot of Wyoming's history very accurately.  The central conflict in the state from the 1876 to 1900 time frame really centered around individuals who started out riding for one brand, and then acquired their own brand and quit riding for the Brand No. 1.  Indeed, it might justifiably be argued that Individuals, rather than Ride For The Brand, is the true mark of a Wyomingite.

My greater problem, or perhaps irritation, with the State Code is, I suppose, similar to my comments regarding "state" authors, in that in supposedly finding a "code" that identifies us, we had to copy it from a Wall Street figure and not a Wyomingite.  The code comes from a book that Owens wrote in which he identified what he though were "Cowboy Ethics" and argued that this simple Code of the West could teach the nation something.  I'm not arguing that it couldn't, but I tend to doubt that a Wall Street figures is really capable of capturing the ethics of a class and group so very foreign to his own.

Again, as noted, having been around a lot of cowboys and rural workers, one thing I think is totally missing is that they all tend to have a high degree of independence and its not unusual at all to find actual working cowboys who switch employers a lot.  Perhaps they "ride for the brand", but often only briefly.  The "talk less, say more" item is a nice toss to a certain Gary Cooper view of the cowboy (and Gary Cooper was raised on a Montana ranch) but truth be told, being an isolated group, quite a few cowhands like to talk quite a bit, if given the opportunity to.  One Wyoming politician, the former Senator Simpson, is widely celebrated in Wyoming for his gift of gab at that, which has occasionally gotten him into trouble.  But the general list is not a bad one.  I only think it a bit sad that in order to define what our ethics are, we had to borrow them from a Wall Street figure who wrote what he thinks ours our.  It would seem that we could have defined them ourselves.



Saturday, July 20, 2013

July 20

1862  Ft. Halleck, near Elk Mountain, established.   It patrolled a section of the overland trails.  Attribution  On This Day.

1866  A wagon train was attacked on Crazy Woman Creek by the Sioux and Cheyenne..  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1881 Sitting Bull surrendered at Ft. Buford, North Dakota.

1885 Trial of Louis Riel for treason begins at Regina, the capital of the North-West Territories; Riel wishes to plead not guilty, but his lawyers enter an insanity plea over his objections.

1886  Lusk town lots went on sale.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1889 Ellen Watson and Jim Averell hung by area ranchers in the region of the Sweetwater River.  This event has been one of the most enduring controversial in Wyoming's history, with many different variants of it having been written.  There are now so many variants, that sorting out the true reasons that Ellen "Cattle Kate" Watson and Jim Averell is now nearly impossible.  It can't even be fully determined if Watson and Averell were married, which they might have been (they did take out a marriage license) or if Watson was a prostitute who took payment in cattle, which she might have been.

The murder is often placed in the context of the Johnson County War, where it doesn't properly belong.

It should be noted that this event is probably subject to more interpretation, evolution, and revision than any other single event in  Wyoming's history, much of it quite recent.  For much of the 20th Century Ellen Watson and Jim Averell were regarded as victims of an unwarranted extrajudicial lynching, but not as totally innocent characters.  The generally accepted view, for many decades (and I believe the one that is recounted in the the excellent "War On Powder River", is that Watson was a prostitute (which does not preclude her being married to Averell) and that she took payment in cattle, if no other currency was available.  This got her into trouble with area ranchers, this thesis maintains, as the cattle were often stolen by the cowhands who paid for her services. Averell, according to this view, lost his life essentially for living with her and benefiting from her activities.

More recently, however, there have been serious, and not always entirely grounded, efforts to revive her reputation and there have even been those who have viewed her as an early feminist businesswoman, with a wholly legitimate business activity, who was murdered simply for being a self assertive woman.  Frankly, that doesn't wash, and independent Frontier women were not really novel.  A more serious revisionist view holds that Averell and Watson were small time homesteaders who were trespassing on the lands that were controlled by rancher Albert Bothwell.  It may be that there is some truth to this view, which might also explain why the marriage, or lack thereof, of Averell was either not completed (a serious crime at that time) or kept secret, as it would have allowed both Averll and Watson to file separate homesteads.

Of course, it may be that both the earlier accepted version of events or the standard revisionist views are correct.  Watson and Averell were homestead entrants and that may have seriously irritated Bothwell and his companions, and Watson might also have been a prostitute.  The vast expanse of time that has gone by since this 1889 event effectively means that the truth will never be really known now.  What is undoubted is that Watson was the only woman ever lynched in Wyoming, and none of the perpetrators of the act made any effort to keep the deed secret.  One even rode into Casper shortly after the news broke on the story, admitted his role, and was basically left alone.

Ellen Watson.

1903  The Ford Motor Company shipped its first car.

1917 The U.S. World War I draft lottery began.

1948 President Harry S. Truman institutes a military draft with a proclamation calling for nearly 10 million men to register for military service within the next two months. My father is one of those to register under the 1948 law.

1969 Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon.

Friday, July 19, 2013

July 19

1814         Samuel Colt, firearms inventor, born.

1864  The USS Wyoming returned to a U.S. port after extended service in the Far East, which she would soon see again.

1867.  The Army commences construction of Ft. Fetterman.  The fort is located on a windy bluff overlooking the Platte River.  The site requires those detailed to walk some distance to water, and for a period of time the post would have the highest insanity rate in the Army.

1877  .Union Pacific employees wrote Yale paleontologist William Carlin about the discovery of fossils at Como Bluff.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1885  Owen Wister takes his legendary snooze on the counter of the general store at Medicine Bow, while waiting for a train.  The Philadelphia born Wister, was very well educated and had hoped for a career in music, but instead obtained a law degree from Harvard due to the urging of his father.  He practiced law in Philadelphia.  During that period he commenced vacationing in the West, with his first trip to Wyoming being this one, in 1885.  It would lead to his legendary book, The Virginian. Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1890  Laramie granted a franchise for a street railway.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1907  Isabel Jewell born in Shoshoni.  Jewell was a successful Broadway and screen actress in the 1930s and 1940s.

1922 Cheyenne's mayor banned the sale of firearms during a railroad strike.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1924  Stan Hathaway born in Osceola, Nebraska.  He was raised by an aunt and uncle in Hunley Wyoming after his mother died when he was two, and was the valedictorian of Huntley High School in 1941.  He served in the Army Air Corps in World War Two, became a lawyer after the war, and was elected governor in 1967.  He was briefly the Secretary of the Interior under President Gerald Ford.

1925  A collection of farm and ranch photographs was taken.

1964  The Swan Land and Cattle Company Headquarters was designated a National Historic Landmark.  Attribution:  On This Day.

2012  W. N. "Neil" McMurry, a giant in Wyoming's heavy construction industry for many years, and a significant figure in the oil and gas industry in his later years, died.  His activities in these fields were particularly noticeable in Casper, where foundations related to his activities had a significant impact on the area.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

July 18

1877  Cantonment Reno, then Ft. McKinney on the Powder River,  moved to the north bank of Clear Creek.  Attribution:  On This Day.

1882  William Hale appointed Territorial Governor of Wyoming.  Hale was an Iowa attorney active in Republican politics, and was a Presidential Elector.  He occupied the position until his death in 1885.


1890  Laramie granted a streetcar franchise.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1901. Tom Horn murders Willie Nickell, for which he is later hung. In part, Horn is relatively rapidly identified due to leaving an expended .30-30 cartridge at the site, that being a rifle cartridge he was associated with.  At the time, the .30-30 was regarded as a long range high velocity cartridge and it was a relatively new cartridge as well.  The murder was almost certainly a mistake, as Horn was very likely waiting for Willie's father.  Willie was a big kid, albeit only age 14, and was wearing his father's coat on the day of the murder.

It's interesting to note that Horn was born in Missouri and grew up on a large family farm, although he left home as an early teen. His 1860 birth date would have caused him to grow up in the Missouri of the 1860s and 1870s, which were particularly lawless, and produced a variety of notorious gunmen.  He served as a civilian scout in the Army under the legendary Al Sieber and saw service on both sides of the border.  He picked up a knowledge of the Apache language during this period..

In the period leading up to this infamous act, he seems to have been employed as an enforcer for certain cattle interests that were continuing to contest along the lines of the Johnson County War as well as the ongoing sheep war.  He first took up hiring out as a gunman in the Southwest, after his service to the Army.  His role in Wyoming was often as a "stock detective", which gave a degree of legality to some of his activities.

His arrest and conviction is one of two instances in the first decade of the 20th Century in Wyoming in which the gunman was rapidly identified due to a cartridge preference, the other being the 1909 Spring Creek Raid, which was the last raid of Wyoming's long running sheep wars. In that event, one of the assailants was armed with a semi automatic Remington 1908 in .25 Remington, his rifle being the only one of that type in the region.

Horn has remained an oddly popular and well known figure in Wyoming's history and has his apologists.  The reasons for this are not entirely clear.  There are those who claim even to the present day that he was not guilty of the murder and was framed by those who had formerly employed him, citing to the efforts of Joe Lefors, who was critical in tracking him down and supplying testimony against him. But the apologists arguments do not stand up to scrutiny.   Looked at objectively, Horn was a late Frontier era figure who became ensnared in the violence of the period at the same time at which it was winding down.  The same decade of his arrest would see Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid conclude their criminal activities in the state (also with Lefors playing a part in that) and the end of the Sheep Wars due to the arrival of effective law enforcement and unbiased juries.  Perhaps Horns role as a fin de siecle play a role in the ongoing fascination with him.

1912  A prison riot resulted in twelve prisoners of the penitentiary escaping, one of which killed a Rawlins resident. Attribution:  On This Day.

1930  Gillette's  Dr. Sayles built small hospital at his home.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1940 The Democratic National Convention in Chicago nominated President Franklin D. Roosevelt for a third term in office.


2008  A Federal plan to delist the Northern Rockey Mountain Gray Wolf from the Endangered Species List was struck down by the Federal District Court of the D. C. Circuit.  Attribution:  On This Day.