How To Use This Site

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.

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.

As can be seen, the papers published the name of the men selected right on the front page.

In some counties, however, the draft proved unnecessary as the counties had already filled their quotas, which were apparently on a county by county basis, through volunteers.

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.

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