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Full text of "History of Natrona county, Wyoming, 1888-1922; true portrayal of the yesterdays of a new county and a typical frontier town of the middle West. Fortunes and misfortunes, tragedies and comedies, struggles and triumphs of the pioneers .."

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HISTORY OF 

NATRONA COUNTY 

WYOMING 




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History of 
NATRONA COUNTY 

WYOMING 

1888-1922 

True Portrayal of the Yesterdays of a New 
County and a Typical Frontier Town 
ofthe Middle West. Fortunes and Mis- 
fortunes, Tragedies and Comediesj 
Struggles andTriumphs ofthe Pioneers 

^^^ap and Illustrations 

BY 

Alfred James Mokler 

Publisher of the Natrona County Tribune from 
June 1 , 1 897, /o October 15,1914 

1923 
R. R.DoNNELLEY & Sons Company 

CHICAGO 



Copyrighted, 1923 
all rights reserved 



1142992 



Foreword 

TO SEE Natrona county grow from the smallest in 
point of assessed valuation to the very highest of 
any county in the state of Wyoming, to see Casper 
rise from a frontier village, with a population of less than 
five hundred to a progressive city of twenty-seven thousand, 
to see our resources developed from almost nothing to a stage 
that supplies the product for factories and refineries that 
cost more than thirty millions of dollars, where more than 
three thousand men are employed, and to worthily record 
the events that have occurred in these years is the author's 
pride, and to be familiar with them is the duty, and should 
be the delight of every patriotic citizen. 

In presenting this work the author's aim is to supply the 
demand for a true portrayal of a great and eventful period 
of more than three decades, wherein the progress has been 
most exciting and dramatic. What struggles and triumphs, 
what discoveries and revelations, what disasters and reforms, 
what tragedies and comedies have characterized the wonder- 
ful advance since the first tent was put up where the city of 
Casper is situated and since Natrona county was organized. 
This work is not a mere history, for it contains details of 
commonplace occurrences and graphic descriptions of every- 
thing notable that has occurred since Casper was a mere 
village and since Natrona was organized as a county. The 
pages are filled with the most interesting and useful material 
for reference, illustration, entertainment and instruction, and 
in the fullest sense is stimulating, romantic, true. 

More than three laborious years have been devoted to 
the preparation of this work, and the author has obtained 
rare and valuable information hitherto inaccessible. County 
and city records, libraries, private diaries, newspapers and 
journals of the pioneers are the sources of the author's informa- 
tion. From eye witnesses and participants in thrilling scenes 
have been secured interesting facts never before in print, 
and the work may be relied upon as authority upon all sub- 
jects of which it treats. The illustrations are rare and of a 
value beyond financial consideration, and many of the en- 
vii 



Vlll FOREWORD 

gravlngs will convey a clearer idea of some of the subjects 
than a whole volume of words. Bias or prejudice and a 
garbled version made of distorted fact and malicious gossip 
are not included in these pages, but details, events and inci- 
dents are recorded as nearly correct as has been possible to 
obtain them. 

To the pioneers and the others who have adopted Na- 
trona county as their dwelling place, the author has the 
honor to dedicate this work. 



Preface 

THERE is no place in the great MiddleWest more replete 
with interesting history than Central Wyoming and Na- 
trona county . It was in this part of the country that John 
Colter, in 1808, while trapping along the streams and wander- 
ing over the plains, had thrilling experiences with the Indians 
that seem almost incredible; it was here that Robert Stuart, 
in 1812, with his small party of men, who, after traveling for 
many months through the mountains and over the plains, 
on their way from the Columbia river to Saint Louis, and 
having been overtaken with early winter, put up the first 
white man's cabin that was built in what is now the state of 
Wyoming; it was here that General Ashley, in 1823-4, ex- 
plored the Big Horn mountains and the Sweetwater valley 
and gave its name to the "Sweetwater" river; it was here 
that Captain Bonneville, in 1832, spent much of his time in 
his most interesting explorations, which are so ably described 
by Washington Irving; it was here that Father DeSmet, in 
1840, spread the gospel among the Indians and trappers, and 
through his goodness no doubt averted many a clash between 
the red man and the whites. This great man chiseled his name 
on Independence Rock, which he gave the name, "The 
Register of the Desert"; it was here that John C. Fremont, 
"The Pathfinder," in 1842, with Kit Carson as his guide, 
explored the country along the Platte and Sweetwater rivers, 
and finally ascended one of the highest peaks in the Wind 
River range that bears his name, and from this lofty peak 
discovered the lake that was then named and since bears 
the name of Fremont lake; he, too, chiseled his name on 
Independence Rock. And after Fremont came the sturdy 
pioneers in 1843-8 to settle the Oregon Country; in 1847-55 
the Mormons passed through to the Great Salt Lake country; 
in 1849-55 the California gold seekers passed over the well- 
worn trail; and up until 1869 the emigrants and home- 
seekers, by the thousands upon thousands, traveled from the 
extreme east to the west end of the county on their westward 
journey, many of whom experienced hair-breadth escapes 
and bloody encounters with wild beasts and hostile Indians; 
ix 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

FACING 
PAGE 

Map OF Natrona County, Wyoming 6 

Natrona County Newspapers 30 

"Tribune" Office, on Center Street, 1900 32 

" Derrick " Office, 1893 32 

Casper's First Jail Building, 1890 36 

Natrona County's First Court House, 1893 36 

Natrona County Court House, 1908 36 

The Jameson Freight Outfit Bound for Lander 50 

Members of the Natrona County Pioneer Association (1906) 60 

Freight Team and Wagons with Supplies 76 

South Side of Main Street in 1888— "Old Town" of Casper 116 

North Side of Main Street in 1888 — "Old Town" of Casper 116 

A Busy Day in the "Old Town" of Casper, 1888 118 

First Store of the Richards k Cunningham Company, 1888 118 

Two Views of Casper in 1894 126 

Congregational Tabernacle, Casper's First Church Building 130 

Business Houses on West Center Street, 1892 130 

St. Mark's First Episcopal Church, Built in 1890 134 

Casper Churches in the Early Days : First Methodist Episcopal, 

1893 AND 1906; St. Mark's Episcopal; St. Anthony's Catholic 134 

Officers and Members of Casper Lodge No. 15, A., F. and A. M., 1897. 140 

Casper Fire Department, 1913 154 

Eighty-five Thousand Barrels of Oil Burning 160 

Oil Tanks Struck by Lightning — A Million-Dollar Fire 160 

Loading Up the Freight Wagons 166 

Indians on Second Street, Casper, Come to Town for Supplies, 1892. . 166 

West Side of Center Street, July 4, 1901 170 

Casper Band Marching Down Center Street, 1908 170 

Indians Entertaining Casper Palefaces in 1894 184 

Center Street, Casper, 1890 202 

Same Street in 1900 202 

Same Street in 1922 202 

Second Street, Casper, Looking East from Center Street, 1922 208 

Town of Bessemer, 1890 222 

Bessemer Postoffice, 1892 — George W. Johnson, Wife and Son 222 

Goose Egg Ranch House 224 

xiii 



Xiv LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

FACING 
PAGE 

First Oil Derrick in the Salt Creek (Shannon) Field, Erected in 

1889 244 

Casper's First Oil Refinery, Built in 1895 246 

Hauling Supplies from Casper to the Salt Creek Oil Fields, 1900. ... 248 

Spring Creek Canyon. Inset: Ella Watson's Cabin 268 

The Tree upon which Ella Watson and James Averell Were Hanged 268 

The " Hole-in-the-Wall" Cabin 3H 

The "Hole-in-the-Wall" Ranch, Red Bluffs in the Distance 314 

"The Monument," in Memory of I. Morris Waln 370 

"Monarch of the Plains" 37° 

"The Sentinels," a Portion of " Hell's Half Acre" 37^ 

Old Fort Caspar and Platte Bridge 396 

Members of Casper City Council and Committee from Chamber of 

Commerce 4^4 

Excavating a Log from the Old Platte Bridge 406 

Masonic Memorial Service at Independence Rock, Wyoming, July 4, 

1920. Inset: Commemorative Tablet Affixed to the Rock 458 

Sweetwater Valley. Inset: Close View of the Devil's Gate 462 

The Devil's Gate and the Tom Sun Ranch 4^2 

Second Street, Casper, Looking East from Center, 1920 462 



Organization of Wyoming as a 
Territory and State 

WYOMING derived its name from the historic Wyoming 
valley of Pennsylvania and is supposed to be a corruption 
of the Indian name Maughwauwame, meaning in the Indian 
language Large Plains. With the state 365 miles in length by 276 
miles in width, making an area of 97,883 square miles, its surface is 
equal to the states of New York and Pennsylvania. Part of Wyoming, 
west of the Rocky mountains, was included in the Oregon Country 
and belonged to Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Idaho. The lower 
Green River country, about Fort Bridger, pertained to Mexico and 
became American soil after the treaty of 1848. Most of Wyoming was 
included in the Province of Louisiana, purchased from the French 
in 1804, the Territory of Louisiana after 1805, the Territory of Mis- 
souri after 1812, the Indian Country after 1834, Nebraska after 1854, 
Dakota after 1861, Idaho after 1863, and Dakota again after 1864. 
To Dakota, therefore, our earliest pioneers looked for what little law 
and justice was given them; and it was the rule, rather than the ex- 
ception, that citizens at this long distance from the seat of govern- 
ment waited either very long or else hopelessly for even such little 
satisfaction as might be given by law. More revenue was gained 
by the territorial treasury from this isolated section than from all of 
eastern Dakota, while the taxation here laid by the United States 
aggregated very handsome amounts. In 1868, however, a new era 
was inaugurated, and the enterprising settlers who laid the founda- 
tion for our new state made vigorous efforts to secure an organization 
nearer home. These were baffled until July 25, 1868, when the act 
to provide a temporary government for the "Territory of Wyoming" 
became a law.^ The boundaries designated for the foundling were 
the forty-first and forty-fifth degrees of north latitude and the twenty- 
seventh and thirty-fourth meridians of longitude west from Washing- 
ton. This gave the territory the generous dimensions of 365 miles 
in length by 276 miles in breadth, and, besides taking a large pro- 
portion of Dakota's domain, carved smaller areas from Colorado 
and Utah. 

Federal appointments for nearly all officers were made during 
April, 1869, and on the loth of May following the new government 

'"Hand Book of the Territory of Wyoming," Robert E. Strathorn, 1877. 



2 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

was in complete working order, with Cheyenne as the capital. The 
gentlemen who first filled positions of trust were: J. A. Campbell, 
governor; Edward M. Lee, secretary; Church Howe, marshal; J. M. 
Carey, United States attorney; John M. Howe, chief justice; J. W. 
Bingham and W. S. Jones, associate justices; C. D. Ruger, surveyor 
general; Frank Wolcott, receiver public land office. 

The first legislative assembly in Wyoming was organized at 
Cheyenne October 12, 1869, with Wm. H. Bright as president of 
the council, and S. M. Curran, speaker of the house. The legislature 
adjourned sine die on the loth of December, after having given the 
first laws that were considered really binding by the people of this 
section. Succeeding sessions have been held biennially, meeting, 
according to enactment, on the second Tuesday of January of each 
alternate year. 

The following is the official count of the elections for delegate 
to congress in the Territory of Wyoming from 1869 to 1876. 





1869 


1870 


1872 


1874 


1876 


Counties 




3i 
1^ 




S2 






6^ 




Is- 
c5^ 




Albany 

Carbon 

Laramie 


320 
190 
722 

593 
X38 


515 
389 

886 
862 
679 


428 

ISO 
398 
363 
327 


380 
279 
228 


359 
79 
518 
399 
116 


5? 
261 

572 

186 

160 


555 
282 
677 
306 
584 


699 
363 
881 
406 
657 


lOIO 

529 
1242 
496 
587 


533 
407 


Sweetwater 


423 
457 




Totals 

Majority 


1963 


3331 
1368 


1666 

227 


1439 


1471 


1742 
271 


2404 


3006 
606 


3864 
1 104 


2760 


Whole vote (including 
scattering) 


5,266 


3,202 


3,213 


5,404 


6,626 



The vote of 1869 was greatly out of proportion to the permanent 
population on account of the great many people who were in the new 
railroad towns along the Union Pacific railway, which at that time 
had just been completed. This floating population disappeared with 
the flush times of the earliest days, and it was 1874 before a perma- 
nent population was brought up to the figures of '69. 

The act approved by President Benjamin Harrison at 5:30 p.m., 
July 10, 1890, under which the state of Wyoming was admitted into 
the Union, consists of twenty-one sections, introduced by the follow- 
ing preamble: 



WYOMING AS A TERRITORY AND STATE 3 

"Whereas, The people of the Territory of Wyoming did, on the 
30th day of September, 1889, by a convention of delegates called 
and assembled for that purpose, form for themselves a constitution, 
which constitution was ratified and adopted by the people of said 
territory at the election held therefor on the first Tuesday in Novem- 
ber, 1889, which constitution is republican in form and is in conform- 
ity with the Constitution of the United States; and 

"Whereas, Said convention and the people of said territory have 
asked the admission of said territory into the Union of states on an 
equal footing with the original states in all respects whatever; there- 
fore, be it enacted, 

"Section i. That the state of Wyoming is hereby declared to 
be a state of the United States of America, and is hereby declared 
admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original states 
in all respects whatever; and that the constitution which the people 
of Wyoming have formed for themselves be, and the same is hereby 
accepted, ratified, and confirmed." 

Section 2 defines the boundaries, which are the same as at the 
present time; section 3 fixes the representation in congress as two 
senators and one member of the house of representatives; section 4 
sets apart the sections of land numbered 16 and 36 in each township 
for the support of a public school system; section 5 relates to the same 
subject; section 6 grants "fifty sections of the unappropriated public 
lands within the state for the purpose of erecting public buildings 
at the capital," etc.; section 7 donates 5 per cent of the proceeds of 
all sales of public lands within the state to the school fund; sections 
8 to II relate to the land grants under previous acts of legislation, 
for the penitentiary, fish hatchery and agricultural college, etc., 
to-wit: For the insane asylum in Uinta county, 30,000 acres; for 
the penal, reform, and educational institution in course of construc- 
tion in Carbon county, 30,000 acres; for the penitentiary in Albany 
county, 30,000 acres; for the fish hatchery in Albany county, 5,000 
acres; for the deaf, dumb, and blind asylum in Laramie county, 
10,000 acres; for the poor farm in Fremont county, 10,000 acres; for 
the miners' hospital in Sweetwater county, 30,000 acres; for public 
buildings at the capital, 75,000 acres; and for state charitable, penal 
and reformatory institutions, 260,000 acres, making a total of 
500,000 acres, in addition to the specific land grants already men- 
tioned. The act also contains a provision that none of the lands 
granted should be sold for less than ten dollars an acre. 

The next three sections prescribe the manner in which all lands 
granted to the state should be selected. Section 15 appropriated 
^3,000 to defray the expenses of the constitutional convention. 



4 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Sections i6, 17, and 18 provide for the establishment of a United 
States district court for Wyoming, and fix the time and place of 
holding terms of the United States district and circuit courts. Section 
19 relates to the election of United States senators, and the last two 
sections authorize the territorial officials to remain in office until a 
state election could be held, and declare that the laws of the United 
States shall apply to the state of Wyoming. 

The following table exhibiting the population and assessed val- 
uation of the five original counties of the territory in 1870 and 1877, 
which is compiled from the official returns, will be of interest: 



Counties 


PoPUL.^lTION 


Assessed Valuation 


1870 


1877 


1870 


1877 


Albany 

Carbon .... 


2,500 
2,000 
4,000 
4.500 
i,7So 


8,500 
2,500 
9,500 
3.500 
4,500 


$ 593.547 
1,731.418 
1,397.771 
1,840,120 
1,900,000 


$ 2,500,000 
1,900,000 


Laramie ... 


3,000,000 


Sweetwater 


1,918,449 


Uinta 


2,500,000 


Total 


I4>750 


28,500 


$7,462,856 


$11,818,449 



With Natrona county's assessed valuation in 1921 of ^61,070,426, 
it will be observed that this count}^ alone now has more than five times 
the assessed valuation that the whole Territory of Wyoming had in 
1877, and it is more than eight times greater than the whole territory 
was assessed at in 1870. 

The territorial governors of Wyoming were appointed by the 
president of the United States, and in 1869, when Wyoming became 
a territory, President U. S. Grant appointed John A. Campbell our 
first governor. Mr. Campbell served as governor of the new territory 
until 1875, when he resigned and John M. Thayer was appointed and 
served until 1878. John W. Hoyt was the third governor, whose term 
was from 1878 to 1882. William Hale served from 1882 until 1885, 
and died while in office. Francis E. Warren succeeded Mr. Hale and 
served from 1885 to 1886. George E. Baxter was appointed in Novem- 
ber, 1886, and served until December of that year, when Thomas 
Moonlight was appointed and served until 1889. Francis E. Warren 
was again appointed in 1889, and upon the organization of the state 
government was elected its first governor, assuming the office under 
the state organization October 11, 1890. Having been elected United 
States senator he resigned and was succeeded by Amos W. Barber, 
then secretary of state, as acting governor on November 24, 1890. 
At the election held in November, 1892, John E. Osborne was elected 
governor to complete the original term of Governor Warren. William 



WYOMING AS A TERRITORY AND STATE 5 

A. Richards was elected governor in November, 1894, assuming 
office in January, 1895, and served the four-year term. DeForest 
Richards was elected chief executive in 1898, taking the oath in 
January, 1899. He was re-elected in 1902, assuming office in January, 
1903. Governor Richards served but a few months of his second term 
when death overtook him and Fenimore Chatterton, secretary of 
state, became acting governor. In the election of 1904 Bryant B. 
Brooks was chosen to complete the term of Governor Richards. In 
1906 Governor Brooks was chosen his own successor, for the regular 
term. Joseph M. Carey was elected in 1910 and was inaugurated in 
January, 191 1. John B. Kendrick was elected in 1914 and became 
governor in January, 1915. In the campaign of 1916 he was elected 
United States senator, resigning the governorship February 26, 
1917. Frank L. Houx, by virtue of his office of secretary of state, 
became acting governor on the same date. At the gubernatorial 
election November, 1918, Robert D. Carey was elected and took 
office January, 1919, and served until January, 1923. William B. 
Ross was the people's choice at the general election held in November, 
1922, and was inaugurated January i, 1923. 



Organization of Natrona County 

THE first step toward the segregation of Carbon county and 
the estabhshment of a new county to be known as Natrona 
was taken when a bill was presented in the Wyoming terri- 
torial legislature in 1888, entitled: "An act making divers appro- 
priations, and for other purposes." The act, after being passed by 
the legislature and engrossed, was presented to Governor Moonlight 
for his signature, but instead of signing the bill, the governor promptly 
vetoed it, and when it was returned to the legislative halls with his 
disapproval, the members of the legislature just as promptly passed 
the bill over the governor's veto. 

The next step taken in behalf of the new county was during the 
latter months of 1888, when a petition was circulated and signed by 
about two-thirds of the people living in the northern part of Carbon 
county (now Natrona county). The petition requested Governor 
Moonlight to appoint Jacob E. Ervay, Nathan S. Bristol and Bryant 
B. Brooks as temporary commissioners for the purpose of organizing 
the new county. The segregation would divide Carbon county near 
the center by a line running east and west, thus giving Natrona 
county an area of about 5,500 square miles, or seventy-five miles 
square, the area of Carbon county at that time being 170 miles long 
and seventy-five miles wide. 

The petition, containing nearly 300 names, was carried from 
Casper to Cheyenne by Attorney C. C. Wright on January 31, 1889, 
and was formally presented to the governor. A man named McCoy, 
who was at that time booming the townsite of Bothwell, in the Sweet- 
water country, and who had been in the county less than three months, 
made the trip to Cheyenne for the purpose of filing a remonstrance 
with the governor, objecting to the three commissioners being ap- 
pointed, and he filed affidavits to the effect that many of the peti- 
tioners were not legal residents of the county, and therefore, the 
petition should not be considered by the governor. 

Governor Moonlight, after the petition and remonstrance had 
been presented, announced that he would keep the matter open for 
eighteen days, in order that further evidence and argument might 
be produced for and against the commissioners being appointed, 
and after the eighteen days expired he would require eight days 
more to review the evidence and render a decision. 

6 



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ORGANIZATION OF NATRONA COUNTY 7 

On February 26, 1889, the governor gave notice that he would 
not appoint the temporary commissioners as requested by the peti- 
tioners, and from this decree there was no appeal. Thus the organ- 
ization of Natrona county was delayed for the time being. 

Governor Moonlight was removed from office in about thirty 
days after he vetoed the petition, and on March 22, 1889, President 
Benjamin Harrison appointed Francis E. Warren as governor of the 
Territory of Wyoming. Then the people of the northern part of Car- 
bon county again circulated a petition praying that Governor Warren 
appoint George Mitchell, Bryant B. Brooks, and Jacob E. Ervay as 
commissioners to act in the organization of the county of Natrona. 
Mr. Bristol declined the honor of having his name on the second 
petition. In due time the petition was presented to Governor Warren, 
and on March 3, 1890, the governor made the appointments as 
requested in the petition. 

The boundaries of Natrona county, at the time the bill was 
enacted by the territorial legislature, which have been changed but 
little since, were defined as follows: 

"Commencing at a point on the seventh standard parallel north, 
at its intersection with the western boundary line of the present 
county of Albany; thence west along said standard parallel to its 
intersection with the west boundary line of the present county of 
Carbon; thence north along said last described boundary line to the 
southern boundary line of the present county of Johnson; thence 
east along said boundary line of Johnson county to the northwestern 
corner of the present county of Albany; thence south along the west- 
ern boundary line of said county of Albany to the place of beginning; 
being all that portion of the present county of Carbon, Territory of 
Wyoming, lying north of the seventh standard parallel north." 

Natrona county derives its name from the natural deposits of 
natrum or carbonate of soda, which is found in the numerous basins 
and lakes that abound in the central part of the state. Judge Charles 
E. Blydenburgh of Rawlins suggested the name "Natrona" as the 
thirteenth county of Wyoming. 

Carbon, our mother county, was one of the original five counties 
of the Territory of Wyoming, and was organized by legislative 
enactment in November, 1869. 

Carbon county originally included all that portion of the Terri- 
tory of Wyoming lying between a point on the Union Pacific railway 
one-half mile east of Aurora station on the east, and the 107th 
degree and 30 minutes west longitude on the west, and the north and 
south boundary lines of the territory. The area of the land embraced 
was 22,080 square miles, thirty square miles more than are included 



8 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

in the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. 
In 1879 Carbon county was divided on the parallel of 43 degrees 
and 30 minutes north latitude, and the north portion was organized 
under the name of Pease, but was later changed to Johnson county. 
After this division Carbon county was reduced in land area to 12,816 
square miles. Reduced to acres the county contained 8,783,040 acres 
of land. Its population in 1 877, before Johnson county was segregated, 
was given as 2,500 and its assessed valuation was $1,900,000. With 
the two divisions of Carbon county that have been made from its 
original area, Natrona is left in the center of the old county, Johnson 
being to our north and Carbon to the south. Sheridan county was 
organized from part of Johnson in 1887, and Big Horn county was 
organized from part of Johnson in 1897. 

The beautiful valleys of the Sweetwater, Powder and North 
Platte rivers and the numerous small streams in Natrona county, 
and the contiguous plains, largely visited by the warm winds from 
the shores of the Pacific ocean, make this region one of the most de- 
sirable locations on this continent. The valleys in this section are so 
protected by mountain ranges on the immediate south and west that 
it is signally exempt from the perilous storms which make winter so 
dangerous and destructive to livestock in the north and east, and the 
dreadful blizzards which sweep a considerable portion of the United 
States during the winter months do not reach this section to any 
appreciable extent. 

The commissioners appointed by Governor Warren took the 
oath of office on March 5, 1890, before R. H. Wilbur, a justice of the 
peace residing in Casper. Immediately after the oath of office was 
administered, the commissioners designated Casper, in the unorgan- 
ized county of Natrona, as the place to hold its meetings. The first 
regular meeting of the new commissioners was held on the 5th day 
of March, 1890, at 4 o'clock p. m., in the office of the Wyoming 
Lumber company, George Mitchell being president of the lumber 
company, and the office was located where the Nicolaysen Lumber 
company yards are now located. At this meeting Bryant B. Brooks 
was chosen chairman of the board, George Mitchell, secretary, and 
F. H. Harvey was appointed attorney for the board. The commis- 
sioners then established voting precincts and appointed judges of 
election for each voting precinct as follows: 

Casper precinct — Joel J. Hurt, J. A. Casebeer, R. H. Wilbur. 

Muddy precinct — C. C. P. Webel, Edward Beach, James Milne. 

Bessemer precinct — Rufus Rhoades, G. W. Johnson, G. C. 
Riggles. 

Bates Hole precinct — Joseph Bowie, M. Benedict, Jacob Crouse. 



ORGANIZATION OF NATRONA COUNTY 9 

Sweetwater precinct — H. C.Wilson, Daniel Fitger, J. H.Omstead. 

Durbin precinct — LaFayette Griffin, Wm. Hunt, Samuel John- 
son. 

Ervay precinct — J. J. HoUiday, D. P. Smith, John F. Landon. 

The board ordered that an election be held within the unorgan- 
ized county of Natrona, on the 8th day of April, 1890, for the pur- 
pose of electing all county and precinct officers of the said county of 
Natrona, and for the selection of a county seat for the said county. 

The notice of the election was ordered published in the Casper 
Weekly Mail, the first paper published in Casper, and the only one 
published here at that time. 

The next exciting event was the county election, held April 8, 
1890, and the selection of the county seat was the big drawing card 
of the day. The contest for the county seat was between Casper and 
Bessemer from the very moment that it was officially declared that 
there was to be a Natrona county, and after the smoke of battle had 
cleared away it was learned that in the entire county Bessemer had 
received 731 votes, against 353 for Casper. It was claimed by both 
sides that a great many fraudulent votes had been cast, but it was 
very evident when the commissioners met to canvass the returns, 
that Bessemer "overplayed her hand," and the entire vote from that 
precinct, for the county seat, as well as for all the county officers, 
was thrown out on the official count, the commissioners reporting 
that "The official returns from Bessemer made to the board of com- 
missioners, upon being opened, were found to be grossly irregular, 
no official summary or return being made, or certified to in the poll 
book, as required by law, nor was the tally list signed or certified to 
or identified in the manner provided by law, and it is therefore, upon 
motion, ordered that the said returns from Bessemer voting place 
be not considered or counted in the canvass." 

The vote on the county officers and upon the seat of the county 
government from all the other precincts of the county excepting 
Bessemer, gave the following totals: 

Sheriff" — W. W. Jaycox, 241; Oliver M. Rice, 177. 

County Clerk and ex-Officio Register of Deeds — Peter O'Malley, 
226; George Mitchell, 193. 

Judge of Probate and County Treasurer — Bryant B. Brooks, 
175; John McGrath, 241. 

County and Prosecuting Attorney — Alex T. Butler, 176; C. C. 
Wright, 218. 

County Commissioners — C. C. P. Webel, 212; A. McKinney, 
339; S. A. Aggers, 224; John Greenlaw, 154; J. P. Smith, 218; I. N. 
Speer, 99. 



lO HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

County Superintendent of Schools — Cordelia M. Cheney, 415; | 
Cora Cantlin, i. j 

Coroner — Joe Benson, i; A. P. Haynes, 267; D. L. Clark, 3; | 
R. J. Marsch, 2. 

Surveyor — J. B. Bradley, 273; Chris Baysel, 145. | 

Assessor — E. L. McGraugh, 202; Allen Cox, 82; William Clark, ! 

131- 

Justice of the Peace — Fred E. Place, 35; R. H. Wilbur, 284; j 

Ida M. Richards, 2. j 

Constable — Hugh Patton, 282; Jacob Crouse, 18; Norman I 
Calmon, 23. j 

County Seat — Casper, 353; Bessemer, 64. 

The board of county commissioners, consisting of A. McKinney, ', 
S. A. Aggers and J. P. Smith, met in regular session on April 12, and j 
after perfecting their organization, thereupon issued a proclamation j 
which declared that "the county commissioners, the sheriff, the I 
county clerk and ex-officio register of deeds, and the judge of probate ) 
and county treasurer, having each severally received certificates of j 
election, and having each duly qualified according to law, did then '■ 
and there enter upon the duties of their said offices, respectively, , 
and the county of Natrona, Territory of Wyoming, was declared duly ' 
and regularly organized." ! 

At this same meeting the board of county commissioners leased ■ 
three rooms in the second story of White & Co.'s building, to be used : 
as county oflfices, at $450 annually. These are the front rooms in the , 
building on Center street the second door south from Second street, [ 
on the west side of the street, which for many years were occupied ! 
by the Grand Central hotel. 

But little business was transacted by the board of county com- ' 
missioners at its first meeting held April 12, except to provide for ; 
rooms for the county officers, but on May 5 a contract was made with ; 
the board of county commissioners of Converse county "to take and 
care for any prisoners from Natrona county at the rate of one dollar ' 
per day in United States currency for each prisoner, the bills to be ' 
paid monthly." On the same date the county clerk was instructed 
to make an order for the county superintendent of schools to estab- . 
lish the school districts of Natrona county which were to be a part ' 
of the records of said county. This was all the business of importance 
transacted at this meeting. At the meeting of June 3, the board passed ; 
a resolution to the effect "that the Casper-Bates Hole road is of ; 
sufficient importance to be opened and traveled, therefore, it is or- 
dered that the said road be and the same is hereby established." 
O. M. Rice was appointed road overseer for the new county. A grand ' 



ORGANIZATION OF NATRONA COUNTY II 

jury was selected at the meeting held July 7, and it was the duty of 
this grand jury to select a list of sixty names to serve as petit jurors 
at the term of the district court. 

The Casper-Muddy road was established October 9, 1890, 
"commencing at the town of Casper and running in an easterly 
direction to a point just east of J. A. Stroud's ranch, thence on the 
road now traveled in a southeasterly direction to John Greenlaw's 
ranch, thence in an easterly direction to a pass in the hills about 
one fourth of a mile south of the old traveled road and about one- 
half a mile west of the TAX ranch, connecting with the said old road 
about 100 feet above and north of the first bridge on Dry Muddy 
creek west of said TAX ranch, thence following the old road in an 
easterly direction to the top of the hill, thence in a southeasterly 
direction as far as the southwest corner of the OK ranch, thence in 
an easterly direction to the northwest corner of the Hines and Jaycox 
ranch on West Muddy, crossing said West Muddy close to Hines and 
Jaycox ranch, thence southeasterly to a point about one-fourth of a 
mile from said crossing of West Muddy, thence in an easterly direc- 
tion to the county line, crossing the Main Muddy creek, on section 
line between C. C. P. Webel's ranch and the Lajaunesse ranch, 
immediately south, terminating at the county line." 

The second election to occur in Natrona county was held on 
September 11, 1890. The republican ticket nominated was: Sheriff, 
Harry Biggs; clerk, Peter O'Malley; treasurer, W. A. Denecke; 
attorney, A. T. Butler; clerk of court, C. W. Wixcey; commissioners, 
B. B. Brooks, P. A. Demorest, Fred E. Place; assessor, Samuel A. 
Aggers; surveyor, J. B. Bradley; coroner, H. A. Lilly; superintendent 
schools, Cordelia M. Cheney; justices of peace, R. H. Wilbur and 
G. E. Butler. The democrats nominated for sheriflF, W. W. Jaycox; 
clerk, Laura E. Stroud; treasurer, John McGrath; attorney, Carl C. 
Wright; clerk of court, George Mitchell; commissioners, S. C. Leach, 
J. P. Smith, A. W. Jones; assessor, E. L. McGraugh; surveyor, 
Chris Baysel; coroner, A. P. Haynes; superintendent schools, Cor- 
delia M. Cheney; justices of peace, J. J. Corbett and Robert Parks. 
The ticket elected was about evenly divided among the republicans 
and democrats, the successful candidates being: W. W. Jaycox, 
sheriff; Peter O'Malley, clerk; John McGrath, treasurer; George 
Mitchell, clerk of court; B. B. Brooks, Fred E. Place, J. P. Smith, 
commissioners; E. L. McGraugh, assessor; J. B. Bradley, surveyor; 
H. A. Lilly, coroner; Cordelia M. Cheney, superintendent of 
schools; R. H. Wilbur, and G. E. Butler, justices of the peace. 
W. F. Dunn was elected on the republican ticket as joint repre- 
sentative to the state legislature from Natrona and Carbon counties. 



12 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY ' 

Mr. Dunn was the first man from Casper to be elected to that posi- ' 
tion of honor. 

On account of the regular election, as provided by the state law, 
occurring in September of this year, Natrona county's first set of 
officers was in charge of affairs only from April 9 to December 31. 

In November, 1890, the business in the county clerk's office had 
increased to such extent as to make it impossible for one man to do it 
justice, and, with the sanction of the county commissioners. County 
Clerk O'Malley appointed J. B. Bradley deputy county clerk. 

Nothing of importance was transacted by the county commis- , 
sioners since their meeting in November until the first meeting in 1 
January, when the newly-elected county officers were sworn in. At I 
this meeting, January 2, 1891, judgment against Natrona county in | 
favor of Carbon county in the sum of $15,565.71, with interest at j 
the rate of 8 per cent from April 8, 1890, as adjusting debt, was j 
assumed by this county. | 

On February 10, 1891, a special jail fund was created for the ! 
purpose of paying for the keeping of committed prisoners and it was, \ 
"Resolved that all funds derived from the county clerk's office for ' 
the months of January, February, and March, 1891, be carried to ! 
the jail fund and the county treasurer is hereby instructed to place , 
to the credit of said jail fund all moneys paid him for the months of ■ 
January, February, and March by the county clerk." There was now 
in the county clerk's office $152.80 which was the earnings for the , 
month of January, 1891. This was ordered covered into the county 
treasury and to be applied on the jail fund. George Mitchell was 
confirmed as clerk of the district court on February 11, 1891, by . 
Judge J. W. Blake. 

Early in the spring of 1891, William W. Jaycox, who had served , 
as sheriff of Natrona county since its organization and was twice ; 
elected to that office, and without resigning from the office or saying ] 
good bye to his friends, changed his place of residence. His bondsmen ; 
immediately made application to be released, and the county com- 
missioners, having announced that inasmuch as the "said Jaycox ■ 
had fled the state and left no one in charge of public affairs, the office 
of sheriff is declared vacant and the bondsmen are discharged from ■ 
further liability as surety of the said Jaycox as sheriff." Jaycox was 
an exceptionally good officer and his financial affairs were all straight, ' 
but domestic trouble caused him to "flee" from the state. O. M. ' 
Rice was appointed sheriff by the board of county commissioners to 
fill the unexpired term. ; 

Dr. W. W. Miller was on May 4, 1891, appointed physician and • 
surgeon for the county at a salary of $125 a year. ' 



ORGANIZATION OF NATRONA COUNTY 13 

B. S. Ross was allowed $2,517.20 for making the transcript of 
the county. On July 7, 1891, the county was bonded for $23,000 to 
pay the Carbon county indebtedness and other accumulated indebt- 
edness. The county was without funds at this time and the fact 
caused some of the alarmists considerable uneasiness. There were 
no improvements made or bills contracted except those that were 
absolutely necessary. By strict economy the county was soon "on 
its feet," and in commenting on our financial condition, the local 
newspaper in January, 1892, said: 

"Natrona county is now not quite two years old. It sprung into life under the 
most adverse circumstances and many people predicted that its course would be brief 
and that bankruptcy would be its ultimate end. Yet today there are few counties in 
the state in better financial condition. It begins the new year with a balance of $5,271 
on hand, all bills have been paid up to the fifth of the month and our warrants are 
sold on the market for ninety-five cents on the dollar. Several large herds of cattle 
have left our county during the past two years, but in their place have come small 
ranchmen with small herds, so that the number of head has been but slightly decreased 
while the additional number of improved ranches makes up the sum of our revenue. 
Our mineral resources' have been developed and received an impetus such as has not 
been known before in the history of the state. We are witnessing the dawn of a glorious 
day." 

The road from Casper to the Sweetwater country was established 
at the meeting of the board of county commissioners held on July 5, 
1892. The soda lakes near Independence Rock were the incentive 
for the expenditure of a considerable amount of money to put this 
road in good repair. At this same meeting, the Lost Cabin road 
from Casper was also established. The establishment of county 
roads was about the most important business to come before the 
board of county commissioners in those days. 

The building of a jail for the county and the town of Casper 
was a subject that taxed the minds of the officials considerably at 
this time. The town was progressive; a town hall had already been 
built and the town council had devised ways and means to build a 
jail to replace the one that Dr. Joe Benson had caused to be destroyed 
by fire. The proposition was for the town and county to build a 
union jail to cost about $4,000, the town to pay half and the county 
to pay half, and on July 27, 1892, the county accepted a proposition 
from the town of Casper for the building of a union jail by adopting 
the following resolution: 

"Whereas, The county of Natrona has no jail or place to con- 
fine its prisoners, and it is hereby adjudged and considered that the 
best interests of Natrona county will be served by accepting the 
proposition of said town of Casper, and the same is hereby accepted 

'The gold, silver, copper, galena, and asbestos mines on Casper mountain were in the height of 
activity at that time. 



14 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

and approved, and the county treasurer in and for said county is 
hereby authorized, empowered and a copy of this order shall be his 
authority for doing so, to pay over out of the money remaining from 
the sale of county bonds to the said town of Casper for the uses of 
said jail the sum of $2,000 whenever the said town of Casper shall 
execute to Natrona county a bond in the sum of $4,000 for the build- I 
ing and completion of said jail." The bond was furnished by the i 
town on December 5 and was accepted by the county commissioners, j 
and an agreement was entered into for a union town and county jail, i 
On April 4, 1893, the building was completed and accepted and the | 
contractors paid. The prisoners of the town and county were then ■ 
relieved of the inconvenience of being transported to Douglas for i 
safe keeping and back to Casper for trial by court, and the town and 
county were relieved of the expense of taking them to and from I 
Douglas. This union jail was the brick and stone building which j 
stood in the old court house square, immediately in the rear of the j 
new" fire house and municipal garage on the west side of David street, j 
between Yellowstone Highway and Midwest avenue. It was torn j 
down late in the fall of 1921. Many noted criminals, such as horse j 
thieves, bank robbers, postoffice robbers, cattle thieves, murderers, | 
and other desperate men, had been lodged in this jail, among them j 
being old Chief Red Cloud, who is said to have caused the death of 
more white men than any other human being in this part of the 
country. If the old walls could have talked and revealed the thoughts ■■ 
of some of the men who had been confined there, what a story they j 
could have told. | 

The public road to the Alcova hot springs was established '! 
April 6, 1894, and on the same date a contract was entered into with { 
C. R. Countryman to build a bridge across the Sweetwater river at j 
Independence Rock for $267.92, the county to furnish the material. | 

The business of the county steadily increased year after year , 
until the need of a new court house was felt, and at the meeting of 
the board of county commissioners held in May, 1895, it was decided ■ 
to put up a new court house on the land recently acquired by the 
county. The building was described as "twenty-four by thirty-six : 
feet, two stories, frame, covered with standing seam iron; a large , 
brick vault eight by twelve feet." The contract for the masonry ; 
work was awarded to W. F. McMillen for $227 and the carpenter . 
work to E. Erben for $250. The new building was finished the latter , 
part of June and was occupied by the county officers the first week , 
in July, 1895. This building was in the same block with the union 1 
town and county jail and at that time was considered a creditable 
building for the housing of the county officers. It was used for that ' 



ORGANIZATION OF NATRONA COUNTY 1 5 

purpose until March 13, 1909, when the new court house on Center 
and A streets was occupied. At a meeting held on August 2, 1895, 
Chairman Charles K. Bucknum was appointed a committee of one 
to purchase material to enclose the ground of lots 3, 4, 9, 11, 12, 15, 
27, 28, 31, 39 and 40, in block one, which had been acquired for 
court house purposes. 

The bridge across the Platte river at Alcova, owned by the 
Alcova Hot Springs company, was on July 6, 1897, declared to be in 
a dangerous and unsafe condition and that loss to life and property 
might ensue should the structure be allowed to stand. It was there- 
fore condemned and ordered removed within thirty days or the 
county would remove it as provided by law. 

The resignation of H. L. Patton as sheriff of Natrona county on 
June 7, 1898, was accepted and O. M. Rice was appointed by the 
board of county commissioners to fill the vacancy. Mr. Patton re- 
signed in order to enlist with the Torrey Rough Riders in the Span- 
ish-American war. 

Ed Crapon was appointed county assessor for Natrona county 
January 3, 1900. The salary was ^650, and it required about three 
months to do the work. After this year the assessor was elected 
every two years the same as other county officers and the salary was 
increased to $125 per month. 

The foregoing is a brief resume of the most important work done 
by the county officers for the first ten years of the county's organ- 
ization. Details have been gone into for the purpose of making a 
comparison of how the business was transacted in those days and 
how it is transacted at the present time, as well as to show how we 
have builded up from the smallest county in Wyoming, both in popu- 
lation and wealth, to the most populous and richest in the state. 

On the page following will be found a list of the county officers, 
and the dates upon which they served, from 1890 to 1923, inclusive: 



HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 



Apr., 1890— Dec. 31,1890 1891-1892 1893-1894 1895-1896 

County Clerk Peter O'MaUey Peter O'Malley Peter O'Malley Peter O'MaUey 

County Treasurer. . . John McGrath John McGrath John McGrath W. F. Dunn 

Sheriff W. W. Jaycox W. W. Jaycox' Oliver M. Rice H. L. Patton 

Clerk of Court George Mitchell George Mitchell John F. Heagney M. P. Wheeler 

Commissioner A. McKinney J.P.Smith A.W.Jones C. K. Bucknum 

Commissioner S. A. Aggers B.B.Brooks Robt. White Ed. S. White 

Commissioner J. P. Smith F. E. Place G. S. Martin Okley K. Garvey 

County Supt Cordelia M. Cheney CordeUa M. Cheney Florence Kennedy Wilhelmina Clark 

County Assessor E. L. McGraugh E. L. McGraugh E. L. McGraugh Daniel R. Fitger 

Constable H. L. Patton John McClure E. A. Johnson 

Prosecuting Att'y- . . C.C.Wright Alex. T. Butler Geo. B. McCalmont Geo. S. Walker 

Coroner A. P. Haynes Mathew Campfield Mathew Campfield 

County Surveyor... J.B.Bradley J.B.Bradley J.B.Bradley J.B.Bradley 

Justice of Peace.... R. H. WUbur R.H.Wilbur J.B.Smith Jas. Ford 

1897-1898 1899-1900 1901-1902 190.3-1904 

County Clerk M. P. Wheeler Marion P. Wheeler Marion P. Wheeler Marion P. WTieeler 

County Treasurer. . . Frank Bull Frank Bull Oscar Hiestand Oscar Hiestand 

Sheriff H. L. Patton 2 Oscar Hiestand W. C. Ricker Frank K. Webb 

Clerk of Court M.P.Wheeler Marion P. Wheeler M. P. Wheeler M.P.Wheeler 

Commissioner J. W. Price P. C. Nicolaysen P. C. Nicolaysen T. S. Steed 

Commissioner L.C.Morrison Wm. Jones D. D. Crum E. L. McGraugh 

Commissioner J. P. Smith David Kidd Jake Crouse P. C. Nicolaysen 

County Supt Wilhelmina Clark James L. Craig May Hamilton May Hamilton 

County Assessor. . . . Frank Bull Ed. Crapon.-igoo D. P. Smith D. P. Smith 

Constable E. A. Johnson E. A. Johnson 

Prosecuting Att'y. . . Eugene D. Norton Alex. T. Butler Alex. T. Butler John M. Hench 

County Surveyor. . . J.B.Bradley Edward Kropp A.Hemingway J.B.Bradley 

Justice of Peace ... . H.A.Lilly Frank Jameson Frank Jameson Frank Jameson 

1905-1906 1907-1908 1909-1910 1911-1912 

County Clerk E. B. Shaffner F.H.Sawyer F.H.Sawyer F.H.Sawyer 

County Treasurer. . . John S. Van Doren Lizzie McDonald Lizzie McDonald John T. Scott 

Sheriff Frank K. Webb J. A. Sheffner J. A. Sheffner J. A. Sheffner 

Clerk of Court E. B. Shaffner F.H.Sawyer F.H.Sawyer Fred. E. Place 

Commissioner T. S. Steed L. L. Gantz David Kidd James B. Grieve 

Commissioner W. D. Blattenberg C. A. Hall C. C. P. Webel S. W. Con well 

Commissioner L. L. Gantz C. C. P. Webel James B. Grieve A. G. Cheney 

County Supt Effie M. Cummings Effie M. Cummings Kate C. Stannard May Hamilton 

County Assessor L. W. Bailey F. S. Price Frank J. Sturgeon E. L. McGraugh 

Constable Truman C. Butler Wm. Jones 

Prosecuting Att'y. . . Alex. T. Butler E. Richard Shipp John B. Barnes Wm. O. Wilson 

Coroner Dr. A. F. Hoff Henry A. Lilly Dr. A. F. Hoff Wilbur Foshay 

County Surveyor .. . J.B.Bradley A.Hemingway M.N.Wheeler 

Justice of Peace Frank H. Sawyer G. R. Hagens W. E. Tubbs W. E. Tubbs 

1913-1914 1915-1916 1917-1918 1919-1920 

County Clerk F.H.Sawyer F.H.Sawyer F. H. Sawyer ' E. M. Ogburn' 

Countv Treasurer . . John T. Scott Fred W. Aishton M. C. Price E. McDonald 

Sheriff J. A. Sheffner H. L. Patton H. L. Patton Pat Royce 

Clerk of Court Fred E. Place Fred E. Place Fred E. Place' Hazel Conwell 

Commissioner S. W. Conwell John T. Scott T.A.Hall T.A.Hall 

Commissioner R. D. Campbell R. D. Campbell A. G. Cheney Robt. J. Veitch 

Commissioner A. G. Cheney Chas. Anda Chas. Anda J. B. Griffith 

County Supt May Hamilton May Hamilton May Hamilton May Hamilton 

County Assessor E. L. McGraugh Chas. M. Hawks W. S. Kimball, Jr. E. L. McGraugh 

Prosecuting Att'y. . . Wm. O. Wilson R. H. Nichols R. H. Nichols W. H. Patten' 

Coroner Wilbur Foshay W. J. Chamberlin Lew M. Gay Lew M. Gay 

County Surveyor .. . M.N.Wheeler M.N.Wheeler M.N.Wheeler M. N. WTieeler 

Justice of Peace .... W. E. Tubbs W. E. Tubbs W. E. Tubbs W. E. Tubbs 

1921-1922 1923-1924 

County Clerk Helen Carlson 5 Alma F. Hawley 

County Treasurer. . . E. McDonald Agnes M. Clare 

Sheriff Lee Martin ^ Perry A. Morris 

Clerk of Court Hazel Conwell Hazel Conwell 

Commissioner T. A. Hall T. A. HaU 

Commissioner Robt. J. Veitch G. T. Morgan 

Commissioner Chas. Anda J. E. Scott 

County Supt May Hamilton May Hamilton 

County Assessor Lyle E. Jay Lyle E. Jay 

Prosecuting Att'y.. . A. R. Lowey' E. H. Foster 

Coroner Lew M. Gay Lew M. Gay 

County Surveyor. . . Albert Park Albert Park 

Justice of Peace .... W. E. Tubbs Henry F. Brennan 

> Declared vacant; O. M. Rice appointed. 2 Resigned; O. M. Rice appointed. ^Died; E. M. 

Ogburn appointed. "Resigned; Helen Carlson appointed. ^ Resigned; Catherine Dunn appointed. 
^Resigned; J. L. Marquis appointed. 'Resigned; A. R. Lowey appointed. ^Resigned; M. W. Purcell 
appointed. » Resigned, November 1917; Warren L. Bailey appointed. 



NATRONA COUNTY S JUDGES OF THE DISTRICT COURT 1 7 

Natrona County s Senators and Representatives hi the Legislature 
Year Representative 
Elected State Legislature State Senator 

1890 William F. Dunn 

1892 Bryant B. Brooks Joel J. Hurt 

1894 Patrick Sullivan Joel J. Hurt 

1896 John S. Warner Robert Taylor 

1898 Patrick Sullivan Robert Taylor 

1900 Edward S. White ^ Patrick Sullivan 

1902 Donald A. Robertson Patrick Sullivan 

1904 Charles K. Bucknum Patrick Sullivan 

1906 Charles K. Bucknum Patrick Sullivan 

1908 Hugh L. Patton Patrick Sullivan 

1910 Patrick O'Connor Patrick Sullivan 

1912 Robert Grieve Patrick Sullivan 

Stephen Tobin 

1914 Robert Grieve Patrick Sullivan 

Stephen Tobin 

1916 W. W. Sproul Patrick O'Connor 

L. C. Mills 

1918 J. William Johnson Patrick O'Connor 

Leslie L. Gantz 

1920 Harry N. Free J. William Johnson 

J. E.'Frisby 

1922 M. L. Bishop, Jr J. William Johnson 

E. A. Froyd Harry N. Free 

C. W. Mapes 

M. C. Price 

J. H. JefFrey 

The representatives and senators were elected in November 
and took the oath of office the following January. 

Bryant B. Brooks of Casper was elected governor of the state 
of Wyoming in 1904 and again in 1906, serving as chief executive 
six successive years. 

Charles E. Winter of Casper was elected congressman from the 
state of Wyoming for the 1923-4 term. 

Natrona County's Judges of the District Court 

If the regularly elected and appointed judges of the district 
court who have presided at the sessions of court held in Natrona 
county could and would tell some of their experiences what interest- 

1 Edward S. White, Natrona county's representative in the lower house of the sixth session of the 
Wyoming state legislature, died in Cheyenne on January 14, igoi. Mr. White occupied his seat only three 
days when he was stridden with pneumonia, and his death resulted after being confined to his hotel but a 
few days. At the time of his death the members of the house and senate were on a special train going to 
Rawlins, Laramie, Rock Springs and Evanston, to make a personal inspection of the state penitentiary, 
the university, the state hospital, and the hospital for the insane. Senator Patrick Sullivan, and Chief 
Clerk Alfred J. Mokler, both of Casper, were on the special train and the news of Representative White's 
death cast a gloom over all those on board the train, for it had been announced that the patient's condition 
was greatly improved when the special train left Cheyenne that morning. The members returned to 
Cheyenne the second day following the death of their colleague and funeral services were conducted in the 
capitol building by the members of Wyoming Consistory of Masons. The body was brought to Casper and 
very impressive funeral services were held here by the Masonic bodies, of which the deceased was a member. 
Four deaths occurred among the members of the legislature during the sixth session and the flag on the 
capitol building floated at half-mast during most of the session. After Mr. White's death, Natrona county 
had no representative in the lower house during the remainder of the session. 



l8 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

ing tales they could unfold. There have been many criminal cases ■ 

tried in Natrona county. A record of about all of them may be found 1 

elsewhere in this volume, but the story told by a layman does not ■ 

give the inside history that could be related by the presiding judge, j 

In addition to the criminal cases there have been hundreds and . 
hundreds of civil cases heard by these judges. Some of these cases 

provoked amusement for the spectators as well as the court, and \ 

many, many of them carried sadness, disappointment and sometimes I 

financial ruin to the losing side, and few, indeed, were those who gained | 

a great deal, either in wealth or reputation, even though the case [ 
was decided in their favor. 

From 1890, when Natrona county was organized, until 1913, 
Albany, Natrona and Fremont counties comprised the Second judi- 
cial district. All the judges during that time come from Albany county, 

not because Albany had any better material than Natrona or Fremont j 

county for a presiding judge, but because there were more voters in i 

Albany county than the combined votes of Natrona and Fremont ! 

counties. J. W. Kingman of Laramie City was the first man to pre- , 
side over the court in the Second district, and his successors on the 

bench were the following-named gentlemen, all from Laramie City: ! 
Judge E. A. Thomas, Judge J. B. Blair, Judge N. C. SaufHy, Judge 

J. W. Blake, Judge J. H. Hayford, Judge Charles W. Bramel, Judge , 

Charles E. Carpenter and Judge V. J. Tidball. In February, 1913, I 

our state legislature created the new Sixth judicial district, com- | 

prising the counties of Natrona, Fremont and Converse. Judge I 

Charles E. Winter, who had located in Casper on the 6th day of = 
January, 1913, was appointed during the first part of March, 1913, 

by Governor Joseph M. Carey, the first judge of the district, and , 

later resigned from the bench to enter private practice. Judge j 
Winter was very popular while on the bench and was elected in 1922 

to represent the state of Wyoming in the lower house of congress. , 

Governor Robert D. Carey appointed Ralph Kimball of Fremont ! 

county as Judge Winter's successor, and Judge Kimball resigned to ■ 

be elevated to the supreme bench of Wyoming, and Judge C. O. ! 

Brown of Converse county was appointed to succeed Judge Kimball, i 

At the general election in the fall of 1922 Judge Brown was elected | 

to succeed himself. In the thirty-two years of Natrona county's ( 

organization she has furnished but one resident judge, Hon. Charles j 

E. Winter. 1 

Natrona County's Assessed Valuation j 

Most important for the maintenance of a county government is ] 
the taxation levied upon the property of the citizens of a county, \ 

i 



NATRONA COUNTY S ASSESSED VALUATION I9 

and, probably, among the most interesting documents stored away 
in the "dead" vault in the Natrona county court house are the tax 
schedules for the year 1890, being the first year that our county was 
segregated from Carbon. A great many people who have taken up 
their residence here in recent years are of the opinion that this part 
of the state was then an exclusive cattle country, but, according to 
the assessor's figures, there were then 28,901 sheep in the county, 
valued at ^44,184, against 28,029 cattle, valued at ^295,660. The 
valuation of the cattle per head, as placed by the state board of 
equalization, ranged from $10 to $25. There were ninety people in 
the county that year who owned cattle, the largest number owned 
by one person being 4,000 head; another person owned 3,500 head; 
another 3,000 head, a number of others were assessed for 2,500 head. 
There were but ten people in the county who claimed that they were 
the owners of sheep. George Ferris had 6,000 head, and they were 
assessed at $9,000, or $1.50 per head; Tom Hood had 2,040 head; 
C. P. Dasch, 4,598; Wm. Madden, 1,500; John Morton, 5,250; 
Woodruff Bros., 9,500, and then there were thirteen more sheep in 
the county divided among four people as owners. There were 2,432 
head of horses in the county, valued at $52,762, and no mules and 
asses, valued at $5,625. There was not a dog or a hog in the county, 
according to the records of the assessor. There were 158 carriages, 
valued at $6,690, and the farming utensils and mechanics' tools were 
valued at $8,305. There were but forty-seven people in the whole 
county who owned clocks, watches and jewelry that seemed to be 
worth assessing, and the valuation placed upon all of them was 
$1,817.15. Fifteen people owned musical instruments, the most 
valuable one being assessed at $150, and the one of the lowest value 
being placed at $10, the whole being valued at $935. There were 
two law libraries in the county, one owned by Alex T. Butler, valued 
at $100, and C. C. Wright was the owner of the other, valued at $50. 
Fourteen people in the county owned household furniture valued at 
more than $100, the whole being assessed at $980. The capital em- 
ployed in manufacture was assessed at $21,755. But one merchant 
in the county had store fixtures that were worth assessing, and that 
went in at a valuation of $200. Three people owned stocks and shares 
in corporations, the valuation of the whole going in at $180. There 
was $3j377.I3 in moneys and credits put in to be assessed, divided 
among eight people. One merchant had $1,200 in moneys and credits; 
another had $1,000, another $500, another $230, another $200, two 
men had $100 each, and the lowest amount turned in was $47.13. 
The total valuation of all the personal property in the county turned 
in to be assessed was $6,731, divided among ninety-six people, the 



20 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

highest amount being $i,ooo and the lowest five dollars, there being 
four people coming in at the five-dollar assessment, one at six dollars; 
more than a dozen at ten dollars and a great many at twenty-five 
dollars and up to one hundred dollars. The total assessed valuation 
for the whole county was ^449,151.28. To compare the above with 
the assessment made in 1921, which is published at the conclusion of 
this chapter, will show to some extent how the county has grown in 
valuation and the wonderful change that has taken place in the 
short space of thirty-one years. 

With each succeeding year the county enjoyed an increase in 
its assessed valuation, but even with the increase year after year 
the county in 1895 showed less than a million dollar valuation. To 
be exact it was $958,724.92. The town lots and improvements 
thereon within the county in 1895 showed an assessed valuation of 
$11,231.75. There were 11,527 head of cattle in the county at that 
time; 257,273 head of sheep; 2,460 horses; twenty swine, and three 
dogs. In five years, or in 1900, the total assessed valuation of the 
county had increased to $1,359,313-76. The town lots and improve- 
ments were assessed at $191,992.50, showing an increase of $180,760.- 
75. There were 8,917 cattle, 3,207 horses, 297,717 sheep and thirty- 
three swine. In 1901 the total valuation for the county was $1,794,- 
514.48; and in 1902 the total was $1,766,973.63, with 364,037 sheep, 
and 11,968 cattle. In 1903 town lots and improvements were assessed 
at $216,532, and there were 499,557 sheep listed for assessment, 
16,103 cattle and 5,000 horses. In 1907 the total assessment had in- 
creased to $2,998,371, with town lots and improvements assessed at 
$361,750. There were 24,274 cattle, 4,636 horses, 538,876 sheep and 
153 swine. In seven years, or in 1914, the total assessed valuation 
was increased to $12,373,273, divided as follows: Acres of land, 
177,629, $1,223,322; town lots and improvement, $3,531,557; cattle, 
12,685 head, $372,550; sheep, 352,567 head, $1,181,080; horses, 5,601 
head, $249,540; mules 113, $10,325; swine, 544 head, $2,978; per- 
sonal property $2,281,078; dogs, 810; oil output, 2,284,843 barrels, 
$1,142,421; railroads, telegraph and telephone, $2,292,316; private 
car lines, $5,996. In 1918 the total was $27,286,676, and in 1919 an 
increase was made to $33,600,178; 1920 showed an increase to $47,- 
723,518, and in 1921 the total was $61,070,426, an increase over 
1920 of $13,346,908, divided into the following classes of property: 
Number acres patented land, 243,918, $1,536,920; improvements on 
land, $1,261,939; improvements on land, not taxable, $331,974; 
value town lots, $6,332,339; value improvements on town lots, 
$9,794,477; equities in state land, $15,309. Total real property in 
Natrona county, $19,272,958. Cattle, 22,096 head, valued at $819,- 



EARNINGS IN THE COUNTY CLERK S OFFICE 21 

500; sheep, 270,093, ^1,176,671; horses, 6,340, ^202,125; mules, 40, 
^3,765; swine, 234, $1,785; goats, 7, $35; dogs, 23, $1,130; carriages, 
wagons and vehicles, $54,999; automobiles, $1,132,258; motor cycles, 
$1,425; farming utensils and mechanical tools, $355,313; clocks and 
watches, jewelry, $47,775; musical instruments, $158,775; private 
libraries, $4,500; law libraries, $19,395; household furniture, $572,- 
026; average capital in merchandise, $2,621,527; average value em- 
ployed in manufacture, $151,966; office and store fixtures, $409,171; 
stock and shares in corporations, $610,400; money and credits, 
$72,372; other property not herein enumerated, $7,773,265; private 
car companies, $157,670; railroad companies, $5,155,673; telegraph 
and telephone companies, $232,148; pipe line companies, $1,042,120; 
mining companies, $7,467; oil companies, $19,304,391 ; gas companies, 
$123,741; public utility, $839,131. 

Natrona county in 1921 showed the largest assessed valuation 
of any county in the state and also had the largest number of sheep 
listed of any of the several counties in Wyoming. It will also be 
noted that the assessed valuation had increased from less than half 
a million dollars in 1890 to more than sixty-one million dollars in 
1921. This phenomenal increase was due mostly to the development 
of the oil fields and construction of the oil refineries, which, in addi- 
tion to the money invested in the development of the oil fields and 
the building of refineries, was the incentive for bringing many other 
industries, with additional mercantile houses and professional men 
to the county, but considerable credit is also due to the stock raising 
industry which is yet responsible, and always has been, for no small 
amount of the county's taxes. 

Earnings in the County Clerk's Office 

The earnings in the office of the county clerk during the year 
1917 reached its highest peak, and was more than the earnings in 
any other county clerk's office in the state for any year, the amount 
being $23,679.90, as against $5,500.05 for 1916. A total of 16,390 
instruments were filed for record, as against 3,595 for the previous 
year. For 191 8 the earnings in this office showed a decided falling off 
with a gradual decline with each year following. 

County's Budget for 1922 

In making up the budget for the year 1922 the board of county 
commissioners estimated that there would be an income of $252,350, 
$10,000 of which would be derived from the earnings in the county 



22 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

clerk's office, $2,000 from the office of the clerk of the district court, 
and $240,350 from taxation. Of this amount it was estimated that 
the salaries of officers and deputies would amount to $68,000, trans- 
portation and contingent expense for the various departments, 
$8,000; district court expense, $14,750, justice court expense, $4,550; 
coroner's expense, $3,350; printing and records, $6,500; court house 
and jail expense, $20,000; criminal costs, $15,000; roads and bridges, 
$29,500, and miscellaneous expense $82,500. The salaries for the 
officers and deputies were divided as follows: Sheriff, $9,000; county- 
clerk, $9,000; county treasurer, $6,000; county attorney, $6,500; 
superintendent of schools, $1,500; assessor, $13,000; county com- 
missioners, $3,000; clerk of the district court, $4,000; county physi- 
cian, $2,500; county agent, $2,500; health officer, $4,000; miscella- 
neous expense to be divided among the several offices, $7,000. The 
general miscellaneous expense was estimated as follows: Poor and 
pauper, $20,000; county hospital, $18,000; premium on official bonds. 
$1,500; election expense, $5,000; contagious disease, $5,000; postage 
and freight, $1,000; telegraph and telephone, $4,000; inspection of 
horses and cattle, $1,500; mothers' pensions, $3,500; county poor 
farm, $1,000; clinic, $4,000, and to cover the 1920 deficit, $18,000. 

The County Poor Farm 

The poor and pauper and "widows' expense" of Natrona county 
is an annual burden to the taxpayers of more than $25,000, and on 
account of the liberality of the members of the board of county com- 
missioners the amount is rapidly increasing, and it is truly said that 
many of the people who are kept by the county eat better food, 
wear more expensive clothing and live in better houses than many 
of the laboring class who "earn their bread by the sweat of their 
brow." At one time the county clerk had published in the official 
proceedings of the county commissioners the names of those who 
received alms from the county, and the amount given them, but 
such a protest was made against the action of the clerk in the I 
publication of the names of those who were classed as "poor and \ 
pauper," that the commissioners ordered the clerk in the future to | 
forego the publication of the names, "because of the extra adver- | 
rising expense." ! 

On April 29, 1919, the board of county commissioners bought j 
from N. S. Wilson 870 acres of land situated four and one-half miles j 
east from the city of Casper. Two hundred acres of this land was | 
under irrigation from water supplied by Elkhorn and Cloud creeks, i 
The improvements on the farm included a six-room house, stables, 1 



THE BANKS OF NATRONA COUNTY 23 

garage, electric light and water systems, private telephone connecting 
with the Casper exchange, and many other conveniences. It was the 
intention of the commissioners to send the county's indigent to this 
farm where sustenance would not be so great, but they refused to 
go to the farm, and for a short time some of them did not apply 
for aid. In a few months, however, they were on the county pay roll 
again and some of them have been there ever since, and they continue 
to live in the city with all the comforts and conveniences that a 
liberal county administration can provide for them. 

The Banks of Natrona County 

One of the best indications of a community's growth and pros- 
perity is to be found in its banking institutions, and certainly the 
growth shown in the banks of Casper since the town was organized 
has been phenomenal. The steady increase in the volume of busi- 
ness transacted by the banks is but a reflection in the growth of all 
lines of business in Casper and vicinity, which few cities in the whole 
of the United States will duplicate. 

The Bank of Casper, with George Weber as cashier and pro- 
prietor, opened its doors for business in Casper in the fall of 1888. 
This was the first bank in Casper. January i, 1889, it carried an 
advertisement to the effect that its paid-up capital stock was ^5,000, 
with a surplus of ^i 14.39. The financial statement published October 
II, 1889, showed the resources consisted of loans and discounts, 
$3,916.82; overdrafts, $795.98; due from National banks, $1,498.25; 
checks, currency, gold, silver, legal tender, and other cash items, 
$2,592.87; real estate, furniture,||and fixtures, $1,800. The liabil- 
ities were: Deposits, subject to [check, $3,902.80; demand certifi- 
cates of deposit, $600; time certificates, $4,073.02; capital and 
surplus, $4,252.30. In January, 1891, W. A. Denecke became cash- 
ier and the name was changed to W. A. Denecke & Company's 
Bank of Casper. On November 27, 1903, this bank failed. It was 
said that the cause of the failure was that the heaviest depositors 
drew out large amounts of money and the heaviest borrowers were 
unable to meet their notes which were due and owing the bank. 
S. W. Conwell was appointed receiver and it was announced that 
about $51,000 was on deposit and there was $4,000 cash on hand 
when the bank closed. Notes and securities outstanding were ample 
to pay the depositors in full as soon as the money depression was 
relieved and the outstanding indebtedness to the bank could be col- 
lected. In due time the depositors were paid in full. This was the 
first and only bank failure in Casper. 



24 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

The banking house of C. H. King & Company of Casper com- 
menced business in the early summer of 1889, with Alex. J. Cunning- 
ham as cashier and C. H. King, president. This was the second bank 
for Casper. At the close of business on October 29, 1889, this bank 
in its financial statement showed it had resources at its command as 
follows: Loans and discounts, $861.24; overdrafts, $355.83; due 
from National banks, $3,966.93; furniture and fixtures, $545.79; 
expenses, $28.30; checks and other cash items, $151.75; legal tender, 
$1,450; nickels and cents, $631; specie, $25; total, $7,391.15. The 
liabilities were: Capital stock, $1,250, and undivided profits, $26.36; 
individual deposits, subject to check, $6,114.79. In 1894 the C. H. 
King & Company bank was merged into the Richards, Cunningham 
& Company bank. The Richards, Cunningham & Company bank 
was merged into the Casper National bank on July i, 1903, with a 
capital stock of $50,000. The officers were: A. J. Cunningham, 
president; J. DeForest Richards, vice president; E. P. Palmer, 
cashier; Maud Bohner, assistant cashier; and E. C. Harris, B. B. 
Brooks, Patrick Sullivan, P. C. Nicolaysen, A. J. Cunningham and 
J. DeForest Richards, directors. The statement to the comptroller 
of currency on September 9, 1903, showed: Loans and discounts, 
$249,205.27; National bank notes outstanding, $13,500; undivided 
deposits subject to check, $229,788.39; demand certificates of de- 
posit, $1,140; time certificates of deposit, $60,141.82. The capital 
stock paid in was $50,000. There was no surplus but the undivided 
profits were $18.46. This was the only bank doing business in Casper 
at that time. On December 29, 1922, there were: Loans and dis- 
counts, $1,753,561.08; overdrafts, $989.28; U. S. bonds and govern- 
ment securities, $61,543.46; other bonds and stocks, $74,327.24; 
banking house, furniture and fixtures, $141,355.89; cash due from 
other banks and bankers and U. S. treasurer, $819,353.58. Capital 
stock, $100,000; surplus, $100,000; undivided profits, $26,851.64; cir- 
culating notes outstanding, $50,000; demand deposits, time deposits, 
cashier's checks, certified checks and all other deposits and those due 
state and National banks, $2,574,278.89. Total, $2,851,130.53. 

The American Exchange bank was opened for business in Casper 
on March 2, 1891. This was Casper's third bank. The financial 
statement showed that the institution had real estate worth $1,500; 
furniture and fixtures, $1,000; cash on hand, $3,500; and other prop- 
erty owned by the firm, $15,000; making a total of $21,000. The 
liabilities were listed as naught. Alexander McKinney was president, 
Peter O'Malley, vice president, and J. E. Plummet, cashier. The 
American Exchange was very short lived, having been in existence 
just a year and a day, but its affairs were closed up in a business-like 



THE BANKS OF NATRONA COUNTY 2^ 

manner. On March 2, 1892, a notice was published in the local news- 
paper to the effect that the co-partnership between A. McKinney, 
Peter O'Malley, and J. E. Plummer, under the name of the American 
Exchange bank, was dissolved, and that all notes and bills of the 
co-partnership were payable to A. McKinney. There was then not 
enough business in the town for three banks and the law of the 
"survival of the fittest" prevailed. 

The Stockmen's National Bank of Casper was granted a charter 
in October, 1903, with C. H. Townsend, P. H. Shallenberger, Fred 
A. Gooding, Frank Wood, L. L. Gantz, C. K. Bucknum, and S. T. 
Mosser as stockholders. The capital stock was $50,000. The institu- 
tion was opened for business in the Townsend building on the north- 
west corner of Center and Second streets on Monday, December 
28, 1903, with C. H. Townsend, president; Percy H. Shallenberger, 
cashier; and Miss Lizzie McDonald, assistant cashier. This was the 
second bank in Casper at that time. The directors and officers on 
December 31, 1922, were: C. H. Townsend, president; Frank Wood, 
vice president; L. B. Townsend, cashier; V. W. Mokler, assistant 
cashier; L. L. Gantz, L. E. Townsend, C. L. Rhinemuth, directors. 
On December 29, 1922, the statement showed: Loans and discounts, 
$951,992.50; U. S. bonds, $146,000; overdrafts, $1,405.17; other 
bonds and securities, $155,911.50; furniture and fixtures, $2,500; 
cash on hand, due from banks and the U. S. treasurer, $275,568.83. 
Capital stock, $50,000; surplus, $125,000; undivided profits, $28,298.- 
66; bills payable, $75,000; circulation, $48,500; deposits, $1,206,579.- 
34. Total, $1,533,378. 

The First Trust and Savings Bank of Casper was organized 
January 19, 1915, and opened for business January 25, 1915. The 
following associates were elected to the first board of directors: 
Harold Banner, C. H. Townsend, Henry Bayer, John Daly, F. H. 
Sawyer, John T. Scott, William O. Wilson. The bank opened with a 
capital of $25,000. The first statement was made December 31, 191 5, 
with figures as follows: Capital, $25,000; loans, $55,115; deposits, 
$40,972. The following associates were on January i, 1923, serving 
as board of directors: C. H. Townsend, W. O. Wilson, W. O. RatclifF, 
L. B. Townsend, C. L. Rhinemuth, A. J. Mokler, Sam Switzer. The 
financial condition on December 29, 1922, was: Real estate loans, 
$441,865.55; bonds, securities, etc., $1,086; cash and sight exchange, 
$72,795.48. The resources were: Capital stock, $25,000; surplus, 
$25,000; undivided profits, $17,869.71 ; savings accounts, $393,308.66; 
time certificates, $54,568.66. Total, $515,747.03. 

On January ii, 1913, Messrs. Thomas A. CosgrifF and George 
E. Abbott, together with Roy C. Wyland, organized a bank in Casper 



26 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

under the state banking laws, with the name of CosgrifF & Abbott, \ 
Bankers. The capital stock was ^10,000. The bank was opened in a ; 
small room in the Iris theatre building. A later change of location I 
placed them in the corner room known as the Grand Central hotel ; 
lobby, on the southwest corner of Center and Second streets. On i 
May 2, 1914, the bank received its charter as The Wyoming National 
Bank of Casper. B. B. Brooks was then chosen as president, Thomas ; 
A. Cosgriff and G. E. Abbott as vice presidents, and Roy C. Wyland , 
as cashier. Under the National laws the bank was organized on \ 
a basis of ^50,000 as capital and $5,000 as surplus. Since that , 
time the capital of the bank increased to $100,000 and $100,000 as j 
earned placed to the surplus account of the bank. From a small j 
capitalization and initial deposits on the first day of $4,000 the bank, j 
on January i , 1922, had increased to a capital of $100,000, a surplus of 1 
$100,000 with resources of $4,000,000. The bank is now located in 
the Midwest Refining company's building on the corner of Second \ 
and Wolcott streets. The officers and directorate of the bank have j 
remained practically unchanged since its organization, Carl F. Shu- ; 
maker, the present cashier, having succeeded Thomas A. CosgrifF, 
deceased, as a director, Mr. Wyland being made vice president, j 
The officers and directors at present are: B. B. Brooks, president; 
G. E. Abbott, vice president; Roy C. Wyland, vice president; Carl F. 
Shumaker, cashier; P. J. O'Connor, director. At the close of business | 
December 29, 1922, this bank had loans and discounts amounting \ 
to $3,002,439.53; overdrafts, $1,729.19; U. S. bonds and revenue | 
stamps, $119,122.69; other bonds and warrants, $2,456.30; stock in ' 
federal reserve bank, $7,500; furniture and fixtures, $85,697.90; : 
real estate, $9,813.50; cash on hand, due from banks and U. S. ; 
treasurer, $843,578.29. Capital stock, $100,000; surplus, $150,000; ! 
undivided profits, $61,264.10; circulation, $100,000; deposits, $3,- 1 
661,073.20. Total $4,072,337.40. ' 

The National Bank of Commerce was organized October 10, 
1919, and opened for business November 24, 1919. The bank was : 
organized by Arthur K. Lee, with the following associates, who were ; 
elected the first board of directors: John McFayden, Ira G. Wetherill, j 
Joe E. Denham, H. L. Patton, Arthur K. Lee, L. A. Reed, Earl C. j 
Boyle, Thomas Kenney, T. F. Algeo, George B. Nelson, L. G. Murphy, j 
The bank opened with a capital of $125,000 and with $12,500 paid | 
up surplus. The first statement to the comptroller of currency was ; 
made December 31, 1921, with figures as follows: Capital, $125,000; ] 
surplus, $12,500; loans, $280,000; deposits, $455,000. At the close of 1 
business December 29, 1922, this bank had loans and discounts i 
amounting to $1,151,327.82; overdrafts, $705.11; U. S. bonds to 



THE BANKS OF NATRONA COUNTY 27 

secure circulation, $125,000; stock in federal reserve bank and other 
securities, $6,650; furniture and fixtures, $17,500; five per cent redemp- 
tion fund with the U. S. treasury, $6,250; cash in vault and due 
from banks, $457,449.35. The capital stock was $125,000; surplus 
and undivided profits, $30,950.30; circulation, $125,000; deposits, 
$1,483,930.98, with a total of $1,764,880.28. 

The Citizens National bank of Casper was chartered as a state 
bank and opened for business May i, 1917, with a capitalization of 
$50,000. Dr. John F. Leeper was elected president and had associated 
with him as directors John Beaton, M. J. Burke, C. M. Elgin, T. A. 
Dean, C. H. Horstman, and T. A. Hall. W. J. Bailey was elected as 
cashier. This bank was first located in one corner of the Chamberlin 
Furniture company's store room which was then doing business in 
what is now the Golden Rule store building, on the south side of 
Second street, between Center and Wolcott, but when the Oil Ex- 
change building, now known as the Consolidated Royalty building, 
was erected a modern banking room was fitted up for this bank where 
it has since been located. The vacancy caused by the death of Dr. 
Leeper in December, 1920, was filled by the election of M. J. Burke 
to the presidency. The capital stock was increased to $100,000 with 
a surplus of $25,000 at the time of the conversion from a state to a 
National bank. On December 29, 1922: Loans and discounts, $619,- 
169.92; overdrafts, $2,993.72; U. S. bonds and other stocks and 
bonds, $229,427.37; furniture and fixtures and real estate owned, 
$21,724.02; cash on hand, due from U. S. treasury, and from other 
banks and bankers, $332,130.04. Capital stock, $100,000; surplus, 
$25,000; undivided profits, $17,501.06; circulating notes outstanding, 
$100,000; demand and time deposits, cashier's checks, certified 
checks and all other deposits and those due state and National banks, 
$962,944.01; with a total of $1,205,445.07. 

The Wyoming Trust Company bank was organized and opened 
for business July i, 1921. The board of directors at the time of the 
bank's organization were: P. J. O'Connor, president; R. C. Cather, 
vice president, N. S. Wilson, vice president; Leo A. Dunn, cashier; 
B. B. Brooks, Roy C. Wyland, Carl F. Shumaker and R. H. Nichols, 
directors. The bank opened with a capital of $100,000 and $10,000 
paid up surplus. The first statement to the comptroller of currency 
was made on September 6, 1921, with figures as follows: Capital, 
$100,000; surplus, $10,000; loans, $204,000; deposits, $176,000. 
December 29, 1922, there were loans and discounts, $347,831.45; 
overdrafts, $208.38; stocks and bonds, $16,037.50; banking house 
and fixtures, $14,597.30; cash on hand and due from other banks 
$121,801.36. Capital stock, $100,000; surplus, $10,000; undivided 



28 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

profits, ^1,132.28; demand deposits, time deposits, cashier's checks, 
certified checks and all other deposits and those due state and 
National banks, $389,343.71; with a total of $500,475.99. 

The Casper Clearing House association, whose membership 
consists of all the banks of Casper, was organized February 7, 1921, 
with A. J. Cunningham, president; Roy C. Wyland, vice president; 
J. R. Schlueter, secretary, and W. J. Bailey, treasurer. The associa- 
tion clears all bank debits of the town each day, and all the banks of 
the city work in harmony. Since its existence the Clearing House 
association has solved many perplexing problems which has resulted 
beneficially to all concerned. The clearings of the banks by the 
month since the association was organized up to the first of January, 
1922, was as follows: 



February $ 2,917,506 

March 4,209,967 

April 4>646,57i 

May 4.924.91S 

June 5,434,846 

July 5>030.9S9 

August 4,034,593 

September 4,114,817 

October 4.7i4>725 

November 4,469,457 

December 4,885,696 



Total $49,384,056.31 

The Bank of Salt Creek, with a capital of $25,000, was opened 
at Lavoye, or the Mosher camp, in the Salt Creek oil field, October 
21, 1922. The stockholders and directors were J. H. Montgomery, 
president; A. C. Andrews, vice president; E. W. Downing, cashier; 
H. S. Durrie, assistant cashier; Barton A. Myers and George A. 
Gatewood, directors. 

The Salt Creek State bank was established and opened for 
business on October 21, 1922, located at Lavoye, which is commonly 
known as the Mosher camp, in the Salt Creek oil field. Its capital 
stock was $25,000 and the incorporators and directors of the institu- 
tion were: Roy C. Wyland, president; B. B. Brooks, vice president; 
Carl F. Shumaker, P. J. O'Connor and G. E. Abbott, directors, and 
Thomas Keith, cashier. 



Newspapers of Natrona County 



The Casper Weekly- Mail was established November 23, 1888, | 
by Lombard and Casebeer and was the first newspaper published in ' 
Natrona county. Mr. Lombard retired on April i, 1889, and James { 



NEWSPAPERS OF NATRONA COUNTY 29 

A. Casebeer, who was Casper's third postmaster, became sole owner 
of the newspaper. Mr. Casebeer was also the only delegate from Cas- 
per to the Constitutional Convention which was held in Cheyenne 
in September, 1889. Alex T. Butler bought the Mail from Mr. Case- 
beer and assumed the editorial and business management on May 
16, 1890. Mr. Casebeer left at once for the Yellowstone National 
park and never returned to Casper. An effort was made to find him 
and have him attend the reunion of the delegates of the Constitu- 
tional Convention, held in Cheyenne in 1920, but he could not be 
located. The Mail suspended publication after its issue of January 
16, 1 891, after having been published a little more than two years. 
It was under Mr. Butler's ownership when it suspended. This was 
the third Natrona county publication to go to the newspaper grave- 
yard, the Mail having been preceded by the Sweetwater {Bothwell) 
Chief and the Bessemer Journal. 

The Bessemer Journal was the second newspaper to be established 
in Natrona county and the second to suspend publication. It was 
first published late in the year of 1888. J. Enos Waite was editor and 
business manager from its beginning to the end. After struggling 
until the latter part of December, 1890, the publication was sus- 
pended and the plant was seized by its creditors. 

The Sweetwater Chief, published at the town of Bothwell by 
H. B. Fetz, was the third publication to make its appearance in 
Natrona county and the first to start the newspaper graveyard. It 
was established in the spring of 1890, blooming forth with the flowers 
in the Sweetwater valley and it also withered and died with those 
same flowers in the fall of the year. During its existence it advocated 
the building of a railroad through the Sweetwater country, the re- 
moval of the state capital to Bothwell, the development of the gold, 
silver, and copper mines in that vicinity, the drilling of oil wells in 
the basin and the development of the soda lakes close at hand. 
Instead of the town's increasing in population, two of its citizens, 
who were considered a menace to the community but nevertheless 
were responsible for a great number of visitors making frequent 
pilgrimages to the place, were hanged to a tree on a summer's day, 
and as no one seemed to care to come there to continue the business 
they had started, but had so suddenly left, and many visitors ceased 
their coming, on account of the lack of some of the things they con- 
sidered necessary for their entertainment, the CAzV/ lacked the finan- 
cial support necessary in all well regulated printing oflflces, and it was 
not long until that disseminator of news and advocator of all that 
was good ceased pubhcation, and the plant was packed up and taken 
to Rawlins. 



30 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Volume I, number i, of the Wyoming Derrick, published in 
Casper, was issued May 21. 1890, by the Natrona County Publishing 
company, with W. S. Kimball as editor and business manager. The 
stockholders were Joel J. Hurt, C. C. Wright, P. C. Nicolaysen, 
George Mitchell and A. J. Cunningham. The Derrick was a typo- 
graphical gem and one of the best edited newspapers in the then 
Territory of Wyoming. On June 25, 1891, Mr. Kimball retired as 
editor and bought a half interest in the Pioneer drug store with 
C. F. G. Bostleman. Joel J. Hurt at this time bought up all the 
stock and became the sole owner of the plant, and he leased it to 
P. T. McNamara and C. W. Wixcey. Wixcey retired in two months 
and Mr. McNamara continued as editor until March 3, 1892, when 
Major E. H. French took charge temporarily. Alex T. Butler bought 
the plant from Mr. Hurt and was editor for nearly four months, 
when he sold it in July to J. K. Calkins, who was editor and publisher 
until April 15, 1895, when he sold it to W. H. Korns. P. C. Hays 
bought an interest in the plant with Mr. Korns in the fall of 1896, 
and on April 7, 1898, Mr. Korns sold his interest to Colonel Emerson 
H. Kimball. Mr. Hays bought Mr. Kimball's interest on July i, 
1898, and published the paper until August 10, 1905, when he leased 
the plant to M. A. Cameron. Mr. Cameron continued the publica- 
tion until March 2, 1906. The leading editorial in that issue was: 
"This space is reserved. Watch it next week." Next week never 
came for the Derrick. It went the way of its three predecessors. 
The Tribune was then the only newspaper published in Natrona 
county. 

Th& Natrona Tribune wzs first published on June i, 1891. J. Enos 
Waite was the publisher. The plant was owned by about twenty 
men, organized under the name of the Republican Publishing com- 
pany. Waite retired on February 10, 1892, and was succeeded by 
M. P. Wheeler. Mr. Wheeler published the paper until June 24, 

1893, when Alex T. Butler leased the plant and remained until August 
7, 1893. W. E. Ellsworth was then hired to conduct the business and 
wrote the local news and editorials. He was in charge until July i, 

1894. Ben L. Green followed Mr. Ellsworth, and on November 22, 
1894, O. A. Hamilton succeeded Green. April 11, 1895, Hamilton 
relinquished to Fred E. Seeley. Seeley published the paper three 
weeks and on May 2, 1895, F. H. Barrow became editor and pub- 
lisher. George P. Devenport leased the plant on December 31, 1896, 
and was publisher until June i, 1897, when A. J. Mokler bought the 
plant from the Republican Publishing company and changed the 
name to the Natrona County Tribune. Mr, Mokler published the 
Tribune for seventeen years and four and a half months, and on 



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CASPER. WYOMING. 

T}.c Future Mi"-9-«ndMc.r 
fac-tarinciCu,y oft^^-- VV'-i^t- 

Surrounded By Natural Rcsoun 
Poifesaed By But Fs-uj Cities 



NEWSPAPERS OF NATRONA COUNTY 3 I 

October 15, 1914, sold the plant to J. E. Hanway and a number of 
associates. A stock company was organized, with Mr, Hanway as 
president. The development of the Salt Creek oil fields had com- 
menced at this time and Casper showed encouraging signs of develop- 
ing into a city, and the Tribune keeping pace with the conditions, 
made improvements as its patronage justified. On February 9, 1916, 
the Casper Daily Tribune was established and has grown to be the 
leading newspaper, with the best equipped plant, in the state. The 
weekly Natrona County Tribune was absorbed by the Wyoming 
Weekly Review on February 19, 1921. The Review was a state news- 
paper, and its mission was to present a review of the week's happen- 
ings not only of Wyoming, but of the nation. The Tribune Publishing 
company was the owner of the Review. On August 25, 1922, J. E. and 
E. E. Hanway sold the Tribune and Weekly Review to Charles W. 
Barton of New York City, and on September 20, 1922, the publica- 
tion of the Review was discontinued and merged with the Sunday 
Morning Tribune. 

The Casper Press was established in August, 1908, by a man 
named Merrill of Wheatland, with Alex T. Butler as owner. Merrill 
retired in about ten months and Mr. Butler edited the paper until 
January, 1909, when H. J. Peterson took charge and conducted the 
business until August 11, 191 1. Mr. Peterson then bought a new 
plant and established the Casper Record, and C. Littlefield bought 
the Press plant from Mr. Butler, who conducted the paper as a 
weekly until June 19, 1914, when a small daily paper was issued. 
Neither the weekly nor the daily was a paying proposition; the town 
was small and the newspaper field was limited; instead of three weekly 
papers and one daily to cover the field and reap the harvest one 
weekly was sufficient, and the survival of the strongest was the only 
road to supremacy. In about a year the Press became so heavily 
involved in financial difficulties that Robert D. Carey, the heaviest 
stockholder, took over the plant and leased it to Henry F. Brennan. 
This was Mr. Brennan's first venture in the newspaper business, 
and he was making no better success than his predecessor, and on 
March I, 1916, W. W. Slack, an experienced printer, became editor- 
manager, in partnership with Mr. Brennan, on a lease agreement with 
Mr. Carey. Mr. Brennan retired September 30, 1916, and Wm. 
Jardine formed a partnership with Mr. Slack. On December 23, 1916, 
the Press and Record were consolidated and H. J. Peterson became 
sole proprietor. The oil business at that time brought great prosper- 
ity to Casper, and the Press-Record prospered with all other lines of 
business here. On November i, 1917, Percy E. Cropper and asso- 
ciates of Salt Lake bought the Press-Record from Mr. Peterson but 



32 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

in about six months it became involved in financial difficulties and the 
creditors relieved Mr. Cropper. A. J. Mokler was appointed tempor- 
ary receiver and remained until the financial difficulties were straight- 
ened out. Within ten days the business was put on a paying basis, 
and on June 15, 1918, W. B. Holliday bought the plant and changed 
the evening paper to a morning publication. It was not long until 
failure again showed her face at the door and there were so many 
men at the helm attempting to keep the publication from sinking 
that a list is unobtainable, but the creditors in the fall of the year 
appointed Ira W. Naylor receiver, "on account of the assets of the 
compan}^ being in danger of disruption." The daily publication was 
suspended October 30, 191 8, and the Weekly Press was issued on 
Thursdays and the Record on Sundays. New life and new blood was 
injected into the business, and on November 18th, the Press resumed 
publication as a daily morning paper with W. W. Sproul as editor. 
It was short-lived, however, for on December 23, 1919, the Weekly 
Record and Daily Press suspended "on account of the lack of financial 
and business support," and the doors of the office were closed by the 
creditors, and this was the last of the Press and Record^ the fifth 
and sixth newspapers of the county to give up the ghost. 

The Wyoming Oil World, published in Casper, was founded 
June, 1918, by Victor Clark, who conducted the publication for one 
year, when L. C. Bailey took charge until April, 1921. The Wyoming 
Oil World and the Wyoming Oil Reviezv were consolidated in July, 

1920, and in February, 1922, the publication absorbed the Northwest 
Oil News. A. J. Hazlett bought the publication in April, 1921, and 
in January, 1922, changed the name to the Inland Oil Index. As its 
name indicates, its news and business is wholly with the oil interests. 

From the remains of the Casper Press-Record plant sprung the 
Casper Herald. Frank M. O'Brien, Elizabeth D. O'Brien and P. C. 
Kelley were the original stockholders of the new enterprise, which 
made its first appearance as a morning newspaper on July 20, 1919. 
Much new machinery and equipment was added and the paper be- 
came very popular as a morning publication from the beginning. 
The business was conducted as a partnership until the spring of 

1921, when the Casper Herald Publishing company was incorporated 
with a capital stock of ^100,000, with the three original owners as 
the principal stockholders. On September 18, 1922, Mr. O'Brien sold 
the controlling interest in the Herald to M. M. Levand, who had been 
connected with the Denver Post and the Kansas City Post. 

The Free Press, published in Casper, for the enlightenment and 
in the interest of organized labor, was first issued June 18, 1920. Its 
founder and first editor, John F. Leheney, proudly boasted that the 







"Triblne"' Okfice, on Center Street, 1900 




WYOMING DERRICK. ^ 
"""AM:PRINTiNG:OFFtCE.I 




Derrick Office, iSg;, 



NEWSPAPERS OF NATRONA COUNTY 33 

publication was started on a sheet of wrapping paper. Miss Bessie 
McKinney and John D. Salmond, leaders of organized labor, and 
Michael J. Quealey, a capitalist, were interested in the Free Press 
with Mr. Leheney in a financial way, and had it not been for their 
influence and timely financial assistance there would be nothing fur- 
ther to chronicle in this connection, except to announce the date of 
its suspension, but now, like Tennyson's brook, it hopes to "go on 
forever." For the first year, and in fact ever since its existence, the 
Free Press has been in a precarious financial state, and while it cannot 
claim the distinction, like Topsy, in "Uncle Tom's Cabin," of being 
entirely without parentage, it was a homeless wanderer for more than 
a year. It was conceived in idealism, born in poverty and nurtured 
in adversity. It was printed by one of the local printing offices for 
the first fourteen months, but since August, 1921, it has been issued 
from its own plant, which was installed at an initial cost of about 
$15,000, the greater portion of which is causing the stockholders to 
loosen their purse strings at regular intervals when the payments 
become due, and at the same time serves as a reminder that while the 
editorials in a labor journal generally beam with brilliancy, "all is 
not gold that glistens." In February, 1921, the Free Press Publishing 
company was incorporated, with a capitalization of $50,000. Under 
a provision of the by-laws then adopted, stock may be sold to or- 
ganized labor only. The outstanding stock is, therefore, owned by 
the various labor unions throughout the state of Wyoming and by 
the members of union labor. In September, 1921, Mr. Leheney 
resigned as president of the board of directors and as editor, and 
John A. Barker was elected to the positions, but on February, 1922, 
E. A. Shields was elected president; Charles L. Howard, secretary- 
treasurer; Austin Riley, Edna Hoffman, George Vogel, A. E. Gosnell, 
Wm. Schatzlein and John A. Barker, as the board of directors, with 
Mr. Barker as editor. 

The Mills Item had very bright prospects to "fill a long felt 
want" in the new town of Mills, but it was the shortest lived news- 
paper ever published in Natrona county. The first, last and only 
issue was published on Saturday, May 27, 1922. Theo. Flanagan 
was the editor and publisher. He had no type or machinery but 
arranged with a Casper printing establishment to furnish these neces- 
sary articles. In his salutatory he said he "hoped the people of Mills 
would form a good impression of both the paper and the editor. 
The Item is for Mills first, last and all the time." Inasmuch as the 
Item as well as Mr. Flanagan did not again make their appearance 
the people of Mills did not form a good opinion of the paper or the 
editor as he had hoped they would. 



34 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Mr. Flanagan moved from Mills to North Casper, where he 
established the North Casper Nezvs, "a community paper, published 
in the interest of North Casper." 

The Salt Creek Gusher, with E. A. Gatewood and Gregory 
Powell as publishers, whose motto, carried at the top of the paper 
"'Tis a Privilege to Live in Salt Creek," and whose editorial policy 
was "Our Aim is to Serve Salt Creek," was established April 8, 1922. 
The first issue was a six-page four-column, home-print sheet, and was 
a credit to the town it represented, and had bright prospects of sur- 
viving the vicissitudes that usually are encountered by a small-town 
weekly newspaper. 

The Salt Creek Journal, with Frank O'Brien as publisher, was 
the second newspaper venture in Salt Creek. This paper was pub- 
lished in the Casper Herald office, with Salt Creek news items and the 
events of the day taken from the Herald columns. M. M. Levand 
became proprietor of this publication on September 18, 1922, when 
he purchased the Herald. 

Natrona County's Two Court Houses 

From the date of Natrona county's organization in April, 1890, 
until July, 1895, the county officers occupied two rooms on the second 
floor over Robert White's saloon, on Center street. The terms of the 
district court were held in the town hall. In the early spring of 1895 
the board of county commissioners, with Charles K. Bucknum as 
chairman, wisely decided that a new court house was needed, and 
accordingly a contract was let for the construction of a two-story 
frame building to be covered with seam iron. The dimensions of the 
building were 24x36 feet and the size of the brick vault was 8x12 feet. 
The cost of this building, complete, was ^477. There were eight 
rooms in the building, and the county clerk and clerk of the district 
court, the board of county commissioners and the brand commis- 
sioners occupied the two lower rooms on the south side, the county 
surveyor and treasurer occupied the two lower rooms on the north 
side; the county attorney and the sheriff were in the rooms on the 
south side, upstairs, and the terms of the district court were supposed 
to be held in the two rooms upstairs on the north side, but as these 
rooms were too small to accommodate these proceedings, they were 
generally vacant. The county surveyor occupied any of the rooms 
that suited him best, and he generally could be found in one of the 
rooms with the county clerk. From this very convenient and com- 
modious arrangement it can readily be seen that there was plenty 
of room for all and some to spare. This building was located on the 



NATRONA county's TWO COURT HOUSES 35 

west side of David street, between Yellowstone Highway and Mid- 
west avenue. Xi4:3-99'2 

In the early days the popuTation oT the county was from 500 to 
1,000 and the assessed valuation was in the neighborhood of a million 
dollars. But in 1906 the county had grown in population and wealth, 
and the people felt that they must have a court house in keeping with 
their size and money, and on March i, 1906, at a meeting of the 
Casper Booster's club a committee consisting of Patrick Sullivan, 
W. A. Blackmore, C. M. Elgin, Oscar Hiestand and E. F. Seaver, 
was appointed to meet with the board of county commissioners 
and request that preliminary arrangements be made for the selection 
of a site and the erection of a suitable court house for the county. 
Petitions were circulated requesting the commissioners to submit 
to the electors of the county, at a special election, the question of 
whether the board of commissioners should be authorized to issue cou- 
pon bonds in the sum of ^40,000 for the purpose of raising funds with 
which to build a new court house. The election was held in Novem- 
ber, 1906, and 676 votes were cast for the bonds, with 139 against. 

Everything up until this time, apparently, had been going 
smoothly, but there were some people in the county then, as there 
probably are now, who were always and completely out of tune with 
their environments. Some of these people had lived in the county 
almost from the beginning of its organization and they had nearly 
always opposed everything and everybody that looked progressive, 
and it was surprising that matters had progressed so far without 
friction. But when the selection for the site of the new building was 
to be made by the board of county commissioners the war clouds 
commenced to thicken, and it was soon found that the taxpayers 
were wallowing in the mire of personalities and the intricacies of the 
law, from which the majority extricated themselves from the cata- 
clysm with difficulty. No doubt there were a few men on both 
sides of the question who were self-centered, case-hardened, hide- 
bound and utterly uncharitable, while there were many others who 
were unquestionably honest and sincere. It was a bitter contest, and 
everybody was active; the men on each side "bowed their necks 
and stiffened their backs," and were determined to make a fight 
until their last chance to win had gone. 

Three sites were favored, one on north Center street, where the 
building was finally located, one on south Wolcott street, eight 
blocks south of what was then the center of the town, and the other 
on David street, where the court house at that time was situated. 

On January i, 1907, the $40,000 bonds were issued, and the board 
of county commissioners, consisting of L. L. Gantz, C. C. P. Webel 



36 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

and C. A. Hall, met in special session for the purpose of deciding 
upon the location for the new building. A great many people were 
present at this meeting and some heated argument was indulged in. 
Petitions were presented favoring the three sites, and after patiently 
listening to the argument, carefully perusing the petitions and 
diligently studying the situation from every angle, it was decided 
the north Center street site was the one favored by the greatest 
number of taxpayers, and the commissioners unanimously decided 
that this was where the building should be. But this was far from 
ending the controversy, as will be seen later. 

C. A. Randall, the local architect, was instructed to draw plans 
and specifications for the building, and by the time they were fin- 
ished the summer months were far advanced, but the blood of the 
defeated factions was still boiling. In November, 1907, at a meet- 
ing of the board of county commissioners the contract for the 
construction of the building was awarded to Schmidt & Esmay 
of Douglas, the price being $44,274, the building to be completed 
November i, 1908. 

The contractors commenced at once to excavate for the founda- 
tion and carry out their part of the contract, but on December 20, 
1907, Silas Adsit, through his attorney, Alex T. Butler, filed a peti- 
tion with the clerk of the district court asking that an injunction be 
issued by Judge Carpenter restraining the board of county com- 
missioners of Natrona county and Schmidt & Esmay, the contractors, 
from constructing the court house at the north end of Center street. 
The petitioner alleged that when the board of county commissioners 
claimed that a majority of the taxpayers favored that location, and 
when they said that it was a suitable and plausible location, they did 
not tell the truth, and that the commissioners decided upon that 
location for the purpose of cheating and injuring the petitioner and 
deteriorating the value of his real estate in the town of Casper, 
and that the commissioners were in collusion with speculators that 
owned real estate near the proposed site. He further said that the 
records of the county would be imperiled by the overflow of the 
Platte river and the continuous blowing of sand, and that the grounds 
could not be beautified because of the lack of water and the abun- 
dance of sand. After making numerous and divers other charges he 
concluded his petition by claiming that all the actions of the county 
commissioners in regard to selecting the site and awardmg the con- 
tract for the construction of the building was illegal, and for these 
things he asked the court to issue a perpetual restraining order, 
enjoining the commissioners from paying out any money for the 
construction of the court house. 




Casper's First Jail Building, 1890 
Dr. Joseph Benson was cremated in this jai 




i i i 



L- 



g^ 



Natron \ LoLNn s 1 irsi Colrt Hdlm, 
1893, LuvtRfcD wiiH S^J^M Iron 



n'illi !'^SJ HI* 




Natrona County Court House, 1908 



NATRONA county's TWO COURT HOUSES 37 

For some of the allegations contained in the petition which 
reflected upon them, the contractors and the architect made arrange- 
ments to bring action against Mr. Adsit, charging him with libel, 
and asking for damages to the amount of $100,000. 

When the matter of granting the temporary restraining order 
came before Judge Carpenter, he said he would readily grant the 
order when Mr. Adsit should procure a good and sufficient bond, in 
the sum of $18,000, but until the bond was presented the contractors 
would continue uninterrupted with their work. The matter came up 
for final hearing the last week in February, and on account of the 
petitioner being able to secure only one name on the bond, it was 
declared to be insufficient, and the court refused to grant the injunc- 
tion, but this did not settle the controversy. The objectors had not 
yet exhausted all their means to stop the progress of the building, 
for after the excavation for the basement had been completed, and a 
great deal of material was on the ground, and when the contractors 
had hired a large force of men, J. M. Carey refused to deliver to the 
county a deed for that portion of the ground he owned upon which 
the court house was to be built, and work on the building was then 
temporarily suspended. 

Shortly after the site for the building had been selected by the 
board of county commissioners, a contract was made with Mr. 
Carey, through M. P. Wheeler his Casper agent, for the purchase 
of the lots, and at the same tim.e a number of other lots which would 
be used for the court house grounds were purchased from other 
parties. The contract for the purchase of the lots from the Carey 
company were drawn up and properly signed by the Carey company 
agent, and the agent of the individuals who were purchasing the land 
and were going to present it to the county, free of charge, for court 
house purposes. And it was agreed that full payment would be made 
when the deed was delivered. Shortly after this contract was made 
Mr. Wheeler was compelled to undergo a dangerous operation, and 
before he could return home from Chicago the time agreed upon for 
the payment of the lots had expired, and Mr. Carey at once canceled 
the contract and withdrew the lots from the market, although the 
money was tendered him for the payment of them according to the 
contract. 

A delegation immediately went to Cheyenne and waited on Mr. 
Carey, and he agreed to come to Casper the first week in April and 
make an investigation of conditions, and at a mass meeting held in 
the town hall on April 3, at which Mr. Carey and a large number of 
citizens were present, much argument was presented for and against 
the building of the court house on the proposed site. Mr. Carey did 



38 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

not at once give his decision in regard to the sale of the lots, but after 
returning to his home in Cheyenne he wrote to the board of county 
commissioners, protesting against the court house being built on 
the north Center street site, "unless the property is first donated by 
us, purchased of us or procured by condemnation proceedings." 
A number of citizens and taxpayers put up a bond to the county 
commissioners guaranteeing title to the north Center street site, 
regardless of the protest of Mr. Carey, and at a special meeting of 
the town council an ordinance was adopted which vacated and closed 
to public use the land provided for a court house building and a 
court house yard on north Center street. Some of those who were 
opposed to this site were present at the council meeting and they 
threatened to throw "the members of the town council in jail, as 
they had thrown the members of the school board in jail, and if this 
street was blockaded, they said they would tear up and blockade and 
fence the alleys and the streets anywhere in town that they chose. 
The majority of the members of the town council and all the members 
of the board of county commissioners, together with about fifty sub- 
stantial taxpayers, were determined that the work on the building 
should proceed, and they personally guaranteed to the city and 
county and the contractors the payment of all the expense of court 
proceedings and any other expense that might arise, and the con- 
tractors again commenced work on the building, and continued with- 
out interruption, but were annoyed with a great deal of objection 
until the building was completed. 

The cornerstone was laid by the grand master of Masons on 
Monday, June 22, 1908, and the building was finished February 10, 
1909, but was not occupied until March 13, on account of the new 
furniture and jail fixtures not arriving before that time. 

The formal opening of the building was on March 17, 1909, 
when the Casper band furnished music, and a reception was held from 
3 o'clock until 5 in the afternoon, and, although it was declared that 
"everybody in town" was at the reception, those who made such a 
strong resistance against the building being erected on this site, 
must have been out of town that day, for they were not at the 
reception. 

But even after the new building was occupied the rancorous feel- 
ing had not been smothered and on November 9, 1909, Judge Carey 
wrote a letter to the board of county commissioners in which he said 
that "upon examining the location of the new court house in Casper 
we find that you have used a street that was dedicated by us for 
public uses, without our consent. You have also destroyed the means 
of ingress and egress to property belonging to us in blocks fiftj^-four 



NATRONA county's PUBLIC LIBRARY 39 

and fifty-five. We are entitled to some compensation for this and we 
want to hear your proposition and what you propose to do." 

In due time an agreement was reached between the board of 
county commissioners and Mr. Carey as to the price he should have 
for his lots upon which the court house was built and the amount of 
damage to blocks fifty-four and fifty-five, because of the closing of 
Center street. The county commissioners informed the men who had 
agreed to bear all the expense of the amount to be paid to Mr. Carey 
and the bondsmen raised the money and turned it over to the county 
commissioners; the county commissioners then paid Mr. Carey, 
and thus ended for all time the Natrona county court house con- 
troversy. 

Natrona County's Public Library 

Natrona County's Public Library ranks with the public schools 
as being an institution that is indispensable and of untold benefit, 
and although it is very liberally patronized and no doubt greatly 
appreciated by the general public, it does not receive the financial 
support that it deserves. While it is conducted along economical lines 
that are not equaled by the county or city governments, or even by 
the schools of the county, the annual appropriations made for its 
support and maintenance are very meager, compared with the en- 
lightenment, entertainment and benefit it returns. Donations, ap- 
propriations and "drives" are continually being made in the county 
for the support of some worthy cause, but never yet has the public 
library of this county received any consideration except the annual 
appropriation made by the board of county commissioners, which is 
provided by the statutes of the state. 

A public library was first established in Casper late in the fall 
of 1902, by the local Women's Christian Temperance Union. The 
books were few and they occupied some shelves in a small building 
located on the east side of Center street, between Second and First. 
Although the number of books was limited, there was a sufficient 
number at that time to supply the demand. This library was con- 
ducted by the ladies of the organization above named for about a 
year, when, on November 3, 1903, the Natrona County Public 
Library association was organized, and F. E. Matheny, N. S. Bristol 
and W. S. Kimball were appointed trustees. An annual levy of not 
less than one-eighth of a mill and not more than one-half of a mill 
of the assessed valuation of the county for the establishment and 
maintenance of such a library was provided by the state statutes, 
which also provided that the county must own its own building and 
books. The statutes further provided that "the board of trustees 



40 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

must keep a strict account of all the association's property and make 
a complete report to the board of county commissioners at the end 
of each year. The books of the library must be non-political, non- 
sectarian and only twenty-five per cent of them fiction. All the books 
must be of a character that would inform the mind and improve 
the character of the reader. The library must be free to the residents 
of the county." 

The library association at that time did not own a building, 
but arrangements were made for the use of the building and books 
owned by the Women's Christian Temperance Union. But little 
interest was taken in the institution and probably not a dozen books 
were borrowed in a month's time, and the board of trustees and the 
association in a short time became inactive. The annual appropria- 
tions were made regularly and a fund of several hundred dollars 
was accumulated, no part of which was used for several years. 

In the summer of 1906 some of the county's enterprising citizens 
conceived the idea that there should be a public library building 
in the city of Casper, not that there was at that time any particular 
need or demand for such a building or a library, but if some outside 
philanthropist would furnish the money it would give to the town a 
building to which we could point with pride. Accordingly Andrew 
Carnegie was appealed to for the money, and he agreed to give 
$10,000 toward the erection of a building, provided the town of 
Casper would agree to make an annual appropriation of $1,000 for 
its maintenance. The agreement was entered into between the town 
of Casper and Mr. Carnegie. C. A. Randall was then Casper's only 
architect, and he drew the plans and specifications for the building, 
which were approved by the town council and were then forwarded 
to Mr. Carnegie for his approval. They were returned with Mr. 
Carnegie's approval, and on September 30, 1906, Charles Galusha 
was awarded the contract for the erection of the building, the price 
being $10,375. Work was commenced upon the building at once, 
but on account of the many changes that were necessarily made in 
the plans and specifications there was considerable additional ex- 
pense to the original contract and much delay in completing the 
building. For more than two years the contractor was hampered 
by changes and additional expense, and by this time the appropria- 
tion of $10,000 was exhausted and the building far from being finished. 
An appeal was made to Mr. Carnegie for more funds, and under 
certain conditions he agreed to donate $3,000 more with which to 
complete the building, and at a meeting of the Casper town council, 
held January 23, 1909, a resolution was adopted to the effect that 
"Andrew Carnegie has offered to donate to the town of Casper, 



NATRONA COUNTY S PUBLIC LIBRARY 4I 

Wyoming, an additional sum of three thousand dollars for the purpose 
of completing the Carnegie library, upon condition that the town 
annually raise three hundred dollars, in addition to that already 
pledged, for the support and maintenance of the said library, there- 
fore, we do hereby pledge the said town of Casper to raise three 
hundred dollars, in addition to the amount already pledged, for the 
support and maintenance of the said public library, to be raised 
annually, and expended for that purpose." Work on the building 
was resumed and there were encouraging prospects that it would 
be completed without delay. 

On April 8, 1909, the board of county commissioners appointed 
C. H. Townsend, C. C. P. Webel and J. E. Schulte as the board of 
directors of the Natrona County Library association, giving them 
charge of the library fund, and directing them to purchase furniture, 
fix the salary for the librarian and hire a librarian. This board was 
organized July i, 1909, with J. E. Schulte, chairman; C. H. Town- 
send, treasurer; C. C. P. Webel, secretary. In August Mr. Webel 
resigned as secretary and member of the board, and Harold Banner 
was appointed to fill the vacancy. 

It was discovered by this time that the town of Casper could 
not fulfill its part of the agreement in raising funds for the main- 
tenance of the institution, and on the first of November, 1909, the 
town of Casper, by a resolution adopted by the town council, pre- 
sented to Natrona county the Carnegie library building, which 
even at that time was still far from being completed and ready for 
occupancy. Natrona county, through its board of county commis- 
sioners, accepted the gift from the town, and on the third of No- 
vember the members of the board of directors of the library were 
instructed to furnish the building and have it in condition for occu- 
pancy as soon as possible and appoint a librarian. 

To some people living in Casper this did not appear to be legal, 
nor did they deem it just to Mr. Carnegie, and the matter of finishing, 
furnishing and occupying the building was in status quo until February 
2, 1910, when a resolution was adopted by the board of county 
commissioners "authorizing the Natrona County Public Library 
association to take charge of and assume control of the Carnegie 
Public Library building, situated in the town of Casper, and to open 
and manage the same as provided by law," and it was further ordered 
that the "Natrona County Public Library association, as soon as 
practicable, take charge of, open and maintain the said Carnegie 
Public Library building as the free public library of Natrona county, 
Wyoming, and that said association cause to be placed in said library 
building all library property and books belonging to Natrona county." 



42 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

The thirteen thousand dollars donated by Mr. Carnegie for the 
building had by this time been expended, and the building was yet 
a long way from being completed, and of course could not be opened 
for public use. 

Complaint had been made by Casper's "Trouble Makers' 
Club," of which the membership consisted of about a half a dozen 
men who on numerous occasions had previously attempted to thwart 
movements that would add to the progress and upbuilding of the 
town, and one of the men even appealed to Mr. Carnegie to "send 
an attorney here and enforce your contract, and cause the library 
to be opened." Mr. Carnegie paid no attention to the complaint. 

The library board could not, under the Wyoming statutes, ex- 
pend tax funds to complete the building, but the attorney general of 
Wyoming advised the trustees that they could legally expend such 
funds as were at their command for repairs on the building, but, he 
advised, "If the sentiment of the community is in favor of using the 
tax funds for completing the building, I would not suppose there 
would be any serious objections." 

The work of "repairing" the building was then commenced, 
under the supervision of the county library trustees, but it was not 
in condition to be occupied until the middle of May. On the evening 
of May 20, 1910, the trustees of the association and the ladies of the 
Casper Civic Club were hosts and hostesses at the formal opening 
of the building, the reception to the public being held from 8:30 
until 9:30, after which there was dancing until midnight. The 
next day, Saturday, May 21, the library was opened to the public, 
with Mrs. Sarah Place as librarian. There were but a few books on 
the shelves, and there were but few calls for those on hand. Many 
fixtures were to be added to the interior of the building and a heating 
plant had not yet been installed; there was no sidewalk in front of 
the building and the grounds had not yet been cleared of the rubbish, 
but with the aid of the Civic Club, the town council, the library 
trustees and some of the public-spirited citizens, all these things 
were accomplished before the cold weather in the fall approached. 

During the six months ending December 31, 1910, the trustees 
expended $776 for furniture; ^300 for plumbing; $309 for books, 
and $500 for a heating plant. During the same period the librarian 
had let out 2,805 books, and $16.45 i" fines had been collected. 
During the year 191 5, 16,218 books were loaned, and the receipts 
from all sources were $2,657.88, with $2,192.76 expended. In 1918, 
18,632 books were loaned, and 1,180 new books were purchased. 
The fines amounted to $75.25. During 1921, there were 63,331 
books loaned and 2,338 new books purchased. The daily average 



NATRONA county's PUBLIC LIBRARY 43 

attendance at the library, including active borrowers of books and 
reading room visitors, was 396. Books were sent to the schools of 
Salt Creek, Kasoming, Ohio Camp, Poison Spider, Alcova, and other 
schools in the county, which were not included in the number re- 
ported loaned during the year. A children's room has been estab- 
lished in the library where there are many carefully selected books 
and pictures, with stereopticon views. The children's story hour is 
made most interesting and instructive by well-trained story tellers. 
The hours have been extended to the public and an assistant and an 
apprentice are required in addition to the librarian. It is noted 
with satisfaction that no changes have been made either in the per- 
sonnel of the board of trustees or the librarian except in cases of 
death or their departure from the county. On January i, 1922, the 
trustees were C. H. Townsend, J. W. Johnson and Miss May Hamil- 
ton. Mrs. Effie C. Rogers was appointed librarian June i, 1919, to 
fill the vacancy caused by the death of Mrs. Place. Mrs. Rogers is 
assisted in her work by Clara C. Douds, assistant librarian; Frances 
Giblin, children's librarian; Floyd Mann, page; Cathryn Cole, 
apprentice. 

In his report to the board of county commissioners in January, 
1922, Mr. Townsend, the treasurer of the library board, said: "When 
the library was accepted from the town of Casper by Natrona 
county, there was scarcely an armful of books, and the building 
was unfinished. At the present time this library has very comfort- 
able quarters, although it is somewhat limited in space for the rapidly 
growing community. The number of books has been increased from 
almost nothing to nearly 12,000 volumes. During the past twelve 
years the library association has had an average of $3,000 per 
annum to meet the expenses, but the expenses have always been kept 
within the limit of the receipts. With the coming year we hope 
the funds v/ill be increased which will enable us to increase our 
service by giving the public longer hours and the purchase of a 
greater number of books than we have heretofore been able to buy. 
The trustees have always conducted the library on an economical 
basis and have spent only the money that seemed necessary. On 
account of the increased patronage of the library, it will be but a 
short time until the building must be enlarged which will be in keep- 
ing with the rapidly growing community." 

During the year 1922 new steel bookcases were installed, which 
allowed a much closer classification of the books and better arrange- 
ment on the shelves. On January i, 1923, the library had 14,413 
books accessioned, an increase of 3,785 during the year. The daily 
attendance at the library, including active borrowers and reading 



44 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY '^ 

room visitors, averaged 398. The number of books loaned during the \ 

year was 74,162, an increase of 10,831 over the previous year. In '. 

contrast to the above report, these figures are taken from the i 

report of 1910: j 

1910 1922 i 

Number of books in library 850 I4>4i3 '. 

Largest daily circulation 5° 65 1 

Books checked during year 1,000 74,162 

Number of books purchased 100 3,785 ; 

Fines and damages collected ^20.00 $621.11 

Natrona County's Public Hospital I 

Hugh L. Patton, Natrona county's representative in the house | 

of the legislature in 1909, introduced a bill for an appropriation of ; 

$22,500 from the state of Wyoming for the erection, equipment and \ 

management of a branch of the Wyoming General Hospital, to be 1 

located in the town of Casper, Natrona county. Without a dissenting i 

vote the bill passed the house and the senate, and with the governor's i 
approval it was enacted into law. A provision in the bill specified 

that the town of Casper should furnish to the state a proper site j 

for the institution without cost. [ 

But little time was lost after the legislature adjourned in j 

carrying out the provisions of the act. The members of the state | 

board of Charities and Reform, whose duty it was to select a site, ; 
award the contract and buy the equipment for the building, 

made a visit to Casper on the 12th of April, 1909, and, with the | 

members of the town council and a committee from the Casper ■, 

Industrial Club, after making a thorough survey of the town, all , 
agreed that block 32, in Park addition, would be an ideal location 
for the hospital. J. M. Carey & Brother had donated this piece 

of ground to the town of Casper for park purposes, but it was 1 

said that Mr. Carey had consented to allow it to be used for the j 

hospital. It was presumed that the decision to locate the building . 

on this block settled the matter, and the state board returned to ' 

Cheyenne and immediately made arrangements to have the plans ' 

and specifications drawn for the building, and the prospects seemed > 

encouraging that the town of Casper would have at least one public j 

building erected without delay and without a jangle among our I 

citizens, but the bright dream was soon disturbed by the gentleman j 

who so kindly donated the strip of ground to the town to be used for j 

park purposes. On the 26th of August the mayor of Casper received j 

a letter from Mr. Carey's agent to the effect that "while Judge ; 

Carey was wiUing to give some charitable organization a site for a 1 



NATRONA COUNTY S PUBLIC HOSPITAL 45 

hospital, he would not, either directly or indirectly, donate a site to 
the town of Casper, the county of Natrona, or the state of Wyoming. 
The reason he would not give a site for the hospital was that he 
thought he had been unjustly treated in the matter of taxation, 
and until that was righted no favors might be expected from him." 

Past experiences with Mr. Carey convinced the people of Casper 
that an attempt to buy the ground, or to appeal for a reconsideration 
in the withdrawal of the block for a hospital site would be useless, 
and arrangements were made between the town of Casper and Henry 
L. White for a tract of land 300x420 feet on East Second street, 
between Washington and Conwell streets. A deed for this tract 
was given to the state; the plans and specifications were finished, 
but there was a misunderstanding between the state board of Chari- 
ties and Reform as to whether the state or the town of Casper 
would furnish and maintain the institution, and on December 4, 
1909, Governor B. B. Brooks, State Auditor LeRoy Grant and 
State Superintendent A. D, Cook, three members of the state board 
of Charities and Reform, came to Casper and conferred with the 
members of the Casper Industrial Club regarding the construction 
of the building. The governor, who acted as spokesman for the 
state board, said that the people of Casper had done all they agreed 
to do in regard to selecting the site and giving to the state a deed 
for the land, but he understood that the people of Casper were 
willing to furnish and maintain the institution. If this were true, 
the state could spend the full amount, ^22,500, appropriated for the 
construction of a building, but if the state were to furnish and main- 
tain the institution, only about ^16,000 could be used for the building. 
Spokesmen for the Casper Industrial Club said that many people 
objected to the institution being equipped and maintained by the 
town of Casper or Natrona county; that they felt that because they 
had always been liberal in such matters was no reason that they should 
be imposed upon, and it was their opinion that the state should 
furnish the building and maintain the institution the same as it did 
the hospitals at Rock Springs and Sheridan. After considerable 
discussion, it was finally decided to use the full amount appropriated 
for the building and take a chance on the next legislature making 
an additional appropriation for the furnishing and maintenance of 
the institution. 

Early in January, 1910, the contract for the building of the 
hospital was awarded to Archie Allison of Cheyenne, and W. F. 
Henning of Casper was given the contract for the installation of the 
plumbing and heating apparatus. Construction work was com- 
menced in March, 1910, and the building was completed and accepted 



46 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY ; 

by the state on August 31 of the same year, but the institution was \ 

not equipped or furnished and no superintendent had been appointed, j 

and no funds were available with which to furnish and maintain the j 

institution. A watchman was put in charge of the vacant building ! 

until the convening of the next session of the legislature, when it ; 

was hoped that an appropriation would be made with which to equip ; 
and maintain the institution. 

Governor Brooks, as well as the other members of the state ; 
board of Charities and Reform, retired on the first of January, 191 1, 
by reason of the expiration of their terms in office, and Joseph M. 

Carey, who had heretofore displayed his opposition to the hospital, 1| 

the town of Casper and Natrona county, became governor of the ] 

state. ] 

At the session of the legislature in January, 191 1, a bill was ■ 

introduced and passed both the house and senate appropriating the i 

sum of $12,500 for the purpose of maintaining and furnishing the j 

hospital. The governor vetoed the bill, but an appropriation of a ! 

similar amount was incorporated in another bill which, if vetoed, ; 

would have had a disastrous effect upon other state institutions, and i 

after it passed the house and senate it also received the approval '■ 

of the governor. It then only remained for the state board of Chari- ! 

ties and Reform to come to Casper and have a few minor repairs ; 

made to the building, buy the furniture, appoint a superintendent : 
and put the hospital in operation, but the governor's time was so 
completely taken up with other affairs of state that he could not 
come to Casper with the other members of the board, and the build- 
ing remained unoccupied, except for the presence of the watchman, 

who had furnished for himself a room in the basement. i 

On August 3, 191 1, State Auditor Robert Forsythe and Miss ' 

Martha Converse (now Mrs. W. S. Kimball), came to Casper with ; 

the authority and for the purpose of letting contracts to finish the j 

building and to furnish and equip the same and get it in shape to ] 

be operated. The building was completed and furnished and ready I 

for occupancy the latter part of October, and on the 30th was | 

formally opened for business, with Miss Converse as superintendent, j 

It was operated as a state institution until January i, 1922. | 

At the session of the legislature in 1921 a bill was introduced 1 

and became a law giving to the counties in which state hospitals ; 
are located the privilege of purchasing them for the sum of one 

dollar, the purchase price being nominal, and merely sufficient to ij 

constitute an exchange which prevents the state from violating the 1 

constitution. The exchange included the building, lands and all < 

equipment and suppUes on hand. On January i, 1922, Natrona i 



RAILROADS IN NATRONA COUNTY 47 

county paid to the state of Wyoming the purchase price of one 
dollar, and the title was changed from the Casper Branch of the 
Wyoming General Hospital to the Natrona County Hospital, since 
which time it has been under the direction of the board of county 
commissioners. 

During the summer of 1922 a contract was let by the board of 
county commissioners for the erection of a nurses' home, to be the 
property of the county, in connection with the county hospital. 
The new building consists of nine rooms and two baths and is suf- 
ficient to accommodate eighteen nurses. Work was commenced on 
the building the latter part of September and was finished in No- 
vember. The building cost about $14,000, and is located about 
fifty feet south of the hospital building. With the completion of 
this building Natrona county affords hospital accommodations equal 
to any county in the sate of Wyoming. 

Railroads in Natrona County 

The first railroad passenger train that came into Natrona 
county according to schedule arrived in Casper on June 15, 1888. 
The end of the road at that time was about a mile east from where 
the present passenger station is located. The "old town," or tem- 
porary location of Casper, was a short distance to the northwest 
from where the railroad track ended. A big celebration was had 
that day and night by the citizens of Casper and the passengers who 
remained over. How they celebrated can be imagmed from the fact 
that Casper was then a typical frontier "cow town." A regular 
passenger train service was established after a short time, but this 
service was abandoned in 1892, and after that the passengers reached 
here on an "accommodation," or combination train. 

After about ten years, passenger train service was, on May 11, 
1903, re-established between Chadron and Casper on the Fremont, 
Elkhorn and Missouri Valley Railway, which is now the Chicago & 
Northwestern Railway. The train was due to arrive in town at i 
o'clock, and there were gathered at the depot to welcome it the mayor 
and members of the town council, the president and executive com- 
mittee of the Chamber of Commerce, the Casper Gun Club (all of 
whom had their guns with them), and about three hundred citizens. 
The greater portion of the male population had six-shooters in their 
belts. The whistle at the electric light plant gave the signal when the 
passenger train arrived within the town limits and immediately ten 
anvils were fired, which caused a vibration sufficient to break the 
windows in several of the business houses of the town. When the 



48 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

train arrived at the depot more than a hundred shots were fired from 
shot guns, rifles and six-shooters, and one or two of the tenderfoot 
passengers became frightened and refused to come from the coach 
until they were assured by the conductor that the citizens would do 
them no harm, but that this was the manner in which they wished 
to show their appreciation of the improved train service into a 
western frontier town at the end of the road. The train consisted 
of three passenger coaches and a combination baggage and mail car. 
When it departed from Chadron at 5 o'clock in the morning there 
were thirty-eight passengers on board and when it arrived in Casper 
at I o'clock in the afternoon there were twelve passengers. In ] 
commenting upon the improved train service the local newspaper j 
said: ; 

"What a joyful awakening there was in Casper Monday, May 11, 1903, when the 
toot of the first passenger train was heard. As it flew into the station whistles blew, 
anvils were fired and the din from hundreds of guns, adding to the noise, must have ' 
convinced the incoming passengers that something out of the ordinary was transpiring. 
The train was on time too, which was something comparatively new in railroad annals | 
at Casper. The mayor and town council were there, county officials, members of the , 
Chamber of Commerce and citizens of the town and county in general had gathered for 1 
the event. The Northwestern could not but be impressed with the welcome accorded 
the new service. For years the people of Central Wyoming have begged, entreated, ' 
argued with, cajoled, threatened, fought, cursed and raved; have leveled shafts of j 
advice, irony, venom and vitriol, at the mis-managers of the road — tons of ink and , 
bushels of gray matter have been used to show the officials the error of their ways, 
but all to no avail, but at last our dreams and hopes have come true." 

Many tales have been told concerning the train service before 
the passenger train was put on, some true and some exaggerated, 
but it is a fact that the train was often stopped between stations 
while the train crew went out on the plains and hunted sage chickens, 
and the passengers, anxious to reach their destination, remained in 
the coach and slept or cursed, as best suited their fancy. In the j 
winter time when there were heavy snow storms, train service was I 
abandoned sometimes for three and four days, but whenever the | 
train did arrive there were always a great many people at the station ' 
to meet and welcome it and the few passengers aboard were always j 
thankful to arrive, even though they were always far behind the 1 
schedule. ' 

Casper was the terminus of this road until the spring of 1905, j 
when work was commenced in May on the extension to Lander. ; 
Many were of the opinion that the building of the road farther west 
would cripple Casper in a business way and some of the business ; 
men followed the road to Shoshoni, Riverton, and some of the other ' 
newly-established towns, but it was not long before those who left us i 
realized their error. Casper commenced to grow in a business way ■ 



RAILROADS IN NATRONA COUNTY 49 

and increase in population and has steadily advanced ever since the 
extension of the railroad to Lander. 

Construction work on the extension of the Chicago & North- 
western Railway from Casper to Lander was commenced on Monday, 
May 2, 1905. The end of the track from 1888 until this time was 
several hundred yards west from where the roundhouse is located. 
Train service was established to Casper from the west whenever the 
rails were laid into one of the new stations. Cadoma, 12.1 miles from 
Casper, was the first station, which was established in August, 1905; 
this station, which has but few dwelling houses, and no business 
houses, but has large sheep shearing pens, has the convenience of 
two railroads, and it is burdened with two names; it is Cadoma on 
the Northwestern, and Bishop on the Burlington. Rails were laid 
into Seminole, the name afterwards being changed to Bucknum, 
22.4 miles west, on November 13, and on that date a daily passenger 
train service was established between this point and Casper. Na- 
trona, 32.1 miles from Casper; Powder River, 41. i miles; Mokoma, 
afterwards changed to Waltman, 53.2 miles; Wolton, 62.8 miles; 
Richards, 73.2 miles; Moneta, 82.5 miles; Ocla, 93 miles, and 
Shoshoni, 103. i miles west from Casper, required more than a year 
in the building of the line. Passenger train service between Casper 
and Shoshoni was established on Monday, July 3, 1906. The train 
consisted of three passenger coaches, one mail and baggage car, and 
all the freight cars that were required to haul the freight that was 
consigned to any of the stations along the route. This train left 
Casper daily, except Sunday, at 4 o'clock in the afternoon and ar- 
rived at noon. Passenger train service was established between 
Casper and Lander, a distance of 148. i miles, on Wednesday, Octo- 
ber 17, 1906. 

A great many of the people living at Lander had never seen a 
train of cars until this train came into the station. Some of the 
citizens came into the country before there were any railroads in the 
central part of the state, and as they had no occasion to make a 
trip to Casper or Rawlins, which were their nearest railroad points, 
the distance to each point being about the same, they were content 
to do their traveling in a buckboard or on horseback. Others were 
born there and never had occasion to go out of the confines of the 
county. One old fellow, when he learned that the train was to come 
into Lander that day, immediately went to the station, and when 
informed that the train would not arrive for several hours, remarked 
that he had been waiting sixty-five years to see a train of railroad 
cars, and he guessed he could wait now with patience for several 
hours. 



50 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

When the train arrived it was immediately surrounded with a i 
throng of curious, excited men, women and children who looked i 
upon the engine especially with awe and admiration. When the ' 
people were the most interested and were listening to an explanation '■ 
and description of the mechanism of the locomotive, by a man who ; 
had seen a railroad train several times before, the engineer put his ' 
head out of the cab window and called out: "Stand back, for I am j 
now going to turn this train around." There was immediately a j 
great scattering, and it did not dawn upon them for some time that \ 
the train could not be turned around on a single track. In a beautiful ' 
description of how the people felt about the railroad invading the i 
confines of Lander, Cora V. Wesley, editor of the Mountaineer, the j 
weekly newspaper of that town, said: "Tears trickled down our ■ 
cheeks and sadness crept over the household because the rural ■ 
beauties of the western life were to sink into the great abyss of the j 
past. Real, genuine tears of grief and joy chasing each other in mad , 
confusion, trying to gain the victory." 

The most disastrous and death-dealing accident that ever oc- ' 
curred on the Chicago & Northwestern Railway system in Wyoming ! 
was the wreck that took place on Sunday night, shortly after 9 1 
o'clock, March 19, 1906, about twenty-six miles northwest of Casper, I 
which resulted in the death of ten men and the injury of sixteen. 
The wrecked train was an extra which left Powder River station 
about 8 o'clock in the evening, and consisted of a new model heavy . 
engine, two large water cars, a tool car, and two way cars. The I 
twenty-six men who were either killed or injured were in the front j 
way car. The scene of the accident was where the railroad crossed 
the old channel of Casper creek, where a four-foot culvert had been , 
placed under the track, and this had been washed out in the afternoon 
of that day, leaving only the rails and ties over a chasm about twelve ' 
feet wide and eighteen feet deep. The train was being run at a mod- ' 
erate rate of speed when this point was reached and the engineer ■ 
could not see that the earth had been washed away. The engine, : 
tender and two water cars passed over the unsupported rails in safety, ' 
but the way car in which the workmen were riding broke through, 
the front end of the car tipping into the channel, and as the car went 
down the men and everything in the car were thrown in a heap to 
the front end. The tool car, which was at the rear of the way car, 
broke in the middle at the edge of the channel, half of the car, with ' 
its contents, piling on top of the way car. The engine, after passing . 
over the chasm, broke loose from its tender, straddled the rails and 
went ahead a short distance, but the two heavy water cars had broken '. 
loose and came back on the track and fell in the channel on top of ' 




k? 



tr^ 



RAILROADS IN NATRONA COUNTY 5 1 

the way car where the men were pinioned. These water cars, as 
they fell into the channel, broke through the way car and no doubt 
were the cause of the death and injury of most of the men. The 
trainmen who were in the rear way car, which did not leave the track, 
were powerless at first to render assistance to the unfortunate men 
who were pinned beneath tons of heavy wreckage and were in the 
midst of the muddy, roaring, rushing stream. The awful cries of the 
poor unfortunate men caused some of the men who were looking 
on to faint, while others were so shocked and bewildered that they 
were speechless and dumb for the first few minutes, and then, to 
add to the horror of the situation, the wreckage caught fire. The 
horror-stricken men who were on the bank lighted torches and, 
assisted by the light of a few lanterns, succeeded in getting down to 
the edge of the water among the wreckage, and by dipping water in 
their hats and soaking their coats and throwing them on the flames, 
in a short time succeeded in extinguishing the blaze. 

A heavy, wet snow was falling and the weather was intensely 
cold, and this added to the suflTering of the injured men and the dis- 
comfiture of the rescuers. Holes were chopped through the floor of 
the car in which the men were fastened and the timbers were cleared 
away as much as possible, but the cold and stormy weather, and the 
pitch-dark night handicapped the rescuers. Twice more the wreckage 
caught on fire during the night, but through the heroic efforts of the 
men the flames were extinguished, and when daylight came all the 
injured men had been rescued and four of the men who had been 
killed had been removed from the wreckage. 

The news of the disaster was received in Casper at about lo 
o'clock that night, less than an hour after it occurred, and at ii 
o'clock a train was made up with about forty men on board, con- 
sisting of all the available doctors in town, railroad officials and 
workmen, but on account of the weakened condition of the bridge 
across the Platte river, a mile west from town, the train could not 
cross. A number of hand cars were then secured and most of the 
men started for the scene of the wreck by this means of transporta- 
tion. At I o'clock in the morning they had traveled but twelve miles 
through the heavy, blinding snowstorm, and the hand cars were 
abandoned and the men started to walk the balance of the distance, 
sixteen miles, through snow, slush and mud. Many fell by the way- 
side and others had to be assisted along the route. After traveling 
all night Father Bryant was the first to arrive at the scene of the 
wreck at about 7:30 in the morning. He at once baptised the injured 
men who desired it and he gave words of cheer and comfort to all 
the sufferers. Superintendent J. P. Cantillon and Drs. Dean and 



52 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Gillam were not far behind and they dressed and cared for the 
wounded as best they could, until Dr. Keith and Dr. Morgan and 
two doctors from Douglas, who came to Casper on a special train, 
arrived in a buggy at about 9 o'clock, and they assisted in the care 
of the injured men. 

The Platte River bridge was repaired as soon as possible, and 
at 10 o'clock in the morning a relief train left Casper, but on account 
of the bad condition of the track very slow time was made and it 
did not arrive at the scene of the wreck until about i o'clock in the 
afternoon. The injured men were taken into this train and placed 
on cots and the men who had worked all night and half of the day 
without food or drink were provided with hot coffee, meat and bread. 
The relief train returned to Casper at about 4 o'clock in the after- 
noon, and the bodies of the men were taken to the undertakers' and 
the injured men were taken to the annex of the Episcopal church 
were an emergency hospital had been established. 

Among the killed was Charles Moll, who had been an employee 
of the railroad company for about ten years. J. W. Price, who was 
assistant to Mr. Moll, was also killed. D. B. Blue, section foreman 
at Cadoma, was also among the killed, and the other seven who were 
killed and all the injured were Servians who had come to Casper a 
few months before to work on the railroad extension from Casper to 
Lander. The railroad company paid all the expense of having the 
injured men cared for and in addition gave each man ^100. To the 
relatives of the Servians ^1,000 was given for each man killed, and 
to the families of Charles Moll, D. B. Blue and J. W. Price $3,500 
was given. 

The burning of a bridge two and one-half miles east from 
Wolton until there were only a few charred embers remaining of the 
structure was the cause of another wreck at about 2:15 Sunday after- 
noon, September 9, 1917, and E. R. Anderson, engineer, and Frank 
Cross, fireman, were killed. When the train approached the bridge 
there was no visible indication from the engine cab that the frame- 
work of the structure had been destroyed and the engine plunged 
down a seventeen-foot embankment and the sixty-foot span im- 
mediately gave way. Seven freight cars came over the embankment 
on top of the engine and the chasm was completely covered with 
wreckage. The trainmen made an effort to rescue the engine men 
but their efforts were unsuccessful, and one of them walked back 
to Wolton and had word sent to Casper to have the wrecking and 
construction crews come out and clear the debris and build a tem- 
porary bridge, while the others remained at the scene of the wreck 
to extinguish a fire of the wreckage should one be started from the 



RAILROADS IN NATRONA COUNTY 53 

coals in the fire box of the engine. The bodies of the engineer and 
fireman were brought to Casper and the railroad company made 
every effort to find the parties who caused the fire, but they were 
never apprehended. It was thought that tramps built a fire under 
the bridge in order to keep warm, and then went away and left it, 
and the upright timbers were burned unknown to anyone. 

Early in October, 1897, Thomas S. Moffat, of Chicago, super- 
intendent of construction of the Wyoming & Northwestern Railroad, 
wrote a letter to the publisher of the Wyoming Derrick, published 
at Casper, saying, "I am pleased to tell you that the building of the 
Wyoming & Northwestern Railroad west from Casper is a fixed fact, 
and operations will be begun just as soon as the detail of getting 
material together can be arranged." This was the company which 
filed articles of incorporation with the county clerk in Casper in the 
spring of 1897, defining the route from Casper to the western boundary 
of Natrona county, or, more particularly, to Ervay, at the foot of 
the Rattlesnake mountains. "It is strange, indeed," commented 
the local newspaper, "that the Rattlesnake oil basin has not long 
since been opened to the world, and would have been, had not the 
financial stringency of the past five years through which the country 
has been passing hindered. Regarding the Rattlesnake petroleum, 
and its high standard of value, needs but a reference to Professor 
Taylor, the celebrated Standard Oil company's chemist; to Professor 
Aughey, the distinguished Wyoming oil chemist; Wyner and Har- 
land, public assayists, London, England, and scores of other reliable 
chemists of the United States, Germany, Holland, France, and 
Canada." The proposed railroad was to have extended sixty miles 
from Casper, its main purpose being to transport the oil from the 
Rattlesnake oil fields to Casper. The people of Casper, however, 
did not become very enthusiastic or excited over the proposed new 
railroad, and like many of the numerous other railroads, its con- 
struction was wholly on paper. 

For twenty-five years there was but one railroad in Natrona 
county. The Chicago & Northwestern Railroad company hauled 
all the freight, mail, express and passengers in and out of Casper 
from June 15, 1888, until October 20, 191 3, then the Chicago, 
Burlington & Quincy railway service was established, and Casper 
was considered the largest railroad center in Wyoming. 

A temporary survey was made by the Burlington company for 
its line through Natrona county in the fall of 1909, but the question 
of building the road was not definitely settled until December of 
that year, when the real estate agent for the company bought eighty 
acres of land in the extreme northern part of the town from W. F. 



54 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Dunn, Eugene McCarthy and Patrick Sullivan, forty acres northeast 
of town from J. F. Stanley and twenty acres northeast of town from 
W. A. Blackmore and John Cosgrove. The land north of town was 
considered at that time worth ^250 per acre, but the land agent of 
the railroad company declared that he would pay but ^100 per acre 
for it, and if he could not purchase it at that price the railroad com- 
pany would build its station a mile east from town. The owners 
of the land finally reduced the price to $150 per acre, and the citizens 
of the town subscribed enough money so the railroad company got 
the land for ^100 per acre and the owners received $150 per acre. 
After the agreement for the sale of the land had been made it was 
announced by the railroad officials that Casper would be a general 
division station; that the machine shops would be located here, 
and that ''the people of Casper would have no regrets that the 
Burlington system was going to become a part of the community," 

This was considered the greatest addition the town had had 
since the Chicago & Northwestern had been built into Casper, and 
the people were greatly encouraged, and it was predicted that the 
town would increase from a population of less than 3,000 to at least 
7,000 inside of one year after the road was in operation; that many 
new lines of business would be established here and that a second 
railroad was all we required to make this the great metropolis of 
Wyoming. There was then scarcely a house on the land purchased 
by the Burlington company, and now there are more than a thousand 
dwelling houses on the land north of the track, in addition to the 
many stores, shops and buildings of other kinds, among which are ; 
two fine school buildings which accommodate more than six hundred 
pupils. 

The contract was awarded by the Burlington for the building 
of its grade from Powder River station to a point sixteen miles 
east from Casper on February 25, 1910, but construction work 
was discontinued during the month of December, 1910, when the 
rails were laid through the canyon east from Thermopolis to a point | 
near the Boysen dam, and work was not resumed until the spring I 
of 1913. A contract was let on February 10, 1913, for the building 
of 140 miles of track, from Powder River to Orin Junction. After 
this contract was let the work was pushed as rapidly as possible, 
and on September 23, 1913, at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, the first ; 
rail within the limits of Casper on this road was spiked to the ties. 
The laying of this rail in the limits of the town was witnessed by 
about fifty citizens, and after that most important event they came 
uptown and celebrated the occasion as such events were usually 
celebrated in those days. 



SOME HOT COUNTY POLITICS 55 

Passenger train service between Billings and Casper was estab- 
lished on October 20, 1913, the first train coming in from the west 
at 7 o'clock in the evening. The service was tri-weekly, and the 
train departed from Casper on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays 
at 7 o'clock in the morning and arrived on Mondays, Wednesdays 
and Fridays at 7 o'clock in the evening. Two boxcars were fitted 
up and used as a passenger, freight and express depot at that time. 

The work of laying the rails from Casper to Origin Junction, 
a distance of sixty-eight miles, was commenced on June 26, 1914, 
the connection being made the middle of October, and through 
passenger train service from Billings, Montana, to Denver, Colorado, 
was established October 19, 1914. By this time a frame building 
had been erected in Casper which was later used as a freight office, 
but was then used as a passenger depot. Work was commenced 
on the excavation for the foundation of the $100,000 passenger 
depot May 27, 1915, and the building was formally opened on the 
evening of February 3, 1916. The Casper band furnished the music, 
refreshments were served and it was estimated that more than four 
thousand people went through the building during the evening. 
The hopes and anticipations of the people at that time of Casper 
becoming the chief city of the state have more than come true and 
the citizens surely can have "no regrets that the Burlington railway 
system has become a part of the community." 

The railroad mileage in Natrona county is 170.18, with the Chi- 
cago & Northwestern covering 85.35, ^n^ the Chicago, Burlington 
& Quincy covering 84.83 miles. 

Some Hot County Politics 

For twenty years after Natrona county had been organized, 
from 1890 to 1910, there was always a bitter contest between the 
republicans and democrats during election time. During the heat 
of battle, political lines were closely drawn and the forces on either 
side left nothing undone to gain favor for their candidates. Every 
precinct in the county was visited by the candidates on each side 
and every voter in every precinct received a friendly call. The 
campaign always wound up in a blaze of glory with a big torchlight 
procession on the streets of Casper and speaking and singing in the 
town hall. After the speaking there was always a dance at which 
the candidates and workers on both sides participated. As an ex- 
ample of how they did things in those days, herewith is a brief 
description of the demonstration at the close of the campaign in 
1896: 



56 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Saturday night before election, after the arrival of the train a parade formed at 
the wool warehouse. It was headed by Grand Marshal W. H. Duhling, followed by the 
Do uglas Military band. Then came a procession of beautiful floats, ladies in carriages 
and men carrying transparencies, banners, torches and discharging fireworks. Among 
the many attractive floats was that of "The Good Ship Protection, Captain McKin- 
ley," being a large ship under full sail, designed by H. A. Lilly. Another by Kenneth 
McDonald was "The Campaign of '96, " showing McKinley in the large end and Bryan 
crawling out of the little end. Another float showed two ladies operating spinning 
wheels, using Wyoming wool; another float by F. W. Okie showed his shearers at work. 
One, the McKinley shearer, was well-dressed; the other, a Bryan shearer, poorly clad. 
Wm. Clark's coach and four was covered with appropriate mottoes, and on the top 
stood a protected sheepman and a free wool sheepman, each suitably dressed. The 
"Goddess of Liberty" float was the handsomest feature of the parade. The Goddess 
was appropriately attired with a shield and scales, and surrounded by fifty little girls 
in white. 

An imposing feature of the parade was fifty-two decorated carriages, each con- 
taining from three to six ladies. After them came the flambeau club, 100 strong. They 
were armed with Roman candles, and a stream of fire constantly shot heavenward. 
Here and there red tableau fire burned, making the parade look the more imposing. 
The last of the procession was "Butler's Brigade" of 100 boys carrying torches and 
blowing tin horns. Dwight Seely and Jack Titler made the anvils roar, while JefF 
Crawford fired seven-inch cannon crackers continually. Among the amusing features 
was Jay Wilcox and his bear, John Ambruster and his dog, and Charles Hevves represent- 
ing a hayseed. Then there were Uncle Sams, kings and queens, gold men and silver 
men, and an endless variety of characters. There were not less than 500 people in the 
parade, and over 2co horses were used to haul the floats and wagons. Over 500 twenty- 
ball Roman candles, ico pounds of tableau fire and 500 seven-inch cannon crackers were 
burned during the parade. 

Only a small part of the procession could gain admission to the hall, so great was 
the crowd. Those who did were entertained by the McKinley quartette with "Wyo- 
ming Will Be in Line," Chairman Bradley introduced Judge Carey and the judge made a 
most convincing argument. The quartette then sang a song on local candidates. When 
the meeting was over the dancers enjoyed themselves until nearly morning. 

The democratic candidates and their workers were by no means 
idle, and among other things, they issued circulars and distributed 
them throughout the several precincts of the county. In these cir- 
culars the republican candidates and many of the republican workers 
of the county were arraigned in a rather caustic manner, which 
caused them considerable embarrassment, but the criticism was the 
means of the republicans putting forth a more determined effort 
for success, and there were very few successful democratic candidates 
at the polls that election. 

At the time the republicans made their nominations of candidates 
for the several county offices there was not always unanimity among 
the brethren. There were two factions, generally, and the county 
convention in the fall of 1898 went down in history as the most bitter 
and hardest-fought political battle ever held in any county in the 
state between two factions of the same political faith. In those 
days the Australian ballot system was not in vogue for the nomina- 
tion of candidates, but primary elections were held in each precinct 
where delegates were elected. These delegates later attended a 



SOME HOT COUNTY POLITICS 57 

regular nominating convention. In numbers the factions were about 
equally divided and, therefore, generalship was necessarily the winning 
factor. In each precinct throughout the county two sets of delegates 
came up for election, and every available vote was gotten to the polls. 
After this contest was over, each faction put forth its supreme effort 
in an attempt to get a majority of the delegates lined up in its favor. 
In Casper nine delegates were to be elected, and every team and 
buggy available was gotten out to carry the voters to the polls. 
Five o'clock was the time set for the closing of the polls and two 
minutes after five a buggy drove up in front of the polling place 
with four voters, but they were not allowed to cast a ballot on 
account of being two minutes late. Had they been allowed to 
cast their ballots, the whole republican ticket would have been 
changed. 

One hundred eleven voters had exercised their franchise in the 
Casper precinct and five delegates favoring one faction were elected, 
while four for the opposite side received a majority. So close was the 
contest that fifty-nine votes were cast for the delegate receiving the 
highest number, and fifty-one votes were given to the candidate 
receiving the lowest number. 

At the nominating convention every precinct in the county had 
its full quota of delegates present. As soon as the convention was 
called to order every point was contested for supremacy, even to 
the election of a chairman and secretary and the appointment of 
committees. After the organization of the convention was accom- 
plished, the work of nominating candidates for the several county 
offices was begun. The candidate for sheriff was the first to be nom- 
inated. D. E. Fitger, O. M. Rice and W. E. Tubbs were the three 
candidates. On the first ballot each candidate received about an 
equal number of votes. On the second, third, fourth, and up to the 
thirty-seventh ballot there was a deadlock. Neither faction would 
give in to the other. There were twenty-six delegates present and 
each of the three candidates had received from five to thirteen 
votes. On the thirty-seventh ballot, Oscar Hiestand received twelve 
votes and with the next ballot the deadlock was broken and Mr. 
Hiestand was favored with the nomination by twenty-two votes. 
Pandemonium then broke loose and both factions claimed a vic- 
tory. 

But another conflict came up in the nomination of a candidate 
for county clerk. Pledges had been made by all the delegates and 
when the first ballot was counted M. P. Wheeler was credited with 
thirteen votes and J. A. Sheffner had the same number. It looked 
like another deadlock, and a recess of ten minutes was taken. One 



58 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

of the delegates confidentially declared he had pledged himself to 
vote for one of the candidates on the first ballot only, and he was un- 
willing to carry the fight any further. After this declaration was made 
every effort was put forth to keep the opposition from learning of 
this delegate's intention, and under no circumstances was he allowed 
to mingle or communicate with the other side. When the convention 
was re-convened, the second ballot was immediately ordered and the 
count gave Mr. Wheeler fourteen and Mr. ShefFner tw^elve, and this 
ended the contest. The balance of the ticket was nominated without 
a contest and thus ended the bitter struggle for supremacy. Both 
Mr. Hiestand and Mr. Wheeler were elected at the general election. 
Some of the men on each side who took the most prominent part 
in the fight, in a few years became the closest friends and many 
times afterwards took the greatest of pleasure in extending to each 
other a helping hand either in politics or in personal affairs. 

Federal Census for Thirty Years 

The official federal census returns gave Casper and Natrona 
county's population for 1890, 1900, 1910 and 1920 as follows: 

1890 1900 1910 1920 

Natrona county 1,094 LT^S 4.766 14,635 

Casper 544 883 2,639 11,447 

Muddy precinct 199 I79 

Bessemer precinct 72 139 

Freeland precinct 240 230 

Johnstown precinct 159 338 

Ervay precinct 71 80 

Lone Bear and Powder River precincts TJf 

The census returns for the precincts of Muddy, Bessemer, 
Freeland, Johnstown, Ervay, Lone Bear and Powder River cannot 
be given for 1920 on account of the fact that many new precincts were 
established between the years 1910 and 1920, thereby reducing the 
territory embraced in the original precincts, and for the further 
reason that the enumeration districts in 1920 were considerably 
changed from the previous years, but it will be observed that the 
population of the county, outside the city of Casper, has shown a 
substantial increase, for in 1890 the population of the county, ex- 
clusive of Casper, was 550; in 1900, the outside precincts had a 
population of 902; in 1910, the same territory was increased to 
2,127, snd in 1920, all the precincts in the county, exclusive of Casper, 
returned a population of 3,188, or a total, including the city of Casper, 
of 14,635. 



NATRONA COUNTY PIONEER ASSOCIATION 59 

Natrona County Pioneer Association 

The membership of the Natrona County Pioneer association is 
composed mostly of the men and women who gave up the comforts 
of established homes and friendships and came to a "new country." 
Transportation was difficult in the early days and the pioneers were 
without many of those things which we nowadays consider absolute 
necessities. Many of the pioneer women of Natrona county had 
been reared in comfortable homes, but they bravely endured hard- 
ships and sometimes privations without losing any of their womanly 
charm, or their refinement or their culture. 

The work of the early settlers was to organize a town and county 
and bring in those things necessary to the solid foundation of a 
prosperous, progressive community. Because of the hardships and 
privations so courageously faced by these pioneers, it is but proper 
that they should have an exclusive organization which meets annually, 
or oftener if desired, and thus strengthen the bonds of friendship. 

With this idea in view, the Natrona County Pioneer association 
was organized on November 12, 1901, with Mrs. W. S. Kimball, 
president; Mrs. R. L. Carpenter, vice president; Mrs. W. D. 
Rhoades, secretary; Mrs. P. A. Demorest, treasurer. Those present 
at the time the association was organized were Mrs. W. S. Kimball, 
Mrs. W. A. Denecke, Mrs. J. J. Svendsen, Mrs. C. H. Townsend, 
Mrs. N. S. Bristol, Mrs. Hannah McClure, Mrs. C. C. P. Webel, 
Mrs. Northington, Mrs. H. L. Patton, Mrs. Lew Seely, Mrs. Wm. 
Jones, Mrs. David Graham, Mrs. C. E. Hewes, Mrs. P. A. Demorest, 
Mrs. H. A. Lilly, Mrs. John McGrath, Mrs. A. T. Butler, Mrs. 
Sarah Stroud, Mrs. C. H. King, Mrs. W. D. Rhoades, Miss Grace 
Demorest and Miss Etta Butler. Many new members have been 
added since the association was organized, but the membership was 
limited to those who came to the county previous to 1895. How- 
ever, in recent years the by-laws were changed so as to include those 
who came to the county previous to 1900. 

The first annual reunion of the association was held on No- 
vember 14, 1902, and about 300 men, women, and children were 
present. Mr. Charles K. Bucknum acted as chairman of this meeting 
and among the speakers was Hon. Bryant B. Brooks, who said: 

"A pioneer is one who goes before and prepares the way for others coming after. 
Who knows what the future has in store for us? Who would dare lift the veil of futur- 
ity? Who can foretell the treasure that may yet pour forth from these surrounding 
hills ? Who knows the secret locked deep beneath the surface of these oil-stai ned plains ? 
Who guesses at the result to follow the spreading of yonder on-rushing river over 
thousands upon thousands of acres of deep alluvial soil? Who is sagacious enough to 
predict the price of live stock, of beef and mutton, when yonder ribbons of steel span 



60 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

the continent ? When six hundred million people in the Orient, and in all the islands of 
the sea cry to us for food? When our stock trains face west, instead of east. God alone 
knows, and to God-like souls he gives the larger hope. Standing now in the presence of a 
miraculous achievement history looks out upon the future and stands dumb. 

"Look about you, and see what has been accomplished in fourteen years. Then 
tell me, oh, ye prophets, what will it be like, when the first half of this new century is 
history? What sort of people will then inhabit this oasis, in the Great American Desert? 
I will tell you. 

"Women so surpassing fair, that all the world pays homage. Men of vigorous 
strength, with an unheard of power for effective action, capable of solving the deepest 
riddles of the ages. Giants, physically, intellectually and morally. Made so by their 
natural environment. Made so by an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent force. 
Steadily uplifting every fibre of their bodies, every atom of their souls. Made so by the 
spirit of these rugged mountains, by the voiceless influence of these matchless plains, 
by the intoxicating ozone of this high, dry, perfect atmosphere. Made so by Nature's 
quick and lavish returns for honest toil. 

"If there be any here present, who are not Natrona pioneers, to all such. I say: 
Welcome, thrice welcome, to the best climate, the best state, the best county, the best 
city, and the best society on earth." 

Governor DeForest Richards, Alex T. Butler, William (" Missou") 
Hines, Patrick Sullivan and others made short addresses, songs were 
sung by Miss Savilla King and Mrs. B. B. Brooks, and then the 
following letter from Charles W. Eads was read: 

"Thermopolis, May 30, 1902 
Mrs. W. D. Rhoades, Secretary Natrona County Pioneer association, 

"Your kind favor of May loth is at hand and contents carefully noted, and I will 
say that I was pleased to hear from you. 

"I will tell you that I was the second man that came to Casper. I located there 
on June 7th, 1888, and when I landed there was just one man there, and that was 
John Merritt. He was on the bank of the river, and was getting his supper. He was 
frying his meat on a bent stick and making his coffee in an oyster can. I went up to him 
and asked if he had any idea where Casper was, and he said he could hardly say, that 
he had been looking for it about a week. 

" I told him to come over and help me put up my tent and he could camp with me. 
I had a tent and stove and a little grub and he said he would just put in with me. So 
the next morning we talked over the location, and we set up the first tent of the old 
Casper, and after that I was familiar with all the transactions of Casper for ten years. 

Yours very truly. 

C. W. Eads." 

With Mr. Eads when he first came to Casper were his daughter 
Fannie Eads, his son, Kise Eads, and Abe Nelson and John Johnson. 
Mr. Eads went to Bessemer to make his home within a year after 
coming to Casper and later moved to Casper mountain, where he 
established a mining camp and called it Eadsville. John Johnson 
was drowned near Douglas in 1897 and Abe Nelson has spent many 
years on Casper mountain prospecting and is still a resident of this 
county. Mr. Merritt remained in Casper more than ten years, and 
then moved to Joplin, Missouri, but returns to Casper occasionally 
to visit among his old-time friends. 



SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR VETERANS 6l 

After the reading of this letter an old-time dance was enjoyed; 
a round-up supper was served at midnight, after which dancing was 
resumed and continued until an early hour in the morning. 

At another annual meeting, held in November, 1906, the follow- 
ing appropriate remarks were made by Mayor W. S. Kimball: 

" Pioneering held a certain fascination for the men, which was almost entirely 
lacking with the women. Pioneering, with the latter, meant hardship, privation and 
even isolation, and it undoubtedly required greater courage, even greater devotion, and 
yet greater staying qualities upon the part of the \voman than the man. We can never 
bestow too much praise, too much honor, on the pioneer women, and we rejoice today 
that most of them are prosperous in the enjoyment of comfortable homes and giving 
their children every advantage that is given young people elsewhere. 

" Show me a pioneer, man or woman, and you have shown me one who possesses 
qualities which command your respect; one, too, who appears equally well in a log 
cabin or a gilded mansion; who can in a rough and ready manner meet any danger or 
emergency that may arise, or in evening gown or in dress suit grace any drawmg 
room." 

Annual reunions have been held each year since and occasionally 
picnics are held in the summer time. With each annual meeting it 
is observed that some of the members have been called to that 
"bourne from whence no traveler returns," but as each member 
goes hence, it is pointed out with satisfaction that he played a part 
in the building of one of the best towns and most prosperous counties 
in the west, and although his taking off is regretted, it is but the way 
of the world; it is God's way. 

Spanish-American War Veterans 

In his message to congress April 11, 1898, among other things 
President William McKinley said, "In the name of humanity, in 
the name of civilization, in behalf of endangered American interests, 
which give us the right and duty to speak and act, the war in Cuba 
must stop. In view of these facts and these considerations, I ask 
congress to authorize and empower the president to take measures 
to secure a full and final termination of hostilities between the govern- 
ment of Spain and the people of Cuba." 

In response to the above message, resolutions were adopted on 
April 18 by the house of representatives and senate as follows: 

" I . That the people of the Island of Cuba are, and of right ought 
to be, free and independent. 

"2. That it is the duty of the United States to demand, and 
the Government of the United States does demand, that the Govern- 
ment of Spain at once relinquish its authority and government in 
the Island of Cuba, and withdraw its land and naval forces from 
Cuba and Cuban waters. 



62 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

"3. That the president of the United States be, and he hereby 
is, directed and empowered to use the entire land and naval forces 
of the United States, and to call into the actual service of the United 
States the militia of the several states to such an extent as may be 
necessary to carry these resolutions into effect. 

"4. That the United States hereby disclaims any disposition 
or intention to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction or control over said 
island, except for the pacification thereof, and asserts its determina- 
tion when that is accomplished to leave the government and control 
of the island to its people." 

On April 20, Spain was given its ultimatum by the United States 
to relinquish its authority and withdraw its land and naval forces 
from Cuba before noon on April 23, 1898. Spain refused to comply 
with this demand, and the president issued a proclamation calHng 
for 125,000 volunteers, "the same to be proportioned, as far as prac- 
ticable, among the several states and territories and the District of 
Columbia, according to population and to serve for two years, unless 
sooner discharged." 

On April 25, congress declared that "war had existed since the 
2ist day of April, 1898, including said day, between the United 
States of America and the Kingdom of Spain." 

The secretary of war on the 25th notified Governor W. A. 
Richards that Wyoming's allotment of troops was one battalion of 
four companies of infantry and that the National Guard should be 
used as far as their numbers would permit. Companies C of Buffalo, 
G of Sheridan, F of Douglas, H of Evanston, and a portion of A of 
Laramie were accepted. These companies assembled in Cheyenne 
and on May 10 they were mustered into the United States service. 
On May 18, the battalion left Cheyenne for San Francisco. On June 
27 they embarked at San Francisco and arrived at the mouth of 
Manila Bay July 31. August 6 they were disembarked and went into 
camp at Paranaque. This battahon participated in the battle of 
Manila August 13, and was the first to raise its battalion flag over 
the captured city. Afterwards the Wyoming boys were engaged in 
numerous battles. July 6, 1899, orders were received to return to 
the United States and on August 29 the Steamer GrarU arrived in 
San Francisco with the battalion. Governor DeForest Richards and 
his staff, and many prominent citizens of the state went to San 
Francisco to welcome the boys home. 

In the battalion were the following named men from Natrona 
county: E. A. Cunningham, B. F. Cunningham, C. W. Anderson, 
W. J. Evans, O. S. Lucas, J. H. Marsh, G. R. Moyer, R. J. White, 
and Pat McDermott. G. R. Moyer was the only soldier of Natrona 



SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR VETERANS 63 

county who did not return. He remained in Manila, married a 
Filipino, and engaged in business. 

W. F. Dunn received a commission ranking as captain on July 
6, 1898, and was ordered to report for duty at Tampa, Florida, for 
duty in the commissary department. He was in the service about 
two years, the first year being spent at different camps in the south 
and the last year he spent in Cuba, most of the time in Santiago and 
Havana and on board the transport Ingalls, where he assisted in the 
work of paying off the Cuban soldiers. Mr, Dunn received his dis- 
charge in the summer of 1901 and returned to his home in Casper. 

Dr. J. F. Leeper, although not enlisted in the Spanish-American 
war, served in the Philippine Islands as army physician, with the 
rank of captain, from February, 1910, until 1913. Returning to the 
United States he was army physician in Fort DuShane, Utah, Fort 
Bayard, New Mexico, and at the Presidio, San Francisco, until 
October, 191 2, when he returned to Casper and resumed his practice 
among his many old-time friends. 

The Second United States Volunteer cavalry which was known 
as "Torrey's Rough Riders," was raised by Colonel Jay L. Torrey. 
This regiment was composed mostly of Wyoming men. The troopers 
left Cheyenne on June 22, 1898, for Camp Cuba Libre, Jacksonville, 
Florida. At Tupelo, Mississippi, on the 26th, the second section of 
the troop train ran into the first section, which resulted in the im- 
mediate death of three troopers. Three others died later, and eleven 
others were more or less injured. Among the injured was Colonel 
Torrey. The enlisted men in this regiment from Natrona county 
were: Hugh L. Patton, first lieutenant; Edward S. White, first 
sergeant; Robert McAdams, R. W. Wanlace, and George C. Thomp- 
son, sergeants; Robert J. Allen, David A. Williams, and Charles E. 
Nichols, corporals; Charles H. Lilly, trumpeter; Horace Evans, 
Gillman A. Hackett, George Lobmeier, Eugene H. O'Brien, Charles 
F. Padden, Lewis D. Scott, troopers. Before leaving for Camp 
Cuba Libre, the friends of Lieutenant Patton in Natrona county 
presented to him a sword bearing the following inscription: "Pre- 
sented to Lieutenant Hugh L. Patton, Second Regiment Volunteer 
Cavalry, U. S. A., Torrey's Rough Riders, by the citizens of Natrona 
county, Wyoming." 

John Clark was among the Natrona county "boys" who ren- 
dered excellent service to the government during the Spanish- 
American war, having served as packmaster with Colonel Torrey's 
regiment, and is entitled to as much credit as were the enlisted men. 

The record of Torrey's troopers in the Florida camp shows but 
one "scrap," and that affair never got beyond the borders of the com- 



64 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

pany street. One of the troopers described it to the officer-of-the-day 
in this wise, "It didn't amount to anything, sir. One of the boys in 
the Leadville troop got a Httle too much hquor. He came over to our 
troop looking for something, and he found it. I handed it to him." 

These troopers never got into action with the Spaniards. The 
war ended too soon; but they proved fully the quality of western 
manhood. The struggle made by Colonel Torrey to get his regiment 
into action was energetic and persistent, but futile. The regiment 
arrived in Jacksonville June 28, after the fighting had begun at 
Santiago. An urgent appeal was made and re-made to be included 
in the Porto Rican expedition, but cavalry was not needed there, 
and disappointment followed. All the friends of the command were 
sought to make sure of the regiment's being included in the force 
destined to make the attack on Havana, and there is no doubt but 
that if such an attack had been made the Torrey Rough Riders 
would have occupied a conspicuous place. 

The regiment remained at Camp Cuba Libre until October, 
when it mustered out. In the battahon, the battery and the Second 
United States Volunteer cavalry, the state of Wyoming furnished a 
number of men aggregating four and a half times her proper quota, 
as apportioned by the war department — more in proportion to popu- 
lation than any other state in the Union. 

In his message to the legislature in January, 1899, Governor 
DeForest Richards said, "The Wyoming Volunteer Aid association, 
composed of the patriotic women of the state, has inaugurated a 
movement for the erection of a monument to the memory of the 
volunteers from this state who sacrificed their lives in maintaining 
the honor of their country. It is desired that permission be given 
for the erection of this monument within the grounds of the capitol 
and that a suitable contribution to the fund be made by the state." 
February 20, 1899, the act was passed and the requested permission 
given. The sum of $1,500 was set apart as a "Heroes' Monument 
Fund," to be delivered to the Volunteer Aid association when so 
ordered by the governor. The monument was erected in 1900 and 
was at first located immediately east of the walk leading to the main 
entrance of the capitol. In 1917, it was removed to its present loca- 
tion at the southeast corner of the capitol grounds. 

The membership of the Spanish-American war veterans of Na- 
trona county includes the "boys" who volunteered from Natrona 
county and who are yet living here, as well as those who responded 
to their country's call from other places and are now making their 
home here. On May 21, 1919, Lieutenant Caspar Collins camp. 
No. 15, United Spanish War veterans, Department of Colorado and 



NATRONA COUNTY BOYS IN THE WORLD WAR 65 

Wyoming, Casper, Wyoming, formed its temporary organization, 
with Joseph H. Adriance, commander; G. H. Peters, junior vice 
commander; George W. Ferguson, chaplain; Louis Schmidt, quarter- 
master; Lincoln F. Kelly, color sergeant. On January i, 1922, the 
roster included the following-named members: J. H. Adriance, 
Louis R. Schmidt, George C. Thompson, D. M. Lobdell, Wm. M. 
Green, Thos. H. Downs, Lincoln F. Kelly, John Bryne, John T. 
Scott, Lewis D. Scott, W. W. Sproul, George W. Ferguson, Wm. J. 
Evans, Edward J. Kemp, John H. Carey, Otto Schenkel, J. J. 
Giblin, F. J. Wolfe, Ambrose Hemingway, Elzear A. Pelletier, 
Chas. H. Lilly, George T. Handbury, J. H. Finney, Ernest M. 
Kerr, Thos. Mullin, John H. Creamer, Wm. Armstrong, F. C. 
Powell, J. C. Kamp, Henry Peterson, Roy Williamson, Jonathan E. 
Frisby, Virgil O. Nesbitt, John L. Peete, E. N. Cole, Paul Mc- 
Namara, Chas. C. Campbell, Edgar R. Rouse, George W. Bouseman, 
John M. Tobin, Lloyd E. Mills, Pat. J. McDonnell, Wade F. Fowler, 
T. J. Bassett, George W. Bentley, Cyrus M. Morris, Paul Spehr, 
C. A. Limieux, Harry F. Schifferno, F. B. Sowers, W. R. Covars, 
S. N. Garvey, Bennie H. Adcock, John J. Durst, Thomas F. Riley, 
Hugh L. Patton, Samuel Shove. 

On each Memorial day the members of Caspar Collins Camp 
decorate with flowers the graves of the soldiers who are interred in 
Highland cemetery, and they march out to the burial ground in a 
body where taps are sounded and a salute is fired over the graves 
of the departed veterans, a list of whom is herewith given: S. 
Sanchez, C. L. Rounds, James Fitzgerald, Don Miller, Jack Lehee, 
J. Anderson, Dr. J. F. Leeper, W. Sanders, W. F. Smith, J. H. 
Chapman, W. Tobin, N. B. Carlysle, Charles Ricker, Erick Anderson, 
Harry Lyttle, Ed. S. White, H. A. Lilly, Charles L. Dutton, J. R. 
Miller, Wm. Kropp, W. Santell, W. W. Bahmer, R. T. Kemp. 
The above were Spanish-American War veterans and the following 
is a list of the departed Civil War veterans: Henry Shank, Luke 
Wentworth, Isaac Collins, Matt Campfield, John Karion, Dr. Joe 
Benson, Wm. J. Emery, James Dickie, Martin Oliver, Peter Heagney, 
James Dougherty, Joseph Donnelly, Sam Desbron, Charles K. 
Bucknum, John K. Wood, Hiram Lewis, Nathan Savage, Gillespie, 
Chauncey Ishbull. 

Natrona County Boys in the World War 

No county in the state of Wyoming and but few counties In 
any of the states in the Union, population and wealth considered, 
responded more liberally than Natrona county with men and money 



66 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

to our country's call in the great world war. The inspiring and 
patriotic words of our congressman, Frank Wheeler Mondell, on 
the floor of the house, in the discussion as to the advisability of the 
United States declaring war against the Imperial German govern- 
ment are herewith reprinted, which are worthy of going into history: 

" For two years and more the spectre of the European war has spread its pall of 
terror over the earth — to us a nightmare of frightfulness, to the nations engaged, a 
reality of unspeakable horror. As the titanic conflict on and under and over land and 
sea has extended its area of destruction, we have fervently hoped and devoutly prayed 
that we might escape its devouring flame. Our patience and forbearance, as our rights 
have been ignored and denied, as our honor and power have been mocked, our citizens 
subjected to humiliation, to fearful suffering and to awful death, have been the out- 
ward and visible signs of our profound and sincere longing for honorable peace. But 
there is no peace! Arrogance and despotic power has decreed suffering and death to all 
who venture the sea lanes where all have the right under the laws of God and man to 
pass unharmed. Our flag has been fired upon, our power contemptuously ignored, our 
citizens wickedly slain. Amid conditions such as these, continued patience and for- 
bearance cease to be a virtue; they come to be accepted as signs of cowardice and weak- 
ness, the evidence of supine submission to insult and outrage; they no longer express 
the attitude of a brave and free people. And so, regretfully, but with firm determina- 
tion, the Republic draws the sword, firm in the conviction that we fight the battle of 
human rights against the excesses of despotic power." 

And then on April 2, 1917, at 8 o'clock in the evening, President 
Woodrow Wilson called the congress in extraordinary assembly and 
delivered his "war" message, advocating co-operation and counsel 
in action with the Allied governments then at war with Germany 
and the extension of liberal credits to them, and it was realized that 
we were in fact at the very entrance of war. The president's message 
was as follows: 

"I advise that this congress declare the course of the Imperial German govern- 
ment to be in fact a belligerent of the United States, and that it formally accepts this 
status of the belligerent which has thus been thrust upon it and employ all of its 
resources to bring the government to terms and to end the war. 

"Vessels of every kind, whatever their flag, their character, their cargo, their 
destination, their errand, have been ruthlessly sent to the bottom without warning, and 
without the thought of help or mercy for those on board; even hospital ships, ships 
carrying relief to the sorely bereaved and stricken people of Belgium. Though the latter 
were provided with safe conduct through the prescribed areas by the German 
government itself and were distinguished by unmistakable marks of identity, they have 
been sunk with the same reckless lack of compassion or principle." 

This message, while the American flag was being waved from 
the mezzanine in the Henning hotel, was read to several thousand 
people by ex-Governor B. B. Brooks, only a few minutes after it 
was delivered before congress by the president. When the governor 
finished reading, all was quiet for a second and then someone started 
to sing "America," and the thousand men and women sang the na- 
tional anthem with more meaning and more enthusiasm then they 
ever sung it before. 



NATRONA COUNTY BOYS IN THE WORLD WAR 67 

After the president's message had been read to congress Chair- 
man Flood of the house committee on mihtary affairs introduced a 
resolution as follows: 

"Whereas, The recent course of the Imperial German government is in fact 
nothing less than a war against the government and the people of the United States, 
Therefore, be it 

Resolved, By the senate and the house of representatives of the United States 
of America, in congress assembled, that a state of belligerency which thus has been 
thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared, and that the president be 
authorized to immediately take steps not only to put this country in a state of defense, 
but to exert all power and employ all the resources of this country to carry on war and 
bring the conflict to a successful conclusion." 

This resolution was passed by the house of congress at 3 :o8 
in the morning of April 6, 191 7, by a vote of 373 to 50, after a debate 
lasting seventeen hours, during which twenty-five members spoke. 
And thus, on Good Friday, the day on which Christ died for hu- 
manity, America went to war against the Imperial German govern- 
ment for humanity. 

Then came the preparation for war. Recruiting stations were 
established in every town of any size in the United States; Red 
Cross organizations were perfected, food conservation was commenced 
and the people laid aside money for the purchase of Liberty bonds. 
Many young men volunteered for service at once and others declared 
they were ready, willing and anxious to go when their country should 
call them, and on the fifth of June, when the first register for military 
draft was finished, there were 1,276 names from Natrona county on 
the roll, while 960 were reported as absent, making a total of 2,236 
available men to enter the war from this county, in addition to the 
196 who had entered the service as volunteers. Natrona county was 
called upon July 20 to draw fifty-seven names for the first selective 
draft, and on August 7, 8 and 9, 102 draft men were ordered to report 
to the board. 

By this time the people of the whole nation had their meatless 
days and their wheatless days; they wore their old clothes; they 
denied themselves the luxuries and pleasures they had been ac- 
customed to having and saved their money to buy Liberty bonds. 
Women were knitting socks and sweaters and making dressings and 
bandages for our boys who had gone. Although the older men could 
not go to the front, like the younger men, they were nevertheless 
fully as patriotic, and gave up their time, their money and their 
pleasures, and made many sacrifices in order that this war might 
be brought to a "successful conclusion." 

From Casper there were 1,300 registered; from Badwater, 3; 
Greenlaw, i; Bessemer, 13; Powder River, 40; Salt Creek, 88; 



68 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Bucknum, 15; Arminto, 60; Efell, 10; Big Muddy, 14; Freeland, 
16; Waltman, 9; Miller, 4; Lone Bear, 14; Alcova, 17; Oil City, 7; 
Ervay, 7. At the recruiting station in Casper on July 20 there were 
150 names on the roster of Company L, Wyoming National Guard. 
These men were encamped at the fair grounds south of town from 
July 20 until August 2, when they left for the Cheyenne temporary 
training camp, and a fund of ^1,000 was raised by the citizens of 
Casper as a "mess fund" for the boys. 

The first Natrona county draft delegation to leave for training 
quarters was on September 5, 1917. Two men were called. They 
went to American Lake, Camp Lewis. The second increment, con- 
sisting of nineteen men, left on September 23, and the third, consist- 
ing of twenty men, left on October 7. For the fourth increment 
thirteen men were called on November 2. During this time more 
than 200 men had voluntarily enlisted and gone to their training 
camps. 

The first death to occur on foreign soil among the soldiers of 
Natrona county was on January 17, 1918, at 8:55 in the evening, 
when George L. Vroman, a private in an ammunition train, died of 
pneumonia. He contracted a severe cold during a railroad trip from 
the port at which he landed in France to the first landing station. 
He was 31 years of age. 

By the first of March, 1918, 422 men from Natrona county had 
enlisted as soldiers and more than 200 had enrolled in the pubhc 
service reserve. 

The Standard and Midwest refineries had many extra guards 
at their plants, guards were stationed at the Pathfinder dam, rail- 
road bridges were guarded and every precaution was taken against 
German spies, there being every reason to believe that quite a number 
were located in and around Casper. 

Seventeen draft men left on April 27 for Camp Lewis, and on 
May 10 six men left for Camp Lewis and five for Fort McDowell, 
California, and a call was received on May 13 for 100 men from 
Natrona county to entrain for Fort Benjamin Harrison on May 20 
and twenty to be sent to Fort Logan, Colorado, on May 29. Thirteen 
more left for Camp Logan, Utah, June 13, and a call was made for 
seventy-five men to go to Camp Lewis June 28. There were sixty- 
nine men volunteered for the service during the month of June. 

By this time not enough men were left on the range in this 
county to properly look after the stock; clerks were short in the 
stores and offices, there was a shortage of skilled mechanics at the 
refineries and there was a shortage of men ever)rwhere in the county, 
but the calls kept coming for more men, and on July 6 fifty-four men 



NATRONA COUNTY BOYS IN THE WORLD WAR 69 

left for Fort Logan; twenty more left for the same place on the 19th, 
and on the 23rd 100 men were called to Fort Riley, Kansas. Seven 
selectives left for Camp Fremont, California, August 6, and seven 
more left for the same place the following day. Nineteen were called 
for Fort Riley on August 12, and twelve for Camp Lewis September 
4, and on September 6, eight members of the Home Guard left for 
Camp Lewis. During the month of August three doctors, one 
lawyer and one minister enlisted. Word was received in August that 
Guy Burson had been killed in action on July 5. He was the first 
Natrona county soldier who had been killed in battle. 

Fifty-nine men left for Camp Lewis October 10, and eleven 
men left for Fort McArthur, San Pedro, California, October 23. By 
this time it was estimated that more than 2,000 men from Natrona 
county were in the service. 

On the morning of November 7, 191 8, telegraphic news was 
received in Casper, as it was in every town of any consequence in 
the whole of the United States, that the kaiser had abdicated, and 
Germany had indicated her surrender by the signing of an armistice, 
and that hostilities had ceased. Upon the receipt of these glad tidings 
every whistle in the city screeched, the bells in the churches rang 
forth the wonderful news, and men, women and even the little 
children knew the cause of all the noise and commotion without ask- 
ing. Great crowds of people of all classes, sex, color, and age formed 
in the main thoroughfares of the city and cheered; an impromptu 
parade was formed, and the huge crowd marched to the court house; 
flags were unfurled, the band played, patriotic songs were sung and 
prayer was offered, and everybody went home with a light heart, 
but the next day word came over the wire that the news was not 
official; that the kaiser had not abdicated, that Germany had not 
indicated her surrender by asking for an armistice, and that hostilities 
had not ceased. The war spirit again permeated the air, and the 
people were ready and anxious to sacrifice not only their last dollar, 
but their last drop of blood to bring the foe to submission. Men far 
beyond the age limit were anxious to leave their homes and families 
and take up arms against the relentless foe, but on the morning of 
November 9 an official announcement was received that the kaiser 
had abdicated, and that the Imperial German government was ready 
to surrender, and at 2:40 on the morning of November 11, 1918, 
official news was received of the submission of Germany. It was 
announced that the armistice was signed at 5 o'clock in the morning, 
Paris time, which is some ten hours earlier than western time in the 
United States, and that hostilities had entirely ceased at 11 o'clock 
A.M. all along the lines. 



yo HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Again the whistles shrieked forth and the bells in the city rang 
long and loud. But few people remained in bed, although the hour 
was early, and they determined to make this a big day as well as a 
long one. Arrangements were quickly made to fittingly celebrate 
the occasion, and all the business houses, offices and factories in 
the city were closed in the afternoon and a monster parade was 
formed; thousands of people were in line, the bands played, and the 
day was celebrated as only Americans can celebrate after such a 
grand victory. 

Then the casualty lists commenced to come in. This was the 
sad, sad part of the war. As Natrona county's percentage of men in 
the war was large, the casualty list must necessarily be large. Twenty- 
six men from this little county sacrificed their lives, a list of whom is 
herewith appended: Asimakopoulos, Demetrios; Bean, Frank L.; 
Buhr, John L.; Burson, Guy C; Butler, James; Cheadle, Albert K.; 
Cheney, WiUiam D.; Cummlngs, Cecil Fleming; Cutler, Frank D.; 
Devault, Charlie O.; Evans, Richard T.; Graves, Loren; Green, 
Archie B.; Humann, Herman; Lowery, Bond M.; Marston, WiUiam 
D.; Mobius, Frank; McClaflin, Arbie W.; Neil, Harry W.; Romero, 
Frank Bernal; Sanford, Albert B.; Scannell, Francis E.; Snyder, 
Orin I.; Speckbacker, John M.; Starks, Hugh L.; Stanley, Dewey 
M.; Vroman, George W. 

In January, 1919, Adjutant General W. K. Weaver made a 
comprehensive report of the part that Wyoming took in the world 
war, and among other things he said: "It is worthy of note and 
pride that in this war, as in the Spanish-American war, Wyoming 
furnished more soldiers in proportion to population than any other 
state. Wyoming furnished 923 men for the draft in 1917 and over 
7,000 for the 191 8 draft. All told the state sent more than 12,000 
men to the army, and approximately one-half of these men were 
sent over seas." 

About seven per cent of Wyoming's population served the nation 
on battlefields and in camps, while the average for the United 
States was about four per cent, and it will be noted with pride that 
Natrona county's percentage was far in advance of even the state's 
percentage. In 1920 the federal census showed that Natrona county 
had a population of 14,635, and allowing 1,365 that the census 
enumerators might have, and no doubt did overlook, that would 
have given us a population of 16,000. In 1917-18 the population 
surely was not more than it was in 1920, and in that case, with 2,000 
men in the service, which was twelve and one-half per cent of our 
population, a percentage that very few counties in the whole nation 
equaled. 



NATRONA COUNTY BOYS IN THE WORLD WAR 7 1 

It was not long after the signing of the armistice until the soldiers 
commenced to return home from the numerous camps, and in order 
to give them a hearty welcome, a Mother's league was formed. 
On February 20, 1919, this league secured rooms on the ground floor 
of the Oil Exchange building, and on the 26th the rooms were thrown 
open to the soldiers and sailors who had returned. The rooms were 
furnished with tables and chairs, and there was an abundance of 
books and magazines and cards and games of diflPerent kinds, and it 
was surely a boon for many a young man who returned from camp 
and had no home, no position, and but little money to make a new 
start in life. The club was under the management of the Mother's 
league until June 12, when it was turned over to the Army and 
Navy club. On April 23, 1919, a temporary organization of the Na- 
trona county chapter of the American Legion was perfected, with 
Edgar S. Moore as president; Edgar S. Bean, vice president; 
Kestler Long, secretary; R. H. Nichols, treasurer; and E. Hussey, 
C. P. Plummer and W. H. Fuller, committee on constitution and by- 
laws. On July 18, 1919, the Casper chapter asked for a charter mem- 
bership in the American Legion, and it was granted August 26, and 
was given the name of George L. Vroman Post No. 2, in honor of 
the first Natrona county soldier who died over seas. There were 
thirty-five charter members, and Chiles P. Plummer was elected 
chairman, and C. R. Peterson secretary. R. H. Nichols was elected 
to represent the local post in the state legion. The Army and Navy 
club was then merged into the Legion, which has resulted in a strong 
and beneficial organization with a large and influential membership. 

The Denny O. Wyatt Post, No. 57, in honor of one of Natrona 
county's brave young soldiers, who served over seas, returned home 
and died from the eflPects of injuries received while he was in the 
service, received its national and state charter on the 12th day of 
March, 1922, with forty charter members. Excellent club rooms 
were secured where social entertainments and business sessions were 
held on regular occasions. The initial election of officers for this 
post was held on the evening of April 17, 1922, when T. J. McKeon 
was named as post commander; L. F. Thorne, vice commander; 
H. M. McDermott, finance officer; Fred Dralle, adjutant. It was 
reported at this meeting that the post had a membership numbering 
eighty. 

A massive bronze tablet was unveiled at the capitol building 
in Cheyenne on November 11, 1921, the anniversary of Armistice 
day, upon which was this inscription: "Dedicated to the Memory 
of Those Men from Wyoming Who Made the Supreme Sacrifice." 
Beneath the inscription appear the names of approximately 350 



72 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Wyoming soldiers who are known to have died in the military service 
during the great World war. This memorial tablet is seven by 
four feet in dimensions, and is supported on either side by a female 
figure holding in her hand a palm branch. The legislature of 1921 
appropriated $2,000 for the purchase of this tablet, which has been 
placed at the right-hand side of the capitol rotunda, near the main 
entrance, which is a fitting memorial to the young men who sacrificed 
their lives for their country. 

Powder River Post, No. 291, Veterans of Foreign Wars, was 
organized in Casper in October, 1922, and the charter remained open 
until November 16, when the post was instituted and officers installed 
as follows: Commander, E. R. Purkiser; senior vice commander, 
E. A. Carrier; junior vice commander, Orin Theige; adjutant, 
Thuron R. Hughes; quartermaster, D. D. Murphy; chaplain, C. H. 
C. Scullion; trustees, Charles J. McNulty, Harold A. Park, W. H. 
Blott; membership committee, E. A. Carrier, Charles H. C. Sculhon, 
Noble Welch; post historian, M. T. Rice; patriotic instructor, N. 
E. Robinson. 

Natrona County's Three Earthquakes 

Earthquakes in Wyoming have been of comparatively rare 
occurrence, so far as any extensive destruction of life and property has 
been involved. The first convulsive force felt in the central part of 
the state that could be termed an earthquake occurred at 3:15 on 
the morning of June 25, 1894. There were two distinct and violent 
shocks and nearly everybody in Casper was awakened by the vibra- 
tions and a general feeling of alarm prevailed. No great damage was 
done to any of the buildings and the convulsions were of short 
duration. On Casper mountain the disturbance was much more pro- 
nounced than in the valley. There the vibrations continued for 
fifteen seconds. Dishes were dashed to the floor from the cupboards 
and a number of people were thrown from their beds by the undula- 
tions. There was doubt, consternation and terror among the people, 
some of whom expressed the fear that the earth would open up and 
swallow them. Their fears were unfounded, of course, but when day- 
light came they made haste to come to Casper and remained here 
several days. 

The water in the Platte river, which the day before had been 
fairly clear, changed to a reddish hue and became thick with mud 
thrown up from the bottom and caved in from the banks. Those who 
were near the river in the vicinity of Alcova said they could hear the 
rushing sounds and violent splashes into the stream, and in the morn- 



NATRONA county's THREE EARTHQUAKES 73 

ing they saw where large portions of the earth had been torn away 
and lapsed into the river. 

Again on November 14, 1897, at 6:30 in the morning, this part 
of Wyoming was visited by another but more violent earthquake 
shock. Those who were awake at the time reported that for several 
minutes before the shock occurred they heard a rumbling noise from 
the southwest resembling that of a dozen trains of cars. Then came 
the rocking of the earth, which lasted for at least two seconds. 
George M. Rhoades, who was sitting on a chair lacing his shoes, was 
thrown to the floor. As soon as he could gain his equilibrium, he 
rushed out of doors, fearing that the roof of his house would fall in 
on him. Others hastened from their beds. The guests in the Grand 
Central hotel made a hasty exit, some of them not tarrying to dress. 
Men on the range who were sleeping on the ground said they could 
hear the rumbling sound several minutes before they felt the shock. 
The noise kept getting closer and closer until it became almost deafen- 
ing and then occurred the sickening, shivering, rocking of the earth 
which caused consternation among the sheep and horses. The Grand 
Central hotel building was considerably damaged by the convulsion, 
the northeast corner of the building being rent with a crack from two 
to four inches wide, extending from the third to the first story. The 
ceiling in the lobby was cracked from the east to the west end and the 
structure was otherwise damaged to such extent that many bolts and 
braces were required to put it in a safe condition. This was the only 
building in Casper that was damaged to any great extent, as this and 
the Odd Fellows' building, were the only large brick buildings in the 
town at that time. 

And again, on October 25, 1922, at 6:20 in the evening a slight 
shock of about one-half second duration was felt by some people in 
Casper. Some of those who were sick and in bed felt the shock more 
distinctly than those who were up and around in their homes or in 
their business houses or upon the streets. The tremor was very slight, 
and no damage of any kind was reported. At Salt Creek, fifty miles 
north, and at Bucknum, twenty-two miles west of Casper, the vibra- 
tions were much more pronounced, and they were from two to three 
seconds' duration. Some people in the vicinity of Bucknum reported 
that the disturbance continued for at least ten seconds, but it is evi- 
dent that they judged the duration more by the length of time it 
seemed to them than the actual continuation of the undulations. 
Glass in the windows at the Box C ranch house, a few miles to the 
north of Bucknum station, were cracked and the frame buildings 
swayed and creaked as though they were about to be caved in. In 
Salt Creek dishes which had been placed on the dining tables and 



74 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

those that were in the china closets were badly shaken, and pictures 
that were hanging on the walls in some of the residences swayed to 
and fro, and many other indications of the seismic disturbance were 
in evidence. Many people rushed from their houses, thinking that a 
gas explosion had occurred in the vicinity, and it was some time 
before it dawned upon them that the shock they had felt had been 
caused by an earthquake. 

Nitro-Glycerine Explosion 

The explosion of 400 quarts of nitro-glycerine at about 8 o'clock 
in the evening on May 26, 1919, at the storage house of the Wyoming 
Torpedo company, about two miles east from Casper, shook the 
town as if there w as an earthquake. Windows in many of the business 
houses were broken and the vibrations could be distinctly felt through- 
out the town. The storage house for the glycerine was a dug-out along 
the river bank and Mack McCoy and a companion had brought an 
auto truck load of the nitro-glycerine from the plant a couple of miles 
farther east, intending to put it in the storage house over night and 
take it toThermopolis the next day to be used in the oil fields near that 
town. It is supposed that the explosion was caused from the con- 
cussion of opening the storage house door or that one of the cans was 
dropped on the ground while the men were unloading it from the 
truck. Immediately after the report was heard in Casper a huge 
cloud of smoke and dust was seen to rise in the sky and its appear- 
ance resembled an immense balloon in the air. Fully three thousand 
people rushed to the scene of the accident. Where the storage house 
stood was now an immense hole in the ground, hundreds of bits of 
human flesh and bones were scattered within a radius of a quarter of a 
mile, the auto truck was blown into thousands of pieces and scattered 
about in all directions; the trees along the river bank were sheared of 
their branches and the destruction was complete. McCoy and his 
companion were seen driving the auto truck toward the storage house 
about ten minutes before the explosion occurred, but the identity of 
the other man was never established. 

The Pathfinder Dam 

The Pathfinder dam was built under false pretenses and Wyo- 
ming was thereby deprived of reclaiming a vast amount of acreage 
which would have been irrigated had the plans been carried out as the 
people of Wyoming were led to believe and given to understand they 
would. 



THE PATHFINDER DAM 75 

General Manager Bidwell and Superintendent Hughes of the 
Chicago & Northwestern railway, who undoubtedly were secretly 
working under instructions from the Nebraska delegation in con- 
gress, came to Casper in their private car on June 14, 1904, and 
requested an audience with the representative business men of 
Casper. About twenty Casper business men were admitted inside 
Mr. Bidwell's private car, and Mr. Bidwell was the main and about 
the only speaker. He produced some maps, especially prepared to 
exhibit to the people of Wyoming which showed the lands proposed 
to be irrigated by the department under this project amounting to 
1,380,000 acres in Wyoming, 207,000 of which were in Natrona 
county. Bidwell said there were to be three reservoirs, one eight 
miles above Alcova, the site of the now Pathfinder dam, one fifteen 
miles above Casper and another eight miles up the river. 

When this information was presented to our people they readily 
approved the project, and then Messrs. Bidwell and Hughes went to 
Douglas, where the same procedure was taken to fool the people of 
that town and, as at Casper, the people there gave their hearty 
approval to the project. The result was that the appropriation of a 
million dollars was made by congress for the project, but only one 
dam and one reservoir was constructed, and Nebraska has thus far 
gotten the use of the greater portion of the water that was promised 
and rightfully belonged to Wyoming, and instead of 207,000 acres of 
land being reclaimed in Natrona county, about 25,000 acres were 
inundated and none reclaimed. 

The scheme was thoroughly studied and investigated by the 
reclamation service for two years prior to the commencement of the 
dam's construction. The system was named "Pathfinder" in honor 
of General John C. Fremont, the great explorer, who made the 
Platte valley, in what is now Wyoming, the scene of his most inter- 
esting travels and investigations, and it was at about where the dam 
is located that Fremont's boats were capsized. The Astorians gave 
this canyon the name of the "Fiery Narrows." 

This wonderful piece of masonry is built on a natural site in a 
solid granite formation, in the bed rock, and the walls on each side are 
also of this rock. The geology and topography of the location is 
remarkable. Here is a tremendous uplift of granite, rent in twain by 
the titanic forces of nature in the primeval days, creating a mighty 
chasm in depth and yet so narrow as to make hardly a streak in the 
landscape. In many places a rider approaching from either side would 
not see the canyon or know of the existence of the river until he was 
within a few rods of the perilous chasm with its almost perpendic- 
ular walls. 



"^6 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Actual construction work was commenced on the Pathfinder 
project on the 5th day of February, 1905, by Kilpatrick Bros. & 
ColHns, who secured the contract to construct the diversion tunnel 
on the north side of the river, which runs a distance of 480 feet through 
a sohd mass of granite and is thirteen feet high and ten feet wide. It 
is connected with the surface by two shafts, each one hundred and 
eighty feet deep. The emergency gates were installed in the upper 
shaft with a stone and cement building over them. These shafts, like 
the tunnel itself, are through solid granite, and every foot of their 
depth from the top of the precipice to the level of the river had to be 
drilled and blasted, and their construction in a proper manner was 
one of the most difficult tasks on the project. The finished shaft in 
which the gates are installed is surrounded by an iron railing with a 
ladder running from the top to the bottom. 

Construction work on the dam proper was commenced in Sep- 
tember, 1905, by the Gedis-Seerie Stone company of Denver who was 
awarded the contract by the government. Before the masonry work 
could be commenced the water in the channel of the river was turfted 
into the diversion tunnel by a dam made from many thousand sacks 
of sand and the dam site at the bottom of the river was left bare and 
free from water. This site for the full width of the canyon and the 
width of the dam was cleaned of all gravel, sand, earth, fissured and 
disintegrated rock to a depth of fifteen feet and a clean foundation 
upon bed rock was prepared for the commencement of the building of 
the big dam. 

The base of the dam is ninety-five feet wide and eighty feet 
across the chasm, and at the top of the dam, 218 feet above the base, 
it is twelve feet wide and 432 feet across the chasm. In the early 
spring, after the melting of the snow in the water sheds above, there 
is impounded by this huge structure more than 1,000,000 acre feet of 
water, and this would reclaim 350,000 acres of the arid land of 
Wyoming that at the present time can be used only for grazing, but as 
mentioned above, Wyoming gets very little benefit from it, for the 
water is carried into western Nebraska where a great many thousand 
acres have been reclaimed and are growing wonderful crops of grain 
and grass. 

The contractors completed their work on this dam June i, 1909, 
but since that time a large dyke has been built south of the structure. 
The land at the point where the dyke was built was about twenty 
feet lower than the top of the masonry work of the dam and should 
the water have risen so high that it would have run over this low 
ground, it would have washed the soft formation down the channel 
and thus change the course of the river, leaving the dam high and 



THE PATHFINDER DAM 77 

dry in the canyon. It was thought by the reclamation engineers that 
the reservoir would not be filled for several years after the dam was 
completed and that there was no immediate danger of the water's 
rising to the top of this low piece of ground. But on account of the 
heavy snows during the winter of 1910 and the heavy spring rains 
that followed, the water rose almost to the top of this low stretch of 
ground and only by the most heroic effort was the huge body of water 
kept from cutting through the soft formation. Men and teams 
worked night and day for several weeks, piling brush, wood, and 
sacks of sand and dirt in the low place. The flood gates were turned 
wide open and arrangements were made to blow out a section of the 
dam with dynamite if the water could not otherwise be prevented 
from running over this low land. For three or four days it was a 
hard struggle between the men and teams and the gradual rise of the 
water, and at one time it was thought there was no hope except to 
blow out a section of the masonry in the dam. Just at this time, how- 
ever, seemingly an act of Providence, the water commenced to recede 
and then all danger was passed. The permanent dyke, which is about 
1,420 feet in length, was then built by first digging down to the con- 
glomerate and then putting in a cement core three feet on the bottom 
and tapering to about one foot on top. This cement core is about 
thirty-five feet high and the top of the dyke extends eighteen feet 
above the level of the spillway on the north side of the dam. In the 
building of this dyke, dirt and gravel was hauled in and packed with 
a steam roller; the face of the structure is rip-rapped with stone 
eighteen inches in depth and there is now no possibility of the high 
waters doing any damage. When the water rises to a sufficient height, 
it runs over the spillway and is carried into the channel of the river 
below. A concrete wing 108 feet long and twelve feet wide at the 
base and four feet wide at the top, with an average height of ten feet, 
has been constructed for the purpose of keeping the water in this 
spillway. 

In the construction of the dam 340 carloads of cement were used, 
a total of 19,000,000 pounds. If this cement had been loaded on one 
train it would have been more than three miles in length or would 
have made seventeen trains of ordinary length. All this cement, 
together with the enormous amount of machinery and supplies, was 
hauled from Casper by freight teams to the Pathfinder over rough 
roads, through low valleys and over high hills and in all kinds of 
weather. The quickest trip ever made from Casper to Pathfinder 
with a freight outfit was three days, and the longest time required 
was seventy-six days. These freight teams consisted of from two to 
four loaded wagons chained together and a covered wagon in which 



78 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

the freighter and his family often Hved, the whole being drawn by 
from twelve to twenty-two horses, which were called string teams and 
were handled by a single, or jerk line. 

The three-mile train load of cement, together with the steel, 
gravel, crushed rock, concrete and granite in the dam would make a 
train load of material that would be over forty miles in length. It is 
difhcult to imagine the size of a building that could be constructed 
with this immense amount of material. The granite used in the dam 
was quarried less than a quarter of a mile from the structure, and large 
pieces forty feet square were first blown out and then split into 
smaller squares, averaging in weight eight to ten tons; these after 
being dressed and drenched were conveyed to the works on a tram 
and lowered to the dam where they were laid in a heavy bed of mor- 
tar with the side joints not more than six inches in thickness, and the 
concrete rammed into place, the largest proportion of stone and the 
smallest proportion of mortar and concrete being used. 

At the base of the dam are two tunnels, each three feet in diam- 
eter, and one culvert four by six feet, and through these tunnels 
and the culvert streams of water went rushing, roaring down the 
canyon with the force of Niagara. A practically unlimited amount of 
power could be generated from these three streams that would supply 
all the needs of ten cities the size of Denver, but up to the present 
time nothing has been done toward putting this power into service. 

In the spring of 191 1 these tunnels and the culvert were bulk- 
headed and the flow of water sufficient to keep the river up to the 
level that will supply the needs of the city of Casper and the refiner- 
ies here, as well as the other towns and the ranchmen along the stream 
east from Casper, is supplied from a four-inch pipe extending through 
the tunnel at the base of the dam, in addition to a stream running 
through the tunnel on the south side of the dam. In recent years the 
reservoir has been filled to overflowing in the spring of the year and 
there has been a heavy flow over the spillway on the north side of 
the dam. When the water runs over the spillway it is within twelve 
feet of the top of the dam, giving a depth of 184 feet of water at the 
face of the dam. Then the North Platte is backed up for twenty 
miles and [the Sweetwater river for fifteen miles, and the width of the 
reservoir at the widest point at that time is aboui; four miles. About 
a half dozen ranches containing an area of fully 25,000 acres, which 
includes the grazing land, have been covered by this immense res- 
ervoir, and the government paid the settlers who were deprived of 
their land in the neighborhood of $170,000. 

Since the contract for the building of the dam was completed, on 
June I, 1909, a great many improvements have been made, in addi- 



THE PATHFINDER DAM 79 

tion to the building of the dyke on the south side. Among these 
improvements is a tunnel on the south side which was installed in 
1910-11. It is sixteen feet deep and sixteen feet wide, sixty feet above 
the bed of the river. This tunnel was built for the purpose of allowing 
a greater flow of water through during the spring and summer months 
when it is used for irrigating purposes and to relieve the pressure on 
the gates of the north tunnel. In connection with this tunnel an air 
shaft was built similar to the air shaft into the north tunnel. Another 
tunnel has been built on the north side of the river above the original 
tunnel. All these tunnels have been equipped with gates and balance 
valves which are automatically controlled by the reservoir pressure. 
A set of two auxiliary gates and two hydraulic-operated balance 
valves were installed on the north lower tunnel in 1920-21-22 and 
upon completion of this work the portal of the tunnel was bulkheaded 
just below the air shaft. At this place a by-pass valve was installed. 
An average of about twenty men were working at the dam since the 
original contract was completed in 1909 until the summer of 1922. 
The government maintains an exclusive telephone line from Casper 
to Pathfinder which is used only in connection with business per- 
taining to the reclamation service. 

H. D. Comstock was the resident engineer during the construc- 
tion of the dyke in 1910 and until May 30, 1913. S. S. Sleeth was 
superintendent of the reservoir from 1910 to September, 191 1. J. C. 
Austin was superintendent from May, 1913, to August, 1918, and he 
was succeeded by S. S. Sleeth who served until December, 191 8. 
Then came H. E. Brown who served until July, 1921, and he was 
succeeded by T. S. Martin as superintendent of construction. 

In the spring time when the reservoir is filled to overflowing and 
the water rushes over the spillway in great volumes, having the ap- 
pearance of Niagara Falls, there is always some one ready to spread 
the report that the dam is unsafe and many timid people in Casper 
do not rest easy until the water commences to recede late in the 
summer. In regard to the safety of this dam, Director F. H. Newell 
says: "There is probably no structure in the United States better 
designed and finished and more deserving of higher commendation 
for its stability and absolute safety. The absurd stories sent out con- 
cerning it cannot fail to do harm in alarming timid people, who have 
absolutely no occasion for concern." 

Since the original appropriation of one million dollars for the con- 
struction of this dam, up to June 30, 1920, additional appropria- 
tions of $10,279,939 have been made for the project, a portion of 
which was expended on the Guerensey dam and the irrigation ditches 
in that vicinity, but the greater portion was expended on the ditches 



8o HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

in western Nebraska where the main body of the water is carried 
and where immense crops are raised each year upon the vast amount 
of land that is irrigated. Several millions of dollars have also been 
expended on the dam, for the improvements and repairs before men- 
tioned. 

Through the efforts of the citizens of Natrona county a survey 
was made in 1920 under the direction of the state engineer of Wyo- 
ming for the purpose of ascertaining the number of acres that could be 
irrigated in Natrona county if a gravity overfall diversion dam 130 
feet high were built in the Alcova canyon, so the water could be 
stored and raised to a level of a proposed canal that would distribute 
the water over a stretch of land about forty miles in length and then 
be returned to the river through natural drainage along the forty- 
mile stretch of territory included in the irrigation district, and it was 
found that more than 100,000 acres, all in Natrona county, could be 
reclaimed. From 15,000 to 17,000 acres of this land is in the Bates 
Hole country, but most of it lies in the valley in which the Burlington 
and Northwestern railway tracks pass through. A resurvey was 
jointly made by the state and the United States reclamation service 
in 1921-22, and the investigations and report made by the state en- 
gineer was found correct. This encouraged the people of the county 
to ask for an appropriation by the government of a sufficient amount 
to build this project, which it was said would be built when the orig- 
inal proposition came up many years before. 

This project has advantages supported by few such projects 
at their inception. Figuring the area to be irrigated at 100,000 acres 
it is estimated that the acreage can be devoted to production by put- 
ting 50,000 acres in alfalfa, 11,000 in sugar beets, 15,000 in small 
grains, 5,000 in potatoes, 4,000 in corn, 10,000 in pasturage and 5,000 
in home grounds, stock corrals, green vegetables and garden truck, 
etc. 

Converting to agricultural purposes the idle land now sur- 
rounding Casper is designed not only to produce food products to 
supply the demands of a growing city, but also to make possible 
several new industries and to bring about a higher development of 
the livestock industry, which for years has been one of the foundation 
stones of the prosperity of Natrona county. The development of 
agriculture and the building up of a market for agricultural products 
over a period of years will add an element of permanence to the com- 
munity and a stability to investment by assuring the establishment 
of a basic industry which will continue indefinitely into the future. 

When this is done the state of Wyoming and Natrona county, 
especially, will have come into its own. Natrona county has been 



THE NORTH PLATTE RIVER 51 

brought to the fore through the persistent efforts of its people as 
much as it has by its natural resources. It has always been the custom 
of the people of this county to give their time and their money to 
encourage and foster any laudable enterprise, and although a great 
deal of time and money have been expended which did not bring the 
desired results, nevertheless the word "discourage" was not in their 
vocabulary, and one failure seemed to be a stimulant for them to go 
after the next enterprise with a more determined effort, and although 
the Pathfinder dam was constructed in 1909, during the past thir- 
teen years the people have constantly endeavored to convince the 
United States reclamation service and the congressmen that thou- 
sands upon thousands of acre feet of water from the Pathfinder 
reservoir are going to waste during the summer months and that 
this vast amount of water would reclaim thousands of acres of land 
in Natrona county, and as a result of this persistency, on August first 
in 1922, Chief Engineer F. E. Weymouth of the United States 
reclamation service, Frank C. Emerson, state engmeer, A. Weiss, 
project manager, and A. T. Strahorn, soil expert, together with a 
committee of Casper citizens, left Casper and spent several days 
going over the survey that had been made, for the purpose of deter- 
mining whether the proposition w^ould be feasible, and even after all 
these years the people look upon this visit of these men as a sign of 
encouragement that it will not be many more years until the water 
from this project will be spread over the land in the eastern part of 
Natrona county, and instead of the land yielding cactus, grease wood, 
and sage brush, there will be raised thousands of tons of alfalfa, corn, 
potatoes, oats, rye, wheat and sugar beets, and this will be one of the 
richest agricultural sections of the west. 

The North Platte River 

Natrona county's largest and most important stream is the 
North Platte river. It enters the county at its southern boundary 
about midway from the eastern and western border lines and flows 
in a northeasterly direction for more than forty miles to the city of 
Casper, when it makes an abrupt turn and flows in an almost due 
easterly direction for about fifteen miles, when it leaves the county 
and enters Converse county, about thirty miles from the southern 
border line of Natrona county. 

The Platte is one of the most extraordinary of rivers. Its fall is 
rapid, and its bed being composed of fine sand, one would expect that 
the rapid current w^ould erode a deep channel through it. No such 
result, however. The broad bed of the river stands almost on a level 



82 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

with the surrounding country, while the water flows back and forth 
in such sinuous and irregular courses as to increase in a marked degree 
the length of the channel. The sand washed up in one place is dropped 
in another, and the bed is built up as fast as it is cut down. Thus it 
results that so unresisting a material as fine sand withstands the 
action of the current better than a harder material, for it is certain 
that if this river with its heavy fall were flowing over solid rock it 
would have carved out a deep and canyon-like bed.^ To see the 
Platte in all its glory one must see it during the spring floods. Then 
it spreads over its entire bed, upwards, in some places, of a mile 
wide, and rivals the Mississippi itself in pretentiousness of appear- 
ance. Washington Irving described the Platte as "the most magnifi- 
cent and the most useless of rivers." But despite its uselessness as 
a stream the Platte has won a permanent place in the history of the 
west. If boats could not navigate its channel, the "prairie schooner" 
could sail along its valley, where lay the most practicable route across 
the plains. It led the overland traveler by gradual and imperceptible 
ascents from near the level of the ocean to the very summit of the 
Continental Divide. Along it lay the old Oregon Trail, most famous 
of all the overland trails. - 

In many places the soft banks of the Platte are always under- 
going erosion. The shore line here recedes and there advances as the 
earth which falls into the stream in one place is dropped in excessive 
bars in another. At certain seasons this action is rapid and destruc- 
tive, and hundreds of acres in a single locality are frequently washed 
away in the course of one season. Thus the channel of the river is 
ever migrating from one side of the valley to the other, destroying 
extensive and fertile bottoms, and building up new lands. 

The origin of the name of the Platte river dates back to the 
earliest occupation of the valleys of this stream by the French settlers, 
which occurred in the year 1719.^ These Frenchmen discovered that 
the Indians called the river the Nebraska, w^hich word in their lan- 
guage signified flat, which, interpreted into French, means Platte, 
carrying out the idea of a broad and shallow river. Hence LaPlatte 
river, but up to the time Bonneville made his expedition in 1832-5 it 
was called by most people the Nebraska river. The early trappers 
made many attempts to navigate this stream, but very few of them 
were successful. 

1 Chittenden, Vol. 2, p. 770. 

"However useless the river may seem to have been in its earlier history, it has been utilized to a re- 
markable degree in later years for irrigation, and thousands of acres of land in Nebraska and Wyorning 
have been reclaimed, and during the summer months almost its entire flow is drawn out upon the neigh- 
boring lands. In addition to this the stream furnishes 27,000 people in Casper with water for domestic 
purposes all the year 'round, and one of the largest oil refineries in the world is furnished with water from 
the "useless" stream. 

3 Coutant's History of Wyoming. 



POWDER RIVER 83 

Robert Stuart, the man who built the first cabin in what is now 
Wyoming, the cabin being located about fourteen miles west from 
Casper where Poison Spider creek empties into the Platte, constructed 
canoes and launched them on the river in March, 1813, near the east 
line of Wyoming, but the water was low and sandbars and rocks in the 
bed of the stream were numerous, and after dragging his canoes over 
the obstructions for several days he abandoned this method of travel 
and his party pursued their journey on foot down the banks of the 
stream. In years to follow many trappers attempted the same exper- 
iment. Some succeeded in getting the boats down the streams by 
taking advantage of the high water season. Previous to 1820 Jacques 
Laramie successfully launched his bull boats, made from the hides of 
bull buffalo, laden with furs from the lower point of Grand Island, 
and the other trappers and traders in after years did the same thing. 
Edward Everett Hale, in his works on Kansas and Nebraska, pub- 
lished in 1854, says that traders sometimes descended the river in 
canoes, but the "canoes or boats constantly got aground," he says, 
"and it seems to be regarded, even at the season of the freshets, as a 
last resort in the way of transfer of goods from above. The steamboat 
El Paso is said to have ascended the river last year (1853) when the 
water was high, more than five hundred miles from its mouth, passing 
up the north fork above Fort Laramie. In token of this triumph she 
still 'wears the horns,' for it is a custom on the western waters for a 
steamboat which has distinguished herself by any decided feat like 
this to wear a pair of antlers until some more successful boat sur- 
passes her in the same enterprise by which she won them. The dis- 
tance achieved by the El Paso is probably overestimated for at 
most seasons of the year the river is of little use for navigation." 

Edward Everett Hale no doubt was correct when he said that 
the "achievement of the El Paso was overestimated," for even now 
when the Pathfinder dam raises the water from six to eight feet 
higher than it flowed in ordinary years, it would be a difficult matter 
for a steamboat to ascend the river five hundred miles from its 
mouth. 

Powder River 

Powder river's reputation for being a quiet and peaceful spot 
was not of the best, even in the early days when the Indians caused 
the soldiers much trouble. It seems as though the very air, like the 
old-time forty-rod whiskey, makes a man want to fight. A few years 
after the Indians finished killing all the white men they could, a feud 
broke out between the cattlemen and the rustlers. After a number 
of the rustlers had been killed and some of the cattlemen wounded, 



84 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

it was a war between the sheepmen and the cattlemen. This sore 
spot was healed over in a few years and then "Powder River" again 
came into the lime light and was the most popular war whoop in the 
great world war. But as to Powder river in the early days, Robert E. 
Strathorn in his "Hand Book of Wyoming," published in 1879, says: 

"In briefly describing some of the prominent streams and valleys of Wyoming 
we may be frank in commencing by declaring that we have nothing good to say of 
Powder River, the southern boundary of the Big Horn region. Its waters are darkly 
mysterious and villainously alkalied; its southern tributaries ditto; and it is far from 
a fitting gateway to the land of beauty and plenty. However, the valley soils are 
among the richest in all the lands. The stream rises in the Powder River range, flows 
almost due north to the Yellowstone and in its tortuous windings has a length of over 
300 miles. The valley is from one to three miles wide, is well timbered with cottonwood, 
and shows coal formation almost everywhere. Cantonment Reno, garrisoned by United 
States troops, is located on Powder River, near the crossing of the Cheyenne and Big 
Horn road. It is a general outfitting point for Big Horn miners. The most direct and 
well-traveled road from Deadwood to the Big Horn region strikes the Cheyenne road 
near here. 

"Twenty-six miles north is Crazy Woman's Fork of the Powder. Its waters are 
clear, flowing over a gravelly bed, and it drains a more desirable region than the parent 
stream. But not until Clear Fork of Powder, twenty miles north of the last named 
stream, is reached does the visitor feel thoroughly possessed of that enthusiasm we are 
endeavoring to inspire. The landscape surrounding is perfect in its loveliness, and the 
broad valley is very nearly our ideal of a spot for the creation of most inviting homes. 
The valley is four or five miles wide and seventy miles long, and besides being quite 
well timbered at the point of crossing possesses greater stretches of hay lands than most 
others in this section. A ranch and trading post, called Murphy's ranch, the first to 
be located in the Big Horn region, is found here at the crossing. 

"Twenty miles' travel farther north over grazing lands which are not equaled 
south of the Platte anywhere, brings the visitor to the Forks of the Piney, the road 
crossing them just above their union. The ruins of old Fort Phil Kearney, near the 
road, stimulate disagreeable thoughts about the played-out peace policy, and lead us 
to think what a shame it was for a powerful government to lose its grip upon such 
beautiful domain, and to allow the massacre of its subjects by the hundred. These 
valleys are about as extensive as that of Clear Fork, are just as beautiful and fertile, 
and undoubtedly will soon teem with the best life our Yankee enterprise can bequeath. 
A few miles away lies Lake DeSmet, named after the noted missionary. It is about 
two miles long and nearly a mile wide, and for its shores has a circle of gracefully 
rounded hills. Myriads of geese, ducks and other water fowl, with evidently little 
appreciation of danger, float its surface, and in the shallow water of the beaches we 
noticed innumerable small insects, resembling fish animalculae. But the water is so 
wonderfully brackish and charged with alkaline salts that it is doubtful whether fish 
could exist in it." 

Wild Horses 

In the early days of Wyoming and up until the early '90's a great 
many wild horses roamed over the broad plains. Some of these horses 
had been tamed, branded and worked by cowboys and ranchmen, 
but when they were turned out on the open range for a few months 
they again took up with the wild bunch. Cowboys, stockmen and 
ranchmen often times trapped and caught these wild horses, and 
broke them, and as a general rule, after they were broken, they proved 
to be the equal of any of the horses, both in endurance and intelligence. 



THE LOST CABIN MINE 85 

About the first of June, 1890, a large bunch of these wild horses were 
ranging in the Salt Creek country, and Joseph Slaughter, John 
Arnold and James and Charles Macy of Glenrock spent two weeks 
chasing the wild animals. The first band they encountered contained 
five horses and two mules, and they were all captured after a chase 
of sixty hours without intermission. The mules were the first to give 
up, and they were thrown and tied, and the horses were given the 
same treatment when they were caught. Another band of eleven 
animals were captured after being chased for seventy-five miles. 
The unbranded horses are called "slicks," but all of the bunch cap- 
tured on this trip were branded, but they w^ere all thoroughly wild, 
having roamed over the plains for a number of years without being 
molested. When the chase is first begun the wild bunch will run ten or 
twelve miles in a direct line, and then they will gradually circle back 
to their old range. The men would station themselves along the cir- 
cuit with fresh horses, and the wild bunch was kept constantly on the 
run without rest, food or water, until they became exhausted and 
gave up. When captured they were fairly w^ell broken before they 
had time to rest from the long chase. 

Sometimes a bunch of wild horses were chased for a week before 
they were captured, especially if the country was rough, where there 
was feed and water and an occasional draw or ravine where they could 
hide for an hour and rest, and sometimes when the wild bunch would 
get into this kind of country, they made good their escape. 

The wild horses in this country, however, like the wild west, are 
a thing of the past. You come across a bunch of horses occasionally 
on the range that appear to be wild, the same as you come across 
some men who would have you believe they belong to that class of 
men who thirty or forty years ago were rough and always ready for 
any emergency, but these fellows nowadays are as easily tamed as 
the bunch of horses on the range that have not been out of the sight 
of man for a week. 

The Lost Cabin Mine 

Western legends regarding lost mines and lost cabins are as 
numerous as tales of pirates' hidden treasure in the South seas. Their 
foundation is probably built more of imagination than of fact. While 
each of the Mountain and Pacific states has had a share of these 
stories of lost lodes of incalculable wealth, yet the Big Horn moun- 
tains seem to have been the locality around which most of these tra- 
ditions centered. 

Thomas Paige Comstock, the discoverer of the famous Comstock 
lode in Nevada, was outfitted by a group of mining men from that 



86 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

state to come to the Big Horns and search for the famous Lost Cabin 
mine. This was as far back as 1870. Conviction of its existence and 
great richness must have been great in their minds to lead them to 
attempt such a toilsome journey over the main range of the Rockies 
in that day. Comstock had discovered and sold the famous lode near 
Virginia City, which still bears his name. It has produced more real 
wealth than any other strata of quartz in the world. The great for- 
tunes of the Mackay and Fair families, as well as many more, were 
drawn from this almost inexhaustible vein of silver. The Nevada 
expedition to the Big Horns was a failure. Either from disappoint- 
ment or other causes, Comstock committed suicide while camped near 
Bozeman, Montana, by shooting himself. He was buried near by, 
but the exact location of his grave is unknown. He unlocked millions 
for others but none for himself. He was only one of many who lost 
their lives in searching amid a cruel climate and more cruel savages 
for this chimera of a mine that never, perhaps, existed. 

It mattered little if you dropped under the knife of the red man 
or under the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" in this mad 
race for wealth. Our credulity is too highly taxed by most of these 
mine stories. Even in the earliest days our trappers, hunters and 
miners were good pathfinders. It is difficult to believe that any 
pioneer who had built a cabin and stayed long enough in the locaHty 
to build sluice boxes and wash placer gold should be unable to find it, 
even if he had been driven from it by Indians in a hurried and dis- 
concerting manner. Neitherwould a man let many years elapse before 
beginning the search for a lost mine of such extraordinary value. Yet 
many of these men are said to have waited until they were on their 
deathbeds, back in Iowa or Pennsylvania, and then with trembling 
hand sought to draw a map for their heirs of the hidden treasure. 
Just as they are about to write the name of the stream that is the 
key to it all the pen drops from the lifeless hand. 

Another old man who held the secret came to Buffalo, Wyoming, 
with three young companions, to whom he was to show the evasive 
treasure. While getting into a wagon at Well's Postoffice he fell dead 
and his secret died with him. Another thoughtful owner of the mine 
had left a blue-print of the location with an old Arapahoe Indian. 
This Indian died suddenly and the secret of the location of the wonder- 
ful mine was buried with him. A strange and mocking fatality has 
seemed to pursue all those who have evidenced a desire to free their 
souls of this golden but harassing secret. 

Not only as a fact in Casper's early history, but as a piece of 
humor, mellowed and hallowed by time, we reproduce the following 
from the Casper Tribune of August 17, 1893. Of that party of six 



THE LOST CABIN MINE 8/ 

who sought the rainbow's end on that day of high hopes, we beheve 
that M. P. Wheeler is the only one now living. The story is typical 
of the many that have been received with credulity since there was 
a mine or a bad memory: 

"A prospector by the name of J. C. Carter, a native of Montana, and a total 
stranger in this section, came into town on Thursday evening last, and told a very 
straight story purporting to show that during his wanderings in the l^ig fiorn moun- 
tains he had accidentally discovered tiie long lost cabin, about wliich so many conflicting 
stories have been told. He brought with him a few fragments of cement rock, which 
he claimed to have taken from the tunnels in the vicinity of the cabin. The prospec- 
tor's story was listened to with open ears, and, as is characteristic of western enterprise, 
a fund of ^loo was at once subscribed by the business men of Casper, and a party of 
six organized to proceed at once to the coveted spot. The party, composed of H. A. 
Lilly, M. P. Wheeler, A. D. Campbell, W. H. Carter, and J. C. Carter, with his part- 
ner, were supplied with a complete camping outfit, stored away in a large wagon. 
With the exception of Mr. Lilly, they left here for the Big Horn region about 2 p.m. 
Saturday, full of hopes and anticipations. Mr. Lilly, who w-ent up in the vicinity of 
Eadsville to bring his family to town, left on a saddle-horse in the evening, expecting 
to catch up with the party on Sunday. 

"The stories concernmg the lost cabin are numerous, and as common-place as 
ghostystories, but according to that told by Carter, there appears to be something in 
it. His story coincides very closely with the report made by two miners at Fort Fetter- 
man in the '6o's. As the tale goes, some time before the civil war, a party of pros- 
pectors struck the Big Horn region, discovered gold, built a cabin, and began active; 
mining operations by tunneling. Tliey had proceeded undisturbed for some time and 
had obtained considerable gold in nuggets, which they stored in baking powder cans, 
when they were surprised one day by a party of Indians, and all but two of the miners, 
who had secreted themselves in the cabin, were massacred. These two, feeling that 
the Indian hostilities were too hot for them, deserted the camp and proceeded to Fort 
Fetterman, where they exhibited their gold and told their stories. They then departed 
for the east, and have never been heard of since. 

"According to Carter, his party had started out from Montana, visited many 
mining camps, and in pushing on, finally reached the Big Horn mountains, where the 
subject of the Lost Cabin mine came up. One of the party, who had visited that sec- 
tion before, said he believed that if they reached a certain camping spot he could figure 
out the location of the lost mine. Though nearly famished, and their horses in poor 
condition, they pushed on another day. The mine was not located that day, the 5th 
of August. With the exception of two men, Carter and his partner, the party gave up 
hope and suggested that they return. The next morning, Sunday, the party separated. 
Carter and one other man only continuing the search for the lost mine. After a few 
hours' travel. Carter claims that in pushing through the thicket, he came upon some 
logs about two feet above the ground. They were rotted, but still showed evidence of 
being used in the construction of a cabin. The building had been put up without the 
aid of axe or hammer, as the trunks, branches, roots and all had been laid together. 
The door was constructed, not in the end or side of the cabin, but in one corner, by 
merely not bringing the side and end of the cabin together. There were no windows, 
and the roof, which had been formed of twigs and branches, had decayed and fallen in. 
The whole structure was completely covered by young trees, and it was by the merest 
accident that the men came upon it. Having satisfied themselves that they had found 
the cabin, they proceeded to look for the gold. Nothing can express their delight, when, 
not many feet from the cabin, they found the tunnels, partly caved in and covered 
with a heavy growth of brush. They collected a small quantity of the rock, and pro- 
ceeded without delay to Casper. On reaching town they were in bad condition — hungry, 
both horses and men; and v.ithout money. The rock was pounded in a mortar by 
Mr. Lilly, and three colors of gold were found — sufficient to arouse the curiosity of our 
enterprising townsmen, and hence the organization of the party." 



88 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Three days after the party left Casper they reached the "Lost 
Cabin," on the Big Horn mountains, near Powder river, after travel- 
ing ninety miles. In addition to the mess supplies the party took 
with them they had picks, shovels, drills, dynamite and other miners' 
supplies, and they were well prepared to brmg back with them all the 
gold they might find, but imagine their disappointment when they 
discovered that this "Lost Cabin," was nothing more than an Indian 
blind, adjacent to a beautiful mountain park, or meadow, consisting 
of about one hundred acres, covered with luxuriant grass where deer, 
elk and other wild game fed, after they had been down to the creek 
for a drink. The Indians would hide in this blind, or cabin, and when 
the game was within sure gun shot distance they would fire upon the 
animals, and thus secure their winter's supply of meat without the 
irksome task of hunting over the mountains, and through the canyons. 

The party enjoyed their trip, however, for there were many fine 
trout streams in the Big Horn mountains, and those who did not care 
to look for gold in the hills and valleys, spent their time fishing and 
hunting. But the party was hastily broken up one morning when one 
of the men came running into camp out of breath, very much excited 
and almost speechless, exclaiming: "A bear! a bear! big as a horse!" 
Some of the men in the party, who were more or less curious, started 
to investigate. They came across the tracks of the animal, and the 
investigation ended then and there, without argument. They agreed 
that the excited man did not exaggerate, and after returning to camp 
without loss of time, they packed the supplies in their wagon, caught 
up their horses and started for home. They were absent about ten 
days. They found no gold, but their experience was worth the trouble 
and inconvenience of the journey. 

During the summer of 1897 C. T. Jones, known as "Rattlesnake 
Jones," also discovered the Lost Cabin mine. Mr. Jones was an 
interesting gentleman, who carried rattlesnakes in his pockets and 
still stranger things in his head. It was a favorite diversion of his to 
engage a stranger in conversation and then casually draw a pet 
rattlesnake out of his shirt, and stroke its head affectionately. In 
the garden of fiction blooming about the Lost Cabin, Mr. Jones 
planted two new flowers of subtle fragrance. One was his story of 
putting the bleached bones of the revered prospectors in a sack and 
bringing them to Casper on his horse. Who could deny that the great 
mine was at last found when the sack full of dead men's bones 
would be shaken out on the Grand Central hotel porch! Saint Mark's 
bones were smuggled into Venice in a bucket of lard; Wyoming has 
sent the bones of many a mastadon, plesiosaurus and ichthyornis to 
adorn the museum of the Smithsonian Institution, but these relics 



THE LOST CABIN MINE 89 

shrivel into insignificance before that priceless possession which once 
was Casper's own "The Blessed Bones of the Busted Bonanza." 

The other bud which Mr. Jones pinned upon the wreath of 
fiction was his confession that he had been directed to the spot by 
spirits. Fearful that it would be surmised that these spirits were of a 
bottled variety, he made haste to aver that he frequently had inter- 
course with spirit friends who used him as a medium for the com- 
munication of secrets which were making them unhappy and restless 
in the spirit land. It was a matter of common report that the Indians 
who had killed the owners of the famous mine, and had now ex- 
changed their tomahawks for harps in the happy hunting grounds, 
were very eager to get into communication with Mr. Jones. 

This is a world of progress, and we are prone to boast of our many 
modern conveniences. Yet looking back to the days when Casper 
was but a village we recall seeing Mr. Rattlesnake Jones giving an 
exhibition with his snakes on the floor of Kimball's drug store. A 
man could step into the adjoining Wyoming saloon, take a few drinks 
of squirrel whiskey and without waiting for the slow action of the 
booze, could in two staggers fall into Kimball's store and see the 
snakes. Modern life has given us no recompense for the loss of these 
conveniences. 

The most reliable and authentic account of the Lost Cabin mine 
is found in an article written by Charles K. Bucknum of Casper and 
published June 24, 1897. Mr. Bucknum was in Montana and Wyo- 
ming at a very early day. He had joined in the gold rush to Bannock 
City and Virginia, Montana. He had trapped beaver and hunted 
buffalo. He had seen the old river steamboats come up the Missouri 
as far as Fort Benton, laden with government supplies. He had seen 
the squaws shake wagon loads of flour into the river that they might 
get the gaily printed sacks to work over into dresses for themselves 
and shirts for the men. Originally the red man lived on a straight 
meat diet. They were slow to accept the white man's declaration that 
bread was the staff of life. After an issuance of flour the muddy 
Missouri ran white for a day. What Mr. Bucknum has written is the 
story as he got it from the best and earliest sources. Mr. Bucknum 
was a store house of information on the events of early days. He did 
not romance nor exaggerate. Much of this article is drawn from books 
and newspaper articles he had preserved bearing on the subject and 
which he had reasons to consider worthy of credence. The reader will 
observe that he gives names and dates and the recital reads like 
history instead of the palpable fictions we have previously reproduced 
as examples of the many legends built about the Lost mine and its 
frequently discovered cabin: 



90 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

" Perhaps the most famous as well as the most mysterious mine on the continent 
is the celebrated Lost Cabin lead. It has been discovered, rediscovered and lost half a 
dozen times, and at present the exact location of this rich lode is as much of a mystery 
as ever. This mine is one of the magnets that drew Thomas Paige Comstock (Old 
Pancake) north from the Nevada bonanzas; but he never found the lead and he came 
out to find a suicide's death and a pauper's grave awaiting him. He drove a pistol 
bullet through his brain near Bozeman, Montana, December 27, 1870, and his neglected 
grave is now there, without a sign over this famous man's last resting place and almost 
unknown. The Lost Cabin has grown to be something of a legend, although there can 
be no doubt that very rich veins are said to be scattered all through the Big Horn 
range, and among those mountains this much-sought mine is snugly hidden away, and 
will probably remain so until some lucky prospector stumbles upon it and becomes a 
thrice millionaire in a twinkling. 

"Many descriptions of the Lost Cabin have been in print, but never yet has the 
true story been told, or how it got the name of Lost Cabin, nor how such a big thing as 
a gold mine with a log cabin attachment came to be so utterly and totally lost as never 
to be found again. Allen Hulburt, a California stampeder, of the '49 epoch, was the 
man who discovered the mine, built the cabin, lost the mine, and never found it again. 
He was a quiet, sensible citizen of Janesville, Wisconsin, in 1849, when he caught the 
California gold fever, like a great many others, and so in October ot the same year he 
left home, friends, and everything else behind him and journeyed across the plains to 
the Pacific El Dorado. He worked his way north to Oregon, then into what is now 
Washington, and in the spring of 1863 found himself in Walla Walla without a cent. 
In company with two other roving spirits, one Jones and one Cox, the trio bought a 
new prospecting outfit, including six horses, and with a month's provisions in pannier 
packs, set out over the Mullen trail for an exploring expedition on the eastern slope of 
the Rockies. After hard trials, and encompassing almost insurmountable difficulties, 
the little band finally reached the Yellowstone, floated down on a raft to the Big Horn 
river and made camp on an island in the wildest and most hostile portion of the United 
States. The geography of the country was little known in those days. Most of their 
traveling had to be done in the night time, as the country was full of Indians, and 
therefore not being very able to distinguish the country roundabout as they passed 
through it at night, the range of mountains that loomed up in front of them one bright 
morning had neither name or location for them. Into these mountains they hurried, 
panning and prospecting as they went, and striking better pay the deeper and higher 
up the gulch they got. At last, coming to a wonderfully rich streak which prospected 
handsomely, a shaft was sunk to bed rock, which was only seven feet below, and here 
was found gold from the grass roots down, panning all the way from five cents to one 
dollar each trial. These frantic men made up their minds to stay all winter. They had 
plenty of powder and lead, the country was full of game, and so, without further delay, 
the little pioneer party began work in dead earnest for a long winter's stay. 1 hey whip- 
sawed lumber, built a dam across the creek, put up the sluice boxes, and sluiced from 
morning to night while the weather lasted. The average yield was about ^100 to the 
man per day until snow began to fly. When the water froze, and mining operations had 
to be suspended. Cox, Jones and Hulburt had about half a bushel each of bright 
sparkling nuggets and gold dust. Now came winter. The time was too valuable while 
the season lasted to waste it in building operations; but it was now getting late, and the 
boys industriously whip-sawed lumber and cut logs sufficient to erect a cabin and sur- 
round it with a stockade. This is the famous cabin that has been lost so many times. 
Hay was cut, too, for the five horses. One had been drowned in the Yellowstone. In 
the spring, when the water began to run again, the three men were at their sluice boxes 
and taking out just as much gold as ever. One day Hulburt suddenly returned to the 
cabin for some necessary article, leaving his two companions busily at work. Scarcely 
had he gotten out of sight when bang! bang! went a number of rifles, and Cox and Jones 
lay weltering in their blood. From a tree Hulburt saw the Indians strip, scalp and 
mutilate his comrades, after which the redskins followed the weU-beaten trail up to 
the cabin and rifled the latter of every article or thing they wanted. They even 
attempted to set fire to the famous structure; but the logs were green and would not 
burn, thus sparing the celebrated building to future discovery. After awhile the Indians 



THE LOST CABIN MINE 9I 

left. Hiilburt slipped quickly from his perch, gathered together a few necessary articles 
(the Indians had carried off the horses) packed his knapsack full of gold (burying such 
treasure as he could not carry), and without pausing to look around or even take a 
landmark, fled for his life. His route did not lie back over the old trail he and his two 
friends had come the year before, for the Indians had gone that way, but to the south, 
in the opposite direction, through a strange, wild, undiscovered country, over which no 
white man's foot had ever traveled before. After many days, when far away from the 
camp he arrived at a lofty precipice where to the east could be seen a vast stretch of 
open prairie, while to the west was a lofty range of mountains whose snow-capped peaks 
pierced the very clouds. Hoping to strike some trail if he trusted to the open, Hulburt 
struck boldly out over the prairie, and headed as near as he could judge, for the Platte 
crossing of the great transcontinental route to California. After eighteen days he did 
reach the North Platte river, ninety miles above Fort Laramie, at Reshaw's bridge,' 
and found himself on the old trail which he had passed over, fifteen years before, on his 
way to California. Here he met the first white people he had seen for nearly two years, 
except, of course, his slain companions. The country was then on fire over the news 
from Alder gulch. Rich diggings had been reported on Grasshopper and Alder in 
Montana, and the trend of the gold hunters was now toward the northwest instead of 
the setting sun, as was the case in 1849. Hulburt met a big stampede coming up the 
Platte bound for Montana. Without going back to the state or sending any word to 
his friends, he joined this party of El Dorado hunters, and was soon en route to the 
very country he had so anxiously been fleeing from during the previous thirty days. 
Going along, he told the story of his wonderful experiences to others, which resulted in 
a split in the crowd, with him heading a new stampede, in which he came near getting 
killed for his pains. To show the size of this division it is only necessary to state that 
Hulburt had no less than 140 wagons at his heels, with something like 550 men, women 
and children, and all of these crazy people going off on a mad, wild chase after the 
goose that had laid the golden egg for Hulburt in the first instance. Suffice it to say 
that they never found the mine. Hulburt proved a very bad pilot, and after leading 
his party everywhere without success until winter came on, he finally and reluctantly 
confessed that he was lost, and his famous cabin mine along with him. This man, 
whose word had been law in camp for so many days, was now an outcast and in danger 
of death by violence. Men and women sprang at him like tigers, crying 'Lynch him; 
he has lied to us; lynch him!' Preparations were made for an impromptu necktie party, 
and Hulburt was just about to be strung up, when the one individual in that crazy mob, 
who had a spark of humanity left in him, stepped to the doomed man's side and drew 
his revolver. That was enough. Sullen with rage, but cowed by one man's bravery, 
the lynching bee was postponed and poor wretched Hulburt's life spared. The Indians 
started on the war-path about this time, which made it an unhealthy country for 
white people; whereupon the Lost Cabin stampeders hastened westward and scattered 
through the gulches in and about Virginia City, Montana. Hulburt was last seen in 
Virginia City in the fall of '64, since when the world has lost track of him, although it 
still remembers his famous though mythical lead. Hundreds saw the gold which Hul- 
burt brought back with him from the Big Horn country, and since then a sort of blind 
faith has possessed many that the Lost Cabin mine really exists. 

" Bart Beckley, a Colorado miner, spent a year of his life searching the Big Horn, 
Castle and Emigrant mountains for this wonderful lead, but at last he, like the rest, 
became disheartened and gave it up, although his belief in the existence of the mine 
was stronger at the close of the unsuccessful search than when he began it. Jack 
McDonald spent many years in the mountain mining camps, during a twelve-month of 
which he was lost to all save himself, somewhere on the southern slope of the Big Horn 
range. Suddenly Jack turned up all bustle and excitement, leaving hurriedly for 
Colorado, but there he was taken sick and died in a cabin on Buckskin creek, where the 
city of Leadville now stands. Before he breathed his last he called his friend and pard, 
Bart Beckley, to his side and told him of a lead in far-away Montana that he believed 
to be very rich. Years rolled on and Beckley, turning the story over and over in his 
mind finally decided to make an attempt to find this famous mine of McDonald's. He 
drifted thither among the mountains of the northwest, found himself first in the Black 

I Reshaw's bridge was three miles east from where the city of Casper is now situated. 



92 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Hills, then in the Wood River country, and finally in the New World mining district, 
near the Big Horn. He recognized Cloud peak, the loftiest pile in the country, and 
strange to say from the accurate description given him by his friend, he was enabled 
to find McDonald's lead, which was halfway up the side of the very mountain he was 
then explormg. But, alas, the dying man was either deceived or else distance lent 
enchantment to the view, for the supposed gold had turned out to be only copper, 
which would not have paid the cost of mining it at that lofty altitude and in that 
rugged country. Beckley confidently thought he was on the trace of the Lost Cabin 
mine, but his practiced eye told him at a glance that only copper lay before him, and 
he gave up the chase, returning to Colorado much disheartened and thoroughly dis- 
gusted. Not long after Beckley's failure another prospector from the southern mines, 
named Joe Sweeney, suddenly appeared in the Big Horn mountains, and spent days 
and days hunting for the lead that seemed to baffle all efforts at discovery. He finally 
stumbled upon a vein far up near the head of the Big Horn canyon, which he firmly 
believed to be an outcropping of the famous lode, if not the mother treasure herself. 
The news was telegraphed by the Associated press giving an account of the discovery, 
saying that the 'Lost Cabin lead was found at last.' The discovery was twenty-five 
miles long, 620 feet wide, and where cut by the stream which crossed it, showed a per- 
pendicular depth of sixty feet. Pieces of it were knocked oflF and sent to McVicker, of 
Salt Lake City, for assay, and in two weeks a report came back showing 41.55 per cent 
of copper, with a trace of silver. A great lead had been discovered, for 50 per cent of the 
rock was pure metal; but there was not a sign of gold about it, and therefore it could 
not be the Lost Cabin. 

"A short time afterward Jack Nye, a well known Nevada prospector, appeared 
in the Big Horn country, and was lost to view tor several months. All at once he 
bounded into Bozeman, and startled the natives with the assertion that he had positive- 
ly discovered the Lost Cabin lead. It was, like Sweeney's find, situated near the head- 
waters of the Big Horn, where the famous river gushes a torrent down out of the 
mountains, the stream in question cutting the ledge almost at right angles. At this 
point the lode was 250 feet wide, and Nye said it showed up sixty odd feet on the 
washed faces. He traced the lode across the country for twenty-five miles or more, 
finding it in places as much as sixty feet wide. Nye wired his father and uncle to come 
on without delay, but the result was easily foreseen, for the vein which Nye believed 
to be the much-sought for Lost Cabin was neither more or less than Joe Sweeney's old 
discovery. When Nye learned the truth, that another man had found the very same 
lead before him, and what was more, had given it up as no good, he, too, surrendered 
in disgust, and went back to Nevada a very badly disappointed man. 

"About this time the Sitting Bull troubles came on, and the country where the 
Lost Cabin lead was supposed to be hid away became alive with hostile Indians. Old 
Touka-to-tonka (Sitting Bull) with over a thousand lodges, had his camp near the 
junction of the two Horn rivers, on the spot where Colonel Custer afterward found him 
and met his death. Notwithstanding the frightful dangers and almost certain death 
awaiting any white man who should have the hardihood to penetrate into the country, 
three white men did go prospecting up the Big Horn about this time, and made their 
way safely through the hostile regions, traveling nights and resting days, finally reach- 
ing the headwaters of the Little Big Horn in safety. Here these three venturesome 
spirits came across a body of ore so large and so rich that they could hardly credit the 
evidence of their senses. Old miners believe implicitly that all rich veins in a mineral 
country must be emanations from a backbone or mother lode. It was unquestionably 
the mother lode. If the mythical Lost Cabin lead really had an existence, there could 
be no doubt but what these hardy prospectors had actually stumbled upon it, for, 
from the descriptions given, it was certainly the largest body of rich quartz in the 
known world. But listen to the sequel. .After working until their tools were worn out, 
the brave fellows built a boat with which to descend the river, loaded it down with 
nuggets and rich specimens, burying what they could not carry, and started down 
stream intending to float by night to the Yellowstone, and thence on by daylight, and 
night too, until civilization or a settlement was reached. The plan was then to return 
with sufficient men and supplies to withstand the attacks of the red men and work the 
new mine for all there was in it. If they had known that the camp which they intended 



THE LOST CABIN MINE 93 

to steal past at midnight was the largest ever gathered together on the North American 
continent, stretching up and down the river for more than three miles, and containing 
between 5,000 and 6,000 warriors, it is probable they would have gone the other way 
and gotten out of the country with all possible haste. Their boat was discovered by an 
Indian dog whose single yelp set 10,000 other throats barking, and in their hurry to 
push forward the frail craft was upset in the rapids of the Little Big Horn, and the 
poor fellows were prisoners. Two of the men were instantly killed, but the third, in 
the darkness of the night, managed to effect his escape, and after wandering about for 
days and days without food and little or no clothing, finally reached a settlement, 
more dead than alive. He related his experiences, exhibited one or two nuggets of 
pure virgin gold in proof of his assertion, but could not give the exact location of the 
lode. Through his privations, sufferings and ponderings over his immense wealth his 
mind became unbalanced, and the poor fellow, unhappily, became insane; and after- 
wards, as the country opened up and Sitting Bull was conquered, it was then too late 
to return to the lead, for the only survivor who might have pointed out the doorway to 
untold millions was a babbling, senseless fool; his reason had left him." 

Father Jean Pierre DeSmet became thoroughly acquainted with 
the country now embraced in Wyoming upward of eighty years ago, 
in the early '40's. This intrepid disciple of Loyola emigrated from 
Belgium to America in 1823, and, proceeding to St. Louis, soon 
founded the St. Louis university. His abilities as a naturalist, botan- 
ist, metallurgist and geologist were very marked. His love for these 
studies, and a genuine desire to elevate our savage races, soon led him 
to become a missionary among the Indians. Accordingly, in 1838, he 
commenced the career which gave him so much prominence, and in 
1839, with two companions, drifted northward, destined for the fur- 
trading post of Fort Benton. The gentle manners and sincerity of 
Father DeSmet soon won for him the confidence and esteem of the 
Indians. For about ten years his travels and explorations among the 
northern tribes were practically unrestricted; he was free to go and 
come, and met with hearty welcomes from the savages. Durmg these 
years of pilgrimage, Father DeSmet became well acquainted with the 
geological formation of the country, as well as with its geography and 
topography. From the forks of the Cheyenne on the east to the Great 
Salt Lake on the west, and from the headwaters of the Columbia 
river on the north to the Platte on the south, he was quite generally 
"at home." On his return to St. Louis from one of his long trips, just 
as the discovery of gold in California was made known, he heard some 
acquaintances expressing doubt as to the wonderful stories from the 
west. Turning to them he said, "I do not doubt it. I am sure there 
is gold in California," and after a moment's pause he quietly added, 
" I know where gold exists in the Rocky mountains in such abundance 
that, if made known, it would astonish the world. It is even richer 
than California!" Among those who knew him best his statements 
were taken for literal truth, and when asked to corroborate the asser- 
tion, he would make no explanation, saying that he had promised the 
Indians never to describe the location of this wealth. The story is 



94 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

told that the Indians had handfuls of nuggets which they proposed 
manufacturing into bullets for an old pistol which the father had 
given to a prominent chief. DeSmet was taken to the spot from whence 
the nuggets were obtained, and found it to be immensely rich. He 
taught the savages the value of it; told them their beautiful country 
would soon be desecrated by white mmers if the facts became known, 
and in return he promised never to reveal the secret of its location. 
To the question once asked him by a bishop of his church at Omaha, 
"Are those mines on the Pacific coast the ones you have told about?" 
the father answered in the negative, and then sorrowfully added, 
"But I fear it will not be many years until they are discovered, and 
then what will become of my poor Indians?" To army officers and 
others he often admitted his knowledge of the mmes in the northwest, 
when closely pressed to do so, and many persons tried in various 
ways to extract more definite knowledge from him. It was then be- 
lieved that a careful prospecting of the Big Horn and Wind River 
regions would certainly reveal the terra mcognito. 

While in Cheyenne, in 1868, he gave a most interesting and sat- 
isfactory account of northern Wyoming and the Yellowstone region. 
Among other things, he said, "There are a great many lovely valleys 
in that section, capable of sustaining a large population. The moun- 
tain scenery is truly grand, and the vast forests of timber, wonderful 
and invaluable. Often have I seen evidences of mineral wealth in this 
wonderful country at different places. The whole range of the Rocky 
mountains, from New Mexico to British America, is mineral bearing." 

Old Jim Bridget, the mountaineer, who spent fifty years in the 
Rocky mountains, said, "In the spring of 1859 I was employed as a 
guide and interpreter to an exploring expedition of the government 
whose purpose was to explore the headwaters of the Yellowstone and 
Big Horn rivers, and various other streams in the Big Horn country. 
One day, after having traveled a few days in these regions known as 
the Big Horn, feeling thirsty, I got off my mule and stooped down at 
a small brook containing clear and inviting water from the snow- 
capped mountains to drink, my attention was attracted by the 
curious appearance of the bottom of the stream. It appeared to me 
like yellow pebbles of various sizes, from that of the head of a com- 
mon pin to a bean and larger. Though well acquainted with the 
appearance of gold, I was somewhat in doubt of its being the precious 
metal, since it had never occurred to me that gold could be found in 
that locality; but my curiosity being excited, I scooped up a handful 
of the stuff, and rode up to Dr. Hayden and Captain Reynolds. 
Both at once pronounced it pure gold, and asked me where I had pro- 
cured it. After I had told them where I had found it. Captain Rey- 



THE LOST CABIN MINE 95 

nolds got very much excited, and insisted that I should cast it away, 
and not tell anyone of the party of the matter under any circum- 
stances, he fearing that a knowledge of gold in such abundance and 
of such easy access would certainly break up his expedition, since 
every man would desert to hunt for gold. I very reluctantly complied 
with the officer's request. Since my first discovery of gold, I have 
found the same metal in that country while trading with the Indians, 
though not in such abundance as the first." 

Before California was known as a mining country, an old free 
trapper named LaPondre, who always hunted and trapped alone, 
making long journeys into the Big Horn mountains, had in his pos- 
session several large nuggets sufficient to fill his bullet pouch. But 
in those days the value of gold in its crude state was not known 
amongst the trappers, they having come into this country young 
boys. Old man LaPondre stayed around Fort Pierre and exhibited 
his nuggets freely to his friends. He told them he was going to St. 
Louis, and if what he had in his hand was what he expected it was, 
he was done with trapping for furs, as he could find enough of the 
stuff to buy up the American Fur company whenever he liked. He 
left St. Pierre to go to St. Louis, telling the men to be on hand and 
stay 'round, as he was coming back in the spring, and would take 
them with him to the place where the gold was. He said it was lying 
free in the bed of a creek, on bed rock where there was any amount 
of it. When old man LaPondre arrived at St. Louis he showed what 
he called his yellow bullets, and found they were gold nuggets of great 
value. The American Fur company at once offered him great in- 
ducements to show them where he had found them and wanted to 
buy him out, but he refused to tell them or sell at any price, as he 
said the company did not always act on the square with the people 
in their employ, and he was going to have the first show for himself 
and his friends. LaPondre, after finding that he had made a wonder- 
ful discovery of gold, feeling rich on the strength of it, and knowing 
where he could make a good haul in the Big Horn if he got broke in 
St. Louis, took in too much bad whiskey, forced on him by some of 
the fur company's men, who wanted to get hold of his secret, and he 
died without disclosing anything about the place where the gold was 
to be found in the Big Horns. 

It is true that many discoveries of intense historical interest are 
found in the Big Horn mountains, especially since the advent of the 
automobile tourists into that section. Unmistakable evidence of old 
battle grounds, where contending tribes fought for supremacy in the 
early days, are not uncommon; on these grounds are yet to be found 
many pieces of flint arrow and lance heads; port holes have been cut 



g6 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

through sandstones which were erected in piles and rows ; trenches were 
dug where the warriors were protected from the flying shafts of their 
enemies and the partly decayed and weather-worn bones of many 
horses and buffalo are found scattered about the field. Then there 
are numerous tepee rings, where the Indian feast grounds were lo- 
cated and the peace conferences were held. A "medicine wheel," 250 
feet in diameter, laid out in a great circle of stones in the shape of a 
wagon wheel, is one of the mysterious finds on these mountains. 
Tribal lore records that this "medicine wheel" was there hundreds of 
years ago, long before the white men first came into this part of the 
country, and the Crow Indians, who claimed this land for many years, 
say that they do not know what people built this great stone circle, 
nor can they explain the significance of it. With these discoveries 
being made, it is contended by some that it is not unlikely that the 
Lost Cabin mine will also be found, probably by some one who least 
expects to find it. Many old prospectors haunt these mountains 
from early spring until late in the fall, when they are driven out by the 
heavy snows, and there is not one of these old fellows but believes 
that this mine of untold wealth will some day be found. In the summer 
of 1922 the discovery was made of an aged, weather-beaten Mexican 
saddle in the mam gorge of Big Canyon creek, on the eastern slope 
of the mountains, together with every evidence of ancient mine 
drifts, and this latest is the foundation for their encouragement and 
strength of belief that the mine was a reality and that it will some 
day be found. The remains of this old saddle were found cached in a 
group of cottonwoods alongside the stream, and although many of 
the old-time range men have examined the remains of this old saddle 
they all unite in saying that it had been made many, many years ago, 
and they had never before seen a saddle of the same make. It was 
cracked and withered, but the shelter afforded by the underbrush 
had preserved it in fairly good shape. The mine drifts extended along 
the bank of the stream; a deep fissure was found alongside this 
stream from which some loose gravel and rock was taken, and a 
sample of this debris assayed more than four thousand dollars gold 
to the ton. Then a thorough search was made to find where the 
gravel and rock came from, but like the Lost Cabin mine, its location 
is a deep, dark, perplexing mystery. 

Mining on Casper Mountain 

For a number of years dazzling fortunes seemed to smile on the 
prospectors who staked out mining claims on Casper mountain in 
1888-9. All were wrapped in visions of clustering millions. The lust 



MINING ON CASPER MOUNTAIN 97 

for gold permeated the land, and men left their stores and shops and 
offices and gave up their vocations to become miners and millionaires. 
Camps were established from the east to the west end and the north 
to the south side of the mountain. The sound of the pick and the 
drill and the blast of powder could be heard in all directions from 
early dawn until dusk. Everything was lively and everything was 
humming on the mountain in those days. 

Reports were brought down from the hills each day by miners 
and related to the unfortunate business man who could not close up 
his doors and hie himself to the El Dorado. Excitement was rampant 
over the finds of silver and gold, copper and galena, and asbestos that 
were made by the fortunate men. The newspapers of Casper her- 
alded the good news to the outside world with each issue. Some of 
these reports are herewith reproduced. After reading them, he indeed 
must be a pessimist who doubted the riches hidden away in the bowels 
of the mountain. In the summer of 1890, it was announced that 
"J. B. Smith and J. Allen struck a lead of ore on Casper mountain 
that was pronounced by one of the leading mining experts of England 
to be unusually rich in silver. The expert did not make an assay of 
it, but was of the opinion that it would be away up, and told the boys 
they had an immense thing if the lead was sufficiently large. They 
are at present engaged in opening the lead, which is a three and one- 
half foot ledge, dipping tolerably steep and gradually increasing in 
size." 

On August 21 of the same year, it was proclaimed that "Interest 
in the Casper mountain mineral deposits is intensifying. Several 
families are residing on the mountain now, some in tents and others 
in cabins, and numerous parties have located claims there. An assay 
of the Smith and Allen ore was made and it showed that it carried 
$666 in silver to the ton, and when the news reached here there was 
a great rush to the mountain to locate new claims." 

The first mention of the finding of asbestos on Casper mountain 
was in September, 1890, when J. C. Hogadone brought samples to 
town and it was then said that "Asbestos will become an important 
factor in Wyoming's mining wealth, and it is but one of Casper's 
diversified interests." In the spring of 1 891 , we were told that " pros- 
pectors have met with highly satisfactory results in searching for 
asbestos on Casper mountain. Indeed, every stroke of the pick seems 
to have been prolific of excellent results, and deposits of asbestos have 
been exposed over a considerable area. The fiber ranges from two to 
nine and one-half inches in length, and the quality has been proven, 
by comparison, equal to the best product of other states and coun- 
tries. Indeed, there is no longer any question about the quality. 



98 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

The only thing now to be taken into consideration is the quantity, 
and as it is found extending over such a large tract of country, the 
quantity is probably sufficient. The prospects are so flattering that 
a number of our prominent business men have interested themselves 
in various claims this spring and will assist in the work of develop- 
ment. A dozen or more claims have been located thus far, comprising 
about three hundred acres, and good asbestos croppings have been 
exposed on every claim, though none of them have been penetrated 
more than six or eight feet. However, many of the claims are now 
being worked and are showing better every day. Several parties have 
refused good offers for their claims, all being desirous of developing 
and determining the value thereof, before selling." 

About the middle of July, 1891, more than 100 asbestos claims 
had been taken up. During this time no actual money had changed 
hands, but transfers of mines were made and the boom continued 
without interruption. On August 6, 1891, it was said that the "re- 
ports from the mountain mining district are most flattering. A great 
amount of work is being done and surprising results are looked for 
this fall. Jack Currier has a force of men at work on his galena 
claims, while Messrs. Eads, Hogadone, Montgomery and others are 
working and have men at work developing their asbestos. A big 
boom is just about to open in this camp." 

Professor Henry Zahn, a mineralogist from Chicago, arrived in 
Casper in August, 1891, and spent several days on the mountain. 
When he came down, he made the announcement that, "You have 
the perfect formation for asbestos, and the quality is as good as that 
of the Canadian mines." He spent the greater part of a day making 
examinations of specimens of ore he had brought down and he pro- 
nounced many of them free gold-bearing rock. He also said we had 
the greatest natural fuel on earth at our very door, that the coal in 
this vicinity was of the best, some of it being fine blacksmith coal, 
while one of the specimens would make good coke, and all of it would 
be good for the manufacture of bricklets, which are composed of 
coal and crude petroleum, the process being patented, and he was 
the owner of the patent. 

On September 8, 1891, Professor Zahn took a thirty-day option 
on thirty-two asbestos claims on Casper mountain, the agreement 
being that each owner should have forty-nine per cent of the amount 
of stock issued on his claim. It was figured out that each claim would 
bring its owner $3,300 spot cash, in addition to the forty-nine per cent 
of the non-assessable stock. 

It is evident, however, that Professor Zahn gave up the asbestos 
claims and thought better of the copper prospects, for on October i, 



MINING ON CASPER MOUNTAIN 99 

1891, he took an option on three of the most promising copper claims 
on the mountain, one from Chris Baysel, one from Charley Jones, and 
one from Abe Nelson. From this date until the summer of 1892, items 
of encouragement appeared in the local newspapers something like 
the following: 

"The Zahn buildings are about completed and all arrangements 
for the comfort and convenience of the miners are being put in. Pro- 
fessor Zahn feels very confident that he will strike a big lead of copper, 
and says there is unlimited capital back of him to open up the mines, 
put in a smelter, and build a railroad from Casper to the top of the 
mountain if necessary. The ore is there, it is good, there is plenty 
of it, and the future of the camp is assured. Professor Zahn is much 
worked up over the finds that are being made and is anxious to get 
shafts down on the claims on which he has options. He has made 
cash oflFers for several properties, but the owners refused to consider 
them. The Zahn Syndicate is not idle. About two thousand pounds 
of freight, consisting of tools, powder, drills, and a complete black- 
smith outfit, has been sent to the claims on the mountain along with 
extra men to work on the claims, there being day and night shifts 
working at two different points for this syndicate." 

Early in March, 1892, a report was brought in from the Zahn 
Syndicate to the effect that a depth of twenty-eight feet had been 
reached and a soft lime formation that looked as though it had slaked 
and melted had been encountered. All through this formation lay 
traces of copper and copper stains and that the "lead" was within 
"smelling distance." The two claims being worked by this syndicate 
were known as the "Cross Fox" and the "Blue Cap." 

Six of the claims upon which the syndicate had taken an option 
were released to the owners, Charley Jones, Matt Montgomery, 
Charles Hogadone, Chris Baysel, William Walls, and Charles 
Dasch. Nature's latch string on these claims was not hanging out 
as it was on the other claims and the six miners were somewhat dis- 
appointed, but not discouraged when their options were released. 

"Important discoveries were again made by the Zahn Syndicate 
the latter part of March on its 'Cross Fox' claim. Just as soon as the 
discovery was made the shaft was locked, work was suspended, and 
no information would be given out as to what had been found. The 
syndicate had an option on this claim from John Johnson for $10,000, 
but the money was not yet paid over. After work had been suspended 
on the 'Cross Fox,' the miners commenced to sink the shaft deeper on 
the Abe Nelson 'Blue Cap' lease, but the work was carried on so 
mysteriously on this claim that no one could ascertain the nature of 
the ore, none of which was brought to the surface, but was stored 



lOO HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

away in a room which had been made in the side of the shaft. No 
one was allowed to enter the shaft except the employees." 

About this time the professor left for Chicago where he remained 
two weeks, and when he returned the indications were that the bot- 
tom had dropped out of his "Cross Fox" and "Blue Cap" claims, for 
he made the statement that he would settle up all debts against the 
syndicate, but he would not say whether he would go on with the 
work. The sun did not shine as brightly on Casper mountain then 
as it had the year previous. The whole place looked desolate. The 
sound of. the pick and drill and the blast of powder was not as pro- 
nounced and as frequent and the glittering reports were not brought 
down to the Casper business men as they had been. Instead of glee 
there was gloom for several years. 

But in 1895 and 1896 life was infused into the almost deserted 
mining camp and the Casper Mountain Copper Mining company was 
incorporated, with J. L. Garner, president; John D. Allen, vice- 
president; F. H. Barrow, secretary, with a capital stock of $10,000. 
The shares were to be sold at a dollar each and there were takers for 
the entire issue. 

A local newspaper said: "This company has been operating on 
the mountain this winter, and has taken out some very fine ore. The 
lead has been tapped in several places, and the extent of the ore is 
inexhaustible. As soon as the snow leaves the roads passable, ship- 
ments to the Deadwood smelter will be commenced. This smelter 
will use twenty cars of our ore a day, and arrangements are being 
made to take the ore out in large quantities. This mine, when the 
work is fairly started, will prove a big thing for our city, and our 
citizens are looking forward to a prosperous mining year." 

If twenty carloads of ore a day were ever shipped to Deadwood, 
or anywhere else, from Casper mountain, no mention of it was ever 
made in the local newspapers and it must be presumed that the 
Casper Mountain Copper Mining company discovered to its sorrow, 
like all the rest of the companies, that while there is an abundance of 
ore on this mountain, it does not carry enough copper, silver, or gold 
to pay for the mining of it. 

But with all the discouragements and failures to find ore in this 
mountain rich enough to pay for mining it, we find that in October, 
1897, A. E. Minium "made one of the greatest discoveries of gold- 
bearing rock yet discovered in Central Wyoming, or perhaps in the 
state, on the northeast slope of Casper mountain, about thirteen 
miles from Casper. Having brought samples of the quartz in, it was 
found to be free milling and a pan test showed that it run between 
$3 and $4. The vein which is a true fissure, has a width of sixty feet, 



MINING ON CASPER MOUNTAIN Id 

and a depth exposed of 120 feet. It has been traced over 5,000 feet 
long, and Mr. Minium staked off two claims 600x1,500 which 
he named 'Tillie Miller,' and 'Klondyke,' respectively. Robert 
Ottershagen, of South Dakota, accompanied Mr. Minium to the scene 
of his new discovery with a view of examining and passing judgment 
on the value of the property. He was so well satisfied with the ore 
that he traced it out and staked off a claim for himself the same size 
as Mr. Minium's, which he named 'Yukon.' When asked regarding 
the vein and kind and quality of the ore Mr. Ottershagen said the 
ore is a well defined fissure vein of white and blue gold bearing, or, at 
places, an iron stain auriferous quartz, on the north slope of Casper 
mountain between the heads of Hat Six and Goose creeks, and a 
million tons of the ore are actually in sight. No assays are received as 
yet, but it is believed the quartz is much richer than the surface pan 
tests. Mr. Minium will begin work at once, as will also Mr. Otter- 
shagen and developments will be pushed as fast as work and weather 
will permit. The vein has granite walls." 

Just about a month after this great discovery, it is recorded that 
"A. E. Minium sold to Theodore Becker and Tony Walters a one- 
third interest in the 'Tillie Miller' gold claim and the work of building 
a shanty is now in progress, after which the gentlemen propose to run 
a 150-foot tunnel, commencing at the base of the exposed lead, nearly 
500 feet from the top of the lead, in Goose creek canyon. At an 
entrance of 150 feet, the gentlemen will be in nearly 200 feet perpen- 
dicular. Minium is not an experienced miner, and has associated 
Messrs. Becker and Walters with him and proposes to forge forward 
and learn the value of the ore. No doubt has been expressed as to the 
ore paying at the end of the 150-foot tunnel. Tools for driving the 
tunnel have been ordered and are expected to arive at any time. The 
work of sinking a shaft on the Billy Mosteller claim, adjoining the 
'Klondyke' claim, on the same lead, will be begun this winter, that 
is, it will be started and the work carried on next spring. F. W. Okie 
is connected with the Mosteller enterprise. Robert Ottershagen 
has an open cut made and it will be continued as a cross cut, until 
he will sink a shaft on his 'Yukon,' adjoining the 'Tillie Miller' 
on the east. The above is the work proposed on the recent gold 
leads, though without preparations they may do but little this 
year." 

But, alas! "Tillie Miller," "Klondyke," and "Yukon" soon 
joined "Cross Fox," "Blue Cap," "Galena Queen," and the many 
others that had gone before and again the sound of the pick and the 
drill and blast of powder failed to disturb the quietude of the 
mountain. 



I02 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

In December, 1897, the greatest excitement prevailed in Casper 
over a strike that was made by Dr. J. F. Leeper, on the head of 
Elkhorn creek, and men on horseback and in buckboards flocked to 
the mountain in great numbers. Ore had been taken out of the old 
"Galena Queen" shaft at a depth of eighty-five feet and sent to 
Denver for an assay. The assayer's certificate showed that the ore 
indicated a run of ^1,012.83 to the ton. Within an hour after the 
report was received, every available means of transportation in town 
was procured and men were rushing to the mountain to stake out 
claims. Some of the men stayed on the mountain all night locating 
claims for themselves, as well as for their relatives and their friends. 
A few days after this report had been received and after the many 
claims had been properly staked and legally recorded, the mails 
brought a statement that a mistake had been made — that the assay 
should have been ^3.10, and once more all was gloom. Dr. Leeper 
said he was perfectly satisfied for he had known for at least twenty- 
four hours how it felt to be a millionaire. 

In 1905, the "Blue Cap" was being worked again and it was 
reported that a " carload of copper ore would be shipped to the smelter 
at Denver, which, after paying all expenses, would net the company 
from $700 to $1,000. In about thirty days thereafter the company 
expected to ship a carload of copper concentrates which would net 
between $3,000 and $4,000." This beautiful dream also turned out 
to be a nightmare and it was not long until the "Blue Cap" was as 
innocuous as the other "great strikes." 

Asbestos then again came into the limelight, with A. E. Minium 
as the chief promoter. Companies were organized and stocks were 
sold which netted the promoter many thousands of dollars. If the 
money had been expended for machinery and the improvement of 
the mines as it should have been, there is no doubt Casper would 
today have the largest asbestos plants in the world. Minium, on 
account of his fraudulent methods, narrowly escaped being sent to 
the penitentiary and at the same time gave the asbestos properties 
on Casper mountain a black eye. Ore is being taken out, however, 
and asbestos shingles, chimney blocks and tiling are manufactured. 

A scenic road is cut through the mountainside to these mines 
and during the summer a great many automobile parties go to the 
mountain top on picnic and pleasure trips. Many homesteads have 
been taken up on the mountain and there are numerous comfortable 
cabins there where people spend the summer months. But even 
now, with all the past failures, every year new mines are located, 
new companies are organized, and new hopes are entertained of 
striking a "lead" that will produce millions. 



THE SODA LAKES IO3 

The Soda Lakes 

Soda deposits in Central Wyoming attracted wide interest 
among scientific men and capitalists of the eastern states as early as 
1880. A few years afterwards men of money came from Europe to 
make an investigation of the wonderful deposits in the Sweetwater 
country, where there are half a dozen large soda lakes, covering a 
vast acreage. Concerning the deposits the United States Geological 
Survey report of 1886 says: "There are four claims under United 
States patents in the name of L. Du Pont by five eastern companies. 
The first claim covers 20,000 acres, of which five acres contain car- 
bonate and sulphate of soda, averaging six feet deep. The second 
claim is about one mile west of the first; the soda is in solution. The 
third claim is one-fourth mile farther west and includes sixteen acres 
of soda solution, the depth of which has not been reached. It has been 
sounded forty feet without touching bottom. The solution contains 
2,343 grains per gallon. The fourth and fifth claims are four miles 
west and are on the same lake of solid soda. The depth fifty feet from 
shore is four feet of solid soda. Two hundred and fifty feet from shore 
showed fourteen feet of solid soda without touching bottom." 

Tom Sun, Boney Earnest and Frank Harrington were the first 
to make a filing on the land containing these soda deposits. These 
men built cabins in the vicinity of the lakes in the early '70's? but the 
Indians burned the cabins after they had stood for several years. 
Very little development work was done on the deposits and after the 
cabins had been burned by the Indians but little attention was paid 
to the claims by the owners. Some eastern men who passed through 
the country on a hunting trip told of the lakes when they returned 
home and in a short time L. Du Pont of Pennsylvania came to make 
an investigation for his associate capitalists. He first came to Raw- 
lins and made the trip to the Sweetwater country with the intention 
of filing on the land, but when he arrived he found Tom Sun holding 
down the land and ready to back up his claim with a Winchester 
rifle. It did not take Du Pont and Tom long to reach an agreement 
and when Du Pont returned home he was in possession of the land, 
having purchased a relinquishment from the three men above men- 
tioned and in due time he was given a patent by the government, 
which was the first patent given to soda land in Wyoming. Develop- 
ment work was at once commenced and continued on the deposits 
year after year by E. C. Merrill, who was field manager for the Du 
Pont companies. 

D. Harvey Attfield of Walford, England, made a special trip to 
the United States with a view of purchasing these soda lakes. He 



I04 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

arrived in Rawlins in February, 1891, and after traveling from Raw- 
lins to the lakes in a buckboard, a distance of sixty miles or more, 
over rough roads and through the severe cold weather, he became dis- 
gusted and would not consider the purchase of the land. He said he 
would rather make the trip from Liverpool to Rawlins than from 
Rawlins to the Sweetwater soda lakes, and he returned home fully 
convinced that the country was too rough and the weather too severe 
to spend any of his time or money here. 

On January 14, 1892, there were filed in the office of the secre- 
tary of state at Cheyenne articles of incorporation for the Syndicate 
Improvement company, composed principally of Chicago capitalists. 
The object of the syndicate as stated in its articles of incorporation, 
was to buy and sell lands, build smelters, develop mines and oil prop- 
erty and build pipe lines in Natrona county, with offices at Chicago 
and Casper. The capital stock was placed at ^3,000,000, divided 
into 30,000 shares of $100 each. The incorporators were John Weir, 
Arthur Townsend and James D. Negus. Negus was the man who con- 
ceived and carried through the survey of the Pacific Short Line rail- 
road and built the road from Sioux City, Iowa, to O'Neill, Nebraska. 
This syndicate had purchased an interest in the land from the Du 
Pont company and it was announced that they would build a railroad 
from Casper to the soda lakes. The people of Casper and those living 
along the proposed new railroad were highly elated over the encour- 
aging prospects for a bright and prosperous future. During the first 
part of February, the syndicate received in Casper a carload of 
freight, consisting of tools, implements and supplies of every kind, 
including six large tents, 18x30 feet, which were to be used for storage 
rooms and cooking and sleeping apartments for the force of men 
employed at the lakes putting up vats. It was announced that the 
company intended starting a new town at the lakes and would run a 
regular train of freight wagons between the new town and Casper, 
hauling soda for shipment to Chicago. Two more carloads of machin- 
ery arrived on February 24 and was immediately taken to the syndi- 
cate's properties. 

J. D. Negus, head of the syndicate, arrived from Chicago on the 
first of March, 1892, and he said that the syndicate had more than 
one hundred thousand pounds of machinery which would be sent to 
the lakes at once. He said the plant that was being erected at the 
lakes was an experimental one and if it proved a success, a business 
of great magnitude would be started at Independence Rock. 

On March 9, 1892, John Weir, C. B. Waite, and W. Trainer, of 
New York, Chester B. Bradley of Chicago, and Charles H. Kelsey of 
Denver arrived in Casper and the next day started for the soda lakes 



TOM WAGNER S FAKE MINE IO5 

to confer with Negus, who was on the grounds with a crew of 
workmen putting the machinery in place for the soda works. Ches- 
ter B. Bradley was attorney for the syndicate and located in Casper 
permanently. The other gentlemen were stockholders in the syn- 
dicate. 

The work of installing the machinery continued during the 
summer. A great many people were employed at the works, a post 
office was established, and the town of Johnstown was born to "cast 
its sweetness on the desert air." A number of houses were built there 
and Johnstown had hopes and prospects of becoming one of the lead- 
ing centers of Central Wyoming. Shafts were sunk and timbered and 
tons upon tons of soda were taken out. Strings of freight teams were 
on the road hauling out supplies and bringing in the soda for ship- 
ment, but in time the railroads raised the freight rate on the product, 
and this, together with the mining and hauling of it to Casper by 
freight teams, put the cost up to more than the market price for it. 
Work was soon suspended and the property abandoned. 

On April 20, 1894, after the syndicate had practically abandoned 
its works at Johnstown, a correspondent from Independence Rock 
said, "Johnstown has lost nearly all its inhabitants, there being 
only two families there now, and they are thinking of going away 
soon." At the term of the district court held in Casper in May, 1895, 
Chester B. Bradley secured a judgment against the Syndicate 
Improvement company for ^3,741.54 and costs, amounting in all to 
$4,125.29, and the property of the company was sold under attach- 
ment for the amount. This ended the operations of the company and 
at the same time took Johnstown off the map and put her in the same 
class with Bothwell, Bessemer, and Eadsville. 

There are three small soda lakes several miles north from Casper 
covering about forty acres, which are owned by John D. McGill. Mr. 
McGill has owned this property since 1895 and has built a refinery 
nearby and the product is being disposed of as rapidly as it can be 
refined. It is hauled to Casper by truck and shipped to market from 
here by railroad. On account of the fact that the entire output always 
finds a ready market and that the property is not for sale the enter- 
prise receives but little attention from the public. 

Tom Wagner's Fake Mine 

Central Wyoming's greatest mining swindle was perpetrated by 
Tom Wagner in 1897 and 1898. There have been many disappoint- 
ments in mines in the state and much time and money have been lost 
in various enterprises, but, in nearly all cases those concerned were 



I06 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

acting in good faith. Wagner's promotion was a premeditated and 
absolutely dishonest proposition. 

Wagner was a cowpuncher who had ridden the range around the 
Point of Rocks and the Pedro mountains in 1885. He left the country 
but returned in June, 1897, and, after being up in the Point of Rocks 
neighborhood a few months, came down with a wagonload of ore 
which he hauled to Deadwood. The ore showed a run of $1,000.50 
net, and there was a gold rush precipitated immediately. Some ex- 
perienced miners returned to the Point of Rocks with Wagner and 
forty-three claims w^ere staked off for Wagner, and he sold claims to 
others for $50 or $100, which sums he said were to be used to pay for 
the assessment work. Wagner bought the Indian Grove ranch, and 
stocked it with horses and cattle and he and his miners lived there 
during their operations. He did not pay for the ranch or the stock, 
however. 

The Wyoming Derrick of January 13, 1898, said that "after his 
first forty-three claims were legally staked and the discovery and 
assessment work all done in compliance with the laws, he (Wagner) 
came to Casper after three four-horse-team loads of mining tools and 
camp supplies and provisions. This was six or seven w^eeks ago, and 
Mr. Wagner freely told of his w^onderfully rich strike. A week or so 
previous to that time Professor A. W. S. Rothermel, of New York 
City and the Black Hills, who is associated with the F. E. & M. V. 
Railway company, and other mining experts, visited the Indian Grove 
ranch, and carried back with them some of the quartz broken from 
the ledge, which has caused a manifest interest in the Pedro gold 
discovery, upon the part of those high in financial and mining circles 
of surrounding and eastern and southern states. 

"Since the first of December a number of old-time and exper- 
ienced miners, friends, and acquaintances of Mr. Wagner, have come 
from the Black Hills, gone to Pedro mountains, and become infatuated 
with the gold-bearing rock, while capitalist friends of Mr. Wagner in 
Deadwood, Montana, Texas, Kansas City, Omaha, Chicago, and 
Pennsylvania have urged upon him their claims to invest unlimited 
money in developing the property, and erecting stamp mills and 
smelters. 

"The entire discovery is in Carbon county, about three miles 
south of the Natrona county line, across the south and middle fork of 
Canyon creek. The principal lead is on an average of sixteen feet 
wide, and the quartz is said by the miners working it, to be a fac- 
simile of the Cripple creek quartz. It is a refractory ore, yet it con- 
tains carbonates, some of which were scraped from the ore dump at the 
Mena mine and the dirt containing the carbonates assayed $117.50." 



TOM WAGNER S FAKE MINE IO7 

Every time Wagner came to Casper, he was surrounded by ex- 
cited citizens who were anxious to know the latest developments. 
Wagner, in a friendly, artless manner would tell of the latest wonders 
unearthed in his "El Dorado." Claims were staked ofF by some 
Casper men, who made many trips over the long, rough road back 
and forth from the place where their millions were lying waiting to be 
blasted from the rock. 

Tom Wagner's mines were not his only assets. His qualities were 
thus disclosed by the Wyoviing Derrick: "One of the commendable 
traits of Mr. Wagner is shown in his staking off three claims of 
placer ground in one branch of Canyon creek for some orphan chil- 
dren in a distant state. It has been more than twenty years since he 
left home, and at that time he was asked by his mother to promise 
her that he would never drink intoxicating liquors. He granted the 
request and made a further voluntary promise that he would not 
return home till he had acquired a fortune. Both pledges he has kept, 
never touching liquor to his lips, or returning to his parental home 
which he longs to visit and will visit within a few months now." 

The bubble grew and grew and plans were made for stage 
coaches, post office and mail service, smelters, beautiful homes, and 
all the comforts to be secured by great wealth. In February, F. K. 
Guston of Chicago, L. W. Cummings of Fort Worth, and L. S. 
Sanderson, a mining man from Denver, went out to the "mines," 
and describing what they found, the Razvlins Republican of February 
17 said: "All the parties returned at noon Tuesday completely dis- 
gusted and highly indignant at the deception that had been prac- 
ticed upon them. They said that about two years ago Thomas Wagner 
was serving a term in the Montana penitentiary for some offense, 
understood to be cattle rustling. Previous to his advent into Montana, 
Wagner was a cowpuncher in Texas and enjoyed the acquaintance of 
Captain W. H. Kingsbury of San Antonio, Texas, a prominent cattle- 
man of that section. It was stated that it was through Captain 
Kingsbury's influence that Wagner secured a pardon. A few months 
ago Captain Kingsbury received a letter from Wagner giving a glowing 
account of the alleged rich discoveries of gold and copper in the 
Ferris mountains and stating that out of consideration for Mr. Kings- 
bury's kindness to him, the latter had located one claim in his name. 
Wagner continued to write of the exceedingly bright outlook for the 
camp until Kingsbury was fully convinced that a great bonanza had 
been discovered. Messrs. Evans and Guston, auditor and treasurer, 
respectively, of the Seattle and Yukon Steamship company, operat- 
ing extensively in Alaska and Mexico, are friends of Kingsbury. As 
they were going through to Seattle, he advised them to stop off here 



I08 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

and visit the new 'El Dorado,' which out of consideration for the old 
gentleman, who is now in feeble health, they promised to do. Mr. 
Sanderson is a son-in-law of Captain Kingsbury and he intended to 
accompany Messrs. Guston and Evans from Denver, but missed the 
train and was compelled to follow the next day. Mr. Guston said that 
upon their arrival at the Indian Grove ranch, which Wagner claims 
to have bought from S. B. Parkins some time ago, they discovered 
that the alleged rich mines are a myth. No assessment had ever been 
attempted upon any of the forty-three claims located, except the one 
called the Mena, and that has a hole lo or 12 feet deep, and it is al- 
leged that the rock taken from this so-called shaft does not contain 
a bit more mineral than the surrounding country rock." 

When the party arrived, Wagner was not at home. He had been 
accused of dishonesty the day before by Dr. Pringle, whom he had 
tricked along with the rest, and he had also heard that a mining 
expert was on his way from Deadwood to investigate the mines. The 
man who had loaned him some of the money he had been using in his 
scheme was sending the expert before advancing any more. In the 
face of the imminent exposure, Wagner took his best horse, his rifle, 
and all the cash he had and departed. He had not paid his miners a 
cent of wages and they were stranded in Casper until advanced 
money to proceed to Deadwood. 

The ore that had been taken to Deadw^ood for an assay was gen- 
uine rich ore and the assay was honest. It had not been mined from 
the Wagner claims, however, but had been brought over from the 
Ferris mines. The rich ore lying about the Mena mine was from the 
same place. Wagner had practiced the old "salting" trick, but he 
did not even take the trouble to do it carefully. The people were ripe 
and ready to be picked and he found the picking good. The ore 
inside the shaft was worthless, and did not show even a trace of gold. 

Wagner left with several thousand dollars, but he did not reap 
the enormous sums he hoped for. However, if he had not been inter- 
rupted for a few more months, he no doubt would have made a much 
richer haul. 

The Rainmaking Fake 

Mining fakes were not the only means of extracting the coin of 
the realm from the innocent and unsuspecting public thirty years 
ago any more than today, but there are now new modes of procedure. 
In those days, we had the rainmaker faker. 

On August 6, 1891, Frank Melbourn of Canton, Ohio, the world- 
renowned and original rainmaker, arrived in Casper under contract 
to produce numerous showers. He claimed to produce rain by means 



BRIDGES ACROSS THE PLATTE RIVER IO9 

of a mechanical device which he had invented and which the pubHc 
was not permitted to see. He set up his apparatus Saturday night and 
Sunday there was a rainfall of only a few minutes. The dust was not 
settled by the "downpour," but Melbourn and his friends were highly 
elated over his success. He announced that the following Sunday he 
would have it rain a-plenty, but again only a few drops fell. When 
asked the cause of the light rain, Melbourn said he did not desire to 
make it rain very hard as he wanted to see the base ball game, and 
a heavy rain would, of course, prevent the game. Melbourn was a 
great lover of all kinds of sports and said he did not want to interfere 
with them. He turned on the machine Friday evening and kept it 
running until early Saturday evening when, by the condition of the 
atmosphere, he saw that the operations had been successful and that 
rain was coming. He then turned off the machine and relied on the 
work already performed to bring the desired result. But the rain 
failed to come and Melbourn left town. 

From Casper he went to Cheyenne, where he set up his machine 
in a barn loft. Several days after the mysterious machine was in 
operation there was a light shower, which lasted about fifteen min- 
utes, but an hour later the heavens were suddenly overcast with 
clouds and the windows of heaven were opened and the waters of the 
flood were upon the earth and the fountains of the great deep came 
forth and the parched earth was soaked. Some people in Cheyenne 
were still skeptical and after a week's rest Melbourn again turned on 
his machine and again there was a heavy fall of moisture. 

The next summer was an unusually dry one in Wyoming and 
some of the people sent for Melbourn. He took his machine to the 
dome of the capitol building and two days after it had been put in 
operation there was a heavy rain on Horse creek, a light rain in 
Rawlins, and a fairly good downpour near Uva, but none in Cheyenne. 
Melbourn claimed the credit for the rain at these points, but the 
people refused to pay him for his efforts and he packed up his machine 
and went to Kansas where the people were in great distress on ac- 
count of the lack of moisture. Melbourn reaped a rich harvest there, 
but the farmers failed in their crops because of the failure of Mel- 
bourn's rainmaking machine to make good. 

After that, there was no profit in the rainmaking business and 
that was the last that was heard of it in Wyoming. 

Bridges Across the Platte River 

The first bridge built across the North Platte river in this part 
of the country was constructed in 1854 and '55, by John Reshaw, or 



no HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Richard, a French-Canadian. The structure was built of logs, and it 
was located about three miles east from where Casper now is situated, 
being a short distance east from the W. T. Evans ranch. Reshaw's 
little cabin, blacksmith shop and a few other buildings were located 
on the south side of the river and he did a thriving business in the 
spring and summer when the water in the river was high. For cross- 
ing the bridge he made his own price, which the emigrants were 
compelled to pay. He usually charged ^5.00 for a team and wagon 
to go over his bridge. If the water in the stream was so low that the 
emigrants would take a chance in swimming their animals across, 
Reshaw would reduce the price to $3.00 and sometimes he would 
charge only $2 . 00. From fifty cents to one dollar was charged for each 
person to go across, and for each animal that crossed over the bridge 
not included with the team hitched to the wagon, the same charge was 
made as for a person. Reshaw generally received gold as his toll. He 
had no difficulty in securing all the furniture and other household 
necessities he required from the emigrants, who generally overloaded 
their wagons when they started from the east, and if they had not dis- 
carded it along the trail before they reached the Reshaw bridge, they 
willingly gave him the luggage that was proving a burden and would 
necessarily have to be discarded before they crossed the mountains. 

Reshaw was married to a squaw, and five or six children were 
born, several of whom are yet living (1922). Mrs. Bateese Pourrier, 
whose home is at Manderson, S. D., is one of the daughters of the 
Reshaws, and she returned to Casper in 191 8, and in company with 
James H. Bury, made a visit to the spot where the bridge spanned 
the river, and pointed out to him where their little home, the black- 
smith shop and a number of other small buildings were located. Mrs. 
Pourrier was also familiar with the location of the buildings, the 
bridge, etc., located at Fort Caspar, having lived in this part of the 
country until 1867. 

The Reshaw bridge was burned by the Indians in 1867, and a 
short time after its destruction Reshaw and his family moved to 
what was then known as the Red Cloud agency on the White river, 
east from Fort Laramie. In 1875 Reshaw and Al Palladie were shot 
and killed at Running Water Crossing, which was between the Red 
Cloud Agency and Fort Laramie. Reshaw was supposed to have had 
a considerable amount of money with him. Suspicion pointed toward 
a man who was known by the name of "California Joe," as the mur- 
derer, and the Indians were not long in avenging the death of the 
two men by killing Joe. 

There is a legend in connection with the Reshaw bridge, or the 
Guinard bridge, the latter being commonly known as the Platte 



BRIDGES ACROSS THE PLATTE RIVER III 

bridge, to the effect that the owner, after having accumulated con- 
siderable wealth, became mentally unbalanced, and one moonlight 
night filled his pockets with gold dust, went out on the bridge and 
exclaimed: "You have given me all my wealth; I now give back to 
you a tithe!" And then he cast handfuls of gold into the water. 

Mrs. Pourrier says her father never did anything like that, there- 
fore it must have been Louis Guinard of the Platte bridge. The story 
has been often told, and it being too good to be declared a canard, and 
there being no one to deny that Guinard did it, the legend must stand, 
and Mr. Louis Guinard, who built the Platte bridge, directly north 
of Fort Caspar, shall have the credit for having thus disposed of 
a tenth of his wealth which he gained by overcharging the poor emi- 
grants for crossing his bridge, which, in this age, would be termed 
profiteering. Therefore it would seem that in those days human 
nature was just about the same as it is in this year of our Lord, one 
thousand nine hundred and twenty-three, in regard to charging ex- 
cessive prices. But, withal, it must be noted that there has been some 
change, for there is no record of the profiteers nowadays returning a 
tithe of their wealth from whence it came, or even casting bread 
upon the water, as they should have been taught to do. 

The Platte bridge, built by Louis Guinard during the fall and 
winter of 1858-9, which was located about one and one-half miles 
west from Casper, is said to have cost $60,000 in its building. Con- 
cerning this bridge and others in this part of the country we quote 
from Coutant's History of Wyoming: 

" Early in the fifties Louis Guinard built a toll bridge on the Sweetwater river, 
a short distance below Independence Rock, and during the seasons of high water he 
did a paying business. He had a sort of sliding scale of prices, intended to be adjusted 
to the flood in the river. If the stream was running very high he charged $10.00 for a 
wagon and its teams. If the water was lower the charge was $5.00, and he also had a 
$3.00 rate. Guinard was a French Canadian and had a squaw for a wife, with whom he 
lived until the time of his death. He had two nephews, half-breeds, who lived with 
him. As has been related, the Mormons, in 1847, established a ferry for their own con- 
venience on the North Platte, where Fort Caspar was afterwards built. This ferry was 
kept up for a number of years, but there was always difficulty in keeping track of the 
boat. Mormon emigrants were instructed before leaving the east to build a raft at 
this ferry in the event of their being unable to find the regular boat. About the time 
the bridge on the Sweetwater was built, John Reshaw, or Richard, bridged the North 
Platte at a point several miles below the Mormon ferry. He did a good business there, 
but was much annoyed because people refused to pay his prices and went up to the 
ferry and crossed somehow, either in a boat or on a raft. In those days the horses were 
driven across the ford, but the wagons were carried over on the improvised ferry boat, 
also the people and their eflPects. At last some one put in a good boat and stretched a 
rope across the stream, establishing a regular boat and ferry. This was too much for 
Reshaw. He stormed, roared, and finally gave the parties running the ferry $300 to 
stop business. He did not, however, purchase the ferry boat and rope, but he had 
secured the traffic for his bridge. W. H. Carmichael, who now resides at Wheatland, 
passed over the Overland trail in 1859, being one of the company going to California. 
The train was a large one, and when it reached Reshaw's bridge, the leader entered 



112 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

into negotiations with Reshaw for crossing. The price was fixed at $2.50 per wagon 
and the emigrants made up their minds they could do better by going to the ferry. 
Reshaw informed them that the ferry was a thing of the past and no longer existed, but 
the leader of the train did not choose to believe a statement that was made so clearly 
in the interest of the toll-bridge keeper, and consequently he proposed to go on up to 
the ferry. Reshaw then notified him that if he persisted in going on, he would be 
obliged to come back and cross the bridge at last, and if he did return, double 
price would be charged, that is, ^5.00 a wagon. On went the train toward the ferry, 
and on arriving there they found the rope down and the ferry boat moored on the 
opposite side. The water was high, but a man was placed on a horse and took a rope 
across. After considerable delay and no little hard work, the ferry was re-established 
and the families, teams and goods were rapidly transferred to the north bank of the 
river. All but four teams had been taken over when Reshaw, accompanied by three 
men, all heavily armed, put in an appearance, and seeing the situation, his indignation 
knew no bounds. He abused and threatened those on shore, remarking that he had 
influence with the Indians and would see to it that they followed the train and despoiled 
the emigrants of all they possessed. George Morris, one of the emigrants, refused to 
be bulldozed, and drawing a revolver, covered Reshaw with it and ordered him to get 
in the boat and accompany a load that was going across, informing him at the same 
time that he would stand no more of his abuse, but that he might make his complaint 
to the leader of the train, who was on the other side of the river. Reshaw went over, 
and when he reached the other side of the river he burst out anew and fairly astonished 
the people of the train with his violent language. It so happened that the parties to 
the dispute were standing near a wagon which was occupied by a sick man. Reshaw 
heard the click of the rifle as it was cocked, and looking around to see where it came 
from, discovered that the invalid had him covered with his rifle and seemed to be fully 
determined to hold his advantage. This brought an end to the scene and Reshaw and 
his armed ruffians started back down the river, but with a parting malediction on the 
heads of the emigrants, threatening them with 500 savages, who at his bidding would 
capture the train, scalp the people and run off their stock. He then left, amid the jeers 
of the party. As soon as he had departed, a subscription was taken up and $25.00 
raised and paid to the owner of the boat for its use. The train now proceeded on to the 
west. Reshaw's threat was not carried out, as no Indians followed or disturbed the 
emigrants. 

"The Platte bridge was the most notable structure of its kind in this part of the 
country in early times. It was finished, it was said, at a cost of $60,000. It was of 
cedar logs, built on cribs filled with stone and made to resist the current of the river and 
time. Martin Oliver of Casper, who, when he first came to the country, worked on the 
bridge, says that it was commonly reported that Guinard came from the Sweetwater 
with $30,000 in cash, and this sum he put in the new bridge before it was completed, 
and that he spent every year large sums in building new piers and structural work. 
This, then, is the $60,000 which the bridge is said to have cost." 

The Indians set fire to this bridge and it was entirely destroyed 
shortly after the fort was abandoned, in 1867. Evidence of this old 
bridge is yet very plain on either side of the river, where, on the south 
side, there are seventeen stone piers, which were used to fill the log 
cribs that were built to support the structure and resist the current 
of the river. On the north bank of the stream, about two hundred 
yards west from the town of Mills, there is one stone pier, or pile of 
rock, which is visible only when the water is low. 

A man named Guinard worked on a ranch in Bates Park during 
the summer of 191 1, and he said that Louis Guinard was his uncle. 
"My uncle and my father went out on the bridge one night to have a 
talk," he said, "and my uncle 'fell' over into the water and was 



BRIDGES ACROSS THE PLATTE RIVER II3 

drowned. My father then took charge of the store at the trading 
post nearby the fort, which was owned by uncle, and he also took all 
of his other property. My father was not married at that time, but a 
few years later he married a squaw, and a number of children were 
born." The man who told the story was one of the offspring of this 
marriage, and judging from the acts of lawlessness he committed, the 
disregard of the rights of others was handed down from sire to son, 
and the father was no doubt capable of causing his brother to "fall" 
over the bridge and drown in the river. The story of the "accident" 
which occurred on this bridge has been confirmed by men who were 
in this part of the country at the time, but as there were no courts of 
law here at the time, and as there was no way of proving that Louis 
Guinard did not fall off the bridge, nothing was ever done about the 
matter, except to make a search for the body, which was never found, 
but after several months one of the high-top leather boots he wore 
was found and part of the man's leg and foot were in it. These were 
given to his squaw wife who hung up the boot and its contents in one 
of the rooms of her cabin and for many months mourned over it in 
the regular Indian fashion. 

The fact that Guinard's squaw wife did not take possession of 
her husband's property after his death may seem strange, but in 
those days the squaw wife had very few rights and privileges even 
while her husband was living, and none at all after his death. 

During the winter of 1888-9 the Northwestern Railway company 
built a wagon bridge across the Platte river about a mile west from 
Casper, for the convenience of the stockmen and ranchmen in this 
part of the country who shipped their stock to market from this 
point. This bridge was built of piling and plank, and after it was 
completed was turned over to the county free of charge, with the 
provision that the county should keep it in repair. Every year a con- 
siderable amount of money was expended for repairs on this bridge, 
and in 1919 the necessity for a new bridge was realized, when on 
February 12 a count of the vehicles and horses was made that crossed 
the structure in eight hours and it was found that ninety-one auto 
trucks, seventy-five wagons, 230 head of horses and 121 passenger 
automobiles passed over. The new concrete bridge, immediately 
west from the old bridge built by the railroad company, was commenced 
in the fall of 1919 and was completed in August, 1920. The concrete 
bridge across Casper creek, only a short distance west from the river 
bridge, was built at the same time, the cost of the two bridges being 
^90,000, the expense being divided between Natrona county, the 
Wyoming State Highway association and the Midwest Refining 
company. The river bridge consists of ten forty-four foot spans and 



114 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

the Casper creek bridge has a 170-foot span. The old plank bridge 
built by the railway company was torn down during the winter of 
1921. 

During the summer of 1922 a plan was devised by the Casper 
Chamber of Commerce whereby the new bridge should be lighted 
during the night time, by eleven pedestal or standard lamps on each 
side of the bridge, the current for which is furnished by the Standard 
Oil company and the civic organizations of Casper. Each furnished 
one standard with a name plate on each pedestal. The organizations 
which furnished the pedestals are the Natrona County Pioneer 
association, St. Mark's Episcopal guild, Casper Lodge No. 15, A. F. 
& A. M., Casper Volunteer Fire department. City of Casper, Natrona 
County Woolgrowers' association, Casper Civic club, I. O. O. F. 
lodge, Spanish War Veterans, Chamber of Commerce, Redmen 
lodge. Knights of Columbus, Boy Scouts, American Legion, Elks' 
lodge. Rotary club, Daughters of American Revolution, Kiwanis 
club. Lions club, Casper Women's club, Order of Eastern Star, and 
the Business and Professional Women's Club of Casper. 

The Bessemer bridge across the Platte river was built in 1889 
by the Wyoming Improvement company. The bridge across the 
river at Alcova was built in 1894, and the government bridge across 
the Platte was built in 1905 when the Pathfinder dam was being 
built. Several bridges have been built across the Sweetwater, one in 
1894 by C. R. Countryman and the latest one being built immediately 
west from Independence Rock in 1920. The Chicago & Northwestern 
Railway company and the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railway 
company each have bridges across the river at Casper, and the 
Midwest Refining company and the Standard Oil company have 
bridged the river a number of places immediately west from Casper, 
until now bridges across the river are not given a thought, but in the 
early days, even since Natrona county was organized, the river 
bridges at Alcova, Bessemer and Casper were considered of vast and 
vital importance. 



Casper Village, Town and City 

THE first buildings to be erected in Casper were put up during 
the month of June, 1888. They were located on a strip of 
ground about three-fourths of a mile east from where the 
Natrona county court house now stands, the exact locality being be- 
tween First and A streets, and between McKinley and Jefferson. 
There were not more than a dozen business buildings on this spot, half 
of which were facing south and the other half looking to the north. 

The main street, running east and west, was less than 500 feet in 
length. This was the business section of the town, the residence por- 
tion being composed of a few tents that were put up in the immediate 
rear of the business houses. All these buildings were but temporary 
structures, being erected in which to transact business only until the 
permanent site for the town could be surveyed and platted by the 
Pioneer Townsite company, this company being virtually the land 
department of the Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley Railway 
company. 

The material used in the construction of most of the buildings 
was rough boards, hauled down from the saw mill, which was located 
on Casper mountain, the roofs of the buildings were corrugated iron 
and the flooring of most of them was just plain gumbo with the sage- 
brush and cactus cleared oflF. There were a few who carried on their 
business in tents. Although the population of the village was less 
than one hundred, it contained several general merchandise stores, a 
drug store, hotels, restaurants, and saloons. The old-time residents 
refer to this as "tent town," or "old town." 

Cowboys and Indians were Casper's most numerous and fre- 
quent visitors in those days. When the cowboys came in there was 
always a lively time. They spent their money freely at the stores and 
over the bar, and when their systems became sufficiently saturated 
with "forty-rod" whiskey, they were allowed to whoop and yell, howl 
and fight and shoot, and no one would say them nay. They came to 
town to have a time; they paid for it, and everybody felt they were 
entitled to all the pleasure they could get out of it. Two or three days 
was about as long as any of the cowboys remained in town, for at the 
end of that time their money was gone and they were probably in 
debt; they had been sufficiently entertained, and their physical 
condition craved the open range and pure, fresh air. 



Il6 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Among the people who were in business in the "old town" and 
who are yet residents of the city of Casper are P. C. Nicolaysen and 
A. J. Cunningham. Mrs. E. C. Jameson, who is living on her ranch 
in the Ervay country, was also one of the first settlers in the old town. 
Many of the cowboys who were in this part of the country at that 
time have since become residents of the town. 

The first railway train arrived in Casper on June 15, 1888, and 
this event was the occasion for a celebration by the residents and 
visitors long to be remembered and never to be regretted. The present 
town site had not yet been surveyed when the railroad was built in, 
and it was in the late fall of 1888 before any of the lots were sold, and 
none of the business houses were moved from the "old town" to their 
permanent location until about the middle of November of that year. 
The land department of the Fremont, Elkhorn, and Missouri Valley 
Railway company had entered into an agreement with J. M. Carey 
& Brother to the effect that the Pioneer Townsite company and the 
Carey company were to own every alternate lot in the town, and in- 
stead of advertising Casper extensively in the east, and running ex- 
cursion trains to this point and selling the lots at auction, as had been 
the custom of the railway company in all the new towns along the 
line, the lots in Casper were sold at private sale, and at a very reason- 
able price, and for this, as well as several other reasons, it was ex- 
pected that the road would be extended at once to a point west from 
here. The town of Bessemer, fifteen miles northwest, on the opposite 
side of the river, had been assured that the road would be extended to 
that point, but it was not extended and Casper was the terminus from 
1888 until 1905, when work was commenced to extend the road to 
Lander, the present terminus. 

The prospects for Casper in the early days to grow beyond a 
shambling, temporary frontier village were anything but inviting. 
Nearly all that portion of land north from the Northwestern railway, 
between Midwest avenue and A street, north and south, and Ash and 
Beech streets, east and west, was but sand and sagebrush, and this 
was the spot selected for the townsite. A part of this sand and sage- 
brush flat is where the largest buildings in the city are now located, 
and some of the vacant lots are now being sold as high as ^1,000 per 
front foot, while others, in the heart of the business section, could not 
be bought for twice that amount. 

The first business lot to be sold in Casper was lot 13, in block 8, 
which is on the northwest corner of Second avenue and Center street, 
where the Stockmen's National bank is located. Nathan S. Bristol 
was the purchaser, and on this lot he put up a frame building 25x50 
ieet, in which he carried a stock of groceries and a line of grain and 




Sol iH SiDH UK Main Strkkt in 1888— "Old Town" ok C'xsi 



Mk 



...^ 



North Sidk ok Main Street in 1888 — "Old Town" ok Caspi 



CASPER VILLAGE, TOWN AND CITY II7 

stock feed. The employees of the store slept in this building, and for 
the first year or more their bed was surrounded with sacks of grain 
and flour to protect them from the bullets which were fired in the 
night time by some of the cowboys who often came in from the range 
to celebrate. 

The first building to be moved from the old town to the platted 
town was Robert White's saloon, which was located on the first lot 
south of the Grand Central hotel building. When the town was three 
months old, the followmg-named firms were engaged in business here: 
C. H. King & Co., general merchandise, A. J. Cunningham, manager; 
N. S. Bristol & Co., general merchandise, W. A. Denecke, manager; 
A. McKinney, groceries, Peter O'M alley, manager; Wyoming Lumber 
company, George Mitchell, manager; Metcalf & Williams, clothing 
and men's furnishings, J. E. (Humpy) Evans, manager; Bank of 
Casper, George Weber, cashier; Pioneer Drug Store, owned by C. F. 
G. Bostleman; M. D. Clark's candy store, harness shop and restau- 
rant combined; Casper Weekly Mail, Lombard and Casebeer, publish- 
ers; C. K. Bucknum, livery stable; Jameson & Eads, livery; Adams & 
Williams, livery; O'Neall & Co., hardware; Graham House, David 
Graham, proprietor; Wentworth House, R. A. Parks, proprietor; 
Mrs. P. A. Demorest, restaurant; John Hogadone, restaurant; Mrs. 
Hanagan, restaurant; Mrs. Belle Clark, restaurant; C. C. Wright, 
attorney; B. F. Emery, attorney and justice of peace; J. W. Van Leer 
and Dr. J. Benson, jewelers, doctor and barbers; Matt Campfield, 
barber; Robinson & Osborne, carpenters; E. Erben, carpenter; John 
Merritt and J. W. Spragur, dealers in oil land; Joe Dolis, shoe repair 
shop; Dan Howe, painter; McNair & Co., meat market; P. Hanahan, 
dray; the Stock Exchange, P. C. Nicolaysen, proprietor; Robert 
White's saloon. There were four saloons in the town, but the names 
of all the proprietors are not obtainable. John Merritt was the first 
peace officer, being deputy sheriff of Carbon county, Natrona county 
not yet having been segregated from Carbon. James A. Hartman 
was the first postmaster. 

There were no buildings erected on the south side of the North- 
western railway tracks for nearly ten years after the town lots were 
first platted, except Oscar Hiestand's residence, which was con- 
structed in 1896. This is the residence on south Center street, two lots 
north from the Catholic church. A great many people who contracted 
for lots on that side of the track, in the belief and hope that the town 
would grow and expand very rapidly, in a few years turned them 
back to the original owners, before they were fully paid for. In the 
summer of 1898, however, there were a few dwellings built on the 
south side, and in '99 there were more. Since that time there has been 



Il8 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

an increased demand for the lots, and today it is the most desirable 
residence section of the city with its several thousand beautiful and 
costly homes. 

On the 9th of April, 1889, application was made in the following 
form to have the town of Casper incorporated: 

"Application for Incorporation 

"Notice Is hereby given that I will make application for the incorporation of the 
Town of Casper, before the board of county commissioners of Carbon county, at their 
regular May meeting, to be held at Rawlins, on the 6th day of May, A.D. 1889, or as 
soon thereafter as I can be heard. The said incorporation of the Town of Casper shall 
comprise two square miles, being bounded on the north by the line running east and 
west through the center of sections three, four and five; on the south by the line run- 
ning east and west through the center of sections eight, nine and ten; and on the west 
by the line running north and south through the center of sections nine and ten; all in 
township thirty-three, north of range seventy-nine, west, comprising the following legal 
subdivisions, to-wit: 

"The southwest quarter of section three, and the south half of section four, and 
the southeast quarter of section five, and the northeast quarter of section eight, and 
the north half of section nine, and the northwest quarter of section ten; all in township 
thirty-three, north of range seventy-nine, west of the sixth parallel meridian. 

" (Signed) JOHN MERRITT, Applicant. 
"Dated this 9th day of April, A. D. 1889." 

That the application of Mr. Merritt was favorably acted upon 
by the board of county commissioners of Carbon county is evident 
from the order made by that body which is as follows: 

"ORDER 

"Of the Board of County Commissioners of Carbon County, Wyoming. 

"Petition for the incorporation of the town of Casper presented. 

"The law having been fully complied with, governing the incorporation of towns, 
it is hereby ordered and declared that the following lands shall be incorporated as the 
town of Casper: 

"The southwest quarter of section three. 

"The south half of section four. 

"The southeast quarter of section five. 

"The northeast quarter of section eight. 

"The north half of section nine. 

"The northwest quarter of section ten. 

"All in township thirty-three, north of range seventy-nine, west of the sixth 
parallel meridian. Carbon county, Wyoming Territory, and it is further ordered an 
election shall be held in and for the purpose of electing a town council and other officers 
as provided by law, and said election shall take place on the second Monday of Julv, 
A.D. 1889, viz., July 8th. 

"John H. Adam, W. J. Van Leer and Robert White are hereby appointed 
inspectors of said election." 

As soon as the above order was received a meeting of a number 
of influential citizens was held, and a call for a mass meeting was 
made, which read: 

"The electors of the village of Casper are called to meet at the 
Congregational Tabernacle on Saturday evening, July 6, 1889, to 



1- 



A Busy Day in thi: "Oid I'own" ok Caspkr, \> 



'§mf 



Stork ok the Richards & Cunningham Company, Cornkr Center and 
Second Streets, Casper, 1888 



CASPER VILLAGE, TOWN AND CITY II9 

nominate candidates for village officers, to be voted on next Monday, 
Julys." 

The election being held as per the above date, the following 
named citizens were elected: George Mitchell, mayor; Robert White, 
P. A. Demorest, A. McKinney and John Adam, councilmen. 

One hundred fifteen votes were cast at this first election held in 
the village of Casper. 

The first official act of the village board was the appointment of 
Joseph T. Graham, clerk; A. J. Cunningham, treasurer; Phil Watson, 
marshal; R. H. Wilbur, police judge; all of whom took the oath of 
office on Thursday evening, July 11, 1889. The town clerk was 
also the ex-officio assessor and his salary was fixed at $50 per an- 
num. The town marshal was also the fire warden and street com- 
missioner and his salary was placed at $75 per month. The town 
attorney's salary was $125 per annum, and the town treasurer re- 
ceived two and one-half per cent of all the moneys covered into the 
treasury. The salary of the mayor was fixed at ^50 per annum and 
the members of the town council received $40 per annum. 

It was resolved that the regular meetings of the council should 
be held the first Monday of each month at 7 o'clock p. m. during the 
months of October, November, December, January, February, and 
March, and at 8 o'clock p. m. the other months in the year, and until 
otherwise directed the meetings of the council should be held in the 
office of the Wyoming Lumber company, "but if inconvenient, the 
meeting of the town council may be held at any other place in the 
town of Casper upon twelve hours' notice being given to each of the 
members of the council." 

It was ordered and determined that the amount of the general 
tax for the current year, ending May i, 1890, should be $800. 

The first meeting of the village board was held in the office of 
the Wyoming Lumber company on Wednesday, July 10, at eight 
o'clock in the evening, and after the officers above named were ap- 
pointed, resolutions were adopted as follows: 

"Resolved, That the members of this board act in good faith, 
without prejudice or partiality." 

"Resolved, That inasmuch as the citizens of the town have seen 
fit to place us in the honorable and responsible position of the village 
board, for the now thriving village of Casper, we extend to them a 
vote of thanks." 

The first offender to violate and feel the effects of the village 
ordinance entitled "An ordinance concerning the discharge of fire 
arms, bearing deadly weapons," etc., was arrested on Wednesday, 
July 17, 1889. The offender's name is of no importance, but he fired 



I20 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

off a pistol, and before the smoke had cleared away, Marshal Watson 
arrested him, took him before Police Judge R. H. Wilbur, and a fine 
of nine dollars and costs was imposed. 

At a special meeting held July 30, 1889, Councilmen White and 
Adam were appointed a special committee to select a location for a 
jail building for the town of Casper, and after due deliberation the 
committee decided that the first public building for Casper should 
be located on the west end of lot 15 in block 8, and a contract was 
awarded to Robinson & Osborne to construct the jail building at a 
cost not to exceed $313.95. 

The street and alley committee at this same meeting was author- 
ized to expend not to exceed $200 for the improvement of streets and 
cross walks. 

The annual appropriation for the year ending May i, 1890, was 
for salaries of town officers, $1,600; streets and alleys and cross walks, 
$200; incidental expenses, $200; and for a town hall, $2,000; making 
the total annual appropriation $4,000. 

Chris Baysel was ordered to draw plans and specifications for a 
town hall and the specifications for the second and most important 
public building in the city were as follows: "Building to be 25 feet 
wide by 74 feet long, 12 inch wall, 16 foot ceiling, tin roof, galvan- 
ized iron cornice, four windows on each side, two large arch windows 
in front, double doors, arch transom over doors, wainscoting four 
feet high. Building to be plastered and painted in good workmanlike 
manner and not to cost more than two thousand dollars." 

These specifications were not as specific as the contractors and 
architects now require, especially in the construction of a public build- 
ing, and at a subsequent meeting of the town council, when the con- 
tractor presented a bill for extras, it will be seen that either the con- 
tractor or the town council did not get all that was coming to them. 
On April 21, 1890, Emanuel Erben was awarded the contract for the 
construction of the town hall at a cost of $1,985. Brenning & 
McFarland were the next lowest bidders, their price being $1,998. 

The second election for town officers occurred on May 13, 1890. 
It was a bitter contest and W. E. Hawley received 72 votes for mayor 
and J. J. Hurt received 66. P. A. Demorest and O. K. Garvey were 
elected councilmen. The first meeting of the second council was a 
special which was held at 10:00 a. m. May 23, 1890. W. E. Hawley, 
mayor, and Robert White, P. A. Demorest, O. K. Garvey and A. 
McKinney, councilmen, were present. At this meeting P. A. Demo- 
rest was appointed to act as chairman of the council for the ensuing 
year in the absence of the mayor. Mayor Hawley was present at very 
few of the meetings of the council during the year. 



CASPER VILLAGE, TOWN AND CITY 121 

At the first regular meeting of the second council, which was held 
at 7:30 in the evening of June 2, 1890, W. A. Denecke was appointed 
town treasurer; A. T. Butler, town attorney; R. H. Wilbur, police 
justice; Charles Crow, town marshal, and H. A. Lilly, town clerk. 
The first special and the first regular meetings of this council were 
held in the rooms of the Natrona county board of commissioners, 
which were located in the building over White & Company's saloon, 
but the third meeting, which was held on July 7, 1890, was in the new 
town hall, this being the first meeting held in the new public building. 
At this meeting the contractor put in a bill amounting to $49.50 for 
extra labor and material on the town hall, but the claim was disputed. 
Two of the councilmen favored the payment of $24.75, which was 
half the amount claimed for extras, but the other two councilmen 
were in favor of allowing the contractor nothing. The $24.75 was 
finally allowed. 

On October 8, 1890, C. E. Crow resigned as marshal of the town 
and William Hodge was appointed to fill the unexpired term. 

At the meeting held on October 8, 1890, it was decided by 
resolution to rent the town hall for dances and theaters, the fee to be 
$7.00 per night during the months of October, November, December, 
January, February, and March, and $5 .00 per night during the other 
months of the year. Religious organizations were given the use of 
the hall free on Sundays. At an adjourned meeting held on October 
9, an ordinance was enacted providing for a fine of $100 for any person 
convicted of gambling. There were numerous open gambling houses 
in the town then, and the $100 paid each month was considered the 
same as a license. The gambling houses were never disturbed so long 
as they paid their fines each month. 

Mayor Hawley was present at a special meeting held on October 
17, 1890, this being the second meeting at which the mayor was 
present since his induction into office on May 23. Because of his con- 
tinuous absence an ordinance was adopted on November 3, which 
provided "that if any member of the town council be absent from 
three consecutive regular meetings without a reasonable excuse his 
office shall be declared vacant." In commenting upon the continuous 
absence of the mayor which by this time had become a standing joke, 
one ot the local newspapers said: "Casper enjoys the distinction of 
being a regularly organized and incorporated town — yet a town with- 
out a head. We've had no mayor during the past nine months; for, 
although a gentleman was elected to that position in the spring of 
1890, he has ever since been a non-resident of the city and state, not- 
withstanding that in order to secure his election he pledged himself 
to invest in a house and maintain a residence in our midst." 



122 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

At this same meeting it was recorded in the minutes that here- 
after when reference was made to the county in which the town of 
Casper was located, the name of "Carbon" should be changed to 
"Natrona," and the name, "Territory of Wyoming" should be 
changed to the "State of Wyoming. " 

The appropriation bill passed April 17, 1891, for the maintenance 
of the town government for the coming year amounted to $1,500. 
Thirteen hundred dollars was for officers' salaries, $100 for streets 
and alleys, and $100 for cemetery purposes. 

The third town election occurred in May, 1891, and as before, 
there was a bitter contest between the republican and democratic 
nominees. Alexander McKinney was the republican nominee for 
mayor and he received 69 votes, while Peter C. Nicolaysen was the 
democratic aspirant, and he received 64 votes. The vote on council- 
men was: George Mitchell, ']']; R. A. Parks, 38; H. L. Patton, 70; 
E. N. Winslow, 68. At this election the vote on bonds to provide 
Casper with a system of water works was 51 for the bonds and 34 
against. 

The third council was Alexander McKinney, mayor; George 
Mitchell, Hugh L. Patton, O. K. Garvey and Peter A. Demorest, 
councilmen. At the first meeting of this council, held June i, 1891, 
Lew Seely was appointed marshal; W. A. Denecke, treasurer; E. J. 
Carpenter, clerk; A. T. Butler, town attorney; and R. H. Wilbur, 
police justice. At the meeting held August 6, Wilbur resigned as 
police justice, and Granville E. Butler was appointed to fill the un- 
expired term. 

Nothing of importance except routine business was transacted 
in the council meetings, although the council met regularly each 
month. At the meeting held on November 4, Councilmen Patton 
and Mitchell were appointed a committee to select a jail and make a 
contract for the care and keep of town prisoners.^ There being no 
funds with which to build a jail, the committee recommended that 
the town prisoners be taken to the Converse county jail in Douglas for 
their care and keep, and the council at a subsequent meeting con- 
curred in the recommendation and all town prisoners were taken to 
Douglas to serve their sentences or await trial. 

Lew Seely resigned the position of town marshal on June 10, 
1 891, and Tom McGrath was appointed to fill the office during the 
unexpired term. At this same meeting a wooden pump was ordered 
to be placed in the town well. The town well was about mid-way on 
Center street between Second street and Midwest avenue, on the 

1 The town jail was burned by Dr. Joseph Benson October ii, 1S91, who set (ire to it while incar- 
cerated, and who was burned to death. 



CASPER VILLAGE, TOWN AND CITY I23 

west side of the street. The water from this well was used by the 
general public and for domestic purposes. Water was also hauled 
from the Platte river and Garden creek in barrels and sold to the 
saloons for "chasers." Some people also used it to drink. 

An ordinance was enacted on March 27, 1892, placing the license 
to sell liquor at ^200 per annum. There were from six to eight saloons 
in the town those days, and the town received a revenue of from 
twelve to sixteen hundred dollars per annum, which went a long ways 
toward the maintenance of the town government. 

Tom McGrath resigned as town marshal on April 8, 1892, and 
H. A. Bell was appointed to fill the vacancy for the unexpired term. 
The position of town marshal, together with its multitudinous duties, 
consisting of water and street commissioner and fire warden, and the 
small amount of salary attached to the offices, did not appeal to men 
after the novelty of wearing a large silver star had worn off. 

At the last meeting of this council the appropriation for the en- 
suing year was made, which allowed $1,800 for the salaries of town 
officers; $250 for cemetery; $500 for the maintenance of streets and 
crossings, and $1,000 for fire protection, making a total of $3,500. 

Credit must be given the men who had charge of the town affairs 
in the early days for at least being economical. Three thousand five 
hundred dollars to pay the expense of a town of 400 population for one 
year would seem almost impossible in this day of liberality in the 
expenditure of public funds. 

Party lines were closely drawn in the early days of Casper in the 
school, town and county elections, and in 1892 republican and demo- 
cratic tickets were again placed in the field for town officers, which 
resulted in the election of Charles K. Bucknum as mayor. He re- 
ceived 71 votes. His opponent, Peter A. Demorest, received 52 votes. 
John McClure and John McGrath defeated J. P. Smith and W. A. 
Denecke for the council. This was the fourth town council, which 
consisted of C. K. Bucknum, mayor; H. L. Patton, George Mitchell, 
John McGrath and John McClure, councilmen. 

At a meeting of this council held on August i, 1892, W, T. Evans 
was awarded the contract for the building of the union town and 
county jail. The price to be paid for the erection of the building, not 
including the vault and foundation, was $2,335.18. The building 
was constructed in the middle of the block on the west side of David 
street, between Second street and Midwest avenue. It stood imme- 
diately in the rear of the new fire hall and municipal garage, but 
was torn down late in the year 1921. At the same meeting H. A. Bell 
resigned as marshal and Frank Berg was appointed. Andrew J. Irwin 
was appointed justice of the peace at a meeting held January 4, 1893. 



124 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

At the meeting of the council held on April 13, 1892, it was 
ordered that the water bonds of ^5,000 be sold. These were the bonds 
for the construction of a water system for the town which were voted 
at the election held in May, 1891, and which were carried by a vote 
of 51 to 34. 

On March 8, 1893, the town council ordered one more well dug 
to supply the residents with water. This well was to be five feet square 
inside, curbed with two-inch lumber to the water. Below the water 
the well was to be curbed with brick. The well was to have four feet 
of water in it the year 'round. John Irwin was awarded the contract 
for digging the well and he was to receive ^4.00 per foot for his work. 

Election time rolled around once more and the usual political 
contest was waged. The republican party was slightly in the majority 
and C. K. Bucknum was elected mayor, his vote being 92. J. J. Hurt 
received 59 votes. For councilmen, H. A. Lilly received 89 votes; 
Peter O'Malley, 93; Robert White, 48; and P. C. Nicolaysen, 69. 
The fifth town council was composed of C. K. Bucknum, mayor, and 
H. A. Lilly, John McClure, John McGrath and Peter O'Malley, 
councilmen. John Merritt was appomted marshal; W. A. Denecke, 
treasurer; A. T. Butler, attorney; E. J. Carpenter, Jr., clerk; W. S. 
Irwin, sexton; E. J. Carpenter, Sr., police magistrate. 

An ordinance was passed June 10, 1893, providing for the pur- 
chase of land for cemetery and park purposes, and ^250 was appro- 
priated for the payment of final proof on the north half of the 
southwest quarter, south half of the northeast quarter of section 10, 
township 33 north, range 79 west. The north ten acres was surveyed 
and platted, and the bodies which had been interred in the tem- 
porary cemetery were disinterred and moved to the new cemetery. 
The temporary cemetery was northwest of where the Chicago & 
Northwestern Railway stockyards are now located. 

The name of Grover Cleveland, as president of the United States, 
signed by his secretary, is on the patent issued to the town of Casper 
for the land described above. 

The budget for 1893-4 provided $1,600 for officers' salaries; $400 
for cemetery fund; $500 for streets and crossings; making a sum total 
of $2,500 with which to carry on the business of the town. 

The $5,000 bonds with which to provide a water system for the 
town were deemed inadequate and as there were irregularities at the 
election all former action in the matter was rescinded on September 
24, 1893, and a special election was called for October 10, 1893, to 
vote for $30,000 bonds with which to provide a water system. The 
subject is fully covered in this volume under the heading of " Casper's 
Water Supply." 



CASPER VILLAGE, TOWN AND CITY 12^ 

The appropriation made on April 2, 1894, for current expenses 
was: Officers' salaries, $1,800; streets and crossings, $500; fire pro- 
tection, $1,000; general fund, $3,500, and a general tax for the year 
was made of $1,000. The assessed valuation of the town at this time 
was $214,909. 26. 

The next election occurred on May 8, 1894. Joel J. Hurt was 
elected mayor by a vote of 138, against C. K. Bucknum, who received 
95 votes. P. C. Nicolaysen and John McGrath were elected council- 
men over Lew Seely and J. S. Warner by about the same vote as was 
cast for mayor. H. A. Lilly and Peter O'Malley were the hold-over 
councilmen. At the first meeting of the new council W. S. Kimball 
was appointed treasurer; W. S. Irwin, clerk; Frank Berg, marshal; 
J. K. Calkins, police magistrate; John Cosgrove, sexton; George 
Walker, attorney. 

J. K. Calkins resigned as police magistrate December 3, and E. 
A. Johnson and Joseph Ford were nominated to fill the position. 
Each of the candidates received two votes and as the mayor was not 
present there was a deadlock and the town was without a police judge 
until February 4, when Ford was appointed. 

George B. McCalmont was elected mayor on May 9, 1895, with- 
out opposition. John S. Warner and W. A. Denecke were elected 
councilmen over W. D. Rhoades and James A. Bailey. P. C. Nicolay- 
sen and John McGrath were the hold-overs. The new council ap- 
pointed F. W. Okie, clerk; George Walker, attorney; Walter B. 
Nichols, marshal; R. F. Milford, sexton; Oscar Hiestand, treasurer, 
and Joseph Ford, police justice. 

The mayor and councilmen at a regular meeting on September 
2, 1895, appropriated their salary as town officers for the remainder 
of their term into the water works fund. F. W. Okie resigned as town 
clerk November 18, and Lee Culver was appointed to fill out the 
term, but Culver resigned on December 14 and M. P. Wheeler was 
appointed to fill the vacancy. 

An ordinance was enacted January 21, 1896, creating the office 
of town physician, and Dr. J. F. Leeper was appointed to the new 
office. 

Many children in Casper died during the months of December, 
1895, and January, 1896, from diphtheria and on January 30 the 
board of directors of school district Number 2 closed the public 
schools to prevent the spread of the disease, and to co-operate with 
the school board, the town council ordered that all public gatherings 
be prohibited until permission was granted by the council. All the 
children in the town were ordered to be kept at home and the town 
marshal was ordered to notify the ministers and other persons at the 



126 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

head of the various societies to hold no meetings. The fathers and 
mothers and all citizens were requested to co-operate with the town 
council in keeping the disease from spreading. The town was rigidly 
quarantined. Panic prevailed in nearly every family in the town and 
all the mothers who could, left town with their children, hoping to 
avoid the dreaded disease. 

Dr. J. F. Leeper, the town physician, who was appointed by the 
town council to check the spread of the disease, caused the arrest of 
Dr. J. L. Garner on the grounds that Garner was attending a case of 
diphtheria and claimed that it was some other disease. Town attor- 
ney George Walker prosecuted the case and Chester B. Bradley was 
attorney for the defense. A jury brought in a verdict of acquittal 
for the defendant. 

The disease was finally stamped out and on March 2 the quaran- 
tine was raised and annulled. School was resumed, the churches held 
their regular meetings and public gatherings were held as usual. The 
mothers who had left town with their children returned one by one, 
but It was early summer before the scare was entirely over. 

The annual appropriation bill was considerably increased this 
year on account of the building of the water works. Two thousand 
dollars was appropriated for salaries of the town officers; ^500 for 
streets and alleys; $1,500 for general fund purposes; and $7,500 for 
water works debt and interest on bonds. 

There was no contest in the town election in May, 1896, this 
being the first time there was but one ticket in the field since the town 
was incorporated. George B. McCalmont, republican, was re-elected 
mayor, and John McGrath and P. C. Nicolaysen, democratic, were 
re-elected on the council. John S. Warner and W. A. Denecke, 
republicans, were the hold-overs. The same officers were appointed 
as in 1895. The leaders of the two political parties had gotten to- 
gether and agreed that on account of the water works system being 
put in there should be no contest. But little business was transacted 
this year except to install the water works system and adopt ordi- 
nances concerning it. 

In May, 1897, occurred one of the most closely contested town 
elections that had yet been held. Patrick Sullivan, republican, re- 
ceived 131 votes for mayor against James P. Smith whose vote was 
122; for the council Dave Graham, republican, received 130 votes, 
and Robert White, democratic, received 133; J. J. Svendsen, demo- 
cratic, 105, and S. W. Conwell, republican, 128. John McGrath and 
P. C. Nicolaysen were the hold-overs. The officers appointed were A. 
E. Case, clerk; Oscar Hiestand, treasurer; J. C. Randall, sexton; 
H. A. Lilly, police judge; J. L. Garner, physician; J. L. Barnett, 




^'■-1 -*' 





^-t^***^!®!! 



mii^^^CM 



lu.. \llU> ..I C 



lSw4 



CASPER VILLAGE, TOWN AND CITY 12J 

marshal. A. E. Case resigned as clerk on November 2 and E. B. 
ShafFner was appointed to fill out the term. 

In 1898 there was no contest in the town election and Patrick 
Sullivan was re-elected mayor with the same councilmen as the 
previous year. The same officers were appointed except that Dr. 
Leeper was made town physician, F. H. Sawyer, police judge, and 
Charles Atmore, oil inspector. 

In 1899 W. S. Kimball was elected mayor over Frank Wood by a 
vote of 143 to 134; for the council J. V. Cantlin and J. W. Bowie were 
elected over P. C. Hays and J. J. Svendsen. P. C. Nicolaysen and 
John McGrath were the hold-overs. The same officers were appointed 
except that Frank Jameson was appointed police magistrate. 

In 1900, P. C. Nicolaysen was elected mayor and C. K. Buck- 
num and Frank Wood were the new councilmen. J. V. Cantlin was 
the hold-over, and C. H. Townsend was appointed in the place of J. 
H. Bowie, who resigned. Alex T. Butler was appointed attorney; J. 
A. ShelFner, marshal; E. P. Rohrbaugh, physician; J. M. Hammon, 
sexton. The other officers were the same as the previous year. 

James V. Cantlin was elected mayor in 1901 and J. E. Schulte 
and J. S. Van Doren were elected to the council. Frank Wood and 
C. K. Bucknum were the hold-overs. Percy Shallenberger was the 
new clerk; John McGrath, treasurer; W. S. Kimball, oil inspector; 
Robert McAdam, marshal; F. D. Hammond, attorney. Percy Shall- 
enberger resigned as clerk August 7 and P. C. Hays was appointed 
to serve the unexpired term. At this same meeting it was deemed 
necessary to have a night marshal and J. A. Gumming was appointed. 

In 1902 C. K. Bucknum was elected mayor, and L. C. Seely and 
C. C. P. Webel were the new councilmen. J, S. Van Doren and J. E. 
Schulte were the hold-overs. E. D. Norton was appointed attorney; 
A. T. Philips, clerk; J. A. Shelfner, marshal, and the other officers 
were the same as the previous year. 

W. S. Kimball was elected mayor in 1903, with W. W. Wilson 
and John Curran as councilmen. C. C. P. Webel and L. C. Seely were 
the hold-overs. The appointive officers were the same as the previous 
year, except that F. Salathe was the oil inspector. At this election, 
which was held on May 12, an issue of sewer bonds amounting to 
^14,500 was voted upon. The establishment of a sewer system for the 
town had been proposed and advocated by the Casper Chamber of 
Commerce, but at the election there was a very active opposition to 
the proposition and the result was 104 votes for and 94 votes against 
the bonds. 

W. S. Kimball was again elected mayor in 1904, with W. A. Ford 
and C. C. P. Webel as councilmen for two years and Enoch Cornell as 



128 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

councilman for one year. Mr. Webel's name was on two tickets and 
he received 210 votes. When the canvassing board canvassed the 
returns, it was declared that D. A. Robertson, who received 138 
votes, should receive the certificate of election because the law pro- 
vided that one name should appear on no more than one ticket. But 
the action of the canvassing board was revoked by Judge Charles E. 
Carpenter, who issued a peremptory writ of mandamus against the 
mayor and members of the town council and ordered the council to 
assemble before 5 o'clock on June 13, 1904, and set aside the decision 
of the canvassing board and declare the men elected who received 
the highest number of votes. 

The table on the opposite page contains a list of the elective 
and appointive officers for the town (now city) of Casper during the 
year 1904 and each succeeding year up to and includmg 1923. 

Upon an affidavit from the mayor to the effect that the town of 
Casper contained a population of more than 4,000, the governor of 
the state by proclamation on January 9, 1917, declared Casper to be 
a city of the first class. The elections for mayor and councilmen 
thereafter were held in November instead of being held in May, as 
heretofore, and the mayor and councilmen were elected for two 
years, instead of the councilmen being elected for four years, as here- 
tofore. The mayor and councilmen that year, whose terms of office 
should have expired in June, 1917, held office until the first of Janu- 
ary, 1918, by reason of the change being made from a city of the second 
class to first class. 

Churches of Casper 

Rev. Bross of Chadron, Nebraska, was the first ordained minister 
who conducted religious services in the town of Casper, and the date 
of the first service was Tuesday evening, March 3, 1889. The "meet- 
ing" was held in the office of the Graham house, then located on 
the southwest corner of Center street and First street (now Midwest 
avenue). Services were conducted in the office of this hotel during 
the summer of '89 as often as any minister of any denomination could 
spare the time and undergo the inconvenience of coming to this 
frontier town. The congregation was made up of business men, 
professional men, saloon keepers, bartenders, gamblers, cowboys, 
mining men, and the few women and children who lived here at the 
time. That the services were highly appreciated may be judged from 
the newspaper notice of the first meeting which was published in the 
Casper Weekly Mail, of which the following is a copy: 

"Rev. Bross of Chadron preached at the Graham house last Tuesday evening ac- 
cording to appointment. Quite a large crowd was in attendance and listened to a very 
interesting and instructive sermon. Mr. Bross will preach again in four weeks, and 



Casper's officers from 1904 to 1923 



129 



1904 190S 1906 1907 

Mayor . W. S. Kimball W. S. Kimball W. S. Kimball W. S. Kimball 

Counciimen W. W. Wilson W. A. Ford Harry G. Duhling W. A. Ford 

John Curran E. Cornell Frank Wood C. C. P. Webel 

W A Ford H. G. Duhling W. A. Ford Oscar Hiestand 

E. Cornell Frank Wood C. C. P. Webel Frank Wood 

Clerk A. T. Phillips M. P. Wheeler M. P. Wheeler M. P. Wheeler 

Treasurer John McGrath John McGrath J. S. Van Doren J. S. Van Doren 

Marshal J. A. Sheffner J. A. Sheffner J. A. Sheffner Wm. Jones 

Attorney E. D. Norton F. D. Hammond F. D. Hammond F. D. Hammond 

Police Judge Frank Jameson W. E. Tubbs W. E. Tubbs W. E. Tubbs 

Physician E. P. Rohrbaugh E. P. Rohrbaugh E. P. Rohrbaugh E. P. Rohrbaugh 

Water Comm'r J. V. Cantlin • •■ ^•■•■■••.; 

Street Sup'v'r J. V. Cantlin Wm. Jones John Keil John Keil 

Oil Inspector Dr. F. Salathe Dr. F. Salathe Dr. F. Salathe Dr. F. Salathe 

Sexton W. I. Ogburn J. M. Hammon J. M. Hammon J. M. Hammon 

1908 1909 1910 1911* 

Mayor . W. S. Kimball W. S. Kimball W. S. Kimball W. S. Kimball 

Counciimen Oscar Hiestand T. A. Dean David Kidd W.A.Ford 

Frank Wood W. A. Ford G. T. Morgan Frank Wood 

T. A. Dean David Kidd W. A. Ford G. T. Morgan 

W A Ford G. T. Morgan Frank Wood David Kidd 

Clerk M. P. Wheeler M. P. Wheeler M. P. Wheeler M. P. Wheeler 

Treasurer E. P. Palmer E. P. Palmer Ed. C. Wilson Ed. C. Wilson 

Marshal O. M. Rice Wm. Jones Wm. Jones Wm. Jones 

Attorney W. O. Wilson W. O. Wilson W. O. Wilson W. O. Wilson 

Police Judge W. E. Tubbs W. E. Tubbs W. E. Tubbs W. E. Tubbs 

Physician M. C. Keith M. C. Keith M. C. Keith M. C. Keith 

Street Sup'v'r Wm. Jones Jake Nelson John Keil H. L. CiUy 

Oil Inspector Dr. Kahn A. T. Phillips A. T. Phillips 

Sexton C. A. Ewing C. A. Ewing C. A. Ewing C. A . Ewing 

1913 1915 i9i8t 1919 

Mayor E. P. Rohrbaugh E. P. Rohrbaugh John F. Leeper John F. Leeper 

Counciimen G.T.Morgan Hiram Lewis Fay Crater T. A. Dean 

Frank Wood David Kidd M. J. Gothberg Wm. Kocher 

Hiram Lewis Samuel Switzer H. C. Bretschneider Perry A. Morris 

David Kidd Geo. B. Nelson T. A. Dean W. F. Dunn 

Wm. Kocher M. L. Bishop 

Perry Morris W. W. Keefe 

Clerk W. R. Johnson' C. M. Bryan Anna Dougherty = C. M. Bryan ^ 

Treasurer Wilbur Foshay Wilbur Foshay E. M. Ellithorpe' E.W.Davis 

Marshal Wm. Jones , Pat Royce Frank J. Wolf^ John McGrath ^ 

Attorney W.O.Wilson W.O.Wilson W. H. Patten W. H. Patten 

Police Judge R. H. Nichols W. E. Tubbs W. E. Tubbs W. E. Tubbs 

Physician M.C.Keith M.C.Keith J. C. Kamp J. C. Kamp 

Water Comm'r Jfacob Nelson J. E. Frisby Wm. Jones Wm. Jones 

Street Sup'v'r J. F. Stanley 

Sexton F. B. Hathaway E. W. Farrell E. S. Baker E. S. Baker 

Engineer B. B. Lummis' M.N.Wheeler L. S. Worthington L. S. Worthington 

Fire Chief Oscar Hiestand Oscar Hiestand 

1920 1921 1922 1923 

Mayor B. H. Pelton B. H. Pelton W. A. Blackmore W. A. Blackmore 

Counciimen Earl C. Boyle Earl C. Boyle W. W. Keefe J. M. Whisenhunt 

Fred Van Gorden Fred Van Gorden J. M. Whisenhunt John. G. Jones 

C. M. Bryan C. M. Bryan J. J. Giblin John J. Hancock 

W. W. Keefe W. W. Keefe John G. Jones John S. Pettingill 

W. F. Dunn J. J. Giblin John J. Hancock Sylvester F. Pelton 

M. L. Bishop J. M. Whisenhunt John S. Pettingill Walter W. Royce 

Clerk Asa F. Sloane Asa F. Sloane H. H. Price H. H. Price 

Treasurer J. S. Van Doren J. S. Van Doren J. S. Van Doren J. S. Van Doren 

Marshal E. M. EUithorpe' J. E. Lynch* Alexander Nisbet Alexander Nisbet 

Attorney R. M. Boeke R. M. Boeke R. M. Boeke'^ R. N. Ogden 

Police Judge P.A.Morris P.A.Morris P. A. Morris'" John A. Murray 

Physician G. S. Bawden G. S. Bawden 

Water Comm'r Wm. Jones Wm. Jones Walter Storrie" W.H.Johnson 

Street Sup'v'r O. Freel O. Freel K. S. Myrland K. S. Myrland 

Sexton Chas. Lundman Chas. Lundman O. L. Thompson O. L. Thompson 

Engineer F. S. Knittle F. S. Knittle F. S. Knittle F. S. Knittle 

Fire Chief Oscar Hiestand Oscar Hiestand Oscar Hiestand Oscar Hiestand 

' Resigned; C. M. Bryan appointed. - Resigned June 6; C. M. Bryan appointed. ' Resigned; E. 
W. Davis appointed. 'Resigned December 31; John McGrath appointed. ^Resigned May i; Asa F. 
Sloane appointed. "Resigned July i; Fred E. Place appointed; resigned July 9th; Frank K. Webb ap- 
pointed. 'Resigned; J. E. Lynch appointed, s Resigned; J. A. Sheffner appointed. * Mayor assumed 
office on June i, 1911, for two years; counciimen for four years, t City made first-class by proclamation 
of governor on January 9, 1917; mayor elected for two years, counciimen for two years; elections in 
Novemljer. S. Wiley served as park commissioner in 1909; Frank Julian was appointed in 1921 and 
1922. 9 Resigned October, 1913; M. N. Wheeler appointed. M. N. Wheeler served as city engineer from 
January, 191 1, until June, 1913. C. R. Bodenbach served as dairy and food inspector during 1921 and 
until August, 1922; resigned, and G. R. Dafoe was appointed. '"Resigned June, 1922; John A. Murray 
appointed. "Resigned September 15, 1922; W. H.Johnson appointed. '-Resigned October 15; R. N. 
Ogden appointed December 4th. 



130 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

talks strongly of building a church. That we are in need of a neat and suitable edifice 
of this kind seems a fact too evident to be questioned. It would add to the value of all 
property in the village. Every new building put up, every improvement made in the 
town raises the value of our own property; hence anyone is always welcomed to the 
town who will build him a house and otherwise improve and beautify his grounds. He 
not only increases his own comfort but is a public benefactor, for in doing thus he 
increases the value of all property in his locality. If this is true of private and personal 
property, how much more so is it of a public building like a church, in which the whole 
town having contributed toward, are interested. Again, it would be the means of call- 
ing into our town a good class of citizens. Nothing has so much weight in attracting 
the desirable class of people to a place as its public institutions. Without them the air 
of solidity is entirely lost. A large per cent of the money used would naturally be ex- 
pended here. It is understood that the church at large is willing to give some assist- 
ance, providing the community subscribe enough to warrant bestowment of such a gift. 
This amount would also be expended in our midst. There are also many other reasons 
why we should go forward with this work. While there are but a few of our male adult 
population that are ordinarily supposed to have souls (worth speaking of) to save, 
there are women and children about us to whom this spiritual privilege should be freely 
extended, and it will simply prove a criticism upon the enterprising and progressive 
spirit of the citizens of Casper if the matter of building a suitable place in which to 
hold divine service shall be overlooked during spring improvement." 

It is evident that the above editorial brought forth fruit, for the 
Congregational Tabernacle was built in the early summer of 1889. 
This was the first church building to be erected in the town of Casper. 
Rev. H, G. Russell arrived in Casper on May 10 of that year, and 
after assisting in the building of the Tabernacle, he was minister in 
charge for several months. Rev. H. A. Macomber succeeded Rev. 
Russell. The building was located on the southeast corner of Wolcott 
street and Third (now First street) on the lot where the New York 
Oil company's main offices are located. The building was also used 
for a school house. It was not a very pretentious structure, as may be 
judged from the photograph herewith reproduced. The people of the 
town were ambitious, however, and on June 15, 1890, Rev. G. I. 
Powell of Chadron and the citizens of Casper made an agreement to 
the effect that the Congregational society would contribute $500 and 
lend the local church society another $500, while the people in general 
of the town were requested to donate any amount they felt disposed 
for the purpose of building a church that would be a credit to the 
society as well as the town. A supper and dance were given on the 4th 
of July by the ladies, and ninety-one dollars and eighty cents was 
cleared, which was to be placed to the credit of the new church fund. 
The church was not built, however, on account of insufficient funds, 
and we find the Congregationalists and the other denominations hold- 
ing their services in the new town hall in the fall of 1890. The build- 
ing and the lot owned by the Congregational society was sold to 
private parties who used it for a residence. 

In June, 1890, Bishop Talbot of the Episcopal denomination was 
quite active in the matter of raising funds with which to build a 




n 



riiis builtling was also used as a school 



iR>i Church Building 
and town hall in 1889-90 




111 siNESs Houses on West Center Street, South of Alley, Beiu 
Street and Midwest Avenue, 1892 



CHURCHES OF CASPER I3I 

church in Casper and he offered to donate $500 in cash, and lend the 
organization another ^500 at six per cent interest, if the citizens of 
the town would subscribe an additional ^500 within ten days. A 
subscription paper was circulated, but the entire amount was not 
raised in the time specified and the matter dragged along for several 
months. It was November before the ^500 was raised by the citizens 
which was to be added to the $1,000 donated by the Episcopalians 
for the building of the church for that denomination. Archdeacon 
John E. Sulger of Laramie, who made a special trip to Casper, suc- 
ceeded in arousing enough interest in the matter to have the required 
amount subscribed. When this amount was raised by the Epis- 
copalians, interest in the Congregational church waned and finally 
died. Work was commenced on the new Episcopal church the first of 
January, 1891, and the building was finished during the summer of 
that year. The church was erected on the northeast corner of Wolcott 
and Second streets, where the Midwest Refining company building is 
now situated. Rev. F. H. Argo was the first minister, and he re- 
mained until 1894. On Friday, April 27, 1894, ^ev. and Mrs. John 
Wilson, with their three children arrived in Casper from Portadown, 
Armagh county, Ireland, and the following Sunday Rev. Wilson 
preached his initial sermon. Rev. Wilson and his family remained 
in Casper until July, 1897, when they returned to Ireland. Rev. 
Wilson was a man of most excellent qualities, and was admired by all 
the citizens of Casper, which was then what was termed a wild, 
typical frontier town. The membership of his church was very small 
and the salary the minister received was scarcely enough to sustain 
one person, and it is said that had it not been for some very good 
friends, but who were not members of the church, who knew of his 
condition and had sent to him trout and sage chickens in the summer 
time and antelope and deer during the winter months that he and his 
family, no doubt would many times have found their cupboard bare. 
He accepted the conditions without a complaint or murmer; and 
worked for the upbuilding of the church and the uplifting of the 
people in the community with the same energy and same spirit as 
though he was receiving a princely salary. Rev. James L. Craig suc- 
ceeded Rev. Wilson, coming to Casper early in the year of 1898. 
Rev. Craig remained for ten years, and in 1908 resigned and went to 
Anaconda, Montana. Rev. McCullogh succeeded Rev. Craig, but he 
remained only a short time. Rev. J. C. Villiers succeeded Rev. 
McCullogh, and he remained until October, 1913, when he responded 
to a call in Honolulu, in the Hawaiian Islands. Rev. R. B. W. Hutt 
succeeded Rev. Villiers and he was in charge from early in the year 
1914 until the summer of 1918, when he enlisted in the world war as a 



132 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

soldier. Under Rev. Hurt's administration the mission became a 
self-supporting parish. No regular servies were held for several 
months after Rev. Hurt's departure, but on February i6, 1919, Rev. 
Philip K. Edwards of McAlester, Oklahoma, became the rector in 
charge. The little frame church building, constructed in 1891, was 
moved to the rear of the lot in 1906, and a new brick church building 
was erected on the site, the brick building being finished in the late 
summer of 1907, the dedication services being held on Thanksgiving 
day, November 27, 1907, Rev. G. C. Rafter of Cheyenne occupying 
the pulpit at the morning service, and Rev. S. Coolidge of Denver 
preached at the evening service. Services were held in this building 
until June, 1920, but on account of the four lots owned by the church 
organization having been sold for $75,000, the church building was 
torn down, and the original frame structure was moved to the corner 
of Seventh and Wolcott streets, where it was remodelled and is being 
used for services until a new and commodious building is erected. 
Among the original members of this church were A. J. Cunningham, 
P. C. Nicolaysen, W. T. Evans and W. S. Kimball, all of whom are 
now vestrymen of the church organization. In connection with this 
church it is of interest to note that in 191 8 Miss Josephine Collins, 
a sister of Lieutenant Caspar W. Collins, who was killed by the 
Indians at Platte Bridge station on July 26, 1865, left a legacy of $100 
which she requested to be used for the purchase of a permanent 
memorial in her brother's memory, and the vestrymen very wisely 
decided upon the purchase of a handsome gold and silver communion 
set, a chalice and paten, which is now the highly-prized property of 
the church organization. 

In the early spring of 1893, sufficient money was raised for the 
building of the First Methodist Episcopal church in the town of 
Casper, on the northeast corner of Durbin and Second streets. The 
building was completed about the middle of August that year. Rev. 
R. J. Devenport, who was located in Douglas, was appointed minister 
in charge in June and assisted in the construction of the building. 
The church was dedicated in November by Rev. N. A. Chamberlain, 
D. D. The first board of trustees consisted of Messrs. A. J. Irwin, 
Marvin L. Bishop, John S. Burley, Louis Lindberg, and R. A. Ball. 
The pioneer stewards were John S. Burley, Mrs. Zenetta Ball, Mrs. 
Viola Irwin, and Mrs. S. A. Irwin. The first class leader was R. A. 
Ball, who was appointed December 26, 1893. Robert F. Milford 
was the first Sunday school superintendent, the election being 
January 3, 1894. The first president of the Ladies' Aid society was 
Mrs. S. A. Irwin. The Ladies' Dorcas society, the successor of the Aid 
society, chose and elected Mrs. Maggie S. Devenport its first president. 



CHURCHES OF CASPER 133 

Rev. R. J. Devenport was granted leave in December, 1893, to re- 
linquish his pastoral charge and went to take charge of a church enter- 
prise in Manville. He was succeeded by Rev. William E. Ferguson, 
of Brooklyn, New York. On the first of April, 1894, Rev. Ferguson 
died of pneumonia and Rev. R. A. Ball took charge until the annual 
conference, when he was succeeded by Rev. H. A. Toland, in Septem- 
ber, 1894. He remained for two years and three months, and in 
December, 1896, was succeeded by Rev. Clinton D. Day. At this 
time there were twenty-two members of the church. Rev. J. H. 
Gillespie of Newcastle succeeded Rev. Day in September, 1897. He 
remained in charge until April, 1901, when Rev. Josiah Martin of 
Kansas came to take charge and remained until June, 1903. Rev. E. 
J. Robinson was appointed pastor in August, 1903, and remained one 
year. In August, 1904, Rev. L. C. Thompson became the pastor and 
remained until August 31, 1908. During his pastorate the present 
church building was erected. It was started in 1906 but was not 
dedicated until the fall of 1907, when the annual conference was held 
at Casper. Bishop H. W. Warren dedicated the new building. The 
next pastor was Rev. J. J. Hicks, who took up his duties in September, 
1908, and remained until September, 1910. He was succeeded by the 
Rev. Ira W. Kingsley, who had a successful pastorate for three years, 
when he was transferred to a larger field at Sheridan. About this 
time Casper began to grow, and naturally the churches took on new 
life and larger membership. Rev. J. M. Dickey became pastor on 
September 6, 1913, and remained two years, when he was succeeded 
by Rev. John J. Giblin. In the fall of 191 8, Mr. Giblin volunteered 
for Y. M. C. A. work in the war and in September, 1918, Rev. Walter 
L. French from the South Kansas conference w^as appointed pastor 
of the church and under his pastorate of three years the membership 
of the church grew to about 500. During his pastorate a new parson- 
age was bought at the corner of Lincoln avenue and Devine streets 
and a new church site was bought in July, 192 1, at the corner of 
South Center and Eighth streets, where a new church building is to 
be erected. In September, 1921, Rev. Lewis E. Carter, formerly of 
Troy conference, New York state, was transferred from Laramie and 
took up his duties. The First Methodist Episcopal is the second old- 
est church organization in Casper and the ministers in charge and 
the membership experienced about the same vicissitudes as well as 
the splendid success as were experienced by those connected with 
St. Mark's Episcopal church. 

Father Nugent of Cheyenne was the first priest to come to Casper 
to hold Catholic services. He visited here in 1890 and remained but 
one day. While here, Father Nugent baptized Eugene Dunn, who 



134 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

was the first Catholic child baptized in Casper. During the years 
1895-6 Father Brofie of Chadron, Nebraska, made occasional visits 
here, and in 1897 Father Ahern, also of Chadron, made regular visits 
to the town. Mass was celebrated at different places, sometimes in 
private homes, occasionally in the town hall, and once in the Episcopal 
church. During the year of 1897 subscriptions were taken up from 
the Catholic members which were applied to the building fund and 
in the late fall a bazaar was given at which a handsome amount of 
money was raised which was also applied to the fund for the new 
church building. The committee who solicited the funds and aroused 
interest in the bazaar were Mrs. John Trevett, Mrs. J. P. Smith, Mrs. 
W. F. Dunn, Mrs. Jeremiah Mahoney, and Mrs. Oscar Hiestand. 
Bishop Lenahan visited Casper at that time, and approved the plan 
of a permanent church and appointed a building committee. Father 
James A. Keating was the first resident pastor of the Catholic church 
to be located in Casper. He came in 1898, and shortly after his 
arrival a contract was made with John M. Trevett for the erection of 
a church building to cost $1,650. The new church was built on 
the southeast corner of First and Center streets, opposite where the 
Henning hotel now stands. Regarding this new church, one of the 
local newspapers said: "On Tuesday, March 15, Father Keating 
raised the first spade of dirt for the foundation of the new St. Anthony's 
Catholic church on the southeast corner of Center and Third (now 
First) streets. The site is one of the best in the city, and now since 
the church is to be there, this part of Casper will certainly build up, 
for when finished St. Anthony's church will be the finest in Central 
Wyoming. It will be a frame building, 30x46 feet in the body of the 
church, with a sanctuary 10x12 feet, a sacristy or vestry room ad- 
jacent. A tower will be added later on, elegant windows will be put 
in, beautiful altars erected and equipped with handsome pews. The 
plans for the edifice are rich in design, artistic and substantial. It has 
been the dream of Father Keating since he came among us to see a 
handsome church in Casper. Now that his wishes are being realized 
he is certainly happy. He entered upon his duties with enthusiasm 
and deserves great credit for the efforts manifested. The new church 
becomes a subject of interest for all the citizens of Casper, both Prot- 
estants as well as Catholics, and when completed will reflect praise 
for the push, energy, and progressive spirit shown by the citizens of 
the town." Father Keating left Casper in 1900, and Father Bryant 
was appointed in 1901 as the resident pastorwith Douglas, Wheatland, 
Glendo, Glenrock and Sunrise as his missions. During Father 
Bryant's stay here, he succeeded in having a pastoral residence built 
on the same lot with the church which at that time was one of the 




St. Mark's First K. 



*. HI KLH, CoRNFR Second and Woi.cott Streets, 
BviLT IN 1890 




1 



Casper Chlrches in the Early Days 
Lrit: First Methodist Episcopal, Erected in 1893 and Rebuilt in 1906. Righl: St. 
Mark's Episcopal, Built in 1890. Center: St. Anthony's Catholic, Built in 1898 



CHURCHES OF CASPER I35 

nicest homes in the town. In August, 191 5, Father Bryant was 
succeeded by Father James McGee. Father McGee died in November 
of the same year, and Father Isidore of Douglas was appointed 
temporary pastor and remained until December 18, when Rev. John 
H. Mullen was transferred from Newcastle to take charge of the 
church. Father Mullen recognized the growing demand for a new 
and more commodious church building and in December, 1916, the 
lot on the corner of Center and First streets and the parsonage were 
sold for $22,500. The old church building was moved to the corner 
of Wolcott and Seventh streets, where services were held until the 
splendid new church building was finished. The new church, which 
cost about $100,000, is located on the northwest corner of Center and 
Seventh streets, and is one of the nicest church buildings in the state. 
It was dedicated August 15, 1920, the ceremonies being attended by 
many Catholic priests and high officials of the Catholic church. 

On April 28, 1909, Rev. George L. White, then Baptist mission- 
ary for Utah and Wyoming, organized the Baptist society of Casper, 
with a total membership of eight. On the 9th of September, 1909, 
Mr. W. R. Howell came to Casper to look after the Baptist work 
until a permanent pastor could be secured. He remained in the city 
until November i, 1909. November 28, 1909, Rev. E. P. Hoyt of 
Manhattan, Montana, took up the work of the church, but remained 
as pastor for only a short time. One February 25, 1910, Mr. Hoyt 
died in a hospital in Omaha. July 6, 1910, Rev. R. R. Hopton of 
Danville, Iowa, accepted the call and under his ministry a neat little 
frame building on the corner of Fifth and Beech streets was put up. 
November 20, 1910, the first services were held in the first building 
the Baptists in Casper owned. Rev. Hopton closed his work with the 
Casper church September 20, 1914. January 3, 1915, Rev. Arthur J. 
Hanson assumed the duties as pastor of the church and remained 
until February 18, 1918. He gave up his work with the church to 
enter war service with the Y. M. C. A., and afterwards became a 
chaplain in the army. Rev. R. H. Moorman came as pastor July, 
1918. He closed his work with the church September I, 1919. During 
his pastorate plans for securing a more adequate building began to 
take a definite shape. October i, 1919, R. L. Lemons, D. D., of 
Charleston, Missouri, became pastor. After a pastorate of not quite 
nine months he resigned June 6, 1920. September i, 1920, Rev. C. 
M. Thompson, Jr., came to the pastorate of the church. Since his 
coming the commodious front basement has been completed, and a 
modern building with full sized gymnasium, up-to-date building for 
religious education, social rooms and lounging rooms and an audito- 
rium will be completed on the corner of Fifth and Beech in the not 



136 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

distant future. The cost of this building will be about ^100,000. The 
church has grown rapidly within the past few years, as have all the 
churches in Casper. 

The First Presbyterian church of Casper was organized in the 
Natrona county court house March 16, 1913, with a charter member- 
ship of sixty-six. Services were held for a few Sundays in the court 
house and afterwards for several months in the Odd Fellows hall. A 
lot was purchased at the corner of Sixth and Durbin streets and a 
church building was erected in the fall of 1913. The first pulpit 
supply was Rev. Robertson McFadyen, who was succeeded by Rev. 
W. B. Fawcett, who continued as pastor for two and a half years. 
Rev. Walter H. Bradley, D. D., was called as pastor June 13, 1915, 
and served until September, 1920. Rev. Charles A. Wilson, whose 
previous pastorates were in Bethany church, Chicago, and the First 
Presbyterian church at Chanute, Kansas, received a call October 24, 
1920, and entered at once upon the work. To meet the immediate 
needs of the congregation which outgrew the church building, the 
tabernacle on the corner of Sixth and Durbin streets was erected in 
the last week of January, 1921. During the year 1921, 230 new 
members were received into the church, and the Sunday school en- 
rollment reached 600, requiring the use of both the church building 
and tabernacle for Sunday school purposes. This church organization 
purchased two residence lots on the southeast corner of Eighth and 
Wolcott streets on May 3, 1917, which are occupied by the Presby- 
terian manse. It is proposed by the Presbyterians to erect a new 
church during 1923, to cost about $100,000. 

The First Christian church of Casper is located on the corner of 
Grant street and Lind avenue. On the evening of October 7, 1920, 
Rev. Charles G. Stout, the state evangelistic pastor for Wyoming, 
under the direction of the United Christian Missionary society of 
St. Louis, Missouri, came to Casper and commenced the task of 
gathering the scattered members of the Christian church with the 
expectation of organizing them into a working force. Meetings were 
held on Sundays in the Odd Fellows building and for a short time in 
November of 1920 evening meetings were held in the city hall. A 
Sunday school was started a few weeks before the arrival of Mr. 
Stout in Casper under the superintendency of Mrs. C. D. Murane. 
An organization which was known as "The Sisterhood," which was 
made up of a group of women, most of whom had been members of 
the Christian church before coming to Casper, was in working order 
for several months prior to the coming of the evangelistic pastor. This 
organization met in the homes of the various members usually every 
two weeks. On Sunday, February 13, 1921, the members assembled 



CHURCHES OF CASPER 137 

for the first time in the church home which was in process of con- 
struction and was simply enclosed and had the heat and lights in- 
stalled only the day before. The minister called for ^6,000 with which 
to pay the deficit for the home, and in a few minutes the entire 
amount was subscribed on a half cash basis and the rest in six months 
pledge. Not only was the amount subscribed but it was more than a 
thousand dollars oversubscribed. In the building there is a splendid 
kitchen with modern equipment. The seating capacity of the building 
is 650 and there is a choir platform for more than eighty people. All 
this work was accomplished without soliciting anything from the 
public at large. Rev. Stout resigned as minister the first part of 
August, 1922, and he was succeeded by Rev. R. B. Hildebrand, who 
came from Billings, Oklahoma. 

Under the auspices of the First Presbyterian church of Casper, 
the North Casper Community church was established in the fall of 
1919, and on May 15, 1921, it was formally organized, with Rev. C. A. 
Marshall, formerly minister of Lingle, Wyoming, as the first pastor. 
A chapel was built in the fall of 1919 at 1009 North Durbin street and 
services were held irregularly until the church was regularly organized 
on the date stated above. Shortly after Rev. Marshall came to take 
charge of the church the membership was increased from about forty 
to more than 200 and the Sunday school attendance was increased 
from sixty to more than 160. This increased membership demanded 
more spacious quarters, and a large tabernacle was erected on the lot 
in the rear of the chapel. This church had its beginnmg in the work of 
Rev. Robert Marquis, a Presbyterian Sunday school missionary of 
Wyoming, and the first Sunday school services were held in a small 
tar-paper shack located at 130 East J street, the Sunday school being 
under Mrs. W. F. Hamilton. Rev. Benjamin B. Wmter succeeded 
Rev. Marshall in June, 1922, but on August 22, Rev. Winter died 
as the result of an operation for appendicitis, and October 22 the 
pulpit was supplied by Rev. George Woodard, who came from 
Broadway, Nebraska. 

A Community church, under the auspices of the Presbyterian 
church of Wyoming, was organized at Salt Creek early in July, 1922, 
and on July 8, Rev. Andrew Montgomery of St. Louis, Rev. Walter 
M. Irwin of Denver, Rev. E. T. Ferry of Greybull, Rev. J. F. Ver- 
non of Evanston and Rev. David McMartin of Cheyenne held 
services in the town. In August, 1922, Rev. Emery Zimmerman of 
Bellevue, Nebraska, was appointed to take charge of the work, who 
was the first minister to permanently locate in Salt Creek. 

A meeting was held in the First Methodist Episcopal church in 
Casper, July 5, 191 7, by the colored people of the town, when two 



138 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

hundred dollars was subscribed for the purpose of the organization of 
Grace African Methodist Episcopal church. Rev. R. L. Pape of 
Denver, the presiding elder of the Rocky Mountain district, assisted 
in the organization. Rev. J. O. Minor was the instigator of the meet- 
ing. There was an enrollment of fourteen members at this meeting. 
The first board of directors were H. C. Colman, Stark Oaklow, J. E. 
Russell, James Henry and T. McSwine. 

Sunday, October i, 1922, marked the organization of the Grace 
English Lutheran church in Casper. Rev. H. A. Anspach of Denver 
was in charge of the business and the installation. Rev. J. M. Cromer 
was selected as the pastor. The new church was organized with thirty- 
seven members. The council, or official board, elected, included: 
Robert V. Heinze and Thomas Thompson, elders; E. J. Chance, 
Albert Unger, and E. R. Redinski, deacons; and A. B. Shipstead, O. 
C. Hauptli, and Charles P. Ames, trustees. The organization pur- 
chased two lots on the corner of Ninth street and CY avenue and on 
Sunday, December 3, 1922, at 2:30 in the afternoon, at an outdoor 
service the ground was set apart for the holy purpose for which it was 
purchased. Addresses were made by a number of evangelical minis- 
ters and several other speakers. The church services were held in 
Odd Fellows hall until the chapel was finished. 

Among the other church organizations in the city of Casper which 
have been established in recent years are the Christian Science, with 
its church edifice located on the corner of Fourth and Grant streets; 
the Trinity Lutheran (Missouri Synod) with its church on the corner 
of Park avenue and Fourth street; the West Side chapel, on the corner 
of Poplar and Fifteenth streets, the Kenwood Presbyterian church, 
located in Kenwood addition; the second Christian church, located 
at 604 East H street; the church of the Latter Day Saints, holding 
services in the Labor Union Temple. 

Lodges and Clubs of Casper 

Casper lodge No. 15, Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons, was 
the first benevolent organization in the town of Casper. It was organ- 
ized September 13, 1893, and on December 27, 1893, it was instituted, 
constituted and consecrated. Grand Master E. F. Stahl of Cheyenne 
presided. The officers to serve for the first year were: Emerson H. 
Kimball, worshipful master; J. K. Calkins, senior warden; P. C. 
Nicolaysen, junior warden; M. P. Wheeler, secretary; D. A. Robert- 
son, treasurer; James H. Bury, senior deacon; B. B. Brooks, junior 
deacon; J. J. Hurt, senior steward; Wm. Hines, junior steward; R. J. 
Devenport, chaplain; Samuel A. Currier, tyler. The lodge meetings 



LODGES AND CLUBS OF CASPER 139 

were held in the room over D. A. Robertson's saloon, on the west side 
of Center street, on the corner of the alley south from Second street. 
Regular meetings were held in this building until 1896, when the 
meetings were held in the Odd Fellows building, which had just been 
completed, until December, 1914, when the Masonic Temple, on the 
corner of Center and Third (now First) streets was completed. The 
cornerstone of the temple was laid under the auspices of the Masonic 
grand lodge of Wyoming on August 26, 1914. A lead box was placed 
in the receptacle of the stone, and in the box were the original plans 
of the temple, copies of the proceedings of the Masonic grand lodge 
bodies of Wyoming, together with copies of the constitution and by- 
laws of the local Masonic and Eastern Star bodies, a history of the 
local Masonic lodge, a panoramic view of the town of Casper taken 
in 1914, copies of the three local newspapers (the Natrona County 
Tribune, the Casper Record and the Casper Press), various American 
coins of different denominations, a copy of the directory of the town 
of Casper, small sacks of corn and wheat and a head of native wheat. 
The temple is used exclusively for the Masonic organizations with a 
club room for the members in the sub-basement, a reading room for 
the men and a card room for the ladies on the second floor, a splendid 
radiophone and dance hall on the same floor, with banquet room and 
lodge rooms on the third floor. 

A meeting was called by John F. Leeper on October 3, 1894, for 
the purpose of organizing Fort Casper chapter No. 4, Order of the 
Eastern Star. At this meeting, there were sixteen members of the 
Masonic lodge present and fourteen ladies eligible to membership in 
the order. After it was decided to organize a chapter, officers were 
selected as follows: Mrs. Edness J. Kimball, worthy matron; John 
McGrath, worthy patron; Mrs. Anna M. Calkins, associate matron; 
Mrs. E. M. O'Neall, secretary; Mrs. Anna M. Seely, treasurer; Mrs. 
L. E. Townsend, conductress; Mrs. A. D. Robertson, associate con- 
ductress; Mrs. E. M. McCalmont, marshal; Miss F. C. Butler, 
warder; J. E. Daine, sentinel; Mrs. Sarah A. Bristol, chaplain; Mrs. 
Laura E. McGrath, organist; Mrs. Anna W. Denecke, Adah; Mrs. 
Berta N. Wheeler, Ruth; Mrs. R. A. Sprowll, Esther; Mrs. Belle 
Patton, Martha; Mrs. M. Hiestand, Electa. J. A. J. Stewart acted as 
deputy grand worthy patron and instituted the chapter on Thursday 
evening, November 29, 1894, with a membership of fifty-six, twenty- 
five ladies and thirty-one gentlemen. 

Capitol chapter. No. 8, Royal Arch Masons, was organized on 
December 27, 1897, and instituted December 28, 1897, with officers 
as follows: C. H. Townsend, high priest; DeForest Richards, king; 
E. P. Rohrbaugh, scribe; E. F. Stahl, captain of the host; H. Bungar, 



140 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

principal sojourner; C. H. Bryant, royal arch captain; J. V. Cantlln, 
master of third veil; John Morton, master of second veil; S. Solomon, 
master of first veil; K. McDonald, treasurer; A. D. Chamberlin, 
secretary. 

Apollo Commandery, Knights Templar, No. 8, was organized 
November 4, 1889, and constituted on June 7, 1900, and the officers 
elected and installed for the remainder of the year were: C. H. Town- 
send, eminent commander; L. C. Seely, generalissimo; B. B. Brooks, 
captain general; E. P. Rohrbaugh, prelate; N. S. Bristol, treasurer; 
A. J. Mokler, recorder; Patrick Sullivan, senior warden; Wm. Booker, 
warden; P. C. Nicolaysen, sword bearer; J. J. Svendsen, sentinel. 
Trustees: B. B, Brooks, Patrick Sullivan and W. S. Kimball. 

By authority from the illustrious grand master of the Royal and 
Select Masters, on the evening of April 30, 191 8, C. H. Townsend 
communicated the Cryptic degrees of Masonry to fifteen companions, 
and at a meeting held on May 8, 1918, Wyoming Council, No. i, 
Royal and Select Masters was organized in Casper, with the election 
of the following-named officers: C. H. Townsend, thrice illustrious 
master; E. P. Rohrbaugh, deputy master; M. P. Wheeler, principal 
conductor of the work; L. B. Townsend, treasurer; V. W. Mokler, 
recorder; H. F. Shaffer, captain of the guard; Lew M. Gay, conductor 
of the council; Oscar Hiestand, steward; W. F. Shaffer, sentinel. 
Casper lodge No. 22, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, was the 
second benevolent society to be organized in Casper. During the 
early part of February, 1894, the organization was perfected and for 
several weeks the members attended a school of instruction, and on 
Tuesday evening, February 27, 1894, the lodge was instituted and 
officers installed as follows: A. T. Seymour, noble grand; J. H. Bury, 
vice grand; H. A. Lilly, secretary; Lew Seely, treasurer; J. E. Dain, 
warden; Peter Heagney, conductor; Robert White, L.S.N.G.; 
Robert Crosthwait, R.S.N.G.; Frank Bull, R.S.V.G.; Dan Mc- 
Kenzie, L.S.V.G.; John McClure, R.S.S.; Charles P. Dasch, L.S.S.; 
P. A. Demorest, chaplain; George Walker, junior P.G., and D.D. 
G.M. The Odd Fellows building was constructed during the year 
1896, and the laying of the cornerstone occurred on September 22 
of that year. The services were under the auspices of the Odd 
Fellows, Masons and Order of the Eastern Star. The cornerstone 
was cut by Dan McKenzie, and in the center of the stone was placed 
a brass box made by Lewis D. Seely, the box containing copies of the 
by-laws of the Odd Fellows and Masonic lodges and a history and 
list of members of the Odd Fellows, Masonic, Encampment and 
Eastern Star lodges of Casper, together with copies of the town 
ordinances, the Natrona County Tribune, the JFyoming Derrick, the 



LODGES AND CLUBS OF CASPER I4I 

Cheyenne Sun-Leader and the Wyoming Tribune, a one dollar silver 
certificate of 1896, presented by John McGrath, a silver dollar of 
1894, the year of the organization of the lodge, and a nickel of 1896, 
both being presented by M. P. Wheeler, and a Columbian half 
dollar, presented by Robert White. The formal opening of the 
building was held on Christmas night of 1896, with a grand ball, to 
which the general public was invited. 

Enterprise Encampment No. 9, I.O.O.F., was instituted on 
December 18, 1895, and the following-named officers were elected to 
serve for the first year: James H. Bury, chief patriarch; J. E. Dain, 
high priest; L. C. Seely, senior warden; Colin Campbell, junior 
warden; M. P. Wheeler, scribe; Robert White, treasurer. 

Natrona Rebekah lodge No. 13 was organized December 5, 1901, 
and instituted on December 22, 1901, with the following officers: 
Mrs. M. P. Wheeler, noble grand; Mrs. L. C. Seely, vice grand; Mrs. 
E. B. Shaffner, secretary; Mrs. Hannah McClure, treasurer; Mrs. W. 
C. Ricker, conductor; Mrs. E. A. Johnson, chaplain; Miss Adah 
Turner, warden; Mrs. Frank Jameson, inside guard; Mrs. C. B. 
Miller, organist. 

W. L. Kuykendall Rebekah lodge No. 39 was instituted on June 
19, 1915. The officers for the first term were: Eva Sawyer, noble 
grand; Mable Keith, secretary; Rola Luxon, vice grand; Dorothy 
Lloyd, treasurer; Mary Keford, warden; Alice Ward, conductor; 
Myrtle Buxton, R.S.N.G.; Daisy Hubly, L.S.N.G.; Emma Kocher, 
L.S.V.G.; Mayme L. Davis, L.S.V.G.; Belle Henry, chaplain; C. M. 
Walker, inside guard; P. D. Cunningham, outside guard; Amy 
Deisher, musician. 

The Imperial Order of Muscovites, Kremlin Azov, was instituted 
April 16, 1921. The first officers elected were: Royal regent, A. T. 
Phillips; czar, E. Richard Shipp; royal counsellor, Lyle C. Garner 
royal grand duke, W. T. Bigler; royal governor, E. D. Hoffman 
minister of records, Ira W. Naylor; minister of finance, Elof Engdahl 
royal custodian, Oscar D. Miller; royal inspector, Byron Reid; inner 
guard, Arthur Kosanke; outer guard, George Rummel. 

Natrona Camp No. 331, Woodmen of the World, was organized 
in Casper on Saturday evening, November 28, 1896, with thirty-one 
charter members. The officers chosen for the first year were: Council 
commander, Alex. T. Butler; adviser lieutenant, S. W. Conwell; 
banker, Henry Bayer; clerk, A. E. Case; escort, Colin Campbell; 
watchman, George Moyer; sentry, Oscar Truax; physician, T. A. 
Dean; managers, E. B. Shaffner, E. D. Norton, and Patrick Sullivan. 

Casper aerie. Fraternal Order of Eagles, was instituted Saturday 
evening, January 24, 1903, with a charter membership of 127. Officers 



142 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

elected to serve for the first year were: President, John McGrath; 
vice president, John Curran; chaplain, E. F. Seaver; secretary, A. T. 
Phillips; treasurer, C. C. P. Webel; conductor, W. Forest; inside 
guard, C. C. Johnson; outside guard, J. M. Carpenter; trustees, Wm. 
Hines, J. A. Sheffner and C. M. Hawks; physician, T, A. Dean; dis- 
trict deputy, Charles Willet. 

Casper Lodge No. 19, Knights of Pythias, was instituted by 
Grand Chancellor E. E. LaFrienier on March 27, 1916. The officers 
the first year were: C. W. Thomas, chancellor commander; W. P. 
Holman, vice chancellor; C. P. Johnson, master of work; Perry 
Elswick, master at arms; Wilbur Foshay, master of finance; H. J. 
Peterson, master of exchequer; C. E. Littlefield, keeper of records 
and seal; J. M. Whisenhunt, inner guard; W. G. Breon, outer guard. 

Eunice Temple No. 16, Pythian Sisters, was instituted by Grand 
Chief Mary Paterson, April 8, 1920, with forty-one charter members, 
twenty-two sisters and nineteen knights. The officers for the first 
year were: Past Chief, Elva Anderson; M.E.C., Mina Whisenhunt; 
E.S., Zedda Hemry; E.J., Besse Collier; manager, Ethel Bunce; M. of 
R.C., Minnie Twiggs; M. of F., Lizzie Evers; protector, Lillian 
Hawes; guard, Sylvia Bauer. 

Abbas Temple No. 242, Dramatic Order Knights of Khorassan, 
was instituted by Deputy Imperial Prince Finis Bentley, February 
25, 1922, with a charter membership of 116. The officers elected to 
serve for the first year were: Royal viser, F. S. Price; grand emir, 
W. J. King; sheik, Byron Reid; mahedi, Clayton K. Reed; secretary, 
L. T. Hall; treasurer, H. E. Hawes; satrap, W. R. McMillian; sahib, 
Thomas Mulligan; mokamia, B. H. Holmes; saruk. Dean Wolcott; 
master of ceremonies, W. G. Schultzline; escorts, A. R. Jameson and 
Sam Weller; royal princes, E. E. Fitch, Laramie; J. H. Giroux, 
Sheridan; O. A. Sholz, Basin; W. P. Holman, Sr., Casper. 

The Loyal Order of Moose No. 11 82 has a large membership In 
Casper and in the early spring of 1919 purchased a building site on 
the northwest corner of A and Wolcott streets and appointed a 
committee to devise ways and means for the erection of a modern 
four-story building. The basement for the building was finished dur- 
ing the first year, but the main building, which cost in the neighbor- 
hood of $200,000, was not finished until the early months of 1923. 
The first two floors of this building are used for an auditorium, which 
has a seating capacity of about 2,300 people. The third floor is 
occupied by the lodge rooms and on the fourth floor are forty-six 
office rooms. The basement is used for club rooms for the members. 

Casper council No. 1563, Knights of Columbus, was instituted 
Sunday, April 23, 191 1. Forty members from Cheyenne, Chadron, 



LODGES AND CLUBS OF CASPER I43 

Denver and Omaha were present, and about forty men were initiated 
into the order. The following were the first officers: J. P. Cantillon, 
grand knight; Jeremiah Mahoney, deputy grand knight; W. F. Dunn, 
financial secretary; W. H. Maly, recording secretary; J. C. Kamp, 
chancellor; Edward Schulte, warden; C. E. Wheeler, treasurer; W. 
G. Noonan, inner guard; G. L. McKeever, outer guard; J. E. Schulte, 
advocate; T. B. McDonough, James McFadden and P. J. O'Connor, 
trustees. 

Casper Lodge, B. P. O. Elks No. 1353, was instituted May 18, 
191 8. Officers of Cheyenne Lodge No. 660 instituted the Lodge. 
There was a charter membership of sixty. The first officers were: 
A. E. Stirrett, exalted ruler; W. W. Keefe, esteemed leading knight; 
Edward J. Schulte, esteemed loyal knight; A. M. Garbutt, esteemed 
lecturing knight; Robert Cohen, secretary; W. J. Chamberlain, 
treasurer; C. W. Thomas, tiler; trustees, M. P. Wheeler, Oscar Hies- 
tand and Jeremiah Mahoney. The meetings were held in the Odd 
Fellows hall until late In the fall of 1921, when they were held in the 
Elks' home on the corner of Seventh and Center streets, which was 
erected at a cost of about one hundred thousand dollars. 

Caledonian clubs in Casper have been organized and re-organized, 
but after a short life of activity interest in these clubs began to wane, 
until early in the spring of 1920, when the members of the Caledonian 
club perfected the organization of Clan Stuart, No. 248, Order of 
Scottish Clans, for the purpose of keeping interest in the club. The 
Stuart Clan is under the jurisdiction of the Royal Clan, Order of 
Scottish Clans, in Boston, Massachusetts. Meetings of the local clan 
are held on the first and third Tuesdays of each month. Following is 
a list of the first officers of the organization: Peter Holden, chief; 
James Eraser, lanist; A. M. Weir, secretary; John Glendenning, 
financial secretary; David Eraser, treasurer; A. P. Kennedy, senior 
henchman; Wm. Duncan, junior henchman; Thomas Rutherford, 
chaplain; John Latta, seneschal; M. C. Keith, physician; Colin 
Sutherland, warder; Robert Little, sentinel; Ninian Duncan, piper. 

The Rotary Club of Casper, Wyoming, was organized on March 
12, 1919, with the following men as charter members: J. T. Gratiot, 
Earl C. Boyle, J. W. Johnson, J. C. Kamp, W. W. Keefe, Julian 
Lever, L. E. McMahon, Geo. B. Nelson, L. A. Reed, E. J. Schulte, 
Carl F. Shumaker, A. E. Stirrett, O. L. Walker, Ira G. Wetherill and 
M. P. Wheeler. The charter was granted on May i, 1919. J. T. 
Gratiot was elected president; O. L. Walker, vice-president; L. F. 
McMahon, secretary, and Carl Shumaker, treasurer. On April 12, 
1920, O. L. Walker was elected president; L. A. Reed, vice-president; 
C. F. Shumaker, treasurer, and Geo. B. Nelson, secretary. On April 11, 



144 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

1 92 1, L. A. Reed was elected president: A. E. Stirrett, vice-presi- 
dent; Geo. B. Nelson, secretary, and C. F. Shumaker, treasurer. 
On April 10, 1922, A. E. Stirrett was elected president; B. B. Brooks, 
vice-president; Geo. B. Nelson, secretary, and C. F. Shumaker, 
treasurer. During the life of the club the members have contributed 
to many worthy undertakings, among them being the Boy Scout cabin 
at the foot of Casper mountain, which was paid for entirely by the 
Rotary club and donated to the Boy Scouts. In 1921 the club equipped 
two playgrounds in Casper with apparatus at the expense of about 
$700 and also contributed $450 to the municipal swimming pool. In 
1921-22 the Rotarians gave gold medals to the best drilled private 
of Natrona County High school cadets, and gold medals to the girls 
in high school making the best record in domestic science. They have 
also contributed toward a college fund to help worthy boys and girls 
through college by lending them money without interest. Up until 
1923 two boys have been helped through college. Luncheons are 
held once each week for the purpose of taking up matters of interest 
to the community and promoting good fellowship. The club has the 
unique feature of having but one member from each line of business 
or profession. The motto of the club is: "He Profits Most Who 
Serves Best." On January i, 1923, the club had a membership of 
forty-one. 

The organization meeting of the Kiwanis club of Casper was held 
at the Henning hotel March 10, 1921. Preliminary work tending 
toward the organization of the club had been previously done by 
International Field Representative Edward C. Bacon, and at the 
time of the first meeting the charter membership roster had been 
closed with 103 names of Casper business and professional men, not 
more than two of whom were selected from one classification, and no 
two of whom represented the same firm. The first officers of the local 
branch of Kiwanis International were elected as follows: Charles A. 
Cullen, president; G. R. Hagens, first vice-president; H. R. Lathrop, 
second vice-president; Harry L. Black, secretary; L. B. Townsend, 
treasurer. A board of directors composed of the following members 
served during the first year: Hugh L. Patton, B. L. Scherck, Arthur 
K. Lee, Herbert J. Peterson, A. J. Cunningham, W. J. Bailey and 
George W. Campbell. The installation requirements of the inter- 
national organization were quickly complied with and on the evening 
of July I, 1921, the body was converted into a full-fledged branch of 
the Kiwanis International by the formal presentation of its charter 
by District Governor Clem W. Collins of Denver. From the time 
of its organization the Kiwanis club has devoted the interest and the 
influence of its membership on behalf of the civic good of the com- 



LODGES AND CLUBS OF CASPER I45 

munity. It has participated in every civic enterprise and rendered 
notable service to every worthy cause. No campaign for the support 
of the Casper Chamber of Commerce, Boy Scouts, Salvation Army, 
Red Cross, or other pubHcly supported organization, has been with- 
out one or more Kiwanis teams in the field. The most notable single- 
handed effort of the club has been the operation of the annual summer 
camp for girls of Casper, in which the club met all the expense over 
and above the camp fees of the girls. The local club has carried out 
faithfully the program of the international organization. It fostered 
and sponsored the organization of a Kiwanis club at Douglas. Its 
official organ is The Casper Kiwanian, issued bi-monthly by the 
club, publishing Kiwanis news, both of local and national interest. 
The live interest evinced by members in matters pertaining to the 
welfare of the community has made the Kiwanis club of Casper a 
strong factor in the civic life of the city. 

The Casper club of the Lions International was organized at the 
Henning hotel in Casper on April 23, 1922, with thirty-six charter 
members and the following-named officers: Burke H. Sinclair, 
president; M. C. Keith, first vice-president; John B. Barnes, second 
vice-president; Homer F. Shaffer, third vice-president; Robert N. 
Ogden, secretary; William H. Lloyd, Guy A. Holmes, Carl A. Taylor, 
Ray Cook, directors. Since the organization of the club it has had a 
very active career. The weekly meetings take the form of a dinner 
every Wednesday night and at this dinner, various questions per- 
taining to local civic affairs are discussed. During the time since the 
organization of the club the members have participated in all of the 
local public movements. In all drives for the purpose of raising funds 
for such organizations as the local Boy Scouts, Y. W. C. A., Salvation 
Army, Chamber of Commerce, etc., the club has been represented by 
an active working committee. The club has always entered into dis- 
cussion of civic problems with a constructive spirit and has attempted 
at all times to be in the forefront whenever action was demanded. 
Specifically, it might be mentioned that the club took the leading 
part and accomplished the greatest result in the Near East drive, 
which was held during the summer of 1922. Again, the club accepted 
the proposition of the Chamber of Commerce to provide funds for 
and look after the installation of one of the ornamental lights for the 
Platte river bridge near the city. These funds have been provided 
and the club chose as its pioneer after whom to name its light, Ezra 
Meeker, the famous traveler through this section of the country in 
the early days. One of the greatest achievements of the club has been 
the initiation of the community chest plan. The general objects and 
purposes of the Lion club in Casper, as in all other localities where 



146 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

such clubs exist, may be summed up by the following: To promote 
the theory and practice of the principles of good government and 
good citizenship. To take an active interest in the civic, commercial, 
social and moral welfare of the community. To unite the members 
in the bonds of friendship, good fellowship and mutual understanding. 
To provide a forum for the full and free discussion of all matters of 
public interest, partisan politics and sectarian religion alone excepted. 
To encourage efficiency and promote high ethical standards in business 
and professions; provided that no club shall hold out as one of its 
objects financial benefits to its members. 

The organization of the Casper Boy Scout council was fostered 
and promulgated by the Casper Chamber of Commerce. Within a 
short time the preliminary work was completed and March 24, 1920, 
a formal charter was granted to a representative group of Casper 
citizens for the conduct of a local council of Boy Scouts. Funds for 
the promotion and maintenance of this council are raised by popular 
subscription and the citizenship at large are satisfied that the money 
they contribute to this organization is one of the very best invest- 
ments they can make, for after two years they are convinced that 
the scout movement is character-building and the training for good 
citizenship among the boys, and it is sure to make real men out of the 
real boys. In August each year summer camps for the members of 
the troops are held in the mountains, lasting two weeks, and these 
camps are visited by many of the business and professional men of 
the city who show a deep interest in the welfare of the boys. The 
first year's budget, amounting to $8,000, was subscribed in less than 
two hours and each succeeding year the business men of the city have 
considered it a privilege and a pleasure to contribute for the support 
of this worthy organization. The Casper council has the largest 
membership of any council in the state. 

Casper's Water Supply 

A "system" of water works was first proposed for the town of 
Casper in the late autumn of 1890. The proposition was the "con- 
struction of a large irrigation canal, three miles long and twelve feet 
wide at the bottom, to be taken from the Platte river west of town, 
and carried over as much of the Carey land as possible, with laterals 
leading into and through the town." An engineer from Cheyenne 
surveyed the ditches, and if the scheme was carried to a successful 
conclusion, it was said by the citizens that Casper and the CY ranch 
would "blossom as the rose." The scheme was never carried out, 
however, and the people continued to pump the water from the wells 



CASPER S WATER SUPPLY I47 

that had been dug and to haul it from the river and Garden and 
Elkhorn creeks. The matter was officially brought up again in the 
early spring of 1891, when a notice was published in the newspapers 
of the town to the effect that "the citizens of Casper are requested 
to meet with the town council, at the town hall, on Monday evening, 
March 16, at 7:30 o'clock, to discuss the feasibility and advisability 
of providing a system of water works for the city. The council de- 
sires to ascertain the true sentiment of the town, not only as to the 
advisability and practicability of securing a water works system, but 
concerning the kind of system to be adopted, in case the sentiment of 
the meeting is favorable for the construction." 

The water supply for the town in those days was furnished by 
shallow dug wells in the residence section, and on Center street there 
were three wells and two on Second street. The wells in the business 
part of town were mainly for fire protection. They were equipped 
with a force pump with double handles, so that four men could oper- 
ate them, and thus keep the bucket brigade supplied with water in 
case of a fire. Luckily, however, there were few fires. 

The water in the wells in all parts of the town became polluted 
in a short time, and sickness and death resulted, especially among the 
children. Then the water that was used for drinking and cooking was 
hauled in barrels from Elkhorn and Garden creeks. 

At the meeting held on the date mentioned above, the local news- 
paper said that a "large number of citizens met with the council," 
and it was stated that "it had been found that the water could be 
piped a distance of five and one-fourth miles to a reservoir on a hill 
one mile southeast of town, from which a main pipe could be laid to 
the city." No one at the meeting could give any definite figures as 
to the cost of the system, "but it was thought ^10,000 would be 
ample." A committee, consisting of P. A. Demorest, A. McKinney, 
C. K, Bucknum, P. C. Nicolaysen and William Kranish was ap- 
pointed to secure estimates on different systems and ascertain which 
was the cheapest and best. 

In about two weeks this committee met with the town council 
and made its report to the effect that it "favored a windmill and tank 
system, the tank to be located just north of town, on a line with 
Center street (where the court house is now located). From the 
tank it was proposed to lay a water main to First (now Midwest 
avenue) and Center street, thence east one block. The line was to be 
extended east on Second street to Durbin street and west to David 
street. The tank was to be 16x24 feet, on a forty-foot tower, and to 
have a capacity of 16,000 barrels, which would give sufficient pressure 
to throw a stream fifty feet high. A twenty-foot wheel windmill was 



148 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

proposed. This system, including 750 feet of fire hose, nozzles, etc., 
exclusive of digging the well, would cost about $8,000. 

It was proposed to issue bonds in the amount of $5,000 for the 
construction of such a system, and accordingly a proclamation was 
issued by the town council for an election to be held on May 12, 1891, 
to vote upon such bonds. Before the election was held, however, 
there was a remonstrance circulated and numerously signed by 
citizens and taxpayers against the issuance of the bonds on the 
grounds that such a system was inadequate. 

At the election fifty-one votes were cast for the bonds and thirty- 
one votes against, but the vote proved to be irregular and illegal on 
account of the fact that there was not one vote cast in accordance 
with the instructions on the ballot, and the bonds failed to carry. 
Thus the matter of water works was held up for a number of years 
and the people continued to pump the water from wells and have it 
hauled in barrels from the river and the creeks. 

On Monday, September 4, 1893, at a meeting of the town council, 
Mayor C. K. Bucknum entertained a motion from Councilman John 
McGrath to the eflPect that the town of Casper vote water bonds to 
the amount of $30,000, and on Tuesday following a special meeting 
of the council was held and an ordinance and proclamation were 
read and approved calling for a special election on Tuesday, October 
10, 1893, submitting the proposition to the qualified electors of the 
town to issue bonds in the amount of $30,000, for the purpose of 
constructing, purchasing, extending, maintaining, and regulating a 
system of water works to supply the town of Casper with water for 
the extinguishing of fires and for the supply of the inhabitants thereof 
with water for domestic, manufacturing, and other purposes. 

The election was held and the bonds were carried, and a survey 
was made for a gravity system and the estimate of the cost sub- 
mitted, the estimate providing for a reservoir 60x132 feet, twenty 
feet deep, to contain 1,188,000 gallons of water, sufficient for a town 
with a population of 2,000. Twenty-five fire plugs to be distributed 
throughout the city were also provided for and the entire cost was 
estimated at $26,670. 

The bonds were advertised to be sold at 12 o'clock on December 
15, 1893, but no bids were received on that date. Consequently, the 
bonds were not sold. 

At an adjourned meeting of the town council held on Saturday, 
December 16, 1893, an option was taken from Adam & Williams for 
water right number one from the east fork of Elkhorn creek, the con- 
tract calling for a perpetual supply of water to the volume of six- 
tenths of a cubic foot per second, which would be adequate for a 



CASPER S WATER SUPPLY I49 

population of over 3,000. The amount agreed upon for the payment 
of this water right was $1,500, the option on the right to hold good 
until July i, 1894. Two hundred fifty dollars of the purchase price 
was paid in advance. 

On February 8, 1894, J. A. Jones, representing the Michigan Pipe 
Line company of Bay City, Michigan, submitted a proposition to the 
town council to survey the line, furnish and lay the pipe, build the 
reservoir, and furnish the whole system for the sum of $30,000 in 6 
per cent gold bonds of the town of Casper, the work to commence as 
soon as the frost was out of the ground, and continue without inter- 
ruption until completed. 

The proposition was accepted by the town council and a contract 
was to be drawn up and signed before March 15, 1894. The contract 
was not signed, however, on account of Jones failing to put in an 
appearance, and the town council thereupon rejected the proposition 
of the Michigan Pipe Line company. Another effort was made to sell 
the bonds, but on account of the stringency in the money market and 
the unsettled condition generally, the bonds were not sold. 

A petition was circulated among the people of the town asking 
them to subscribe for the bonds, but at that time the people felt that 
they could not spare the money, and the money was not raised. Again 
the water works system for Casper failed to materialize. With all 
hope gone, the town council ordered that the five town wells, with 
their hand pumps, be put in shape to afford fire protection with the 
bucket brigade, and water was hauled to town in barrels with team 
and wagon for domestic purposes and sold at very reasonable prices, 
as will be noted from the following advertisement which appeared in 
the local newspapers: 

"On July 24, 1895, ^- E- Seeley will commence delivering pure mountain water 
in the city. This water is as soft as rainwater and is taken from Garden creek, only a 
short distance this side of the falls, and is free from alkali and all impurities. For wash- 
ing or drinking purposes it will pay to use this water. Mr. Seeley will run his wagon 
daily and he should receive a liberal patronage. He will deliver in either barrel or half- 
barrel lots, to suit the customer. The price is fixed at 35 cents per barrel." 

Mr. Seeley furnished the water for the residents of the town 
during the summer of 1895. 

On June 12, 1895, a special election was called for July 13, 1895, 
authorizing the issuance of bonds to the amount of $23,000, for the 
purpose of "constructing, purchasing, extending, maintaining and 
regulating a system of water works to supply the said town of Casper 
with water, for the supplying of the inhabitants thereof with water 
for domestic and manufacturing purposes." George B. McCalmont 
was mayor, W. A. Denecke, J. A. Warner, P. C. Nicolaysen and John 



150 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

McGrath were members of the council when the election proclamation 
was issued. At the special election 236 votes were cast for the bonds 
and there were only two votes cast against the proposition. 

The bonds were sold on August 24, 1895, and bids for the con- 
struction of the system were advertised, to be opened at 12 o'clock, 
September 16, 1895. C. E. McGarvey, of Cheyenne, was the success- 
ful bidder, his price being ^23,000 in water bonds, $6,000 in town 
warrants, payable in one, two, and three years, and $3,000 in cash. 
Work was commenced at once, beginning at Elkhorn creek, about 
seven miles south of town. At the intake a dam fifty feet in width 
and nine feet high backed the water up 150 yards, and below this dam 
was built the setthng basm. For the first 9,000 feet, the mains were 
of eight-inch pipe, and then for 18,000 feet, the pipe was six inches, 
after which a four-inch pipe carried the water to the town. The fall 
from the dam on the foothills of Casper mountain to the level of the 
town is about 900 feet, and three pressure regulators were installed 
and the pressure was to be reduced to seventy-five pounds. Work 
progressed very slowly on account of digging the ditches in some places 
through solid rock, but in the early spring of 1896 the mains were 
being laid in the streets of the town, and on Tuesday, May 26, 1896, 
the water was in the pipes in the town. In the evening on that date 
a test was made by the firemen before the town council and a large 
number of citizens. The first connection was made at 6:30 at the 
corner of First (now Midwest avenue) and Center streets and when the 
water was turned on a two-inch stream shot into the air 120 feet; the 
stream was turned on the Natrona hotel and the adjacent buildings, 
as well as on a considerable number of people who did not succeed in 
getting a safe distance away. After half an hour's thorough test at 
this point, the hose was then connected at the corner of Second and 
Center streets, and the stream of water was shot on top and over the 
Grand Central hotel; the full force was turned on the roof of the 
Metcalf store (where the Rialto theatre is now located) and hundreds 
of shingles were ripped off from the roof of the building by the force 
of the water; a great many more of the spectators were drenched, and 
when the mayor and town council pronounced the demonstrations 
satisfactory and signified that the system would be accepted, pan- 
demonium broke loose, and it was not the water from Elkhorn creek 
that was drunk by most of the male population that night, but the 
next morning the cool and refreshing HoO was in great demand. 

There were nine saloons on the west side of Center street at that 
time and the crowd lined up in front of the bar six deep at the first 
saloon. After all had participated in the libations, they went on to 
the next saloon, and then to the next and the next, adding to their 



CASPER S WATER SUPPLY I5I 

numbers a great many people as they progressed down the row to the 
last saloon. If a man refused to buy, his body was hoisted onto the 
bar, and his valuables and clothing were stripped from him and held 
as security for payment of the round of drinks. There were not many 
who refused to buy, and none refused to partake. 

The main celebration was over before midnight, and those who 
could walk, wended their way home, and those who could not navigate, 
and there were many in that condition, were allowed to rest wherever 
they might fall until their minds cleared and their legs became less 
wabbly and then they too, found their way home and slept off the 
effects of their over-indulgence. 

At that time Casper's population was less than 1,000 and the 
amount of water consumed was amply supplied by this system for a 
number of years. 

November 6, 1897, a contract was awarded Noel R. Gascho and 
Charles Atmore by the town council to put in about 1,700 feet of 
additional water main to the city water plant, the pipe to be laid on 
First and Maple, and Third and Beech streets, to be completed by 
December i. Their bond was duly approved and the work of putting 
in the pipe was begun at once. Their bid was to put in the pipe for 
14^ cents per foot, the town to furnish the pipe. 

The reservoir about a mile south of town was built in the summer 
of 1899 at a cost of ^3,455. The construction is brick and concrete; 
the wall is four feet thick at the bottom and two feet thick at the 
top, and it is 12 feet deep. 

In less than three years after the system had been installed the 
alkaline in the water had eaten its way through the steel spiral pipe 
in more than a hundred places; there were leaks all along the line from 
the reservoir to the town, and the mains throughout the town were 
continually bursting. Several men were kept busy all the time making 
repairs and replacing the pipe. In the summer and fall of 1900 more 
than $7,500 was expended in replacing the steel spiral pipe, which 
had become so rusted and rotten that it was useless, with cast iron 
pipe, and in the summers of 1901 and 1902 all the spiral pipe in town 
was torn out and replaced with cast iron pipe. 

In July, 1905, there were 244 residences supplied with water from 
the municipal water works, 82 private stables, 25 private baths, 47 
closets, 9 saloons, 3 blacksmith shops, 3 barbershops, 4 apartments, 
3 meat markets, 2 laundries, 4 hotels, 6 restaurants, i boarding house, 
15 stores, 18 offices, i bottling works, i tobacco manufacturer, i 
tailor shop, 3 lodging houses, 2 banks, 3 motors, i electric light plant, 
I oil refinery, I depot tank, 3 churches, i reading room, 2 school 
houses and 4 livery stables. 



152 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Clarence T. Johnston, the state engineer, made a survey and 
located the site for the Sage creek reservoir in June, 1906. The esti- 
mated cost for the construction of this reservoir was between $5,000 
and $6,000. A great many improvements had been made in the 
water works system this year, and the steel spiral main leading from 
the reservoir to town had been replaced with 30,000 pounds of cast 
iron mains. The Sage creek reservoir, about four miles south of 
Casper, was finished in the fall of 1907. With these improvements it 
was thought that Casper was provided with a water works system 
that would supply the demand for a great many years, but on July 2, 

1910, at a special election, the people voted in favor of $25,000 water 
bonds and $20,000 sewer bonds. These bonds were sold in January, 

191 1, and during the summer of that year the money was expended 
for new pipe and other improvements. But the population of the 
town increased so rapidly that bonds were voted on May 17, 1914, in 
the amount of $75,000 for the purpose of purchasing and installing a 
pumping plant, the securing of water rights and the laying of a ten- 
inch main to the lower reservoir. Fifteen thousand dollars in bonds 
were voted at the same time for the extension of Casper's sewer 
system, but in less than five years it was found necessary to issue 
bonds in the amount of $260,000 for water bonds, and $60,000 for 
sewer bonds, the special election being held on March 19, 1919, for 
this purpose. A new pumping plant, a new water gallery in the Platte 
river a mile west from town and new mains doubled the capacity of 
the water system, and when these improvements were completed in 
December, 1920, 2,500 gallons of water a minute could be supplied the 
city. In 1919, 204,452,131 gallons of water was used by consumers 
in Casper, against 141,784,700 gallons used in 1918. On October 4, 
1920, a chlorination plant was ordered installed for the purification 
of Casper's water supply. In 1921 practically $35,000 was expended 
by the city for water works improvements and extensions. 

At the beginning of the year 1922 Casper's water works system 
was estimated to be valued at about $705,000. Included in this 
property are the two engines and pumps, valued at about $32,000; the 
pumping station, filter galleries, traps, land, etc., valued at $138,000; 
dams, reservoirs, pipe, etc., valued at half a million dollars; with a 
thousand and one odd articles of sufficient value to bring the whole 
up to the above estimated value. Water bonds amounting to $914,000 
were outstanding against the city of Casper on January i, 1922. 

During the year 1921, water rents collected from consumers 
amounted to $90,381 .91, and the disbursements for this department 
was $71,273.84, thus showing a profit to the city from the water 
department of $19,108.07. 



CASPER'S FIRE DEPARTMENTS I53 

Casper's Fire Departments 

Nine citizens of the town of Casper met in Henry A. Lilly's office 
at 7:30 in the evening of October 12, 1895, for the purpose of organiz- 
ing a volunteer fire company, the duty of the members of which, 
according to a resolution adopted at the first meeting, was the "fight- 
ing of fires, if any should occur at any time." 

The meeting was called to order by H. A. Lilly, and, upon motion, 
Mr. Lilly acted as the regular chairman during the evening, and W. 
S. Irwin was the secretary. The others who were present at this meet- 
ing were W. C. Ricker, Sam Demorest, Emanuel Erben, B. F. Blair, 
J. B. Miller, E. Jones and C. E. Nichols. Mr. Lilly was elected chief, 
or foreman of the company; W. C. Ricker, assistant chief; Sam Demo- 
rest, hose captain; W. S. Irwin, pipeman and nozzleman; Emanuel 
Erben, treasurer, and W. S. Irwin, secretary. 

The next meeting was held on the 19th of October, when the 
constitution and by-laws were adopted. A ruling was made that all 
those who became members in the future should pay fifty cents as 
initiation fee, but those who were already members should be exempt 
from the payment of this fee. A collection was taken up among the 
members at this second meeting to purchase stationery for the de- 
partment, and ^1.95 was donated. At this meeting the names of 
Thomas Clark, Charles Warner, C. H. Townsend and R. R. Phoenix 
were added to the membership list. It was decided that the firemen's 
uniform should consist of a blue shirt with red collar, with the initials 
"C. F. D. No. I." worked on the front of the shirt in white. A red 
belt, with ordinary trousers, completed the uniform. At the meeting 
held October 26 the names of J. E. Lovejoy, W. F. McMillen and 
Henry Bayer were added to its membership roll, and at the meeting 
held on December 28, Patrick Sullivan and W. A. Denecke were ad- 
mitted as members. On January 4, 1896, Colin Campbell, John T. 
McGrath, Douglas Fuller, Walter Trotman, W. S. Kimball, R. C. 
Swift, Oscar Hiestand, George Rhoades, Carl Sommers, Albert 
White, and George Moyer were elected as members. At this meeting 
C. H. Townsend was elected chief; John McGrath, assistant chief; 
Colin Campbell, second assistant chief; H. A. Lilly, captain; J. E. 
Lovejoy, secretary, and W. S. Kimball, treasurer. 

The first dance given by the fire company was on New Year's 
eve, 1895, snd the report of the committee showed that fifty-six 
tickets were sold at ^i.oo per ticket. The expense items were: 
Music, ^12.50; piano, $5.00; printing, $3.00; wax, 50c; distributing 
bills, 50c; dray and caller, $2.00. Total, ^32.50. The next dance 
was given on Saint Valentine's day, February 14, and it was the 



154 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

custom of this company for the first few years to give a dance on the 
evening of Saint Valentine's day, but in later years the date of the 
annual ball was changed to Washington's birthday. Every business 
man in Casper bought at least one ticket and some of them bought a 
dozen, and it was by this means the members of the company 
secured the money with which to purchase their paraphernalia and 
apparatus. In addition to the money raised by this means, some of 
the business men made an annual donation and the town council 
would occasionally m.ake a small appropriation for the benefit of the 
company. 

One hose cart, with 150 feet of hose, and a nozzle and a trumpet 
for the chief, was the complete list of the property first purchased by 
this company, but how the firemen at that time used the hose is a 
mystery, for there were no water works in Casper then and when a 
fire occurred the flames were fought by a "bucket brigade." The 
water was pumped from the town wells by means of hand pumps and 
the buckets of water were passed from man to man from the pump 
to the scene of the fire. 

After the water system was in operation the hose cart and the 
150 feet of hose were put into use and after a few years a second cart 
and more hose were purchased. The alarm of fire was sounded by 
ringing the bell which was in the town hall tower and the house for the 
hose carts was immediately south of the town hall. These hose carts 
were transported from the hose house to the scene of the fire by about 
a dozen men who pulled on a long rope fastened to the front of the 
cart and about six men would take their places behind the cart and 
push. It was hard work and the quick time could not be made that 
is made nowadays with the auto carts and trucks and engines, but 
the town was small and the distance to the farthest house within the 
town limits was not much more than four or five blocks from the hose 
house. 

This hose company was the winner of many prizes in contests of 
"hose racing," defeating the Douglas company as well as other com- 
panies in the state. A dozen men belonged to the racing team, eight 
of whom wore a harness and they were hitched to the front of the 
cart. Two men ran behind the cart, but they were not allowed to 
push, but after running a given distance one of the men in the rear 
stretched the hose to a fire plug and the other man made the con- 
nection of the hose to the plug. When a certain length of hose had 
been reached the nozzle was connected with the hose and the water 
was then turned on and when the stream of water spurted out of the 
nozzle, the time was taken from the time of the start. The team 
doing all this in the least time was the winner. These contests were 






.'!*T«'V3«C^''*''' 



F 



¥■ 





Casper Fire Department, ign 
m Irft to right— Top nnv: S. W. Conwell, Wilbur Foshay', W. F. Dunn, Z. (J. Miller, 
George Kropp, Charles Warner, Jeremiah Mahoney, Jerry Donovan. Second rozv: John 
Keil, John Hammon, J. West McDowell, Oscar Hiestand (Assistant Chief), Harold 
Banner (Chief), Wm. Jones, Wm. Kropp, Jack Stacey, Dave Williams. Bottom row: 
f red \ lUnave, Frank Sturgeon, Wm. Tripenx-, J. F. Scott, Jake Nelson. Ro\- Sample. 



CASPER S FIRE DEPARTMENTS I55 

exciting and oftentimes there was only a few seconds' difference in 
the time made by the teams. 

When Casper grew to be quite a large town and the dwelling 
houses were built as far as ten and twelve blocks from the hose house, 
arrangements were made with the draymen to haul the hose carts to 
the fires; the first drayman to arrive at the hose house after an alarm 
had been turned in got the job and he was paid two dollars for his 
services. 

The firemen were exempt from jury duty and the town made no 
charge against them for the use of water at their residences. A list of 
the firemen was filed with the county clerk each year in order that 
they might be exempted from jury duty and the lists filed in 1900 and 
1901 included the following names: C. H. Warner, W. C. Ricker, 
E. Erben, C. E. Nichols, P. C. Hays, C. C. P. Webel, W. G. Smith, 
A. F. HofF, E. D. Fry, Joe Watson, O. Hiestand, W. A. Denecke, 
John Duncan, J. B. Miller, J. M. Hammon, C. M. Robinson, C. M. 
Hawks, James L. Craig, J. A. Sheffner, W. W. Mokler, F. D. Ham- 
mond, W. S. Kimball, E. B. Shafl'ner, H. G. Duhling, S. W. Conwell, 
R. J. Allen, W. T. Evans, M. O. Fairchild, W. J. Evans, D. M. 
Lobdell, V. E. Stutzman, Wm. Jones, John DeVore, Glen Coen, 
Ralph Galbraith, D. D. Crum, J. C. Rooney, C. C. Johnson, Joe 
Erben. 

New equipment was added year after year, and Casper's fire 
department was the chief pride of her citizens. On May 3, 1910, a 
new auto truck was purchased, costing $4,500, and the people were 
satisfied they had the last word in the way of fire protection. B. A. 
Elias was paid $75 per month for the housing of this truck, and for 
this amount he also kept a man on duty day and night to operate 
the truck when an alarm might be turned in. A few years later the 
town hall was fixed up for a fire house, where the auto truck with all 
the other fire fighting apparatus was kept, and one fireman was hired 
to remain at the station. His salary was $100 per month, and he was 
given living apartments upstairs for his family. 

As the new equipment was added from time to time the duties 
of the members steadily increased until there were two paid firemen 
on duty both day and night, and on May 4, 1917, the volunteer fire 
department, by resolution, transferred all of its paraphernaHa and 
apparatus to the city of Casper, and petitioned the city government 
to immediately establish a fire department under the provisions of 
the law for such purpose, Casper having been declared by the governor 
of the state a city of the first class. There were but seventeen mem- 
bers of the department when this action was taken, and, it seems, 
that some of the membership were opposed to any new members 



156 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

being added, for every applicant to become a member received a 
sufficient number of negative votes to reject his application, and this, 
no doubt, was the cause of the m.ajority of the members being in favor 
of the company's dissolution, for the department was reorganized on 
June 8, 191 7, with sixteen charter members. 

During this year thirty-five fire alarms were answered by the 
department, and there was an estimated loss of ^130,200 during the 
year, which was the greatest loss by fire of any single year in the 
history of the town. 

The last meeting of record of this company was held on December 
12, 1918. At this meeting officers were elected for the ensuing year as 
follows: Chief, Oscar Hiestand; assistant chief, S. W. Conwell; 
secretary, John T. Scott; treasurer, Wilbur Foshay. The membership 
when the last meeting was held included the names of Oscar Hiestand 
and S. W. Conwell, who joined the organization in 1896, and to these 
two members were given the highest honors that it was possible for 
the membership to bestow upon them — chief and assistant chief. 
Although no more official meetings are held, the organization has not 
dissolved and will not until disposition is made of a fund of about 
$2,000 which will be expended for a memorial that will appropriately 
serve as a reminder to the citizens of Casper that this body of men 
freely gave their services in a cause where there was no hope of 
reward except the satisfaction of saving the people's property from 
destruction by fire. 

The city had grown so rapidly and the duties of the firemen were 
so many that the members of the volunteer company could not meet 
the demands required of them, and at their request the city council 
installed a paid department, and the volunteers then retired. Insofar 
as fighting fires was concerned. 

In April, 1920, a special committee was appointed by the city 
council for the purpose of investigating into the advisability of pur- 
chasing a La France aerial ladder truck, a 750-gallon pumper, a 
Gamewell fire alarm system, providing for sixty fire alarm boxes, five 
police alarm boxes, and two gong signals, the erection of a fire station 
and a municipal garage, the new building to be on David street, be- 
tween West Yellow^stone Highway and Midwest avenue. The com- 
mittee, after a thorough investigation, reported that all these things 
were necessary for the protection of the city, and the city council, by 
resolution, authorized the purchase of the apparatus and ordered 
plans drawn for the fire station and the municipal garage, and a bond 
issue of $85,000 to raise funds for the payment of the above, was 
ordered to be voted upon at a special election. At the special election 
the bonds received a favorable vote and the apparatus was purchased 



SOME OF CASPER S FIRES I57 

and the new building erected, and Casper today has a fire fighting 
apparatus and buildings to house the equipment and the nineteen 
firemen which are second to none in the state and equal to that of 
many cities with a population of 150,000. 



Some of Casper's Fires 

The first fire of any consequence to occur in Casper was on the 
morning of August 24, 1893, at 1:45, when the house in which Dr. L. 
G. Powell was living was totally destroyed. Marshal John Merritt 
discovered the flames and aroused the people in the town by firing 
six shots from his revolver. The flames had gotten under such head- 
way that nothing could be saved except a few pieces of furniture. The 
house was valued at about two hundred dollars, and the furniture at 
two thousand dollars. There was no insurance on the house, but 
there was nine hundred dollars insurance on the furniture. "It 
fortunately happened," says a newspaper item, "that Mrs. Powell 
had arranged to leave for Chicago the same morning, and her trunk, 
containing considerable wearing apparel, was at the railroad station. 
She also left some pictures and other things of value with some of the 
neighbors a few days before the fire occurred." About four weeks 
later Dr. Powell was arrested upon the charge of arson. The trial 
was had before Justice A. J. Irwin on October 5. G. B. McCalmont, 
county attorney, prosecuted the case, and Alex T. Butler appeared 
for the defense. The trial consumed half the day, at the end of which 
the prosecuting attorney announced that on account of some of the 
main witnesses refusing to answer certain questions, because they 
might incriminate themselves, the prosecution had no case, and in jus- 
tice to the taxpayers itwas useless to hold the defendant to the district 
court for trial. The case was thereupon dismissed, and in the evening 
a dance was given in compliment to Dr. Powell and his attorney. 

On the night of July i, 1899, about fifty Casper citizens engaged 
in a friendly fight with fire works from 9:30 until i o'clock in the 
morning. H. L. Patton started the fight with the discharge of a 
thirty-ball Roman candle into J. S. VanDoren's confectionery store. 
Mr. VanDoren returned the fire, but instead of hitting Mr. Patton, 
H. L. Duhling's store received the full charge, and this brought Mr. 
Duhling out of his store with an arm load of fire works which he dis- 
tributed to every man that came along. Mr. Patton and Mr. Duhling 
and their force of men were lined up on the west side of Center street 
and Mr. VanDoren gathered a force of men on the east side of the 
street. An occasional dash was made by a dozen men to the center 
of the street with Roman candles and close range firing resulted, until 



1^8 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

one or the other side was repulsed and retreated to shelter. More 
than a thousand Roman candles were fired and many of the partici- 
pants were burned. In time the supply of Roman candles was 
exhausted and sky rockets were then used as weapons. Boxes were 
piled up on the sidew^alk and from behind these boxes the rockets 
were fired across the street. The fight brought out a large number 
of people to witness the display of fire works and the heroism of the 
participants. In order that the spectators should be thoroughly sat- 
isfied both sides finally fired into the non-combatants, and they were 
chased up and down the streets and alleys until they found protect- 
ion in some building or made good their escape in some dark corner 
of an alley. When the fight ended there was not a Roman candle or 
a sky rocket left in the town, and in order to supply the demand of 
the citizens to properly celebrate the Fourth, fire works were shipped 
in by express from Douglas, Chadron and Cheyenne. 

The warehouse belonging to the Chicago & Northwestern Rail- 
way company in Casper was destroyed by fire at about ii o'clock in 
the forenoon, March 14, 1917. Up to this time this was the most 
disastrous fire that had occurred in Casper, the loss amounting to 
about $30,000. Many of the local stores had goods stored there 
which had been shipped in from wholesale houses. The origin of the 
fire was unknown. 

At about 5 o'clock in the morning January 14, 1918, fire broke 
out in the plant of the Natrona Electric company and the building 
and machinery was almost wholly destroyed. Many of the business 
houses in Casper were heated by this plant and they were without 
heat or light except that which was furnished by the Wyoming 
Electric company, w^ho connected the wires and heating plant with 
their system that same day, but the load was so heavy for this system 
that the stores and all business houses were ordered not to open 
before 8 o'clock in the morning and close at 5 o'clock in the evening, 
and use as little light as possible. The picture shows, churches and 
lodge rooms were closed, and but one light in each residence in town 
was allowed to be used. Only the hospitals and newspaper offices 
were allowed to use the current without restriction. The lighting 
restrictions were lifted in the business district on February 23, but it 
was a month later before the residence districts were allowed to use 
more than one light in each house. 

Fire in the Wyoming Electric company's plant on September 5, 
1918, caused a loss of $7,500 to the machinery, but had no effect on 
the lighting system about town. 

The Union Tank Line company's shops on the Midwest Refinmg 
company's property about half a mile west from Casper were de- 



SOME OF Casper's fires 159 

stroyed by fire at noon on June 18, 1919. The shops were entirely 
destroyed in about fifteen minutes after the fire was discovered. The 
loss was estimated at about ^60,000. 

The spectacle of a half million barrels of oil blazing forth in the 
night time from seven huge steel tanks is one of the most magnificent 
sights that nature can afford. The sweeping streaks of fire, the lam- 
ent flames, the billows of smoke, black as jet, rolling hundreds of feet 
high, and through this smoke the glare of the flames, the reflection of 
the brilliant light in the clouds, the flitting forms of a thousand men 
working in the tank farm among the many other tanks, where millions 
of barrels of oil are stored, to save them from being ignited by the 
seething, fiery furnaces, is a scene of truly terrible sublimity that 
baflfles description. But this was the scene witnessed by more than 
twenty thousand people in Casper during the nights of June 17 and 
18, 1921. 

At about 2:30 in the afternoon of June 17 seven of the tanks, 
located in the Midwest tank farm, on the north side of the river, 
about half a mile west from Casper, were ignited by lightning striking 
one of them and the bolt being carried from one to another until the 
seven large containers were ablaze. There was a heavy downpour 
of rain, almost equal to a cloudburst, when the bolt came from the 
sky, but the heavy downpour had no effect whatever on the burning 
oil. But little effort was made to subdue the flames in the burning 
tanks, but a thousand men worked both night and day throwing 
up dykes around the other tanks and keeping a stream of water 
pouring over them and using every other known means to keep them 
from igniting. 

After burning for about sixty hours the twisted and gnarled piles 
of smoke-blackened steel were all that remained of the property that 
represented more than five hundred thousand dollars. This was the 
most disastrous blaze that ever occurred in Natrona county. In fact 
the loss amounted to more than all the fires combined that had oc- 
curred since the organization of the county. 

On July 2 another tank, located almost in the center of the re- 
finery plant, on the south side of the river, was struck by lightning. 
Fanned by a brisk southwest wind, the blaze jeopardized not only the 
other tanks in its proximity, but the entire refining plants of the Mid- 
west and Standard companies, whose valuation was at least twenty 
millions of dollars, were in jeopardy. The flames shooting skyward, 
the burning timbers from the wooden top of the tank falling into the 
flood of burning oil, the prevailing high wind, and the tank being full 
of oil to the very top and the foamite failing to have any effect, were 
causes enough to lead the oflficials of the company to beheve that the 



l6o HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

seven tanks of oil destroyed only a few weeks before, would be a 
small loss, compared to this one, but in half an hour the wind swerved 
to the northwest, the oil in the tank had burned down about four 
inches, and the foamite was effectively used, and then the blaze was 
under control, and in a short time was entirely subdued, with very 
small loss. 

Another tank, on the north side of the river, containing 80,000 
barrels of oil, was struck by lightning on July 13, at about 6 o'clock in 
the evening. About 50,000 barrels of the oil was drawn from the 
bottom of the tank and salvaged, but the loss of the oil and the 
destruction of the tank amounted to about ^50,000. And again on 
July 18 two more tanks on the north side of the river were struck by 
lightning. Out of the 155,000 barrels of oil in these two tanks 85,000 
barrels were salvaged by being pumped out. The fire in one of the 
tanks was extinguished after considerable oil had burned, but the 
other was a total loss, the oil burning for about sixty hours, and 
during those sixty hours the stupendous sight of the rushing blasts, 
caused by the rarefied air, roared and whirled forth the flames in 
impetuous wreaths, the scene of the sheets of flame and clouds of 
lurid smoke, which, in the night time, resembled the craters of 
volcanoes, were awe-inspiring and a scene never to be forgotten. 

The four fires, from June 17 to July 18, all of which were caused 
from lightning, resulted in a loss of fully a million dollars, and dis- 
pelled the axiom that "lightning never strikes twice in the same 
place," which, no doubt, originated before there were any oil tank 
farms. 

During an electrical storm on Sunday afternoon, June 18, 1922, 
lightning struck two tanks containing crude oil belonging to the Mid- 
west Refining company, one of the tanks containing 55,000 barrels of 
oil and the other 85,000 barrels. They were located on the north 
side of the Platte river, northwest from the city of Casper, where 
seven tanks were totally destroyed by lightning and fire on June 17, 
1921, just a year and a day previous. The fire in the larger tank was 
extinguished in a very short time, but the oil in the 55,000-barrel 
tank burned for an hour or more before the flames could be sub- 
dued with foamite. The loss sustained was about ^10,000. Again, 
on August 4, 1922, at 12:30, after midnight, two thunderous claps of 
lightning in quick succession struck two oil tanks, one on the north 
side of the North Platte river, in the Midwest tank farm, and one in 
the southwestern portion of the Standard refining works on the south 
side of the river. The crash of the lightning and the tongues of the 
flames which shot high into the sky, lighting up the surrounding 
country for several miles, caused hundreds of people to rush from 




Kl(,Hl\-Fl\I ThuI 




Oil Tanks Struck by Lightning — A Million-Dollar Firi 



Casper's postoffice and postmasters i6i 

their beds to the scene of the conflagration, for it looked as though 
the whole of the refining plant would be burned, and it was estimated 
that fully 5,000 people had made their way to the plant where they 
could view the flames. The sky was a living red, the flames leaping 
upward in great rolling masses; the jagged tongues of flames turned 
the sky into a livid sea of orange and scarlet, and great black clouds 
rolled up for hundreds of feet into the air, but soon the foamite 
pumps were put in action and the intense light commenced to sink, 
and within an hour the glare of light was extinguished and the fire 
was under control, with a loss estimated at about $12,000. This 
brought the total up to sixteen tanks that had been struck by 
lightning in two years, eleven in 1921 and five in 1922. 

Casper's Postoffice and Postmasters 

For more than twenty years the Casper postoffice was located in 
about the middle of the block on the east side of Center street, be- 
tween Second street and Midwest avenue, but in September, 1910, 
it was moved into the north room of the Townsend block on the west 
side of Center street on the corner of the alley, where it remained 
until July 20, 1914, when it was moved into the Smith building in 
the middle of the block on the south side of Second street, between 
Center and Wolcott streets. Here it remained until May 28, 1916, 
when it was moved into its new quarters in the federal building on 
the corner of Second and Wolcott streets. 

From seven o'clock in the morning until nine o'clock at night 
were the hours that Casper's postmasters were on duty during the 
first ten years of the town's existence. The salary ranged from fifty 
dollars to one hundred dollars per month, the amount of salary being 
increased as the town and the business in the postoffice grew. There 
was but little mail to handle in those days, but the people who re- 
ceived mad felt that it was fully as important then as it is nowadays. 
In the early days the stockman and the cowboy came to town on an 
average of about four times a year and when they came they always 
received the mail that had accumulated since their last visit, or since 
their neighbor had brought it to them. One man generally did all the 
work in the postoffice, and in addition to "running the postoffice," he 
generally had in connection with it a small store, his line of goods con- 
sisting of groceries, dry goods, hardware, ammunition, candy and 
chewing gum, but he always found time to wait on the patrons of the 
office and all the customers of his store without being overworked, 

James A. Hartman was Casper's first postmaster. The date of 
Mr. Hartman's appointment or the length of time he served the pub- 



l62 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

lie is not obtainable. O. C. Abbott succeeded Mr. Hartman. Mr. 
Abbott remained until the spring of 1889, but the exact date of his 
retirement cannot be given. Mr. Abbott's name was always signed 
as postmaster to the list of "uncalled for letters" that was published 
in the Casper Weekly Mail until June, 1889, when the name of James 
A. Casebeer appeared as postmaster, and it is not unlikely Mr. Abbott 
retired and Mr. Casebeer was appointed the latter part of May or first 
part of June. 

In connection with the postoffice Mr. Casebeer was publisher of 
the Mail and was the postmaster-editor until the latter part of May, 
1890, when he left his deputy in charge and started on a visit to 
the Yellowstone National Park, but he never returned. 

Oakley K. Garvey on June i, 1890, was appointed postmaster. 
By this time to be postmaster was no mean position, for the responsi- 
bilities had rapidly increased and there was a slight raise in the salary. 
In October, 1890, Mr. Garvey received instructions from the post- 
office department "to qualify in the sum of $5,000 additional bond, 
preparatory to Casper being declared a money order office, where 
postal notes may be obtained for any sum up to and including $4.99, 
by depositing such sum with the postmaster and paying him an ad- 
ditional fee of three cents." Mr. Garvey acted as postmaster until 
September I, 1892, when Marvin L. Bishop was appointed by 
President Grover Cleveland. Mr. Bishop attended to his multitu- 
dinous duties until August 2, 1898, when Mrs. Ida A. Hewes accepted 
the responsible position, to which she was appointed by President 
William McKinley. By this time the business had grown to such 
proportions that an assistant must be employed, and there was no 
store in connection. Mrs. Hewes held the position for twelve years, 
or until September i, 1910, when James McFadden was appointed. 
Mr. McFadden resigned January i, 191 1, and Miss Elizabeth Mc- 
Donald was appointed, and she remained until July 15, 1914, when 
President Woodrow Wilson appointed J. S. VanDoren. On January 
10, 1919, Mr. VanDoren resigned, and asked to be relieved as soon 
as possible, and on March i, 1919, W. W. Sproull was appointed as 
acting postmaster. Frank T. Frawley, postoffice inspector, relieved 
Mr. Sproull December 10, 1920, and acted as postmaster until May 
15, 1921, when Edwin M. Bean was appointed by President Warren 
G. Harding. 

Senator Francis E. Warren in December, 1907, introduced a 
bill in the United States senate which authorized an appropriation 
for the purchase of a postoffice site in Casper, and in due time the 
bill was passed. In November, 1908, five lots, on the corner of Wol- 
cott and Second streets, were bought from Mrs. Lucy Moore and 



Casper's postoffice and postmasters 163 

Alex T. Butler, the price paid being ^11,000. This ground is 125 feet 
front on Second street and 100 feet deep. The buildings were moved 
off the land, and the lots were vacant, except for weeds, tin cans and 
other rubbish which accumulated until the summer of 1914. The 
plank sidewalks around the lots rotted and were broken in, but the 
federal government would do nothing toward keeping the walks in 
repair or the lots free from weeds and rubbish, but the town council 
and the people who owned property in that part of the town, on ac- 
count of their civic pride, put in a new sidewalk and cleared the lots 
of the rubbish at their own expense. 

On March i, 1910, Senator Francis E. Warren introduced another 
bill in the senate calling for an appropriation of $75,000 with which 
to erect a public building on its site in Casper, but this amount was 
reduced to $55,000, and on June 25, 1910, the bill was passed, and 
the act authorized the construction of a building, the limit of the 
cost being $55,000. In February, 1913, the postoffice department ad- 
vertised for bids for the construction of this building on the basis of a 
one-story and basement building with mezzanine at one end; floors 
and partitions fireproof; ceiling and roof non-fireproof; stone faced 
to first floor, with brick above and terra cotta trim and cornice; 
tin roof. 

Bids were received from five parties and opened on April 7. They 
ranged in amounts from $56,000 to $69,295 for limestone and from 
$57,518.85 to $61,750 for sandstone. The appropriation for the build- 
ing was $55,000, but the entire amount was not available for con- 
struction, as it was necessary to set aside the estimated cost of lock 
boxes, shelving, etc., amounting to about $5,000, which would leave 
but $50,000 for the construction contract. As the lowest bid received 
was considerably in excess of the amount available, all the proposals 
were rejected and the drawings and specifications revised. The re- 
vised drawings and specifications called for a one-story and basement 
building with the mezzanine at one end; first story only fireproof; 
brick facing with wood cornice. Under this advertisement five pro- 
posals were received, ranging from $52,980 to $59,845 for limestone 
and one bid was received for sandstone in amount $59,952. As the 
lowest bid was still in excess of the amount available, supplemental 
bids were invited from the lowest bidder for alternates to reduce the 
cost. The alternate figures submitted were held by the department 
to be unreasonable and to have awarded the contract on the basis of 
these supplemental bids it would have been necessary to make the 
building entirely non-fireproof, and the proposals were again rejected. 

The supervising architect again revised the plans and specifica- 
tions. Instead of any portion of the building being of limestone or 



164 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

sandstone it was to be entirely of brick, and again bids were sub- 
mitted, and in July, 1914, C. R. Inman was awarded the contract for 
the construction of the building for ^49,785. Work was commenced 
on the excavation July 21, 1914, and the building was completed and 
accepted by the government in May, 1916, and on May 28 the new 
building was occupied. 

When the building was first occupied there were plenty of lock 
boxes and an abundance of room, but within two years it was neces- 
sary to put an alcove in the lobby and add several hundred new boxes, 
and in the fall of 1921 a stairway was cut into the basement and the 
basement was remodeled for the installation of 814 additional lock 
boxes in order to provide accommodations for the immediate demands, 
but with these improvements there is not now enough room and it is 
not unlikely that within a few years an addition will be put on the 
building. 

Free mail delivery was established in Casper April i, 191 5. 
There were two carriers then, and two deliveries daily were made in 
the business district and one delivery each day in the residence dis- 
trict. In 1922 there were twelve carriers who delivered on an average 
850 letters and 300 papers and parcels each day. This, however, is 
only a small portion of the mail received in this postoffice, more than 
two-thirds of which is distributed into the 1,825 lock boxes. 

From January i, 1921, to and including December 30, 1921, 
there were 3,500,000 outgoing letters cancelled in this postoffice, and 
this did not include the 36,000 registered letters which were sent out. 
During the same period 31,736 registered letters were received in 
this office. In addition to this wonderful amount of first-class mail 
handled there were several million packages and papers sent out and 
received. 

Nothing indicates the growth and business that is transacted in 
a town more than the mail received and sent out through the post- 
office, and when the business here has multiplied seven times from 
191 5 to 1922, it can be safely estimated the business in general has 
multiplied an equal number of times, and if the population has in- 
creased in the same proportion, and it is only fair to presume that it 
has, Casper, in 1922, would have a population of 28,280 as against 
4,040 in 191 5. 

Not only has the amount of mail that has been handled through 
the postoffice shown a wonderful increase, but a comparison of the 
following figures shows that the money receipts have an equally 
healthy increase: 1915, $15,819.60; 1916,^20,349.60; 1917, $29,612.11; 
1918, $68,274.20; 1919, $74,197.20; 1920, $85,200.60; 1921, $100,- 
869.78. 



Casper's postoffice and postmasters 165 

At the beginning of the year 1922 there were twenty-one clerks, 
twelve carriers, and one assistant postmaster and the regularly ap- 
pointed postmaster carrying on the business of the Casper postoffice. 
The postmaster's salary is ^3,500 per annum and the combined 
monthly salary of the clerks was ^3,129, and the combined monthly 
salary of the carriers was $1,884. The average monthly receipt the 
first two months of 1922 was $10,000. 

A local welfare council was organized on February 7, 1922, 
among the employees of the postoffice, with D. F. Gadberry as chair- 
man and Miss Lillian Faulkner, secretary. The council is composed 
of seven members, three from the clerks, three from the carriers, and 
one from the supervisory force. Monthly meetings of this council are 
held at which matters are discussed that have a tendency toward the 
betterment of the service to the public and the improvement of con- 
ditions for the employees, and among other things that have been 
accomplished by this council were the installation of a new lighting 
system in the building, the building is kept cleaner and in a more 
sanitary condition, the securing of a first aid kit for the use of the 
postal employees, and the lawn around the building was, during the 
summer, re-seeded and much better care was taken of it than in pre- 
vious years. 

In the fall of 1922 drawings were made for an addition to the 
original building, increasing the size from 47 x 85 feet to 85 x no 
feet and adding another story to the structure, thus more than 
doubling the present capacity of the building. The extension and 
improvements, when completed would include rooms for the bureau 
of mines and the internal revenue offices and a federal court room. 
The superintendent of construction of the treasury department in 
Washington made a visit to Casper in November, 1922, and after 
familiarizing himself with the conditions, returned to Washington 
and recommended that the suggested extensions be made, but on 
account of the "red tape" policy of the government in such matters 
it will require at least a year to secure the necessary appropriation 
and make the other arrangements incident to the commencement of 
the construction work, but on January 3, 1923, the postmaster gen- 
eral at Washington recommended that, among other appropriations, 
$350,000 be appropriated for the improvements recommended in the 
Casper postoffice by the superintendent of construction, and in due 
time there is no doubt but a federal building will be erected that will 
be suitable for Casper's needs for many years to come; until that 
time, however, the patrons must get along as best they can with 
the present building and the best possible service to be rendered 
under existing conditions. 



l66 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Early News Items of Interest Today 

The following items that were published in the Casper news- 
papers in the early days are today especially interesting to many 
people living in this city: 

Twin boys were born on January 7, 1889, to Mr. and Mrs. M. A. 
Faverty. Mr. Faverty was roundhouse foreman of the F., E. & M. V. 
Railway company. In 1922 the parents were living at Norfolk, 
Nebraska, and one of the boys, A. C, was living at Nemo, S. D., and 
the other, A. A., was living at Smithwick, S. D. These were the first 
children born in Casper. . . Born, in Casper, Wednesday morning, 
January 23, 1889, to the wife of W. F. Dunn, a daughter (now Mrs. 
Arthur Schulte), who was the first girl born in Casper. . . Born, Feb- 
ruary 18, 1889, to Mr. and Mrs. C. K. Bucknum, a daughter (now Mrs. 
Mark Davis). . . The first real Fourth of July celebration to occur in 
Casper was in 1889. The program consisted of singing and speaking, 
and a baseball game between Casper and Douglas, in which Douglas 
won by a score of 24 to 16. Horse racing and broncho busting con- 
cluded the day's program and there was a dance in the evening. The 
towns of Bothwell and Bessemer also celebrated the day, . .Engineers 
J. B. Bradley and E. H. French on July 15, 1889, began the work of 
taking the levels of the streets of Casper preparatory to the grading 
that was to be done before winter set in. . . The first wedding to occur 
in the town of Casper was on Thursday evening. May 29, 1890, when 
Joseph L. Barnett and Miss Nellie Gillespie and J. B. Wegman and 
Miss Elizabeth Baird were united in the holy bonds. Rev. J. J. 
Hancock of Lusk officiated. . . The Casper Board of Trade was or- 
ganized in 1890 with the following officers: W. E. Hawley, president; 
W. F. Dunn, secretary; George Mitchell, J. J. Hurt, George Weber, 
A. McKinney and H.A.Lilly, directors; CharlesO'Neall, treasurer. . . 
The cattlemen of Wyoming in the summer of 1890 offered rewards 
amounting to $22,000 for the conviction of any person stealing, de- 
facing, unlawfully killing, or altering brands on their stock. News- 
papers in all parts of the state claimed "that the cattlemen have made 
every effort in an attempt to secure convictions for cattle stealing, but 
each attempt has proved a failure, not for the want of proper evidence, 
but from a lack of principle in the men who are drawn as jurors. The 
maverick rustlers and cattle thieves are becoming alarming and the 
officers should show their ability to control these violations of the 
law." 

The report of the town treasurer of the town of Casper for the 
current year, ending June i, 1891, showed the following: 



, .^ . 1^.. i riDiii 



^s^.'^.ti 



- ->"* i i,^' ,-«tV' f-^^f .,^1'. 



Loading Up the Freight Wagons 



-.--If 









Indians on Second Street, Casper, Coming to Town for Supplies — 1892 



EARLY NEWS ITEMS OF INTEREST TODAY 167 

Receipts Disbursements 

Bal. on hand June i, 1890. .$1,147.75 By general fund $ 554.36 

Liquor licenses 1,200.00 Salary fund 1,525.42 

Gambling licenses 1,350.00 Town buildings 2,101.75 

Billiard licenses 125.00 Cash on hand 199-38 

Dray and dog licenses 63.00 

Justice fines 217.00 

Town hall rent 44-75 

Taxes collected, 1890 102.38 

Taxes collected, 1891 131.03 



$4,380.91 $4,380.91 

Casper's first brass band was organized the latter part of Decem- 
ber, 1890, with the following named members: James Robinson, 
Alex Weber, W. Melia, W. S. Kimball, C. F. G. Bostleman, C. W. 
Wixcey, H. A. Lilly, Fred Padden, Major Palmer, L. A. Ross, Dr. Joe 
Benson and C. W. Evans. . . A boy was born on Tuesday, September 
22, 1891, to Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Hogadone at Eadsville, on Casper 
mountain. This was the first child to be born in the new mining camp 
and all the miners took a day off to celebrate the occasion. . . The 
Grand Central hotel was formally opened on Monday evening, April 
30, 1894. At that time it was announced that the "Grand Central 
was the largest, finest, and best equipped hotel in the state of Wyo- 
ming and the only hotel in Casper running a bus to and from all 
trains. When the guests were shown through the building exclama- 
tions of surprise and admiration greeted the ear on all sides.". . On 
August I, 1899, proprietors of the mercantile houses of Casper agreed 
to close their places of business Saturday nights at 11 o'clock and re- 
main closed until Monday morning at 7 o'clock. Heretofore, the 
stores were kept open on Sundays from 8 o'clock in the morning until 
noon. . . Commencing the first of August, 1900, a daily stage mail 
service was established between Casper, Wolton, Thermopolis, and 
Lander. Heretofore, the service was three days each week. . . The 
mail arriving in Casper during the year 1901 averaged 400 pounds 
per day. This included mail to Lander, Thermopolis, Freeland, 
Alcova, Independence Rock, and other towns west which was delivered 
by stages going from Casper. . . On the 12th of May, 1903, bonds 
for ^14,500 were voted by the people of Casper for the purpose of 
building sewers in the town. O'Brien and Rhoades of Denver were 
awarded the contract for laying the pipe, and Thomas B. Sheppard 
of Denver was the engineer who made the survey. The contract for 
the construction of the sewer system was awarded to the above named 
firm for ^11,137.50. The work was commenced about the first of 
April. Fifty men were employed and there were fourteen carloads of 
material. The work was completed on June 2 and was accepted by 



l68 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

the mayor and the members of the town council. This was Casper's 
first sewer system. . . The Natrona County Racing association was 
organized on June 3, 1903, capitahzed at $2,000. A track was built 
near the east end of Second street and a grandstand, judges' stand 
and other improvements were ordered made on the ground which had 
been leased for twenty years. . . Christian Twisty, a cabinet maker 
of Casper, worked eight years on a "palace car," which was com- 
pleted in September, 1903. On October 4, Twisty, with his wife and 
child, started for Salt Lake with a four-horse team hitched to his 
"palace." Flags were flying from the vehicle; Twisty was in the 
boot driving the team, and Mrs. Twisty and the baby occupied the 
observatory. The "palace" contained all the comforts and con- 
veniences of a home, but it was so heavy the horses could not pull it 
over the hills and through the sand, and it was abandoned after 
travelling about three miles. Twisty made arrangements with Guy 
Trevett to haul the vehicle back to Casper, and later it was taken to 
the Trevett ranch, about six miles west from town, since which time 
it has been used for a bunk house. Two light buggies were hitched 
behind the "palace" when it was first taken out of town, and in these 
Twisty loaded his bedding, provisions and his wife and child, and 
hitching his teams to the lighter vehicles, proceeded toward the set- 
ting sun, and he never returned. . . Casper's Commercial club was 
organized in March, 1903, with a membership of about 150 business 
men, the executive committee being W. S. Kimball, A. J. Mokler, 
Patrick Sullivan, A. J. Cunningham, M. P. Wheeler, and W. A. 
Denecke. J. M. Hench was the temporary secretary. At the first 
meeting many committees were appointed and there was a variety of 
sentiment on all propositions for the advancement and prosperity of 
the town. It was predicted that those present would live to see five 
and six story buildings on our main streets, the streets paved, a sewer 
system, beautiful parks, a fine court house and city hall, a fine federal 
building, a trans-continental railway, and the town having a popu- 
lation of 15,000. The prediction has more than come true and all 
those on the executive committee, except one, have shown their faith 
in the town by remaining here and doing their bit toward making it 
not only the largest, but the most progressive and prosperous city in 
Wyoming. 

Casper's Old Town Hall and New City Building 

At the meeting of the town council of the town of Casper, held 
the first part of April, 1890, it was decided by unanimous vote that it 
was necessary to have a town hall, and accordingly plans and speci- 



Casper's old town hall and new city building 169 

fications were drawn by Chris Baysel for a building 25x74 feet. 
This was to be the first brick building to be built in the town. On 
April 21 Emanuel Erben was awarded the contract for the construc- 
tion of the building at a cost of $1,985. Mr. Erben did the carpenter 
work and W. T. Evans did the work of laying the brick. The build- 
ing was finished during the summer of that year. This building was 
located on the west side of Center street, between Second and First, 
in about the middle of the block, being on the south half of lot 15, in 
block 8, having a frontage of thirty feet, and 140 feet deep. A small 
frame building, or rather a shed, was built on the lot immediately 
south of the town hall, in which the fire department kept its appara- 
tus. This was on the north half of lot 14, block 8, with a frontage of 
thirty feet, and 140 feet deep. Later this frame building was con- 
verted into a corrugated iron covered building, and was used for the 
purpose of housing the fire company's property. Thus was the town 
the owner of two half lots, with a frontage of sixty feet and 140 
feet deep, which now bears the street numbers of 132. to 142 South 
Center. 

The town council at its meeting in January, 1895, decided to re- 
arrange the town hall and make a first-class opera house out of it. The 
stage was to be brought forward several feet, a solid arch front put up 
and the footlight arrangement constructed after the most approved 
plan. A new drop curtain and a full set of scenery was to be added, 
doors cut from the back of the stage and a suite of dressing rooms 
built on the end of the hall. "All these changes were made," said a 
local newspaper, "at a nominal expense, and when finished would 
give Casper the finest opera hall in Central Wyoming." The Casper 
Dramatic company, under the auspices of the Casper band, was at the 
time rehearsing several new plays which were to be put on as soon as 
the stage was ready. This hall, in the early days, was where nearly 
all the public gatherings were held, such as mass meetings, where the 
citizens met to discuss matters of public interest; political meetings, 
dances, church services and school sessions were also held in this 
building; the board of trade. Commercial club, or Chamber of Com- 
merce, held meetings here that were of vital importance to the busi- 
ness men and professional men of the town; sessions of the district 
court were held here and many a decision has been rendered by 
the court, and many a verdict returned by a jury, that meant fi- 
nancial success or failure, and sometimes liberty and even life to a 
defendant. 

The new drop curtain, heretofore mentioned, depicted a moun- 
tain peak, a slough, with huge cat-tails along the edge, a large, light- 
ning-splintered tree, and many other things that could be conjured 



I70 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

only in the fertile brain of an artist and produced with a brush, paint 
and palette. On the border of this unusual painting were advertising 
signs of Casper's leading business and professional men. What a 
treasured relic that curtain would be today for our historical society, 
but like many other things that would now be valuable as keepsakes, 
but at that time were considered of no value at all, it was cast aside 
and destroyed. Theater troupes, barnstormers and home talent com- 
panies performed on this stage in a manner that brought tears to 
the eyes of many people in the audience, and sometimes made 
their blood boil with rage. The tragedies and comedies that were 
enacted in the old buildmg, by theater companies and otherwise, were 
many, and it would require pages and pages to enumerate them. 

In 1910 the moving pictures commenced to come to Casper, and 
the town hall was rented for a moving picture house. It was then 
given the name of the Bell Theatre, because there was a bell in the 
cupola on top of the front part of the building. Shortly after mid- 
night on the 8th of January, 191 2, fire broke out in this building and 
the roof and front part of the structure were destroyed. The loss to 
the building was estimated at $i ,000. In the summer of that year the 
roof and the front were rebuilt and the building was remodeled into a 
fire house, with offices in the rear where the meetings of the town 
council were held, with living rooms upstairs. 

In 191 7 the buildings and the two half lots, which were then con- 
sidered among the most valuable sites for business buildings in the 
town, was traded by the mayor and members of the town council for 
a triangular piece of ground in the rear, or south of the federal build- 
ing, with Wolcott street on the west and East Midwest avenue on the 
south. It was proposed by the town council at that time to erect a 
town hall on this three-cornered piece of ground, and bonds in the 
amount of $55,000 were voted in August, 1917, for that purpose, but 
before the bonds could be sold the city administration was changed, 
and at a meeting of the new administration on February 28, 1918, it 
was decided to build the new city hall on the block 300x300 feet 
square, with Center street on the east, David street on the west. 
Seventh street on the north and Eighth street on the south, and the 
triangular lot in the rear of the postoffice was seeded with grass, a 
little brick rest room was built, a drinking fountain was put in, seats 
were placed under the trees, and in the summer time the seats are 
filled with idle men, and discarded newspapers and rubbish are scat- 
tered about the lawn, making a real "homey" looking place for the 
men who spend their time there. 

On June 17, 191 8, the contract was let for the building of the i7ew 
city hall for $76,553.50. The cornerstone for the new buildi-ng -was 




4, 



'ii\ 4?!%!^' 



^ t 



Wkst SiDi: OF Center Street, Between Second and Firsi, Jllv 4, iqoi 
The building with the bell and tower was Casper's town hall, built in 1890. The 
building to the left ot the town hall was Casper's "tire" house, where the hose 
carts were kept. 




Casper Band Marching Down Center Street, 1908 

Buildings on east side, from left to right: Trevett's store, Norton &: Hagens' law 

office, Tribune office, Webel's store. 



CASPER S ELECTRIC LIGHT PLANTS I7I 

laid by the Masonic order on August 28, 1918, and on April 23, 1919, 
the building was completed, and a thorough inspection and survey of 
the structure was made by the members of the city council. At the 
time this inspection and survey was made, the architect, George E. 
McDonald, made the statement to the members of the council that "he 
was exceptionally proud of the interior arrangement of the building, 
and that its perfect construction would be a monument to his archi- 
tectural ability." This statement seemed to satisfy the members of 
the city council, for at a regular meeting held on May 5, the building 
was accepted from the contractors. On the evening of May 29 the new 
building was formally opened to the public, and a great many people 
were present, who enjoyed the music of the orchestra, participated in 
the dancing and partook of the refreshments that were served. With- 
in a few days the building was occupied by the city officers, since 
which time many defects have been discovered, both in the architec- 
tural arrangement and the construction, and it is a monumental botch, 
at least a century out of date, and the palmmg off of this building 
upon one of the most prosperous and progressive cities in the middle 
west was equal to the transaction wherein the valuable building site, 
in the heart of the city, was exchanged for the triangular piece of 
ground, worth less than half the original site of the town hall and fire 
station. 

Casper's Electric Light Plants 

"In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth. And 
the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face 
of the deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 
And God said. Let there be light; and there was light. And God saw 
the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the dark- 
ness." 

Immediately after W. S. Kimball delivered the above quotation 
from Genesis, on June 12, 19CO, at 10 o'clock at night, Mrs. Kimball 
pressed a button which for the first time lighted a number of build- 
ings and the streets in the town of Casper with electricity. A large 
number of guests had assembled in the dining room of the Grand 
Central hotel where a banquet was served in honor of C. H. King and 
Dr. F. Salathe, who had established the lighting system. The honor 
of lighting Casper with electricity for the first time in its history was 
accorded Mrs. Kimball by reason of the fact that Mr. Kimball was 
mayor of the town when the Casper Electric company was given its 
franchise. 

Ninety guests were seated at the two long tables m the dining 
room. Those who were present considered this one of the most 



172 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Important steps in the advancement of Casper that had ever been 
taken and the banquet was befitting the occasion. 

After the room had been lighted by electricity, Rev. J. H. Gilles- 
pie invoked the blessing of the Deity on those assembled and upon 
the enterprise. Speeches were made after the banquet by many of the 
business men and, lastly, Mr. King gave a description of the plant 
which consisted of two forty-horsepower engines, two dynamos of 
i,ooo light capacity and one eighty-horsepower boiler. The build- 
ing which housed the plant was a small frame structure located where 
the present plant of the Natrona Power is now located. Light was 
furnished to about twenty business houses and 150 residences. There 
were four arc lights which lighted the streets of the town. This com- 
pany was incorporated September 23, 1908, under the name of the 
Casper Electric company. The capacity of the plant was increased 
from time to time as the town increased in growth, and on October 6, 
1913, a second company was granted a franchise under the name of 
the Wyoming Electric company. This company's plant was formally 
opened to the public February 24, 1914. Both plants were in opera- 
tion until January 4, 1918, when the original plant was destroyed by 
fire. New machinery was purchased and the plant was rebuilt. On 
January 18, 1918, the two companies were consolidated under the 
name of the Natrona Power company, which now supplies the city 
with light, power, and heat. 

A comparison of the plant when it was first put in operation with 
the plant in 1922 is an indication of the growth of Casper since June 
12, 1900. 

The Natrona Power company's plant today consists of a modern 
steam generating station located on the site of the original plant, and 
an oil engine plant located a few blocks away. The steam equipment 
comprises a boiler plant, steam turbines and engines of an aggregate 
capacity of 1,800 horsepower. The steam for the central steam heat- 
ing system, covering the entire business district of the city, as well as 
a portion of the residential district, is supplied from this plant. The 
oil engine plant contains five machines, with a total capacity of 1,500 
horsepower, which, with the steam plant, makes a total system gener- 
ating capacity of 3,300 horsepower. 

The company's service lines cover every section of the city, 
and practically all of the city inhabitants have electric service 
available. Over 5,000 electric customers are now served and about 
100 customers are availing themselves of the steam heating service. 
A commercial office and salesroom is maintained in a building adja- 
cent to the steam plant where all modern electrical appliances are 
obtainable. 



CASPER S TELEPHONE SERVICE I73 

Casper's Telephone Service 

Saturday, March 22, 1902, the Rocky Mountain Bell Telephone 
company established telephone service in the business houses and 
residences in the town of Casper, the system established being known 
as the "Geneseo" type. Forty-nine instruments were in service, but 
it was announced that the company was assured of at least a dozen 
more patrons after the system was in thorough working order. The 
cost of establishing the system was about ^5,500. The central office 
was located on the second floor of the Stock Exchange saloon build- 
ing, in one room, about sixteen feet square. The Stock Exchange was 
located on the west side of Center street, between Second and Mid- 
west avenue. Miss Elizabeth McDonald was the day operator and 
Miss Jo Scherck attended the night calls. Each of these opera- 
tors worked a twelve-hour shift, but they had plenty of time 
between calls for rest and recreation. There were no outside con- 
nections, and consequently no long-distance calls at that time, but 
work was to be commenced in the early summer on the Lander and 
Thermopolis lines, and the line was already being built from Chey- 
enne to Casper, and it was hoped that connections could be made 
before the end of the year. 

The manager of the Casper exchange left with each subscriber a 
card, printed by a local printing office, bearing the name of each sub- 
scriber and his number, together with the following instructions: 

"To get central, remove the receiver from the hook and place 
it to your ear. Wait until central replies, then state the number you 
desire. Wait until the party answers, then deliver your message. 
When you have finished talking, hang the receiver back on the hook, 
with the small end up, which signals central you are through." 

By following these instructions the patrons found the service 
very convenient and satisfactory, and it was highly appreciated. Be- 
fore the inauguration of the telephone in the town when a business 
man or anyone else desired to deliver a message or transact any kind 
of business he was compelled to leave his store, office or shop and 
walk a number of blocks, and if he was fortunate enough to find 
his party in, after transacting the desired business and remaining 
the usual half hour or more visiting, his absence from his own busi- 
ness cost him seldom less than an hour's time. 

By the time the system was in perfect working order the dozen 
more patrons, who had promised to install telephones, had made 
good their pledge, and with them came a dozen more; with this en- 
couragement the company was hopeful of having at least one hundred 
subscribers in the town before the first of the coming year, 1903. 



174 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Casper and Douglas were connected by 'phone in June, 1902, and 
the patrons in each of the towns on the first day of the service were 
allowed to converse with each other as many times and as long as they 
desired without charge. The Freeland telephone line, which included 
Bessemer, was completed about the middle of December, 1902, with 
the following ranchmen as subscribers: J. W. Price, O. M. Rice, 
Martin Gothberg, Alex Mills, Dan Speas, Denecke & Wright, Roily 
Clark, C. N. Richards, G. W. Martin, A. G. Cheney, W. D. Kennedy, 
Ira Karman, W. D, Blattenberg, Harold Banner, Goose Egg Ranch, 
E. L. McGraugh, D. and J. Michie, J. G. White, Miller Bros., 
Cheney's Bates Creek ranch and the Norman Calmon ranch. Two 
years later the Big Muddy line was established, and then followed a 
line to the Oil City country. 

Casper gradually increased in population, and with this increase 
came new residences and additional business houses which were sup- 
plied with telephones, and in February, 1907, the room originally 
occupied by the exchange became so crowded with one additional 
operator and more equipment that the company moved into three 
rooms in the Rohrbaugh block, on the south side of Second street, 
between Center and Wolcott. The Geneseo system was discarded 
and the common battery system was established, the number of 
operators was increased from three to four, three for the day calls 
and one at night, in addition to the manager, who acted as book- 
keeper, collected the bills, corrected the line troubles, took a turn on 
the switchboard occasionally and entertained the patrons who called 
to register a complaint or to spend an hour or more in social inter- 
course. 

The Rocky Mountain Bell Telephone company was merged into 
the Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph company on July 20, 
191 1, and the plant at Casper has since been operated under this 
name. 

The town continued to increase in population, more business 
houses were established and new residences were built. With this 
increase the demand for telephones increased, and the company's 
goal for 1910 was 300 instruments; this goal was reached and the 500 
mark looked to be not far off. The three rooms were inadequate, 
more operators and other additional help were required, until there 
were half a dozen operators on the switchboard, a regular bookkeeper 
was employed, and there was a regular trouble man, and several line- 
men and repairmen constant!}' employed. This was after the oil 
boom in Salt Creek, when the building of the refinery in Casper had 
been started, and with this boom came many new residences, pro- 
fessional men and business concerns, and many new telephones were 



CASPER S TELEPHONE SERVICE 



175 



required, and the company demanded more room for its additional 
equipment, until the whole of the west side of the upper floor in the 
business block was utilized. But Casper continued to grow and ex- 
pand, and in order to keep pace with the town the telephone company 
required more room, and in 1917-18 erected a two-story and full 
basement building 45x50 feet on its lot immediately east from the 
postoffice, which is used exclusively by the company for its business 
oflSces, operating rooms, and housing of equipment, with storage and 
battery rooms in the basement, and the Casper telephone exchange is 
now equal to any in the state. The switchboard is of the latest type, 
manually operated board. The multiple system is employed, which 
means that the operator can connect and ring any line on the board; 
however, each operator receives calls only from those lines connected 
to her special position. On January i, 1923, there were forty operators 
employed in this exchange, including the lady chief. They work in 
eight-hour shifts, but are relieved every two hours for a brief rest. A 
retiring room is maintained, adjacent to the operating room, and this 
room is supplied with many comforts, including current magazines, 
newspapers and stationery. Tea, coflFee, chocolate and milk are fur- 
nished by the company to the operators without charge. 

The calls handled through this exchange are a revelation in num- 
ber. The record for the average day is about 28,000. The busiest 
period is just before noon, when the average is about 2,400 per hour. 
The average calls from eight o'clock in the morning until six o'clock 
in the evening are about 2,100 per hour. There is a rapid increase from 
seven until nine o'clock in the evening, after which hour the number 
of calls commences to decrease. 

The unusually large number of changes and removals in Casper 
adds to the burden of the operators. Fully 500 changes are made dur- 
mg a directory period, or every three months. While these changes 
are in process it requires the closest attention on the part of operators 
to observe the markings on the multiples, which indicate changes and 
disconnections, to prevent the ringing of wrong numbers. 

It has been and still is a problem in extension work to keep pace 
with the growth of Casper. Since 1917 there has been a gain of 2,500 
telephones, 670 of which came in 1921 and 650 in 1922. There is 
now a total of 4,170 subscribers using the local telephone service. The 
company put in $30,000 worth of new cable during 1920, and more 
than duplicated it in 1921. 

It IS fortunate that reasonable allowance was made for future 
extension when the Casper exchange was constructed, otherwise the 
company could never have answered the public demand as well as 
It has, for during the first nine months of 1922 the company completed 



176 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

an expenditure of more than fifty thousand dollars for equipment, the 
larger portion of which was used for aerial and underground cables 
and new pole lines to outlying additions to the city. In addition to 
the fifty thousand dollars expended during the nine months of 1922, 
the company built a private leased wire to Teapot Dome for the 
Mammoth-Sinclair Oil company interests and added three toll lines 
from Casper to Salt Creek, in addition to which the company in- 
stalled three hundred additional subscribers' lines on its switchboard 
before the end of 1922 for its Casper patrons. 

Compared with the original plant in 1902, which was installed 
at an expense of $5,500, the company's plant twenty years later is 
second to none in the state, and instead of forty-nine instruments 
there are now 4,170; then two operators attended the switchboard dur- 
ing the twenty-four hours and now there are forty; then two men 
took care of all the business for the company, installing new instru- 
ments when required, keeping the lines in repair and performing 
such other duties as were required and now there are twenty-two 
employed. 

A. W. Scott was the telephone company's first manager in 
Casper, remaining from March, 1902, until 1903, when he was suc- 
ceeded by J. E. Frisby. Mr. Frisby was succeeded by H. B. Lovett 
in 1904, and he remained until 1905, and then came J. A. Bell, with 
his wife and six-year-old daughter. Mr. Bell spent more time on the 
gambling tables than he did in looking after his company's affairs, 
and he squandered so much of the company's funds that he was un- 
able to make good his shortage, and he squared the account by 
swallowing about two ounces of carbolic acid. Homer F. Shaffer took 
charge as manager in August, 1906, and remained until April, 1909, 
during which time he made many improvements in the system and 
the service. E. E. Stone succeeded Mr. Shaffer, remaining until 
March, 1910. Then came B. H. Engelke, who remained until August, 
191 1. He was succeeded by Charles A. Cullen, who remained from 
191 1 until June, 1918. J. Frank Cowan was manager from 1918 until 
May, 1920, who was succeeded by H. D. McCormack, who is the 
present (1923) manager. 

The company has made arrangements for the expenditure of 
more than $100,000 on its Casper plant in 1923, $20,000 of which will 
go toward an addition to its building. This addition will mean the 
enlargement of the present operating room on the second floor and 
the terminal room on the ground level. There will also be approxi- 
mately nine miles of new cable, a large part of which will be relief un- 
derground cables. These cables will be on East Second street and 
Yellowstone avenue. These cables will be sufficient to care for a city 



CASPER WANTED THE CAPITAL 1 77 

with a population of 75,000. A total of ^43,400 will be expended on 
the cable improvements. Thirteen thousand dollars will be spent on 
a new telephone repeater and ^13,500 on central office equipment. 
The addition to the building means that the structure will be en- 
larged thirty feet to the south and extended the width of the present 
terminal section of the structure. The telephone repeater serves as 
sort of a booster station for long-distance calls going through the city. 
The addition of this repeater means that there will be four in use in 
Casper. The Casper exchange, with these improvements, will be the 
largest of any telephone exchange in Wyoming, and on January i, 
1923, had over 1,000 more telephones installed than any other city in 
the state. 

Casper Wanted the Capital 

"The trend of events and the progress of the state of Wyoming 
are such that a change of the location of the state capital is inevitable 
and imperative. It must come sooner or later, considering the future 
possibilities of that part of the state farthest removed from the pres- 
ent location of the seat of government." This was the announcement 
made by the people of Casper in the fall of 1904, when the matter of 
voting for the permanent location of the state capital was to come to 
a vote at the general election in November. Casper was an aspirant 
for the capital at that time, and it was argued that no city in the state 
had a more legitimate claim than this progressive town; "located as 
we are, in the center of the state, it is the logical and proper place for 
the seat of government. Casper is typically a Wyoming town and 
has the interests of her own state most fully at heart, as has been most 
clearly demonstrated by the active part which it takes and always 
has taken in every enterprise that boosts the possibilities of Wyoming. 
Every voter in the state who has interests of the state at heart should 
keep these points in view when he casts his ballot. With the con- 
struction of two large government reservoirs now under way in Cen- 
tral and Northern Wyoming and with the introduction of new rail- 
roads into this portion of the state, we are just entering upon a period 
of unprecedented development, and it is particularly essential to the 
best interests of our fair state to prevent the permanent location of 
the capital from being established in one corner of its territory. 
Now that the western, northern and central parts of the state are 
about to become available for the entry of thousands of settlers, it is 
the prime moment to make this important decision. If Casper does 
not carry the state this year, even though Cheyenne does not get the 
majority, it will be years before the question will arise again for the 
determination of the voters of the state. Meanwhile Cheyenne will 



178 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

deprive the rest of the state of the great advantages of a central loca- 
tion for the state capital. 

"Cheyenne is unfavorably situated on the map for the perma- 
nent location of the capital. No one who has the best interests of the 
state as a whole at heart, and who realizes the great possibilities and 
the future of the western, northern and central parts of the state will 
for a moment contend that in so great a state as ours the capital is 
properly located in one corner of the state, more inaccessible to some 
parts of the state than the city of Chicago. This is an abnormal and 
undesirable state of facts. Developing Cheyenne does not develop 
the state. She is as large as she ever will be. There are no more new 
fields of industry around Cheyenne to discover or reclaim. It is the 
old town. For years her chief resources have been principally the 
legislature and her capacity to get a whack out of every appropriation 
made by the state. The chief support of her citizens is the town's 
political graft. Of the salaried appointive offices her citizens hold 
nine-tenths. Every town in the state has suffered at the hands of the 
Cheyenne politicians. Cheyenne is not strictly a Wyoming town, she 
is essentially a Nebraska town, and so dependent is she upon Nebraska 
that her newspapers look to Nebraska for their chief support. The 
main object of the Cheyenne politicians in their endeavor to procure 
the Pathfinder dam, as every one knows, is to secure the benefit of 
the irrigation of Nebraska lands near Cheyenne. About two-thirds 
of the water stored in this reservoir will be used, as is well known, in 
irrigating Nebraska lands." 

This and other strong arguments were used and scattered broad- 
cast. The people of Casper were united and they put forth their best 
efforts to secure votes, but they finished a poor third in the race. 
Cheyenne received 11,781 votes; Lander, 8,667; Casper, 3,610; Rock 
Springs, 429, and Sheridan, 122. It was surprising, but nevertheless 
true, that many of the towns in the central and northern parts of the 
state voted for Cheyenne in preference to Casper. 

But the permanent location of the state capital was not definitely 
settled, for no town received a majority of all the votes cast. At the 
meeting of the state canvassing board held on December 21, 1904, it 
was declared: 

"The board finds and declares that no city, town or village re- 
ceived a majority of the votes cast at the election upon the question 
of the permanent location of the seat of government. 

"And Fenimore Chatterton, president and member of the 
board, further finds and declares that, therefore, no city, town or 
village has been elected as the permanent location of the seat of 
government, to which said finding and declaration of the said Feni- 



HORSE RACING IN THE EARLY DAYS 1 79 

more Chatterton, William C. Irvine, secretary and member of the 
board, dissents and objects. Leroy Grant, auditor, refused to sit with 
the board." 

At the session of the state legislature in 1923 a bill was intro- 
duced in the house providing that the state capital be moved from 
Cheyenne to Casper, but the bill had not been disposed when this 
volume had gone to press. 

Horse Racing in the Early Days 

Horse racing was the most exciting and popular sport in Natrona 
county in the early days. To go on a bear hunt, or spend a week or 
ten days in the mountains and bag a few deer, elk or mountain sheep 
furnished amusement and excitement for some people, but a horse 
race was always the big event that attracted every man, woman and 
child in the county. There would have been no horse racing, how- 
ever, if there could have been no betting. The people of the county 
then divided and lined up for their favorite horse in the race, praised 
and applauded his good points and displayed as much enthusiasm 
as they do in this enlightened age upon their favorite candidate 
during an election campaign. During the first two or three years 
after the town of Casper was organized these races were between cow 
ponies and range horses, but in the early spring of 1893 Dan Robert- 
son went to Chadron, Nebraska, and bought a real race horse; his 
name was Doc Middleton. Doc was famous in Nebraska, for several 
seasons having won every race he entered. Mr. Robertson did not 
advertise that Doc was a race horse, but said he was a fancy buggy 
horse. The Fourth of July was when the big races generally took 
place, and six weeks before the races were to occur Doc was sent out 
to the Charles Richards ranch in Bates Park to be trained for the 
track. The fact that Doc was a blooded race horse was supposed to 
be kept a secret, but to keep secret the fact that a blooded race horse 
had been brought into the country was as impossible then as it would 
be now to keep the people from knowing that it was cold in the winter 
or hot in the summer time. Besides the owner of Doc, JefF Crawford 
and Charlie Richards were his principal backers. Hugh Patton con- 
ceived the idea that it would be interesting and profitable to bring a 
better horse here and enter the race against Doc, and he sent word to 
Jim Dahlman, who then lived in Chadron, to get a race horse that 
could beat Doc Middleton and bring him to Casper to enter the race 
on the Fourth of July. Dahlman went to Chicago and bought a 
horse named Sorrel John, and sent him to Casper by express with a 
professional jockey. Sorrel John was in town about a week before 



l8o HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

the Fourth, and he displayed speed that astonished those who saw 
him travel, and the backers of Doc were skeptical about backing 
their horse for a large amount of money. 

A kite-shaped half-mile track was built by Charlie Crow in the 
then extreme eastern edge of town; the judges' stand, which consisted 
of a large box, borrowed from one of the stores, was located at the 
intersection of North Durbin and East A streets, where John T. 
McGrath now has his residence. The back stretch was between 
First and A streets. At that time this part of the country was not 
platted into streets and town lots, but was a rough greasewood and 
sagebrush flat. The building of this race track was financed by pop- 
ular subscription. There was no grand stand and no seats of any 
kind, and no admission fee was charged. Sorrel John was trained and 
tried out on this track by the professional jockey for a week before 
the date of the big event, and Doc Middleton was trained every day 
at the Richards ranch. The purse for the winner was $500. 

The owners and backers of Sorrel John were willing and anxious 
to wager most any amount of money that their horse would win, but 
the backers of Doc were not so confident, and the bets they made 
were in small amounts, but Charlie Richards put up all the money on 
Doc Middleton that he had and all he could borrow. 

During the forenoon of the Fourth the usual Independence day 
program was carried out, and at 2:15 in the afternoon the big race 
was to be run. Everybody gathered around the track. Charlie 
Richards was to ride Doc Middleton against John Tracy, the pro- 
fessional jockey, on Sorrel John. There was another horse, King 
George, who entered the race, but he had no chance of winning a 
place unless the other horses fell dead on the track. The time had 
arrived for the race; all the business houses in town were closed, and 
everybody was at the race track. Sorrel John won the pole. Doc 
Middleton was second and King George was on the outside; the 
horses were scoring up; the expert jockey from Chicago was using 
all the tricks he knew and was taking every advantage possible; men, 
women and children were crowded around the track, craning their 
necks to see every move of the racers. It was a half-mile dash; a man 
with a snare drum was the official starter; the racers came up to the 
scratch, but the spread was so great it was not a go; the starter 
pounded on his drum and the horses returned for a new start; again 
they crossed the scratch, and again they were called back by the 
starter with his drum; the third time they came up the starter cried 
" Go," and they were off; Sorrel John was ten feet in the lead of Doc 
Middleton, and King George was fully thirty feet in the rear. The 
backers of Doc and the King protested that it should not have been 



HORSE RACING IN THE EARLY DAYS 161 

a go, but it was no use, the race was on. For the first three hundred 
feet Doc gained on John, and at six hundred feet from the scratch 
they were neck and neck; then a shout went up from the crowd; the 
horses were neck and neck all the way 'round the track until they 
reached the home stretch, when Doc forged slightly ahead of John; the 
riders of both horses persuaded their mounts forward and the animals 
were making a supreme effort to go faster; Doc's throat latch was under 
the wire when John's nose reached it; Doc won; King George was 
forgotten entirely; then most of the great crowd of people sent forth 
cheer after cheer, and it was said that the owner of Doc was so happy 
that he opened his mouth and forgot to close it, but just stood there 
taking in the sights supposedly thinking he was cheering with the 
crowd. There were other races that day, but the big event was over. 

Like all sporting events where the game is close, the backers of 
Sorrel John found plenty of excuses for their horse coming in second 
under the wire, and they were anxious to arrange for another race. 
Doc Middleton's backers had now gained confidence and they were 
willing to risk the reputation of their horse and their money on a 
second race. A quarter-mile dash was arranged for on the 20th of 
July and a wager of ^500 a side was put up, in addition to which there 
were many side bets; Charlie Richards put up all the money he had 
won and again all he could borrow. This second race attracted fully 
as great a crowd as was in town on the Fourth of July. The race was 
on the same track as the first race. Doc won the pole this time and 
the start was very nearly even; Doc took the lead, but at 200 yards 
John pushed ahead, but was unable to hold it; Doc soon closed up 
the gap, and the horses ran side by side until they came to the home 
stretch, when Doc pushed to the front and scored half a length 
ahead of John. 

Jim Dahlman was a good sport, and acknowledged that Doc 
was the faster horse, but he said it had cost him more than a thou- 
sand dollars to be convinced, and it was his intention to get back his 
expense money. The gambling tables were in operation in Casper those 
days, and dealers were on duty at all hours, both day and night; the 
sky was the limit, and nobody was barred. Faro gave the house the 
advantage only of the "splits," and those playing against the house 
could place their bets to their best advantage. Dahlman chose this 
game to replenish his depleted exchequer; he played from early 
evening until after midnight and when he retired he was short more 
than $1,600. The next day he returned to his home in Chadron. In 
after years he moved to Omaha where he was more successful than 
he was in Casper, and was several times elected mayor of that city 
and was known as the "Cowboy Mayor." 



1 82 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Charlie Richards took Doc Middleton to all the races in South- 
ern Wyoming, and won every race he entered, but in the fall of the 
year the horse injured himself in some way and Mr. Richards shot 
him. 

There have been many horse races in Casper since that event; 
we have had much better race tracks, and we have provided grand 
stands with good seats and a good view of the track, but there has 
never been so much interest or excitement displayed in any of these 
later events as there was when Doc Middleton beat Sorrel John in 
1893. 

Lost in a Cloudburst 

A tremendous cloudburst occurred on Casper mountain at the 
head of Garden creek, at about nine o'clock Tuesday night, July 30, 
1895, and a sea of water twenty feet deep came thundering down into 
the valley, carrying with it large boulders, logs, and debris of all kinds, 
and the terrific force of the current left death and destruction in its 
path. 

Dark clouds commenced to gather over the mountainside early 
in the evening, and at first there was quite a heavy rainfall which in- 
creased in its fury until the terrific downpour lashed the trees and the 
rocks and the winds buffeted the living creatures along the foot hills 
of the mountains and in the valleys below, and between the gusts one 
could hear the wail of the storm-tossed trees and the distant roar of 
the flood foaming across the lands. In the little town of Casper the 
sound of the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the downpour 
of the rain were terrific for several hours. It was fully an hour after 
the storm had abated before the people of Casper were apprised of 
the terrible disaster that had been caused by the storm. 

A freighter named Newby and his family were camped just south 
of the CY gate, about two miles south of Casper, and as they were in 
bed when the cloudburst occurred, the water was upon them before 
they realized they were in danger. Mrs. Newby and her child were 
carried away in the flood, but the husband and father escaped by 
clinging to a log. Samuel Harrison and his family were camped near 
Newby and two of his small children, a boy and a girl, were carried 
away. Mrs. Harrison escaped with one of her children in her arms, 
but Mr. Harrison was carried down the stream over a hundred yards 
until he caught hold of the trunk of a tree and hung on until the force 
of the torrent was past. Others who camped in the path of the tor- 
rent were E. E. liams, Ed Kerns, James Smith, Fred Seely and 
Frank Arbiter, most of whom were freighters, and their entire outfit 
was carried away and dashed to splinters on the boulders. Along the 



CEREBROSPINAL MENINGITIS 183 

path of the flood was scattered wreckage of every description, cloth- 
ing, bedding, groceries, pieces of wagons and harness. Those who 
escaped with their Hves were clad only in their night clothes and they 
suffered a great deal from exposure. The people of Casper, however, 
furnished them with clothing and food, and in the morning nearly 
every man in the town went out to the scene of the disaster to assist 
in the search for the bodies that had been carried with the flood. 

The remains of the two Harrison children were recovered along 
the banks half a mile below where they were camped, and the body 
of Mrs. Newby was found covered with wreckage, and her baby was 
found close to the bank in a tree a considerable distance below. The 
remains of the three children and the lady were brought to Casper 
and placed in the town hall where the ladies of Casper dressed them 
and prepared them for burial. 

Everything possible was done to assist the surviving unfortu- 
nates; they were supplied with the necessities of life; houses were fur- 
nished the families; the men were provided with employment and 
except for the loss of life, it was not long until all had fully recovered 
from their terrible experience. 

Cerebrospinal Meningitis 

Many children in Casper died from the effects of cerebrospinal 
meningitis during the latter part of May, 1898, and the people be- 
came so alarmed that nearly all the mothers in the town took their 
children away. On the loth of May more than fifty children and 
twenty-five women left on the train for the east and each day follow- 
ing for a week women and children left the stricken town until hardly 
a child was left and those who did remain were not allowed to venture 
on the streets and were scarcely allowed outside the doors of their 
dwelling places. The schools were closed, church services were dis- 
continued, and the homes in the town were left uninhabited except 
by the head of the family. 

In one day more than a dozen children were stricken, and as 
there were but two physicians in town, Dr. Leeper and Dr. Bennett, 
they made their visits and administered to the little sufferers during 
the day and night without rest or sleep. 

The disease made its appearance without warning, the first 
symptoms being pain in the head, fever, and acceleration of the pulse. 
Purple spots appeared on the surface of the body, the muscles became 
rigid, the head was drawn back, and the pain was very violent. The 
patient became stupid and deaf and death supervened within forty- 
eight hours. 



l84 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Concerning the origin or producing causes of the terrible disease 
and respecting the modes of treatment, the physicians at that time 
knew but Httle. Some claimed that the disease was caused by the 
unsanitary condition of the town. The town was at that time in a 
most unsanitary condition. The local newspaper made a plea to the 
town council to compel the citizens to clear their residences of all gar- 
bage, to remove the cow corrals and hog pens that were maintained 
in the middle of the town and clear the streets and alleys of all rub- 
bish. The town council acted favorably upon the plea and in less 
than a month all signs of the disease had disappeared; the mothers 
with their children commenced to return and by the middle of the 
summer the children were allowed to come out on the streets and 
mingle together. 

Indians Dance in Casper Streets 

The last Indian dance to be given on the streets of Casper was 
on the evening of October 20, 1897, by about forty Shoshones on 
Second street in front of the Odd Fellows building. The principal 
part of their dress was on their heads and there was scarcely anything 
on their bodies. The music was furnished by six buck Indians, who 
pounded on an oil barrel with sticks while all the Indians chanted 
their weird songs. The dancers circled around a bonfire in the middle 
of the street. The bucks led the dance for an hour and then the 
squaws joined in. Nearly every white person in the city viewed the 
dance and contributed a small amount of cash which was turned over 
to the Indians. In the early days Indians dancing on the streets was 
not uncommon. The editor of the Tribune at that time described the 
affair in the following manner: 

"One of the most enjoyable and highly entertaining dances of the season was that 
given by about forty Shoshone Indians in the street in front of the Odd Fellows building 
last Tuesday evening. Those who participated in the affair were dressed in the grand- 
est style of ball room paraphernalia. Falling Star, the boss buck, wore a crow on his 
head and a pair of moccasins on his feet and that was about the extent of his clothing. 
Afraid-to-Ride-a-Horse wore one feather in his hair and a V-cut pair of stockmgs, very 
low. He danced the two-step and gavotte schottishe in elegant style. Red Cow and 
all the rest of the dancers wore paint on their bare legs and low-cut moccasins and 
danced to the sweet music, which was furnished by the Indian orchestra, the musical 
instrument being an oil barrel turned upside down and half a dozen Indians pounding 
on it with sticks. As the dance went on, all the musicians sang a song which sounded 
very much like a dozen cats on a roof in the night time. The bucks kept up the dance 
till 9:30 and then the squaws joined in and danced around the fire once or twice, after 
which all dispersed to their respective tents to count out the money that was con- 
tributed by the people who witnessed the war dance." 



WHEN CASPER WAS A " SUNDAY SCHOOL TOWN" 1 85 

When Casper Was a "Sunday School Town" 

At the seventh session of the town council of the town of Casper, 
which was held July 20, 1889, the mayor and councilmen were forc- 
ibly impressed with the fact that the time had arrived when a limit 
must be set for some of the women to parade the streets, visit the 
saloons and frequent the dance halls, and in the wisdom of the city 
fathers, at this meeting it was decided that from ten o'clock at night 
until seven o'clock in the morning should be about right and proper 
for a "wide open" town where "everything went," and accordingly an 
ordinance was adopted to that effect, the exact wording of the new 
town law being: 

" It shall be unlawful for any woman to frequent or remain in the barroom of any 
saloon in the town of Casper between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., and any woman 
who shall enter, frequent or remain in the barroom of any saloon in said town between 
the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined in any sum not 
less than five dollars nor more than twenty-five dollars. 

" It shall be unlawful for any woman to use any vile, profane or indecent language, 
or to act in a boisterous or lewd manner, or to smoke any cigar, cigarette or pipe on any 
street in Casper, and if any woman shall use any vde, profane or indecent language, or 
shall act in a boisterous or lewd manner, or shall smoke any cigar, cigarette or pipe on any 
street in Casper she shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined in any sum not less than 
five dollars nor more than twenty-five dollars." 

This ordinance was not as rigidly enforced as it should have been, 
but for several months after its adoption the women whose conduct it 
sought to regulate did not parade the streets so brazenly as they had 
heretofore. After ten o'clock at night, however, and until seven in the 
morning, it being legitimate and lawful for these women to visit the 
saloons and parade the streets, they exercised their franchise to the 
full extent and without restraint. Every saloon had its piano, and 
some of them had two, besides other musical instruments, and the 
program consisted of music and dancing, drinking and gambling. 

The men and women who thus made night hideous for weeks and 
months, celebrating, as they considered, with proper conviviality, 
commenced to encroach upon the time set apart for the decent citi- 
zens to appear on the streets and visit the business houses, and it was 
not long until the ordinance was considered a dead letter. Lewd 
women paraded the streets and frequented the barrooms at all times 
of the day and night, and the officers of the law gave them a free hand 
to do as they pleased. 

This condition existed until it became intolerable by the better 
class of citizens, and the grand jury was appealed to to regulate the 
morals of the town. The first grand jury to sit in Casper was in 
session in August, 1891, and after due deliberation the jury made its 



l86 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

report to the court, and referring to the moral condition of the town, 
it was recommended that: 

"Appreciating the fact that the town of Casper is a part of Natrona county, and 
the jurors' attention have been called to the loose manner in which matters pertaining 
to public morals is allowed to go on and the authorities decline to take cognizance of 
the matter, believing it to be the duty of the town officials to punish practice of open 
lewdness within the town, we do recommend that the town officials cause those living 
in disregard of law to be punished, and that if the officials whose duty it is to bring 
them to justice fail to do their duty that they put in office men who will, and not try to 
shift the responsibility." 

Accordingly the court ordered that the town officers enforce the 
laws, but even at its best the town was far from being classed as a 
"Sunday school town," especially by the tenderfeet who often visited 
here. These tenderfeet sometimes participated in the "carnivals" for 
a one-night stand only, and while the carousal was by no means a 
tame affair, the visitors, in their reports, after they left the "wild and 
woolly" place, exaggerated the affair at least two-fold and sometimes 
ten-fold. 

As late as 1897 this scum attempted to dominate the town 
elections, and sometimes they were successful in electing a councilman 
or two. At these elections the contest was bitter, but the better 
element each year gained in numbers, and men were put in office who 
made the laws more stringent. 

The "ten at night till seven in the morning" ordinance was 
repealed in 1898, and the lewd women were kept off the streets and 
out of the saloons entirely, and Casper then became a " Sunday school 
town" proper. The worst of the tough element who did not volun- 
tarily leave town were ordered to move. They were given a reason- 
able length of time to arrange their affairs, but they were forcibly in- 
formed that if they were in town after the date specified for them to 
make their departure, the officers of the law would not be responsible 
for what might happen to them. Needless to say none of them were 
ever seen in town after the time announced for their departure, and 
most of them left, attracting as little attention as possible. 

There was one woman, however, who proved an exception. On 
the date set for her to make her exit she mounted the rear platform 
of the last railway coach and as the train was pulling out, she ad- 
dressed the citizens at the depot with the hardest and most blas- 
phemous oaths the human tongue could articulate. The authorities 
at Douglas were notified to place her under arrest and she was returned 
to Casper. The heaviest fine possible under the law was placed 
against her, but the fine was remitted if she would leave the town at 
once and never return, which she agreed to do, but when she reached 
her room she swallowed a dose of laudanum with suicidal intent. An 



WHEN CASPER WAS A " SUNDAY SCHOOL TOWN " 187 

emetic relieved her of the poison, and in a few days she made her 
departure, but before she went she thanked the pohce magistrate for 
the consideration that had been extended to her and she apologized 
to the peace officers for all the trouble she had caused them, and said 
she was indeed sorry for having used such vile language before such 
a large number of decent people. Upon her departure she said she 
would never return, and if she said anything else, good, bad or 
indifferent, it was uttered in a low breath. 

From 1898 until 191 1 the saloons of Casper were conducted along 
about the same lines that saloons in any of the western towns were 
conducted. Most of the saloon men here obeyed the law in regard to 
selling liquor to minors and habitual drunkards, and they conducted 
their places with decorum, but there were others who took every 
advantage of the law by selling liquor to young boys and confirmed 
drunkards; men who became hopelessly and helplessly drunk in their 
places were robbed of all their money and then kicked out on the 
street. This, of course, had a tendency to reflect upon the better class 
of saloon men, as well as those who had no regard for the law, and on 
March 26, 191 1, the town council ordered all the saloons of Casper to 
be closed on Saturday nights at midnight and remain closed until 
Monday mornings at 12:01. This was the first time the saloons had 
been closed on Sundays since the existence of the town in 1888. The 
better class of the saloon men obeyed this order strictly, as they did 
all other laws and orders of the authorities, but there were some who 
persisted in keeping their back doors open and furnishing liquor to 
all who called for it. As a whole the saloon keepers of Casper con- 
ducted their places in accordance with the provisions of the law and 
commanded more respect than the men in that class of business 
usually commanded, but the few who violated the laws are the ones 
who brought condemnation upon all of them and it was also this class 
of saloon men who no doubt caused the law to be enacted which at 
midnight on June 30, 1919, put them all out of business in the whole 
of the United States. There were nine saloons and a brewery in 
Casper when the prohibition law went into effect. Funds were raised 
for the building of the brewery during the summer of 1914, and it was 
formally opened on July 26, 191 5. More than a thousand people 
were at the opening on this date, who were served with "Wyoming 
Light Lager," cheese and sausages. No one returned to the city 
hungry or thirsty; the limit of the amount a man ate and drank 
was his capacity. The opening was such a grand success and the 
brewery was so popular that the management kept open house 
during the entire week, and on Saturday night the immense crowd 
that congregated there voted the opening "a great success, the 



1 88 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

management most generous, the beer and eats delicious and the 
music charming." 

The names of the saloons in Casper when the prohibition law 
went into effect may be interesting in future years. They were: Mid- 
west Bar, Grand Central Bar, The Wyoming, The Buffet, Stock Ex- 
change, Elkhorn, The Inn, Parlor Car, Burke's Place. For several 
months previous to the closing of the saloons a thriving business in 
the liquor traffic was done, many truck loads of whiskey, wine, and 
beer being hauled to the residences of those who desired to lay in a 
supply. After the first of July a number of the saloons continued 
business with the same fixtures, in the serving of soft drinks, and con- 
siderable business was done by bootleggers who sold whiskey at prices 
ranging from three to five dollars per pint. When the supply of the 
bootleggers was exhausted many of the private supplies in the cellars 
of the residences were stolen and peddled out, and when this was 
gone the moonshine, private stills and home brew came into existence. 

Realizing that the officers would experience difficulty in the 
enforcement of the prohibition law Governor Robert D. Carey 
addressed letters to all the sheriffs and prosecuting attorneys in the 
state as follows: 

"I want to impress upon you the necessity for the strict enforcement of the law, 
and your insistence that the spirit of and letter of the same be carried OLit from the 
time that the law becomes effective. As governor of this state it is my duty to see that 
this law is enforced but it will be impossible for me or any one else to enforce it without 
your hearty co-operation, and I want to feel that we can count on the same co-operation 
on your part." 

That the state and county officers have made an effort to enforce 
the prohibition law, not only in the state of Wyoming, but in all the 
states of the Union, is evidenced by the large number of arrests and 
the enormous amount of liquor that has been confiscated and de- 
stroyed, but when the saloons went out of business at midnight on 
June 30, 1919, bootlegging and the illegal sale of liquor was com- 
menced at 4 o'clock in the morning of July i, 1919, and has rapidly 
increased every day since, and many heinous crimes have been com- 
mitted and many men have been sentenced to long terms in prison 
because of the illegitimate manufacture and sale of ardent spirits, 
and many men have been poisoned by drinking that baneful and 
noxious substance called moonshine. 



Sheep Shearing Plant 

The first steam sheep shearing plant to be operated in the United 
States was erected near the town of Casper in the early spring of 1894 
by J. B. Okie, and associates. At 3 :30 o'clock in the afternoon on 



SOME OF Casper's hotels 189 

Sunday, April 22, the signal was given to start the engine. A large 
number of sheep owners, sheep shearers, wool buyers and citizens of 
Casper were present. The local newspaper announced that "Amid 
much applause, the first sheep was sheared by Mrs. Okie, the wife of 
the man who was instrumental in initiating this method of sheep 
shearing to the American people, and Mrs. Okie enjoys the distinc- 
tion of shearing the first sheep ever shorn by this method in America, 
and she performed the task in less than five minutes." 

Some of Casper's Hotels 

The Graham house and the Wentworth hotel, one located on the 
southwest corner of Midwest avenue and Center street, and the other 
situated on the southeast corner of the same streets, were the leading 
hostelries of Casper from the date of the town's incorporation until 
1894, when the Grand Central hotel was built on the southwest 
corner of Second and Center streets by David Graham. For many 
years the Grand Central was considered the best hotel in the state 
outside of Cheyenne, and traveling men who were compelled to be 
in the central part of the state the latter part of the week made it an 
object to spend their Sundays in Casper, where they were sure of the 
best hotel accommodations. Many banquets were given in honor of 
distinguished guests and many social functions were held in the din- 
ing room of the Grand Central from 1894 until 191 3. By this time 
the town had grown considerably and there were so many transients 
coming in that the need of a larger and more modern hotel was 
recognized, and on April 8, 1913, the Midwest Hotel company was 
incorporated, with a capital stock of $100,000, with W. F. Hen- 
ning, R. D. Brooks and N. S. Wilson as directors. Lots 17 and 18, 
block 8, on the southwest corner of First and Center streets, were 
bought for $19,000. The Midwest Oil company subscribed for 
$64,000 of the bonds and the public spirited citizens of Casper sub- 
scribed for $36,000. To encourage the building of this new hotel, 
which by this time the town was sorely in need of, the town council, 
at its regular meeting held on May 5, 1913, by a unanimous vote 
adopted the following resolution: 

"Comes now the Industrial club of the town of Casper and asks that as an induce- 
ment to secure the erection of a modern hotel building the town council of the town of 
Casper make some concession upon water rates. 

"Resolution was then offered as follows: 

"Whereas, The Midwest Hotel company is planning the erection of a large mod- 
ern hotel on lots 17 and 18, in block 8 in the town of Casper at a cost of about $125,- 
000.00; and, 

"Whereas, The rapid growth of the town of Casper, and the inadequacy of the 
present hotels have demanded such hotel as necessary to the welfare of the town; and, 



190 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

"Whereas, Said Midwest Hotel company has appealed to the public for bond 
stock subscriptions to aid in the great undertaking, and has met with prompt response; 
and, 

"Whereas, The Industrial club of said town has requested the town of Casper to 
assist in the accomplishment of the enterprise as an inducement to the company to 
proceed with the construction of the hotel, by selling water to said company at a 
nominal water rental, as is customary in other towns and cities: therefore, be and it 
hereby is, 

"Resolved, That the town of Casper through its duly authorized officers enter 
into a contract for a period of five years with the Midwest Hotel company for the fur- 
nishing by the said town of Casper of water to said Midwest Hotel company for the 
sole purposes of the hotel building at an annual water rental of $1.00 per annum; 
Provided, That the said hotel company shall at all times during the period covered by 
said contract as a condition thereof exercise due care to avoid unnecessary waste of 
such water so furnished under such contract, including the use of automatic shut-offs 
at all water openings. 

"Moved by Councilman Morgan, seconded by Councilman Wood that the same 
be adopted. Motion being put, same was carried unanimously." 

The contract for the erection of the building was awarded to 
Howard & Wood of Cheyenne on July 23, 1913, for $59,350. This 
price did not include the installation of the elevator, cost of archi- 
tecture, electric wiring, refrigerator system, vacuum cleaning system, 
telephones or the plumbing and heating systems. Work was commen- 
ced on the excavation for the basement on July 31, and the building 
was finished in April, 1914. Frank J. Donohoe formally opened the 
hotel May 5, 1914. A dinner was served at 7 o'clock in the evening, 
at which it was announced that the guests could eat and drink to 
their hearts' content at five dollars per plate. The dining room was 
filled with people from 7 until 10, but the barroom was open all 
night. 

Mr. Donohoe conducted the hotel until March 22, 191 5, when 
the sheriff of Natrona county took charge by foreclosure proceedings 
executed against the furniture in the sum of $19,334. The furniture 
was removed and the doors of the building were locked. The hotel 
remained closed until May 5, 1915, when half a dozen of Casper's 
progressive men refurnished the building throughout and secured the 
services of C. W. Adams as manager. 

Work was commenced on the excavation for the basement and 
foundation of the Midwest hotel annex the first part of December, 
1916, and the contract for the erection of the building was let to 
Archie Allison of Cheyenne for $30,500, which did not include the 
plumbing, electric wiring, etc., etc. Instead of this hotel being called 
the Midwest Annex, as was at first intended, it was named the 
Henning, in honor of the man who owned the building. The Henning 
was formally opened August 15, 1917. The two hotels were con- 
solidated under the name of the Henning on January 12, 1919, and 
on March i, 1919, A. K. Bott was secured as manager. 



GAMBLING WAS A LAWFUL PROFESSION I9I 

Gambling Was a Lawful Profession 

Gambling in Wyoming up until 1901 was licensed by the laws of 
the state, and was considered as legitimate a business as banking or 
any other kind of commercialism, and games of poker, faro, monte 
and roulette were in operation in all the villages, towns and cities of 
the state all day and all night. Every saloon in Casper had its gam- 
bling paraphernalia, and the games were played on the square; an 
employeewould be discharged if he were caught cheating a patron, just 
as quickly as a clerk in a store would be discharged for overcharging 
or cheating a customer. Nearly everybody frequented the gambling 
places; there were some, however, who did not participate in the 
games, but they went for the purpose of looking at others play, and 
they seemed to think no more of it than if they were going to a base- 
ball game. On more than one occasion, when big stakes were up, 
some of the pillars of the churches and even some of the ministers 
were onlookers. 

The money, large piles of currency and stacks of gold and silver, 
was stacked in the racks on the gambling tables, similar to the manner 
in which the money was placed on the counters in a bank. If a patron 
came in and won, his chips were cashed the same as though he had 
sold produce at a grocery store ; if he lost, it was considered a legitimate 
business transaction, and no complaint was made. Everybody was 
considered on the square until he was proven otherwise, and it was 
seldom that anyone was even suspected of being dishonest. There 
was one man, however, called Black Dick, a tin-horn and roustabout, 
who on a Sunday night in the fall of 1890 "lifted" a stack of silver 
from one of the monte tables in the White saloon while a big game 
of poker was going on at another table. When it was discovered 
that the money was gone, Dick was suspected and more of an effort 
was made by the people to apprehend him than there is nowadays to 
capture a man who will hold up a woman on the street and rob her of 
her pocketbook. Dick immediately left town with the cash, but the 
next morning the sheriff caught him at Big Muddy station when he 
attempted to board an east-bound train. He was brought back to 
Casper, and there were some people who were inclined to lynch him, 
but they were induced to forego this severe punishment. He was, 
however, tried in court, found guilty, and sentenced to ninety days 
in jail. He was then taken to Douglas where he served his sentence. 
Natrona county did not afford a jail at that time and all our prisoners 
were kept in the Converse county jail. Neither did the state have a 
penitentiary at that time, and all the state's prisoners were taken to 
the penitentiary at Joliet, Illinois. On account of the expense of tak- 



192 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

ing prisoners to the penitentiary there were not many trials in the 
district court. If anyone committed a crime that would not justify 
the expense of a trial and transportation to jail or the penitentiary, 
the law-abiding citizens ordered him out of town and if he did not go 
his punishment was more severe than a term in the penitentiary. 

As evidence of how the people considered gambling in those 
days, we quote an item from the Wyoming Derrick on February 18, 
1894: "The town is the liveliest in the state. Business of every kind is 
good, and as a further evidence of our prosperity there are four stud 
poker games in full blast. There were two games at the Stock Ex- 
change last week, the game continuing the entire night. A large sum 
of money changed hands, and there was much excitement." 

Another news item which appeared in the Natrona County 
Tribune in 1900 was to the effect that "two tin-horn gamblers in 
Casper 'loaded' a roulette wheel in one of the gambling houses in the 
afternoon while business was dull and when there was no one attend- 
ing the wheel, and in the evening when operations were commenced 
and after a few plays had been made, the discovery was made that 
there was something wrong and the men who did the job were spotted. 
They soon made their escape from the building and left town before 
the people could deal with them in accordance with their feelings. 
A man who would cheat at a gambling table is considered the worst 
kind of a cheat." 

At the sixth session of the Wyoming state legislature, held in 
1901, the anti-gambling law was enacted. It was after this law went 
Into effect that the gambling tables were moved into the back rooms. 
The legitimate, or square, gambler went out of business, but the 
crooked gambler, who would violate the laws of the state had no 
hesitancy in violating the laws of percentage in the break of the cards, 
and at every turn took advantage of the unsophisticated player who 
was inveigled into the game, and if he could not be induced to lose his 
last dollar at the gambling table, he was generally doped and then 
robbed of his money, which was fully as legitimate a way of getting 
it as at a crooked game at the table. 

A Walk to the Pathfinder Dam 

It is no easy task for a man of middle age and ordinary weight to 
walk from Casper to the Pathfinder dam in forty-eight hours, a 
distance of about fifty miles, under ordinary conditions, but for a 
man past fifty years of age and weighing 285 pounds to plod over the 
rough road, under a broiling sun for more than nine-tenths of the 
distance, and through a drenching rain and heavy mud the remainder 



A WALK TO THE PATHFINDER DAM I93 

of the way, is a difficult undertaking, but on August 9, 1909, Louis J. 
Price, whom no one would dispute as to the age and weight, left Casper 
at 7 o'clock in the morning, on a wager of ^250, and he arrived at the 
dam at 5:15 on the morning of the nth, one hour and forty-five 
minutes ahead of time. A wagon loaded with provisions and bedding 
preceded him. For the first twenty miles it was easy going and the 
pedestrian earned about $10.00 for each mile he traveled, but the 
second morning out Mr. Price discovered that he had a sprained ankle 
and both feet were badly blistered, and the going over the rocky road 
was hard. The scorching rays of the sun added nothing to his com- 
fort, but he plodded on until he reached Alcova, a distance of thirty- 
five miles. It was late in the afternoon; here he rested for an hour and 
then resumed his journey, and after going about eight miles he en- 
countered a terrific rain storm, and he was compelled to "lay by" 
from 8 o'clock until midnight. He had about seven miles further to go, 
but that seven miles was the hardest part of the whole trip; he was 
weary and foot-sore; the mud was deep, and the night was dark; he 
stumbled over rocks, and the gumbo clung to his shoes until he car- 
ried several pounds' extra weight on each foot, and the tracks he 
made in the mud were larger than an elephant would make; his stride 
was short and his progress was slow; he slipped and fell many times. 
When daylight came he was within sight of the dam, but for every ten 
steps he took it seemed as though the dam had moved away twice 
that distance; he was now counting the steps instead of the miles. 
He realized the time was getting short in order for him to win the 
wager and he made an extraordinary effort, and finally he caught up 
with the river which seemed to be so rapidly moving off in a southerly 
direction, and then the goal was reached; he had covered the distance 
in forty-six hours and fifteen minutes, and he laid down on the ground 
along the canyon completely exhausted. If he had had another half 
mile to travel he could not have covered the distance within the time 
limit, and he would not only have lost his wager, but it was the most 
trying effort of his life, and although his reward was a fraction more 
than five dollars per hour for the time he had put in, it was the hard- 
est money he ever earned. He was reduced in flesh just ten pounds 
in the forty-eight hours and the hardships he endured cannot be 
described. 

Alfred Willey, a wool buyer, who made the wager with him, had 
no witnesses along the route; he said he required none; he was willing 
to pay over the money if Mr. Price said he had won it, for he knew 
there would be no cheating; he knew that the wagon was close at hand 
and he also knew that if Mr. Price had gotten in the wagon to ride 
that the wagon would have been headed toward Casper and not 



194 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

toward the Pathfinder dam, and this confidence placed in him was of 
more satisfaction than the money he received or the gratification of 
reaching the goal within the specified time. 



Casper Has Millions in Automobiles 

There is not a county in the state of Wyoming and probably not 
a county in any of the western states that has as many high-class 
automobiles, according to population, as Natrona county. In the 
city of Casper for a distance of at least three blocks on either side of 
Center street, and about the same distance on Second street, parking 
room is at a premium from 8 o'clock in the morning until ii o'clock 
at night, and the estimated value of the cars in these six blocks runs 
up to more than a million dollars. In addition to these there are 
always several hundred cars parked on many of the side streets. 

In the spring of 1908 there was not an automobile in the county. 
During the summer of 1908, Mr. J. P. Cantillon, the division super- 
intendent of the Wyoming & Northwestern railway, brought the 
first automobile to Casper. It was shipped in on the train, and upon 
its arrival attracted more attention than "Tricky" Brown's one-horse 
cart would attract at this time were it to pass down the street. 
Mr. Brown was a gatherer of junk in Casper in the early days and his 
horse and cart and harness compared very favorably with the junk he 
picked up from the dumping grounds. Mr. Brown was nicknamed 
"Tricky" on account of his very clever sleight-of-hand performances. 
But going back to Mr. Cantillon 's auto. It was a second-hand Pope- 
Toledo, twenty h. p. five-passenger machine. The first day it was 
driven up Center street, the chug, chug, chug could be heard for a 
distance of ten blocks, and the smoke that emitted from the exhaust 
could be seen for an equal distance. The noise and the smoke from 
this "horseless carriage," as it was then called by many, caused every 
business man and clerk to rush out of the stores and view the wonder- 
ful spectacle. The machine turned the corner on Second street east 
and was driven as far as the stock yards and back, without stopping, 
which was considered a wonderful feat. To start the car it was 
cranked from the side, and the cranking process oftentimes required 
at least half an hour. The favored few who had an opportunity to ride 
in this machine always went prepared to walk home, and they were 
seldom disappointed, but the car occasionally came back without 
being hauled in by a team, for an item in one of the local newspapers 
recorded the fact that "it has made numerous long trips, among 
them being a trip to Pathfinder dam and to the Salt Creek oil wells, 
both places being a distance of fifty miles from Casper." 



CASPER HAS MILLIONS IN AUTOMOBILES I95 

C. M. Elgin was the second owner of an automobile in Casper. 
On April 15, 1909, he brought in a new Chalmers-Detroit, thirty h. p. 
five-passenger car. There were no side doors at the front seat, for 
they did not put doors in front those days. Mr. Elgin drove this car 
from Denver to Casper and the local newspaper said it was "a most 
remarkable trip, driving from Denver to Cheyenne in five hours and 
forty-five minutes; from Cheyenne to Douglas in ten hours and from 
Douglas to Casper in three hours, or eighteen hours and forty-five 
minutes from Denver to Casper. This was the actual driving time, 
the time spent along the road when the car was not in operation 
being deducted." 

The Nicolaysen Lumber company during the summer of 1909 
had shipped in an "International auto buggy," twenty-two h. p. five- 
passenger. This machine had a forty-inch front wheel and a forty- 
four-inch rear wheel, with solid rubber tires. One of the astonish- 
ingly long trips made with this buggy was in the fall of the year, 
when it was driven to the Bates Park country, a distance of thirty- 
five miles, in a little better than two hours. 

M, N. Castle owned the fourth car in Casper. It was a second- 
hand Reo, twenty h. p., and was bought during the summer of 1909. 
He used this car in connection with his livery business, and it was the 
first automobile to make a trip to Garden creek, but it was pushed up 
most of the steep hills. With these four automobiles in town, B. A. 
Elias considered it a good field for the establishment of a garage and 
repair shop, and about the middle of July, 1909, he located here, and 
brought with him a Buick eighteen h. p. car. In August Mr. Elias and 
Wm. Noonan opened up Casper's first garage and repair shop and to 
keep the five automobiles in good running order kept them very busy, 
for there was always one machine out of repair and sometimes the 
five of them were out of commission at the same time. 

In 1910, quite a number of new cars were brought in, and since 
that time a new car has attracted but little attention, and in 1922 it 
was estimated that there was one automobile in Casper for every 
six persons. 

Realizing that the automobile tourist trade and good will were 
valuable assets to any city, the Casper Motor club and Chamber of 
Commerce made plans in the spring of 1921 for a tourist camp for 
Casper. With the true Casper spirit it was decided to make this the 
best camp in the west. Ten acres of ground at the south end of 
Durbin street was dedicated by the city of Casper for the purpose and 
a modern camp building with all possible home requirements was 
built at a cost of $7,500, by the Casper Motor club. The building is 
40x40 feet, equipped with gas, electric light, and telephone. There is 



196 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

a large screened porch where the guests may eat after cooking their 
meals in the modern kitchen. Toilet rooms for men and women are 
equipped with tubs and showers, and a laundry room with tubs, 
electric washer, and ironing board. The living room is spacious and 
there are writing desks and a Victrola. A matron in charge looks after 
the needs of the visitors, gives information concerning the city, and 
extends to them a cordial welcome to Casper, which they in turn are 
asked to spread to anyone they may meet along the road. The camp 
justified itself fully during its first season. Although it was not opened 
until July 2, 1921, the records showed that to October 5, 2,340 cars 
stopped at least one night and the expenditures made by the visitors 
according to their own figures were $33,362.39. an average of $14.26 
for each car. c u 

During the season of 1922, or from June i to September 15, 
3,385 cars stopped at this camp, and the tourists spent more than 
$'51,000 in the city. Every state in the Union except Vermont and 
Delaware was represented and cars from outside the United States 
were from Alaska, Korea, New Zealand and Canada. Even with this 
splendid showing it was estimated that only one in every five cars 
that passed through Casper stopped at this camp, many of them 
stopping at the hotels, while others passed through without stopping 
over for a day. These latter, of course, were not included in the above 
figures. During the month of June, 695 cars stopped at this camp; in 
July, 1,076; August, 1,212; September, 402. Seventy-seven different 
makes of cars were registered. More than one hundred people who 
were travehng through as tourists became permanent residents of 
Casper in 1922. Three persons are employed at this camp during the 
tourist season, a man and his wife, who care for the buildings and 
equipment, and a man who has charge of the sanitation and regis- 
tration. 

Airplanes in Casper 

An airplane soared over the city of Casper at 3:55 in the after- 
noon of September 29, 1919, with Bert L. Cole as the pilot and Jay 
Y. Stock, the passenger, this being the first time that human beings 
had ever viewed the city from the air in a flying machine. Mr. Stock 
was the owner of the machine, and had it brought here for the pur- 
pose of establishing aerial service to the people who might desire it 
for either pleasure or business. 

Although traveling by airplane had become quite commonplace 
in other parts of the country the atmospheric conditions in Central 
Wyoming caused the aviators to shun this part of the country. 
Arrangements were made about ten years previous to this for an 



AIRPLANES IN CASPER I97 

exhibition flight at a Fourth of July celebration by an aviator from 
BilHngs, Montana, but his machine never rose from the ground, 
although a start was made, but instead of soaring in the air the man 
and the machine skimmed along the surface of the earth at top speed 
for several hundred yards, and then the machine tore its way through 
a fence and was stopped after it had entered a large tent, with its 
wings, flys and steering apparatus so badly crippled that it was 
necessary to send it to the factory for repairs; consequently when the 
Stock airplane came sailing over the city it was the first time that 
many of our citizens had ever seen an airplane in action and naturally 
attracted the attention of nearly every man, woman and child in the 
city. 

This machine was brought from Springfield, Massachusetts, to 
Casper, making the entire distance through the air. From Denver to 
Casper the flying time was three hours and fifteen minutes. It was 
brought to Casper to be used by the public, and it was announced 
that passengers would be taken to New York City if they desired, and 
if they were willing to pay the price. There is no record of anyone hav- 
ing chartered the car for New York, but flights were made over the 
town with passengers, who paid twenty dollars for a twenty-minute 
ride. Later, several trips were made to Cheyenne and Denver on 
urgent business. 

This ship was described as being driven by a six-cylinder motor 
with dual feed and ignition systems, having two magnetos, two spark 
plugs on each cylinder, two carburetors and two complete sets of 
wiring on the engine in operation all the time. Both systems were tested 
out before the plane left the ground on every flight. The gasoline 
used was of a very high test, a seventy-degree baume being found the 
most desirable and the lubricating oil was composed of half castor oil 
and half petroleum lubricant, the latter of very high grade stock. It 
was said that this ship was better adapted for the high altitude of 
this region than any other make of plane and was readily capable of 
making a flight of 20,000 feet in the air. With its fuel tanks full, the 
plane could stay in the air five and a half hours and make an average 
speed of 1 10 miles per hour without exertion. 

A splendid landing field about a mile east from Casper was pre- 
pared and a five-thousand-dollar hangar was built, which included a 
complete electric light plant, ofiice equipment and living quarters for 
the employees. Business was so good that another plane was soon 
brought in, and it was announced that two huge passenger planes had 
been ordered, which would cost ^70,000; each of these planes would 
seat eight passengers, and regular flights would be made to Denver, 
Cheyenne, Laramie and other cities. These two "Pullmans of the 



198 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

air" were said to be fitted out like real coaches on the inside. Wicker 
chairs were arranged in tiers of two, and. the seats were placed so that 
full view was provided of the surrounding country from any one of 
the fifteen windows in the ship. Each of the planes was capable of 
making 130 miles per hour. 

In view of the fact that Casper had been placed in a predominat- 
ing position regarding aviation, the city council heartily endorsed the 
actions of the promoter of this enterprise and at a meeting of the 
council held on January 4, 1920, an appropriation of $3,000 was made 
toward aiding the aviation program and putting in improvements for 
the landing field and hangar, and it was announced that "this was 
one of Casper's biggest assets. " The appropriation of this amount of 
money was not approved by some of the city's taxpayers, who com- 
plained that the councilmen "sure had the bug," and they said that 
within a year all the members of the city council, as well as all the 
taxpayers, would realize their mistake. At this point, it is not out of 
place to state that the two huge passenger planes which were to cost 
$70,000 that were to have been bought, have not, up to the present 
time, which is early in the year 1923, ever made their appearance in 
or over the city, and that the prediction made by those who objected 
to the appropriation of $3,000 came true before the specified time. 

The Western Airplane and Motor company was incorporated in 
January, 1920, with a capital stock of half a million dollars, and the 
purpose of the incorporation was announced as being "for the 
development of aerial navigation in this part of the country, with 
Casper as the center of operations, and the establishment of aerial 
passenger routes between Casper and Denver, Casper and Salt 
Creek, Casper and Yellowstone park and other points, as well as 
the regular service of aerial sight-seeing flights in the vicinity of 
this city. 

"The company starts with two machines; the 150-horsepower 
Curtiss Oriole, a 2-passenger machine, and the 90-horsepower Curtiss 
JN4-D, a i-passenger machine, both of which have been in use 
here for some time. The 8-passenger Eagle will be delivered as soon 
as the factory can turn it out and in this connection the most sen- 
sational boosting trip ever staged in behalf of Casper will be under- 
taken. 

"The aviation business, since it was established here has been 
popular and profitable and its future appears more promising. A big 
engagement for the eight-passenger Pullman has already been booked. 
It has been chartered to take a party of ten prominent men to the 
Dempsey-Carpentier fight, wherever it may take place, in this coun- 
try, in Canada or in Lower California." 



AIRPLANES IN CASPER 199 

An accident occurred on the morning of January 14, 1920, in 
which Miss Maud Toomey was killed, and Bert Cole, the pilot, was 
slightly injured. The pilot and the passenger had been in the air with 
the machine about twenty minutes, and were about to make a landing 
when the plane took a nose dive of nearly 500 feet into the landing 
field. The front portion of the plane was a mass of splinters and it was 
necessary to tear away the wreckage to remove the body of the young 
lady, who was yet alive, but was unconscious. As soon as she could 
be extricated from the mass she was taken to the hospital where she 
died in three hours. Her injuries were enumerated as having been two 
broken arms, a broken leg, fractured ribs and a skull fracture, and the 
fracture of the vertebrae about her neck. Cole's injuries were but a 
few slight cuts and bruises, and he was in the hospital but one day. 
After this accident the aviation business was not quite so "popular 
and profitable" as it had heretofore been. 

During the summer of 1920 an effort was made by the Casper 
Chamber of Commerce to have airplane mail connections estab- 
lished between Casper and Cheyenne and Denver, thus connecting 
with the transcontinental service arriving in Cheyenne from Omaha, 
but this effort failed, and the mail continues to come in over the 
slow-going cars propelled by steam engines. 

By this time the thrills of tail spins, falling leaf twirls, fancy 
spins, loop-the-loop and straight line speeding at a rate of more than 
one hundred miles an hour had gotten to be an old story, and did not 
interest the people as they did when the plane first made its appear- 
ance over the city, and something new and more daring must be 
brought forth to create interest and attract attention, consequently 
on May 20 at 6 o'clock in the evening Pilot Cole and a young man 
named Frank E. Hansen soared into the air more than five thousand 
feet, when the machine was turned bottom side up and Hansen leaped 
out. He dropped through space several hundred feet with the swift- 
ness of a bullet shot from a rifle, and then the parachute opened from 
its folds and Hansen slowly and safely descended to the earth. More 
than five thousand people were on the aviation field to see the man 
flirt with death, and it may be said that all were greatly relieved when 
the stunt was safely over. The performance was repeated time and 
again until the evening of July 2, when an ascension of 4,400 feet was 
made and Hansen leaped out with his parachute. The parachute 
opened as usual but almost immediately collapsed. The aviator saw 
the parachute collapse, and knowing that it meant sure death to his 
companion, he veered his ship into a sharp dive and made an effort 
to intercept the falling man. The plane shot beneath Hansen, the 
aviator attempting to get under him so that he might land on the 



200 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

wings of the plane, but Hansen missed the ship by about twenty feet and 
when he struck the ground it was with such force that his body was 
half buried in the earth. His right side was crushed and mangled to a 
pulp and it was said that every bone in the man's body was broken 
except the upper bone in the right arm and the bone in the right thigh. 
This accident, together with the one when Miss Toomey lost her life, 
lessened the enthusiasm of those who had a desire to fly, and although 
one of the planes made ascents nearly every day during the remainder 
of the summer months there were but few passengers who went up. 
During the winter months the planes remain in the hangar, but are 
brought out occasionally during the summer, but they are not nearly 
so popular as they were when they first made their appearance over 
the city. 

During the summer of 1922 an airway service was established 
between Casper and Salt Creek, trips being made in the airplane on 
Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, but this mode of travel was 
not popular with the public, and proved unprofitable for the company 
and was soon abandoned. 

On August II, 1922, aerial photographs of the Salt Creek and 
Teapot oil fields were taken by government representatives. Flying 
at a height of ten thousand feet and at a rate of eighty-five miles an 
hour an exposure was made of the oil fields every twenty-nine seconds. 
It required seven days for the aviator and the photographer to com- 
plete the work, which resulted in securing a series of overlapping 
pictures, which when trimmed made one large photograph of the 
fields. The camera used was the same as those used in war times, and 
was almost entirely of aluminum, weighing approximately thirty 
pounds. The machine was fastened securely to the plane and was 
operated with a trigger, similar to the trigger on a machine gun. 

Casper's Wireless Telegraph Systems 

The first wireless telegraph system to be established in Natrona 
county was erected in 1916 by Major Ormsby. The aerial wires were 
strung above his residence property on Center street, between Sixth 
and Seventh streets. Another system was established at his Spear- 
head ranch in Converse county, more than fifty miles distant, and a 
great many messages were sent and received from these two stations. 
Another system was erected the same year near the Burlington pas- 
senger station by one of the telegraph operators and was used merely 
to pick up any messages that came through the air waves. During 
the world war in 191 7 the government required these systems to be 
dismantled and they were not again put in operation, and no more 



ASSESSED VALUATION OF CASPER PROPERTY 20I 

wireless systems were established in the city until 1922, when more 
than two dozen radiophones were installed. Some were put in 
private homes and others were put in stores for the entertainment of 
the public, and others were put in club rooms for the entertainment 
and enlightenment of the members. The Daily Tribune had one in- 
stalled in its office for its convenience and entertainment, but the 
largest system in the city was erected during the month of August, 
1922, by the Illinois Pipeline company, which is used to receive and 
send private messages to Lima, Ohio, the headquarters of the com- 
pany. The aerial wires are strung from two 150-foot steel towers, 
which are 500 feet apart. The wave length of this system is 1,685 
meters, and the sending and receiving radius of the instrument is 
2,000 miles. This is the largest system in the western states, except- 
ing several government stations on the Pacific coast. 

Assessed Valuation of Casper Property 

The assessment of the town of Casper and Natrona county was 
made separately from 1891 to 191 3. During those years the town 
clerk acted as town assessor, and in 1891 the town's assessed valua- 
tion was $80,459; in 1895 it had increased to $231,486.50; and with 
each succeeding year there was a substantial increase which is shown 
as follows: Nineteen hundred, $300,511; 1901, $396,217; 1903, $411,- 
088; 1907, $628,508; 1910, $1,685,657; 1913, $2,456,831. An increase 
of more than twenty-two and one-half million dollars was made in 
the assessed valuation of the property in Casper in the succeeding 
eight years, the exact figures for 1921 showing the assessed valuation 
to be $24,810,371, and in 1922 the assessed valuation of the city was 
$26,886,062. 



Retrospective and Prospective View 
of Casper 

THIRTY-FOUR years — from 1888 to 1922 — is not a very long 
time for the building up of a city with an assessed valuation of 
twenty-seven million dollars and the home of twenty-seven 
thousand people — one thousand dollars for each and every man, 
woman and child in the city; the largest, the most progressive and 
the most prosperous city in Wyoming. This twenty-seven million dol- 
lars' assessed valuation does not include nearly four million dollars 
worth of property in the name of the city, nor does it include the prop- 
erty in the name of Natrona county, and it is only fair to presume 
that the assessed valuation is not more than two-thirds of the full 
valuation of the property, therefore to say that there is more than 
forty million dollars' worth of property in Casper belonging to the 
taxpayers, the city of Casper and Natrona county would be putting 
it at an exceedingly low figure. 

On the 1st of June, 1888, the tract of land now occupied by the 
city of Casper, with its hundreds of business houses, thousands of 
dwellings and many large manufacturing establishments, was but a 
barren waste of sand, sage brush and cactus; not a house, or a tent or 
a living soul occupied the land at that time; even the cattle did not 
linger long here, on account of the unproductiveness of the soil. The 
roaring of the wind during the day and the yelping of the coyote dur- 
ing the night were then the only signs of action on these bleak plains. 
But it was at about this time that John Merritt rode into the valley 
on horseback, and he camped along the river bank; he was the sole 
resident of Casper for nearly a week, then on the 7th of June came 
C. W. Eads, with his daughter Fannie, his son Kise, and Abe Nelson 
and John Johnson. They put up the first tent on the ground; John 
Merritt had slept in a round-up bed until they came. The next day 
after Mr. Eads and his party arrived a number of others came in and 
each succeeding day brought in many others, and before the middle of 
the month there were about one hundred people here. The Chicago 
& Northwestern Railway company reached this point with its branch 
line on the 15th of June, and before the end of the month another 
hundred residents had been added to the town. This "tent town" was 
situated about three-fourths of a mile east from where the Natrona 

202 








Center Street, Casper, i^ 








Same Street in 1900 



^■^v.. 



..*^€!!I?? 




„.-.«»*■ 



Same Street in 1922 



RETROSPECTIVE AND PROSPECTIVE VIEW OF CASPER 203 

county court house is now located. Where the town was to be per- 
manently located had not yet been platted or surveyed, and this 
work was not completed until late in October, after which the town 
lots were sold, and in November of that year the work of moving the 
buildings down from the temporary location and the construction of 
new buildings on the permanent location was commenced. 

On the 9th of April, 1889, John Merritt made application to 
the board of county commissioners of Carbon county (Natrona had 
not yet been organized) to have the town of Casper incorporated, 
and on the 8th of July, 1889, the first mayor and councilmen were 
elected. 

The business lots in the town were 25 x 100 feet and the residence 
lots were 6ox 140 feet. The corner lots in the business section sold for 
$250 and the inside lots sold for ^200, while the residential corner lots 
sold for $125, and the inside lots brought ^100. In 1895 ^^^ prices on 
these lots were doubled, and in 1909 the prices of the residential lots 
were raised again, to $300 and $375; all the business lots had by this 
time been sold by the townsite company. In 191 2 another raise was 
was made in the prices to ^500 and $650, and again in 1917 the prices 
went up to ^1,000 and $1,250. Many new additions and subdivisions 
to the town had been made and the lots that were being sold at the 
above prices were quite a distance from the business section of the 
town, and in 1922 the prices on these lots had increased to $4,000 and 
$5,000. With the phenomenal upbuilding of the town and prospects 
for a bright future the city of Casper at the beginning of the year 
1923 offers unbounded opportunities for the investor of capital, for 
the home owner and for industries of many kinds. Ideally situated 
at the foot of Casper mountain, in the North Platte river valley, and 
almost in the geographical center of the state, it is the metropolis of 
an industrial empire. 

The city now boasts of a business district extensive in scope and 
metropolitan in arrangement. Its extensive residence district spreads 
over many broad acres. Beautiful business buildings and homes are 
monuments of tribute to the foresight of the pioneers. 

During the past five years Casper, it is estimated, has spent 
approximately $20,000,000 in transforming its outward appearances 
exclusive of approximately the same sum spent by the oil refineries 
that are located here. 

Casper's unique location, as outlet of the Lander valley and the 
Big Horn basin has made it the jobbing center of Central Wyoming. 
This field is scarcely tapped yet but the advent of huge jobbing houses 
here, already in existence and contemplated, will entrench Casper's 
position during the coming years. 



204 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Casper is also a division point of the Burlington and North- 
western railroads and averages yearly greater freight tonnage, due 
principally to oil shipments, than many of the great industrial cities 
of the country. The freight earnings of these two railroads during the 
year 1922 was more than twenty-two million dollars. 

Casper supports a packing plant which has an employing capac- 
ity of 100 persons. The Natrona Power company furnishes electric 
service both power and lights at a moderate rate. The plant invest- 
ment of the company here approximates ^1,000,000. 

Casper has an approximate valuation of $40,000,000. It is the 
capital of Natrona county which has an assessed valuation of $61,- 
000,000, all of which is tributary to Casper and finds its outlet in this 
city. 

It is the home of the best school system in the state of Wyoming 
and many modern buildings, including seven modern grade school 
buildings, a general high school and a new vocational high school, 
which represents investment of over $2,000,000, are operated here. 
Bonds in the amount of $500,000 were voted by the district in 
the summer of 1922 for the construction of another high school 
building. 

During 1920 and 1921 Casper spent approximately $2,500,000 in 
municipal improvements including extension of water and sewer 
systems to provide adequate protection and service to every section of 
the city. 

Casper is now one of the most important cities of two automobile 
highways, the Grant Memorial highway which extends from Chicago 
to Portland, Oregon, and the Yellowstone highway which is looped 
with the Park to Park highway, aflPording continuous avenue to visit 
all national parks in the western country. 

Nearly every religious denomination is represented in Casper. 
All sects have erected handsome new structures or contemplating 
erection of new homes during the coming year. 

Blessed with an adequate supply of water furnished by the North 
Platte river and the smaller streams from the mountains, with central 
location, facility for advancement, abundance of natural gas for fuel 
and with the spirit of progress, the accomplishments of the past will 
soon be outstripped by the undertakings of the future. 

The Casper-Alcova irrigation project which contemplates open- 
ing up 125,000 acres of land tributary to Casper, is a matter of future 
accomplishment. Government surveys have shown the project 
feasible. Adequate supply of water is contained in the Pathfinder 
dam to transform the district covered from an arid stock grazing 
land into an area which will afford homes for potential thousands. 



RETROSPECTIVE AND PROSPECTIVE VIEW OF CASPER 205 

At the session of congress in December, 1922, the estimates of appro- 
priations for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1924, submitted by the 
bureau of the budget, among the interior department items, was 
$1,420,000 for this project. It may be several years before this project 
is completed, but it will surely come, then these 125,000 acres of 
irrigated fertile soil will supply sugar beets for a factory to be located 
in Casper with an annual production of 16,000 tons of sugar. The 
pulp derived from 110,000 tons of raw beets, which should be the 
average annual production for 11,000 acres of beets, will fatten 6,875 
two-year-old steers every season. This will enable the cattle men to 
fatten their own range stock for market at minimum cost. Sugar beet 
pulp is also excellent feed for fattening sheep, of which we have 
225,000 in Natrona county. 

Fifty thousand acres of alfalfa averaging three tons to the acre, 
150,000 tons annually, will provide hay for thousands of cattle and 
sheep and thus permit the Natrona county ranchman to pick his own 
market and avoid seasonal marketing which has always been a serious 
handicap to Wyoming ranchmen. Our alfalfa is unexcelled for the 
making of alfalfa meals and stock foods. 

Fifteen thousand acres of small grains will produce a crop of 
250,000 bushels of wheat, 41,000 bushels of oats, 18,000 bushels of 
rye, 37,000 bushels of barley annually. The wheat will supply a flour 
mill in Casper having 108 barrels daily capacity and most of the other 
grains will be fed to stock by the farmer. 

Five thousand acres of potatoes should yield annually an average 
of 750,000 bushels, enough to feed the city of Casper and operate a 
starch factory with an annual output of 5,625,000 pounds of starch. 

Four thousand acres of corn should produce an average annual 
yield of 100,000 bushels of corn, or 28,000 tons of ensilage. Twenty- 
eight thousand tons of ensilage will winter 3,000 head of dairy cattle 
and 13,660 head of beef cattle. 

This wealth and these industries will be incentives for other 
capital and other industries to locate here, and then Casper will be 
to Wyoming what Denver is to Colorado. 

In the accomplishments of the past and the undertakings of the 
future, the strong financial institutions of Casper have played and will 
play an important role. During the past year these institutions 
cleared in excess of $50,000,000. The banking institutions of Casper 
have kept pace with the city. 

Casper's Chamber of Commerce, boasting of 1,300 members and 
the largest per capita membership of any city in the country, has done 
much to foster the growth of the city and assist in its upbuilding dur- 
ing the past few years. 



206 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

In 1922 the city of Casper showed a two-milHon-dollar increase 
in property assessed valuation over 1921. In 1921, Casper's assessed 
property valuation was $24,810,371 and in 1922 it was $26,886,062. 
This increase was made despite the fact that all valuations on im- 
provements were cut 10 per cent. 

A comparison of the inventories of the property belonging to the 
city of Casper on January i, 1912, and on January i, 1922, a period of 
ten years, is of special interest. The 191 2 inventory showed : 

1912 

Water works, reservoirs, etc $ 96,349-55 

Sewer works, manholes, etc 39,610.88 

Horses, wagons, harness, etc 1,600.00 

Miscellaneous merchandise, etc 5,265.20 

Contents of jail, cells, etc 690.85 

Lots where jail stands 2,500.00 

Jail building, residence, barns and corral 3,000.00 

Town Hall lots 6,000.00 

Town Hall, hose house and sheds 2,500.00 

Safe 75-00 

Fire fighting apparatus, furniture, etc 8,174.00 

Unused portions of books, records, etc 100.00 

Water right 6,000.00 

Parks in Park addition 7,000.00 

Parks in Capitol Hill 2,000.00 

Park at library 500.00 

Trees on streets 5,000.00 

Cemetery 10,000.00 

Cross walks iH miles 7,000.00 

Sidewalks, 6 miles of 6 feet, i mile 1 2 feet 28,000.00 

Value of streets and alleys 175,000.00 

Value of right of way, water ditch, etc 10,000.00 

Total value of property ;S4i6,365.48 

The 1922 inventory gave nearly three and three-quarter million 
dollars, as follows. 1^22 

Public buildings and equipment, including grounds $ 321,846.63 

Water works system ._ 704,238.44 

Sidewalks, curbing, alleys and street crossings 347,535.60 

Paving, including grading 1,636,674.90 

Sewer and drainage system 444,794.35 

City park, block 31 75,000.00 

Lots 14 and 15, block 4 (Postoffice park) 25,000.00 

Park in White's addition, block 46 15,000.00 

Corner Park and Second streets, 2,435 square feet 4,000.00 

Equipment of City park 809.68 

Equipment of Postoffice park 3,021.50 

Real estate, south half of northeast quarter, north half of southeast 

quarter, section 10 70,000.00 

Cemetery equipment, on above property 311.60 

Fire department equipment 47,690.00 

Police department equipment 7,830.00 

Street department equipment 11,895.00 

Engineering department equipment : 6,766.40 

Gamewell fire alarm system 19,916.83 

Total value of property $3,742,286.43 



RETROSPECTIVE AND PROSPECTIVE VIEW OF CASPER 207 

The balance sheet at the beginning of business January i, 1922, 
for the city showed the following assets: 

Cash on hand and In bank $153,655.02 

Less special improvement funds 41,392.11 $ 112,262.91 

Taxes 1921, due and unpaid 300,205.49 

Public improvements 3,455,044.92 

Park system and improvements 122,831.18 

Cemetery property 47,911.60 

Departmental equipment 94,098.73 

Total $4,132,354.83 

The liabilities were: 

General fund warrants outstanding $ 38,665.85 

Water fund warrants outstanding 2,592.34 

Bonds outstanditig 1,612,000.00 $ 1,653,258.19 

Net worth of City 2,479,096.64 

Total $4,132,354.83 

Sixty-four thousand square yards of street paving were laid in 
the city of Casper during the year 1922. The paving of streets in 
Casper has added a great deal to the scenic beauty of the city as well 
as being of great convenience to all. Plans for paving during 1923 
will cover fully as many yards as were covered in 1922, and it is 
expected within a few years most of the streets within the city limits 
will be paved. 

With Casper's splendid fire department and fire-fighting equip- 
ment, the city is equally well protected with a competent police 
department, as will be shown by the number of arrests made during 
1921 and 1922 and the fines collected: There were 1,956 arrests made 
in 1921, with fines amounting to ^38,861.50. In 1922, 2,991 people 
were arrested, and ^33,613 in fines were collected, and in addition to 
this amount there were $3,450 in fines which were satisfied through 
the serving of sentences in the city jail. Charge of intoxication, boot- 
legging, traffic violations and disturbances of the peace headed the 
Hst. In addition to the arrests made by the city police department, 
there were 529 arrests made during 1922 by the sheriff's office of 
Natrona county. The crimes committed show a wide scope, ranging 
from murder to shoplifting. Violations of the liquor law predomi- 
nated with 161; fifty-five were arrested for gambling; thirty-four for 
stealing automobiles; eight I. W. W.'s were arrested; three for at- 
tempted murder and two for murder, and one for confidence opera- 
tions and one for embezzlement. 

The vital statistics for Casper shows an amazing increase in 
population, in buildings, water and sewer mains, the paving of streets, 



208 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

building of sidewalks, postoffice facilities, electric light, power and 
gas accounts, as follows: 

Population — 1890, 544; 1900, 883; 1910, 2,639; 1915, 4,040; 
1920, 11,447; 1922, *24,597; 1923, *27,309. 

Building Permits — 1919, 229 permits, cost of buildings, ^1,232,- 
334; 1920, 574, $1,950,110; 1921, 969, $2,104,340; 1922, 985,096. 

Water and Sewer Mains, Paving — The city of Casper on Jan- 
uary I, 1923, had forty-seven miles of water mains, ranging in size 
from 4-inch distributing mains to 14-inch trunk lines; more than 
twenty miles of bitulithic and concrete street paving; thirty-four 
miles of 8, 10, 12 and 15-inch sanitary sewers, and fourteen miles of 
8 to 72-inch storm sewers. 

The Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph company on 
January i, 1923, had 4,170 telephones in operation in Casper. 

Power, Light and Gas — The Natrona Power company had 5,400 
service accounts on January i, 1923; and the New York Oil company 
had 740 gas service accounts April i, 1921; 1,800 October i, 1921; 
2,700 April I, 1922; 3,450 October i, 1922, and 4,030 January i, 
1923. 

* Estimated on basis of increase in school census from 1920 to 1922 and 1923. 



The Schools ol Natrona County 

NINETEEN pupils were enrolled in the subscription school 
taught in Casper by Mrs. Adah E. Allen, which was com- 
menced on Monday, March 5, 1889, and ended the middle 
of April. This was the first school conducted in Casper. Mrs. Allen 
came to Casper the latter part of February from Lusk with the inten- 
tion of going to Ervay to teach school at that place, but the citizens 
of Casper induced her to remain here. Concerning the opening of the 
school, the Casper M<rz// of March 8 said: "Mrs. Allen commenced a 
subscription school last Monday. The outlook is good for a success- 
ful term, although there is great need of more room and conveniences 
for the pupils. The children all seem bright and will doubtless ap- 
preciate the privilege afforded them. One of Casper's needs at present 
is a school house." In the same issue of the newspaper, Mrs. Allen 
called attention to the fact that, "Those persons who so kindly agreed 
to donate toward a private school will please leave the amount with 
Mr. C. C. Wright at the postoffice and receive credit for the same," 
and in the issue of April 18, Mrs. Allen announced that, "The citizens 
of Casper and vicinity will please accept my sincere thanks for the 
many favors received and for their support toward the private school." 
There is no record of the school closing at this time, but the above 
would indicate that her term had ended, inasmuch as she had thanked 
the people for the favors and support they had given her. 

The first act toward the establishment of a public school in 
Casper was at a meeting held March 28, 1889, for the organization of 
school district No. 33, in Carbon county (now Natrona). At this 
meeting the following trustees were elected: C. W. Eads for the short 
term, or until May, 1890; Joshua Stroud, for the middle term, or 
until May, 1891; and P. A. Demorest, for the long term, or until 
May, 1 891. Mr. Demorest was elected president of the board and 
Mr. Eads secretary. An official call was made for a meeting of the 
board as follows: "Notice of annual school meeting of district No. 33, 
in Carbon county, is called by Charles W. Eads, clerk, to meet at the 
store of N. S. Bristol & Co., at i o'clock, the 6th day of May, 1889, to 
transact such business as may properly come before said meeting." 

No record can be found of the meeting held on the above date, 
but it is evident that at this meeting provisions were made for a 
teacher and for the rental of a building suitable for school purposes, 

209 



2IO HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

for the first public school in the village of Casper was opened on Mon- 
day, July 8, 1889, in the Congregational Tabernacle, with Miss Anna 
Weber (later Mrs. W. A. Denecke) as teacher. The tabernacle was 
on the southeast corner of Durbin street and Third avenue (now 
First street) where the New York Oil company's offices are located. 
A picture of this building is published elsewhere in this volume. Miss 
Weber had charge of the school until the middle of April, 1890, when 
she resigned. Mr. M. P. Wheeler, who had recently come to Casper 
from Johnstown, Nebraska, was engaged to finish the term, and he 
had charge of the school for ten weeks after April 22. In the first 
issue of the Wyoming Derrick, May 21, 1890, announcement was 
made that "The enrollment of the Casper schools is an even 5o. 
Principal M. P. Wheeler started in less than three weeks ago with an 
attendance of only 26. He is evidently the right man in the right 
place, and if he continues the work he has so ably begun, Casper can 
soon boast of the best schools in Central Wyoming." Mr. Wheeler 
received ^75 per month for his services, or a total of $187.50 for the 
ten weeks' work. 

It is evident that at the meeting of the school board held on May 
6, 1889, the number of the district was changed from 33 to 14, and that 
a new member of the board was elected, for an official notice pub- 
lished in the Casper Mail October 11, 1889, which is the first record 
of any meeting that can be found since May 6, is as follows: "Pro- 
posals will be received until October 15, 1889, for the erection of a 
school house in school district No. 14, town of Casper, county of 
Carbon, according to plans and specifications now on file at the Bank 
of Casper. 

"Casper, Wyoming, October 3, 1889. 
"C. C. Wright, clerk. "P. A. Demorest, president." 

The business transacted at the meeting held on October 15 is 
also a conjecture, for no more records appear until after Natrona 
county was organized, on April 12, 1890, but it is known that the 
proposed school house was not built, for the Congregational Taber- 
nacle was used for school purposes until the 1 889-1 890 term was 
finished by Miss Weber and Mr. Wheeler. 

School district No. 2 was formed by Cordelia M. Cheney, county 
superintendent of schools, on May 7, 1890, four weeks after the 
organization of Natrona county. The boundaries of this district were 
nearly the same as the boundaries of original district No. 33, which 
was afterwards changed to district No. 14. Mrs. Cheney designated 
May 19, at 10 o'clock in the forenoon, as the time for the electors of 
this district to elect three trustees. G. E. Butler was chairman and 



THE SCHOOLS OF NATRONA COUNTY 211 

John McGrath acted as secretary at the election. H. A. Lilly was 
elected trustee for one year; Charles O'Neall, two years; George 
Weber, three years. These trustees met at the office of the Casper 
Mail on May 20 when Charles O'Neall was elected director; George 
Webej, treasurer; H. A. Lilly, clerk. At this meeting $630 was appro- 
priated for a school house fund, $630 for teachers' fund, and $100 for 
a library fund. 

The next meeting of the trustees was held at the Bank of Casper 
on May 23, when a call was issued for a special election to be held on 
Monday, June 30, 1890, to vote upon the proposition of bonding the 
district in the sum of $4,000 for the purpose of securing funds with 
which to erect "a handsome, commodious, and creditable brick school 
house." Eighty-seven votes were cast for the bonds and none against. 
Joel L. Hurt bought these bonds, but before he would accept them 
and turn over the money, twenty men of Casper signed a note guar- 
anteeing to pay back the money if the school district was in such 
financial distress when the bonds became due that it could not meet 
Its obligation. The bonds were promptly taken up by the school 
district when they became due. Mr. Weber resigned as a member 
August 9, and on August 19, J. J. Hurt was elected to fill the vacancy. 
Advertisements for bids for the building of the new school house 
were published in August and bids were received on September 6, 
1890. Messrs. Erben and Merrian were awarded the contract, the 
price being $4,225. Chris Baysel was the architect. Work was com- 
menced at once and the building, consisting of four rooms, was to be 
completed by November 15. The new building was described as being 
"two stories high, with a tower twelve feet square, projecting six feet 
outside and six feet inside the building, forty-eight feet in height. 
The floor arrangement is the same in each story, there being two 
school rooms on each floor, each 23x30 feet, and also two recitation 
rooms 16x16 feet. Only two rooms are required at this time and only 
the upper rooms will be finished until the lower rooms are needed." 
The two rooms were not ready for occupancy until January 20, 1891. 
The lower rooms in the building were not finished until the fall of 
1894. The bondsmen for the contractors were required to pay to the 
school district the sum of $620.62, on account of the building not 
being finished at the time specified, but this money was afterwards 
paid back to the bondsmen by the school district. 

School was commenced in the new building on January 20, 1891, 
with an attendance of fifty pupils. J. C. WiUiams was principal, and 
Miss Clementine Evans (now Mrs. P. C. Nicolaysen) was assistant. 
The largest number of pupils in attendance during the term was 
twenty-six in Mr. Williams' room and thirty-six in Miss Evans' 



212 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

room. The term closed on June 26, with the usual last-day-of-school 
exercises. Mr. Williams received a salary of $70 a month and Miss 
Evans received $50 a month. 

At the annual election held on May 4, 1891, E. A. Johnson was 
elected trustee to succeed H. A. Lilly, whose term of office expired. 
Mr. Johnson was elected clerk. Miss Ryan of Buffalo was engaged 
to teach room A, and Miss Franc Butler, (now Mrs. Franc Sheffner) 
had charge of room B, during the 1 891-2 term. Miss Ryan resigned 
early in the term and Mr. George Fallan finished the term. Mr. R. 
L. Carpenter and Miss Butler were the teachers hired for the 1892-3 
term. Mr. Carpenter taught six weeks and resigned and Guy Cleve- 
land was hired to finish the term. Mr. Cleveland was a man of won- 
derful physical ability, which, in those days, was required in addition 
to other qualifications attendant upon a successful school teacher, 
and it is said, with a hickory rod somewhat smaller than the handle 
of a broom, Mr. Cleveland finished the term in a manner that proved 
highly satisfactory to the school board, although some of the larger 
boys whose education needed training from the rod rather than from 
books, did not admire his method of teaching or his manner of admin- 
istering corporal punishment. 

R. A. Ball was the principal of the school for the 1893-4 term and 
again Miss Butler was the assistant. 

Messrs. Charles O'Neall, N. S. Bristol, and H. A. Lilly were the 
trustees during the 1894-5 term and at the meeting held June 16, the 
following-named teachers were hired: M. L. Edwards, principal; 
Etta Lipson, intermediate department; Franc Butler, primary de- 
partment. 

On December 14, Mr. Edwards tendered his resignation to take 
effect the first of the year and Joseph A. Williams was secured for the 
balance of the term. On complaint of Mr. Williams and many of the 
parents whose children were attending school, on January 17, 1895, 
the school board asked and demanded the resignation of Miss Etta 
Lipson, a teacher in the intermediate department of the Casper 
schools, "because the room in which she was a teacher was not prop- 
erly conducted." The action of the board did not meet with the ap- 
proval of a great many of the parents who had children in the school, 
and a mass meeting was held -at the town hall on the evening of 
January 22, 1895, at which nearly one hundred men and women were 
present. At this mass meeting the members of the board were asked 
to be present and give some further and definite reason for Miss 
Lipson's dismissal, but none of the members of the board were present 
and they had refused to give any further reason for the dismissal of 
the teacher. A petition was then circulated and signed by a great 



THE SCHOOLS OF NATRONA COUNTY 21 3 

number of the voters in the district requesting the board to rescind 
its action, because the signers considered it unwise and against the 
best interest of the school. Still the members of the board did not 
comply with the request, and then came a set of resolutions asking 
the board to resign, the whereases and resolves being couched in 
language as follows: 

"Whereas, A petition has been circulated among the patrons of the Intermediate 
department and among the citizens of School district No. 2, and said petition has been 
signed by at least one half of the electors in School district No. 2, and said petition has 
been duly presented, asking that Miss Etta Lipson be retained in her position as a 
teacher in our public school, and said board of trustees refuse to receive and recognize 
said petition, but have wholly ignored the said petition; and 

"Whereas, The best interests of the public schools are injured by the removal 
of a teacher in the middle of the term; and 

"Whereas, Upon due request from persons having authority to ask said board 
to file specific charges against said Etta Lipson as a teacher, and they have wholly 
failed to do so; and 

"Whereas, Upon due inquiry said board is unable to give any well founded 
reasons for the removal of said Etta Lipson, the teacher in our public schools, and as it 
is the belief of those that have gone to the members of the school board and conversed 
with them about the matter, that the board is acting partial in the matter, and with 
malicious spite in the matter, and with anything but the best interests of the school at 
heart; 

"Therefore, We, the citizens, electors and patrons of the public schools of Casper, 
in mass meeting assembled, do ask and request that the present trustees of School 
district No. 2, to-wit: Charles O'Neall, N. S. Bristol and H. A. Lilly, that they resign 
as trustees in and for said School district, and do hereby prefer charges against them 
as follows, to-wit: Acting with malicious spite in asking for the resignation of Miss Etta 
Lipson as a teacher in our public schools at this time. 

" Second: Acting partially in the matter, and for the promotion of unknown and 
divers personal reasons known only to themselves. 

"Third: As bemg enemies to the best interests of our public schools. 

"Fourth: As acting unwisely and arbitrarily in ignoring and failing to take into 
consideration the petition heretofore presented to them protesting against the removal 
of Miss Lipson as a teacher." 

The members of the board were still inclined to the opinion that 
they were right in the dismissal of the teacher and Miss Lipson was 
not allowed to finish the term and the members of the board did not 
resign. Miss Lipson, however, did not send in her resignation as re- 
quested by the board and on January 25 she was tendered a check in 
payment for her services for the full time she had taught and Mrs. 
L. Brown was secured to finish the term and she was installed as 
teacher on January 28. Miss Lipson also appeared at the school room 
on the morning of the 28th and the members of the board requested 
her to deliver to them the keys to the school building and the register, 
but she refused and carried them home with her. Then she brought 
action in the courts against the board for her salary. The board re- 
taliated by bringing action against Miss Lipson for the recovery of 
the school register and the keys to the school house. The school 



214 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

board secured the register and the keys, but Miss Lipson did not get 
the salary she asked for. Mr. WiHiams, the principal, went to Omaha 
the latter part of January where he was called on account of sickness 
in his family, and failing to return, at the meeting of the board held 
on February 5, five dollars was appropriated to pay for telegrams 
sent out to secure another principal. Professor S. E. Notson was finally 
secured, and he finished the term in a manner that was highly satis- 
factory to all concerned. The enrollment during this school year was 
140, the grammar department having 41; intermediate department, 
45; primary department, 54. 

In 1895, our school had grown to such proportions that four 
teachers were required. Professor S. E. Notson was in charge and 
Mary E. Hurlburt, Hattie Bethards and Mrs. Notson were the 
teachers in the grammar, intermediate and primary departments. 
The enrollment was 124, with 24 in the high school, 30 in the grammar 
department, 28 in the intermediate department, and 42 in the primary 
department. Mrs. Notson resigned during the term and Miss Minnie 
Burns was hired to finish the term. For the 1896-7 term the same 
corps of teachers was hired who had finished the 1895-6 term. George 
James Wilson and Elizabeth Jameson graduated at the end of this 
term, and these were the first students to graduate from the public 
schools of Casper. 

For the 1897-8 term a kindergarten department was established 
in the Casper schools and Miss Adah Turner (now Mrs. F. W. Cott- 
man) had charge of this department. The other teachers were the 
same as those who taught the 1896-7 term. 

The second teachers' institute for Natrona county convened in 
Casper on June 14, 1897, with Miss Wilhelmena Clark as county 
superintendent. The following-named teachers were present: Alma 
Morgan of Winthrop; Clyde L. Carpenter, Freeland; Matilda Leeper, 
Ervay; Mattie Ervay, Ervay; Paulina Smith, Casper; EflRe Cum- 
mings, Casper; Adah Turner, Casper; Minnie Burns, Casper; Hattie 
Bethards, Casper; Minnie Hurlburt, Casper; S. E. Notson, Casper. 

For the 1898-9 term, S. E. Notson was retained as principal and 
Miss Adah Turner again had charge of the kindergarten. Mrs. T. A. 
Dean, Miss Eva Cantlin and Miss May Hamilton were the other 
teachers. On account of ill health Mr. Notson resigned after teaching 
about a month and Mrs. E. C. Jameson took his place until Will F. 
Chase came in January. The second graduation exercises of the 
Casper public schools were held on April 3, 1900, and Clark Johnson 
was the only graduate. 

Will F. Chase was retained as the principal for the 1 899-1 900 
term, and Mrs. Dean, Miss Hamilton, Miss Cantlin and Miss Turner 



THE SCHOOLS OF NATRONA COUNTY 215 

were the other teachers. The enrollment was 34 for the high school; 
grammar department, 15; intermediate department, 30; second pri- 
mary, 27; first primary, 55; total, 161. Mr. Chase was a failure as 
a teacher and an executive in a school room, and although he was 
allowed to finish the term, he came nearly finishing the school at the 
same time. 

The school enrollment on September 6, 1900, was: Kindergarten, 
first and second grades, 55; Miss Turner and Miss Leeper teachers; 
third and fourth grades, 38, Miss Edith Evans teacher; fifth and 
sixth grades, 23, Miss Hamilton, teacher (Miss Hamilton resigned 
January i, to take the position of county superintendent of schools 
and she was succeeded by Miss Eflfie Cummings, who finished the 
term); seventh and eighth grades, 23, Miss Cantlin, teacher; high 
school, 27, F. E. Matheny, principal. Total enrollment, 166. 

At the annual school election held on May 6, 1901, an appropria- 
tion of $3,700 was made for school purposes for district No. 2, $2,500 
of which was to be used for the payment of teachers' salaries and the 
remainder was to be used for incidental expenses. The enrollment for 
the past year averaged 255, seventy-two more than the previous year. 

Teachers retained for the 1901-2 term were F. E. Matheny, 
J. B. Ruple, Carrie Friend, Effie Cummings, Nora Crow, Edith Evans, 
Mrs. F. E. Matheny, Mary Craig. 

The proposition to issue bonds for the erection of a new school 
house and to vote a levy of two mills to pay for the same was voted 
upon at a special election held on Saturday, January 2, 1901. There 
were sixty votes for the bonds and two votes against. The new build- 
ing was to be 42x68 feet, containing four rooms, each room to be 
28x32 feet. The site for the new building was on Center street, be- 
tween Park and Milton streets (now Eighth and Ninth streets), where 
the Park school is now situated. The contract for the construction 
of this building was let to local contractors and the members of the 
school board were superintending the work. There was some jealousy 
among other local builders and considerable feeling was worked up 
against the members of the board by these builders and their friends, 
the claim being made that the contractors were not complying with 
the specifications, and on August 14, 1901, a warrant was issued by 
County Attorney Alex T. Butler, charging the members of the board, 
consisting of Frank Wood, S. W. Conwell, and W. E. Tubbs, with the 
"misappropriation of public funds for the erection of a public building, 
the said public buildingnotbeingerectedaccordingto the accepted and 
adopted plans and specifications." When the warrant was served by 
the sheriff, the members of the board were at the site of the building 
making an investigation of the work that had thus far been done, and 



2l6 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

upon which considerable complaint had been made by some of the 
taxpayers and competitors of the contractors. After being placed 
under arrest the members of the board appeared before Justice of the 
Peace Frank Jameson, and asked that their preliminary trial be ex- 
tended for ten days. The request was granted and each of the mem- 
bers was placed under a bond of five hundred dollars to appear for 
trial. The members refused to give the bond and they were placed 
under charge of the sheriff, who, by order of the county attorney, 
incarcerated them in the county jail. The members of the board were 
served with a sumptuous dinner by the sheriff, at the expense of the 
county, and nearly everyone in the town, except the county attorney 
and the families of the members of the board, looked upon the matter 
as a joke. After dinner the sheriff took upon himself the responsibility 
of releasing the members upon their own recognizances to appear for 
trial upon the date set by the court. 

The information issued by the county attorney contended that 
"the school building was not being erected according to plans and 
specifications; that changes had been made in the building which were 
less costly than the original plans; that work on the building could 
not be safely proceeded with, and if the building was completed as 
per the changes that had been made, it would not be a safe and strong 
building." The members of the board claimed that they were looking 
after the building in a businesslike manner; that the contractors were 
proceeding satisfactorily; that no complaint had ever been made to 
them as to unsatisfactory workmanship on the building or material 
in the building, and that not as much as one penny had been mis- 
appropriated knowingly by them. 

Before the day set for trial the county attorney indicated that 
the case would be dismissed, but a subpoena was served on the officer, 
requiring that he be brought into court on August 24, 1901, at 10 
o'clock a.m. with all the affidavits and other papers relative to the 
case. On the 24th of August, the case was postponed until September 
16, on account of sickness of Justice Jameson. At the trial the case 
was dismissed, and the board was vindicated. 

The enrollment for Casper schools in September, 1901, was: 
High school, 24; grammar department, 24; intermediate A, 35; inter- 
mediate B, 27; primary A, 20; primary B, 29; kindergarten, 34; total 
193. The teachers retained for the 1901-2 school year were F. E. 
Matheny, principal, J. B. Ruple, assistant principal, Carrie Friend, 
grammar department, Effie Cummings, fifth grade, Nora M. Crow, 
fourth, Edith Evans, second primary, Mrs. Matheny, first primary, 
Mary Craig, kindergarten. The three first-named teachers were 
located in the new building referred to in the preceding paragraph. 



THE SCHOOLS OF NATRONA COUNTY 21/ 

The teachers for the 1902-3 term were, F. E. Matheny, E. M. 
Childs, Mrs. F. E. Matheny, Mary Craig, Edith Evans, Althea 
Marian Jones, Emma Yard, Minnie B. Whitmore, Bertha B. Goetz- 
man. The enrollment was: High school, 21, seventh and eighth 
grades, 27; fifth and sixth grades, 34; fourth grade, 25; third grade, 
33; second grade, 24; first primary, 29; kindergarten, 23; total, 216. 

The schools had made a decided improvement under this corps 
of teachers and Mr. Matheny was retained as superintendent for the 
1903-4 term, with the following teachers: J. J. Jewett, principal, 
Bertha Goetzman, Effie Cummings, Mrs. Matheny, Sue Merriam, 
Bertha Imhoff, Mary Holmes, Mary Craig. In the Central school 
building there were the kindergarten, first, second, third, and fourth 
grades, and in the Park school building, there were fifth, sixth, gram- 
mar, and high school. The enrollment was 253. The school census 
taken in Casper in June, 1904, showed 312 people in district No. 2 
between the ages of six and twenty-one years. At the school election 
of district No. 2, held in 1905, the secretary's report showed an en- 
rollment of 287 pupils. There were ten teachers. It cost the district 
^9'9i5-54 to conduct the schools of the preceding year. Of this 
amount ^6,477.93 was paid to the teachers, $2,802.23 for other ex- 
penses in maintaining the schools, $160.00 library fund, and $472.38 
kindergarten fund. 

Mr. Matheny was engaged as superintendent for the 1904-5 
term, and Mr. Jewett was the principal. Miss Catherine Gries, Miss 
Bertha Goetzman, Miss Effie Cummings, Miss Allie West, Miss Sue 
Merriam. Miss Bertha ImhofF, and Miss Mary Craig were the teachers. 
For the 1905-6 term the enrollment was slightly increased and one 
additional teacher was hired. For the maintenance of the schools in 
district No. 2 there was drawn on the teacher's fund, $6,930.07, and 
on the special fund, $2,200.80; making a sum total of $9,130.87. 

The average monthly salary for male teachers in Wyoming in 
1906 was $74.14, and for female teachers $49.50. In 1907 the average 
salary for male teachers was $85.20, and for female teachers $53.50. 

Thus far we have given somewhat at length the commencement, 
growth, success and vicissitudes of our schools, the trials of the 
teachers, the hardships of the pupils, the difficulties of the members 
of the school board and the interest of the parents, because a full 
description was necessary in order that the people nowadays might 
appreciate the cumbersomeness of building up a school in a frontier 
village to the magnitude of the present school system, but to con- 
tinue the minor details, giving the names of teachers, the number of 
pupils, the personnel of the school board, et cetera, for each year from 
1906 up to 1922, would make a large volume in itself, on account of 



2l8 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

the wonderful improvements, changes and increase in the number 
of pupils and teachers that have been made, therefore we will have 
to be content with a brief resume of the schools up to the present time 
and a comparison of the same from the first day that Mrs. Adah E. 
Allen called her little flock of nineteen pupils to order until the end 
of the year 1922, when there were nearly 4,400 pupils and about 170 
teachers in the city of Casper, which is considered the biggest and 
most up-to-date school town in the state. The census of school dis- 
trict No. 2, taken in May, 1910, showed 529 persons of school age, 
against 465 the previous year. Three colored children were included 
in the 1910 census. 

The contract was let for the building of the Natrona County 
High school on May 21, 1913, for $35,550, and $6,000 for the plumb- 
ing and heating. C. R. Inman was the building contractor and W. 
W. Keefe did the plumbing. This was one of Casper's public buildings 
that was erected without dissension from "Casper's Trouble Makers 
Club," most of the members of which had been called hence or moved 
to other climes where progress and push were not so much in evidence 
as at Casper. 

There were enrolled in the Casper schools on November i, 1919, 
2,080 pupils. Of this number 226 were students in the High school. 
Eighty-three teachers were employed in the city. On account of the 
congested condition of the school buildings a room in the public 
library and one in the Episcopal gymnasium were used for classes, 
and later it was found necessary to use two additional rooms in the 
basement of the library. During the 1919-20 school year $80,285.27 
was expended for teachers' salaries, and $89,929.82 was expended for 
school house expenses and supplies. The school census showed an 
increase from 958 in 1915 to 2,797, i" 1920. At the end of the term in 
1921 the enrollment was 3,046. 

In 1921, a material increase was made in the salaries of the 
teachers in the grade schools of district No. 2 as well as for the in- 
structors in the Natrona County High school, and sex discrimination 
was entirely eliminated. A minimum of $1,600 a year for all grade 
teachers, with an increase of $100 a year as long as they remained in 
the Casper schools, and a minimum of $2,000 for High school in- 
structors. Formerly an instructor in the Casper schools, teaching 
grades below the sixth, was started at $1,560, with an increase of 
$60 a year. In the sixth, seventh and eighth grades the minimum was 
$1,620 a year, with a $60 increase. By placing all grade teachers on 
the same plane, teachers below the sixth grade were to receive an in- 
crease in salary, as well as women members of the High school faculty. 
In the high school a woman instructor was started at $1,956, while a 



THE SCHOOLS OF NATRONA COUNTY 219 

man received $2,076, but it was decided that both men and women 
instructors should receive $2,000 for the first year of their service, 
with the yearly increase as above stated. 

At the beginning of the term in 1921 there was an enrollment 
of 3^338 pupils in school district No. 2 which includes the city of 
Casper, Mills and Salt Creek. A comparison of the enrollment in 
1920 and 1 92 1 is herewith shown: 

School 1920 1921 Increase 

West Casper 200 422 222 

Central 561 564 3 

rark 473 500 27 

East Casper 482 608 126 

Elk Street 200 200 

North Casper 218 399 181 

High school 220 375 155 



Mills. 



Salt Creek 58 153 



35 120 85 

95 



The rooms in all the school buildings of Casper, as well as those 
at Mills and Salt Creek were overcrowded, and it was at once de- 
cided to erect a new ten-room building in North Casper and a six- 
room building in South Casper. New buildings were in course of 
construction at Mills and Salt Creek. At the beginning of this term 
there were 120 teachers, but fifteen more teachers were added to the 
force at once. 

At the beginning of the year 1922, there was an enrollment of 
3,950 pupils in the district, against 472 in 191 1, and there were 150 
grade teachers and twenty-five High school teachers, against fifteen 
in 191 1. A summary of the Natrona County High school on Decem- 
ber 31, 1921, showed an enrollment of 436 students, 185 boys and 251 
girls; there were twenty full-time instructors and five were employed 
part of the time. The equipment and property of the High school 
district was listed as follows: Books in library, 1,121 volumes; 26 
magazines; special librarian in charge throughout the day. Cost of 
apparatus: Science, $2,175; domestic science, $2,450; music, $720; 
maps, $175; gymnasium, $2,000; manual training, $5,000; commer- 
cial, $1,880. Two large and up-to-date buildings. Area of eight acres 
of land, with grandstand and well-fenced field of such unusual quality 
as is rarely found in connection with high schools. Two well equipped 
gymnasiums. 

At the end of 1922 there were thirty High school instructors, with 
three supervisors in the Natrona County High school, located in 
Casper; there were 136 grade teachers, with five supervisors and six 
special teachers for subnormal and abnormal children. There were 
about 4,400 pupils in the district with 535 in the High school, and the 



220 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

balance in the grade schools of Casper, Mills and Salt Creek, with all 
the school buildings crowded and overflowing. 

Bonds were voted in the summer of 1922 for a $500,cxdo buildmg 
for the Natrona County High school district, to be located in Casper. 
A list of the buildings constructed in 1920-21, the number of rooms, 
and the cost of each building is given below: 

School No. Rooms Cost 

Vocational High $250,000 

West Casper IS 100,000 

Elk Street 7 35, 000 

North Casper 14 125,000 

Mills 6 35,000 

South Casper 7 3S,ooo 

Salt Creek 4 20,000 

Mud Springs i 1,500 

Horse Camp i 800 

Country Club i 800 

Total $608, 1 00 

In 1922 a new fifteen-room building was constructed in North Cas- 
per and six rooms were added to the East Casper school building. There 
were six teachers in Salt Creek and 180 pupils, and five teachers in 
Mills and 160 pupils. Of the other rural schools in the county, in 1922, 
district No. 3 comprised the Freeland school, with 7 pupils; Dickin- 
son, 4 pupils; Laney's, 4 pupils. No. 4, Bessemer, 10 pupils, with 
25 more pupils in this district, near Emigrant Gap and on the Yellow- 
stone Highway, not attending school. No. 5, Split Rock, or Dumb 
Bell, 3 pupils; Sanford, i pupil. No. 6, Clarkson, or Childers, 2 
pupils; Jourgensen, I pupil. No. 7, Alcova,7 pupils. N0.9, Bucknum, 
8 pupils; Wilson Creek, 10 pupils. No. 10, Winthrop, or Clark's, 
13 pupils. No. II, Muddy, or Brooks, 14 pupils. No. 12, Greenlaw, 
2 pupils. No. 13, Oil City, 6 pupils; Waltman, 10 pupils; Brotherson, 
5 pupils. No. 15, Deer Creek Park, 3 pupils. No. 16, Natrona, 19 
pupils; Powder River, 11 pupils. No. 17, Pathfinder, 2 pupils. No. 
18, Arminto, 16 pupils; Wolton, 11 pupils; Badwater, 3 pupils; 
Keiver, 2 pupils. In addition to the above the schools at Wilson, or 
the Poor Farm, the Country Club, Horse Ranch, Ohio Oil company's 
South Camp, Kasoming, Mud Springs, Glenrock-Carter Camp, 
all of which are in district No. 2, should be termed as rural schools. 

Thus it may be seen that the schools of Natrona county have 
kept pace with the growth and improvement in the business and 
professional lines and it may be truly said that the spirit of the 
school is high, the moral standards strong, the attitude of pupils 
favorable, the educational aims and achievements promising, and the 
support of the public liberal and loyal. 



Natrona County's Towns 

Bessemer Town 

THE town of Bessemer was established In the summer of 1888, 
at about the same time people commenced to locate in Casper, 
and it was called by its enthusiastic citizens the "Queen City of 
the West." 

The Wyoming Improvement company surveyed the site and 
platted the town lots which consisted of forty-nine blocks, In addition 
to which grounds were reserved "upon which to erect the future 
capitol building of Wyoming." A bridge was built across the river 
and advertising folders were issued in February, 1889, setting forth the 
resources and advantages of the place. A great many town lots were 
sold, and the citizens had been given assurance that the railroad 
would be built Into the town not later than 1890. 

Miss Clementine Evans (now Mrs. P. C. Nicolaysen), was Bes- 
semer's first school teacher. There were in the town a drug store, 
two general merchandise stores, a saloon, a newspaper, blacksmith 
shop, hotel, restaurant and the other establishments that went to 
make up a typical frontier village. 

In the spring of 1890 the newspaper, the Bessemer Journal, 
stated that Max A. Jaensch was in the town making arrangements 
for the construction of a brewery, and a wholesale and retail liquor 
house was to be established there as soon as the buildings could be 
completed. 

A stage line was operated between Casper and Bessemer, round 
trips being made twice each day, leaving each point at 7 o'clock in 
the morning and arriving at 2:30 in the afternoon. Among the well- 
known men who were engaged in business there and who are yet 
residents of the county are W. A. Blackmore, who was proprietor 
of the drug store, and G. W. Johnson, who was postmaster and also 
conducted a general store. Others who were engaged in business there, 
but who long ago left the county or have been called hence, were 
G. C. Riggles, harness and saddlery; Frank J. Posvar, dry goods and 
groceries; Conrad Houk, saloon; J. Enos Walte, publisher Bessemer 
Journal; C. W. Eads, livery; Mrs. C. M. Doss, hotel; Charles Peter- 
son, real estate; Charles Ford, brick plant; J. W. Van Gordon, board- 
ing house. Wm. Clark was proprietor of the "Searlght House," 

221 



222 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

which he advertised as being "the best hotel in Central Wyoming, 
with accommodations unsurpassed." He also "supplied parties with 
good rigs and saddle horses at reasonable rates who wished to go over 
the oil regions." John Clark was proprietor of the Bessemer-Casper 
stage line. Chris Baysel was the architect and builder of Bessemer. 
Mr. Baysel's energy and enthusiasm was probably more commendable 
than his ability as a builder, for the houses he constructed were quite 
susceptible to the high winds that prevailed on the open prairies and 
although none of them were ever blown down, they failed to keep out 
the dust in the summer or the snows of winter. He was given the 
contract to draw the plans and specifications for the bridge crossing 
the Platte river at Bessemer, and during its construction, in addition 
to being the architect, he voluntarily assumed the responsibility as 
foreman of the construction gang, which caused dissension among 
the workmen. One evening after work a meeting was held by the 
workmen and Frank Verden was chosen as their boss, and the next 
morning when Baysel appeared on the bridge and commenced to 
direct the men, Mr. Verden, who was a tall and very strong man, 
lifted him in the air and pitched him into the river, about fifteen feet 
below. Baysel, after emerging from the stream, went home, changed 
clothing, and in a short time moved to Casper, where his services 
were somewhat in demand. 

Bessemer was a candidate on April 8, 1890, against Casper for 
the county seat of Natrona county, and the people of that precinct 
cast 667 votes, while in Casper precinct 304 votes were cast. It was 
estimated that there were at least three times as many votes cast in 
Bessemer as there were men, women, and children; and it was like- 
wise said that the people of Casper did not overlook casting her full 
quota, and a few votes possibly might have been cast in Casper that 
were a shade off color. It is not improbable that some Casper electors 
exercised their franchise more than once that day. The Bessemer 
vote was thrown out, however, and the town lost not only the county 
seat, but the railroad did not come through as was promised and 
expected; the oil well, which was being drilled close to the town turned 
out to be a duster; the residents commenced to pack up and leave; 
and the business houses commenced to close up. Everything went 
from bad to worse and in a very few years there was not a house or 
building of any kind left in the town. They had all been torn down 
and moved away. Today there is nothing left of Bessemer but a few 
holes in the ground, and thus died the town that "hit the ball" and 
was up and doing from the date of its birth until she lost the railroad, 
the county seat, her oil well, and her life all at about the same time. 
During the middle of the summer of 1891 the first house built in Bes- 




-♦W^; *i» 



Town uk Bkssemhr, 1890 



*i f I r 



f 1 







■,_^. 



— — TTm 



l!l^s|\iiK POSTOFFICE, 1892 (JhORGF W. JoHNSON, W \\ h AND SoN 



NATRONA county's TOWNS 223 

semer was torn down and moved to Casper. The people had already 
given up hope of the railroad coming that way, and quite a number 
of people who went there with great expectations had moved away, 
selling their property and their goods at the best price they could. 

The Bessemer Journal suspended publication in December, 1890. 
J. Enos Waite, who published the paper under contract with the 
Wyoming Improvement company, being unwilling to continue the 
struggle, and the Improvement company, being reluctant to put any 
more money in the proposition, came to the mutual understanding 
that the pubhcation should cease. The newspaper plant was attached 
by an Omaha paper jobbing house to satisfy a claim for paper fur- 
nished the company, and the sheriff had the types and presses and 
other material moved from Bessemer to Casper on February 24, and 
sold at auction on the 28th. Waite then went to Lincoln, Nebraska, 
where he published the Real Estate News for a couple of months, and 
then returned to Casper and commenced the publication of the 
Natrona Tribune on June I, 1 891, the plant used for this paper being 
the old Bessemer Journal plant. It had been purchased by about a 
dozen Casper men who had incorporated the Republican Publishing 
company. 

The records at the court house show that on August 4, 1892, 
"The Wyoming Improvement company being indebted to the county 
in the amount of $265.78 for taxes, and as the said company is the 
owner of a bridge across the Platte river at Bessemer, it is ordered 
that the county treasurer be instructed to accept a conveyance of the 
bridge to the county, and the county cancel any and all taxes that 
may stand on the books for the years 1890 and 1891 against the 
company." This was the last chapter of the town of Bessemer and 
the Wyoming Improvement company, so far as their importance in 
Natrona county was concerned. Bessemer Bend, however, is today 
one of the prettiest spots in Natrona county. Located at the west 
end of the foothills of Casper mountain, along the eastern bank of the 
Platte river about fifteen miles west from Casper, are a dozen beauti- 
ful and prosperous ranches. These ranches are in a valley which is 
protected from the winds that usually sweep down over the country. 
A large spring on the west side of the river furnishes an abundance of 
water for irrigating purposes and bountiful crops of small grains are 
raised and in the valley there are several orchards where luscious 
apples are grown in great quantities. 

A company was organized in 1920-21 which drilled several 
thousand feet for oil in the Bessemer valley, but the result was a dis- 
appointment to the stockholders. But their disappointment was of 
small moment compared to the mortification of the sturdy men and 



224 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

women who did their bit toward building a town on the bleak prairie 
where there was no water to supply the needs of even the household, 
where there was no shelter from the scorching suns of the summer or 
the howling storms of winter and where nothing would grow but 
cactus and sage brush. 

The "Searight House," previously mentioned as being operated 
by Wm. Clark, was not within the corporate limits of the town of 
Bessemer, but was located about a quarter of a mile east of the town 
proper. This house was built in the late '70's or early '8o's, by the 
Searight Cattle company of Texas, and it is still standing. The 
lumber, hardware and other material used in the building of this 
house was hauled from Cheyenne by freight teams, a distance of 
more than 225 miles. Joe Black was foreman for the Searight outfit 
for a number of years and made his headquarters at this house, which 
was then, and is yet, known as the Goose Egg ranch house. Martin 
Gothberg was one of the cowboys for the Searight company. The 
place was sometimes called the Stone ranch, because the house is 
built of stone, but the original and proper name is the Goose Egg. 
J. M. Carey bought the Goose Egg property in 1886 and is yet the 
owner. In the early days this ranch house was the scene of many 
sociable events among the cattlemen and cowboys, and there is a 
great deal of interesting history in connection with it. 

Owen Wister selected the Goose Egg ranch as the location for 
one of the most interesting and exciting episodes of his "Virginian." 
Although Wister, in his "Virginian," says that the Goose Egg is 
located on Bear creek, it must be remembered that writers of fiction 
are always careless as to names, dates and locations. The Goose Egg 
is located near the mouth of Poison Spider creek, where it empties 
into the Platte river, while Bear creek is in Converse county, about 
seventy-five miles east of the Goose Egg ranch. But Wister does not 
claim that his description of the country is correct or all the events 
mentioned in his book are true, and he purposely changed the names 
of people, ranches, creeks, and mountains that went to make up his 
most interesting story, therefore it must be borne in mind that the 
"Virginian" is a novel, and not a history, and Wister is a writer of 
fiction and not of facts, and he says in the beginning that the char- 
acters in his book, the events and many of the places are not real, 
therefore it is not the purpose of the author of this book to discredit 
Wister's "Virginian" but is rather our aim to caution the reader of 
the novel not to place too much reliance upon it, and more especially 
upon a joke perpetrated upon some eastern newspaper writers who 
passed through Casper in 191 1, when it was represented to them that 
a well known CY cowboy, who afterwards made his home in Casper, was 




^^ 



ALCOVA S BRIGHT PROSPECTS 225 

selected as the hero of the "Virginian." It should be remembered that 
the hero was supposed to have come to Wyoming from Virginia. The 
joke has been carried so far that many of the recent arrivals in Natrona 
county actually believe that the Virginian was this former CY cowboy. 
But let us get back to the Goose Egg ranch house, near where 
the town of Bessemer was located. It was here according to Wister, 
that the Virginian came more than one hundred miles on horse back 
to be present at the Swinton barbecue, to see Molly Wood, the school 
teacher, and to attend the dance; it was here that the Virginian again 
met Trampas and made him "stand on his laigs" and admit that he 
was a liar when he made some derogatory remarks about the school 
teacher; it was in this house that the school teacher snubbed the hero 
because he asked her to dance with him before he had been introduced 
to her, and he felt so badly over it that he and Lin McLean, another 
cowboy, who came from Massachusetts, got gloriously drunk, and, 
while in their cups and while the dancers were enjoying themselves in 
another room, changed the clothing on a dozen babies and then 
changed the babies from the positions their mothers had left them, 
and the change was not noticed until the mothers and fathers reached 
home at an early hour in the morning, and then found that they had 
brought home with them their own baby's clothing but not their 
own baby; it was here that a dozen mothers and fathers returned with 
all possible haste and after all had assembled it took the mothers 
about two hours to straighten out the mix-up and for each of them 
to get back her own baby with its proper wearing apparel, all of 
which makes interesting reading and was a good joke on the mothers, 
if such a thing had ever occurred, but, according to many old-timers 
who would have known of it, such a thing never happened at the 
Goose Egg ranch house or any other ranch house in this part of 
Wyoming, and while there were dances at the Goose Egg ranch house 
occasionally, the barbecue as described by Wister and the baby mix- 
up was wholly and entirely imaginary, and those who have been led 
to believe that certain of Casper's citizens were the instigators of the 
baby episode and that some of Casper's matrons were some of the 
babies connected with the story, it may be depended upon that they 
have been imposed upon, as were the newspaper writers from the east 
who visited Casper in 191 1, and as a joke were given this interesting 
data upon which they could write an entertaining article for their 
newspapers. 

Alcova's Bright Prospects 

The prospects for Alcova, about thirty-five miles southwest from 
Casper to become one of the greatest summer and health resorts in 



226 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

the west thirty years ago were very encouraging, but, like some men, 
it was ambitious beyond its station, and thus far has been doomed to 
disappointment. In the early spring of 1891 an eastern syndicate, 
headed by Isaac Van Horn, purchased the hot springs and the town- 
site from G. C. Riggles. It was then announced that $250,000 would 
be expended to make the improvements that the company contem- 
plated, and that $75,000 would be expended that year. A steam 
engine was to be purchased and used to pump water from the river 
for the purpose of irrigating lands adjacent to the springs and making 
fine lawns and beautifying the town lots. Two streets were laid out, 
one of them, on the south side of the river, was to be one and one- 
half miles in length, and towm lots were platted on either side of this 
street. A similar street was laid out on the opposite side of the river. 
Four or five seven-room cottages were to be erected at once by the 
members of the company, who were to move their families there and 
reside. A suspension foot bridge was to be built from wall to wall in 
the center of the canyon, about 250 feet above the water and the 
president of the company said he was negotiating for cable with which 
to build this bridge. Walks were to be constructed in the canyon on 
both sides, connecting with the foot bridge, and this was to be grand 
beyond comparison. A first-class stage road was to be built from 
Casper to the springs by this company. Hotels and bathing accom- 
modations were to be prepared, and as soon as everything was in 
readiness a daily stage line would be established from Casper to the 
new health resort, and a stage line was also to be put on from Alcova 
to the Yellowstone National park. This was the announcement 
made in April. 

In October of the same year the company sent a representative 
to Casper to contract for lumber for the first buildings, bridges, etc., 
which was to be hauled to the grounds at once and it was said that 
work upon the buildings would continue during the entire winter, 
and in June, 1892, they expected to have everything in readiness to 
throw open to the thousands of visitors, who would surely come to 
avail themselves of the healing, health-giving waters, but in the 
meantime the water from the springs was free to all who desired to 
go there and "camp" and bathe. 

"Until the railroad is built in," the syndicate announced, "we 
will run a daily stage line of six-horse stage coaches from Casper over 
the romantic and scenic road. We will build a bridge across the river 
about twenty miles from Casper, and this structure will be built 
entirely of native lumber, with piers of different colored stone. We 
may also put in a line of small steamers and sail boats between Casper 
and the springs for those who would prefer the water route. 



ALCOVA S BRIGHT PROSPECTS 227 

"All the buildings and improvements at the springs will be 
modern and of the latest and most improved designs. There will be 
pavilions, driveways, walks and cozy nooks and dark caverns, glass 
bath tubs, plunge and swimming baths, boats and steam yachts and 
every convenience for the accommodation of our guests, and in a 
few years the Alcova Hot springs will be the Arkansas of the West." 

Then money matters tightened up in the fall and all work was 
suspended until the following spring, when T. C. VanHorn and E. P. 
Weatherly, secretary and treasurer of the Alcova Hot Springs com- 
pany, arrived from the east and went out to the property. They 
claimed that they had succeeded in putting the company on a sound 
financial basis and would now complete the improvements contem- 
plated. And upon the strength of these promises, some more Alcova 
town lots were sold, but, like the promises heretofore made, they 
were not kept, and the " resort " failed to materialize. Hope, however, 
was not entirely lost, for again in the fall of 1898 an effort was made to 
revive interest, raise capital and put new life in the little village. A 
pamphlet was issued called the "Problem of Life," the title of which, 
it must be admitted, was not inappropriately applied. In this pam- 
phlet the leading article stated that "Mother Nature has endowed 
Alcova with a beautiful and ideal valley to rest in, encircling it with 
rock-ribbed hills that were upheaved by some volcanic action ages 
ago. Fremont canyon is an example; it must have been level with the 
valley but now it stands 1,000 feet high, cleft in twain, and through 
its solid rock walls the river Platte, 300 feet wide, passes and from its 
perpendicular side a score or more of springs of hot water flow, rang- 
ing from 132 to 139 degrees Fahrenheit. The analysis of these waters 
shows them to be of wonderful medical qualities, and miraculous 
cures have been experienced through them. 

"The chemists say the water will be very beneficial as a bath. 
Taken internally it will prove a mild laxative, and taken in connection 
with the bath would be beneficial in chronic diseases, such as rheu- 
matism, gout, stiff" joints, etc. 

"The hot springs have intrinsic value alone, justifying the sick in 
making a journey of thousands of miles to bathe and drink the healing 
draught. These, coupled with the many attractive features of the 
surroundings, will aid nature's cures, and while the fountain of youth 
may not be found here, yet it will instill and renew the feelings of 
youth. 

"The city has an altitude of 6,000 feet. It is hemmed in on the 
south and west by Fremont canyon, on the east by the Red cliff and 
on the north by the conglomerate reef facing La Bonte canyon that 
contains the most stupendous works of the elements. On the face of 



228 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

this reef is exposed the greatest variety of stone ever known to exist 
in one quarry. There is granite, marble, limestone, red and white 
sandstone in layers that breaks into squares ready for the builder's 
use. This quarry won the premium at the World's Fair at Chicago. 
The pen may describe, the camera may portray but the artist must 
plant his easel in this canyon at the setting of the sun on some clear 
June day to gather the varied hues and catch the colorings in the land- 
scape of nature's wonderland; nothing grander will ever be spread on 
canvas. 

"These canyons, cliffs and reefs are 800 to i,2CXD feet high, 
protecting Alcova from storms and making a cozy retreat in the 
winter, which insures to the sick the finest and healthiest climate all 
the year of any springs resort on earth. 

"To the southwest is a canyon six miles long, with rock walls 
often 1,500 feet high. The Platte river flows through it; the scenery 
is grand, but no boat can pass through it on account of cataracts. 
Fremont lost his boats and some of his men there in 1842 making the 
attempt. 

"To the west are saponite beds, a beautiful white substance like 
sapolio, but much finer grain. Place it powdered upon a burn, it will 
relieve the pain and heal the burn in a few hours, leaving no scar. 
Powdered and snuffed up the nostrils it makes nature's own cure for 
catarrh. Rub the tooth brush across the cake and it makes the finest 
of tooth powders, cleansing, purifying and whitening even old 
tobacco-stained teeth. 

"The weather is always superb, making boating most enjoyable. 
Fishing is a splendid treat, as one can catch perch, cat and pike as 
long as your arm. These pleasures are at your hand and it is no 
trouble to reach them, as the river flows through Alcova. 

"Nature, with generous care, having provided hot springs, 
climate, scenery and raw materials sufficient to build a city that will 
be an honor to her majesty, awaits the magic touch and charm that 
will improve with modern facilities her wondrous work for the healing 
of mankind." 

More than thirty years have passed since the bright future was 
thus promised for the little town at the foothills of the mountains. 
Today there is a small general store there, a school house, several 
comfortable residences and about a dozen log cabins, most of 
them unoccupied. The great hopes of the promoters and bright 
prospects for the town are blasted, for the time being, at least, but the 
wonderful hot springs, whose waters contain marvelous mineral 
properties, are yet flowing and gushing from the rocks alongside 
the river, and some day capital may be invested there, and the 



TOWN OF BOTHWELL 229 

brightest dreams and greatest hopes of the people of the little town 
may be realized. Who knows? 



Town of Bothwell 

There was a movement on foot early in the year of 1889 to es- 
tablish the town of "Bothwell" in the Sweetwater country, situated 
about two and a half miles north from the banks of Sweetwater river 
and nearly opposite Horse creek, where the Bothwell ranch houses 
were originally located. The Sweetwater Land and Improvement 
company was incorporated with a capital of ^300,000, with J. R. 
Bothwell and A. J. Bothwell at the head. Circulars were issued in 
January, 1889, setting forth the advantages of the new town, and 
town plats were executed. The lots were offered at from $150 to ^400 
each. 

"Fertile valleys and large stock interests, close connection to the 
oil fields and mining interests and soda beds, and at no distant date 
the removal of the state capital, the Wyoming Central extension of 
the Fremont, Elkhorn, and Missouri Valley railway will move west 
from Casper through the Sweetwater valley before the close of the 
year," were some of the advantages set forth in the circular booming 
the new town. There was a store, a blacksmith shop, a newspaper 
called the Szveetzvater Chief, a postoffice, a saloon, owned by James 
Averell, and a "hog ranch" owned by Ella Watson, spread over the flat 
during the summer of '89, but for the reason that the townsite was 
forty-five miles from the railroad, that the "fertile valleys" were pro- 
ducing nothing more than wild grass, grease wood, sage brush and 
cactus, and that up to date no precious minerals or oil had been found 
in the vicinity, and because of the fact that the price of the town lots 
was above and beyond all reason, very few, if any, Bothwell town 
lots were ever sold. 

In the middle of the summer when the boom was on, Averell and 
the Watson woman were hanged by some cattlemen to the limb of a 
tree, and their dead bodies were buried in the door yard of Averell's 
saloon; the newspaper suspended publication for the lack of news 
and the want of support; the storekeeper moved away; the black- 
smith closed up his shop, and thus the town of Bothwell winked out 
and died. 

There is now nothing on the proposed Bothwell townsite but the 
graves of Jim Averell and Ella Watson. The Bothwell ranch house 
and other buildings were moved about a mile to the north a number 
of years ago. Thus Bothwell townsite is left with nothing but a mem- 
ory of the little settlement where there were many interesting and 



230 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

exciting escapades in which the cowboys, the cattle owners, the cattle 
rustlers, and the all 'round bad man played their parts. 



Rise and Fall of Eadsville 

Twenty acres of land on top of Casper mountain, ten miles due 
south from Casper, was filed upon in 1890 by Charles W. Eads, and it 
was surveyed and platted for a site for a stamp mill. It attained the 
name of a "town" early in the year 1891, and its name was Eads- 
ville, but the "town" consisted of only three log cabins at that time. 
Lots were sold during the years of 189 1-2 and ten or twelve more 
cabins were put up during those years. In the center of the town was 
a large spring of pure, ice-cold water, of sufficient flow to supply 
several thousand people. 

Gold, silver, galena, copper, lead, and asbestos mines were opened 
up on the mountains in all directions from the town, and for several 
years, in the early 90's, there were forty to fifty people who made their 
home at this point. 

The first real mining excitement in this camp occurred in January, 
1 891, when S. A. (Jack) Currier received a certificate of an assay 
from Omaha upon some ore he had sent in, the returns from which 
showed 33 ounces in silver and 82 per cent lead. In February of the 
same year, upon the strength of this assay, a telegram was received 
from Deadwood requesting that six carloads of ore per day be shipped 
to the mills there, but owing to the fact that the snow in the canyons 
was from six to ten feet deep, and that the mines had not yet been 
properly opened up, the shipments could not be made. Many letters 
were received in Casper every day from mining men inquiring about 
the camp and the grade of ore that was being taken out, which, it 
was said, was growing richer with each day's work, and many men were 
put to work to open up the prospects and have them in shape to be 
properly shown when an expert from a Denver mining syndicate 
came up in the early spring to make an examination. 

The copper "lead" on the west end of the mountains was found 
by Bailey and Johnson in February, 1891, with a hanging wall and a 
ledge more than six feet wide without the foot wall yet being found, 
the hole being but eight feet deep, but ore was plentiful, even at this 
shallow depth, being of a rich green oxide of copper, which assays 
showed 33 per cent in white metal and 42 per cent in copper. This 
mining camp was called Copperopolis. About this time it was an- 
nounced that J. E. Daine, who had been a prospector and miner all 
his life, had prospected and mined all over Colorado, Arizona and New 
Mexico for thirty-three years, and whose knowledge of rocks and 



RISE AND FALL OF EADSVILLE 23 1 

formations was gained by intimate association with them, now 
appeared on the scene, and after a visit to the camps, he gave it out 
that he was "very much surprised at the richness of Casper moun- 
tain." He had examined the ore very closely, and it was his belief 
that Casper mountain was a wonderful camp, with copper ore enough 
there to supply a smelter now, and he had no doubt but one would be 
built before fall. 

The excitement grew more intense with each day, and the samples 
of ore, running rich with copper and silver, caused great interest 
among all classes. The railroad company put on an extra coach and 
arranged to keep up with the rush and furnish accommodations for 
the multitudes that would flock here during the spring, the advance 
guard of which was already arriving. 

A petition was circulated and signed by nearly all the business 
men of Casper asking that a postofhce be established at Eadsville 
and the maintaining of a daily mail route between Casper and that 
place. "The miners at the several camps," said the newspapers, "are 
put to much trouble, expense and delay in communicating with the 
business men of Casper as well as the financial centers of the east 
concerning the wonderful strikes that are being made there daily, 
which is of the utmost importance that they should be known at the 
earliest possible moment." 

Reports were brought down from the mountain on February 22 
that there was so much excitement over the finds that were made on 
the Bailey and Johnson claims on the west end of the mountain that 
prospectors were camped all over the mountain, and that hundreds 
of claims were being located. This report caused a movement to 
immediately start to organize a company among the business men 
of the town to handle and ship the ore, and to advertise the camp in 
the east. Both the hotels in Casper — the Graham and the Went- 
worth — were being enlarged to take care of the great rush that 
would come in the spring, stores were also bemg enlarged, and mining 
supplies added, and every arrangement was being made to take care 
of the people who were sure to come when the great rush was on, 
which would be when the snow melted and the ore could be brought 
down from the mountain in wagons. 

Another report the latter part of March said: "All the miners 
are elated and the camp is booming. Cowboys have quit the range 
and gone to prospecting, and everybody in and around Casper is 
putting money in the companies that are being organized. H. E. 
Sherman, a practical miner and assayer, arrived on March 2 from the 
Black Hills to make an examination of the properties. He had made 
assays of some of the ore sent from here which run 78 per cent copper. 



232 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

and he says that if the lead is an assured fact this will be a greater 
mining camp than the Anaconda in Montana. Mr. Sherman spent 
two weeks on the mountains and when he came down he had no 
hesitancy in declaring that the ore was all that could be desired and 
that he had no doubt that there was an immense body of it. He 
offered to sink a shaft one hundred feet deep on one claim in the 
vicinity of Copperopolis for a half interest in it, and he returned to 
the mountain hoping to be able to make a deal with some of the 
locaters." 

Gold was discovered near the west end of the mountain on March 
6, 1891, by J. E. Daine and G. E. Butler. Although the snow was very 
deep, Mr. Daine, "the experienced and practical miner," discovered 
a quartz vein, which upon being tested showed it to be rich in gold. 
"There is no mistaking the fact," said the Wyovting Derrick, "as all 
the town witnessed the test which was made on Sunday, and the rich- 
ness of the vein is very extensive." 

The excitement continued during the early spring and summer 
months. New mines were found and new leads were discovered every 
day, many deals were made and some of the miners became million- 
aires over night; they did not get the cash, however, but they had the 
property, which they claimed was just the same. In the meantime 
Eadsville continued to grow in population and wealth. 

On October 28, 1891, a car load of copper ore, consisting of 
seventeen tons, which was brought down from the mountains, was 
shipped to a smelter in Chicago, and tacked on the side of the car 
was a streamer in large letters which read: 



COPPER ORE FROM THE GREAT 
CASPER, WYOMING, CAMP 



Before the returns were received on the first car load of ore, 
several more car loads were shipped to the same smelter in Chicago. 
More claims changed hands, and options were sold on six claims for 
ten thousand dollars for each claim, the money to be paid when the 
lead was found. 

In due time, when the excitement was at its highest point, a 
report was received from the smelter and it was not difficult to figure 
out that the returns were not sufficient to justify the work and cash 
outlay in the production and transportation of the ore. 

Like the rush of an avalanche from the mountainside fell the 
news that their dreams were only dreams and the crushing con- 
sciousness that the ore on Casper mountain contained neither copper, 



HOGADONE S TRAIL 233 

silver nor gold in sufficient quantity to warrant working the claims 
that only a short time before were considered worth millions. 

For many days gloom reigned unbroken in the little town of 
Casper as well as at the many mining camps on Casper mountain 
because of the hard truth that the test ore of the first shipment was 
a disappointment and failure. 

But after the first shock, some of the miners hung on and con- 
tinued to look for new and better locations, and during the summer of 
1892 there seemed to be as much excitement and more hope for the 
camp than there was before the unfavorable returns were received 
from the smelter at Chicago. For five years some of the men remained, 
but they gradually dropped out one at a time, until Eadsville be- 
came a deserted camp. 

No one is living there now, but a number of the log cabins are 
still standing. The spring, with its pure, ice-cold water flows as full 
as ever, and during the summertime campers occasionally go there 
to avoid the heat and hide away from business cares. It is a beautiful 
place to camp during the summer months, but its attraction as a 
mining center is gone forever. 

Should you go to Eadsville alone and remain over night it will 
not be difficult to appreciate the change that has been wrought, where 
during the day there was the sound of men's voices in boisterous 
laughter, the loud-resounding stroke of the axe which felled the trees 
to timber the mines and the sharp report of the blast of powder in 
the shaft and tunnel and in the night, around the shining fires groups 
of men in fantastic costumes told tales of marvelous adventures, or 
sung some old-remembered song, or were absorbed in a game of 
chance, but now there is but superb silence and majestic loneliness, 
and even the atmosphere itself seems changed to its original purity, 
and solitude reigns supreme. 

Hogadone's Trail 

The Hogadone trail, on Caspermountain, a short cut from Casper 
to the once lively camp of Eadsville, is named after John C. Hogadone, 
one of the first men to take up a mining claim on the mountain. 
In 1888-89, ^he nearest road to the top of the mountain was through 
the CY canyon, but in the summer of '89 Hogadone blazed this trail, 
coming down and returning on horseback, but all the miners on the 
mountain put in as much time as they could spare working on this 
during the summer and they succeeded in getting it in such a condition 
that a mountain buggy with a team could make the trip to and from 
the mountain over this route. It was then named the Hogadone trail 



234 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

and that is the name that will stay with it as long as there is even as 
much as a bridle path there. 



The Town of Wolton 

The first settlement where the old town of Wolton was located 
was made in the early nineties by Jack Clark, now of Powder River, 
who established a stage station for his father who was operating a 
mail line from Casper to Lost Cabin over the old Bridger trail. This 
was known as Poison Creek station. In 1896 the Northwestern Rail- 
way company built a reservoir on section 8, township 36, range 87, 
on Poison creek, about sixty miles northwest of Casper, which was 
one of a string of reservoirs built for the accommodation of stock 
trailing from the Lander valley and the Big Horn basin to Casper for 
shipment to market. In the winter of 1896 and spring of 1897 a store 
was built at this place and a postoffice established by the Wolton 
Commercial company, which was organized by C. H. King, one of 
the pioneers of Casper. The new postoffice was called Wolton and 
the first postmaster was R. L. Carpenter, now of Casper, who was 
also manager of the store. Mr. Carpenter remained in charge of the 
store and postoffice until the fall of 1898, when he was succeeded by 
W. H. Dickinson of Lander. In January, 1899, the stock of the 
Wolton Commercial company was purchased by A. J. Cunningham 
and associates of Casper, who afterward operated the Wolton store 
as a branch of the Casper store. At the time of the transfer to the 
new owners O. G. Johnson, now of Casper, was appointed manager 
and remained in charge a number of years, being succeeded in 1905 
by J. A. Warlaumont. At the time of the establishment of the store 
and postoffice at Wolton one of the largest machine sheep-shearing 
plants in the west was built at that place and was operated for a 
number of years under the management of J. D. HoUiday. Many 
thousands of sheep were shorn here every spring, the wool being 
shipped by wagon freight to Casper. A good water supply for the 
town was obtained from a spring about a quarter of a mile away. A 
tank was built on the high ground, a windmill put up, a pipe hne laid 
to the tank and to all buildings in the place, so that, so far as water 
was concerned, the place had the conveniences of a city. In the early 
days of Wolton the range was all open and free; there were no home- 
steaders and the sheep owners and their flocks moved at will from 
one locality to another. Among those making Wolton a supply place 
and shearing point in the early days might be mentioned J. D. Wood- 
ruff, Wm. Madden, Ed. Merriam, Andrew Cazanave, D. H. Ralston, 
T. B. Hood, Colin Campbell, J. A. Delfelder, C. D. Hemry, Joe Jay, 



ARMINTO INCORPORATED 235 

E. B. Conkling, Orchard Brothers and a great number of others of the 
old-timers of western Natrona and eastern Fremont counties. With 
the establishment of other business a road ranch, or hotel, became 
necessary, and the Wolton road ranch was opened. The buildings 
were constructed of logs, which were hauled from the Big Horn 
mountains, a distance of forty miles. The first eating house was 
operated by Billy Day, in a shack afterwards used as a warehouse by 
the Wolton Commercial company. This was soon replaced by the 
log buildings built and operated by Harry Brower. In connection 
with the road ranch was the (at that time) inevitable saloon, and 
Wolton was the scene of many wild times which resulted in a few 
fatalities, mention of which is made elsewhere in this volume. The 
road ranch passed into the hands of T. B. Hood, one of the oldest 
residents of the county, who operated it for a number of years, selling 
out to E. O. Orchard. Early in 1904 the road ranch and saloon busi- 
ness passed into the hands of J. D. Holliday and J. L. Marquis, under 
the management of Mr. Marquis, who conducted the business until 
the fall of 1905, when it passed again into the hands of Mr. Orchard. 
He conducted the business at the old place until the summer of 1906, 
when he moved the buildings and business to the new town of Ma- 
koma, afterward called Waltman, about eight miles east. Early in 
the spring of 1906 the Northwestern railroad was extended from 
Casper to Lander, and a station was established about three miles 
west of Wolton. The new place was called Wolton and the post- 
office and store of the Wolton Commercial company were moved to 
the new location. A nice hotel was also built in the new town by J. L. 
Marquis and associates. A few stockmen established residences at 
the new place and a school was established in 1907, with George A. 
Davis, F. V. Marsh, and C. D. Hemry as the first school board and 
Miss Mae Wetzel as the first teacher. In 1914, with the completion 
of the Burlington railroad from Thermopolis to Casper, the hotel and 
store were moved about seven miles northeast to the new town of 
Arminto on that road. Wolton then became a very quiet place and at 
present (1923) is the railroad point for a colony of homesteaders, the 
stock business of the surrounding country having been practically 
crowded out by the settlers. The new Yellowstone highway passes 
through Wolton, but like many of the other towns which sprang up 
in the county and flourished, it no doubt has seen its best days. 

Arminto Incorporated 

Arminto was the second town in Natrona county to be incor- 
porated. This town was named after Manuel Armenta, who owned 



236 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

the "Jack Pot" ranch which was near that station. The Burlington 
Railroad company changed the "e" to an "i" and the "a" to an "o" 
in the spelling, as the railroad company changed the "a" to an "e" 
in the spelling of Casper, which was named after Caspar W. Collins. 
Arminto is on the C, B. & Q. railroad, fifty-eight miles west from 
Casper, and like some of the other small towns in Natrona county, its 
people at one time had great expectations of it becoming a thriving 
business center, but those expectations have gone a-glimmering 
and it has now settled down to a substantial little trading point for 
the ranchmen and stockmen in that vicinity. 

During the month of December, 1914, George Davis took a 
census of the town for the purpose of determining whether there was 
a sufficient number of electors there to incorporate, and on February 
3, 191 5, he appeared before the board of county commissioners in 
Casper with a survey map, a census of the proposed town, an appli- 
cation signed by 218 people who resided in the proposed territory of 
the town, asking that the place be incorporated. The board of com- 
missioners ordered that C. W. Kittle, C. E. DeGroot and W. I. Lewis 
be appointed inspectors and that they call an election at some con- 
venient time, and that they perform such other duties as are imposed 
upon the inspectors as provided by law in such cases. 

The election was held on February 27, 1915, when sixty votes 
were cast in favor of the incorporation and two votes were cast 
against incorporating. The election of tow^n officers occurred on 
March 22, when D. H. Ralston was elected mayor; C. W. Kittle, 
T. A. Hall, W. I. Lewis and C. E. DeGroot, councilmen. The first 
meeting of the town council was held March 23, in the parlors of the 
Big Horn hotel, and the following is a list of the officers appointed: 
J. L. Marquis, marshal; Mrs. C. W. Kittle, clerk; Mrs. W. I. Lewis, 
treasurer; J. R. Mitchell, police magistrate. 

A big dance was given in the evening at the school house by the 
mayor and councilmen, and at midnight a sumptuous banquet was 
served at the Big Horn hotel by Mr. and Mrs. J. L. Marquis, there 
being about sixty guests present. 

The Arminto Flockmaster, a four-page weekly newspaper, was 
issued March 17, 1915, and for several months thereafter it came forth 
with the local news of the town, but like its many predecessors, after 
the newness had worn off, interest waned, the advertising diminished 
and then the Flockmaster failed to appear and it was no more. 

At the time the town was incorporated it had two general stores, 
the Wolton Commercial company, with C. W. Kittle as manager; the 
Arminto store, owned by J. B. Okie, managed by F. H, Harper; a 
twenty-five-room hotel, owned and operated by J. L. Marquis; one 



THE TOWN OF MILLS 237 

rooming house, owned by W. I. Lewis, one saloon, a billiard hall, a 
restaurant, one blacksmith shop, a livery stable, a school house, two 
wool warehouses, railroad depot and section house, stock yards, 
sheep shearing pens and numerous substantial residences. 

The Town of Mills 

The town of Mills, located about two miles west from the city 
of Casper, is the second largest town in Natrona county and was the 
third town in the county to be incorporated. The land upon which 
it is situated is described as the northeast quarter of the southeast 
quarter of section 7, township 33 north, range 79 west of the sixth 
principal meridian, and was homesteaded by Charles M. Hawks on 
December 21, 1906. Mr. Hawks sold the land to the Mills Construc- 
tion company in 1919, and this company put up some buildings on the 
land where headquarters were established for their construction 
works. It was then known as the Mills-Baker addition to the city 
of Casper. Engineering work preparatory to the platting of the land 
into town lots was commenced on April 3, 1919, by John B. Cleary, 
under the direction of James Mills, William Mills, Thomas Mills 
and Floyd E. Pendell, who were the officers of the Mills Construction 
company. 

On account of the desirable location, it being situated immedi- 
ately north of the Platte river and on the Northwestern railway line, 
many people bought town lots and established for themselves homes, 
and in the fall of 1920 the village had a population of about 500. 
Then a petition for the incorporation of the town of Mills was filed 
with the board of county commissioners of Natrona county. Favor- 
able action was taken on the petition, and an election was ordered 
by the county commissioners, to be held on May 10, 1921. At this 
election George E. Boyle was the successful condidate against Clyde 
Riley for mayor, and Fred Hunter, Fred Shackleford, G. W. Lindsay 
and Michael Kennedy were elected as councilmen. At the first 
meeting of the new town council, held on May 14, 1921, officers were 
appointed as follows: Wm. Mills, clerk and treasurer; Floyd E. 
Pendell, attorney; Luke M. Wilkinson, marshal; W. R. Hunt, police 
magistrate. No other business was transacted at this meeting. 

The first school to be established in Mills was in September, 
1920, with Miss Gladys Tharp and Miss Nora Essenpries as teachers. 
There were about seventy pupils in attendance. During the fall of 
1921 a modern six-room brick school building was erected, and during 
the 1921-22 school year there was an average attendance of 130 
pupils, with the following named teachers: R. E. Robertson, princi- 



238 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

pal;Miss Florence Fowler, grammar department; Miss Gladys Tharp, 
intermediate; Miss Lillian Larsen, second grade; Miss Nora Essen- 
pries, first grade. The town has two churches, the Free Methodist, 
with Mrs. Hattie Lambert as pastor in charge, and the Presbyterian, 
with Rev. James S. Mclnnes in charge. In connection with each of 
these churches there is a Sunday school, which is largely attended. 
The Presbyterians completed their tabernacle, located on the corner 
of Fifth street and Midwest avenue, in March, 1922, and the church 
was formally organized and dedicated April i, 1922. The elders 
ordained and installed at this meeting were John S. McKnight, 
John Husted and E. A. Mason. Rev. James S. Mclnnes of Ouray, 
Colorado, who was the first regular minister in charge, entered upon 
his duties September 4, 1922. 

The Mills postoffice was established August 13, 1921, with 
Thomas J. Bassett as postmaster. The mail is delivered in the town 
daily by special service from Casper. At the beginning there were 
about twenty-five pounds of mail each day, but within a year's time 
it had increased to more than 100 pounds daily. 

The Mills Volunteer fire department was organized in January, 
1922, with Walter Stewart as chief; H. B. Brakebill, financial secre- 
tary; Julian Hanson, recording secretary, and G. W. Lindsley, 
treasurer. It was provided that any man living in the town should 
be a member of this organization. 

The Mills Booster club was organized October 9, 1921, with the 
following named officers: John McKnight, president; Mrs. Edith 
Elliott, secretary; D. McDaniels, treasurer. 

The town hall and town jail, a two-story concrete building, was 
finished in April, 1922. Town council meetings and other meetings 
of a public nature are held in the upper rooms of this building and 
the ground floor is used for obstreperous violators of the town or- 
dinances and those who do not conform to the laws of the state and 
nation. 

The regular town election held on May 9, 1922, was of particular 
importance and interest to the residents of the town of Mills, for the 
proposition was submitted of voting bonds in the amount of $70,000 
to provide a system of water works for the town. Mayor Boyle and 
his associate councilmen favored the bonds, but there was some 
opposition, as there usually is in such matters, and Mrs. Florence 
E. McKane was the opposition's candidate for mayor, and G. L. 
Elmore and R. J. Beaver were the candidates for the council who were 
opposed to the bonds, while George E. Boyle, G. W. Lindsley and 
Fred T. Shackleford were the candidates for mayor and councilmen 
who favored the bonds, the latter being re-elected by a vote of more 



TEAPOT TOWN 239 

than three to one, and the ^70,ocxd water bonds proposition received 
about the same vote in its favor. 

With the splendid advantages and the progressive spirit of a 
majority of the people who have made the town of Mills their abiding 
place the town is destined to become a city that Natrona county may 
well be proud of. On May 7, 1922, the ^70,000 bonds were sold and on 
June 15, bids were opened for the construction of the water system. 
Nine bids were received, the highest bid being $96,000 and the lowest 
$62,900, the latter bid being by the Mills Construction company. 
Work was commenced on the system in the summer of 1922 and was 
completed in December. 

On May 25, 1921, the Mills Construction company was granted 
a franchise to supply the town of Mills with electric lights and power 
but the franchise was turned over to the Natrona Power company of 
Casper and light and power, both day and night, was furnished the 
new town at once. 

The Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph company on 
October 26, 1921, was granted a franchise to erect poles, string wires 
and do all other things necessary for the establishment of telephone 
service in the town, and during the month of June, 1922, service was 
established in the business houses and residences, connections being 
made from the central office in Casper. 

R. E. Wertz of the Producers and Refinery company on October 
27, 1921, was granted a franchise to furnish the town with gas for 
heating purposes, and during the early fall of 1922 this company 
extended its pipe line through the town and supplied gas to those who 
desired it. The Producers company has built a large reducing plant 
along the Yellowstone Highway, just north of the town of Mills. 

During the first three years the town enjoyed a very substantial 
growth in population and many creditable business buildings and 
modern dwellings have been erected, among which may be mentioned 
a splendid three-story hotel, an up-to-date moving picture house, 
concrete block postoffice building, McGillivery's store building, 
Boyle's store building, the Brakebill store building, McKnight's store 
building, and many others. There is also a splendid swimming pool 
in the town, with 135 dressing rooms in the building. The pool is 
126x143 feet, and is liberally patronized by the people of Casper. 

Teapot Town 

Teapot, located on section 3, township 38, range 79, about 
thirty-six miles north of Casper, on the Casper-Salt Creek highway, 
was added to the map of Natrona county on August 11, 1922, when 



240 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

the Teapot Development company placed on the market 1,040 town 
lots, which had been surveyed and platted as a townsite. The land 
comprising this townsite, consisting of 160 acres, was originally filed 
upon by John Beaton as a homestead, and is one of the very few 
pieces of land mside of the Teapot oil structure upon which a patent 
had been issued with no royalty restrictions. The officers of the town- 
site company were C. M. Elgin, president; V. E. Stanley, vice- 
president, and George F. Stenberg, secretary-treasurer. The oil 
structure surrounding this townsite is being developed by the Mam- 
moth Oil company for the naval reserve of the United States govern- 
ment, and during 1922 a number of producing wells were brought in, 
the quality and quantity of oil being equal to any of the producing 
wells in the Salt Creek field. 

An office for the Teapot townsite company and several other build- 
ings were erected during the month of June, 1922, but the sale of the 
town lots did not commence until August 11, and after the first three 
days of the sale the company reported that 275 lots had been contracted 
for, and three months later a total of 903 lots had been disposed of, 
with 137 remaining unsold. A supply store and several other business 
houses were established at once, and the town of Teapot is now a 
substantial and flourishing oil camp town. 

The Town of Evansville 

The town of Evansville, on the Yellowstone highway, three 
miles east from Casper, is the newest town in Natrona county, but 
by no means of the least importance. The sale of Evansville town 
lots was commenced in March, 1922, and on August 10 the entire 
group of lots, consisting of 222, had been sold, with the exception 
of one. The demand for lots in the new town was so great that an 
addition of 137 lots were platted adjoining the original townsite on 
the west, and placed on the market. This addition is to have all the 
utilities of the original townsite extending to it. The prospects for 
the town to further expand soon became so encouraging that in the 
fall of 1922, addition number two, with eighty-two lots, was platted 
immediately north of the original townsite and put on the market. 

The tracks of the Burlington and Northwestern railways pass 
immediately by the town, and each of these railway companies have 
promised that passenger and freight depots will soon be erected, and 
that Evansville shall be a station where all the trains will make a stop. 
The Evansville Water company, with a capitalization of $100,000, 
with L. H. Sennett, H. G. Taylor and E. H. Banta as incorporators, 
was organized in September, and arrangements have been made with 



THE TOWN OF EVANSVILLE 24I 

the Guaranteed Investment company, with T. J. Diamond as presi- 
dent; Dr. J. E. Seal, vice-president, and P. H. Smith, secretary- 
treasurer, to furnish the water and complete a sewer system to the 
business portion and residential section of the town. The Natrona 
Power company has extended its electric lighting service from Casper 
to the new town and the telephone company will establish an exchange 
there probably during the summer of 1923; arrangements are being 
made for gas service for all the residences and business houses. A 
number of store buildings, apartment houses and dwelling houses 
were completed during the summer and fall of 1922 and the Baptist 
church was also built late in the fall. This church building was 
equipped with school furniture, and on January 2, 1923, school was 
opened, with an enrollment of twenty pupils, with Daniel C. Adler 
as teacher. The Texas company's refining plant (which is described 
in this volume under the heading of "Oil Fields and Refineries"), is 
immediately east of the town, and was completed to such extent that 
fire was placed under the stills and the production of gasoline and 
refined oils was commenced in February, 1923, and a great many of 
the employees at this plant have bought lots and established homes in 
the new town. The fact that the refinery was built here was the in- 
centive for the sale of the lots so rapidly and the cause of the wonder- 
ful boom that has taken place, and which, in the not distant future, 
will put Evansville on the map as one of the leading towns in Central 
Wyoming. 

At the beginning of the year 1923 Evansville had an estimated 
population of 150, exclusive of the refinery workers who make their 
homes in Casper. About sixty dwelling houses, fifteen business 
houses and one church comprised the buildings of the town at the 
beginning of the year 1923. Among the business houses in the new 
town were the Evansville garage, a filling station and grocery store 
combined, three pool halls, three restaurants, two grocery stores, 
one gents' furnishing goods store, three rooming and boarding houses, 
one furniture and hardware store, one second-hand furniture ex- 
change, a barber shop and a lumber yard. 



Our Oil Fields and Oil Refineries 

UNLIKE the streets of the New Jerusalem, the streets of the 
city of Casper are not paved with gold, but richer than the gold 
mines of California, in the qualities of usefulness and conven- 
ience to the human race, are the oil wells in Natrona county, which 
have spouted forth their liquid treasures from the bowels of the earth, 
bringing forth untold wealth to many men and making land that was 
considered almost valueless worth millions of dollars, and creating, 
almost as if by magic, new, vast and profitable industries, and well- 
nigh realizing the wildest conceptions of sudden and golden fortune 
found in Arabian legends. But with all the fortunes that have been 
made from the oil fields in Natrona county the reports that have 
been sent out were greatly exaggerated. If a man invested one 
thousand dollars in an oil prospect and received in return ten thousand 
dollars on his investment, by the time the report had traveled a 
thousand miles the fortune had risen to a hundred thousand dollars, 
and the farther the report traveled the larger the fortune had grown, 
and when one well with a 500-barrel production was brought in, by 
the time the report had gone a thousand miles the number of wells 
had reached at least a dozen, and each of these dozen wells was pro- 
ducing at least two thousand barrels of oil each day. The many, 
many dry holes and non-producing wells that were drilled, and the 
many, many thousands of dollars that were lost were not broadcasted 
as were the producing wells that were brought in, and the many, 
many people who lost their hard-earned money in drilling for oil 
received no publicity; it was only the successful enterprises and 
prosperous men that were so extensively advertised. 

The original oil prospectors of Central Wyoming had the right 
idea of the wonderful oil fields that surrounded Casper, but only a 
few of them lived to enjoy the benefits to be derived from the flowing 
wells. Very different from the original prospectors were the men of 
the new type who assisted in the development of the oil fields in this 
part of the country and who made for themselves vast fortunes. 
Many of them were amateurs in the oil game; there were lawyers, 
doctors, merchants, ministers and men in all walks of life who were 
chafing under their lot and were dissatisfied with the returns from 
their avocations, and they put into a pool what money they could 
raise for the drilling of a well. If their first well was a producer, 

242 



OUR OIL FIELDS AND OIL REFINERIES 243 

another and another well was drilled until the field was fairly covered 
with derricks. It was not so with the old prospector. He would 
locate his land, dig a prospect hole and do such other development 
work as was required by law to hold the land, and there his develop- 
ment work ended, for the reason that he did not have sufficient 
capital to drill down to the oil sand, and even though he did get a 
producing well, there was no demand for his product. 

The fur traders and trappers probably were the original discov- 
erers of oil in what is now Central Wyoming, but when the dis- 
covery was made cannot be stated. The first record made of its dis- 
covery was in 1832, when Captain Bonneville was on his exploring 
expedition. In regard to the finding of oil by Captain Bonneville, we 
quote the following from Washington Irving's "Adventures of 
Captain Bonneville": 

"There appeared to be no soil favorable for vegetation, nothing but coarse 
gravel; yet, all over this isolated, barren landscape, were diffused such atmospherical 
tints and hues, as to blend the whole into harmony and beauty. In this neighborhood 
the captain made search for the 'great tar springs,' one of the wonders of the moun- 
tains; the medical properties of which, he had heard extravagantly lauded by the 
trappers.' After a toilsome search he found it at the foot of a sand-bluff, a little 
to the east of the Wind River mountains, [near the Popo Agie river] where it exuded 
in a small stream of the color and consistency of tar. The men immediately hastened 
to collect a quantity of it to use as an ointment for the galled backs of their horses, 
and as a balsam for their own pains and aches. From the description given of it, it is 
evidently the bituminous oil, called petroleum or naphtha, which forms a principal 
ingredient in the potent medicine called British Oil. It is found in various parts of 
Europe and Asia, in several of the West India islands, and in some places of the 
United States. In the state of New York it is called Seneca Oil, from being found near 
Seneca lake." 

It is said that Cy Iba found oil oozing out of the ground in the 
Seminoe mountain country in the fall of 1851. Mr. Iba was then in 
the company of Kit Carson, Jim Bridger and Cimineau Lajeunesse. 
Mr. Iba said that the half-breeds sold this oil to the emigrants for 
axle grease. It was also applied to sores on the feet of horses and 
cattle. Mr. Iba went westward with the tide of emigration, going 
first to Alaska. Afterwards he mined in California, and the western 
territories, bringing up in the Black Hills in 1875, where he was one 
of the original discoverers of placer gold. In 1882 he again visited 
the Seminoe oil springs and made a number of locations there. He 
also located numerous claims in the Salt Creek field, one of which is 
the famous "Iba Eighty." Although a considerable number of 
locations had been made on oil lands in the central part of Wyoming 
in the early '8o's, nothing much was done toward the development 

'Inasmuch as Captain BonnevOle had been informed of the existence of these "great tar springs" 
which had been "lauded by the trappers," he cannot properly be given credit for the discovery of them, 
as some historians have done. 



244 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

of the fields until several years later. It was in January, 1889, that 
the oil fields of Wyoming commenced to attract attention of the 
people in the east, and the Casper Mail thus tells of these fields: 

"To the west of Casper are the Poison Spider, Rattlesnake, Popo Agie and Argo 
oil basins; on the north are the Salt Creek, South Fork of Powder river, and Big Horn 
basins. The Popo Agie is the only basin that has been extensively tested, there being 
in this basin three wells, the aggregate flow of which is 600 barrels per day, therefore 
forever settling the question of oil in paying quantities in Wyoming. The surface 
indications in this basin consist of oil springs, which is the case in all of them; the Salt 
Creek basin, however, showing more indications on the surface than any of the other 
basins, and in formation and topography being a facsimile of the Popo .Agie basin. 
There are some who are skeptical regarding these oil fields, but the verdict of those who 
have investigated them is that the half has not been told. There are springs in various 
localities that flow all the way from one gallon to ten barrels per day. It is by these 
springs that the various basins are marked, and it is by these springs that the oil belt 
of Wyoming is traced for more than two hundred miles." 

The first drilling for oil in Natrona county was commenced in 
the fall of 1888, the location of the well being about three miles north- 
west from Casper. It was called the "Casper Well," and on March 
15, 1889, the Casper Weekly Mail announced that "the reported oil 
strike at the Casper well last week is still shrouded in mystery. 
Work has been stopped and everything at the derrick locked up, 
the workmen claiming that the two-inch cable is broken and the drill 
at the bottom of the well. It is a noticeable fact that the manager and 
his men have been locating oil claims ever since the 'break' occurred. 
Oil men in this vicinity are convinced that oil has been found, and 
considerable excitement prevails. It is hoped that by the next issue 
of the Mail, some definite information can be given. The managers 
at the well stoutly deny the report that oil has been struck at the 
derrick." 

In May, 1889, the Blair Oil and Mining company located on 
3,200 acres of land known as the Oil Mountain Springs, about thirty 
miles west of Casper, on Poison Spider creek, and it was said that 
drilling for oil would be commenced just as soon as 5,000 shares of the 
stock could be sold at $2 . 00 per share. The 5,000 shares of stock were 
not sold and consequently the well was not drilled. 

On June 7, 1889, a total of ninety filings were made on oil lands 
in Natrona county, covering more than 14,000 acres. Most of this 
land was in the Salt Creek field, and the names of the locators were: 
Ernest Riall, Russell J. Straight, Albert M. Kitchen, Daniel H. 
Dorsett, Ernest V. Johnson, Charles P. Collins, Frank A. Hecht, 
W. E. Hawley and P. M. Shannon. These were eastern people, and 
the filing on the land caused a great deal of enthusiasm among the 
people of Casper. In the fall of that year the active oil operations in 
Natrona county were two rigs near Ervay, one at Bessemer and a new 



?r1'"^ 



•"^JBS 






^^'^- 







OUR OIL FIELDS AND OIL REFINERIES 245 

outfit being taken to Salt Creek (now known as the Shannon field). 
Operations on the "Casper well" had not yet been resumed. 

The drilling of the first well in the Salt Creek field was commen- 
ced by the Pennsylvania Oil & Gas company in the fall of 1889. The 
drillers had considerable trouble in getting this well down to the 
oil-bearing sand owing to the fact that the formation was a great deal 
diflPerent from that in the Pennsylvania fields, where the drillers came 
from. The hole first caved in and after this trouble was remedied 
large boulders were encountered, which threw the drill to one side, 
and caused a crooked hole, and this stopped operations until the 
following February. George B. McCalmont, vice-president of the 
company, came to Casper in the spring of 1890 and took charge of 
the drilling operations. Other members of the company were: P. M. 
Shannon of Pittsburgh, president; and C. P. Collins and R, J. 
Straight, both of Bradford, Pennsylvania. 

In the summer of 1890 there was a great deal of activity in the 
oil fields in this part of the state and on June 26 the Wyoming Derrick, 
published in Casper, made the following announcement: 

"If there is any one of the many resources of this territory of 
greater importance than another, and calculated to bring it into 
immediate general notice, it is the immense oil deposits being opened 
up. The country is dotted over with surface indications in every 
direction. The oil-producing belt extends diagonally across the 
territory from the northeast corner to the extreme southwest. Work 
of development in the Salt Creek and Powder River basins, in the 
southern part of Johnson county, shows the deposit to cover an area — 
in these districts alone — more than double in extent the entire Penn- 
sylvania fields, and a product far richer than that of any other oil 
region known to the world. Chemical investigation demonstrates 
that the oils of these basins possess both lubricating and illuminating 
qualities. 

"E. H. French last week located oil lands for nearly every busi- 
ness man in Casper. People here, realizing the true value of the oil 
fields perhaps better than any one else, are putting all the money they 
can spare into oil lands. Can the public at large ask for any better 
evidence of the genuineness of our oil fields and the value thereof.^" 

The first well to be brought in by the Pennsylvania company was 
on June 30, 1890, at a depth of 1,090 feet, which proved to be a good 
producer. As soon as the well came in the derrick was fenced and 
guarded, and no one allowed to approach it. All those who were 
connected with the company denied that oil had been found, but in 
spite of this denial the fact was out and the denials had no effect 
upon the minds of the people, but it was the middle of October before 



246 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

the oil company officials would admit they had oil, the reason given 
for the denial being that they wanted to be sure of a clear title to the 
land. 

The oil was sent to Pittsburgh for analysis, and it was a great 
surprise, not only to members of the company, but to all the chemists 
who made a test of it. The chemists declared that the product could 
not be a natural mineral from the ground, for, they declared, no such 
oil had ever been found in the world. They said this oil must have 
been compounded with animal oils, and the members of the company 
had been deceived by some one who had compounded it and sent 
samples to them, but when President Shannon assured them that it 
was the natural crude oil, just as it came from the ground, the chem- 
ists said that nature had done more for this oil in the ground than 
the best and latest refining and compounding processes had done for 
other oils. This oil sold for ten dollars a barrel. The report of the 
chemists decided the company to drill other wells and develop the 
Salt Creek field. The drilhng of the second well was commenced in 
1 891, but proved a failure, having had bad luck with the hole and 
failing to go down deep enough to reach the oil. The second hole 
caved at a depth of about 500 feet, and they got what is called a flat 
hole, and then a crooked hole, so crooked that the tools would not go 
down, and thus the second hole was abandoned. 

The drilling of the third well was commenced in 1892, and the 
oil sand was reached in due time. In 1893-4-5 and '96 wells numbers 
4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 were brought in, and they were all good producers. 
All these wells were within a mile of each other and their depth ranged 
from 600 to 1,100 feet. 

In the fall of 1894 the Union Pacific, Denver and Gulf Railway 
company ordered a car load of this oil as a sample and it gave such 
satisfaction that the company used it exclusively as a lubricant for a 
number of years, and for five months this railroad company used the 
crude oil without it even being strained, there being no refinery here 
at that time. 

The oil was hauled from the fields to Casper in tanks by string 
teams. These teams would haul supplies to the field and return with a 
load of oil. A description of these string teams is thus given by a local 
newspaper at that time: "Two string teams were loaded out from 
here with 26,000 pounds of piping. One of the teams was made up 
with sixteen head of horses and four wagons and when the wagons 
were coupled out to receive the piping, the entire outfit occupied a 
space of ground 240 feet long, and was the longest string outfit which 
ever went out of Casper. The company now has five teams on the 
road, two of four horses, one of ten, one of twelve, and one of sixteen. " 



OUR OIL FIELDS AND OIL REFINERIES 247 

Early in the year of 1895 F. J. Carman, a chemist and refiner, 
erected a small refinery for the Pennsylvania company in Casper, 
just east from where the Natrona Power company's plant is now loca- 
ted, and railroad oils, dynamo and other lubricating oils were refined. 
The fires were started under the stills of this refinery on the 5th of 
March, 1895. The plant had a capacity of from fifty to one hundred 
barrels of finished oils each day, the product being valve, engine and 
car oil, the company confining itself to the manufacture of lubricat- 
ing oils only. 

The company had stored in tanks in the field 4,000 barrels of the 
crude oil, and 2,000 barrels of the refined product were stored in 
Casper which was kept ready for shipment to its customers on short 
notice in case of an emergency. 

By this time the oil fields in this part of the country were attract- 
ing so much attention, that metropolitan newspapers were sending 
representatives here for the purpose of making an investigation of the 
fields and publishing a description of them. 

On the 4th of April, 1895, the announcement was made that 
"sixty barrels of refined engine oil had been shipped from the refinery 
the past week, for which the company received $14.00 per barrel, net. " 
From six to ten men were employed at the refinery, which included the 
office force and the workmen at the plant. For two years the business 
was carried on with but few changes in the plant, but in July, 1897, 
the company's business had increased to such proportions that a new 
still of 150-barrel capacity was installed and a car load of steel drums 
in which to ship the refined product was purchased. 

For the month of August, 1902, the company's pay roll amounted 
to $5,200, which included the drillers and other workmen in the field, 
the freighters and the men at the refinery; this also included the office 
force, and it was remarked at the time by one of the local newspapers, 
"this means much, indeed, to our town and community." At that 
time well number 13 was being drilled and when it was brought in it 
was estimated that there would be a daily output of about forty-five 
barrels, but it was announced that the company would continue 
drilling wells until there would be an output of 100 barrels daily. 

The people of Casper were very proud of the oil refinery and 
boasted that "it was the only oil refinery in the state." When the 
town was honored by distinguished visitors, such as our United 
States senators, congressman, governor or any of the state officers, 
who were candidates for re-election, and who usually came to see us 
just before election time, a delegation of prominent citizens never 
failed to pilot them through the refinery, and explain to them all the 
details of how the oil was produced from its crude state to the refined 



248 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

product. In making the rounds through the refinery, which required 
about forty-five minutes, the visitors generally emerged with their 
shoes covered with oil and their clothing somewhat soiled, but the 
residents were used to it and it did not seem to bother the distin- 
guished visitors. 

In the fall of 1902 three string teams were making regular trips 
to the oil fields from Casper, hauling out supplies and bringing in the 
oil, and on account of the increased production from the new wells 
six new tanks, with a capacity of ninety barrels each, were built 
and taken out to the field to store the oil. 

In 1900 and 1901, nearly a million acres of land in Natrona 
county was withdrawn from agricultural entry by the United States 
land commissioner which was classed as oil land. Two special agents 
had been in this territory a number of months making an investiga- 
tion of the land and they recommended the withdrawal of the land. 
Four hundred thousand acres of land in the Salt Creek country was 
included in the segregation. Stockmen and ranchmen in the county 
made a vigorous protest against the segregation, claiming that not 
one-fourth of the land withdrawn was oil-bearing land ; that the assess- 
ment work on most of the "oil" land consisted of hauling a few loads 
of rock in the road and of dragging a rail over the sagebrush, and then 
making an affidavit that honest assessment work had been done, and 
that the oil men were not trying to develop the country, but they 
were acquiring the land for speculative purposes. On March 28, 1903, 
the land commissioners, acting upon a petition from Natrona county, 
signed by more than two-thirds of the taxpayers, restored to entry 
all the oil lands in Natrona county excepting the area upon which 
actual development work had been done by the Pennsylvania Oil & 
Gas company. 

The Societe Belgo-American des Petroles du Wyoming early 
in November, 1903, bought all the holdings in Wyoming of the Penn- 
sylvania Oil & Gas company, the property consisting of the refinery 
in Casper, fourteen producing wells and 105,000 acres of oil land in the 
Salt Creek field. The price paid was ^600,000. The deal was made 
through J. H. Lobell of Chicago. In less than a month after the deal 
was consummated the new company announced that it would build a 
railroad from Cheyenne to Lander and from Casper to Salt Creek. 
The Casper town council on February 27, 1904, granted to the Belgo- 
American company forty acres of land within the corporate limits 
of the town, or adjacent thereto, suitable for an oil refinery, and the 
proposed railroad to be built by the same company was granted a 
right-of-way through the corporate limits of the town for all railroad 
and depot grounds that the company desired to use in the construe- 



* 





OUR OIL FIELDS AND OIL REFINERIES 249 

tion and maintenance of the road and depots. And in the event 
the company established an oil refinery in Casper the town council 
agreed to give the company, without cost, so much of the town's 
surplus water as might be necessary for the use of the refinery and all 
the buildings in connection therewith, and the company's property 
was to be exempt from all municipal tax for a period of ten years. 

The survey for the railroad was made from Cheyenne to Lander. 
Lander people also wanted the refinery built in that town, and made 
fully as liberal inducements as Casper had made. Some of the officers 
of the company made a visit to Casper during the summer and they 
were feasted and entertained as only the best people of Casper could 
provide. From Casper the delegation proceeded on its way to Lander. 
The trip was made in buggies over the route of the proposed railroad. 
The telephone poles for a distance of three miles outside of Lander 
were decorated with flags and bunting. A delegation of Lander citi- 
zens, headed by a brass band, met the oil company officers at the 
three-mile station and escorted them into the town. The streets of 
the town had been cleaned, the buildings decorated and everything 
was in holiday attire. The officers of the company were feted lavishly, 
and the many advantages were pointed out why the refinery should 
be built there. The officers of the company made no promises to 
either Casper or Lander, but took note of all that was said and offered 
and then suggested that Orin Junction was a very desirable location 
for a refinery and a splendid location for a modern city, such as would 
be builded, wherever the refinery might be located. 

For more than a year the people of Casper and Lander were on 
the anxious seat; both tov/ns continued to offer the best they had if 
the company would decide upon their town as the place to build the 
refinery; but, alas, the company decided upon neither Casper, Lander 
or Orin Junction as the place to build its refinery, but on account of 
some irregularities and financial difficulties it was compelled to decide 
that it would build neither a refinery nor a railroad. Some of the 
members of the company were arrested for fraud and others lost their 
standing for honesty in the community in which they lived, and the 
hopes and dreams of the people of Casper, Lander and Orin Junction 
were blasted, so far as having a new refinery and a new railroad were 
concerned. Casper was content with having the "only oil refinery 
in the state," and Lander was compelled to get along as best it could 
without a refinery or a railroad and Orin Junction abandoned hope 
of ever being an oil town. But on account of the alleged irregularities 
and chicanery of some of the members of the Belgo-American com- 
pany, who bought the property of the Pennsylvania Oil & Gas com- 
pany, and the intricacies of the law, all operations at the refinery in 



250 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Casper were soon suspended and the plant was out of commission 
until the summer of 1907, when the business men of the town con- 
sidered it a menace and fire trap, and signed a petition requesting 
the town council to order it removed and that the oil pond adjacent 
to the refinery be filled with earth. Although the town council made 
an order in compliance with the request of the petitioners, the old 
refinery remained inoperative and undisturbed and the oil pond was 
not filled up. 

Early in the year of 1910 the Franco-Wyoming Oil company 
was incorporated, and secured through purchase all the lands, 
properties and assets of every kind of the Belgo-American company. 
New capital and new men were put in to manage the affairs of the 
company. John M. Thurston of Nebraska was the attorney, and 
W. G. Young, an American, from the east, was the field manager, 
with headquarters in Casper. The principal stockholders of the 
Franco-Wyoming company were Douglas Read, president Banque 
Intermediare of Paris and director of the Credit Foncier of France; 
Count Puytonaine of Paris, ex-U. S. Senator John M. Thurston of 
Nebraska, Judge Mayer and Rudolph Mayer of Philadelphia, and 
Ernest F. Ayerault of New York City. With the new ofl&cers and new 
capital this company commenced operations at once to develop its 
Salt Creek property and on April 8, 1910, the first shipment of drilling 
machinery arrived in Casper and was immediately taken out to Salt 
Creek where the drilling for oil was commenced. Work was con- 
tinued in the field during the summer and fall and up into the winter 
until the, cold weather caused the company to cease operations, but 
work w^as resumed early in the spring. The company had decided to 
build a refinery in Casper for the purpose of refining the oil that was 
produced from the twenty wells or more that had been drilled and a 
pipe line was to be built from Salt Creek to Casper. The town of 
Casper by an act of the town council leased to the company twenty 
acres of land immediately east from Highland cemetery where a 
refinery was to be built. There were a few people of Casper who 
objected to this property being leased for refinery or for any other 
except cemetery purposes, and it was proposed to get out an injunc- 
tion preventing the company from occupying the ground, but the 
principal objections were mysteriously removed and work on the 
refinery was commenced in the summer of 191 1. It was announced 
that this refinery would have a daily capacity of 5,000 barrels. Work 
progressed rather slowly at this refinery, and it was on June 11, 1912, 
when the fires were first started under the stills. This refinery was 
owned by the Natrona Pipe Line and Refinery company, which was 
a subsidiary of the Franco-Wyoming company. 



OUR OIL FIELDS AND OIL REFINERIES 25 1 

On June 17, 191 1, a resolution was again adopted by the Casper 
town council ordering that the old refinery situated in the town 
of Casper, between Center and Wolcott streets, south of the C. & 
N. W. railway tracks, be removed on account of the building being 
dangerous and unsafe; that it was readily exposed to fire, and should 
it catch on fire, other property in that vicinity was in great danger 
of being destroyed. The Franco-Wyoming company at once removed 
the building and machinery, and the city filled up the pond of sludge 
which was an eye-sore and a nuisance, and thus was removed all 
evidence of the first oil refinery in the state of Wyoming, of which 
in the early days Casper was the proud possessor. 

The Midwest Oil company was incorporated early in the year of 
1910, with Oliver H. Shoup, president, and Verner Z. Reed, Karl 
Schuyler, H. M. Blackmer, R. D. Brooks and Bern Hopkins his associ- 
ates. This company had acquired considerable land in the Salt Creek 
field and was a rival of the Franco-Wyoming company. The Mid- 
west company was very active in drilling wells and building a refinery 
west of Casper and a pipe line and telephone line from Salt Creek to 
Casper. The first car load of pipe for the pipe line arrived in Casper 
May 25, 1911, and by the first of December, 1911, the company had 
expended $650,000 for the purposes above named. Twelve producing 
wells had been brought in, the pipe line and pumping stations were 
complete, the telephone line was in operation, many storage tanks 
were in place and the refining plant was far advanced, and on January 
15, 191 2, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, the fire was turned on under 
one still, the machinery was put in operation and the production of 
gasoline, naphtha, kerosene, gas oil and fuel oil was commenced. It 
was announced that in several weeks other stills would be ready and 
the capacity of the plant would be 3,000 barrels per day when the 
plant was completed. Arrangements had been made with the Union 
Tank Car company for twelve tank cars to transport the product to 
market. The Midwest company had rented three office rooms on 
the second floor in the Kimball building on Center street, where the 
business of the company was transacted until the 14th of April, 1914, 
when they moved to their new quarters in the Midwest (now the 
Henning) hotel, which comprised eleven rooms on the second floor. 
These offices were maintained until early in the spring of 1917, when 
the top floor, consisting of twenty-five office rooms in the Oil Exchange 
(now the Consolidated Royalty) building were occupied. But even 
these commodious quarters, in addition to the offices of the company 
at the refinery in this city and those in the First National Bank 
building in Denver, were soon outgrown and on March 7, 1921, the 
company moved into the Midwest Refining company building on 



252 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Second and Wolcott streets, occupying the two top floors, consisting 
of sixty-six rooms, a three-story administration building was erected 
at the refining plant, where splendid offices were maintained, and 
additional offices were required in Denver where the head offices 
were maintained. 

The Midwest Oil company and the Franco-Petroleum company 
(the latter having been merged from the Franco- Wyoming company 
and the Natrona Pipe Line and Refining company) were merged on 
February 28, 1914, and the new company was capitalized at ^20,000,- 
000, under the name of the Midwest Refining company. At this time 
the new company had a total daily charging capacity of 12,800 
barrels and a boiler capacity of 1,875 horsepower. Improvements 
were made and equipment was added continually, and five years 
later, or on January i, 1920, the total still charging capacity of the 
plant was 46,900 barrels per day, and there were under construction 
at that time stills which would charge an additional 12,000 barrels, 
which would give the company a total still charging capacity of 
58,900 barrels. The boiler capacity of the plant at that time was 
14,000 horsepower. The capacity of the storage and operating tanks 
amounted to approximately 2,500,000 barrels. At the loading racks 
200 cars could be loaded at one time. Fourteen hundred men were 
employed at the refinery in Casper by the Midwest company on 
January i, 1920, in addition to the several hundred men in the 
offices here and four or five hundred more at the fields in Salt Creek, 
Big Muddy and the other fields near by. In addition to the refinery 
at Casper, the Midwest company was operating a refinery at Gray 
Bull with a daily still charging capacity of 3,000 barrels and one at 
Laramie with a daily still charging capacity of 4,800 barrels. 

During the summer months of 1922 contracts were let by the 
Midwest company for the building of eighty-six storage tanks of 
80,000 barrels capacity each, and in December a contract was let for 
the building of forty more tanks of the same capacity, and negotia- 
tions were also being made at the same time for the building of thirty 
more 80,000-barrel tanks, but without the construction of the latter 
thirty tanks, when all the containers have been completed that have 
been contracted for the company will have tankage capacity for the 
storage of approximately fourteen million barrels of crude oil at 
its tank farm on the north side of the Platte river within two miles 
northwest from the city of Casper. It was by mere chance that the 
people who organized the Midwest Oil company, which later became 
the Midwest Refining company, became interested in the Salt Creek 
field and built its refinery in Casper. Very little work had been done 
in the territory where the hundreds of producing wells are now located 



OUR OIL FIELDS AND OIL REFINERIES 253 

in the summer of 1910 when Bern Hopkins and A. M. Johnson of 
Colorado Springs, who were in the employ of Verner Z. Reed, stopped 
over night at the Henshaw and Fitzhugh camp in Salt Creek while 
making the trip with a team and buggy from Casper to Sheridan. 
E. T. Williams was in charge of the camp at that time and he was 
doing some validating work for Henshaw and Fitzhugh, who had 
located upon all the land they possibly could. This land was about 
five miles south of the Shannon field, and the first development work 
done here was by a company under the title of the Petroleum Mach- 
ippij Salt Creek, The Hague, Holland, who had brought in a produc- 
ing well in 1908 at a depth of 1,000 feet, but on account of there being 
no means of transportation to a refinery except by teams and wagons, 
there was no demand for the product, and the well was practically 
abandoned. (The Machippij company and the Franco-Wyoming 
company in 1910 were consolidated, and took the name of the Wyom- 
ing Oil Fields company.) Then came Henshaw and Fitzhugh in 1910 
who were doing their validating work by the spring pole method. 
While stopping over night at the Henshaw camp, Messrs. Hopkins 
and Johnson became interested in the tales told about this oil field, 
and upon their return from Sheridan they again stopped at the oil 
camp and then arranged with E. T. Williams to lease the "Middy" 
claim, the lease being in the name of Bern Hopkins as trustee for 
Verner Z. Reed and associates, which later became the Reed Invest- 
ment company. This company drilled its first well on 11-39-79, and 
at a depth of 1,860 feet produced a water well. Oliver H. Shoup, who 
was office manager for Mr. Reed, in company with Bern Hopkins, 
then made a trip to Paris where they interested some French capi- 
talists in this field and development work progressed until it was 
a proven field and the men interested in the company were made 
millionaires. During the progress of this development work a great 
many conflicts arose as to title of the lands. Line riders were hired 
by the several companies and many a contest was the result. These 
line riders were men of nerve and they put up a fight for their com- 
panies equal to the fights on the range made in the earlier days by 
the cowboys for what they considered their rights. That many a strip 
of land was acquired by might, rather than right, there is no question. 
It was generally the stronger forces that won, and oftentimes men 
and material were moved off a claim which was settled upon by the 
stronger faction. Some of these combats among the employees of the 
different companies resulted in a hasty visit of the sheriff and a num- 
ber of deputies to the battle ground, and a great deal of expensive 
litigation resulted before the ownership of considerable of the land 
was settled, but with all the contests, conflicts and litigation, the 



254 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Midwest in ten years grew from a very small concern to a fifty 
million dollar corporation, and at the time it was absorbed by the 
Standard Oil company it was the dominating influence of the moun- 
tain states oil industry. 

In the spring of 1913 the Standard Oil company of Indiana 
decided to build a refinery in Casper, but the oflScers of the company 
did not announce the fact from the house tops. Agents for the com- 
pany came here and went over the ground very thoroughly before a 
move was made that would indicate that the company intended 
coming here to do business. On July 6, 1913, C. B. Manbeck bought 
from J. M. Carey & Brother eighty-four acres of land in the western 
limits of Casper. This land was not bought in the name of the Stand- 
ard Oil company, but in the name of Mr. Manbeck, and the Carey 
company was not aware that it was for the Standard company until 
the public announcement was made. The price paid for the land 
was $24,000, or a fraction less than $300 per acre. The only stipula- 
tion in the contract was that the property should not be laid out in 
town lots or additions to the town of Casper and should not be used 
for residential purposes for at least ten years after the filing of the 
deed. No doubt the Standard company would have paid $1,000 per 
acre for the land if the Carey company had demanded that price. 

The announcement that the Standard company would build a 
refinery on the property acquired by Mr. Manbeck was not made 
until July 18, 1913, when articles of incorporation were filed with the 
secretary of state, with a capital stock of $30,000,000, the filing fee 
being $6,011. The list of the stockholders comprised 550 names. The 
work of clearing the land for the refinery plant was commenced at 
once, and on July 22 Mr. Manbeck with a number of construction 
men arrived in Casper to make the preliminary arrangements for the 
building of the refinery. The work progressed rapidly under men of 
experience, and on March 11, 1914, the first unit of the plant was in 
operation, but a large number of men were employed in the construc- 
tion and the enlargement of the plant, and improvements and addi- 
tions have been continually made until the Standard's plant in this 
city is one of the largest and most modern of any refinery in the United 
States. In the spring and summer of 1921 this company made im- 
provements and additions to its plant which virtually tripled its 
producing capacity, and when completed there were in operation 
275 pressure stills, eighty coke stills and many other reducing devices 
that were necessary to handle the oil from the producing fields near 
Casper. Ten storage tanks, forty feet high and 120 feet in diameter, 
with a capacity of 85,000 barrels to each tank were built, in addition 
to which a great many smaller tanks were built. These gave the 



OUR OIL FIELDS AND OIL REFINERIES 255 

company a storage capacity at the refinery in excess of a million 
barrels of oil, and when this building program was completed the plant 
was capable of handling 25,000 barrels of oil per day. These im- 
provements were estimated to cost not less than ten million dollars. 

On June 3, 1921, a meeting of the stockholders of the Standard 
company met at Whiting, Indiana, and voted to increase the capital 
stock of the company from one hundred million dollars to one hundred 
forty millions. This increase was made in order that the additional 
stock could be used in exchange for stock of the Midwest Refining 
company, which was capitalized at twenty million dollars, and on 
October i, 1921, the refining plants of the Midwest company passed 
to the control of the Standard company, the two refineries in Casper 
and the plants at Gray Bull and Laramie then being under control and 
operated by the giant and powerful Standard company. The Mid- 
west company, however, continued to operate the producing depart- 
ment as well as the marketing of the product from the refineries. 

During the year 1922 the Standard plants on the western out- 
skirts of the city of Casper were operating almost at their full ca- 
pacity, where in the past they had been operating only at from thirty 
to sixty per cent of their actual capacity. The cause of the increased 
production was through an order of two million barrels of gasoline 
to be shipped to a foreign country. Large shipments were made 
each month to the Magnolia Oil company at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 
and from there it is shipped on boats to foreign ports. To fill this order 
the company sent out on an average two train loads of tank cars each 
week, each train consisting of about 19,000 barrels of gasoline, with 
sixty cars to each train. This was in addition to all the other orders 
for domestic consumption that were filled by the company. 

Although, at times, the shipments were somewhat delayed, on 
account of some changes being made in the specifications, the com- 
pany came within 100,000 barrels of filling the order during the 
twelve-month period, and so satisfactory was the service and the 
product that the contract was renewed to furnish two million barrels 
during the year of 1923. The renewal of this contract assures a 
market for the entire output for the number three plant, located 
immediately west of the city of Casper, and with plants numbered 
one and two furnishing gasoline for domestic consumption will 
necessitate the operation of all three plants to their full capacity 
during the entire year of 1923. 

Such progress was made in the manufacture of gasoline during 
1922 that from the standpoint of volume of gasoline produced, the 
Casper refinery of the Standard is the largest plant in the world. 
During 1922 the Casper plant averaged 1,350,000 barrels of crude run 



256 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

each month, or approximately 45,000 barrels daily. About 615,000 
barrels of gasoline were manufactured each month, while the plants 
produced also 170,000 barrels of refined oil, or kerosene, monthly. 
The three plants operated by the Standard in Casper manufactured 
30,000 barrels of lubricating oils. Other by-products manufactured 
included 2,500,000 pounds of paraffin wax each month. In addition, 
5,000 tons of coke were made each month. The remainder of the 
crude except that lost through the process of manufacture found its 
way into fuel oil, gas oil, asphalt, engine distillate and similar products. 

The Producers and Refiners corporation has the largest absorp- 
tion plant in the world about two miles west from the city of Casper. 
This plant absorbs the gasoline from the gas which is piped from the 
Mahoney Dome and the Wertz and Ferris fields. Work was com- 
menced on the erection of this plant in the summer of 1922 and it was 
finished in December. This plant has a daily capacity for the handling 
of forty million cubic feet of natural gas, from which it will recover 
the gasoline before delivering the product to the refineries for fuel. 
It is estimated that the output of natural gasoline will run from 
7,500 to 10,000 gallons daily when the plant is operating at its full 
capacity. 

The Texas company, after several months' conference and 
negotiation with the Casper Chamber of Commerce and the citizens 
of Casper, decided on July 7, 1922, to build its refinery three miles 
east from Casper instead of at Glenrock, where the company had 
already acquired a tract of land upon which to build its plant. This 
decision was brought about at a luncheon held by the members of the 
Chamber of Commerce and officers of the Texas company on the 
above date when it was pledged that the citizens of Casper would 
contribute $50,000 for the purchase of the site, and the Texas com- 
pany would give in exchange the 500 acres of land near Glenrock 
upon which it had intended to erect its plant. The Civic Land com- 
pany was formed, an appraisal committee was appointed and the 
amount which the business men and property owners of Casper 
should invest was decided upon. The land owned by the Wyoming 
Refining company was sold to the Civic Land company at cost, and 
the Evans Realty company donated 120 acres, thus making the total 
area of the land for the Texas company's refinery site 640 acres. 
Within a week the $50,000 was raised and title to the land was given 
to the Texas company. 

Heavy shipments of material to the new site were made at once, 
and by the first of August there were 225 men on the pay roll of the 
Texas company, in addition to 375 men employed on the works 
through contractors. These men were employed on the railroad 



OUR OIL FIELDS AND OIL REFINERIES 257 

yards and switches, loading yard tracks, the large smoke stacks, 
brick work for the crude stills, concrete work, the building of hun- 
dreds of tanks and the many other things attendant upon the building 
of a modern oil refining plant. In addition to these 600 men who were 
working on the refinery plant, there was a large force of carpenters, 
masons, cement workers and other workmen busy in the erection of 
business houses, shops and residences in the town of Evansville, 
which is in close proximity to the refinery. 

The Central Pipeline company is the carrier of the crude oil from 
the Salt Creek field to the Texas company's plant, and on October 
8, 1922, the first oil entered the Salt Creek end of the line and within 
a few days a large stream of the "liquid gold" was flowing into the 
tanks that had been built to receive it. In February, 1923, fires were 
started under the stills of the Texas company, and Casper's third 
large oil refinery was in operation. 

Several hundred miles of pipe lines have been built from the oil 
fields into Casper which are used to transport crude oil, gasoline, 
gas and water. These pipe lines have been put in at an expense of 
several millions of dollars, but with all this, new lines are continually 
being built, which are necessary to transport the product to the 
refineries. Among the pipe lines coming into Casper are: The Mid- 
west Refining company's forty-two mile six-inch line from Salt Creek 
to Casper; the same company has two eight-inch forty-two mile 
lines from Salt Creek to Casper, for the transportation of crude oil, 
also one three-inch and one four-inch forty-two mile gasoline line and 
one six-inch forty-two mile water line from Salt Creek to Casper. The 
Western Pipeline company has an eight-inch forty-five mile line from 
Salt Creek to Casper and the Central Pipeline company has a forty-five 
mile eight-inch line from Salt Creek to Casper. The Illinois Pipeline 
company has a twenty-two mile eight-inch line from Big Muddy to 
Casper. The New York Oil company has a thirty-eight mile 6-12 pipe 
line for gas from Poison Spider to Casper; the Producers and Refiners 
corporation has a ninety-mile 10-14 i"ch line for gas from the Ma- 
honey Dome to Casper, and the Bolton Oil company has a thirty-two 
mile six-inch line from Bolton creek to Casper. 

In addition to the manufacturing and producing companies 
mentioned heretofore, there are a great many producing companies 
maintaining offices in Casper with a large force of men in the field, 
among them being the Sinclair-Wyoming and the Mammoth Oil 
company, who are drilling the Teapot dome for the United States 
navy as well as doing considerable other development work, the 
Fargo Oil company, the E. T. Williams, the Ohio, the Chappel, 
Staley Syndicate, Bessemer, Western States, Salt Creek ConsoHdated, 



258 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Wyokans, Kasoming, Elkhorn, Salt Creek Producers, Boston-Wyo- 
ming, Marine, Merritt, Fensland, Domino, Mountain and Gulf, Glen- 
rock Oil, Consolidated Royalty, Five Tribes, Royalty and Producers, 
Carter, Gypsy and many others. 

More than half a billion barrels of crude oil were produced in 
America in 1921, from which 123,000,000 barrels of gasoline were 
refined, thus it takes nearly four barrels of crude oil to make one 
barrel of gasoline. There are forty-two gallons of oil in a barrel. 
Of these 25 . 6 per cent goes into gasoline; 9 . 7 per cent kerosene; 47 . 9 
per cent fuel and gas oil; 4.3, lubricating oil; 2.4 wax, coke, and 
asphalt; 6 per cent miscellaneous and 4. i per cent loss. 

Although a franchise was granted on March 9, 191 1, to "B. H, 
Hopkins, his successors and assigns, for the laying of oil pipe lines 
in the streets and alleys of the town of Casper, for the purpose of 
selling, furnishing and distributing petroleum or its products, and gas 
to consumers within the town of Casper," the first tangible evidence 
of the residents of Casper being supplied with natural gas was on 
January 13, 1920, when the New York Oil company, whose head- 
quarters were in Casper, announced that a contract had been let to 
the Hope Engineering and Supply company to build a gas pipe line 
from the company's holdings in the Iron Creek-Poison Spider and 
South Casper creek fields to the city of Casper. The greater part 
of the line was to be of twelve-inch pipe, with reinforced Dressier 
couplings to insure the line against gas escaping. In a statement at 
that time, in reference to supplying the citizens of Casper with gas, 
Mr. Frank G. Curtis, president of the New York Oil company, said: 
"To be able to bring this great relief to Casper will forbid the mer- 
cenary motive pervading the effort. All we want is a fair return for 
the investment and operation and the achievement will mark our 
greatest desire." Upon the franchise being granted by the city 
council surveys were immediately made for the lines from Casper to 
the gas fields and the line was completed October 11, 1920, and gas 
was turned on at the Midwest refinery the next day where it was used 
in the various processes of refining oil. At that time the company 
had eight producing gas wells, but the fields had been only partially 
developed. The first gas well to be brought in at Iron Creek was on 
December 17, 1917, and the first gas well to be brought in at Poison 
Spider was December 24, 1917. The gas is brought from the field 
under a heavy pressure and this pressure is delivered into the city to 
certain points where regulators that work automatically are placed. 
These regulators cut down the heavy gas pressure of several hundred 
pounds to only a few ounces and deliver this low pressure to the city 
mains from which it feeds direct to the homes and business houses. 



OUR OIL FIELDS AND OIL REFINERIES 259 

These regulators are so built that when anything goes wrong, they 
immediately shut off all gas so that there is no danger from the gas 
suddenly failing in the night and then coming on again to cause 
trouble. 

On account of the convenience and economy of gas for fuel, both 
for industrial and domestic purposes, it was estimated that the city 
of Casper would experience a rapid growth in population as well as 
the establishment of many new industries where gas could be used, 
such as glass factories, iron and asbestos industries and other enter- 
prises. In December, 1920, the first month of the service, more than 
three hundred million cubic feet of gas was consumed in the city of 
Casper and at the Midwest Refining company's plant for fuel pur- 
poses, and more than 500 applications were on file for connections 
to be made with residences in the city. 

After one year's trial the consumers of gas expressed themselves 
as being highly pleased with the service, the convenience and the 
price, and instead of three hundred million cubic feet being consumed 
in a month, in December, 1921, the company was supplying 2,300 
families and twenty factories, laundries, etc., which consumed fifty- 
three million cubic feet and in addition to this the Standard refineries 
consumed 542,000,000 cubic feet with a total of 595,000,000 cubic 
feet consumed during the month, and a total of 6,214,000,000 cubic 
feet consumed during the year, with an assurance that more than six 
billion cubic feet for each year would be consumed as long as the 
company could supply the gas. 

In regard to the supply of gas in the fields a careful estimate has 
been made by geologists of national reputation who estimate that the 
production in the Iron Creek-Poison Spider fields will furnish more 
than six billion cubic feet each year for at least twenty years, and 
with the many other fields adjacent to the city of Casper the citizens 
may be assured that the supply will not be exhausted for at least 
a century. 

In the whole state of Wyoming there are said to be fifteen light 
oil structures, producing or capable of producing paraffin base crudes 
on a par with Pennsylvania oils, the daily production of which is 
about 78,000 barrels, with several fields shut down and others 
running only a portion of the oil. The potential production of Wyo- 
ming's light oil fields is about 180,000 barrels per day. The cost of 
development of these fifteen light oil fields up until 1922, was about 
$62,872,500, which takes in the cost of edge wells, classing the latter 
as producers except where no oil whatever was found in the hole. 
Besides these fifteen light oil fields, there are seven black oil fields 
with a daily production of 425 barrels, a potential production of 3,750 



26o HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

barrels, a development cost of $3,448,560 and four fields shut down. 
There are fourteen gas fields producing in Wyoming and in some 
instances these gas fields also produce oil. The cost of developing 
these gas fields up until 1922, was $4,635,000. 

Besides the above listed fields, there are also seven structures 
in the state where oil in commercial quantities is known to exist. The 
cost of the development of these seven fields, as nearly as can be 
estimated, is $1,778,600. The cost of the development of the produc- 
ing fields in the state, most of which are in Natrona county and 
adjacent to the city of Casper, is as follows: 

The Midwest Refining company, $22,768,480, paid out for the 
drilling of wells on successful structures. The Ohio Oil company, 
$18,342,660, expended in the development of successful structures; 
the Kasoming Oil company, $2,230,000; Producers and Refiners 
corporation, $1,456,900; New York Oil company, $1,340,000; The 
Texas company,$i,322,72o; General Petroleum company, $1,320,500; 
Sinclair Oil company, $254,000; Carter Oil company, $308,000; 
Union Oil company, $120,000; and the Inland Oil & Refining com- 
pany, $150,000. The rest of the firms operating in Wyoming are 
listed as miscellaneous and show a total expenditure of $4,650,000. 
The above figures are for successful development only, no dry holes 
are considered. The following figures give an approximate expendi- 
ture by each firm on dry holes where the whole amount was a total 
loss or nearly so: Ohio Oil company, $2,437,654; Midwest Refining 
company, $1,976,000; Kasoming Oil company, $658,000; Inland Oil 
& Refining company, $535,000; The Texas company, $1,387,530; 
Producers & Refiners corporation, $51 1,000; Associated Oil company, 
$445,000; Carter Oil company, $360,000; Empire Gas & Fuel company, 
$210,000; Union Oil company (Calif.), $1,200,000; Standard Oil of 
California, $322,090; Cosden Oil & Gas company, $110,000; Gypsy 
Oil company, $52,330, and miscellaneous companies, $10,947,690. 

The state of Wyoming is credited with one-twentieth of all the 
oil reserves in the United States. On January i, 1922, the average 
daily production from the 225,000 producing wells in the United 
States was four and one-half barrels, whereas the average daily pro- 
duction in Wyoming was forty barrels. Wyoming leads all other fields 
in the average daily production of wells. The crude oil of Wyoming 
has the highest gasoline extraction of any field in the United States, 
running forty per cent to fifty per cent as compared to twenty-four per 
cent in the Appalachian and twelve per cent in the California fields. In 
Wyoming but nine and one-half per cent of the estimated crude in the 
ground in the first sand has been extracted compared to thirty-five 
per cent in California, sixty-one per cent in Louisiana, eighty-nine 



OUR OIL FIELDS AND OIL REFINERIES 261 

per cent in the Appalachian fields and thirty-six per cent in the mid- 
continent fields. Many practical oil men consider the Salt Creek field, 
the greatest single oil pool of high grade gasoline oil in the United 
States or even in the world. Certain sections of this wonderful field 
produced, from 1914 to 1919, 63,500 barrels of oil per acre. With the 
single exception of Spindle Top in Texas, where the oil is much 
inferior in quality from the standpoint of gasoline content, this Salt 
Creek production exceeds that of any other high grade oil field east 
of the Rocky mountains. The average production in Salt Creek 
during the last several years has been 19,500 barrels per acre, which 
average, with the single exception of Spindle Top, is greater than 
any field east of the Rockies. The Kern river field of California has an 
average production of 25,698 barrels per acre, but this is low grade 
oil and not to be compared in quality with Salt Creek. The famous 
Cushing pool in Oklahoma has an average of 4,350 barrels per acre; 
the Gleen pool a little more than 3,000 barrels per acre; the Augusta, 
Kansas, pool, 4,800. 

During the year 1921 the Salt Creek field produced 11,362,000 
barrels of oil. Out of a total of 261 producing oil wells completed in 
the state of Wyoming during 1921, 120 of them were located in the 
Salt Creek field. The drilling record for the state during the year was 
the completion of 339 wells, 261 of which were producing oil wells, 
fifteen were gassers, and there were sixty-three failures. In 1920 
there were 348 wells drilled, 284 of which were oil wells, thirty-one 
gassers and sixty-three failures. 

During the year 1922 the Salt Creek field produced 23,725,000 
barrels of crude oil, but this only in a small degree represents the 
amount this field could produce with the release of oil now confined 
or shut-in at "producing" wells. From January i to December 31, 
1922, the average daily output of Salt Creek was 65,000 barrels, 
covering periods of pipe line runs of thirty per cent, fifty per cent and 
forty per cent of production of uncapped wells. During several days 
of the last week in December, the Salt Creek pipe lines handled as 
high as 78,000 barrels but 65,000 barrels is reported on authority as 
the daily average covering the entire year under the three pro ratas. 
The best of authorities estimate that the Salt Creek field will produce 
a flow of oil for at least fifty years, or until 1972, with the same amount 
of drilling that has been in operation for 1921 and 1922, and that one- 
twentieth of the field has not yet been developed. There are about 
thirty square miles in this one vast dome, where practically every 
hole drilled means an oil well. There are two known producing oil 
sands and three other possible sands below these, and it is said that 
if this is not a billion dollar oil field, there is none in the United States. 



262 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Entering Salt Creek from the south, almost as through a gateway, 
the great oil field comes suddenly into view, a natural amphitheatre, 
the massive outcrops of the Shannon sandstone banked against the 
skyline like spectators of the activity far below. Seven miles to the 
north the bowl extends, and four miles east and west. Minor hills and 
valleys extend all over the field, but the general effect from the high 
entering road is one of flatness. 

Derricks are sparsely spotted over the great area, some new and 
clean, others blackened old-timers, kept on the job for cleaning opera- 
tions or deeper drilling. Most of the steady producers are not dis- 
cernible from a distance, the rigs having been dismantled, and the 
wells quietly discharging into the feeder lines. 

Over the many roads crawl fleets of motor trucks, carrying cas- 
ing, timber, machinery and supplies, up hill and down dale, supplying 
the many camps dotted here and there. 

About the center of the field is the village of Salt Creek. Here is 
the postoffice, Midwest offices. Midwest hotel, large and commo- 
dious, a splendid new brick school building, comfortable residences 
and all that goes to make up the comforts and conveniences of a 
small town such as a theater, church, newspaper, etc. 

Near the south end of the field there is a new village known as 
the Ohio-Columbine camp, which consists of a long row of modern 
houses, which flank the main street, and in addition to these houses 
there are many other comfortable residences on the other streets which 
have been laid out. Following the main road northward, the next 
settlement of importance is the Midwest gasoline extraction plant. 
Here the streets are well laid out, with many comfortable residences. 

Drilling activity at the north end of the field is not as marked as 
at the south end, probably seventy per cent of the new rigs being at 
the south end, but some day the north end of the field no doubt will 
have as many rigs as are now on the south end. 

At this time (1923) there is an average of only about eight pro- 
ducing wells per square mile, or two wells per quarter section. The 
problem in the Salt Creek field is not in getting the crude oil, but how 
to get a market for it is the perplexing question. 

In addition to the wonderful Salt Creek field, many new fields in 
Natrona county are being opened up, which goes to show that Casper 
will be an "oil town" for at least a century from this date, and is 
destined to be not only the largest and wealthiest city in the state, 
but one of the leading cities in the middle west of the United States. 

During the latter part of 1916 and for nine months in 1917 
Casper experienced a wonderful oil boom. Men in all walks of life 
neglected their business and their professions to buy and sell oil 



OUR OIL FIELDS AND OIL REFINERIES 263 

stocks. It was a small day's business if half a million dollars' worth 
of oil stocks were not sold; for a number of months the several hun- 
dred oil brokers each made a profit of from $100.00 to $1,000.00 per 
day. Oil exchanges, where stocks were sold at auction, were estab- 
lished, and during the afternoons and evenings the rooms were filled 
with men and women who bought and sold stocks; in the evenings 
the rooms were not large enough to accommodate all the customers 
and many remained out on the side walk, but they bought and sold 
stocks just the same. In the lobby of the Midwest (now the Henning 
hotel) was where most of the trading was done. Many brokers had 
desks in the small rooms adjacent to the lobby, and an enormous 
rental was paid for these little rooms; there were a great many people 
who had no office nor desk, but they did their trading on the floor 
of the lobby. Most of these brokers always had on hand stocks worth 
from $5,000 to $25,000. Checks were given for stock amounting to 
several thousand dollars, and no doubt was ever entertained but 
there was money in the bank sufficient to cover the amount of the 
check; if some of the men who then wrote a check for $5,000 which 
was accepted without question, were to write a check today for $500 
it would be taken with a considerable degree of suspicion as to whether 
it would be cashed at the bank. Orders were given among these 
brokers for the purchase of stocks at a given time and price, and if 
the stock was delivered before the time specified, it was accepted by 
the broker who gave the order, even though the price had gone down 
several points and the transaction involved a considerable loss. 
Square dealing and honesty was the rule among the brokers, and when 
one failed to act upon the square he was blacklisted and boycotted. 

New oil companies were organized every day and the stock was 
placed on the market. Many of these companies had land that turned 
out very valuable, and the price of their stock today is from ten to 
twenty times as much as it sold for when the companies were first 
organized, but on the other hand many, many of the companies that 
were organized then and sold their stock at from fifty cents to one 
dollar per share today are unheard of, and many people have stored 
away certificates of a sufficient number to decorate four sides and the 
ceiling of a large-sized office room, all of which would not sell for 
enough money to pay for their postage carriage if they were to be 
delivered to the purchaser by mail service. 

In the fall of 1917 many of the brokers had gone out of business; 
there was but little trading; men who had loaded up on stocks in the 
spring and summer were now selling out for any price they could get, 
while others took their loss like good philosophers and charged it 
up to bad judgment. But those were the real boom days in Casper. 



Tragedies of Natrona County 

Hanging of "Cattle Kate" and Jim Averell 

THOUSANDS upon thousands of cattle perished in the middle 
western states during the severe and long-continued storms of 
the winters of 1886, '87 and '88, and in the summers that fol- 
lowed the hills and hollows of the open range were literally covered 
with the bones of the beasts, which were bleached by the scorching 
rays of the summer's sun. The stockmen of Wyoming were the great- 
est losers of any of the cattle states, and many of the men who were 
comfortably well-to-do in the fall of '86 were financially wrecked in 
the spring of '88, and others were left only a shadow of their large 
herds which had been turned out after the fall roundups to rustle 
their feed and find shelter from the winter's storms. 

But the rigorous winters and hot, dry summers were not the only 
menace that confronted the cattlemen and which bid fair to diminish 
their herds. The cattle thieves, or "rustlers," so called in those days, 
were now boldly making their presence felt more than ever before, by 
blotching the brands of the estray cattle they could find and putting 
their irons on the calves they could pick up. The thieves had steadily 
increased in numbers year after year until the cattle owners were in 
the minority, and the rustlers' influence, or rather, their means of 
intimidation, was much greater on the range than that of the "cattle 
kings." 

The cattle owners, after seeing their large herds nearly wiped out 
by the elements, were forcibly impressed with the fact that the laws 
of our statutes did not protect them from the now strong band of rust- 
lers, and they must organize and adopt and enforce a law of self- 
preservation, or go out of business entirely. The man who owned a 
great number of cattle and large tracts of land was looked upon by the 
rustlers as a prey, and the brand on his stock was blotched and the 
animals were driven off from their range with impunity, hence the 
organization of the cattle owners, who declared that "an injury to 
one is a concern to all," and it did not take them long to adopt their 
own methods of protecting their property and set up their own 
laws as punishment for the transgressor. 

The rustlers had friends in nearly every settlement, and some- 
times even among the cowboys working for the large outfits they 

264 



TRAGEDIES OF NATRONA COUNTY 265 

found sympathizers. On account of their reckless unlawfulness there 
were many people who protected them through fear, and it is said 
that in some cases men who served as jurors, and some of the judges 
on the bench failed to do their sworn duty, either through fear or 
actually favoring the thieves; and up to this day there are some people 
who contend that these men were justified in their depredations, 
because the big cattle outfits many times exceeded their rights in 
taking up large tracts of land and monopolized thousands of acres of 
the open range, thus starving and driving out the settlers and owners 
of small bunches of cattle. Courts had become a farce. There was no 
chance of securing a conviction upon a charge of cattle stealing in 
those days, and because of their security from the law some of the 
rustlers oftentimes committed crimes greater than stealing cattle, 
and little was said and nothing was done about it. 

The first case, in what is now Natrona county, to require the 
cattle owners to apply the law of "self-preservation," occurred in the 
present peaceful and prosperous Sweetwater country. The day and 
date was Saturday, July 20, 1889, when James Averell, a man who 
conducted a saloon and small store in that part of the country, and 
Ella Watson, who ran a "hog ranch," and who adopted the name of 
Kate Maxwell, but who was dubbed by her friends "Cattle Kate," 
and was a consort of Averell, were hanged to the limb of a tree, in 
Spring canyon, near the Sweetwater river, about five miles west 
from the Averell ranch, and their bodies were left dangling side 
by side for more than thirty hours, until the authorities from Casper 
went out, let them down, held an inquest, and then buried them 
side by side on the ranch in close proximity to the saloon where they 
had carried on their nefarious business. 

Averell's place of business was a "hang-out" for the rustlers, but 
many of the cowboys came there for a night's carousal, and before 
they left the place Averell generally had all their money and "Cattle 
Kate" had the promise of her brand on from one to half a dozen 
calves. Kate had taken up a homestead about a mile northwest 
from the Averell ranch, near "Steamboat" rock, where she built a 
cabin and had a pasture fenced in, and in a very few months had 
accumulated a very nice herd of cattle. When questioned as to how 
she acquired the stock, she simply said she "bought" them, and there 
was no law to disprove that she was not the rightful owner of them. 

Both Averell and the Watson woman were avowed and open 
enemies of the large cattle and land owners, and on April 7, 1889, 
Averell wrote a letter for publication to the Casper Weekly Mail 
condemning the cattlemen who were operating in the Sweetwater 
country, and among other things he said: 



266 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

"They are land-grabbers, who are only camped here as speculators in land under 
the desert land act. They are opposed to anything that would settle and improve 
the country or make it anything but a cow pasture for eastern speculators. It is 
wonderful how much land some of these land sharks own — in their minds — and 
how firmly they are organized to keep Wyoming from being settled up. They advance 
the idea that a poor man has nothing to say in the affairs of his country, in which they 
are wrong, as the future land owner in Wyoming will be the people to come, as most 
of these large tracts are so fraudulently entered now that it must ultimately change 
hands and give the public domain to the honest settler. Is it not enough to excite one's 
prejudice to see the Sweetwater river owned, or claimed, for a distance of seventy-five 
miles from its mouth, by three or four men? Change the irrigation laws so that every 
bona fide settler can have his share of the water; and as soon as possible cancel the desert 
land act, and then you will see orchards and farms in Wyoming. Who was it that in 
the year 1884 tried to have an act passed in the territorial legislature to bond each 
county in the territory to the amount of $300,000 to run a railroad tunnel through the 
Seminoe mountains? It was one of the Sweetwater land grabbers." 

Averell had homesteaded at the foot of the hills along the Sweet- 
water upon land that he mentioned in his communication as being 
claimed by these "three or four men," and the Watson woman put up 
her shack and fenced in a pasture not much more than a mile distant 
from Averell, and the two places were the incentive for many a 
hideous carousal and disregard for decency, where unlawful con- 
tracts were entered into for mavericks that were to be turned into the 
"Cattle Kate" pasture where her brand could be put on them. They 
were so open in their dealings that the cattle owners in the neighbor- 
hood decided that drastic measures must be adopted, and the man 
and woman must be dealt with severely, and the sentence of death 
was accordingly carried out with dispatch. 

The first news of the hanging to reach Casper was on Sunday 
morning, July 21 , at about eleven o'clock, nearly a whole day after the 
tragedy occurred, when E. J. Healy rode hurriedly into the village 
on horseback and told the authorities that Averell and the Watson 
woman had been taken by a mob and hanged side by side to a tree 
near Averell's ranch. The people of Casper were aware that trouble 
had been brewing in that neighborhood for a considerable length of 
time, and Phil Watson, the deputy sheriff, whose headquarters were 
in Casper, immediately started out with a posse of men to make an 
investigation. Upon arriving at the Averell ranch the deputy sheriff 
and his men ascertained that the facts were as represented by Healy, 
and the bodies had not yet been taken down. 

The deputy sheriff and several men were guided from the Averell 
ranch by Frank Buchanan about five miles up the Sweetwater river, 
and turning to the south, following up the gulch leading into the rocks, 
in the darkness of the night, they found the bodies hanging close 
together, each at the end of a rope, which had been thrown over the 
limb of a scrub pine tree. The authorities cut the ropes and let down 



TRAGEDIES OF NATRONA COUNTY 267 

the bodies and carried them to the Averell ranch where an inquest was 
held by Esquire Emery, Dr. Joe Benson, Tom Denson, Jess Lock- 
wood, E. J. Healy, Jud Brazil and Frank Denson. 

From the evidence given by Frank Buchanan, Ralph Cole, 
'Gene Crowder, and John DeCory, the coroner's jury returned a 
verdict that "the deceased man and woman, James Averell and Ella 
Watson, came to their deaths by being hanged by the neck at the 
hands of A. J. Bothwell, Tom Sun, John Durbin, R. M. Galbraith, 
Bob Connor, E. McLain and an unknown man. The unknown man 
is said to have been George B. Henderson, who was shot and killed 
about a year later, an account of which is published elsewhere in this 
volume. The next morning two graves were dug a short distance 
east from the Averell building and the bodies were buried by the 
deputy sheriff and the other men who were there at the time, and 
although the graves were quite shallow, it is said there was at least 
twelve inches of water in them when the bodies were interred, the 
water having seeped through from the river, which was about on a 
level with the burial spot. 

'Gene Crowder, a lad about fourteen years of age, who was at the 
Watson woman's cabin when the men drove up, gave his version of 
the taking away of the man and woman as follows: "I was at Ella's 
house trying to catch a pony when the men drove up. John Durbin 
took down the wire fence and drove the cattle out of the pasture, 
while McLain and Connor kept Ella from going to the house. After 
a while they told her to get into the wagon, and she asked them where 
they were going to take her. They told her to Rawlins. She said she 
wanted to go into the house to change her clothing, but the men would 
not permit her to do so, and they made her get into the wagon. 
Bothwell told her that he would rope and drag her if she did not get 
in. She got in and then we all started for Jim Averell's place. I tried 
to ride around the cattle and get ahead of them, but Bothwell took 
hold of my pony's bridle and made me stay with them. I then stayed 
with Durbin and helped him drive the cattle, while the others went 
ahead and met Jim, who was just inside his second gate, and who was 
just starting to go to Casper. They made him throw up his hands, 
and they told him they had a warrant for his arrest, and after they 
made him unhitch his team, they all came up where the cattle were 
and Jim asked Durbin where the warrant w^as. Durbin and Bothwell 
both threw their guns on Jim and told him that was warrant enough. 
They then made Jim get into the wagon and drove back a way and 
around on the north side of the rocks. John DeCory and I hurried 
down to Jim's house and told the folks there that they had taken 
Jim and Ella and were driving around the rocks with them. Frank 



268 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Buchanan got on a horse and followed them, and he was gone several 
hours. When he came back he told us they had hanged Jim and 
Ella." 

Frank Buchanan testified before the coroner's jury to the effect 
that "when the boy told him Jim and Ella were being taken away by 
the mob, he got his six-shooter and a horse and went around to the 
west end of the rocks and saw them going toward the river. They 
drove into the ford and followed up the bed of the stream for about 
two miles, once stopping a long time in the water and arguing loudly, 
but he could not understand what they said. After they came out of 
the river, on the south side, they went toward the mountains and 
pulled up a gulch leading into the timber and among the rocks." He, 
the witness, then said he "rode around on the south side of the rocky 
hills, tied his horse and crawled over close to where they were. Both- 
well had the rope around Jim's neck and had it tied to a limb. He 
told Jim to be game and jump off. McLain was trying to put a rope 
around Ella's neck, but she was dodging her head so that he did not 
succeed at the time. I opened fire on them, but do not know whether 
I hit anyone or not. They turned and began shooting at me. I 
unloaded my six-shooter twice, but finally had to run, for they were 
shooting at me with Winchesters. I ran to my horse and rode back 
to the ranch and told them that Jim and Ella had been hanged, and 
then I started for Casper. I got lost and pulled up at 'Tex's' ranch 
about 3 o'clock next morning. The hanging took place about twelve 
hours before." 

"Tex" is E. J. Healy, who brought the news to Casper, and 
whose homestead shack was not far from where the government 
bridge now crosses the Platte river, about twenty-five miles south- 
west from Casper. 

Buchanan further said: "Averell never owned any cattle and 
there were none in his pasture at the time of the trouble; the whole 
affair grew out of land troubles. Averell had contested the land that 
Connor was trying to hold and he had made Durbin some trouble on a 
final proof, and he had kept Bothwell from fencing in the whole of the 
Sweetwater valley. Ella Watson had a small bunch of cattle, nearly 
all of which were freshly branded, as she only recently got her brand 
recorded." 

Bob Connor, who, it is said, never denied that he was with the 
party that did the hanging, told some of his friends that when they 
started out to get Averell and the Watson woman, they had no 
intention of hanging them, but they did intend to scare them and 
force them to leave the country. After forcing them to get into the 
wagon they took them to the Sweetwater river and told them that 








Spring Crekk Canyon. Ihis is where Ella Watson and James Averell were taken to be 
hanged. "The way of the transgressor is hard," and the road to the place of 
execution was rougli. + indicates tree where they were hanged. Inset: Ella 
Watson's cabin, near Steamboat rock, in the Sweetwater country. 








The Tree Upon Which Eel \ Wxkson and James Averell were Hanged by 
Catilkmen, Jlly 20, 1889. 



TRAGEDIES OF NATRONA COUNTY 269 

they would drown them if they did not promise to go away. Instead 
of promising to leave the country the man and woman laughed at 
them, and told them there was not water enough in the stream to give 
them a decent bath. Some bitter words were passed by both sides, 
and then they came out of the stream and the victims were taken up 
into the gulch known as Spring canyon, among the timber and 
rocks, and ropes were thrown over the limb of a small tree and nooses 
were placed about the necks of the man and woman. They were once 
more told that if they would agree to leave the country they would 
be turned loose, but they again laughed at them and said that they 
did not dare to hang them, and then, it is said, Bothwell gave Averell a 
push and Henderson pushed the woman, and they both swung out 
between heaven and earth, and the two souls were sent into eternity. 
In contradiction of this, it was said at the time that Ella Watson, 
while struggling to keep the rope from being placed around her neck, 
begged the men in the name of God to spare her life, imploring them as 
they loved their mother and revered their sisters, not to send a help- 
less and erring woman thus unprepared before her Maker, but as no 
one was present except those who participated in the hanging and 
the victims, this statement cannot be verified. 

Ella Watson was wearing a pair of Indian moccasins at the time 
the men forced her to get into the wagon, and after she was hanged the 
moccasins dropped from her feet, but they were not picked up by the 
men who cut the ropes and let the bodies down. Two days after the 
hanging Mr. and Mrs. E. C. Jameson went to the scene of the tragedy 
for the purpose of securing some photographs, and they found the 
moccasins under the tree, and Mrs. Jameson still has them in her 
possession. Mrs. Jameson took a photograph of the scrub pine tree 
which served as a scaffold upon which the victims met their doom, 
and the accompanying half-tones were made from the original photo- 
graphs which were taken July 22, 1889. 

Six of the men accused of the crime were in time arrested by 
Sheriff Frank Hadsell of Rawlins and given a preliminary hearing, and 
each of them was placed under bond of ^5,000, which was furnished 
and the men were allowed to go their way until they might be sum- 
moned to the district court or before a grand jury. George B. 
Henderson's name was not among those on the warrant. 

A brother of Averell from Tacoma, Washington, came to Wyo- 
ming as soon as he heard of the tragedy. He was very quiet in his 
dealings, and succeeded in working up a very strong feeling against 
the men accused of committing the act, and for a number of weeks a 
subscription paper was circulated and a large fund was raised to 
carry on the prosecution. The county attorney was to be aided by 



270 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

some of the best criminal lawyers obtainable, and the feeling became 
so intense that no one in the Sweetwater country ventured from his 
premises without being well armed. 

Ella Watson's father came from his home near Lebanon, Kansas, 
and made his headquarters at Rock Springs, where he remained 
until after the case against the men was disposed of by the grand jury. 
Mr. Watson said that Ella was his oldest daughter, and she was 
twenty-eight years of age at the time of her death. 

The grand jury of Carbon county convened in Rawlins on Monday, 
October 14, 1889, with John Milliken, Alfred Crove, H. A. Andrews, 
James Candlish, John C. Dyer, W. B. Hughes, John Mahoney, W. 
L. Evans, Charles Hardin, F. M. Baker, I. C. Miller, J. H. Mulhson, 
C. W. Burdick, T. J. Dickinson, Harry Haines and George Mitchell 
as grand jurors. On Tuesday, the 15th, the case of the Territory of 
Wyoming vs. Albert J. Bothwell, Earnest McLain, Robert B. Con- 
nor, Tom Sun, Robert M. Galbraith and John Durbin came before 
the court, and in his charge to the men who were to decide whether 
or not a true bill should be returned against the accused. Judge Corn 
said: 

"It is not ordinarily necessary to charge a grand jury with reference to special 
crimes, but it has come to my ears and is the subject of much conversation in this 
community and has been widely published in the newspapers that certain persons are 
charged with the hanging of a certain man and woman by lynch law in this county, 
and it is evident that there is great feeling and excitement in the community in regard 
to it. In such matters you are pre-eminently the guardians of the safety of the people 
and the good order of society. You have sworn to present none through malice or ill, 
and to leave none unpresented through fear, favor or affection. It becomes you in 
connection with this matter to be especially regardful of this oath. Some of the ancients 
portrayed Justice as a goddess blindfolded. Her eyes were hood-winked, that she might 
not know even the persons upon whom she was called to pass judgment. In one hand 
she held the balances to weigh the evidence with impartiality, and in the other a sword 
with which to execute her decrees. This idea of 'Justice blind' should be your guide in 
this matter. Weigh the evidence with absolute impartiality and without regard to 
persons, and then strike, no matter where the blow may fall." 

The accused were represented by Attorneys Corlett, Lacey and 
Riner and J. R. Dixon, and the state was represented by David H. 
Craig, the prosecuting attorney for Carbon county, and he was as- 
sisted by D. A. Preston. A challenge of the array of the grand jury 
was made by the attorneys for the accused, but the challenge was 
denied by the court, and after due deliberation by the grand jury it 
reported as follows: 

"Territory of Wyoming vs. Albert J. Bothwell, Earnest McLain, 
Robert B. Connor, Tom Sun, Robert M. Galbraith and John Durbin. 
Not a true bill." The records then follow: "The grand jury at the 
present term of this court, having failed to find a true bill of indict- 
ment against the above-named defendants, or either of them, it is 



TRAGEDIES OF NATRONA COUNTY 27 1 

ordered by the court that the above-named defendants and each of 
them, and their bonds be discharged. Samuel T. Corn, Judge." 

It was claimed by the friends of Averell and Ella Watson that no 
bills were returned because of the lack of witnesses; that Buchanan, 
the material witness for the prosecution, who was under a five- 
hundred-dollar bond to appear, was "induced" to leave the country. 
He came to Casper in September and slept in a livery stable for two 
nights, then mysteriously disappeared and has never again been seen 
by anyone here. His bonds were forfeited and suit ordered against 
his bondsmen to recover the amount. John DeCory and Ralph Cole 
also mysteriously disappeared, and 'Gene Crowder, the fourteen- 
year-old boy, died of Bright's disease, before the case came to a hear- 
ing, and thus the case ended, until each individual should be taken 
and tried before that Higher Court, where no guilty man escapes. 

The story is told that Ralph Cole left the Averell ranch the night 
after the hanging, and he was followed by George B. Henderson. 
Cole reached a surveyor's camp late at night and remained there until 
morning. The next day, while trying to make his way to a station on 
the Union Pacific railroad, he was overtaken by Henderson, who shot 
him, and the body of the victim was burned to ashes. Whether or 
not this is true can not be verified, but the fact remains that Cole 
has not since been seen, although every effort was made by friends to 
find him. 

Regarding the disappearance of Cole, Dr. Mercer in his "Ban- 
ditti of the Plains," written in 1894, says that "he was hunted like a 
wild beast, and the supposition is that he sleeps beneath the sod in 
some lonely mountain gorge, where naught but the yelp of the passing 
wolf disturbs the solemnity of his last resting place. Or, perchance, 
this same howling beast picked the bones and left them to bleach on 
the barren hillside." 

On January 21, 1891, the lands filed upon by Ella Watson and 
James Averell were contested by Henry H. Wilson. The Averell 
homestead was filed upon February 24, 1886, in the Cheyenne land 
oflice, and was described as follows: West half of the northwest 
quarter, section 26, and north half northeast quarter, section 27, 
township 80, range 85 west. The Ella Watson homestead was filed 
upon March 24, 1888, the description of her land being the west half, 
southwest quarter, section 23, and south half, southeast quarter, sec- 
tion 22, township 30, range 85 west. The contestee stated that Averell 
and Watson "died in July, 1889, without legitimate issue of their 
bodies, being each a single person, and that the improvements on the 
said lands had been sold by the administrators of the estates of the 
said persons, and since their death the said premises have been 



272 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

entirely abandoned." At the same time that the contest notices were 
being pubHshed, there appeared in the dehnquent tax Hst at the 
county treasurer's office of Carbon county the information that the 
Averell estate, with G. W. Durant of RawHns as administrator, owed 
the county $12.44 for taxes, and that the Ella Watson estate was 
indebted to the county for taxes to the amount of $2.49. Wilson in 
due time filed on the land above described and after proving up he 
sold the tracts to A. J. Bothwell. 

The little shack owned by the woman, in which high carnival was 
held many a night by men crazy with drink, was moved by Bothwell 
from its original location, near Steamboat rock, to the bank of a small 
stream known as Horse creek, a couple of hundred yards east of the 
buildings on the Bothwell ranch, where it served the purpose of an 
ice house for thirty years after the tragedy, but in 1921 it was torn 
down. 

The Averell buildings have long since been torn down and moved 
away. The two unmarked graves cannot be found, and even the 
trees among the crags where the tragedy was enacted have nearly all 
disappeared, and only the rugged rocks remain unchanged by time. 

Today, a little more than thirty-three years from the time of the 
tragedy, four of the men who are said to have participated in this 
hanging, have been called hence, "where the wicked cease from 
troubling and the weary shall find rest." Whether or not they were 
justified in their acts they have already answered before the spirits of 
the two poor creatures they sent before them, and judgment has long 
since been pronounced upon them by the Judge on High. At this 
time, 1923, three are still living: A. J. Bothwell retired from the stock- 
raising business in 191 5 and moved to Los Angeles, California, where 
he has since made his home; R. B. Connor went back to his old east- 
ern home at Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, shortly after the tragedy, 
but returned to Central Wyoming several times on visits; R. M. Gal- 
braith went to Little Rock, Arkansas, and engaged in the banking 
business, became wealthy and retired. He has visited this part of 
the country several times in recent years. Earnest McLain, who, with 
several of the others, claimed to be an unwilling member of the party, 
left the country a few years after the unfortunate affair and has not 
since been heard from and it is supposed that he is dead. 

Time has to some extent healed the bitter feeling that existed 
between the friends of the men who set themselves up as judge, jury, 
and executioner, and the friends of the two unfortunates who were 
sent out of this world and before their Maker without being given 
time or opportunity to ask forgiveness for the wrongs they had 
committed or to repent of their sins. 



THE KILLING OF HENDERSON 273 

The Killing of Henderson 

George B. Henderson, who is said to have been one of the partici- 
pants in the hanging of James Averell and Ella Watson in the Sweet- 
water country in July, 1889, and who was accused a few days later of 
shooting one of the principal witnesses and burning his body, was 
range manager for the 71 Cattle outfit, and from the day of the 
Sweetwater tragedy it seems that he was burdened with troubles of 
many kinds, which subsequently resulted in his being killed. His last 
quarrel was with a night herder named John Tregoning, who went by 
the name of Smith. 

Instead of looking after the stock as he was supposed to, Tregon- 
ing usually built a camp fire and slept beside it, while the herd of cattle 
was allowed to roam at will. For his neglectfulness Tregoning was 
discharged by Henderson. Tregoning went to Buffalo, in Johnson 
county, after he was discharged by Henderson, and a few days later 
Henderson went to Buffalo after delivering some cattle to Johnson 
county parties. Tregoning met Henderson and asked him for some 
money, which he alleged was due him for work. Henderson gave him 
a check for nine dollars and told him that was all that was due him, 
and he must consider himself discharged from the 71 Cattle company. 
Tregoning contended that more money was due him, and that he 
would consider himself in the employ of the company until he ar- 
rived at the ranch and was paid in full. After Henderson left town 
Tregoning became boisterous, using some very abusive and vile 
language, and said that he would get even with Henderson in some 
other way. Tregoning then went to a hardware store where he bought 
a .45 Colt's six-shooter. 

The next morning Tregoning left Buffalo, going to the Sheehan 
ranch, about two miles up the Sweetwater river from the 71 ranch. 
He turned the two 71 horses which he had borrowed, into Sheehan's 
pasture, and catching one of his own horses, he rode over to the 71 
ranch. Henderson had just arrived home. Tregoning had his .45 
Colt's in his holster, and Henderson ordered him to take it off, inform- 
ing him that it was against the rules to carry a gun while on the 
ranch. Tregoning refused to take off his gun. Henderson then went 
into the ranch house and Tregoning went to the bunk house. Mrs. 
Henderson kept a close watch on Tregoning, and she called to her 
husband that Tregoning was going to shoot at him. Henderson im- 
mediately went out of the ranch house with a Winchester rifle and 
forced Tregoning to take off his six-shooter, after which the matter of 
wages that were due Tregoning was satisfactorily settled, and Tregon- 
ing was told to leave the ranch and return the two horses belonging 



274 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

to the 71 outfit, which Craig, the foreman, had loaned him, and 
Tregoning agreed to return the horses. 

Henderson then told Tregoning that he had been told of the 
threats made against him and said: "This is very serious, and if I 
hear of you making any further threats against me, the next time we 
meet, you must come a-shooting." 

Tregoning then left the ranch, and three days had lapsed without 
the borrowed horses being returned, when Henderson, accompanied 
by Pete Stickles, a man employed on the 71 ranch, went over to the 
Sheehan ranch. Arriving at the ranch, Henderson dismounted from his 
horse at the horse corrals, and some cowboys told him that Tregoning 
was in the cabin. Henderson started for the cabin, leading his horse 
by the bridle reins, and Stickles rode behind him on his horse. Hen- 
derson had his six-shooter strapped upon him, but Stickles was 
unarmed. When Henderson was within about forty feet of the cabin 
door Tregoning came out with a Winchester rifle and advanced to the 
path and a man named Berry also came out of the cabin, and he was 
also armed with a Winchester. Tregoning ordered Henderson to stop 
and take off his gun, but Henderson continued to go forward, his 
head being bowed down to avoid the wind, which was blowing at a 
terrific gale. Tregoning again called out : " Stop ! Mr. Henderson ! Mr. 
Henderson, stop and take off your gun." Henderson then stopped, 
looked up from the ground, and pointing his finger at Tregoning, 
said : " Smith, put down that gun," and Stickles called out to the men, 
saying: "Two of you have guns; one of us is unarmed. If there is any 
trouble between you put down your guns and talk it over like men." 

Tregoning looked back over his shoulder at Berry, and then level- 
ing his rifle at Henderson, he pulled the trigger, and Henderson fell to 
the ground, exclaiming, "My God, I am shot," and he died almost 
immediately. 

The jury who tried the case in Lander, the murder having been 
committed in Fremont county, deliberated for twenty-seven hours 
before returning a verdict, eleven of the jurymen favoring murder in 
the first degree for both Tregoning and Berry, but a compromise was 
reached on murder in the second degree for Tregoning and manslaugh- 
ter for Berry. 

Prosecuting Attorney Vidal of Fremont county was assisted by 
Attorneys A. C. Campbell and W. C. Stoll of Cheyenne, who were 
employed by the 71 outfit, and the defendants were represented by 
Attorney Look of Greeley, Colorado, D. A. Preston and E. H. Fort 
of Lander. 

Tregoning was sentenced to life imprisonment in the state 
penitentiary and Berry received a sentence of twenty-five years. 



A DANCE HALL MURDER 275 

Tregoning made his escape from the penitentiary after serving a Httle 
more than two years, and at that time it was intimated that the 
warden's daughter assisted in his escape. The prisoner is known to 
have come back to the same part of the state where he committed his 
crime, and the cattle rustlers protected him and assisted him in getting 
out of the country, and he has never been captured. 

Governor John E. Osborne pardoned Berry after having served 
seven years, and the pardon met with no objection because he did not 
shoot at Henderson, made no threats and it is said would not have 
been convicted if he had had a separate trial from Tregoning. 

Henderson had been shot at several times and had had numerous 
quarrels between the time of the hanging of Averell and Ella Watson 
and the day he met his tragic death. Two weeks after the hanging 
of the man and woman, an attempt was made on Henderson's 
life, which was described by the Carbon County Journal as follows: 
"About 9 o'clock Wednesday morning as George B. Henderson, 
manager of the 71 Cattle company, whose home ranch is near the 
Three Crossings on the Sweetwater, was leisurely driving along the 
road about a mile this side of Bell Springs, he was fired at by a con- 
cealed assassin, the bullet striking his off horse in the left hip, lodging 
near the hip joint. Upon being hit with the bullet the horse pitched 
and started to run. It took Mr. Henderson several minutes to get his 
team quieted, by which time nothing was in sight to show from 
whence the shot came. From the direction of where the shot came 
and the position of Mr. Henderson in the buggy, the bullet must 
have passed very close to his body." 

George B. Henderson's correct name is said to have been John 
Powers. He came to Wyoming from the coal camps of Pennsylvania, 
where, it is said, he was mixed up in the killing of a man while acting 
as a "coal and iron police." He was the first of the seven men who 
were named in the unfortunate Averell-Watson affair to meet his 
death, and it being of so tragic a nature, many people deemed it a 
well-merited and salutary act of retributive justice, which was not 
long in its coming. 

A Dance Hall Murder 

The first murder that was committed in Casper occurred on 
Saturday night, September 20, 1890, at about eleven o'clock, in the 
dance house conducted by the notorious Lou Polk, at which time and 
place John Conway shot and killed A. J. Tidwell, better known as 
"Red Jack," a cowboy in the employ of the FL Cattle company. A 
number of cowboys were in town that evening and, as was their 



276 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

custom when in town, visited the dance house for a lark, "Red Jack" 
being among the crowd. 

H. J. Summers, Jr., who was better known as "Sonny," a vioHn- 
ist, was chief musician at the hall that evening, and about the hour 
mentioned, when the boys had begun to feel the effects of their 
numerous drinks, Jimmie Hines, one of the cowboys, approached 
"Sonny," with whom he was acquainted, and saluted him familiarly. 
"Sonny" was not feeling well and failed to respond, whereupon 
Hines became indignant and attempted to quarrel with him. The 
matter was finally peacefully settled, but a little later Hines con- 
ceived the idea of renewing the quarrel, and solicited the assistance 
of "Red Jack." As soon as the quarrel was renewed, Conway, who 
was acting as barkeeper, interfered and he and "Red Jack" ex- 
changed a few blows. But Conway suddenly broke away, and running 
back of the bar, got a six-shooter and began flourishing it. None of 
the cowboys were armed, having deposited their six-shooters with 
friends, to prevent the possibility of bloodshed, as was their habit 
before starting in on a spree. Conway continued to flourish his 
gun, and there was a general stampede. Nearly everyone ran out 
of the north door, including "Sonny," who ran against a limb of 
a pine tree standing in front of the door, and his left eye was 
gouged out. 

"Red Jack" ran out of the east door, with Conway in close pur- 
suit. When he saw Conway coming out of the door with the gun he 
exclaimed, "I am going! I am going!" But Conway rushed up to 
him, struck him on the head with his six-shooter and knocked him 
down, after which he deliberately shot him as he lay upon the 
ground. The ball from the six-shooter entered at the left side, 
above the hip, and passed through Tidwell's body, causing almost 
instant death. 

One of the female inmates of the establishment ran over to 
Center street after Constable Hugh Patton, and when she found the 
oflftcer she cried: "Oh, come, quick. They are fighting and shooting 
over at the dance hall." Mr. Patton immediately hurried over, and 
upon his entrance was greeted by Conway with the remark, "Well, I 
guess I am your prisoner. Here's my gun." The constable asked him 
what he had done, and he said: "I knocked a lame fellow down and 
shot at him. I expect I killed him." 

The ofl&cer then ordered Conway to accompany him, but when 
they reached the door the prisoner demurred and demanded his gun, 
expressing a fear that the cowboys would do him violence. The 
officer assured him he would be protected, and finally compelled him 
to go. He was taken over to one of the saloons and left under guard 



A DANCE HALL MURDER 277 

and Mr. Patton returned to the dance house to ascertain the ex- 
tent of Jack's injuries and found him in the building, where his friends 
had carried him, a corpse. Conway was immediately lodged in jail 
and guarded until morning, when the inquest was held. The verdict 
of the jury was that Tidwell came to his death by a shot fired 
from a pistol in the hands of John Conway, without just cause or 
provocation. 

Conway was immediately returned to the town jail, and a close 
guard was put over him. The cowboys were justly indignant over the 
unprovoked murder of one of their number, and to their friends freely 
talked of lynching the murderer. All day Sunday the cowboys were 
on the go, and by evening every "puncher" within a radius of many 
miles was in town. The officers scented trouble, and then resorted to 
a ruse to elude the would-be lynchers. 

Accordingly, in the afternoon, the sheriff made a confidant of 
Conductor Hines and secured a key to a passenger coach, standing 
near the engine house on the railroad track. He then postponed the 
burial of Tidwell's remains until almost dusk, so that the cowboys, 
who intended to follow the corpse to the grave, would be detained 
until after dark. The body was buried in the cemetery about a mile 
east of town. (All the bodies buried there have since been removed 
to the Highland cemetery.) Rev. Macomber of the Congregational 
church conducted the burial service by moonlight, and the cowboys 
and citizens stood about the grave with bared heads, while no sound 
was to be heard but the minister's solemn voice and the champing of 
bits by the cowboys' ponies. The lid of the coffin was raised, and it 
was an aff"ecting scene to see the band of cowboys, many of them in 
their rough clothes just as they had come off-duty, and with belts and 
six-shooters on, take a last sad farewell of the remains of the comrade 
whom they had all known and esteemed so highly. Tears were in the 
eyes of many, and all were deeply aff"ected, while no doubt some of 
them then and there vowed to be avenged. 

But while this was going on and the cowboys were out of town, 
the officers were not idle. SheriflF Jaycox went to the funeral, well 
knowing that the boys would mistrust nothing if he accompanied 
them. However, the officers in town were posted as to the part they 
were to perform, and the cowboys were no sooner out of town and 
darkness settled down, than the prisoner was hurried from the jail 
to the passenger car, where he was guarded during the night. 

The cowboys came in town after the funeral, but contrary to 
their custom they did not remove their six-shooters, wearing them 
throughout the night. A committee soon reported that the prisoner 
had flown, or at least was not in the jail, and after fruitless efforts to 



278 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

ascertain his whereabouts the boys at about the dawn of day, left 
town. 

The people who were not aware of the prisoner being removed 
from the jail, when they arose the following morning, expected that 
Conway had been lynched. However, when the hour set for the 
preliminary hearing had arrived the prisoner was produced. He 
waived examination, and was hustled from the court room to the 
train and taken to Douglas, where he was lodged in the Converse 
county jail. 

Regarding the tragedy, the Wyoming Derrick, which was being 
published by W. S. Kimball at that time, said: "Ever since her esca- 
pade last spring, wherein Lou Polk was forcibly abducted by 'Dogae' 
Lee, a reckless adventurer with whom she had been cohabiting and 
who had become jealous of her, and who cut off her nose upon being 
compelled to abandon her owing to the close pursuit of officers, she 
had imagined herself a heroine, or ' badman,' as it were. She assumed 
entire control of the dance house which she and Dogae had formerly 
owned in partnership, and set herself up as 'Queen of the Demi- 
monde.' Her word was law in the establishment, and she delighted 
to show her authority. She breeds more discontent and trouble than 
any other dozen characters in the town, and when she finally obtained 
the services of John Conway, it is said she boasted that she had a 
man killer, and would like to see the person who dared to kick up a 
row in her house. On the afternoon of the killing she purchased the 
weapon with which the murder was committed, and it is probable 
that Conway had been encouraged to use it in case a row should 
occur. 

"Human life must be protected, at any cost. Jack Tidwell was 
killed out of pure cussedness, by a man of whom it had been boasted 
that he was a man killer, and who evidently wanted to show his mis- 
tress, the dance house queen, that she had not overestimated him. If 
we must have a dance house, let it pass into the hands of some one 
who will at least keep an orderly place. There was never, perhaps, a 
more excuseless murder than that committed Saturday night, and 
Conway should stretch hemp." 

An attempt was made to burn the dance house Wednesday night, 
September 24, at about 9 o'clock. During the absence of the inmates 
kerosene had been poured over the front door and floor, and a lighted 
match applied to it. One of the men connected with the house dis- 
covered the fire just as the oil had been burned off and the wood was 
beginning to blaze, and he extinguished it, but it was freely pre- 
dicted and generally believed by the citizens that the house would be 
burned within a month. 



HODGE KILLS WARREN 279 

Conway was held in the Converse county jail at Douglas for 
just one year, waiting trial in the district court to be held in Natrona 
county. On September 10, 1891, he was brought to Casper, where 
court was in session, with Judge Blake on the bench. F. H. Harvey of 
Douglas and Walter Stoll and A. C. Campbell of Cheyenne appeared 
as attorneys for the defendant, and Alex T. Butler, the prosecuting 
attorney for Natrona county at that time, and Judge Davidson were 
the prosecutors. The trial consumed three days, and after the state's 
evidence was adduced the attorneys for the defense held an all-night 
consultation, and the next morning at the convening of court Mr. 
Campbell made the announcement that his client desired to with- 
drew his plea of not guilty of wilful murder, but desired to enter a plea 
of murder in the second degree. The plea was accepted by the state, 
and the prisoner was sentenced to serve a term of twenty-five years 
in the penitentiary. He served four or five years and was pardoned by 
the governor. Conway went to Colorado after being released from 
the Wyoming penitentiary, and it was not long until he was in trouble 
again of a similar nature. At his trial he was convicted and was 
sentenced to serve a term of fifteen years in the penitentiary at Can- 
yon City. His sentence was commuted to eight years, and after 
gaining his liberty he went to Denver where he adopted the pro- 
fession of petty thief and hold-up, for which he was arrested, tried 
and convicted and sentenced to serve fourteen years in the peni- 
tentiary. 

Hodge Kills Warren 

William Hodge, town marshal, in the performance of his duty, 
shot and killed William Warren, a cowboy in the employ of the CY, 
on Sunday morning May 10, 1891. Warren, with a number of other 
cowboys, rode into town from the CY ranch and patronized the sa- 
loons so liberally that it was not long until Warren became thoroughly 
drunk, and while in this condition he marched up and down the 
street declaring in a boisterous manner that he was a fighter, and that 
he was anxious to demonstrate his ability. Citizens objected to the 
language being used by the man, and they urged the town marshal 
to do his duty and preserve the peace. The marshal told Warren to 
go inside one of the saloons, and if he appeared on the street again 
in his drunken condition he would take him to jail. Warren went into 
a saloon but in a short time came out, mounted his horse and com- 
menced to whip and spur the animal. The horse commenced to buck 
and came near going into the Windslow store. The marshal ran 
across the street, calling twice for Warren to stop, but he did not stop. 
The marshal then fired and Warren started his horse down the street. 



28o HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

The marshal fired again, and the cowboy reeled and fell dead from his 
horse. 

Sentiment was about evenly divided as to whether the marshal 
was justified in the shooting, some of the citizens declaring that the 
officer should be upheld as a lesson to others who might want to 
march up and down the street swearing and cursing, and then en- 
danger the lives of innocent people by making a horse buck on the 
main thoroughfare, while others declared that the action of the 
marshal was hasty, rash and not justifiable and that he exceeded his 
authority. Some of the cowboys and friends of Warren were inclined 
to avenge the death of their comrade, but they were advised not to 
make a bad matter worse, and they concluded to allow the law to take 
its course. Hodge was arrested and held to the district court for 
trial, and the case came up on Friday, September 4, 1891, immediately 
following the Conway trial. Alex T. Butler was attorney for the 
state and C. C. Wright was for the defendant. The trial was long and 
drawn out, requiring several days before it went to the jury, and then 
the jury deliberated forty-seven hours and was discharged without 
being able to reach a verdict, but it was said at one time the ballot 
stood eleven for conviction to one for acquittal. The case was con- 
tinued until the next term of court and the defendant's bond was 
placed at $3,000, and at the second trial the defendant was acquitted. 

Boy Shoots and Kills Ranch Foreman 

On Monday, September 21, 1891, at the V — V ranch, DeitlefF 
Kramhoft, aged 35, was shot by Virgil Turner, aged 14. The man and 
boy were in the cow corral doing the evening chores when the man 
threatened to whip the boy, and called him some vile names. Turner 
left the corral in haste and went to the bunk house where he waited 
with a .22 target gun for Kramhoft to come along. The boy de- 
manded that Kramhoft retract the vile names he had called him. 
With an oath on his lips the man jumped forward and grabbed the 
muzzle of the gun, and during the struggle the boy pulled the trigger 
and the bullet entered the man's left side. The injured man was 
brought to Casper and placed under the care of a physician. The day 
following the shooting Kramhoft made an ante mortem statement, 
giving the facts as above stated and requested that the boy be not 
punished. The boy was arrested, however, and taken to Douglas, 
where he was placed in jail to await the result of the wounds inflicted 
by the shooting. On October 14 it appeared as though Kramhoft was 
going to recover, and the boy was brought up from Douglas and his 
trial was had before Justice G. E. Butler. G. B. McCalmont appeared 



DUNBAR MURDER CASE 281 

for the defendant and the prosecuting attorney asked permission to 
change the information from felony to assault and battery. Per- 
mission being granted to change the information, the boy pleaded 
guilty to the charge, and he was sentenced to three months in the 
county jail, and he was accordingly taken to Douglas where he 
served out the sentence of the court. Kramhoft lingered along until 
the first of November when he died early in the morning, and his 
remains were buried in the evening of the same day. Kramhoft 
conveyed all his property to the county for the payment of medi- 
cal attendance and burial expenses. Nothing more was done with 
Turner, and he made his home in Casper until about 1900, during 
which time he was a good citizen. 

Dunbar Murder Case 

On Tuesday night, April 12, 1892, about nine o'clock Lewis 
Adams, a colored man, and several others were playing poker in 
Carter & Brenham's saloon. Wm. Dunbar was running the game and 
Jeff, his brother, was sitting near the table looking on. Adams, known 
as "Juaquin," after losing his money, tore up the cards and the 
dealer protested. Hot words followed and a fight seemed imminent, 
but they were parted by Jeff, and the dealer had taken his seat 
again when Adams commenced cursing and calling him vile names. 
Jeff then hit Adams, knocking him against the door, then pulled a 
gun and struck the negro over the head. "Pecos" Hughes here 
interfered, grabbing the gun, and Adams grabbed it about the same 
time. A scuffle then ensued. After scuffling a few minutes Adams 
let go of the gun and grabbed a billiard cue. Dunbar then said to 
"Pecos": "Turn me loose," which he did. Dunbar then told Adams 
to stop. "Don't you take another step," he said, pointing the gun 
at the colored man. Adams said: "Shoot away, it's fine music to my 
ears," and kept coming toward Dunbar with the billiard cue. Dun- 
bar fired three shots in the wall and one in the floor but Adams 
kept on coming, and then Dunbar shot Adams and killed him. 

After the shooting Dunbar coolly reloaded his revolver and 
walked out of the saloon the back way, going to the stable where he 
and his brother stood talking, when the sheriff and his deputy came 
up. Dunbar said: "Who are you?" Sheriff Rice replied: "It is me, 
and I want you." Dunbar answered: "All right, I intended to give 
myself up. 

A preliminary trial was held and Dunbar was held to the dis- 
trict court for trial, without bail, and he was taken to Douglas 
and remained in jail to await trial. At the trial in the district court 



282 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Dunbar was acquitted, the jury finding that he shot the negro in 
self-defense. 

The Dunbars left Casper after the trial, going to Dixon, Carbon 
county, then a new town on the Union Pacific railroad. In 1895 the 
brothers got into a fight with a man named Jim Davis. JefF Dunbar 
shot Davis' right thumb off and knocked the gun out of his antag- 
onist's hand. Davis picked up the gun with his left hand and shot 
JefF and killed him. Wm. Dunbar then went from Dixon to Montana 
and that is the last that has been heard of him. 



Hurt Kills Milne 

At about 9 o'clock on Wednesday evening, April 3, 1895, Joel J. 
Hurt, state senator from Natrona county and then mayor of the 
town of Casper, shot and killed William Milne, a sheepowner who 
had been in business with Hurt. The shooting occurred on Center 
street, in front of the Senate saloon, and the evidence showed that 
Hurt was prepared for the tragedy and that the shooting of Milne 
was undoubtedly premeditated, for he w^alked up behind the man, 
touched him on the shoulder and said: "Turn your face around." 
Milne turned, and the men were separated nine feet apart when 
Hurt fired the first shot, striking Milne in the left arm; Hurt fired a 
second shot and the ball pierced Milne's heart. At about the same 
time Hurt fired the second shot Milne had drawn his gun from the 
inside of his coat, and he fired, but Hurt was not hit. Milne then ran 
into the Senate saloon and fell upon the floor with the exclamation: 
" My God, I'm shot," and immediately expired. The shooting was the 
outcome of a scandal in which Mrs. Hurt and Milne were the prin- 
cipals. Hurt had left his home six months previous to the shooting on 
a plea of ill-health, and returned only about ten days before the 
tragedy. During the absence of Hurt, Milne made his home at the 
mayor's residence and stabled his horses in Hurt's barn when he came 
to town from the range. Hurt sent the man word to keep away from 
his home, but no heed was paid to the warning, but threats were 
made to the eflPect that Hurt himself would be punished whenever 
the two men met. 

After the shooting Hurt was taken to the county jail and on 
Saturday the preliminary trial was commenced before Justice of the 
Peace Wm. Ford. Chester B. Bradley and E. D. Norton appeared 
for the defense and George Walker and Alex T. Butler were attorneys 
for the state. The preliminary trial was concluded on Tuesday, and 
after all the evidence was adduced and the argument of the attorneys 
completed, the defendant was held to the district court for trial on 



ROBERT GORDON KILLED ON THE RANGE 283 

the charge of manslaughter, and the bond was fixed at five thousand 
dollars, which was furnished and the prisoner was given his liberty. 

The trial was had in the district court held in Casper in May, 
1895, and Judge Hayford gave instructions to the jury as follows: 

"The court instructs the jury that if the jury believes from the 
evidence that at the time the said defendant is alleged to have shot 
the deceased, the circumstances surrounding the defendant were such 
as in sound reason would justify, or induce in his mind, an honest 
belief that he was in danger of receiving, from the deceased, some 
great bodily harm, and that the defendant, in doing what he did, 
was acting from the instinct of self-preservation, then he is not 
guilty. 

"The court charges you that no wrong which the defendant may 
have suffered at the hands of William Milne constitutes any lawful 
pretext for his taking vengeance into his own hands, and slaying the 
man who has wronged him. 

"The court charges you that no matter what wrongs the de- 
fendant may have suffered at the hands of William Milne he was 
thereby not justified in becoming his slayer; but if you believe from the 
evidence that as a result of these wrongs and of brooding over them 
this defendant was wrought up into a condition of frenzy and emo- 
tional insanity which rendered him irresponsible for his acts, the 
defendant is entitled to a verdict of acquittal at your hands." 

The jury retired and in five minutes returned a verdict of not 
guilty, on the grounds of "emotional insanity, which rendered him 
irresponsible for his acts." Mr. Hurt's mind soon was "restored," 
however, and after several years he moved to South Omaha. The 
family soon divided and scattered to different parts of the country. 

Robert Gordon Killed on the Range 

On Sunday morning, May 30, 1897, at about 7:30 o'clock Robert 
Gordon, a man about twenty-seven years of age, was shot and killed at 
Kenneth McRae's sheep camp on Fales creek, about sixty miles 
southwest from Casper. The body was brought to Casper by Mc- 
Rae on the Wednesday following the tragedy, and he reported that 
the man came into the sheep wagon where he, McRae, was lying in 
bed, and only a minute or so after Gordon had come in he heard the 
report of a gun, which was lying on the foot of the bed, and he felt 
the force of the explosion. Gordon jumped out of the wagon and cried 
"I am shot! I am shot!" A sheep herder named Peter Keith was 
sleeping in a camp bed under the wagon when the shooting occurred, 
and he sent word to Casper that McRae's statement was not true 



284 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

and that a thorough investigation of the tragedy should be made. A 
coroner's jury was appointed and McRae was placed under arrest. 
After an investigation, the coroner's jury returned a verdict to the 
effect that the deceased came to his death from a gunshot wound from 
a gun in the hands of Kenneth McRae. A preliminary trial was had 
and the evidence was sufficient to warrant the defendant being held 
to the district court for trial upon the charge of murder. The trial 
in the district court was had at the November term of court. E. D. 
Norton was the prosecuting attorney, and he was assisted by M. C. 
Brown of Laramie. Chester B. Bradley appeared for the defendant. 
The trial was commenced January 14, 1898, but the jury failed to 
bring in a verdict, the ballot standing eight for acquittal, and four for 
murder in the second degree. The defendant was then released upon 
a bond of thirty thousand dollars. A second trial was immediately 
called, and on Friday morning, February 22, 1898, a verdict was 
returned finding the defendant guilty of murder in the first degree. 
A motion for a new trial was made and Judge Bramel set March 11 
as the date for the hearing of the argument. On March ii a post- 
ponement was taken until April 5. On that date Attorneys Norton 
and Brown were ordered to present proof of the charges against the 
court of bribery and corruption which they had made or show cause 
why they should not be in contempt of court. The attorneys apol- 
ogized and said they were mistaken, and the court accepted the 
apology but reprimanded them. 

The hearing of the motion for a new trial occupied two days, and 
on the 7th of April a new trial was granted, and the matter of the 
bribery and corruption charges against the court, and the attorneys 
being in contempt of court were dismissed. The defendant was 
taken to Carbon county and there placed in charge of the sheriff of 
that county, but the sheriff of Carbon county at first refused to accept 
the prisoner on the ground that Natrona county was insolvent and 
Carbon would not be reimbursed for the prisoner's keep, but after 
being guaranteed that Natrona county was not bankrupt, and that 
all indebtedness would be liquidated, the officials of Carbon county 
accepted the charge. The trial was commenced in Rawlins on May 2, 
and on June 2, a verdict of not guilty was returned, and the defendant 
was discharged without prejudice. The three trials cost Natrona 
county more than six thousand dollars and much bitter feeling 
ensued for a dozen years after the trial. At the trial in Rawlins 
the attorneys for the state were E. D. Norton of Casper, C. E. 
Blydenberg of Rawlins and M. C. Brown of Laramie. The de- 
fendant's attorneys were C. B. Bradley of Casper, J. W. Lacey of 
Cheyenne and F. Chatterton of Rawlins. 



DEE BLAIR MURDERED 285 

Dee Blair Murdered 

Dee Blair, a boy about ten years of age, was murdered on the 
Platte river bank about a mile west from Casper on or about the first 
of July, 1901, but the body was not found until July 17, and then it 
was in such a decayed and wasted condition that it could not be 
recognized except by the clothing and a gold ring which the boy 
wore on the middle finger of his right hand. A coroner's jury was 
impaneled and a verdict was returned to the effect that the lad had 
come to his death from causes unknown. The remains were interred 
in Highland cemetery, and the general public was of the opinion that 
the boy met his death by accident, but a brother of the lad who came 
to Casper from the Big Horn mountains, upon making an investiga- 
tion of the premises, found a number of human teeth, some hair and 
several blood spots; there were numerous tracks in the low lands which 
showed that the boy had been chased by other boys, and there was 
evidence of a struggle in a clump of brush near the river bank, and 
from the brush it was evident that the boy made his escape to a small 
knoll and it was there that the lad was shot in the back with a shot 
gun, the tracks indicating that the person who did the shooting was 
about four feet from the boy. The murdered boy was wearing shoes, 
but the three boys who chased him and the one that evidently shot 
him were in their bare feet. 

After this discovery had been made the body of the boy was 
exhumed and as the body was raised from the grave to the earth's sur- 
face, shot fell from the skeleton and the wad from a shot gun shell was 
found in the cavity of the boy's heart. The body was again interred 
and a further investigation was made of the premises where the 
tragedy occurred. An empty shot gun shell was found about seventy- 
five yards from where the body was found, and the murdered boy's 
hat was found about ninety yards distant. A man's tracks were found 
leading directly to where the body lay on the knoll, and this man had 
evidently moved the body about four feet from where it first fell, 
but why it had been moved could not be conjectured. 

The governor of the state offered five hundred dollars reward 
for the apprehension of the murderers and the board of county com- 
missioners of Natrona county offered a like amount. 

Suspicion pointed to Charles, Roy and Archie Walker and 
Harry Guy as the guilty parties. These boys and the murdered boy 
had had trouble concerning some set lines in the river, and the man's 
tracks leading to the body of the murdered boy were thought to be 
the tracks of the Walker boys' father. The four boys were placed 
under arrest upon the charge of carrying a gun without a license. 



286 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

An old single-barrel shot gun was found in the Walker residence, and 
loaded shells were found in which there was the same size shot as 
were found in the murdered boy's body, and the shells were of the 
same kind as the empty shell found on the ground where the murder 
was committed. 

Every effort was made to get a confession from the boys who 
were placed under arrest, but they all maintained that they knew 
nothing about the tragedy, and they were discharged without a 
trial. 

The Walker family and the Guy family soon left Casper and none 
of them has ever returned. The murdered boy's mother also left the 
town shortly afterwards, and Amos Blair, the brother of the murdered 
boy, went away with a vow that he would avenge his brother's death, 
but whether he has vet fulfilled his vow no one here has ever heard. 



Vigilance Committee Hangs Woodard 

Vigilance committees and "lynch law" are terms of similar and 
familiar meaning in the American vocabulary. But this summary 
method of dealing with offenders who would otherwise go "unwhipped 
of justice," sometimes is excusable and a public necessity. Such was 
the condition in Natrona county when, goaded and outraged beyond 
endurance, well-disposed citizens determined to become a law unto 
themselves and to administer that law in the interest of justice 
and self-protection with promptness and decision. Numerous cold- 
blooded murders had been committed in Natrona county and not 
once had the assassin been required to pay adequate punishment and 
in a number of cases they were turned scot-free. 

The first and only case where the extreme punishment was 
meted out by an organized body of men to a person with whom the 
law seemed too lenient occurred on Friday, March 28, 1902, forty 
minutes after midnight when twenty-four masked men went to the 
county jail, knocked on the door of the sheriff's office and told 
Sheriff Warren E. Tubbs they had a prisoner to be put in the jail 
and when the sheriff appeared at the door he was overpowered, bound 
and gagged and taken into one of the private rooms where two men 
stood guard over him. The keys to the jail were taken from him and 
Charles F. Woodard was taken from his cell and hanged to the 
gallows which had been built for his legal execution. Woodard had 
been given a trial in the district court, found guilty, and sentenced 
by Judge Charles W. Bramel to be hanged on the day the vigilance 
committee did its work, but the condemned man had been granted 
a stay of execution by the supreme court in order that it might 



VIGILANCE COMMITTEE HANGS WOODARD 287 

review the case to decide upon a new trial, application for which had 
been made by the condemned man's attorney. 

Woodard made no outcry or resistance when the masked men 
appeared at the door of his cell, but when he was being taken out he 
asked to be allowed to put on his clothes. He was told that he would 
require no clothmg, that he need not be afraid of freezing to death. 
A tight-fitting flannel shirt was all that covered his body and this was 
considerably shrunk from frequent laundering and left the nether 
man exposed to the biting blasts of the severe March weather. 
There were several inches of snow on the ground. 

The gallows was constructed on the north side of the jail and a 
stockade had been built around it. The condemned man had to 
walk about twenty yards in the snow from the door of the jail to the 
gallows. A rope was placed around the man's neck as soon as he was 
taken from his cell, and, surrounded by the men, he was thus led up 
to the death trap. The other end of the rope was thrown over the 
cross-bar and it was then the trembling and frightened man cried out: 

"Boys, let me kneel down and pray for you; I want to pray for 
all of you! 

"These are the last words to my blessed little wife: Tell my 
dear little wife that I loved her dearly. Won't you tell her that, boys ? 
I pray that you have the papers print this. O, God, forgive me for my 
sins. I pray for myself and I pray for Charley Ricker. I never had 
any grudge against him in God's world. 

"Don't choke me, boys. For God's sake, you are choking me. 
Don't choke me to death. O, God, have mercy on me. God have 
mercy on my soul and I pray for my blessed little wife. Don't choke 
me to death, boys! You are choking me. Please don't choke me. I 
did not shoot Charley Ricker on purpose. Lord, have mercy on me and 
my dear little wife." 

With the rope tightly drawn about his neck he was then lifted 
on the trap, but he gave a spring off from it before the lever could be 
pulled and in making the jump, he slipped and fell. He was then 
picked up by several of the men and thrown over the railing on the 
north side of the gallows. When the rope was drawn to full tension, 
there were a few fearful struggles and nervous twitches of the body 
dangling in the air, and two of the men caught hold of his feet and 
gave them several hard jerks. They then drew the body toward the 
north and letting loose the dangling and almost lifeless form of 
the wretched man, it swung back and struck the framework of the 
gallows. 

They then all stood back and watched the writhing form. A 
gurgling sound came forth, which was the most sickening noise human 



288 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

being ever heard. He was choking to death. Everybody was silent 
for a moment and the gurgHng sound kept getting fainter and 
fainter, until life was extinct. A card was pinned on the man's shirt 
which read as follows: 

" Process of law is a little slow, 

So this is the road you'll have to go. 

Murderers and thieves, Beware! 

PEOPLE'S VERDICT." 

The men then filed out of the stockade and scattered in all 
directions. It was just one hour from the time Woodard was taken 
from his cell until his lifeless body was cut down from the gallows and 
taken to the town hall. E. H. French, Steve Tobin and John Grieve 
were impaneled as a coroner's jury and they returned a verdict to the 
effect that Charles Francis Woodard met his death from strangulation 
by being hanged by the neck with a rope by a vigilance committee, 
the names of the men being unknown to them. 

Governor Fenimore Chatterton the next day wired Prosecuting 
Attorney Alex T. Butler to make every effort to ascertain the names 
of the men of the vigilance committee and vigorously prosecute them 
for "debauching the state's fair name." The prosecuting attorney 
could no doubt have easily discovered who most of the members 
of the vigilance committee were, but he, like most of the citizens, 
considered that the vigilance committee had done a good job and the 
matter of an investigation was overlooked entirely. 

Woodard was arrested during the month of November, 1901, 
on a charge of grand larceny. He was bound over to the district 
court for trial, and being unable to procure bondsmen, was incar- 
cerated in the county jail. On the night of December 30, he, with sev- 
eral other prisoners, escaped from the jail by sawing off one of the 
bars in the corridor window and crawling through. 

Sheriff W. C. Ricker and a number of deputies went to the 
Woodard ranch, near Garfield Peak, about seventy-five miles west 
from Casper, in search of the escaped prisoners, reaching there on the 
evening of January 2. The sheriff and his men put their horses in the 
stable and went to the house. Woodard arrived at the ranch shortly 
afterwards, and seeing the horses in the barn, he knew the officers 
were waiting for him. He went into the barn intending to take a 
horse belonging to one of the officers and ride away. Sheriff Ricker 
told his men he thought he heard a noise in the barn and that he 
would go down and investigate. When the sheriff was within ten feet 
of the barn door, Woodard fired at the officer, shooting him through 
the body, and while the sheriff was lying on the ground in a dying 



VIGILANCE COMMITTEE HANGS WOODARD 289 

condition, Woodard emerged from the barn and struck him in the face 
with his six-shooter, thus knocking the last spark of Hfe out of the 
already dying man. He then robbed the dead officer of forty-five 
dollars in money and took his six-shooter and a belt filled with 
cartridges. The deputies at the house by this time commenced 
shooting toward the barn and Woodard fired at them, preventing 
them from coming to the rescue of their fallen comrade. 

During the night, Woodard made his escape from the barn on 
one of the officers' horses. He traveled over the country for about ten 
days, sleeping in some abandoned cabin when he slept at all and his 
sustenance consisted of rabbits that he killed and half-cooked. A 
posse of more than one hundred men was organized to apprehend him, 
but he managed to elude them. A reward of $1,000 was oflFered by the 
county for his capture and cards giving a description of the criminal 
and announcing the reward were sent broadcast. 

He reached Arvada, a small station on the Burlington railroad 
In northern Wyoming, after about ten days and there abandoned his 
horse, and mounting a freight train went to Billings; from Billings 
he went to Laurel, Montana, where he met a man named Owens and 
went to the Owens ranch to work, giving his name as Bill Gad. Owens 
had read about Woodard's crime and recognized him, but promised 
to protect him. However, after writing to the authorities in Casper 
and being assured that he would receive the reward if he captured 
Woodard, he and a man named Berkhelmer set about to turn him over 
to the authorities. One day as the three men were eating their dinner, 
Berkhelmer got up from the table, pretending that he was sick. He 
went behind Woodard's chair, and at the same time Owens arose and 
pointing a gun at Woodard ordered him to surrender. Woodard 
started to get up and he was struck on the head with a gun by 
Berkhelmer and a terrible fight ensued. Woodard's head was cut 
open In three places, both eyes were blackened, and his face was 
bruised and cut In such a horrible manner that he could hardly be 
recognized by the people who knew him. He was taken to Billings 
and there placed in jail. The authorities of Natrona county were 
notified of the capture and Sheriff Tubbs and Deputy Sheriff James 
B. Grieve went to Billings and brought him to Casper. They arrived 
here at 11 o'clock on the night of January 29. There were over 300 
people at the depot, most of whom were bent on taking the prisoner 
from the sheriff and lynching him. About thirty men formed a V 
at the steps of the passenger coach when the officers and the criminal 
emerged and they surrounded the three men and escorted them to the 
county jail, but the large crowd followed the party to the jail deter- 
mined to lynch the murderer if they could get hold of him. 



290 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

District court was in session at the time, and Woodard was given 
a speedy trial. Judge Bramel appointed C. de Bennet and John M. 
Hench to defend the prisoner and Alex T. Butler prosecuted the case. 
The trial was held in the town hall which was then located on Center 
street directly opposite from where the Consolidated Royalty Oil 
company building now stands. The little room was filled to overflow- 
ing every day of the trial. After all the evidence was adduced and the 
attorneys made their arguments, the court gave his instructions. 
It did not take the jury long to return a verdict of "Guilty of murder 
in the first degree," and in pronouncing sentence upon the condemned 
man, Judge Bramel said: 

"To pronounce the dreadful sentence which is to cut a fellow mortal oflF from 
society, to deprive him of existence, and to send him to the bar of his creator, and his 
God, where his destiny must be fixed for eternity, is at all times, and under any cir- 
cumstances, most painful to the court. But to be compelled to consign to the gallows 
a man in the full prime of manhood presses upon my feelings with a weight which I can 
neither resist nor express. 

"If, in the discharge of this most painful duty which can ever devolve on any 
court, I should in portraying the horrid circumstances of this case, make use of strong 
language to express the enormity of your guilt, and the deep depravity which it 
indicates, I wish you to rest assured it is not with any intention of wounding the feel- 
ings of your relatives, nor for the purpose of adding one pang to your own afflictions 
which the righteous hand of an offended God is pressing so heavily upon you. But it 
will be for the purpose, if possible, of awakenmg you to a proper sense of your awful 
situation, and to prepare you to meet the certain and ignominious death which shortly 
awaits you. It is to endeavor, if possible, to soften your heart, and to produce a ref- 
ormation in your feelings; that, by contrition and repentance you may be able to 
shun a punishment infinitely more dreadful than any that can be inflicted by human 
laws — the eternal and irretrievable ruin of your guilty soul. 

" From the testimony which was given at the trial, there is no room to doubt the 
certainty of your guilt, and the aggravated circumstances of the bloody deed. The man 
you murdered was an officer of the law, and treated you kindly while you were in his 
custody. In following you up after your escape from jail, he was simply performing a 
duty imposed on him by law. On the evening when you perpetrated this crime, he 
was unconscious of the hatred for him which found lodgment in your heart, and walked 
towards the stable where you were lying in wait for him, he believed that his treatment 
of yourself as well as the other prisoners who escaped with you, insured him protection 
at your hands. Instead of this you waited his approach, concealed by the darkness 
of night, you prepared for the crime, and as he approached the stable door you de- 
liberately shot him down. Following this, and while he was in the throes of his death 
agony, you struck him with your six-shooter to finish him, as you yourself have ex- 
pressed it, and then you robbed his remains like a ghoul. While in your own statement 
upon the stand you have denied doing some of these things, the conclusion that you 
did do them is inseparable from the evidence. 

"The punishment of death has been pronounced against the crime of murder, 
not only by the laws of civilized nations, but also by the law which was written by the 
pen of inspiration under the dictation of the unerring wisdom of the Most High. And 
as God himself has prescribed the righteous penalty for this offense, so there is strong 
reason to believe that very few murders are committed which are not ultimately dis- 
covered, and the wicked perpetrators thereof brought to justice. 

" Wretched and deluded man; in vain you have attempted to escape the consequence 
of your act; in vain have you ridden through the winter storms to elude the vigilance 
of your pursuers; in vain have you attempted to impress upon the hearts of twelve 
good and true men who sat upon your trial, that you should have clemency. 



MURPHY MURDER CASE 29I 

"One can almost see the hand of God, in the weaving together of the remarkable 
chain of evidence, that makes your escape from the punishment that waits you im- 
possible. The sword of human justice trembles over you, and is about to fall upon your 
guilty head. You are about to take your final leave of this world and enter upon the 
untried retributions of a never-ending eternity. And I beg of you, do not delude your- 
self with the vain hope of pardon or executive clemency, which can never be realized. 
Your destiny for this world is fixed and your fate is inevitable. Let me, therefore, en- 
treat you, by every motive, temporal and eternal, to reflect upon your present situa- 
tion, and the certain death that surely awaits you. 

"There is but one who can pardon your offenses; your creator. Let me, therefore, 
entreat you to fly to him for that mercy and that pardon which you must not expect 
from mortals. 

"When you have returned to the solitude of your prison, where you will be per- 
mitted to remain for a few short weeks, let me entreat you by all that is still dear to you, 
in time, by all that is dreadful in the retributions of eternity, that you seriously reflect 
upon your present situation and upon the conduct of your past life. Bring to your 
mind the horror of that dreadful night, when the soul of the murdered sheriff was sent 
unprepared into the presence of his God, where you must shortly meet it as an accusing 
spirit against you. 

" Bring to your recollection the mortal struggles and dying groans of the man 
who had been kind to you and yours. Think of the situation of your wife, and your 
aged mother who nursed you in the lap of affection and watched over the tender 
years of your infancy. Then think of the widow and orphan children of the murdered 
sheriff, left alone as they are to battle the storm of life, by your hand, and when by such 
reflections as these your heart shall have become softened, let me again entreat you, 
before your bloodstained hands are raised in unavailing supplication before the judg- 
ment seat of Christ, that you fly for mercy to the arms of the Savior and endeavor to 
seize upon the salvation of the cross. 

"Listen, now, to the dreadful sentence of the law, and then farewell, forever, 
until the court and you, with all this assembled audience shall meet together in the 
land from whence no man returneth. 

" You, Charles Francis JVoodard, are to be taken from hence to the county jail of this 
county, and therein confined, under proper guard as provided by law, until the 28th day of 
March, IQ02, at which time, between the hours of g a. m. and 5 p. m. you are to be taken to 
an enclosure, specially prepared within the jail yard of said county, and that at said time 
and place you be hanged by your neck, until you are dead. 

"And may that God whose laws you have broken, and before whose tribunal you 
must then appear, have mercy on your soul." 



Murphy Murder Case 

At the head of Deep creek in the Big Horn mountains, on June 
14, 1902, at about 9:30 at night, at the sheep camp of E. S. Murphy, 
Fred Kassahn, twenty-three years of age, was shot and killed and 
Van Ferris, eighteen years old, was shot in the right arm by a posse 
of men composed of E. S. Murphy, Elmer Roe, W. F. Edgerton, J. B. 
Okie, William Griffin, Harry Martin, T. J. Hicks, and Fred Urine. 
Kassahn's head was shot off and it was necessary to amputate 
Ferris' arm at the shoulder. The two men had been working in 
Murphy's sheep camp and a quarrel resulted when the men were paid 
off. Kassahn and Ferris had caused considerable trouble and had 
made numerous threats against Murphy and his men. On the day 
they left Murphy's employ they beat the camp mover with a quirt, 



292 



HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 



tried to run Murphy down with a horse and threatened to kill him 
and burn his property. They then went to Murphy's sheep wagon on 
Deep creek and took possession. 

The posse organized in the evening and went over to the wagon 
where the two men had taken possession. The posse surrounded the 
wagon and called to the men to come out. The men arose from their 
bed and Ferris ran out, but before he got out of the wagon he was shot 
in the arm. Kassahn secured a gun before he attempted to get out 
and his head was shot off while he was yet in the wagon. 

Criminal complaints were issued against Murphy and Martin, 
charging them with the murder of Kassahn and at the preliminary 
trial, held June 21, Murphy was held to the district court for trial and 
his bond was fixed at $10,000. Martin was also held and his bond 
placed at $2,000. At the preliminary trial, Murphy and Martin took 
the full responsibility of the shooting, but when the trial came up in 
the district court, which was held the latter part of November, the 
names of all the men who participated in the affair were brought to 
light. The first trial resulted in a disagreement of the jury. Court 
was then adjourned and the case came to trial again in July, 1903, and 
again the jury could not reach a verdict, the vote showing eleven for 
conviction against one for acquittal, while in the previous trial, the 
jury stood nine for acquittal and three for conviction. These two 
trials had cost the county in the neighborhood of $12,000 and there 
were but about 250 men left in the county qualified to act as jurors 
in the case. At this time, Murphy made an affidavit to the effect 
that he was bankrupt and destitute; that he had no money, no 
property, and no credit, and that he could not secure counsel to 
defend him at another trial and he asked that the court appoint an 
attorney for his defense and that the county provide the fee for 
said attorney. 

The court adjourned and the case was set for January 11, 1904, 
but at the meeting of the board of county commissioners held October 
6, 1903, the following resolution was adopted: "Be it resolved that 
the board of county commissioners request the county attorney to 
dismiss the case of the State versus Edwin S. Murphy." The resolu- 
tion was adopted by the following vote: E. L. McGraugh, aye; P. C. 
Nicolaysen, nay; T. S. Steed, aye. This ended the case. Murphy 
disposed of what interests he had left in the county and returned to 
his former home in the east where he has been content to remain ever 
since. 

The first two trials were held before Judge C. W. Bramel. Alex 
T. Butler was prosecuting attorney, E. D. Norton, F. D. Hammond, 
of Casper, and T. F. Burke, of Cheyenne, were the attorneys for the 



DEATH OF JAMES CAREY 293 

defense. At the last trial, C. E. Carpenter was the trial judge and 
J. M. Hench was the prosecuting attorney, while the same attorneys 
acted for the defense. In accordance with the resolution adopted by 
the board of county commissioners, a nolle proseqtii was entered at 
the January, 1904, term of court. The case against Martin was also 
dismissed and no charge was ever preferred against any of the other 
men who participated in the shooting. 

Death of James Carey 

James M. Carey was found dead in his ranch house in the Muddy 
country seventeen miles east from Casper on the evening of October 
19, 1903. In the barn were two dead horses which had starved to 
death. The body was discovered by Hugh Atkinson, Oscar Creel 
and Myron Spencer. It was badly decomposed, and it was evident 
that death had resulted two weeks before. It was evident that the 
man had died from natural causes and a verdict was so rendered by a 
coroner's jury. A grave was dug a short distance from the house and 
the body was interred where it remained several months, when 
relatives caused it to be disinterred and brought to Casper. 

Some people seemed to be of the opinion that the man had been 
murdered, and to satisfy them before the body was interred in High- 
land cemetery Drs. A. F. Hoff and T. A. Dean made a post mortem 
examination, taking out the heart and stomach and sawing the skull 
open. They also made a thorough examination of the body. They 
were unable to find any indications of violence, bullet holes, bruises, 
fractures, or poison, and they decided that he came to his death from 
natural causes. 

James Carey was a bachelor, possessing considerable ranch 
property in the Big Muddy country. He made frequent trips to 
Casper and after making small purchases at the stores, he generally 
visited the saloons where he drank whiskey until he was in such a 
condition that he was helpless. He had visited Casper shortly 
before his death and it is supposed that he died from exposure and 
alcoholism. 

Justifiable Homicide 

Ed. Baker, a colored man, forty-one years of age, was shot and 
killed at 2:45 in the morning, December 18, 191 2, by Mrs. Clarence 
Hill, also colored. Baker, with half a dozen other colored people, 
spent the night at the Hill residence on south David street in Casper, 
and all consumed a considerable quantity of intoxicating liquor. 
They were having a hilarious time, and there was more or less quar- 



294 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

reling. The guests were finally ordered to leave the house and when 
they were out in the yard Baker made some remarks and a threat 
which aroused the anger of the hostess and without further ado she 
shot him in the stomach and he died within a few hours. Mrs. Hill 
was held to the district court for trial upon the charge of murder, 
and at the January, 1913, term the jury returned a verdict of not 
guilty, deeming it justifiable homicide. 

George Edwards Kills Two Men 

Roy Landers, alias Roy Grant, alias Grant Smith, was shot and 
killed on the streets of Casper by George Edwards on January 26, 
191 3. Landers had worked on the Edwards ranch in Bates Park and 
induced Mrs. Edwards to go with him to Nebraska, leaving her 
husband and four little children. Landers was brought back to 
Casper and pleaded guilty to the charge of inducing Mrs. Edwards to 
leave the state with him, and was sentenced to serve fifteen months 
in the penitentiary. Sheriff J. A. Sheffner was escorting Landers and 
another prisoner, named J. E. Wolford, from the court house to the 
Northwestern railway passenger station, with the intention of tak- 
ing them to the penitentiary. The two prisoners were handcuffed 
together and were walking several feet ahead of the sheriff and his 
deputy. Edwards stood in the recess of the side door of the Webel 
store on Center street and when the men came along the sidewalk 
opposite to where he was standing, he shot Landers through the chest 
near the heart. The sheriff took the gun away from Edwards and 
hastened to his prisoners, who had gone a distance of about thirty 
feet into the street before the wounded man fell. The sheriff unlocked 
the handcuffs and took charge of Wolford, turned Edwards over to 
the deputy and started the wounded man for the hospital in an 
ambulance, but he died within an hour after being shot. A coroner's 
jury was impaneled to make an investigation of the shooting, and 
a verdict was returned to the effect that "Roy Landers came to his 
death as a result of a gun-shot wound, inflicted by a party or parties 
unknown." The sympathy of the community was with Edwards, and 
although many witnesses testified that they saw Edwards fire the 
shot and saw Landers fall immediately afterwards, the members of 
the coroner's jury contended that they could not tell whether it was 
the bullet from Edwards' gun or from some one's else that killed the 
man. Notwithstanding the result of the coroner's jury and the senti- 
ment of the people in favor of Edwards, he was held to the district 
court for trial without bail upon the charge of murder in the first 
degree. The trial was had within a few days after the tragedy and he 



CUT HIS WIFE S THROAT WITH A RAZOR 295 

was acquitted. Edwards returned to his ranch with his wife and 
children, but the kilHng of a man on account of her unfaithfulness did 
not seem to cause a very deep or lasting impression upon Mrs. 
Edwards, and on June 17, 1913, Edwards shot and killed Fred Ott, 
the cause of this shooting being unfaithfulness of Mrs. Edwards, the 
same as the one which had occurred less than five months previous. 
The tragedy occurred at the Edwards ranch in Bates Park. Three 
shots were fired by Edwards while the two men and the woman were 
in the house, tw^o of the bullets entering Ott's back, the third missed. 
Ott ran out of the house and made his way to the bunk house. The 
woman rode to the nearest neighbors and telephoned to Casper for 
a doctor and for the sheriff. After Mrs. Edwards had gone to the 
neighbors, Edwards followed Ott to the bunk house and while the 
prostrate man was pleading for his life Edwards deliberately shot him 
in the back again, which ended his life. Edwards was brought to 
Casper and lodged in the county jail, with a charge against him of 
murder in the first degree. A change of venue was taken, and his 
trial was had in Douglas, Converse county, in January, 1914, about 
a year after his trial in Casper for the killing of Landers. A verdict of 
manslaughter was returned by the jury and he was sentenced to 
serve twenty years in the penitentiary. After he was sentenced Mrs. 
Edwards took from her finger her wedding ring and handed it to the 
condemned man with the remark that she was through with him. 
After serving several years in the penitentiary Edwards received a 
pardon, and made a new start in life by taking a ranch and establish- 
ing a home for his children in the southwestern part of the state. 

Cut His Wife's Throat with a Razor 

While in their room at their boarding house in Salt Creek on 
Friday afternoon, January 8, 1915, Wilmer P. Palmer murdered his 
wife by cutting her throat w^ith a razor. He then slashed his own 
throat with the razor but the wound was slight. He was brought to 
Casper and placed in the hospital and was fully recovered in a 
week. At a preliminary trial held upon his removal from the hospital 
he was held to the district court for trial without bond upon the 
charge of murder in the first degree. On April 19, 191 5, he was 
found guilty as charged and the next morning at about 2:30 he again 
attempted to commit suicide by cutting the arteries of his left wrist 
with a safety razor blade. Some of the other prisoners at once 
notified the sheriff and a physician was called and prevented him 
from bleeding to death. Within a week after he was found guilty 
the court sentenced him to be hanged on Friday, August 6, 191 5, 



296 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

and he was taken to the penitentiary at Rawhns where the sentence 
of the court was obeyed on the above date by the warden of the 
state penitentiary. 

The Bess Fisher Tragedy 

Bess Fisher, a woman of the underworld, on October 26, 1917, 
shot and killed Lawrence Barrett in the Rhinoceros restaurant at 
Casper. The woman alleged that Barrett had squandered consider- 
able of her money while they lived at Anchorage, Alaska, and when 
her money was gone he would have nothing more to do with her and 
soon left Alaska. She followed him to Casper, hoping to win back his 
affections or have her money returned. After arriving in Casper she 
had several unsatisfactory conferences with him and on the above 
date, while she was sitting at a table in the restaurant, Barrett and 
his wife came in. As Barrett was about to sit down at a table the 
Fisher woman arose from her chair with such haste and excitement 
that she turned the table over and spilled the dishes on the floor, but 
before Barrett had taken his seat she drew a gun from her pocket and 
fired. The bullet entered Barrett's right arm, passed through his 
heart and through his body and came out under his left arm above 
the elbow. After Barrett had fallen to the floor the Fisher woman 
held the smoking gun in her hand, and with a sneer on her face 
looked at Mrs. Barrett as if to say that if she could not have him no 
other woman could. She then went to the counter and gave up her 
gun. She was taken to jail and her trial was had at the March term 
of court in 1918. Before the jury she pretended to be sick, almost 
fainting several times, and when she talked she would speak scarcely 
above a whisper. She acted the part so well that some of the jurors 
no doubt were to a considerable extent influenced in favor of returning 
a verdict that they would not have returned for Barrett had the 
situations been reversed. She testified in her own behalf, claiming 
that she shot the man in self-defense; that when Barrett entered the 
restaurant he said to her: "Fll get you yet." She then stepped back 
from her chair and fired. This was her strongest argument for shoot- 
ing and killing the man she pretended to love; the man who had 
squandered her money and deserted her; the man who was married 
to another woman, but it was enough to satisfy eleven jurors, and after 
deliberating sixty-three hours, a verdict was not reached, one juror 
holding out for conviction, against eleven who favored acquittal. 
The jury was discharged. Court adjourned without a re-trial, and in 
June the woman was released from the county jail under bonds of 
^5,000, and at the September term of the district court the case was 



GAMBLERS COMMIT MURDER 297 

dismissed, and once more the statue of "Justice," standing above the 
court house doors, was a misnomer. 



Gamblers Commit Murder 

Lawrence Nina Friccero was shot and killed at about 2 o'clock in 
the morning of December 21, 1918, by Zura Eagleston. Eagleston 
was aided and abetted by Sam Larsen. The shooting occurred in a 
room over the Iris theater, which was used as a gambling joint. 
The killing of Friccero was in cold blood, while he had his hands in the 
air begging for his life. Eagleston, Larsen and Friccero were engaged 
in a game of poker when an argument arose, and Larsen pulled a 
knife on Friccero and Eagleston pulled a gun. Friccero backed in a 
corner with his hands in the air and declared that he did not want to 
fight; that he was unarmed and that if the men would let him go 
away there would be no more argument or quarreling. The two men 
searched Friccero and then Eagleston deliberately shot him through 
the stomach. The wounded man was taken to the hospital and died 
in about twelve hours. Eagleston and Larsen were arrested, but Lar- 
sen was discharged. At the term of the district court in March, 
Eagleston was convicted of murder in the second degree and was 
sentenced to serve from twenty-one to twenty-five years in the 
penitentiary. 

Bootleggers Murder an Officer 

Charles Moore, H. J. Evans, H. B. Armstrong, Roy E. Martin 
and Lawson Hallowell, the three former being taxi-drivers and the two 
latter engaged in the plumbing business, but whose principal occupa- 
tion was bootlegging, were the principals in an atrocious murder 
Sunday morning, November 2, 1919, when Deputy Sheriff Tom 
Majors was shot in the arm and the head with a shot gun and in- 
stantly killed and County Jailer George McKenzie was shot in the 
right shoulder. Martin was shot in the right breast three times and 
the thumb of his right hand was shot off by one of the deputy sheriffs. 
McKenzie and Martin were taken to the hospital and in due time 
both recovered from their wounds. 

Armstrong and Moore had previously been arrested upon the 
charge of stealing $40,000 worth of whiskey, but the case against them 
was dismissed on account of the lack of evidence. It was learned that 
about two hundred cases of liquor had been stored on the Martin 
property, and at 4 o'clock in the morning Sheriff Pat Royce, Deputy 
Sheriffs Tom Majors, W. E. Kilgore, Charles Easton and George 
McKenzie and Special Detective Roberts of the Burlington railway 



298 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

went to the Martin plumbing shop to make a raid on the bootleggers. 
When the officers surrounded the building, Armstrong and Martin 
came around a corner armed with shot guns. Majors saw them ap- 
proaching and called to them to put up their hands. "Go to hell! 
Put up your own," was the answer and command of Armstrong, and 
without further parley he fired at the officer. The first shot shattered 
the deputy sheriff's right hand and the second shot struck him full 
in the mouth, the charge passing through and blew out the back of 
his head. Martin opened fire at about the same time and wounded 
McKenzie, but before he could fire a second time Roberts opened 
fire on him, with the result of four bullets taking effect, three in his 
chest and one shattering his thumb. Armstrong and Martin then ran 
to Martin's house which was near by. When the smoke of the tragedy 
had cleared away search was made of the premises and great quanti- 
ties of liquor were found buried under the floor of the plumbers' 
shop, the cases being covered with several inches of earth. 

Armstrong and Moore were placed in jail and Martin was 
guarded by a deputy sheriff in the hospital. Evans and Hallowell 
were dismissed. The board of county commissioners appointed 
C. E. Winter and M. W. Purcell as special prosecutors for the county 
to prosecute the case against the assassins. This action of the 
county commissioners caused Prosecuting Attorney W. E. Patten 
to feel slighted, and he caused the arrest of Sheriff Royce and Deputy 
Kilgore at 2:30 in the morning of November 6, charging them with 
feloniously attacking Armstrong on the morning of November 2, 
with the purpose of committing violent injury upon him. The sheriff 
and his deputy were dispossessed of the office and Constable John 
McClellan, who served the warrants on the officers, took charge. 
The trial of the sheriff and his deputy were had before Judge W. E. 
Tubbs without delay and the cases against them were dismissed, 
and the sentiment of the community was so strong against the 
prosecuting attorney that he was forced to resign, and the feeling 
against the men who were charged with the murder of the deputy 
sheriff was such that a number of citizens organized and no doubt 
would have dealt out justice without waiting for trial by the courts 
had they not been assured by the special prosecuting attorneys, the 
county commissioners and other county officers that a speedy trial 
would be had and that justice would be meted out without unneces- 
sary delay. Circulars were distributed about the city and notices 
were published in the newspapers by the county commissioners as 
follows : 

"In face of the terrible tragedy, in the interest of the welfare of our city and 
county, we appeal to all good citizens to remain calm and assist the officers in maintain- 



JOHN J, CORBETT SLAIN 299 

ing law and order. They have our assurance that those responsible for the tragedy will 
be brought speedily to trial." 

An editorial appeared in the Daily Tribune as follows: 

"Because he enforced the law against bootleggers and murderers the sheriff 
of this county is ordered thrown in jail by a county attorney, and an unexperienced 
constable ordered placed in entire charge of the court house. Not only are our officers 
murdered in cold blood by bootleggers, but the sheriff and his deputies who arrested 
the murderers are ordered arrested. Where will this state of affairs lead us to? What 
will be the result of this latest insult to constituted authority? Do these thugs, thieves 
and bootleggers and their accomplices believe the people will fold their hands and look 
on with complacency while our laws are being trampled under foot and dragged in the 
slime of corruption? Where in the history of court proceeding has such an outrage a 
parallel? We may even look to Bolshevik Russia for a precedent and come away in 
bitter disappointment. Casper has drained the cup of lawlessness down to its bitter 
dregs, and the upright citizen's blood is beginning to boil. Law and order must be 
preserved. Bolshevism rnust be crushed. The spirit of outlawry must be smothered. 
Without respect for constituted authority and reverence for the rule of right, democratic 
government will crumble, our institutions become a mockery and our glories a dream.' 

Upon the assurance that a speedy trial would be had the people 
calmly awaited the action of the courts. At a preliminary trial held 
before Justice Tubbs on November 16 the three men were held to the 
district court for trial without bond upon the charge of murder in the 
first degree. At the December term of the district court in Natrona 
county a change of venue was demanded and granted and the case 
was ordered to be tried in Douglas before a Converse county jury at 
the April term of the district court. The case against Armstrong was 
the first to come to trial. There was no question in the minds of the 
people of Casper but a conviction would be had, and if ever a man 
deserved hanging it was the defendant, but be it said to the everlast- 
ing shame of the jurymen, some of the witnesses who gave perjured 
testimony, and others connected with the trial, a verdict of not 
guilty was returned by the jury, and once more the people of Natrona 
were compelled to witness a travesty of justice and the rights of 
good citizenship flung to the four winds. The charges against Moore 
and Martin were immediately dismissed after the verdict of not 
guilty was returned in the Armstrong case, and thus ended the farce 
with the courts, and the murder of Tom Majors has never been 
avenged. 

John J. Corbett Slain 

One of the most deplorable and ruthless murders in the annals of 
Natrona county was committed on or about January 20, 1920. John 
J. Corbett, 46 years old, a pioneer ranchman living about five miles 
southeast of Casper, was shot down in cold blood by a robber whom 
he surprised in the act of looting the ranch house. The crime was not 
discovered for about a week after it was committed, for Corbett 



300 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

lived alone and, although well liked by his neighbors, he visited them 
rarely. Starving livestock first attracted the attention of Ray Car- 
roll, who resided on an adjoining ranch. He went to the Corbett 
ranch, and seeing no one about, fed the cattle and two work horses 
which were tied in the stable. Carroll reported the matter to the 
sheriff's office that afternoon and the next morning at daylight a 
posse went to the Corbett place to make an investigation. They 
found Corbett's body in the cellar which had been locked and the 
door nailed with several large spikes. There were five bullet wounds, 
one of them a flesh wound. Any one of the other four would have 
caused death. A saddle pony was found shot and in the barn were a 
blood-stained saddle and saddle blanket. The interior of the house 
was in utter confusion. The robber had emptied the dresser and 
desk drawers, strewing the contents on the floor. Every possible 
hiding place for money was ransacked. A grip had been cut open with 
a knife. Money seemed to be the only object of the robber's search, 
for he left behind several hundred dollars' worth of jewelry and 
negotiable papers. A sorrel horse was missing from the ranch and it 
was assumed that the murderer had ridden it away. It was recovered 
near Glendo. A rancher there had purchased it and was able to give 
a complete description of the man from whom he had bought it. 
This was valuable information, but the chances of capturing the 
criminal were still slight. Jack Corbett, as he was known to his 
friends, was well liked by all who knew him and it was said he had not 
an enemy. Rewards for the apprehension of the murderer amounting 
to ^i ,500 were offered by the county and by friends. Sheriff Pat Royce 
and County Attorney A. R. Lowey made every eflPort to solve the 
mystery. Thousands of circulars were distributed by the sheriff. 
Every sheriff and chief of police in the country was notified and 
Sheriff Royce kept in close touch with every peace officer and rail- 
road detective known to him. It was a discouraging chase and 
dragged on for months. Then on October 7, the sheriff received the 
following message: "Alamogordo, New Mexico, October 7. Have 
party in jail that fills description perfectly of R. L. Livingston alias 
Richie. He is your man without doubt. Can you come and identify? 
Ben West, Lieutenant Railroad Police." The Alamogordo officials 
were wired to hold the man and send a photograph for identification. 
The photograph tallied with the description furnished by the Glendo 
rancher and the sheriflF went to New Mexico. Ben West had just re- 
ceived a post card from Sheriff Royce on the night the fugitive was 
captured, when he ran into him in a restaurant. The description on 
the card tallied so closely with the man's appearance that West 
picked him up and held him for the Natrona county authorities. The 



MURDER AND SUICIDE 3OI 

reward of ^1,500 was paid to West shortly afterwards. Sheriff Royce 
carefully followed all the threads of evidence against the prisoner 
before resting assured that he had the right man. He traced the 
fellow's movements from the time he left Casper until he reached 
Alamogordo. The sheriff traced the guns taken from the Corbett 
ranch and later pawned and also recovered a pair of chaps identified 
by the Glendo rancher as those worn by the man from whom he had 
purchased the sorrel horse. The criminal was brought to Denver and 
Attorney Lowey gave him the "third degree" for two days in a 
room in a hotel in that city and finally secured a complete confession. 
He confessed to a series of burglaries and admitted that he had es- 
caped from the Michigan reformatory and was a deserter from the 
army. He claimed that his name was neither Livingston nor Richie, 
but was Jesse R. Atkins. Upon investigation this was found to be 
correct. The laws of the state of Wyoming do not permit a district 
judge to pronounce sentence upon a man charged with first degree 
murder without a trial. Even though Atkins had confessed, it was 
necessary to hold a trial before a jury and appoint legal counsel for 
the accused. He was tried in January, 1921, and although the 
authorities had declared they would seek the death penalty for 
Corbett's slayer, they found upon investigation that it might be 
impossible to secure such a verdict. The prisoner was under age and 
it was discovered that his attorneys would be able to use some damag- 
ing insanity evidence. Atkins's mother at last reports was confined 
in an insane asylum at Kalamazoo and two brothers had been com- 
mitted to the asylum before their deaths. On January 19, 1921, 
Atkins pleaded guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to 
life imprisonment in the state penitentiary. 

Murder and Suicide 

Claude Teanor, a cook in a Casper restaurant, shot and killed 
his wife and then committed suicide in the Wyatt hotel on September 
28, 1920. The tragedy was the result of two weeks' brooding by 
Teanor over an estrangement. Teanor had abused his wife for months 
previous to their separation and she had been forced to leave him 
and obtain employment as a waitress. She refused to return to her 
husband, although he had made many appeals to her. On the morn- 
ing of the tragedy Teanor went to his wife's room which she occupied 
with two other girls. None of them had arisen, but Mrs. Teanor got 
out of bed and admitted him to the room. After Teanor demanded 
that his wife return to live with him, he asked with an air of finality: 
"Are you coming back to me?" She replied, "No," whereupon he 



302 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

drew a revolver and shot her twice, through her heart and her head. 
She died instantly. He then shot himself under the right eye and 
died a few hours later at the state hospital. 



Another Murderess "Not Guilty" 

The quotation that "Hell hath no fury like unto a woman 
scorned," was truly applicable in the case of Mrs. Jessie Ackerman, 
who murdered Adelbert Hoffay in Casper on the night of October 6, 
1920. The Ackerman and HofFay families were intimate friends; Mrs. 
Ackerman called upon Mrs. Hoffay late in the afternoon on the above 
date and was invited to remain for supper; she said she would re- 
main provided Mr. Hoffay would accompany her home; she said 
she was afraid to go home alone after dark. Hoffay agreed to go home 
with her, but after supper he delegated his wife to accompany Mrs. 
Ackerman home. This caused the Ackerman woman to fly into a 
rage, and she freely expressed her opinion of Hoffay in abusive and 
foul language. At about 7:30 Hoffay went to the Ackerman home 
after his wife; Mrs. Ackerman came to the door, apologized for her 
hasty words and invited Hoffay to come in. Hoffay said: "I don't 
care to enter your house after the way you acted tonight." Mrs. 
Ackerman flew into another rage and cried out: "I'll kill you for 
that!" and immediately started for another room after a gun, and she 
came forth with a small gauge shot gun and pressed it against the 
man's side. He said: "I didn't come here to have trouble with you. 
I came to take my wife home; go ahead, I'm not afraid of a gun," 
whereupon Mrs. Ackerman cocked the gun and pulled the trigger. 
The charge from the gun entered the man's side below the left shoul- 
der blade, the shot ranging downward, puncturing the lung and 
shattering the spinal column. When the man fell, Mrs. Ackerman 
stooped over him and said: "Forgive me, Del, before you die." The 
wounded man was taken to the hospital, where in a short time 
hemorrhage of the lungs caused his death. The woman was taken to 
jail and on November 9 at her preliminary trial she was held to the 
district court for trial without bond upon the charge of murder in the 
first degree. 

The case came to trial on March 13. The court room was 
jammed full of people, mostly women, during the four days of the 
trial. Many of the women came to the court room an hour before 
court convened, and brought lunch with them so they could hold 
their seats during the entire session of the day. The aisles on the sides 
and between the seats were crowded with so many people that there 
was danger of the floor giving way. 



DE WALD SHOOTS ROSENBERRY 303 

Mrs. HofFay and her nine-year-old son Meredith, both of whom 
witnessed the shooting, testified that Mrs. Ackerman wilfully, 
deliberately and maliciously shot their husband and father, and 
although both underwent the most severe cross-examination their 
testimony was not shaken in any particular. 

Testifying in her own behalf, between sobs, which were put on in a 
manner that would have been a credit to a professional actress, Mrs. 
Ackerman admitted that she fired the shot that caused the death of 
HofFay, and that she was angry with him when she fired the shot, 
"but I didn't know the gun was loaded," she said, "and merely used 
it to scare HofFay away from my house after we had some words. 
Never at any time did I threaten to kill him, and when the gun went 
ofF I was sorry and terribly scared. I jabbed him with the barrel of 
the gun and then it exploded." 

This was the strongest testimony adduced in behalf of the 
defendant, but it was enough. The jury cast aside the testimony of 
the wife and son of the dead man, cast aside the law in the case, cast 
aside the common-sense judgment that God w-as supposed to have 
given them, and yielded to sentiment and sympathy and returned a 
verdict of not guilty, and another woman with a man's life blood on 
her hands walked out of the hall of "Justice" free, thus ending the 
crowning farce ever enacted in the courts of Natrona county. 

De Wald Shoots Rosenberry 

An old grudge resulted in the killing of Frank Rosenberry, 45, a 
rancher, by John P. De Wald, a teamster and ranch hand, early on 
the morning of October 10, 1920, at Bucknum. The men were in the 
kitchen of a boarding house conducted by Mrs. Alta Rosenberry, a 
sister-in-law of Rosenberry's. When Rosenberry entered the room, 
he began to abuse and threaten De Wald, as was his custom. To 
avoid trouble, De Wald left the house, but Rosenberry followed him, 
and, with the statement that he was going to kill De Wald right then, 
he put his hand into his hip pocket. At this, De Wald drew a revolver 
and fired four shots, two of which took efFect. De Wald wired the 
sherifF's office at Casper, saying he had killed a man and to come for 
him and bring a coroner. He then calmly awaited the arrival of the 
officers. Rosenberry was an old-timer in Natrona county and, with 
his brother, John, operated a ranch on North Casper creek. He was 
also part owner of the boarding house where he met his death. De 
Wald was employed by a soda company at Sodium. Previous to his 
enlistment in the army, he was a sheep herder. He had seen twenty- 
six months' service abroad during the world war and had taken part 



304 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

in the Verdun offensive. At the preHminary hearing De Wald was 
bound over to the district court on a charge of second degree murder 
and his bond was fixed at ^2,000. It was one of the longest preHm- 
inary hearings ever held in Natrona county and there were more 
witnesses introduced than at any other similar hearing. The trial 
was held over two terms of court and finally Judge C. O. Brown or- 
dered it brought up on November 3, 1921. Unique in court pro- 
cedure here, M. W. Purcell, the prosecuting county attorney, de- 
fended De Wald, while W. H. Patten and S. E. Phelps acted for the 
state. Mr. Purcell stepped out of his position as public prosecutor in 
order to represent De Wald because at the original hearing which was 
held before Mr. Purcell's appointment to the office, he had been re- 
tained by De Wald. His main object, it is said, in defending De Wald 
was that he had promised De Wald's mother that he would do his 
utmost to clear her son. The trial developed the facts that Rosen- 
berry and De Wald had clashed several times, that on the day of the 
shooting, Rosenberry had taken the offensive and that De Wald 
fired only after repeated threats by Rosenberry against his life. 
Mr. Purcell defended him valiantly and when the case went to the 
jury at 10 o'clock on the night of November 3, Mr. Purcell asked that 
a verdict of not guilty be returned in fifteen minutes. De Wald was 
acquitted on the first ballot, the jury returning in ten minutes. 

Peckham Kills His Wife 

John Peckham killed his wife and committed suicide on Febru- 
ary 4, 1921, at the home of Mrs. Beatrice Maltby, whom he also shot 
and seriously wounded. The Peckhams had been married but 
eighteen months, but in that time had been separated twice. At the 
time of the shooting, they had been separated for about a week and 
Mrs. Peckham was living at the home of Mrs. Maltby. Several times 
each day, Peckham visited his wife and begged her to return to him. 
On the day of the shooting, after writing farewell notes to his former 
wife and his children and his father and mother, he went to see his 
wife again. She refused his appeals to return to him and he drew a 
gun and shot her. Mrs. Maltby interceded for Mrs. Peckham and he 
turned on her and shot her through the breast. He then shot Mrs. 
Peckham once more and turned the gun on himself and sent a bullet 
through his brain. Peckham was an employee of the Midwest field 
garage and Mrs. Peckham had been employed in Casper as a domestic. 
They were both about 49 years of age. 



CONVICTED MURDERER ESCAPES JAIL 305 

Convicted Murderer Escapes Jail 

On March 10, 1921, Edward Shuster, about 30 years of age, a 
taxi driver, was shot and killed by L. B. Nicholson, a former police 
officer of Casper. Shuster had been called to a chop suey restaurant 
on the Sandbar, and when he drove up in front of the place, Nicholson 
is said to have approached him and after the two men had exchanged 
heated words, Nicholson shot Shuster and ran away. Shuster was 
found to be dying from a bullet wound in the neck. There were many 
witnesses to the affray, one of them being a policeman. Earl Barkalow. 
He made no effort to pursue Nicholson and was later arrested and 
then dismissed from the police force on a formal charge of cowardice. 
Nicholson was taken into custody near the scene of the shooting after 
he had made an ineffectual attempt to dispose of two revolvers. One 
was found in an ash can and the other was lying on the ground. 
Nicholson had been discharged from the Casper police department 
three years previous on a charge of grafting. Later, he was arrested 
on a charge of assault with intent to kill for firing on Police Captain 
W. E. Kilgore. This charge against him was quashed, however. He 
was also said to have been convicted of murder at one time in Camp- 
bell county in connection with the killing of a sheep herder, but se- 
cured his release on a supreme court decision. Shuster was said to 
have borne a good reputation among his associates. In the trial of 
Nicholson, it was brought out that the two men had borne a personal 
grudge against one another for some time and that the shooting was 
the culmination of this trouble. After an eventful trial, which was 
bitterly fought on both sides, the jury balloted for twenty-three hours 
and returned a verdict of manslaughter. He was sentenced on 
September 16, 1921, to serve from fifteen to twenty years in the state 
penitentiary, but on the night of October 1 1, 1921, Nicholson and five 
other prisoners escaped from the Natrona county jail. The prisoners 
had been locked in their cells for the night on the east side of the jail. 
Friends on the outside sawed the bars from one of the windows on the 
west side with a motor saw, cut the lock on the master lock box, and 
opened the cell doors, permitting the six men to get away. It is 
thought they escaped m waiting automobiles. Two Mexicans, who 
were among the six fugitives, were captured as they were attempting 
to leave town in an automobile. In due time two of the other men 
were apprehended, but a nation-wide search for Nicholson in par- 
ticular was instituted and there were rumors of his capture at various 
points, but no definite trace of him was ever found. 



306 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Mysterious Death of Joe Reeder 

J. S. Reeder, proprietor of a shoe store and shoe repair shop in 
Casper, was shot and killed at about 6:30 in the evening on January 
II, 1921, while on his way home from his store. The motive was 
supposed to be robbery, for Mr. Reeder had on his person diamonds 
valued at about $3,000 and quite a large sum of money, but the 
robbers evidently were so anxious to make their escape after the 
shooting that they did not attempt to take from the body the money 
or the valuables. At that time there were a great many hold-ups and 
robberies being committed in Casper, and two men named Neil and 
Probe were arrested upon suspicion of havmg committed the crime, 
but on account of the lack of evidence, after a most thorough invest- 
igation, they were turned loose and no other arrests ever followed. 
Residents of the neighborhood where the dead man was found, which 
was within a half block of his home, heard the reports from four shots, 
and there was a clear distinction between the first three reports and 
the last one. When found the dead man held in his right hand a .25 
caliber automatic revolver and three shots had been fired from it. 
There were some people who were of the opinion that he had taken his 
own life, but when the bullet was removed from his neck it was found 
to be a .45 caliber, and the theory of suicide was dispelled and the 
conclusion was that he was met by a hold-up, but instead of submitting 
he attempted to shoot the man or men who were attempting to rob 
him but failed to hit them and in order to make good their escape they 
shot him. 

Mexican Kills His Partner 

Jim Ladas, 55, proprietor of the Burlington cafe in Casper, was 
shot and killed on June 6, 1921, by Nick Camets, 50, after the two 
men had quarreled over the ownership of the place. Camets purchased 
a .38 Colt's revolver and went to the cafe and demanded of Ladas that 
he give him the half interest in the business that had once been his. 
Ladas ran out of the restaurant upon being threatened by Camets 
and started down Wolcott street with Camets following. Camets 
fired one shot which did not take effect but served to attract hundreds 
of people to the scene. As they neared the Ohio Oil company's 
offices, Camets fired three times, all three shots taking effect. Ladas 
started across the street, but was knocked down by an auto truck. 
As he lay prostrate in the street, Camets stepped up and took delib- 
erate aim, and shot him through the right lung. After a short chase, 
Camets was captured by Joe Rodman, a former police officer. In 
September, 1921, at the term of the district court, Camets pleaded 



ONE WOMAN CONVICTED 307 

guilty to second degree murder, and his sentence was twenty-five to 
thirty years in the penitentiary. 



One Woman Convicted 

John W. Delury was killed June 16, 1921, by Mrs. Ida Graham, 
who shot him because he wrecked her home in Oklahoma. Delury 
and Mrs. Graham had lived together as man and wife in the oil fields 
of Texas for two years, but they quarreled and Mrs. Graham went to 
Duncan, Oklahoma. Delury followed her and when she refused to 
resume her former relationship with him, he demolished her furniture 
with an axe and cut into bits with a razor, her curtains and other 
articles of furnishings and equipment; then he left her and came to 
Casper. When Mrs. Graham learned where he had located she fol- 
lowed him here and appealed to the prosecuting attorney of the 
county to have him arrested, but the alleged crime having been 
committed in another state, a warrant could not be issued. During 
the evening Mrs. Graham saw -Delury in the "Sandbar district" 
where there was a carnival. Mrs. Graham at her trial on September 1 1 
testified that Delury said to her: "Now, damn you, I have you," and 
made a motion as if to strike her with a knife, and she shot him in 
self-defense, but the fact that she was looking for Delury, and carried 
a gun was the damaging evidence against her, and the jury, after 
deliberating five hours, returned a verdict finding her guilty of 
second degree murder. She was sentenced to serve from twenty-one 
to twenty-two years in the penitentiary. 

Homicide on the Range 

On July II, 1921, John Nennes, 30, an employee of the William 
(Scotty) Henry Sheep outfit, was shot and killed by Ed. Holmes, an 
employee of Robert Wilson, about twenty-five miles northwest of 
Arminto. Each of the men had a band of sheep in his care and they 
were feeding close together. A dispute arose over a water hole first 
and after that the two herders quarreled frequently. Nennes is said 
to have charged Holmes with encroaching on the Henry range. The 
trouble between them became serious when the two bands of sheep 
drifted so close together that Holmes walked between them to keep 
them from running together. Nennes objected to this and becoming 
hostile told Holmes: " I have carried a gun for twenty years and I am 
looking for action." He went to his horse and took a .25-.30 caliber 
Winchester from the holster. As he turned toward Holmes, the 
latter fired a rifle shot into Nennes' heart. Holmes reported the 



3o8 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

matter at the Henry ranch and then returned to the range and 
watched both bands of sheep until the officers arrived. At the prehm- 
inary trial he was exonerated. 

White Woman Shoots Negro 

Robert Brown, a negro 58 years of age, who attempted to 
force his way into a boarding house in Casper owned by Mrs. Pearl 
WiUiams, was shot and killed by the landlady on October 2, 1921. 
Brown had been caUing Mrs. Williams over the 'phone every day for a 
week asking her to meet him. Mrs. Williams did not know who the 
man was, and she reported the trouble to the police, but they were 
unable to locate him. On the night of the shooting the negro appeared 
at the front door of the Williams boarding house and announced that 
"I am the man who has been 'phoning to you, honey," and Mrs. 
Williams started shooting without further ado. Six shots were fired, 
two of which took efFect, from the result of which the man died. The 
house where the negro lived was searched and clothing and articles 
valued at several thousand dollars, which had been stolen from 
residences in Casper, were found. Mrs. Williams was exonerated 
and should have been given a medal. 

Would-be Hold-ups Are Killed 

On the night of December 21, 1921, Sheriff Joe L. Marquis was 
informed by an anonymous telephone call that the grocery store of 
M. L. Small at 446 South Oak street, Casper, was going to be robbed. 
Three officers were sent out from the sheriff's office and two of them 
concealed themselves in the store, while the third was posted as 
lookout on the outside. The proprietor of the store was instructed to 
appear surprised upon the arrival of the highwaymen and to obey any 
commands given by them. Scarcely had the defense been planned 
when two men stopped in front of the store, adjusted masks and en- 
tered the store. With drawn guns they commanded the proprietor 
to throw up his hands. The same order was given to J. K. Willis, in 
charge of the meat department. The two men were ordered to go to 
the rear of the store. Small started to run and was fired upon. At 
this point the officers stepped out from their hiding places and a 
pitched battle followed. When the melee subsided, both robbers were 
dead and Willis had been shot in the arm accidentally by one of the 
officers. One of the robbers was later identified as George Otto Boche, 
a dope fiend, and the other was believed to be J. S. Brown, a gunman 
who had been active through the west. 



WOULD-BE HOLD-UPS ARE KILLED 309 

When the bodies were taken to the morgue they were erroneously 
identified as Earl Pike and Barry Gorden, two notorious criminals. 
It was later learned, however, that at the same time the Casper 
affair was being enacted, Gorden and Pike were attempting to loot a 
store in Billings. They were trapped by a telephone call and one of 
them. Earl Pike, was killed. This is the most unusual coincidence 
ever recorded in criminal records. Another unusual circumstance 
connected with this case is the fact that Willis, who was working in the 
store where the attempted hold-up occurred, brought action against 
Sheriff Marquis to recover a large sum of money for damages on 
account of having been wounded by one of the officers who was shoot- 
ing at the hold-ups. 

Author's Note: 

"Why drag into the light of day 
The errors of an age long passed away?" 
I answer, " For the lesson that they teach — 
The tolerance of opinion and of speech." 

In justification of the publication of a brief history of the many crimes that have 
been committed in the county from 1888 until 1922, and in answer to the criticism that 
will surely come from some sources, the author will merely say that he did not make the 
history, but has recorded the plain facts, and every statement and assertion is verified 
by the court records. Not to publish the details of any of the crimes that have been 
committed in the county would not be publishing a history, and to record the details 
of one crime, all should be recorded. 



Hole-in-the-Wall Gang and Other 
Bad Men 

Deputy Sheriff Watson and Other Horse Thieves 

ON Tuesday evening, September lo, 1889, Sheriff John WiUiams 
of Douglas and the sheriff from Sundance, in Crook county, 
arrived in Casper on a special train, and about midnight they 
served warrants on Phil Watson, Jess Lockwood and James 
("Pecos") Hughes, on the charge of horse stealing. At the time he 
was arrested Watson was the town marshal of Casper and deputy 
sheriff in this part of Carbon county; Lockwood was an ex-cow 
puncher, but at that time was a hanger-on around the saloons; 
" Pecos" was a gambler, and was wanted as a witness against the other 
two men. The men were taken to Sundance and given a preliminary 
examination, and they were held to the district court for trial, Wat- 
son's bond being placed at ^1,500 and Lockwood's at ^5,000. Hughes' 
deposition was taken and he was allowed to go his way. About ten 
days later E. J. ("Tex") Healy, whose homestead was on Fish creek, 
about thirty miles southwest from Casper, was arrested upon the 
charge of being an accomplice of Lockwood and Watson. He was 
placed under bond of ^500, which was secured by J. J. Hurt. "Tex" 
lost no time in leaving the country, and has not since been seen, and 
his bond was forfeited. 

At the trial in the district court it was proven that Lockwood, 
Watson and Healy were connected with an organized gang of horse 
thieves, who operated in Montana and Northern and Central 
Wyoming. The horses were gathered up in Montana and the northern 
part of Wyoming, and driven into the Sweetwater country by a couple 
of the gang, where they were turned over to Lockwood and "Tex";, 
they were then driven to the homestead of "Tex" on Fish creek, and 
then brought to Casper and turned over to Watson, who would sell 
them here or ship them to an eastern market. 

P. C. Nicolaysen bought one of the horses from Watson that had 
been stolen from Crook county, and Dave Graham loaned some 
money on several others, and these two citizens of Casper went to 
Sundance as witnesses for the state. Both of the defendants were 
convicted, and Lockwood was sentenced to serve a term of eight years 
in the penitentiary and Watson was sentenced to a term of five years. 

310 



HOLE-IN-THE-WALL GANG AND OTHER BAD MEN 3 II 

When they had served their time they are said to have gone into 
Montana, but they have ever since gone around Casper. 

It will be noted that Lockwood and "Tex" were on the coroner's 
jury who inquired into the death of James Averell and Ella Watson, 
who were hanged by Sweetwater cattlemen in July of that year, 
and that Watson was the officer who went out from Casper and cut 
down the bodies, and it has been said that the whole gang, including 
Averell and the Watson woman, were working together, but whether 
that is true or not, it will be noted that none of them escaped being 
punished for their misdeeds. 

Not long after Watson had been convicted and sentenced to the 
penitentiary. Sheriff Frank Hadsell came to Casper from his home 
in Rawlins, and he was indulging in considerable raillery with the 
people of Casper over the fact that they had signed a petition re- 
questing him and the board of county commissioners to appoint 
Watson deputy sheriff for this section of Carbon county, and after 
telling the people that all one had to do was to take one good look at 
Watson and they would have known he was a rascal and a thief, a 
letter was produced which Sheriff Hadsell had written to some of his 
friends in Casper asking them to circulate a petition requesting 
Watson's appointment. Like the good sport that he is, Hadsell 
acknowledged writing the letter, and openly said that up until the 
time he was arrested he thought Watson was all right, "but," he 
said, "people have no right to keep personal letters like that, and 
springing them on a fellow when he has no chance to get out of it." 

While he was an officer it pleased Watson to prove to the people 
of Casper that he was a competent official and a brave man, and one 
afternoon when a "bad man" rode into town from the west and had 
imbibed freely of corn juice he became so boisterous that some one 
in the saloon requested him to tone down a little. In a flash the "bad 
man" whipped out two six-guns and fired them into the ceiling, then 
backed up to the wall and threatened to shoot the first man that made 
a menacing move. Just about that time Watson happened to come 
in ; his sheriff's badge was prominently displayed, and the " bad man " 
pointed both pistols at him, warning him not to come forward another 
step. Watson said not a word; neither did he stop, falter or hesitate 
to walk straight ahead toward the "bad man" and the two big guns 
pointing directly at him. When within two feet of the man the 
deputy sheriff made a quick draw, and in less than a second his two 
six-guns were pointing from his hip in the direction of the man's 
stomach. 

"Give me those guns," said Watson, just as cool as though he 
were asking the fellow for a match. The big " bad man " eyed Watson 



312 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

for a second and then handed over his artillery. Watson then told 
him to get out of town and to get quick, and the fellow got. Watson's 
act of bravery was told and retold for months afterwards, but the 
people at that time did not know the "bad man" was one of Watson's 
horse thief pals; that he and Watson had been out on the range to- 
gether all morning, and that the whole proceeding had been fixed up 
and rehearsed several hours before. 

The "Tex" ranch on Fish creek was on the old Oregon Trail, 
near where a government stage station had been located, and it is 
said of "Tex" that the hungry and tired traveler who passed that 
way never left the place without being well fed and properly cared 
for. The "Tex" ranch extended about seven miles south of his Fish 
creek ranch house to the Platte river, about twenty-five miles from 
Casper, where there is a sharp bend in the stream. The banks on the 
south and east are protected by high walls and to the north there is a 
stretch of meadow land, and it was here that "Tex" kept the horses 
that were brought in from the north by the gang of thieves. In 
those early days this was the smoothest gang of thieves that operated 
in this part of the country. Half of the gang worked in Montana 
and Northern Wyoming, while the other half carried on their opera- 
tions in the central part of the state. The horses were kept in this 
stretch of meadow land, and it was here that the exchange of horses 
was made, the northern horses being brought to Casper where they 
were sold and shipped and the horses that had been stolen from the 
central and southern part of the state were taken to the north where 
they were disposed of. 

The Hole-in-the-Wall 

No two names in Wyoming are so well known to the outside 
world as the Hole-in-the-Wall and Powder river. To many they epito- 
mize all that might be written of our lawlessness, our feuds and our 
state's wild youth with its trappings of guns and holsters, spurs and 
lariats. Many a boy in the detective story stage of his literary studies 
is thrilled by the magic spell of these names pregnant with tales of 
rustlers and banditti. It is singular that these two most widely 
known names should be so closely linked geographically. The Hole- 
in-the-Wall is in the Powder River country. The water flowing 
through the "Hole" empties into Powder river, and its ensanguined 
waters, red with the blood of 10,000 mythical bandits, finally mingle 
with the more peaceful but muddy tide of the Missouri. 

Our soldiers in the great world war carried the slogan of " Powder 
river" to every part of Central Europe. Boys from Salt Creek 



THE HOLE-IN-THE-WALL 3x3 

shouted it as they helped turn the tide of the whole war at Chateau 
Thierry. It echoed through the forest of the Argonne and cheered the 
lads who bravely rushed the bridges of the Meuse. Where less 
serious work was in hand and Sammy knew a little relaxation this 
yell of "Powder River" was a vent for his spirits. Parisians who 
knew no other English word could say "Poudre Rive," and fan the 
air with a hat. It is something of which we might boast that a state 
with a population equal only to the city of Denver and a congressional 
delegation of three gave the entire Union its battle cry in the biggest 
war ever waged by man. Such phrases as "Powder river, let 'er 
buck," "Powder river, a mile wide and an inch deep," can be heard 
in the logging camps of Maine and the salmon canneries of Oregon. 
The ancient war cries of "St. Denis" and "St. George, "the helmet of 
Navarre waving its white plume over Ivry's bloody field, must make 
room for a noisy and barbaric successor from the pinnacled summits 
of a new continent. 

No one can say just when or just where the shout of "Powder 
River" had its noisy birth. But it certainly was a lusty and well- 
lunged child from the beginning. It first grew into popularity at either 
Casper or Buffalo. These two towns were the chief resorts of the 
"boys" from the Powder River country. Even a drunken man will 
shout for the home ball team and bet on a home horse. Men from 
Powder river, with a few drinks under their belts, had to yell. So did 
men from Meadow creek and Sweetwater. You were expected to 
proclaim that the locality you hailed from was about the toughest on 
earth and try to prove it. "Powder River" is more easily shouted than 
such names as Sweetwater, Stinking Water or the Platte. Its vowels 
gave it a pre-eminence. It grew to be almost universally used when 
you felt the need of intensive yelling. There are moments when noth- 
ing but yelling will do. There are times to laugh and times to sing, 
but there are other times when we simply want to get out and yell. 
As to date, it can be said that throughout Natrona, Johnson and 
Converse counties its general use on festive occasions dates from the 
period between 1895 and 1900. There can be no registry of birth for a 
thing of such slow growth. 

The Hole-in-the-Wall first gained a national notoriety through 
the train robbery at Wilcox, Wyoming, on June 2, 1899, The robbers 
left the Union Pacific railroad and headed north to Casper. Crossing 
the Platte on the Casper bridge, they headed toward the Hole-in-the- 
Wall and eventually escaped into Montana. This robbery attracted 
wide attention, and newspaper men all over the Union were smitten 
with the spell of the name of " Hole-in-the-Wall." Paragraphers and 
joke-smiths roped and hogtied it in record time. Following this, 



314 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

every fugitive from justice in the Rocky Mountain region was 
reported in Chicago and New York papers to be "headed for the 
Hole-in-the-Wall." Escaped convicts in New Mexico and embez- 
zling cashiers from Denver were said to be en route for the capacious 
Hole. One nauseated writer on a Chicago paper asked why Wyoming 
did not fill up the Hole with dirt. He suggested fresnos and wheel 
scrapers as a remedy for police inefficiency. The name "Hole-in-the- 
Wall" is such a hint and help to a lurid imagination that a famishing 
literary hack seizes on it with a fiendish avidity. 

It is scarcely necessary to once more announce to our Deadwood 
Dicks and Nick Carters that the fearsome Hole is no hole at all. It 
is a wide and beautiful canyon by which a stream finds its way 
through a remarkable ridge about thirty miles long, known as the 
Red Wall. This wall of red earth and sandstone parallels the Big 
Horn mountains for many miles on their southern extremity in 
Natrona county. Between the ridge and the mountains lies a broad 
valley through which flows BuflTalo creek. On the upper waters of 
this creek lies the old Houck and Mahoney ranch, one of the oldest in 
the county and now owned by the Buffalo Creek Cattle company. 
The creek winds eastward between the Big Horns and the Red Wall, 
seeking a chance to break through, but does not find it until the break 
in the wall is found near the border of Natrona and Johnson counties. 
Here the creek escapes into the lower country and gives to the world 
the name of "The Hole-in-the-Wall." Who first gave the canyon 
this name is not known. There is a probability that it came through 
the group of Englishmen headed by the two Frewens who in 1878 
located a ranch on the Middle and North forks of Powder river. 
These men had birth, money and brains. Yet, with all three, they 
failed to make a success of the range cattle business. They built a fine 
log ranch house with fire places and mantels reminiscent of the stately 
homes they had known in England. They gave names to many local- 
ities. A great castled rock on Castle creek is called " Frewen Castle," 
after Mr. Mortimer Frewen, one of the party. They also gave Castle 
creek its name. Their native isle was a land of castles. There was a 
spot in London known as the "Hole-in-the-Wall." As early as 1722, 
Mr. Tom Brown, a well known writer of that day, says: "Address me 
at Mr. Seward's at the 'Hole-in-the-Wall,' in Baldwin's Gardens." 
Some of these Londoners at the Frewen ranch in the early eighties 
probably christened the canyon with its unforgetable name. 

A cowboy battle near the Hole-in-the-Wall in July, 1897, gave 
the locality its first bit of state-wide notoriety. In this fight Bob 
Smith was killed, while his brother-in-law, Al Smith, and Bob and 
Lee Devine were wounded. Peace held her reign for two years and 



^: 



l{i 



m^jMi 



i 
I 



The "Holk-in-ih[-Wah ■' C\i! 



•tS^^^ 





The "Hole-in-the-\Vall" Ranch, Red Bllffs in the Distance 



THE HOLE-IN-THE-WALL 315 

then, in 1899, came the Union Pacific train robbery at Wilcox. The 
sensational escape of these bandits to Montana through the Hole-in- 
the-Wall region drew the eyes of the whole nation to this canyon and 
hung the picture of its rugged beauties in the Hall of Fame among 
other immortal cavities. The name of the Red Wall was also lurid 
and suggestive enough to please. Perched on its liver-colored rim- 
rocks a morbid imagination could run wanton and youthful bandits 
could stalk precociously. We will write of these two battles in their 
chronological order. 

Bob Devine was foreman of the CY Cattle outfit. The CY was 
one of the largest cattle companies in the state, being owned by 
J. M. Carey & Brother. The CY riders, together with those of the 
Ogallala company and the Pugsleys on Meadow creek, in Converse 
county, were preparing to work the Red Wall country, but had been 
warned to keep out. 

In 1897, Devine, who was a very determined man, gave public 
notice that he intended to cover that region and recover anything 
with a CY brand on it. Bob and Al Smith, who were brothers-in-law, 
with Bob Taylor, put themselves at the head of the army of defense 
and called out the home guards. The reckless spirit and calm courage 
of an earlier day on the open range was certainly not lacking, even in 
1897, as witness the following notice from Devine, published in the 
Casper Tribune in July, 1897: 

"Casper, Wyoming, July ig, 1897. 
"Editor, Casper Tribune. 

"I have seen all sorts of reports bearing upon the John R. Smith and Nolan 
gang stopping the round-up from working the Hole-in-the-Wall country. They will 
have a hard time of it. Neither the CY boys, the Keystone nor the Pugsley outfits are 
hunting a fight. We are all working men and only want such cattle as belong to our 
employers and it is an indisputable fact that the Hole-in-the-Wall is a hiding place for 
thieves, and has been for years. Thousands of dollars' worth of cattle have been 
stolen by these outlaws, brands burned out and their own brands substituted. Their 
friends then help them to dispose of the burned cattle. Every year I have gotten back 
cattle from them that were taken from their mothers and lots of cattle on which the 
brands were changed. I am going to work that country and have asked the sheriffs of 
Natrona and Johnson counties to work with us and see that everybody is treated right. 
The time has come for all honest working men to declare themselves in favor of law 
and justice. And, if those men want to fight us, when we know we are right, I say fight. 

"R. M. Devine." 

As a further illustration of the spirit of the times and the nature 
of this feud we reprint a reply to Devine. It is also a good example 
of that sharp and incisive literary style so much affected by our 
"Riders of the Purple Sage." A lack of this directness and this pro- 
fanity is what spells failure for all western plays. The hero cannot 
swear hard enough. To the western listener it all sounds weak and 
insipid. When in the arena our finest swearers, like our finest wrest- 
lers, find their best holds barred. 



3i6 



HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 



The answer to Devine's letter follows: 

"Bob Devine you think you have played hell you have just begun you will get 
your dose there is men enufF up here yet to kill you. we are going to get you or lose 
12 more men you must stay out of this country if you want to live we are not going to 
take any chances any more but will get you any way we can we want one hair a piece 
out of that damned old chin of yours you have give us the worst of it all the way 
through and you must stay out or die. you had better keep your damned outfit out 
if you want to keep them, don't stick that damned old gray head of yours in this 
country again if you don't want it shot off we are the 12 men appointed a purpose to 
get you if you don't stay out of here. " Revenge Gange." 

Devine and his men disregarded the threat of the "Revenge 
Gange" and went to the Hole-in-the-Wall at the appointed time to 
gather their cattle, and on July 23, 1897, the fight occurred. A con- 
densed description of the fight, which appeared in Casper newspapers 
under date of July 29, 1897, and several subsequent issues is as follows: 

"All Casper was precipitated into a feverish excitement last Friday morning 
when a party of eight riders, headed by R. M. Devine, foreman of the CY round-up, 
came into town with a captured cattle rustler and announced that a battle had been 
fought between the round-up boys and some rustlers up in the Red Wall country, about 
three miles west of the far-famed and notorious Hole-in-the-Wall ranch. Devine and 
his son, Lee, both of whom were m the party that brought the prisoner in, participated 
in the fight and both had been wounded, the senior Devine receiving only a slight 
flesh wound from a bullet from Bob Smith's six-shooter, and Lee Devine having a 
bullet wound from Bob Taylor's six-shooter which passed diagonally through the 
muscles of his lower right forearm, ranging from the elbow toward the wrist. The 
others of the party saw that their prisoner was safely locked within the steel cage in 
the county jail. 

"The news of the battle had been anticipated, since Devine had gone in the face 
of the oft-repeated threats made by the cattle thieves that they would kill him if he 
ever dared to come to their country. 

"Last Wednesday night the two round-ups camped at the famous Bar C ranch, 
which is ten or twelve miles from the notorious Hole-in-the-Wall ranch. On the after- 
noon of Thursday a party of twelve men rode from camp in search of a bunch of 
cattle that they had been told was thrown up back of the McDonald pasture and 
were being held there. The party consisted of R. M. Devine, Lee Devine and Tom 
McDonald, of the CY; Bill Rogers and Lee Mathers, of the Ogallala; Ike Dedman, 
Doc Dildine, Frank Ramsey and Charles Davis, of Pugsley's outfit; and Joe LaFors, 
United States deputy marshal; and Jim Drummond, Montana live stock inspector; 
and Walter Monnett, a "rep" for the Circle L outfit. 

"In passing the Hole-in-the-Wall ranch the cow-boys stopped to inquire about 
the cattle they were in search of, but found no one there. Riding on, they had gone 
about three miles in a roundabout course when they saw three men on horseback com- 
ing toward them. These men were Bob and Al Smith and Bob Taylor. When they 
came up together many recognized and addressed each other in a friendly way. The 
men in both parties stopped and the three men were asked if they had seen any cattle 
belonging to the CY or the other outfits. V\ ithout answering the question Bob Smith 
commenced to draw his six-shooter and remarked to Devine: 'You damn old son of a 
b , I am going to get you this time!' 

"Devine said, 'Don't you shoot me, Smith.' 

"Bob Smith yelled: 'Yes, I will, you old son of a b ,' and leveling his six- 
shooter at Devine, fired. 

"The war then commenced. More than an hundred shots were fired by the men 
on both sides, and when the smoke of battle had cleared away, it was found that Bob 
Smith was mortally wounded. Bob Devine's horse was killed, and Devine and a 
number of the men on both sides were slightly wounded. During the shooting the men 



THE HOLE-IN-THE-WALL 317 

were yelling and cursing, the horses were running and pitching, and the dust raised 
by the horses and the smoke from the firing of the guns made it almost impossible for 
the men to see each other. 

"In five minutes the shooting ceased. Al Smith escaped on his horse after his 
six-shooter had been shot out of his right hand and the bullet had torn the flesh from 
his thumb and entered his wrist. Bob Taylor had dropped from his horse and got into 
a little washout, and threw up his hands and asked for mercy; Bob Smith was lying on 
the ground, calling for the men to come to him. The men went to him and rolled him 
over. He told them not to shoot him again; that he was already mortally wounded. 
He said that he had commenced the fight and had fired the first shot. 

"Taylor was placed on a horse without a bridle, but a rope was around its neck. 
He was taken to the Bar C ranch and subsequently was brought to Casper, but the 
tragedy having occurred in Johnson county, the authorities in this county had no 
jurisdiction over him, and he was turned over to the Johnson county authorities, who 
brought no action against him. 

" Bob Devine gave himself over to the Johnson county authorities and was 
placed under bond of $15,000 to appear for trial at the next term of the district court, 
but the officers of the law from both Natrona and Johnson counties thought it best to 
avoid further trouble and discontinue the feud, if possible, and the case against Devine 
was dismissed. 

"About the first of August, Devine and twenty-seven men again went to the 
Hole-in-the-Wall prepared to fight if necessary and get their cattle out of there. They 
succeeded in bringing several hundred head of cattle out of the Hole, and although 
they could see a great many men on horseback at a distance, they were not disturbed." 

In contradiction of the above story, the details of which were 
gleaned from Devine, Bob Taylor said that after Smith had been 
shot he rode with him about half a mile into a gulch, when Smith 
became so weak from the loss of blood and the suffering from his 
wound he could ride no farther. He helped the wounded man off his 
horse and laid him on the ground, remaining with him a short time, 
and then he came back toward Devine and his men with his hands 
raised, and asked for help for Smith. He said he voluntarily sur- 
rendered in order that he might get help for his wounded companion. 
They all started for the spot where Smith was lying helpless and 
dying, and while on their way Devine shot at him while his hands 
were up, and no doubt would have murdered him had it not been 
for Joe LaFors, who knocked Devine's gun aside just as he was 
about to fire and remarked: "For God's sake, don't murder the 
man!" When they reached the place where Smith was lying on the 
ground the wounded man was pleading for water, but Devine refused 
to allow anyone to give him water or relieve his suffering in any way. 
They remained here for nearly half an hour when Tom Gardner and 
several other men came riding up. Devine ordered Gardner and the 
other men to hand over their guns, but they refused to do so. Gard- 
ner said he was going to get some water for Smith, and Devine said 
he would kill anyone who attempted to help him in any way. In the 
face of this threat Gardner went to the creek, which was close by, 
and getting some water in his hat brought it to the dying man. 
Devine did not attempt to shoot Gardner. 



3l8 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Bob Devine and his son remained in Natrona county with the 
CY outfit for several years, and subsequently moved to Missouri, 
where they established themselves on a farm and they have lived 
there peacefully ever since. 

Although Bob Devine claimed the credit, or blame, whichever 
the case may be, for the killing of Bob Smith, it is said that Joe 
LaFors, who was the only cool-headed man in the bunch at the time 
of the shooting, fired the fatal shot. 

The Hole-in-the-Wall country is now a quiet, peaceful pasturage 
for sheep and cattle. The automobile has made State street and 
Broadway safer haunts for the bandit and robber than was the 
rough mountain and the gloomy canyon in the day of the saddle- 
horse. The same swift auto makes the Hole-in-the-Wall a pleasant 
picnic ground for pleasure-seekers from Casper. On any Sunday you 
can enjoy its scenic beauties and meet nothing more deadly than an 
occasional kodak fiend or a chicken sandwich. 

The Wilcox Train Robbery 

The Union Pacific continental west-bound mail train was held 
up, dynamited and robbed at about I o'clock on the morning of 
June 2, 1899, near Wilcox, a lonely station on the Wyoming division 
about 100 miles south of Casper. The train was flagged, two men 
entered the engine cab, and with drawn revolvers ordered the engi- 
neer to pull across the bridge and stop. The order was complied with, 
and then the bridge was blown up with dynamite in order to prevent 
the second section of the train, which was ten minutes behind, from 
crossing. The first section of the train was then run a couple of miles 
farther west and the express, baggage and mail cars were looted and 
the safe in the express car was blown open with dynamite and about 
^60,000 in unsigned bank notes were secured. More than one hun- 
dred pounds of dynamite was found near the scene of the robbery the 
following day. The robbers had their horses tied a short distance 
from where the robbery occurred, and after securing their loot they 
mounted their horses and headed toward the north. 

Word was received in Casper for the authorities to be on the 
lookout for the men, and W. E. Tubbs, with six men, was sent to 
Alcova to guard the bridge at that place. These men were on guard 
thirty-six hours, nearly all the time being exposed to a heavy down- 
pour of rain. 

On Saturday afternoon a special Union Pacific train arrived in 
Casper over the Northwestern tracks with half a dozen railroad 
detectives, and Sheriff Joe Hazen, of Converse county. Sheriff 



THE WILCOX TRAIN ROBBERY 319 

Hazen, Sheriff Oscar Hiestand of Natrona county, and Detective 
Vizzard of the Union Pacific were put in charge at this point. No 
trace of the robbers was discovered until Sunday morning, when Al 
Hudspeth came in from the north and reported that three men were 
camped in a cabin on Casper creek, about six miles northwest from 
town. He said he rode up toward the cabin and two men came out 
with rifles in their hands and told him to "hit the road, and hit it 
quick." Hudspeth came to town and reported the occurrence. It was 
learned afterwards that the three men were in Casper Saturday night 
and secured food and provisions, and undoubtedly were assisted by 
friends in making their escape out of town and across the Platte 
river bridge. Up to this time the identity of the robbers was not 
known, but it was later learned that they were George Currie, whose 
brother was an employee in the Chicago & Northwestern railroad 
round house here, Harve Logan, and one of the Roberts boys, three 
of the worst outlaws in the west. 

A posse of men composed of Sheriff Hiestand and Sheriff Hazen, 
Dr. J. F. Leeper, E. T. Payton, AI Hudspeth, J. F. Crawford, Sam 
Fish, J. B. Bradley, Lee Devine, Tom McDonald and Charles 
Heagney immediately left in pursuit of the outlaws. 

The robbers had left the cabin, but their tracks were followed to 
a point about five miles west from the Horse ranch on the Salt Creek 
road. At this point the robbers dismounted behind a hill and when 
the pursuers were within half a mile of them the robbers fired about 
twenty shots at the officers. A horse belonging to one of the posse was 
shot, and while Sheriff Hiestand was adjusting his rifle, with the 
bridle rein thrown over his left arm, a bullet struck the ground in 
front of his horse and the animal broke loose and ran away. The 
sheriff walked fifteen miles to secure another horse and then he came 
to town to get a better mount and to order provisions for the men on 
the chase, who had been in the saddle from Sunday noon until Mon- 
day night without anything to eat. Sheriff Hazen and the other men 
kept on the trail of the bandits all Sunday night, and on Monday in 
the forenoon Sheriff Hazen and Dr. Leeper dismounted and were 
walking up a draw, following the track of the outlaws' horses. The 
sheriff and the doctor were about one hundred yards apart when the 
sheriff called that he was on the trail. Dr. Leeper came up to within 
about six feet of Sheriff Hazen when the robbers, who were concealed 
behind a rock, opened fire on the two men. Sheriff Hazen was hit in 
the stomach and the bullet went through his body. Dr. Leeper fell 
to the ground, to avoid being hit by the bullets that were being shot 
at him b}^ the bandits, the firing continuing for about ten minutes. 
The doctor administered to the wounded man as best he could when 



320 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

the firing ceased and the robbers took this opportunity to make their 
escape to Castle creek, which was only a short distance below. They 
waded down this stream for several hundred yards in order to throw 
the posse off their trail. They left their horses and some of the plunder 
they had taken from the train. Their horses were caught and were 
ridden by some of the posse in pursuit of them. 

Sheriff Hazen was brought to Casper, and from here he was 
taken to Douglas on a special train, and on Tuesday morning at about 
5 o'clock he died from the effects of his wound. By this time more 
than fifty men were scouring the country in pursuit of the outlaws, 
and all kinds of reports were brought in by the men who came from 
the range after provisions and ammunition. The robbers, according 
to reports, were seen in half a dozen different places at the same time, 
and the number in the gang ranged from four to ten. It was finally 
learned, after about a week, that the three bandits, after shooting 
Sheriff Hazen, went north down Castle creek, and the next morning 
ate breakfast at Jim Nelson's sheep camp, which was located on 
Sullivan's springs, where John DeVore was herding sheep, but at 
the time DeVore was ignorant of the identity of the men or the crimes 
they had committed. From here they went into the Tisdale moun- 
tains and then made their way to Hill's ranch, on the north fork of 
the Powder river, near Kaycee, where they were furnished, or at least 
secured a change of clothing, and with fresh horses made their escape 
farther north. By this time the United States marshal, with a num- 
ber of deputies, ten picked men from the Buffalo militia, a dozen 
railroad detectives and at least one hundred men, and half a dozen 
bloodhounds had joined m the hunt, but the outlaws w^ere now among 
friends and they were furnished with food, shelter and horses, and 
their trail was covered up by their friends, and they made good their 
escape, probably to the Hole-in-the-Wall country, and from there 
they scattered in different directions, and nothing definite was heard 
from any of them until April 19, 1900, when Sheriff Oscar Hiestand 
received a telegram from Thompsons, Utah, which stated that 
George Currie had been shot and killed by Sheriff Tyler of Grand 
county, Utah. Currie had been stealing cattle in that country for a 
number of months. The sheriff came upon Currie unexpectedly, and 
ordered him to surrender. Currie said: "I will not surrender to you 
or to anyone," and thereupon shot at the officer, but missed. Currie 
immediately mounted his horse, and a running fight ensued for about 
six miles, but finally the sheriff succeeded in shooting Currie through 
the back of the head, killing him instantly. Currie was positively 
identified by John DeVore, the sheep herder from Casper, at whose 
wagon the bandit visited while being chased through Natrona county 



THE WILCOX TRAIN ROBBERY 321 

the year before. The body of Currie was taken to Chadron, Nebraska, 
by his father where it was interred, and thus ended the career of 
"Flat Nose George," who was a cow puncher in Central Wyoming in 
the early days until he turned bad and joined the "wild bunch." He 
had robbed postoffices and country stores, stolen horses and cattle, 
and had held up trains and looted the mail and express cars, and 
justly merited the ignominious death that was meted out to him. 

Harve Logan, alias "Kid Curry," the leader of the bandits, and 
undoubtedly the boldest and worst desperado that ever infested the 
west, who was positively known to have killed at least nine men, but 
who was accused of having committed more than forty murders, 
went to Montana from the Hole-in-the-Wall country, where he 
remained for about two years. On July 3, 1901, he and his gang held 
up a Great Northern train near Warner, Montana. They secured 
^40,000 in new bank notes, but the notes lacked the signatures of the 
bank officials, as did those that were secured at the Wilcox robbery. 
Logan then left Montana, going to Knoxville, Tennessee. In Knox- 
vllle he went into a clothing store and made a purchase of some wear- 
ing apparel, tendering a fifty-dollar bank note in payment. The clerk 
did not have enough money in the register to make change and asked 
Logan to wait until it was sent to a nearby bank. At the bank the 
cashier recognized it as one of the notes stolen at the hold-up of the 
Great Northern train in Montana. A telephone message was sent to 
police headquarters, and two detectives were detailed to arrest Logan. 
The officers entered the clothing store with drawn revolvers, but had 
not counted on their man. Logan saw them first, and in the fight that 
followed he shot both, wounding one so badly that he was in a pre- 
carious condition for several months, but finally recovered. Logan 
escaped from the store, and knocking the driver off an ice wagon, 
drove away in the vehicle at top speed. He was later run down and 
captured. 

He was tried in Knoxville at the November term of the United 
States court, being charged with canceling bank notes to the amount 
of $9,620, and with forging the names of the Montana bank officials to 
the notes, and with passing and having in his possession illegal money. 
He was convicted on ten counts, and he stood to receive a sentence of 
not less than thirty years and not more than ninety years in the federal 
prison, but before he was sentenced he escaped from the Knoxville 
jail. One afternoon at about five o'clock, while the guard in the jail 
had his back toward him, Logan threw a wire over his head, lassoing 
him and tying him tight to the bars of the cage. He secured the wire 
by unwrapping it from a broom handle that had been left in his cell. 
Having one entire floor to himself, Logan next secured two pistols 



322 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

that had been placed in the corridor of the jail for use by the officers 
if needed. When the jailer appeared in answer to a knock on the door 
of the corridor, Logan covered him with a pistol and forced him to 
unlock the door and take him to the basement of the jail. Then he 
forced the jailer to take him to the sheriff's stable and saddle the 
sheriff's horse. This done, Logan mounted and rode away in the 
direction of the mountains. A posse started in pursuit of the des- 
perado within an hour, but they did not succeed in capturing him. A 
few months afterwards Logan was seen near Kaycee, in Wyoming, by 
a man who knew him well. He was on foot and was with another 
man. From Kaycee the men went to the Hole-in-the-Wall country. 
John May and Robert Tisdale were stopping at the McDonald ranch 
that night, and some time during the night one of Mr. McDonald's 
horses and a saddle were stolen, and John May's horse, saddle, chaps 
and six-shooter were stolen. Mr. McDonald sent a man to Kaycee 
who notified Deputy Sheriff Beard of the theft. Beard and Alva 
Young trailed the thieves up the Red Valley to Buffalo creek, and 
from there they followed the trail to Walt Putney's ranch, on Bridger 
creek, about forty miles southwest. W^hen the officers came in sight 
of the Putney ranch, they saw two men riding over a hill to the west. 
The officers followed the men, and while they were riding down into a 
gulch they saw a man coming back afoot over the top of a hill. The 
officers dismounted and got into a small ravine. The man on the hill 
shot at the officers and the fire was returned. The battle continued 
until the man on the hill, who was Logan, was hit. It was then that 
Logan's companion came in sight with two horses. Logan was helped 
on his horse by the man and they made their escape into the hills. 

Two nights after this fight occurred two men rode into Ther- 
mopolis at about nine o'clock. They were wearing masks when they 
called at Dr. Julius A. Schulke's office. They were heavily armed, but 
they informed the doctor that they would do him no harm if he would 
do as they said. They ordered him to gather such instruments and 
procure such medicine, bandages and other things necessary to treat 
a human being suffering from a serious gun-shot wound, and to do the 
things they ordered quietly and quickly. The doctor complied with 
the demands with dispatch. He was then blindfolded and led out to 
a buggy and assisted into it. The men then drove away with him, 
and they were on the road several hours, but the doctor did not know 
how far or in what direction he was from Thermopolis when the team 
stopped. He was assisted out of the vehicle and into a house, and was 
taken into a room where blankets were hung up around a bed so he 
could not recognize the room if he had ever been there before or if 
he ever came again. It was here that the blindfold was taken from 



THE CURRIE GANG 323 

his eyes, and he saw a man of very dark complexion lying on the bed. 
The man had been shot through the groin with a soft-nosed rifle 
bullet, which was similar to the bullets used by Deputy Sheriff Beard. 
The wound was dressed and the physician left medicine and direc- 
tions for the treatment of the patient. The doctor was then blind- 
folded again, and was taken from the house to the buggy and 
returned to his home in Thermopolis, arriving there just before day- 
light. He was given a liberal fee and was told to remember nothing 
that had transpired that night. A few nights later two men again 
appeared in the same manner and at about the same time as the 
previous visit. He received the same orders and was carried away in 
the same condition and to the same place as before, and he adminis- 
tered to the same wounded man, but the wound had become infected 
and the patient was delirious. The physician told the men that, in 
his opinion, death would result within a few days. The physician was 
then blindfolded and returned to Thermopolis as before and he was 
again given a liberal fee.^ The doctor received no more calls of the 
same nature, and Harve Logan has not since been seen or heard from. 

It is said by some that he did not die, but after he recovered he 
went away, with the declaration that he would never again steal a 
horse or a cow, that he was through with the train robbing business, 
and that he intended to settle down and live a quiet, peaceful life. 
The physician who treated him, however, was of the opinion that he 
died. The supposition is that the patient was Harve Logan and that 
he was shot by Deputy SheriflF Beard. 

It is said of Logan that before he robbed the train in Montana, 
he killed the sheriff^ who had shot George Currie, and he had killed 
every man he imagined had ever done him an injury; that he 
always came back and got his man, and he had no more compunction 
about killing a man than he had in stealing a bunch of cattle or 
horses. That he never came back after the officer who shot him 
strengthens the hypothesis that he died. That the officer who shot 
him did the best job that was ever done in Wyoming there is no 
question. 

The Currie Gang 

The Currie gang operated in Wyoming, Montana, and South 
Dakota, from 1894 to 1900, stealing horses, robbing postoffices and 
trains and holding up stores and banks and committing murder upon 
the least provocation. The leaders were Harvey Logan, alias "Kid 
Curry," George Currie, alias "Flat Nose George," and Tom and 

'Dr. Schuike, who died near DeRanch from an overdose of morphine in August, igo3, in a stage 
coach, while on his way from ThermopoHs to Casper, told of this incident to one of his closest friends, who, 
after the doctor's death, felt at liberty to make it public. 



324 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

George Dickson, alias Tom and George "Jones," alias the "Roberts 
Brothers." They were also at the head of the notorious Hole-in-the- 
Wall gang, and were noted as the most desperate of all the marauding 
bands who terrorized the district where they carried on their opera- 
tions. People were in constant fear of them and property was in 
jeopardy. 

Two members of this gang appeared at Wolton, an interior town 
sixty miles west from Casper, one evening about 9 o'clock early in 
June, 1898. Entering the store, they selected about sixty dollars' 
worth of goods. After the package had been wrapped, a third man 
came into the store with a handkerchief over his face and the three 
men drew their guns and ordered the manager of the store, R. L. 
Carpenter, and the clerk, Jay Harmon, to throw up their hands. 
While two of the men covered the manager and clerk with their guns, 
the third rifled the safe and robbed the postofiice. About ^300 in 
money and goods were taken. Carpenter and Harmon were then 
marched out to the corrals and were backed against the fence while 
the robbers prepared to leave. The bundles were tied on the horses 
and a buggy team belonging to H. B. Brower, the hotel proprietor, 
and Carpenter's saddle horse were stolen. Carpenter and Harmon 
were warned if they valued their lives, not to report the robbery for 
twenty-four hours. The outlaws then bade the men "good night," 
and rode away. The next day at noon the hold-up was reported and a 
posse was organized and followed the trail of the robbers southwest 
for twenty miles, where they found Carpenter's horse, but all trace 
of the men was lost. The gang was next heard from at Belle Fourche, 
South Dakota. After adding three more desperate characters to their 
party they held up the bank at that place on the 28th of June and 
secured nearly $4,000 in cash. 

At about 9 o'clock in the morning, the six men rode into town on 
horseback and went immediately to the bank. Upon entering, they 
covered the customers and employees of the bank with their guns and 
took all the money in sight. One of the thieves rushed out of the front 
door and the others went out the side door. They had six-shooters in 
each hand and fired in all directions. Then they deliberately tightened 
the cinches of their saddles and mounting, rode out of town. One of 
them was unable to mount his horse, which shied, broke away from 
him, and started after the others. He made a frantic eflPort to secure 
another horse and finally rushed around the crowd and attempted to 
cut the harness off a mule, which was hitched to a cart, but he was 
captured. He had in his possession $392, and gave his name as Tom 
O'Day. The others were followed by a posse of fifty men, who over- 
took them at the Clay ranch, twelve miles from town. A gun fight 



THE CURRIE GANG 325 

ensued in which some of the posse were hit by bullets and some of 
their horses were killed. Several hundred shots were fired, but the 
robbers escaped without being hurt. O'Day was taken to the jail at 
Deadwood, but made his escape after about two weeks. He was 
retaken, however, and at the trial, the state's attorney was unable to 
prove that he was one of the hold-up men and he was turned loose. 

The Currie gang was again heard from on August 20, when they 
held up Postmaster Budd at Big Piney, Uinta county, and secured 
about $300. They also made an attempt to rob the store and post- 
office at Granger, Wyoming, but were unsuccessful. 

Government detectives and county sheriffs trailed the thieves up 
Green river and on to the headwaters of the Gros Ventres, and in a 
narrow defile of the mountains the sheriff's party was ambushed and 
fired upon by the fugitives and one of the posse was badly wounded. 
The surprise was so complete that the robbers succeeded in making 
their escape without even being shot at. The sheriff's men were 
carrying their guns with the stocks down and could not get them in 
action until the robbers had fled. Upon going to the spot where the 
attack was made, it was found that the shots were fired at a distance 
of only fifteen paces. The robbers were driven back into the rocks 
and were followed to a point on the Shoshone Indian reservation forty 
miles below Fort Washakie. There they disappeared and there was 
no trace of them for several days, but on September 9, they were seen 
crossing the Big Wind river thirty-five miles above Fort Washakie. 
On September 14, they crossed the Belle Fourche river near the Mis- 
souri Buttes and the Devil's Tower. By this time they had ridden 
more than 400 miles in five days. They covered one stretch of 150 
miles in twenty-four hours, which conveys the wonderful endurance 
of the fugitives. The authorities were on their trail for more than six 
weeks and the chase led them through Wyoming, South Dakota, 
North Dakota, Montana, and finally almost to the Canadian line, 
in the region of the Pecatts rapids. Here they were overtaken while 
they were in camp, wholly unaware of the proximity of the officers. 
They were all seated on the ground with their guns within easy reach 
and their horses were unsaddled. When the officers were seen, the men 
with the agility of cats jumped to their feet, seized their guns, and in 
a moment were mounted bareback and in full flight. As they re- 
treated, both sides opened fire and many shots were exchanged, but 
no one was injured. The posse returned to the camp after the fugi- 
tives had made their escape and they found a fine assortment of 
saddles and fifteen head of horses, which had been stolen. 

The fugitives returned to the Big Horn basin country about ten 
days later and took up their rendezvous in the country which is said 



326 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

to be the most romantic in North America. The roads wind through 
beautiful natural pastures and deep, dark gullies, the district for 200 
miles north and south and 100 east and west being a mighty basin, 
once the bed of an ancient lake. In the rugged mountains which 
border the basin are retreats with which the fugitives were perfectly 
familiar, and it was here the most skilled sheriffs and county officers 
of Wyoming and Montana were baffled, acknowledged defeat, and 
gave up the chase. 

Rode Out of Town on a Rail 

On the 14th of September, 1901, when President William Mc- 
Kinley died from his wounds which were inflicted by a bullet fired by 
an anarchist, a man named Wagner, who had been in Casper but a 
few days, remarked that "he ought to have been shot a year ago." 
The fellow made the remark in one of the saloons in the evening, but 
nothing was done or said about it at the time. The next morning, 
however, about 9 o'clock when some of the business men of the town 
were told about it, eight prominent Casper men went to the saloon 
and took the fellow out and led him to the Nicolaysen lumber yard. 
He was then put on a 2 x 6 scantling, and with four men at each end 
of the piece of lumber, the fellow was carried to the railroad where 
he was unloaded and told to travel east, and not to look back. The 
fellow complied with the order and thus saved the citizens the trouble 
of giving him a coat of tar and feathers and probably a severe beating 
which he justly deserved. The men who put the fellow on the rail and 
carried him out of town were criticized by most of the people in the 
town — because they let the fellow off so easy. 

"Driftwood Jim" McCloud 

" Driftwood Jim " McCloud, who shot Ben Minick, a sheep owner 
in the Black mountain district, east of Thermopolis, m 1902, and 
who robbed the Buffalo postoffice, blew a safe at Thermopolis and held 
up the Buffalo-Sheridan stage, all within a year's time, was arrested 
at Thermopolis in the summer of 1903 upon a charge of robbing the 
Buffalo postoffice. He was taken from Thermopolis to Cody in a 
wagon drawn by four horses and from Cody he was taken to Basin. 
"Driftwood Jim" and the driver occupied the front seat of the wagon 
and in the rear seat were two guards with rifles and revolvers, and 
surrounding the wagon were six men on horseback, all of whom were 
armed with revolvers. "Driftwood Jim" wore handcuffs on his 
wrists and shackles on his ankles. McCloud had been arrested many 



HORSE THIEF TOM O DAY 327 

times before, and had as many times made his escape from jail and 
the officers. The notorious Tom O'Day, with his gang, had planned 
to rescue Jim from the officers on this occasion, but when Tom and 
his men, who were hidden in the brush along the roadside about ten 
miles out from Thermopolis, saw the strength of the officers, they did 
not make the attempt to deliver their comrade and partner in crime. 
"Driftwood Jim" was taken from Basin to Cheyenne under an escort 
of six men. In Cheyenne he escaped from jail with Tom Horn, the 
killer, but both men were recaptured within half an hour after their 
escape. Horn was hanged in the Laramie county jail on November 
20, 1903, and at the January, 1904, term of the federal court, "Drift- 
wood Jim " pleaded guilty to robbing the Buffalo postoffice on the 27th 
of April, 1903, and was sentenced by Judge Riner to serve four years 
in the federal prison at Leavenworth. Before he came to Wyoming 
he robbed the postoffice at Topeka, Kansas, and was arrested upon 
the charge and was placed in the county jail to await trial, but he 
made his escape and came west. After having served his term in the 
federal prison for the robbery of the Buffalo postoffice he was re- 
arrested and taken to Topeka, where he was tried, found guilty and 
sentenced to serve two years in the prison from which he had just 
been released. After having been released from prison the second 
time he has not made his presence known in Wyoming. Like Tom 
O'Day, McCloud was a coward at heart, and always showed the 
"white feather" when in a tight place, but when he had the advan- 
tage of his victim he was a vicious brute and cared no more for human 
life than a decent man would care for the life of a coyote. 

Horse Thief Tom O'Day 

Tom O'Day, the notorious horse thief and all 'round bad man, 
was captured at the break of day on the Big Horn mountains, no 
miles from Casper on Sunday, November 23, 1903, by Sheriff Frank 
K. Webb. At the time of his capture, O'Day had twenty-three head 
of horses in his possession which he was attempting to drive into 
Montana where he hoped to deliver them to some of his confederates. 
The sheriff and his prisoner arrived in Casper at 1 145 the following 
Tuesday afternoon, the trip being made on horseback, O'Day riding 
ahead and the sheriff and two deputies in the rear. 

The sheriff trailed O'Day to a cabin on the mountains in the 
evening, but waited until morning before the attempt was made to 
take him. O'Day had gathered the bunch of horses in Converse and 
Natrona counties and had been driving them for a week before he 
was overtaken. When he came out of the cabin, the sheriff had the 



328 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

drop on him and demanded that he throw up his hands. O'Day was 
taken by surprise, and at first hesitated to raise his hands, but the 
sheriff threatened to shoot him if he did not comply immediately. 
O'Day said, "Good God, Webb, don't kill me," and raised his hands 
in the air. He had on his person a .45 six-shooter and there was a 
.30-.30 rifle in the cabin which he carried on his saddle in the daytime 
while he was driving the horses out of the country. 

The horses were taken to Lost Cabin where they were put in a 
corral, but during the night the animals were turned out and driven 
away by men who were supposed to be friends and in partnership 
with O'Day. Twenty-one of the horses were recovered in about a 
week and they were brought to Casper and in due time were turned 
over to their lawful owners. 

O'Day's trial came up at the February, 1904, term of the district 
court. The first jury did not agree, there being six in favor of convic- 
tion and six for acquittal. This was not a great surprise to the law- 
abiding people, for it was the common talk that O'Day had too many 
friends in the country and that a conviction could not be reached, no 
matter how strong the proof of his guilt might be. Another jury was 
drawn and it also disagreed, there being eleven for conviction and one 
for acquittal. This gave the officers and the good people some 
encouragement. The third jury was drawn and the trial was again 
the center of attraction. Judge Craig was presiding. A verdict of 
guilty was soon reached by this jury after the testimony was 
adduced and the instructions of the court were given. The verdict 
seemed to be a great surprise for O'Day, and he displayed consider- 
able temper toward the sheriff, the prosecuting attorney, the court, 
and the jury. Six years in the penitentiary was the sentence of the 
court, but before the sentence was pronounced. Judge Craig gave the 
convicted man a lecture. "In the early days of Wyoming," the court 
said, "it was the custom to rustle stock, and if a list could be compiled 
of all the men who had gotten a start in life by this method, it would 
make quite a large catalogue. But those days are past, and Tom, you 
ought to have quit when the rest of the boys did. If I were to sentence 
you for all the crimes you have committed, you would go to the 
penitentiary for the remainder of your life, but your sentence shall 
be only for the crime upon which you have been convicted. 

"No man ever made himself rich by stealing; men will always be 
better off if they take only that which rightfully and lawfully belongs 
to them; men who are dishonest never have very much to leave to 
their widows and children. After you serve your sentence, try and 
lead an honest life; you will find that it pays; there is but one result 
for those who steal." 



OTTO CHENOWETH AND 'STUTTERING DICK" 329 

After the sentence, O'Day said to Sheriff Webb, "If I had a gun 
you would never put me in that jail again and I'm not in the pen yet. 
I want you to remember that." The sheriff told him that he was care- 
ful to see that he didn't have a gun, and therefore there would be no 
trouble in getting him back to jail, "and it won't be long until you 
are in the pen, I want you to remember that." 

A few days after the sentence the sheriff put O'Day and two other 
men who were under sentence in the baggage car, where he was 
securely ironed. An attempt was made by O'Day's sister, who was in 
Casper from Omaha, to visit her brother in the car, but she as well as 
all others were denied that privilege. 

He was landed safely in the penitentiary without trouble except 
at Wheatland where they were eating supper. O'Day attempted to 
get the sheriff's gun from its scabbard. Failing, he tried to pass it off 
as a joke. He served his sentence, making a model prisoner. After 
his release he went to Iowa, bought a small farm, followed Judge 
Craig's advice about being honest, at least as far as horse stealing was 
concerned, and became a prosperous, horny-handed son of the soil. 

The three court trials cost the county $2,684.05, and the expense 
of his capture was $586.55, making a total of $3,270.60, but it was 
money well spent, for it was the means of breaking up one of the worst 
gangs of horse thieves that ever operated in Central Wyoming. 

Otto Chenoweth, the Gentleman Horse Thief, and 
"Stuttering Dick" 

Otto Chenoweth was known as Central Wyoming's "Gentleman 
Horse Thief." He was a man of good appearance, well educated, a 
good conversationalist, and acceptable company anywhere. He came 
to Wyoming from the effete east in 1884 or '85 and worked for the 
4 W cow outfit on the Cheyenne river. His purpose in coming out 
west from Worcester, Massachusetts, was to get ideas on painting 
western scenes — he was an artist of considerable ability. Instead of 
cultivating artistic ideas, he formed a friendship with Kid Anderson 
and Dad Young, two notorious thieves, and the three of them drifted 
to the Sundance country where they rustled cattle and stole horses 
until one day Chenoweth came face to face with Joe Elliott, a 
"killer" for the stock association. He knew Elliott and Elliott knew 
him and he knew what Elliott would do to him, but he made his 
getaway and went to Chadron, where he sold his horses. 

He then went home to his mother, where he intended to remain 
and reform, but he could not shake off the western fever, and in the 
fall of 1892, he came to Casper. He went to work herding sheep for 



330 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Robert Parkhurst, and one stormy night in the spring of 1893, while 
camped about fifteen miles northeast of Casper, on the north side of 
the river, he heard his sheep commence to move. He arose from his 
bed and in his underclothing ran out to see if he could not stop them 
from drifting with the storm. The night was dark and the blinding 
snow storm soon caused him to lose the location of his camp. 

Finally he started for Casper, and after traveling for hours and 
hours through the storm and over a rough country, he reached the 
Platte river bridge west from town, almost exhausted and nearly 
frozen. From here he had but a mile to walk, but in traveling that 
mile he fell numerous times and made part of the distance by crawling 
on his hands and knees. With a supreme effort he finally reached 
town, and after a few days recovered from his terrible experience. 
He did not return to work on the range, but went to work as a 
gambler, and followed this occupation off and on for about seven 
years. He finally went into the sheep-raising business with Nick 
Schreiner, but in the fall of 1900 was arrested upon the charge of 
stealing 150 head of sheep from Leslie Gantz. At the first trial the 
jury failed to agree and when his name was called for the second trial 
in July, 1901, he did not appear, and his bond of $500 was forfeited. 

He went to the Kaycee country where he and Richard Hale, 
alias "Stuttering Dick," alias "Black Dick," formed a partnership 
and went to Medora, South Dakota, where they stole a bunch of 
blooded horses belonging to the Little Missouri company. The 
horses were valued at ^10,000. While the thieves were driving the 
stock away, they came across a number of CY cow-boys whom they 
thought were officers and a running battle ensued. They abandoned 
their horses and made their escape, but the officers later took up their 
trail and followed them to Billings, Montana, where Chenoweth was 
captured, but Dick escaped. Chenoweth was taken to Medora and 
placed in jail and after two months had won the friendship and 
confidence of the sheriff to such extent that he was made a trusty, 
and one day while the sheriff was absent, he walked away. In due 
time he arrived in San Francisco, where he worked in a restaurant. 
Later he went to Seattle, then to Montana, and then returned to the 
Lost Cabin country. He made his headquarters at the Walt Putney 
ranch, where in a short time he was captured by Sheriff Webb. The 
sheriff brought him to Lost Cabin, arriving there at about 10 o'clock 
at night, where he intended to remain until morning and come to 
Casper the next day. While lunch was being prepared in the J. B. 
Okie residence for the sheriff and his prisoner, Chenoweth told the 
sheriff he was going into the kitchen for a drink of water, but instead 
of stopping in the kitchen he ran through to the parlor, where a dance 



OTTO CHENOWETH AND STUTTERING DICK 33 I 

was in progress, and a great many ladies and gentlemen were present. 
The sheriff, with a drawn revolver ran after him, and naturally there 
was considerable of a commotion and excitement among the dancers. 
Chenoweth escaped into the open, with the sheriff m hot pursuit, and 
after firing half a dozen shots and running at top speed for a distance 
of at least three hundred yards, the officer finally recaptured the 
prisoner and brought him back to the house, where the two men had 
their lunch, after which Chenoweth sent apologies to the ladies in the 
parlor for so unceremoniously intruding upon their presence, and he 
also apologized for the rudeness of the sheriff in entering the parlor in 
such an ungentlemanly manner, and having a revolver in his hand. 
The next day he was brought to Casper and from here he was taken 
to Medora to stand trial upon the charge of horse stealing, but instead 
of being convicted of stealing horses, he was adjudged insane, and 
sent to the asylum at Jamestown, S. D. After a short time his mother 
came and got him and took him to his former home at Worcester, 
Massachusetts, promising to have him confined in a private sanitari- 
um, until he recovered from his mental aberration and his desire to 
steal and rob. 

"Stuttering" or "Black" Dick Hale was never captured, but he 
came into the limelight again by being classed as one of the Hole-in- 
the-Wall gang. He was charged as a cattle rustler, horse thief, and 
train robber, and rewards aggregating more than $3,000 were offered 
for his apprehension. In November, 1901 , the Johnson county author- 
ities overtook him at Wolton and after a battle in which Dick's horse 
was shot and killed, he pretended that he was severely injured when 
the horse fell with him. He was taken to the Buck Camp ranch and 
put to bed in the bunk house with a sheep herder guarding him. 
During the night. Hale overpowered his guard, took his six-shooter 
and went to the ranch house where he held up the inmates and secured 
a rifle and a belt full of cartridges. He then went to the barn, saddled 
and bridled a horse, and rode away. A number of shots were fired 
after him and one bullet took effect, but he was not dangerously 
wounded. The next day. Hale was trailed a distance of thirty miles 
by spots of blood that fell from his wound, but he took to a stream 
and threw his pursuers off the trail. William Madden offered a 
reward of $1,000 for his capture. Early in January, Dick was located 
in Routt county, Colorado, but he got wind of the officers' coming and 
fled to Utah. About the middle of February, he was located in the 
mountains near Thompsons, Utah, but he was warned by friends of 
the approach of the officers and again escaped and was never cap- 
tured. The story that he had killed a number of men was not true. 
So far as known he never committed murder. He was desperate, 



332 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

however, and would fight to the last ditch if cornered. He was a 
superb horseman, a crack shot with both rifle and pistol, and an 
expert in handling the lariat. 



Tom Horn, the "Killer" 

Tom Horn made his living by killing people. He was hired under 
the guise of a detective by the Wyoming Stockgrowers' association, 
but his real business was to "dispose" of men who were "marked" 
by some of the members of the association. Although there is no 
record of anyone in Natrona county ever having been "disposed" of 
by him, it was known that he often came here and was seen during the 
evenings in the vicinity of the homes of ranchers whom the members 
of the association accused of using a long rope and a branding iron on 
cattle and calves that were picked up on the open range. The men 
who were "marked" were aware of it and whenever Horn came to 
the country, the "marked" men kept out of sight until the killer 
went away, and more than one man has slept in the brush while Horn 
lurked about. 

Horn came to Wyoming in the early '90's from the Pinkerton 
Detective agency. Shortly after he commenced operations, two men, 
named Powell and Lewis, were shot and killed in the Iron mountain 
district. Horn did not deny being responsible for their deaths and he 
is said to have told publicly how Powell begged him to spare his life, 
and he joked about how he killed them. Numerous other men came 
to their deaths from bullets fired by this professional killer, and for a 
long time many business men, as well as the men on the range, and 
even some of the ofl&cers of the law, seemed to be afraid of him. 

On July 18, 1901, he shot and killed Willie Nickell, a thirteen- 
year-old lad, in the vicinity of where Powell and Lewis were killed. 
A stone was placed under the dead boy's head, which was said to be 
the manner in which Horn always left his victims so that his employers 
would know that he was responsible for the deed. The boy's father, 
Kels P. Nickell, was marked as a rustler, and while Horn was lying 
in wait for the father, the boy came past and discovered him. Horn 
realized that he had been seen by the lad, and in order to prevent his 
informing his father, Horn deliberately killed him and then left the 
place with all possible haste. About ten days later, Kels Nickell, 
while working in his garden, was shot at twice from ambush, both 
shots taking eflFect, one in the arm and the other in the hip. 

The crime of killing an innocent boy was so dastardly that the 
whole state became aroused and demanded that the guilty party be 
apprehended and punished. Deputy United States Marshal Joe 



TOM HORN, THE KILLER 333 

LaFors, who was also a detective for the stockmen, but who, it may 
be said to his credit, never stooped to cold-blooded murder, was 
reasonably sure that Horn committed the crime. On January lo, 
1902, he obtained a confession from Horn, while Horn was intoxicated, 
that he had killed the boy, remarking that it was the "best and 
dirtiest shot I ever made." LaFors had made arrangements for Horn 
to come to his room, and had concealed two expert stenographers in 
an adjoining room who heard everything that was said and took it 
down in shorthand. Horn told of the many killings that he had made 
and among the rest, he described how he killed the Nickell boy. A 
few days after he made the confession, while standing in the lobby 
of the Inter Ocean hotel at Cheyenne, he was arrested by Sheriff 
Smalley of Laramie county. Every precaution had been made by the 
sheriff to kill Horn if he attempted to resist, but when he was placed 
under arrest he merely treated it as a joke, unaware that he had been 
tricked by LaFors into making the confession and relying upon the 
strong organization back of him to prevent his conviction. At the 
October term of court his trial was had. Walter R. Stoll, one of the 
best criminal lawyers in the west, prosecuted the case. Horn was 
represented by able counsel, but on October 24, the jury returned a 
verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree against the defendant, 
and he was sentenced to be hanged in January, 1903, but a stay of 
execution was granted by the supreme court. In the meantime, 
Horn's friends left nothing undone to effect his escape, even to mak- 
ing arrangements to blow up the county jail where he was confined. 

On August 6, Horn and "Driftwood Jim" McCloud did escape 
from the jail by their overpowering the jailer, taking away his keys, 
and arming themselves with two automatic revolvers which were in 
the jailer's possession. The men did not know how to use the auto- 
matics, however, for that kind of firearm had come into use after they 
had been incarcerated. They were recaptured within half an hour 
after they were on the streets and after that every precaution was 
taken to avoid another jail delivery. 

The time set for Horn's hanging was November 20, 1903, and 
several days before the execution, members of the state militia were 
put on duty around the jail and no one was allowed to pass the guard 
without having an official permit. On the day of the hanging, the 
streets in the vicinity of the jail were crowded with people, but they 
were kept away from the jail by the militia, Horn mounted the 
gallows without a tremor and remarked, "A man must die some time, 
and it may as well be one time as another." After a brief ceremony, 
the trap was sprung and Horn shot down through the opening and the 
ignominious death that he so justly deserved was meted out to him, 



334 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

and his soul went staggering into the lowest and darkest depths of 
hell, there to suffer for evermore the torments of perdition. 



The Trout-Biggs Kidnaping Case 

At the February, 1904, term of the district court in Natrona 
county, Anna E. Trout and her daughter, Viola Biggs, were con- 
victed of kidnaping the three weeks' old bab}^ boy of William J. 
Biggs and Viola Biggs, and Mrs. Trout was sentenced to serve 
eighteen months in the penitentiary at Rawlins and Viola Biggs was 
sentenced to serve twelve months. William Biggs and his wife, Viola, 
separated before their child was born and the young wife Hved with 
her father and mother. After the child was born, the young mother 
claimed that she could not support it and she asked her mother to 
take it away and have it placed in an orphans' home. Mrs. Trout 
took the child to Denver and attempted to have it placed in an 
orphans' home, but she refused to answer the necessary questions 
before the child was taken in and the infant was refused admission. 
Mrs. Trout then took the baby to the Union depot, pinned a note on 
the little one's clothing, giving its name and date of birth and left it 
in a seat in the waiting room. The depot matron found the child and 
took it to the police station and from there it was taken to the 
orphanage, where it was recognized. Subsequently, it was brought 
back to Casper, and the mother and grandmother were arrested, 
tried, and convicted. 

The two women served about six months of their sentence in the 
penitentiary when they were released by the supreme court upon 
some technicality in the proceedings of the court. These were the 
only women at that time who had ever been sentenced to the peni- 
tentiary from Natrona county, and it was a most pitiful sight to look 
upon the young woman twenty years of age and her mother about 
fifty years of age, taken to the state's prison, especially when the 
grandmother was leaving two daughters, one eight years of age and 
the other fourteen years of age, to have the finger of disgrace pointed 
at them from every direction. 

Other women in Casper, who have committed the most cold- 
blooded murders, have been given their liberty in recent years and by 
some people have been lauded for the part they played. 

Lincoln Morrison Shot 

Lincoln Morrison, a Casper boy, was shot on Saturday night, 
May 29, 1904, while herding a band of sheep on Alkali gulch, on 



DEPUTY SHERIFF ED LEE, ET AL., STEAL HORSES 335 

Kirby creek, in Big Horn county, about fourteen miles from De- 
Ranch and twenty miles from Thermopolis. The bullet entered the 
boy's stomach and passed through his body in an oblique direction. 
A reward of ^2,500 was offered for the arrest and conviction of the 
party who did the shooting; ^1,000 was offered for a chain of evidence 
that would lead to the conviction of the person who did the shooting; 
$500 was offered for corroborative evidence sworn to and used on 
behalf of the state in the trial of the guilty party, and $1,000 was 
offered for the dead body of the party who did the shooting. Morrison 
recovered from his wounds, but the guilty party was never appre- 
hended. 

Deputy Sheriff Ed Lee, et al, Steal Horses 

Lee Clubb, alias Ed Lee, George Jones and Dave Meckley, alias 
J. Z. Clark, the first two acting as deputy sheriffs of Natrona county, 
did a thriving business in horse stealing during the early months of 
1905. Jones and Meckley would go out on the range and round up a 
bunch of horses, and then Lee would join them and the three men 
would change the brands. After a few days the horses were brought 
to Casper, and Lee, as deputy sheriff, would inspect them according 
to law, before they were shipped. He would turn a copy of the inspec- 
tion certificate in to the railroad agent but no record of the inspection 
or the shipment was made in the sheriff's office. Sheriff Frank K. 
Webb became suspicious that there was something crooked, and in 
March, 1905, made a trip to Omaha, Saint Joe, East Saint Louis and 
other markets, where he found a number of horses that had been 
shipped by different parties, all of which had been inspected by Lee, 
but upon which no returns had been made in the sheriff's ofiice. From 
East Saint Louis, Sheriff Webb sent a telegram to the prosecuting 
attorney of Natrona county apprising him of the thefts and ordering 
Lee's arrest. Lee's arrest created considerable surprise, for he appar- 
ently was a trust-worthy officer and a model young man, and he had 
many friends who were firm in their belief that it was all a mistake, 
but he was lodged in jail. At the preliminary trial Jones turned state's 
evidence and Lee was bound over to the district court for trial without 
bond, upon the charge of stealing horses, returning false brands upon 
horses that he had inspected and accepting bribes. By this time it 
had been learned that Lee and Meckley had been convicted of steal- 
ing cattle in Colorado and that Meckley had served a term in the 
penitentiary and that Lee, who, at the time of his conviction, was less 
than twenty-one years of age, had served time in the reform school. 

On Friday, May 13, 1905, which proved to be a lucky day for 
Lee, at 5 o'clock in the evening, as the deputy sheriff unlocked the 



336 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

cage door to hand in some food for the prisoners, he was overpowered 
by Lee, Martin Trout and a man named Wardlow. The deputy's 
keys and a gun were taken from him, and he was locked in a celh The 
three men then went to the residence portion of the jail where they 
overpowered Mrs. Webb, wife of the sheriff, and locked her in the cell 
with the deputy. They told the deputy and Mrs. Webb that they 
would leave the keys where they could be easily found and when the 
sheriff returned he would have no trouble in finding them, and that 
they would be locked in the cell only a few hours. The three men then 
bade the deputy sheriff and Mrs. Webb good-bye and departed. 
Wardlow was soon captured, but Lee and Trout could not be found. 
A reward of $1,000 was offered for Lee's capture, but no trace of him 
could be found. In February, 1906, Sheriff Webb made a trip to old 
Mexico, where he was informed that Lee was located. The sheriff was 
absent six weeks, but returned without his man. He said, however, 
that for several weeks he was hot on the trail of Lee, but the fugitive 
always kept a few days ahead of him. Hope of capturing the prisoner 
was practically abandoned, and in a few years the charges against 
him were stricken from the docket of the district court, but in 
February, 1910, it was learned that Lee was in Rock Springs, and 
ex-Sheriff Webb went there, arrested him and brought him to Casper, 
but when the ex-sheriff attempted to have him confined in the 
county jail, the sheriff would not accept him as a prisoner, and the 
prosecuting attorney said that inasmuch as all the charges against 
him had been stricken from the court docket he would not file an 
information against him or reinstate the cases on the docket until he 
was assured that competent witnesses could be secured to appear and 
testify against him. The witnesses were not secured and Lee was 
given his liberty, told to go his way and sin no more. He remained in 
the city several days and then left for Rock Springs where he had a 
wife and had established for himself a comfortable home. He said 
that when he escaped from the Natrona county jail in May, 1905, he 
went in a southwesterly direction, to the CY pasture, where he laid 
down in a ditch until dusk, and then he started to walk toward the 
Laramie Plains and after three days and nights of traveling he arrived 
in Carbon county where he herded sheep for nearly two years; then 
he took charge of a saloon at Wamsuter for a year; then he went to 
Rock Springs and was in charge of a saloon for a year, then moved to 
Great Falls, Montana, and remained there for a few months. While 
at Rock Springs he was married. He claimed that the two men, Jones 
and Meckley, "double-crossed" him while he was deputy sheriff, 
and that he was always honest with his horse inspections. His state- 
ment about being "double-crossed" and being honest with his horse 



FRANK DAVIS, ALIAS BLACK MIKe" 337 

inspections was doubted by everybody who knew anything about the 
case, but it was then immaterial, and the taxpayers and stockmen of 
the county were satisfied to let him go and prayed that he would 
never return. 

Frank Davis, Alias "Black Mike" 

Frank Davis, abas "Black Mike Smith," sneak thief, horse 
thief, check forger, and postoffice robber, on May ii, 1905, attempted 
to pass a forged check in the Wolton saloon, which caused trouble and 
in order to make his escape he pulled his six-shooter and shot pro- 
miscuously into the crowd. One bullet went through Pete Nutson's 
hat and furrowed the top of his scalp. Manuel Armenta and Oscar 
Hoback, deputy sheriffs, then attempted to place Davis under arrest, 
and the fellow shot off Hoback's thumb. Four shots were fired at the 
deputy sheriffs and Davis made his escape from the saloon. He ran to 
a cabin about 300 yards distant where he secured a rifle and fired 
several shots into the crowd of men. He then made a run for the 
hills, and after going about 200 yards dropped into a small ravine. 
He was surrounded by about twenty men, but he held them at bay by 
shooting at them, and although several of the men were hit, the 
remainder stood guard for several hours until Joe Marquis, Jack 
Peterson, and Manuel Armenta had filled a cart with bales of hay and 
bedding, and pushed it ahead of them to where the desperado was 
hidden in the ditch. Davis shot into the cart numerous times, but the 
men behind it were perfectly safe and proceeded on their way until 
they were within a distance of fifty yards of him. Davis then sur- 
rendered and was brought to Casper. He pleaded guilty to shooting 
at Nutson with the intent to commit murder and was sentenced by 
Judge Charles E. Carpenter to serve three years in the penitentiary. 
Davis had a number of forged checks on his person at the time he 
was arrested, and he was identified as the man who two months 
previous to his Wolton escapade held up the saloon at Lost Cabin 
and secured $200. He was also accused of being connected with the 
hold-up of the Cody bank where Cashier Middaugh was shot and 
killed. At the time these crimes were committed, there was no 
railroad west from Casper and the interior towns were easily robbed. 
After serving his sentence in the penitentiary, Davis went to Colorado 
and has not since made his appearance in Wyoming. 

Country Postoffice Robbers 

John Williston, a burglar, who had served two years in the 
Montana penitentiary, and Frank Connors, a horse thief, who had 



338 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

escaped from the Oregon penitentiary, robbed the postoffices at 
Moneta and Powder River on March 12 and 13, 1913, and on the 
morning of the 14th they were captured by Henry A. Johnson near 
the Johnson ranch, and brought to Casper. They were turned over 
to the federal authorities and taken to Cheyenne where they pleaded 
guilty to robbing a United States postoffice and each was sentenced 
to serve five years in the penitentiary. Their criminal career in 
Wyoming was short, but they were desperate characters who were 
capable and inclined to establish for themselves a record that would 
compare with Tom O'Day, Jim McCloud and many other horse 
thieves and postoffice robbers, had they not been apprehended so 
soon. 

George W. Pike 

George W. Pike was a horse thief, who operated in Central 
Wyoming for many years, but never served a term in the penitentiary, 
and died a natural death, and the people who knew him said he was 
lucky. His headquarters were in Converse county, but occasionally, 
when his business required it, came into Natrona county to pick up 
some loose stock. He committed perjury in the Tom O'Day trial in 
Casper in 1904 and a warrant was issued for his arrest, but he was 
never apprehended. When he died in 1908 he was given a decent 
burial in the Douglas cemetery, and a monument was erected over 
his grave by Lee Moore, a cattleman, with this inscription: 

George W. Pike 

Under this stone in eternal rest 

Sleeps the wildest one of the wayward West; 

He was a gambler, sport and cowboy, too, 

And he led the pace in an outlaw crew, 

He was sure on the trigger, and stayed to the end, 

But he was never known to quit a friend. 

In the relation of death all mankind is alike, 

But in life there was only one George W. Pike. 

Tied on the Railroad Tracks 

At about ID o'clock on the night of November 11, 1911, two 
masked men bound Adolph Kuhrtz, the fireman and watchman at 
the Midwest Oil company's refinery plant, and, after chloroforming 
him, dragged him to the Wyoming & Northwestern railway tracks, a 
distance of several hundred yards, where they bound him to the rails, 
his head being bound to one of the rails and his feet to the opposite 
rail. His hands were tied behind his back with a piece of rope. The 
man was unconscious for some time, but when he regained con- 



WOULD BLOW UP THE REFINERY 339 

sciousness he worked his hands loose from the rope, but by this time 
they were so numb from the cold that he could not free himself 
from the track. Horace Evans, who was to relieve Kuhrtz at mid- 
night, found the water low in the boiler when he appeared for duty 
and suspected that an accident had occurred and immediately made 
a search for the man, but it was half an hour before he found him. 
Evans released the half-unconscious and almost frozen man and 
helped him back to the plant, and from there he was taken to the 
hospital where it was found that both hands and both feet had been 
frozen. The motive for the crime was never solved and the men who 
committed the act were never caught. A reward of ^i,ooo was offered 
for their apprehension and detectives worked on the case several 
months, but finally gave it up as a mystery. 

Would Blow Up the Refinery 

L. A. Reed, superintendent of the Midwest Refining company, 
received a letter on November i8, 191 5, which threatened to blow up 
the refining plant unless he provided the writer of the letter with 
^5,000. The letter was as follows: 

"Mr. Reed, Sir: We wish to inform you that for the last six weeks we have laid 
about 600 pounds of dynamite under tanks, stills and boiler houses with the intention 
of blowing the Midwest straight into hell. Do you get that? Now, Reed, you gave 
us a damn dirty deal a while back, and it is up to you to make good or we will set off 
that dynamite as sure as there is a gray hair in your head. We have pledged our lives 
to put this thing through, and we will if we burn the entire town of Casper. There is 
a concrete bridge on the road that leads out east of town, the first bridge after you get 
past the brewery going east. Come to that bridge between 6:20 and 7 o'clock Satur- 
day, the 20th, with ^5,000 in bills or gold. Drive on the bridge and drop it over the 
upper side. Come alone, and be damn sure that you are alone. If you bring anybody 
with you or drop anything over that isn't money, or try in any way to stop this deal, 
we will touch off the dynamite. There is not men enough in the state of Wyoming to 
stop us from this stunt. One shot at the bridge and we will blow the Midwest to 
hell. ^ . "A B C D E F." 

"Put this money down as we say and we will remove the dynamite. Fail and 
we will blow up the Midwest as sure as there is a God in heaven." 

Suspicion pointed toward W. L. Frank as being the author of the 
communication. He had been working at the Midwest plant but was 
discharged. He was arrested on Sunday, the 21st. Paper similar to 
that on which the note was written was found in a valise belonging to 
him, and upon other evidence produced he was held to the district 
court for trial under bond of ^1,000. At the January term of the 
district court he was tried, found guilty and sentenced to serve a 
term of from three to four years in the penitentiary. He made a 
model prisoner, and after his term expired returned to Casper and 
has been a peaceable, quiet, law-abiding citizen. 



340 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

Bill Carlisle, the Train Robber 

William Carlisle's career showed a flash of the old time "bad 
man" days. He was a tall, red-headed, loose-jointed fellow, who first 
came into prominence when he was about twenty-seven years old. 
His first known banditry was perpetrated on February 9, 1916, when 
he held up a Union Pacific passenger tram west ot Rock ^pnngs 
With a six-shooter in each hand, he covered the brakeman and forced 
him to collect money from the passengers, then jumped from the 
moving train with his loot and disappeared. Tram robbmg is a 
capital oflFense in Wyoming and the crime drew nation-wide interest. 
A reward of $1,000 was offered for his capture by the railroad com- 
pany, but without result. . 

A few weeks later, the railroad company received a note trom 
the fugitive warning them that before long he would commit another 
robbery on one of their trains in Wyoming. Although the letter was 
not taken in absolute seriousness, armed detectives were placed on 
all the trains in the state and the search for Carhsle was renewed. On 
the night of April 4, 1916, Carlisle climbed onto the observation plat- 
form of the Overland Limited as it was leaving the Cheyenne yards 
and after holding up a guard employed to protect the train against 
him Carlisle robbed the male passengers of about $600 in money and 
iewelry. The women were gallantly undisturbed. As the tram was 
pulling into Corlett Junction, seven miles west of Cheyenne, the 
robber dropped from the observation platform and escaped into the 
darkness. Frantic efforts to capture him were made. All the trains 
that had passed that point on the line that night and the next day 
were searched. It did not occur to the searchers that their quarry 
might attempt to escape by walking, but that is what he did. He 
walked directly north from the railroad, obtaining food and shelter at 
ranches and homesteaders' places. He arrived in Casper April 10, 
and while here bought for himself a suit of clothes and some other 
wearing apparel. From Casper he went to Denver, where, it was said, 
he lived in the most extreme luxury for a short time, but he was 
smart enough to avoid suspicion of being the train robber 

Before going into the train robbing business Carlisle was a 
freighter in the Sussex and Kaycee country for about a year, and on 
account of his good nature and good behavior, was well known and 
well liked. He was known there as "Paddle Foot, the nickname 
having been given him owing to the extraordinary size of his feet. 

His love for adventure and notoriety did not permit him to 
remain in obscurity long and in a short time he again wrote the 
officials of the Union Pacific of his intention to commit a train rob- 



BILL CARLISLE, THE TRAIN ROBBER 34I 

bery on one of their trains in Wyoming. As evidence of his identity, 
he enclosed a watch taken from one of his victims on the Overland 
Limited. The railroad officials were thoroughly aroused this time 
and droves of heavily armed detectives were on guard from Pine 
Bluffs to Evanston, 

A sick man boarded a train at Greeley, Colorado, on the after- 
noon of April 21, 1916, and took a berth in a Pullman which was 
switched onto train number 21 at Cheyenne. The man's suffering 
seemed so great that it gained for him the sympathy of his fellow 
passengers. He recovered, however, entirely and quickly as the train 
was leaving Hanna, 140 miles west of Cheyenne. He was Carlisle. 
He held up the guard, fired one shot to convince the conductor that 
he was in earnest and then took ^400 from the men passengers and 
leaped from the train as it neared Edson tunnel. The railroad company 
and the sheriff of Carbon county rushed searchers to the scene imme- 
diately. A special train bearing horses and a posse armed to the teeth 
was run out from Cheyenne. The Union Pacific announced a reward 
of $5,000 and the state offered $500 for the capture of the outlaw. 
Hundreds of men turned out to look for Carlisle. It is said that there 
were so many men on the hunt that they were in constant danger of 
shooting one another. Late in the afternoon on the day after the 
robbery, Carlisle was captured about thirty miles north of the rail- 
road. On the loth of May, he was found guilty of train robbery and 
sentenced to life imprisonment in the state's prison. There were so 
many claims for the $5,500 reward that the matter was finally settled 
in court. 

For three years and five months, Carlisle served time in the 
Rawlins penitentiary. He was a good prisoner and never broke a 
rule. His life term was commuted on September 8, 1919, to from 25 
to 50 years' imprisonment and this seemed to please him greatly and 
cause him to be more content with his fate. 

On Saturday, November 15, 1919, Carlisle did not respond to 
roll call at supper time. An alarm was sounded and a search of the 
prison was made. It was subsequently discovered that Carlisle had 
escaped by concealing himself — with the aid of two fellow prisoners 
— in a box of shirts sent out from the prison factory that afternoon. 
A saw had been smuggled in to him a few days before, and after the 
box had been deposited in the railroad freight house and the freight 
agent had gone home for the night, Carlisle effected his freedom. 
Boarding a freight train, he traveled west fifteen miles to Creston, 
where he was forced to leave the train on account of the bitter cold. 
Bloodhounds were taken out and a large posse took up the search, but 
no trace of the fugitive was found until Tuesday night when he boldly 



342 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

boarded and robbed the Union Pacific Los Angeles limited, number 19, 
between Rock River and Medicine Bow, ninety-five miles west of 
Cheyenne. As was his custom, after robbing the passengers, he 
dropped from the moving train into the darkness. Just before he left 
the train, some one fired a shot at him, the bullet striking his hand. 
This injury proved to be his undoing, but not before he had stirred up 
the entire country and aroused the citizens to a high pitch. One fea- 
ture of the man hunt, one that infuriated the railroad officials, was 
the apparent sympathy of the general public for the criminal. The 
entire state was searched and researched. Rumors of Carlisle's 
appearance in widely separated cities confused the authorities and 
made the pursuit more difficult. A man who looked like Carlisle, 
entered a Casper newspaper office and gave the excited reporter an 
interview and then filed a message at the telegraph office addressed 
to the Union Pacific at Cheyenne, which read, "Thanks for haul on 
your limited. Some detective force. Carlisle." These incidents 
occupied the detectives for several days. Then messages and letters 
purporting to be from Carlisle, began pouring in to the civil and rail- 
road authorities. They were written in every tone from ridicule to 
pleading. 

In the meantime the fugitive had been innocent of all the letter 
writing. He had gone to the Laramie Peak country south of Douglas 
and was being sheltered from day to day by the residents of that 
section. Sheriff Roach of Converse county was trailing him and 
Carlisle was going as fast as he could to keep ahead of him. The bullet 
was still in his hand and he was suflFering intense pain so that his pace 
became slower and slower. The posse overtook him once at a ranch 
house, but he escaped through a window. A heavy snowstorm covered 
his tracks and the posse did not find him again until the next day 
when they discovered him at the Williams ranch house in the wildest 
part of the region. The sheriff commanded him to throw up his 
hands, which he did. A paroxysm of pain in his wounded hand caused 
him to lower it and, at this, the sheriff shot Carlisle through the 
lung. He was taken to the Douglas hospital where he remained 
until his wounds healed sufficiently to permit his removal to the 
state's prison. 

Since being returned to the penitentiary, he has made a model 
prisoner, as he did before his escape. During his spare time he 
manufactures many novelties and places them on sale at differ- 
ent towns throughout the state at the holiday season. With the 
proceeds from the sale of these, he purchases law books. He is 
studying law and hopes to become an attorney if he lives out his 
sentence or is paroled. 



MEXICAN SHOPLIFTER ATTEMPTS MURDER 343 

Mexican Shoplifter Attempts Murder 

A. J. Cunningham, president of the Casper National bank and 
the Richards & Cunningham store, was shot in the left arm, near the 
shoulder, and A. E. Biglin was shot through the fleshy part of his left 
leg, above the knee, on February 24, 1922, by a Mexican named John 
Cisenaros. The Mexican had stolen two pairs of shoes from the 
Cunningham store and Mr. Cunningham apprehended him and was 
about to call the sheriflF when the shooting commenced. The first 
shot took effect in Mr. Cunningham's arm, and two other shots were 
fired without hitting any one, and it was the fourth shot which took 
effect on Mr. Biglin. Mr. Cunningham was confined to his home for 
three months and Mr. Biglin was out within a week. The Mexican 
pleaded guilty in the district court to shooting with intent to kill and 
was sentenced to thirteen years and six months in the penitentiary. 

The city and county authorities and a committee of citizens on 
the 28th of the month rounded up about two dozen Mexicans and 
negroes who had no visible means of support, loaded them in a box 
car and they started north, and they were given to understand that 
they would not be protected by the law should a citizens' vigilance 
committee decide to operate upon them. They seemed as anxious 
to leave as the people were to have them go, and it is not likely they 
will ever return. 



Tragedies on the Range 

Cattlemen's Invasion of Johnson County 

CATTLE rustling seemed to be a popular and profitable pastime 
for a great many people in Wyoming in the '8o's and early '90's 
but to this, like all things else, an end had to come, and many of 
the men who did not quit when the business lost its popularity paid 
dearly for their folly. Many a nester started into the cattle business 
with but little more than a cow pony, a rope, a round-up bed, a run- 
ning iron, and, of necessity, a lack of conscience. After a few years, 
if he were cautious, he had a nice little herd of cattle with a brand of 
his own. To put a brand on a maverick' in those days was considered 
not exactly cattle stealing. The man who applied the iron w^ould 
merely say to himself that if he had not done it, someone else would, 
and this left his conscience clear, for he knew he was telling himself 
the truth. But unbranded strays on the open range were not numer- 
ous after the first few years the nester commenced to operate, for 
there were too many people engaged in the branding business. Then, 
in order to increase their herds there were some who would shoot the 
mothers and drive the calves away, and there were others who would 
blotch the brand on a steer and drive it out of its range. 

But the nester w^as not the only one accused of swinging the long 
rope and operating the branding iron. Some of the big cattle outfits 
were accused not only of branding mavericks which no doubt did not 
belong to them, but other dishonest practices were attributed to 
them. It is said that when the Frewen brothers came from England 
in the early '8o's and located on the North and Middle forks of Powder 
river, they negotiated with the 76 outfit on the Sweetwater for 3,500 

1 Samuel Maverick was owner of a large number of cattle in Southern Texas in 
the early '40's, whose ambition was to be able to travel from San Antonio to El Paso 
and from El Paso to the mouth of the Rio Grande on his own land. He secured title 
to more than two million acres of land, but his desire to travel on his own land from the 
points named was never realized. Maverick had a debt agamst a stockman which he 
was unable to collect in money, and he took 400 head of cattle at S3 per head and can- 
celled the debt. At the end of four years he sold these cattle at $6 per head, including 
the natural increase, upon which he had never placed his brand, and consequently 
there were on the range a large number of unbranded cattle, and when the cowboys 
and stockmen came across a bunch of unbranded cattle they would remark they 
"belonged to Maverick," or "they were Maverick's." This is how the term maverick 
originated and was applied to unbranded cattle by the stockmen and cowboys, and is 
in common use nowadays. 

344 



TRAGEDIES ON THE RANGE 345 

head of cattle, book count, for which they were to pay ^75,000. The 
Frewens wanted to see the cattle and also to make a rough tally of 
them, and accordingly, they started up Horse creek with the 76 rep- 
resentatives, where they located cattle all the way to the foot of 
Rattlesnake canyon. Then they crossed over to the head of Fish 
creek, which stream they followed for a considerable distance and 
there were 76 cattle all the way down Fish creek. But the cow 
punchers had made a short cut from Horse creek to Fish creek, push- 
ing the cattle ahead of them and arriving at Fish creek ahead of the 
Frewens, who had gone the longer route. The Frewens counted 
these cattle — the same cattle they had counted on Horse creek, but 
they did not recognize them — and they found in the neighborhood 
of 3,500, but there were actually only 2,200. The Frewens were satis- 
fied with the count and the money was paid over to the 76 outfit and 
the brand and the stock were afterwards owned by the Frewens. A 
man named Foley was agent for and a member of the 76 outfit and he 
was responsible for the short cut from Horse creek to Fish creek made 
by the cow punchers and the cattle. When the Frewens made their 
fall round-up and found they were short about 1,300 cattle, they were 
of the opinion that their shortage was caused by cattle rustlers, but 
some of the cowboys explained the "joke" to them. The Frewens 
accepted the matter like good sports, but they did not remain long in 
the cattle business, for they displayed no more business judgment 
in other things than they did when they thought they were buy- 
ing 3,500 head of cattle and got but 2,200. Their experience in the 
cattle business in Wyoming is said to have cost them half a million 
dollars. 

The cattlemen did not seriously object to having a few of their 
mavericks branded by a man who was ambitious and wanted to get a 
start. In fact, many of the large cattle outfits applied their brands 
on calves and sometimes on two-year-olds when they had serious 
doubts as to whether the stock rightfully belonged to them. But 
when the practices of blotching the brands on steers and shooting the 
mothers of calves were started, the cattlemen realized the time had 
come when the rustling of cattle must come to an end. The courts 
could not, or would not, stop it. Large rewards were offered for the 
arrest and conviction of cattle thieves; livestock detectives were 
brought into the state to gather evidence against the rustler; many 
arrests were made, and although there appeared to be an abundance 
of evidence to convict, yet rustler after rustler was turned loose and 
the courts were considered a joke and a farce. 

After all lawful means of protecting their property seemed to 
have failed, the cattlemen commenced to make laws of their own and 



346 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

to mete out punishment that in their minds seemed adequate to the 
crimes committed, and a number of men who were said to have been 
rustlers were shot, but even this did not seem to have the effect of 
suppressing the business of cattle stealing. 

Then the cattlemen formed an organization known as the 
"Regulators." They imported gunmen from Texas, Idaho, Colorado, 
and other states. These men were to receive five dollars a day and 
expenses, and they were to go where they were commanded and do 
the things they were told. For a number of weeks plans and prepara- 
tions were made by the Regulators to invade the cattle country and 
strike a blow that would terrorize the rustlers and cause those who 
were not killed to flee for their lives. 

The KC ranch, in Johnson county, was selected as the first scene 
of action, and in writing an account of the battle that occurred there, 
we shall give the unvarnished facts without bias or prejudice. In 
dealing with the incidents, the cattlemen shall be termed the "regu- 
lators" and those whom they sought to punish shall be termed the 
"settlers." 

On the 4th and 5th of April, 1892, definite plans were perfected 
by the regulators to leave Cheyenne and invade the cattle country 
and on the evening of the 5th a special train arrived in Cheyenne 
from Denver bearing the gunmen who had been hired as "detec- 
tives." This train was taken to the Cheyenne stockyards where 
three stock cars had been loaded with wagons, horses, harness, tents, 
ammunition, and provisions sufficient to carry the party through a 
ten days' expedition. The stock cars were attached to the special 
train of three passenger coaches and at 6 o'clock the start was made 
for Casper. 

The train arrived at the stockyards a mile east of Casper at 4:20 
in the mornmg, April 6. The paraphernalia was immediately taken 
from the cars and at about 5:30 three new w^agons, with four horses 
to each wagon, passed through town. Two of these wagons were 
loaded with provisions and the other contained bedding and ammuni- 
tion. The men of the party who were not connected with the wagons, 
crossed the river on horseback about three miles east of town and 
joined the wagon party on Casper creek, a few miles northwest. All 
the mounted men were armed with Winchester rifles and Colt's 
revolvers. Major Wolcott was in command; F. M. Canton was 
captain of the Wyoming men and Tom Smith was captain of the gun- 
men who were brought in from the other states. There were fifty-two 
men in the party. Friends of the regulators in Douglas and Casper 
had been instructed to give out the information that the men were 
surveyors on their way to the Bald mountains. 



TRAGEDIES ON THE RANGE 347 

On their way to Johnson county the regulators met a number of 
men on the road coming toward Casper whom they compelled to turn 
back and travel with them for hours or forced them to go through with 
the expedition. About four miles from Casper, on Casper creek, the 
party overtook Oscar Lehman and Bert Lambert, who were looking 
after a band of sheep. Lehman, who had been married but a short 
time, was ordered to fall in the front ranks and Lambert in the rear. 
Lehman made such a strong plea to be released that his request was 
granted upon his promising that he would go directly to his wife, 
who was in a sheep wagon several miles back. Word was passed to 
the rear that the two men were to be set free. Upon their release, both 
men headed toward the sheep wagon, but neither knew that his friend 
was also to be given his liberty. When Lambert, upon looking back, 
saw a horseman coming toward him he imagined it was one of the 
regulators who was urging him to go faster. Lehman thought the 
man ahead of him was one of the regulators who had broken ranks 
and was going to the sheep wagon to inform his bride that he was 
being taken away and he naturally gave chase. When the two men 
were near the wagon, they recognized each other and their fright 
was turned to joy. 

Later in the day the regulators met J. C. (Dad) Renfro and a man 
named McGhee, whom they forced to accompany the expedition to 
Tisdale's ranch where they were detained for two days. One night 
while they pretended they were asleep, they overheard the plans of 
the leaders and they recognized the names of more than forty men 
who were "marked" as rustlers and who were to be shot. Eleven of 
the men mentioned lived in Natrona county, twenty-two in Con- 
verse county and the balance were from Johnson county. After the 
second day Renfro and McGhee were released, and they started imme- 
diately for Casper. Upon their arrival here, however, they refused to 
disclose any news or details of the happenings while they were held 
by the regulators, as they had been warned to keep silent or suffer 
death. 

Just before reaching the Tisdale ranch the advancing force was 
met by Mike Shonsy, foreman for the Western Union Beef company. 
He informed them that there were rustlers at Nolan's KC ranch. 
Upon receipt of this information, the regulators decided to camp at 
Tisdale's until their supply wagons had time to catch up with them. 
Friday, the 8th of April, was spent at the Tisdale ranch. In the after- 
noon, Shonsy was sent out in charge of a squad to reconnoiter. After 
dark they resumed their journey and before daylight arrived at the 
KC ranch. They surrounded the buildings and concealed themselves 
in the stable, along the creek, and in the brush along the ravine and 



348 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

awaited orders. Shortly after daylight, WilHam W. Walker, a trapper 
who had spent the night at the ranch, came out of the house w^ith a 
bucket and walked toward the creek. He was taken prisoner. Ben 
Jones, another trapper, then came out of the house and walked 
toward the stable. He too was taken prisoner. Nick Ray was the 
next to come out of the house and he had walked but a few steps when 
he was shot in the head and fell in his tracks. Nate Champion then 
came to the door and fired a number of shots at the besiegers and they 
returned the fire hotly. He closed the door and from a window 
watched Ray slowly crawl toward the house. When Ray had almost 
reached the doorstep. Champion opened the door, sent another 
volley of shots toward the stable and creek and then stepped out and 
dragged Ray into the house while a hail of shot was sent toward him. 

Champion evidently realized that his chances of escape were 
hazardous, for he wrote down in a notebook the progress of the battle 
so that his friends could be informed of the details in case of his death. 
Ray died at 9 o'clock in the morning. Champion would not give up, 
but fired at the besiegers occasionally. At 2:30 o'clock in the after- 
noon "Black Jack" Flagg and his stepson came by and they were 
shot at by the regulators. Flagg's account of the attack on him was as 
follows : 

"The morning of the 9th I started from my ranch, eighteen miles above the 
river, to go to Douglas. I was on horseback, and my stepson, a boy 17 years of age, 
started with me to go to the Powder river crossing. He was driving two horses and 
had only the running gear of a 314 wagon. We got to the KC ranch about 2:30. I was 
riding about fifty yards behind the wagon. We could not see the stable, behind which 
the murderers were concealed, until we were within seventy-five yards of it. When the 
wagon hove in sight the murderers jumped up and commanded the boy to halt, but he 
urged up his horses and drove for the bridge. When they saw he would not stop, one 
of them took aim on the corner of the fence and fired at him. The shot missed him and 
scared his team, which stampeded across the bridge and on up the road. 

"There were twenty men behind the stable, and seven came up on horseback, 
three from one side of the road and four from the other, and closed in behind rne. 
When the men behind the stable saw me, they began to jump for their guns, which 
were leaning against the fence, and called on me to stop and throw up my hands. I did 
not comply with their order, but kept straight for the bridge. When I got to the nearest 
point to them — forty-seven steps — a man whom I recognized as Ford, stepped from 
the crowd and, taking deliberate aim at me with his Winchester, fired. Then they all 
commenced firing. I threw myself on the side of my horse and made a run for it. The 
seven horsemen followed me. When I overtook my wagon, which had my rifle in it, I 
told my boy to hand it to me, which he did; I then told him to stop and cut one of the 
horses loose and mount him. The seven horsemen were following me, and when I 
stopped, were 350 yards behind, but as soon as they saw I had a rifle, they stopped. 
I only had three cartridges for my rifle, and did not want to fire one of them, unless 
they came closer, which they did not seem inclined to do." 

After Flagg's escape, the regulators brought back the wagon he 
had left and loading it with hay and some pitch pine, wheeled it 
against the house and set it on fire. This was about 4 o'clock. The 
house was soon in flames and Champion was forced out. When he 



TRAGEDIES ON THE RANGE 349 

ran from the building, he was in his stocking feet and hatless. He had 
a rifle in his hands and a six-shooter in his belt. He had gone but 
about fifty yards when he saw a number of men in front of him. He 
raised his rifle and fired once, but just then a volley rang out and he 
fell to the ground, his body riddled with twenty-eight bullet holes. 

A notebook was found in Champion's vest pocket soaked with 
blood, and with a bullet hole through it. Under the printed date of 
April 9th, the following entry was written in pencil: 

"Me and Nick was getting breakfast when the attack took place. Two men 
here with us — Bill Jones and another man. The old man went after water and did 
not come back. His friend went out to see what was the matter and he did not come 
back. Nick started out and I told him to look out, that I thought that there was some 
one at the stable and would not let them come back. Nick is shot, but not dead yet. 
He is awful sick. I must go and wait on him. It is now about two hours since the first 
shot. Nick is still alive. They are still shooting and are all around the house. Boys, 
there is bullets coming in like hail. Them fellows is in such shape I can't get back at 
them. They are shooting from the stable and river and back of the house. Nick is 
dead. He died about 9 o'clock. I see a smoke down at the stable. I think they have 
fired it. I don't think they intend to let me get away this time. 

" It is now about noon. There is some one at the stable yet. They are throwing 
a rope out at the door and dragging it back. I guess it is to draw me out. Boys, 
don't knowwhat they have done with them two fellows that stayed here last night. Boys, 
I feel pretty lonesome just now. I wish there was some one here with me, so we could 
watch all sides at once. They may fool around until I get a good shot before they 
leave. It's about 3 o'clock now. There was a man in a buckboard and one on horse- 
back just passed. They fired on them as they went by. I don't know if they killed 
them or not. I seen lots of men come out on horses on the other side of the river and 
take after them. I shot at the men in the stable just now; don't know if I got any or 
not. I must go and look out again. It don't look as if there is much show of my getting 
away. I see twelve or fifteen men. One looks like |name scratched outj. I don't know 
whether it is or not. I hope they did not catch them fellows that run oyer the bridge 
towards Smith's. They are shooting at the house now. If I had a pair of glasses I 
believe I would know some of these men. They are coming back. I've got to look out. 

"Well, they have just got through shelling the house like hail. I hear them 
splitting wood. I guess they are going to fire the house to-night. I think I will make a 
break when night comes, if alive. Shooting again. I think they will fire the house this 
time. It's not night yet. The house is all fired. Good-bye, boys, if I never see you 
again. 

Nathan D. Champion." 

Sam T. Clover, special correspondent of the Chicago Herald, who 
accompanied the regulators, after describing the trip from Cheyenne 
to the KC ranch, the capture of the two trappers and the shooting of 
Nick Ray, gave the following account of Nate Champion's tragic 
death: 

"The roof of the cabin was the first to catch fire, spreading rapidly downward 
until the north wall was a sheet of fiames. Volumes of smoke poured in at the open 
window from the burning wagon, and in a short time through the plastered cracks of the 
log house puff's of smoke worked outward. Still the doomed man remained doggedly 
concealed, refusing to reward them by his appearance. The cordon of sharpshooters 
stood ready to fire upon him the instant he started to run. Fiercer and hotter grew the 
flames, leaping with mad impetuosity from room to room until every part ot the house 
was ablaze and only the dugout at the west end remained intact. 



350 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

" 'Reckon the cuss lias shot himself,' remarked one of the waiting marksmen. 
'No fellow could stay in that hole a minute and be alive.' 

"These words were barely spoken when there was a shout, 'There he goes!' and a 
man clad in his stocking feet, bearing a Winchester in his hands and a revolver in his 
belt, emerged from a volume of black smoke that issued from the rear door of the 
house, and started off across the open space surrounding the cabin into a ravine, fifty 
yards south of the house, but the poor devil jumped square into the arms of two of the 
best shots in the outfit, who stood with leveled Winchesters around the bend waiting 
for his appearance. Champion saw them too late, for he overshot his mark just as a 
bullet struck his rifle arm, causing the gun to fall from his nerveless grasp. Before he 
could draw his revolver a second shot struck him in the breast and a third and fourth 
found their way to his heart. 

"Nate Champion, the king of cattle thieves, and the bravest man in Johnson 
county, was dead. Prone upon his back, with his teeth clenched and a look of mingled 
defiance and determination on his face to the last, the intrepid rustler met his fate 
without a groan and paid the penalty for his crimes with his life. A card bearing the 
significant legend, 'Cattle thieves, beware!' was pinned to his bloodsoaked vest, and 
there in the dawn, with his red sash tied around him and his half-closed eyes raised 
toward the blue sky, this brave but misguided man was left to lie." 

Early in the morning of the attack, Terrence Smith, a ranchman 
living four miles north, heard the sound of firing and rode over to 
investigate. When he saw what was takmg place, he rode with all 
possible haste to Buffalo, arriving there at 7:30 in the evening, and 
notified Sheriff Angus. The sheriff called upon Captain Meuardi to 
assemble Company C of the National Guard to assist him in repelling 
the invasion and arresting the men. Captain Meuardi refused to 
comply with the sheriff's order and gave as his reason an order 
received by him from the governor a few days prior, commanding 
him to obey no call in aid of the civil authorities, except through the 
commander-in-chief. The sheriff then swore in a posse of six men and 
started for the KC ranch. 

Flagg and his stepson, Alonzo Taylor, after their escape, hur- 
ried on to John R. Smith's ranch, arriving there about four o'clock. 
Flagg was a delegate to the democratic convention at Douglas and 
had planned to meet the other Johnson county delegates at Smith's 
ranch and proceed to the convention with them. He told of his 
experiences at the KC ranch and then rode to Trabing, thirty miles 
distant, reaching there at 9 o'clock. Three men joined him at this 
place and they returned to the Nolan ranch. On the way they met 
twelve more men who had been called out by Terrence Smith while 
on his way to Buffalo. As this combined force was about to proceed, 
the regulators were seen approaching. Flagg and the other men pre- 
pared to give battle from ambush, but their camp fire and the acci- 
dental discharge of one of their guns warned the regulators and they 
detoured, returning to the Buffalo road. 

Flagg and his men then camped for the night and the next morn- 
ing started for Buffalo and on their way passed the regulators, who 



TRAGEDIES ON THE RANGE 351 

were at Dr. Harris's TA ranch on Crazy Woman creek. They were 
building a fortification at this place, which naturally led to the sup- 
position that they expected the settlers to make an attack upon them 
in retaliation for the killing of Ray and Champion and the burning 
of the KC ranch house. When Flagg reached Buffalo Sunday fore- 
noon, the authorities had not yet left for the field of battle. Couriers 
had been sent out in all directions calling for volunteers to fight the 
regulators, and Sunday evening at 8:30, forty-nine men armed with 
rifles and revolvers started to do battle at the TA ranch. A. S. Brown 
was the leader and when they arrived near the TA ranch at about 
midnight, pickets were posted around the buildings and both sides 
waited for daylight before the fight would commence. Just at the 
break of day, the posse took positions in sheltered places on all sides 
of the buildings. The regulators, who had gotten their fort in good 
shape, opened fire on the posse, but no one was hit. How^ever, they 
kept the members of the posse from getting near enough to do any 
effective shooting. 

Sheriff Angus, who had gone to the KC ranch to see what damage 
had been done, returned to Buffalo at about i o'clock Monday after- 
noon and after informing the people of the killing of Champion and 
Ray and the burning of the ranch house, a number of men were sent 
out to bring in the bodies. The sheriff then started for the TA ranch, 
accompanied by about forty men. Reinforcements from all sections 
of Johnson county as well as from Sheridan county had gathered at 
the seat of trouble until Tuesday afternoon, when there were more than 
250 men assembled, acting under orders from Sheriff Angus. In the 
meantime, the sheriff's posse had captured two of the wagons belong- 
ing to the regulators. These wagons contained provisions, bedding, 
ammunition, kerosene and two cases of dynamite. 

At the beginning of the trouble the telegraph line had been cut, 
but by Tuesday evening it had been repaired and dispatches were sent 
to the governor in Cheyenne and the president at Washington. 
Major Martin was ordered by the governor to assume command of C 
Company of the National Guard and to act under the orders of the 
mayor of the town of Buffalo to protect life and property in that town. 

Colonel Van Horn of the United States cavalry, with three 
troops, was ordered by the war department from Fort McKinney at 
2 o'clock in the morning of the 13th to proceed to the TA ranch and 
place the regulators under arrest. The troops arrived at 6 o'clock in 
the morning. Before they arrived, the posse had dismantled the 
two wagons they had captured and by using the hind axles and wheels 
had constructed a portable breastworks and were rapidly advancing 
on the fort. A dozen men who were safely behind the movable breast- 



352 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

works had advanced to within about 200 feet of the fort when the 
troops arrived. The posse was ordered by Colonel Van Horn to cease 
firing and the men behind the shield were ordered to the rear. Colonel 
Van Horn, Major Fechet, Captain Parmelee, of the governor's staff, 
two orderlies and three color sergeants, then advanced to the fortifica- 
tions waving a flag of truce. Major Wolcott, who was in command of 
the regulators, came forth and in reply to a command from Colonel 
Van Horn to surrender, said, "I will surrender to you, but to that 
man [turning and pointing to Sheriff Angus], never. I have never 
seen him before, but I have heard enough of him and rather than give 
up to him, we will die right here. He has the best of us now, because 
our plans have miscarried, but it will be different yet." 

Had it not been for the timely arrival of the federal troops, the 
settlers with the bullet-proof portable shield would have advanced 
to the fort and set it on fire, using the same means to protect them- 
selves as did the regulators when they set fire to the KC ranch house. 
Had this occurred, there is no doubt but all the men in the fort would 
have been killed. 

An examination of the buildings at the TA ranch showed that 
the fortifications constructed by the cattlemen were wellnigh im- 
pregnable and that the storming of them would have entailed a 
heavy loss of life upon the besiegers. Breastworks four feet high, 
made of sawed pine logs, 8x12 inches, were laid up on the north, east, 
and south sides of the house, which itself was built of the same mate- 
rial. The ice house north of the main building was also loopholed. A 
fort had been built 200 yards west of the dwelling house, of the same 
material and in it ten men were concealed. The horses belonging to 
the party were shut up in the stable which was situated half way 
between the dwelling and the fort referred to and the walls of the loft 
of the stables had been strengthened and loopholed. 

The government troops took charge of the situation immediately 
upon the surrender of the regulators and one troop of the cavalry 
surrounded the buildings; all the regulators were disarmed and, with 
the exception of one man who was wounded, were marched to Fort 
McKinney, where they were kept under guard. Among the men 
arrested were Major Wolcott, W. C. Irvine, J. N. Tisdale, F. M. 
Canton, W. J. Clarke, F. H. Labertoux, F. G. S. Hesse, Phil Du Fran, 
D. R. Tisdale, M. Shonsy, L. H. Parker, C. S. Ford, and A. R. Powers, 
all of whom were either cattle owners or working for large cattle out- 
fits. The remainder of the fifty-two men were the gunmen imported 
from outside the state. 

By this time the news had spread over the country like wild fire. 
In Buffalo, Casper, Douglas, Sheridan, Cheyenne, and many other 



I 



TRAGEDIES ON THE RANGE 353 

towns in the state, all was excitement and unrest. Rumors of all 
kinds, preposterous, ludicrous, probable, and improbable were in 
the air. It was the main topic of conversation whenever two or more 
men were together. There were some, but they were very few, who 
contended that the invaders were justified in their acts. But there 
was no question that they were not acting within the confines of the 
law when they burned the KC ranch house and killed Champion and 
Ray, even though the place was a rendezvous for rustlers and if it 
were true that the two men were cattle thieves. The man who 
sympathized with the regulators was exceedingly unpopular. 

In Casper a mass meeting was held at the town hall at which 
nearly every business man in town was present and after much dis- 
cussion, the following resolutions were adopted: 

"Resolved, That we extend to the people of Johnson county our sympathy in 
this, the hour of their trial, and congratulate them on their moderation and prudence 
during the whole affair, and trust that in the future, as in the past, they may be guided 
by prudence, wisdom and unswerving loyalty to the principles of a free government, 
namely; the maintenance and execution of the law. 

" Resolved, That we do detest and condemn stealing in all forms and do severally 
and collectively pledge our property, our lives and our sacred honor to the protection 
of the property and lives of all who may come among us, or become interested in 
property in our state. 

" Resolved, That we especially regret the state of distrust and fear that has been 
engendered among people not personally cognizant of the true condition of affairs, and 
that we do assure them that their fears are groundless, and that in investing in Wyom- 
ing and helping develop its untold resources, they are perfectly safe and will reap a 
plentiful reward." 

Guns and ammunition sufficient to arm two dozen men were 
stored in a small building in the business section of Casper and men 
had been selected who held themselves ready at all times to use them 
should the occasion arise. Reports were circulated to the effect that 
another body of the regulators was coming to assist the first detach- 
ment and arrangements were made to send a body of men from here 
to assist the civil authorities of Johnson county should the reports 
prove true. Men were on guard day and night; the road to Buffalo 
was watched and everything was in readiness for war should another 
detachment of regulators make its appearance. Excitement was at a 
high pitch for a week; and not until the captured regulators were 
taken to Fort Russell did the people relax and settle down to a feeling 
of safety. 

Two days after the surrender of the regulators, the burial of 
Champion and Ray took place in Buffalo, and also that of Coroner 
Watkins, who had died while engaged in holding an inquest over the 
remains. The funeral services were held in a vacant store building on 
Main street. The room was full of women; few men could get in. 



354 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

The caskets were profusely decorated with flowers. Rev. W. J. 
McCulHrn off^ered prayer in which he said: "We thank Thee, O God, 
that there are those who have stood by the law. We pray that the 
law may be strengthened; that if we cannot get justice here, then in 
the other world." The funeral procession then moved out to the 
cemetery. The hearse was followed by carriages, wagons, footmen 
and last, 150 mounted men, three women and two boys. 

Criminal complaints had been sworn out against the fifty-two 
men, charging them with murder and arson and Sheriff Angus 
appeared before Colonel Van Horn at Fort McKinney demanding the 
surrender of the men to the civil authorities of Johnson county, but 
the demand was denied. Sheriff Angus then made an appeal to Acting 
Governor Barber requesting that the prisoners be turned over to the 
civil authorities for trial. Governor Barber replied that such action 
would not be taken until order had been established in Johnson 
county and the sheriff was directed to turn over the prisoners he had 
lodged in the jail previous to the surrender of the cattlemen. After 
the governor had ordered the men turned over to the military 
authorities on an order from the secretary of war to that effect, 
Colonel Van Horn telephoned to Sheriff Angus to know if one troop 
of cavalry would be sufficient to send over for Allen, the prisoner in 
the sheriff's charge, or whether he had better send three troops. The 
sheriff replied, "If you send one or three troops, the chances are that 
there will be trouble. But if you want your man, detail one soldier." 
Accordingly, a sergeant and driver were sent in an open wagon. 
When they arrived at the court house there were 200 armed men in 
line on either side of the walk leading from the street to the court 
house door. The sheriff met the sergeant at the sidewalk, the men 
fell back, leaving a five-foot open way to the door through which the 
sheriff and detail walked and entering the court house, they went 
directly to the jail door. The prisoner, Allen, was brought out, the 
soldier signed a receipt for him, and the three went to the east door. 
When Allen saw the multitude of armed men he hesitated, but the 
soldier dragged him through the lines to the wagon. No one inter- 
fered, and the prisoner, under the guard of the soldier and the town 
marshal, was driven to Fort McKinney, three miles away. 

Three troops of cavalry under command of Major Fechet left 
Fort McKinney for Fort Fetterman on April 18 in charge of the 
captured cattlemen, under orders from the war department. At Fort 
Fetterman, a detachment of soldiers from Fort D. A. Russell took the 
prisoners in charge and escorted them by rail to Cheyenne where 
they were quartered for sixty days at the fort. Major Wolcott, State 
Senator John N. Tisdale, and several others were released on parole. 



TRAGEDIES ON THE RANGE 355 

Major Wolcott went to Washington in an endeavor to clear 
himself and his friends from any charges which might be made against 
them as a result of the expedition into Johnson county and also to 
seek the establishment of martial law there. 

The two trappers, Jones and Walker, who had been captured 
and held during the attack at the KC ranch, were believed to be the 
only witnesses, besides the regulators, of the killing of Champion and 
Ray and the burning of the KC ranch house. The cattlemen em- 
ployed F. H. Harvey, a lawyer of Douglas, and O. P. Witt, a livery 
stable keeper of the same place, to get the witnesses out of the coun- 
try. The two men were told upon their release at the Nolan ranch to 
go south and to remain silent as to what they had seen and heard if 
they wished to avoid trouble. When they arrived in Casper several 
days later, they found that public sentiment was against the regula- 
tors and they did not hesitate to tell all about the affair. 

Friends of the settlers wanted the men held as witnesses against 
the regulators and friends of the cattlemen naturally wanted them to 
leave the country. They wxre made to believe that the cattlemen 
would kill them and they became very much frightened. There was 
no jail in Casper and Sheriff O. M. Rice had no place of safety for 
them to stay and it was agreed that they should accompany Colonel 
E. H. Kimball, deputy sheriff of Converse county, to Douglas, where 
they would be allowed to sleep in the sheriff's office in the front part 
of the jail until such time as Sheriff Angus would come for them and 
take them to Buffalo. Several nights after they arrived in Douglas, 
Walker became intoxicated and Jones walked about the streets with 
him until about midnight in an attempt to get him sober. Walker 
wanted to leave the country, saying that each of them would be given 
a horse and saddle and ^i,ooo in cash to go away and not act as 
witnesses against the cattlemen. They went over to Morton's place 
where they met eight or ten men and after considerable parleying, 
offers of money, and then threats, the two men and a guide mounted 
horses and headed for the east. The guide left them after riding about 
twenty miles and the two men rode on to Harrison where they 
boarded the train for Chadron. At Chadron an attempt was made to 
stop them, but friends of the cattlemen managed to get them on the 
train and they went to Omaha. In that city another attempt was 
made by the civil authorities to have the men returned to Wyoming 
to testify against the regulators, but the cattlemen were successful 
again and in due time Jones and Walker were put on a train headed 
for Saint Louis and that was the last seen or heard of them. 

Colonel E. H. Kimball, who was at that time publishing a news- 
paper at Douglas, because of his denunciation of the cattlemen, was 



356 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

charged with criminal Hbel by George W. Baxter and others. Mr. 
Kimball was taken to Cheyenne under warrant and lodged in jail 
for thirty days, during which time his paper ceased publication. It 
was necessary for him to furnish a bond signed by a resident bonds- 
man. The editor of the Northwestern Livestock Journal finally came 
to his rescue and he was released and returned home. The case never 
came to trial for it was the object of the regulators only to suppress 
the publication of Mr. Kimball's paper until the excitement died out. 
A petition signed by eighteen of the largest cattle outfits that 
had stock in Johnson county was presented to Governor Barber dur- 
ing the summer following the invasion, requesting that Johnson 
county be placed under martial law. Among other things the petition 
stated that the petitioners were citizens of the state of Wyoming and 
of other states in the Union and as such were entitled to the equal 
protection of the law, and to the protection of their property against 
theft and depredations, and that the county of Johnson and the 
territory adjacent thereto was chiefly composed of unclosed lands, 
especially adapted to grazing, and the live stock ranging thereon was 
worth several millions of dollars. That for several years the stealing 
and misbranding of live stock in the vicinity had been of frequent 
occurrence, and was rapidly growing more prevalent, and that stock 
thieves continually rode the range and placed their brands upon the 
unbranded calves of other owners and changed and altered the brands 
upon the branded live stock of others, thereby destroying all means of 
identifying the true ownership thereof. These stock thieves had, 
during the past year, greatly intimidated and threatened other resi- 
dents in that vicinity and had suppressed, by threatened violence, 
almost all opposition to their unlawful calling and occupation. Their 
influence, by reason of their numbers and by their methods of 
intimidation had become so great as to reach the jury box and almost 
effectually prevent the conviction of any person charged with stock 
stealing. As an evidence of this the records of the district court in 
Johnson county for the previous five years showed many indictments 
had been found against different persons charged with the stealing of 
live stock and that in nearly all cases the defendants were acquitted. 
The acquittals were so flagrant and so contrary to the evidence that 
the judges deplored the existing conditions and had declared it almost 
a useless effort and expense to try any person charged with the stealing 
of live stock. The thieves had grown so bold and so open in their 
support and defense of stealing that they had notified persons who 
differed with them to leave the country and in many instances 
enforced their threats by acts of violence and they further threatened 
to assassinate those who had fled if they returned. 



TRAGEDIES ON THE RANGE 357 

In March, 1892, the thieves got together at Buffalo and organized 
and arranged for round-ups in violation of law, and were endeavoring 
to execute the same when certain owners of live stock in that vicinity 
obtained from the United States circuit court for the district of 
Wyoming an injunction order restraining and enjoining the carrying 
on of these round-ups. The United States marshal and his deputies 
who went to the vicinity to serve the order of injunction were grossly 
mistreated and embarrassed in the service of the process of the court, 
and found it unsafe to remain there. One of the deputy marshals, 
George Wellman, was foully assassinated without cause or provoca- 
tion, on a public highroad in that county while going to Buffalo to 
receive instructions from the United States marshal relating to the 
service of his injunction order. 

The petitioners and others intending to enter upon and carry 
on the round-up arranged for by law, sent trusted and honest em- 
ployees to attend to the same, and these men were threatened with 
violence by the thieves and were compelled to leave the county to 
avoid death or other violence to their persons. During the summer 
the number of stock thieves in that vicinity had been greatly aug- 
mented by the arrival of other men of the same character from other 
parts of the country, and there existed in that country an organized 
plan of driving the stockmen out, so that their property might become 
common property for the thieves; cattle were being wantonly and 
openly slaughtered in that section by thieves, some of the slaughter- 
ing being done for no other purpose whatever than to gratify mali- 
cious motives, and other slaughtering was being done to enable the 
thieves to market the beef and obtain money therefor. The ranches 
and homes of owners in that vicinity had many of them been plun- 
dered, and the personal effects and furniture there stolen or de- 
stroyed, and the occupants of the ranches had been driven from the 
country by fear. Even women and children at the ranches had 
received threats of violence, and had been compelled to seek places 
of safety. Letters in the United States mails had been opened by the 
thieves, and there existed a general and well-founded belief that 
letters and information could not be safely confided to the United 
States mails in that vicinity, and in several instances persons had 
been warned against sending letters to their friends and had been 
notified not to go to the postoffice either for the purpose of mailing 
letters or for the purpose of receiving mail therefrom. It was also 
claimed that no effort of any kind whatever on behalf of the civil 
authorities in that vicinity was being made to suppress the stealing, 
or any of the acts of violence and intimidation, and in many instances 
the civil authorities, by reason of natural inclination or intimidation. 



358 HISTORY OF NATRONA COUNTY 

were working with the thieves and under their influence. That the 
sheriff" of Johnson county openly declared his friendship for those who 
were known to be thieves, and declared his enmity toward the owners 
of live stock. With his knowledge, and without any opposition what- 
ever from him, the county was patroled by large numbers of armed 
thieves who were permitted to go about heavily armed and prepared 
at any moment to execute their threat against those who were not in 
accord with them. It was further represented that there existed in 
the district named an armed combination of men to prevent the 
administration of law and justice; that neither life nor property was 
in any respect safe, and did not and would not receive protection at 
the hands of the civil authorities. That the country was in a feverish 
state of excitement and under a complete reign of terror, and both 
persons and property were wholly at the mercy of the outlaws and 
thieves who infested that section. 

In answer to this petition notices were sent out to the eff"ect that 
"The authorities of Johnson county invite and desire that all owners 
of cattle ranging in this county who have either personally or by 
their foremen and representatives participated in the late armed 
invasion of this county, send able, trustworthy and discreet persons 
to their ranches to attend to the rounding up and preservation of 
their property. The undersigned pledge to them the resources of the 
county in the protection of their interests here. We would suggest 
that there are a number of idle cowboys here who have not been 
branded as outlaws or black-balled by the stock association who 
will gladly work and help round up the cattle during the coming 
season." 

The above was signed by SheriflF Angus, the prosecuting attor- 
ney, and the three members of the board of county commissioners of 
Johnson county. 

President Harrison was also importuned to have martial law 
established in Johnson county for the same reasons as stated in the 
petition to Governor Barber, and on June 6 six troops of cavalry from 
Fort Robinson, Nebraska, were ordered to march to Powder River, 
Wyoming, and six troops of cavalry from Fort Niobrara, Nebraska, 
were ordered to march into Wyoming and go into camp at a point 
between old Fort Fetterman and old Fort Caspar. These cavalry 
forces moved as directed and remained stationed there all summer. 
On July 30, President Harrison issued and sent forth a proclamation 
declaring that "By reasons of unlawful obstructions and assemblages 
of persons it has become impracticable, in my judgment, to enforce 
by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings the laws of the United 
States. After repeated efforts, the United States marshal, bemg 



TRAGEDIES ON THE RANGE 359 

unable, by his ordinary deputies, or by any civil posse which he is 
able to obtain, to execute the process of the United States courts; 

"Now, therefore, be it known that I, Benjamin Harrison, presi- 
dent of the United States, do hereby command all persons engaged in 
such resistance to the laws and the process of the courts of the United 
States, to cease such opposition and resistance and to disperse and 
retire peaceably to their respective abodes on or before Wednesday, 
the 3d day of August next. 

"In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused 
the seal of the United States to be affixed. 

"Done at the City of Washington, this 30th day of July, in the 
year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ninety-two, and 
of the independence of the United States the one hundred and 
seventeenth. Benjamin Harrison." 

J. W. Blake, judge of the Second Judicial district, which com- 
prised Johnson and Albany counties, sent a letter to Acting Governor 
Barber on the 19th of June, requesting that he deliver to the authori- 
ties of Johnson county the stockmen then confined at Fort Russell. 
The judge informed the governor that he had received a certified 
copy of informations filed against the men, charging them with mur- 
der. He stated that he had also received a certified copy of warrants 
issued by the clerk of the court for the arrest of the parties charged 
in the information. Judge Blake also made the following requests of 
the govern