This Day in History… Lindbergh and the “Spirit of St. Louis” Land in Cheyenne (1927)

Sub Neg 15389, Bonnie Gray and the 'Spirit of St. Louis', 9-2-1927

Bonnie Gray, champion rodeo cowgirl and trick rider, poses beside the “Spirit of St. Louis” during Col. Charles Lindbergh’s Guggenheim tour stop in Cheyenne, September 2, 1927 (WSA Richardson Print 636)

90 years ago today, Charles Lindbergh and “The Spirit of St. Louis” touched down in Cheyenne, Wyoming. His visit was part of a tour sponsored by the Daniel Guggenheim Fund to promote national interest in aviation. By all counts, the tour was a rousting success at this.

EPSON scanner image

Knights News Emporium in downtown Cheyenne festooned with bunting welcoming Lindbergh to Cheyenne (WSA Meyers Neg 3069)

The 3-month, 92 city tours of all 48 states followed Lindbergh’s solo trans-Atlantic flight in May and coincided with the release of his book “WE”, recounting the flight, that July. It is estimated that 30 million people or roughly one quarter of the United States population saw the aviator.

Ad for the Klein Music Co, Dildine Garage Company and Sam Zall Jewelers announcing ties of their products to Lindgbergh

The local papers were plastered with ads attempting to cash in on Lindbergh’s visit to Cheyenne (Wyoming State Tribune-Cheyenne State Leader 9-2-1927 p11)

Cheyenne was not immune to Lucky Lindy fever. Already a regional aviation hub, the city fathers saw this as a chance to shine and everyone wanted a piece of the action. Downtown buildings were festooned with bunting and pictures of the aviator. Significant portions of 3 days’ newspapers (September 1-3) were devoted to the stop, reporting in detail scheduled stops, meetings, tours, dinners, and speeches.

Headline "Lindbergh Arrives in Cheyenne Friday" "Spirit of St. Louis Circles then "WE" Land"

Front page of the Wyoming State Tribune-Cheyenne State Leader announcing Lindbergh’s arrival in Cheyenne. (September 2, 1927, p.1)

According to the papers, Lindbergh landed at the air field just before 2 pm. The paper took care to refute reports that the aviator was forced down by engine trouble. He was then given a tour of the business district by Governor Frank Emerson, Mayor C.W. Riner and Brigadier General Dwight E. Aultman of Fort D.A. Russell (now Warren Air Force Base). He then gave a short speech at Frontier Park which was broadcast live by local radio station KFBU. He spent sometime talking to the press at the Plains Hotel before a banquet with 600 lucky Cheyennites. The retired to his room at the Plains for the night. The next morning at 6 am, he left for Salt Lake City almost 2 hours early.

Headline "Cheyenne Honors Col. Charles A. Lindbergh", "Lindbergh, Cynosure of Millions of Eyes, Finds Things Here Like Every Place Else"

(Wyoming State Leader-Cheyenne State Tribune 9-3-1927 p1)

The press seemed to sympathize with the “Lone Eagle” and his packed schedule. They reported him looking extremely tired but remaining courteous and in good spirits despite an incessant press of people straining to get a glimpse of their hero.

P99-7_39, Spirit of St Louis and Charles Lindberg at the Cheyenne air field, Sept 2, 1927

Scrapbook page showing 4 prized photos taken shortly after the “Spirit of St. Louis” landed at the Cheyenne air field. The law enforcement officers guarding the plane can be seen in these images, along with ropes used to manage the crowd. (WSA P99-7/39)

p2017-_ _2, Charles Lindbergh and 'Spirit of St Louis' at Cheyenne Airport, 9-2-1927

Lindbergh and other men, probably mechanics or air field attendants, standing beside the “Spirit of St. Louis” with a hangar in the background. This is one of four photographs of the visit generously donated to the Wyoming State Archives in August 2017.


Additional Reading

Guggenheim Tour,” CharlesLindbergh.org. (accessed Aug 2017)

WE, by Charles Lindbergh (1927). The book was published by George P. Putnam of New York. Putnam enthusiastically promoted aviation and would later marry Amelia Earhart. 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Eyewitness to History, This Day in Wyoming History...

In the Dark of the Sun

Though Monday’s total solar eclipse will not be the first seen in Wyoming, it will be the first in nearly 100 years. Of the 5 other total solar eclipses visible in the US since Wyoming became a territory in 1869, 3 have passed through Wyoming: 1878, 1889, and 1918. These unique events were memorable for many Wyomingites.

This maps shows past and future eclipses visible in the United States since 1503. Wyoming is highlighted in yellow. (credit NASA https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/history-along-track)

1878

Eclipse viewing party with their telescopes at Battle Lake in 1878. Thomas Edison is standing 2nd from the right.
(Carbon County Museum Collection, WSA Sub Neg 5219)

The area near Rawlins drew scientists from around the country, including Thomas Edison, for the 1878 eclipse. (Unsubstantiated) legend has it that Edison was inspired to create the filament for the incandescent light bulb while camping that year. (Read more about the 1878 eclipse here)

Scanned by Scan2Net

In Cheyenne, the Weather Service observer recorded a 4 degree drop in temperature during the event (WSA H90-1, National Weather Service – Cheyenne Collection, 1878 Daily Observations)

1889

In 1889, the eclipse coincided with New Year’s Day festivities in many communities and viewing parties sprang up everywhere. In the larger towns, newspapers gave their residents some warning of the event. The Big Horn Sentinel wrote:

“If you have not prayed for a year, do not get scared and fall on your knees Tuesday afternoon when it begins to grow dark. It is not the day of judgement only an eclipse which will begin about two o’clock and become nearly total.” [1] 

But the event surprised many in rural communities. In in the Big Horn Basin near Hyattville, Gus Allen remembered a horse race being delayed by the eclipse. The race  between his brother and their horse wrangler was held at a track at Joe Adle’s ranch.

“I do not recall the day, or the month, but feel rather confident that it was in 1888[2] ; anyway, when the time came the world was there. At least all of our world was there. How vivid is the memory yet, of all the excitement among the gathering of frontiersmen. Everyone was so keyed up over the race that no one knew or had noticed that an eclipse was coming over the sun; but when all was in readiness and the two brother jockeys were getting their racers on the mark, it got so dark that everyone was appalled. The race was delayed, and we all gazed in awe at one another. I have no idea how long it lasted, but believe you me, it really got plenty dusky. Then it began to get light once more, and I can still hear those old roosters crowing, as all of Adle’s chickens had gone to roost. That must have been the shortest night those chickens had ever experienced in their lives. You can well imagine how shady it got that bright clear day, and how astonished we people were, being more familiar with cows than with astronomy.

After the sun got real bright once more, and we all had brightened up too, the two determined disciples of the turf once more lined up at the barrier and were off!…” [3]  

Many newspapers mention the use of smoked glass to view the eclipse. The Rawlins paper even reported young boys breaking windows with rocks to procure the glass. [4] (PLEASE NOTE: Smoked glass is NOT RECOMMENDED for safe viewing of eclipses. Find ideas for viewing safe viewing here)

Though the path of totality cut through only the Northeastern corner of the state, the eclipse was nearly complete in the rest of the state. Several papers mentioned  it was so dark that Venus (the morning star) was visible.

Scanned from a Xerox Multifunction Device

The Weather Service observer in Cheyenne recorded a 10 degree drop in temperature during the event (WSA H90-1, National Weather Service – Cheyenne Collection, 1889 Daily Observations)

1918 – The Last “Great American Eclipse”

On June 8, 1918, the total solar eclipse passed across the United States from coast to coast, as it will on Monday. One of the best places in Wyoming to view the eclipse was around Green River and Rock Springs. Two astronomical observatories were set up in the area by the Yerkes Observatory at the University of Chicago and the Carnegie Institution at Mt. Wilson, California. A small tornado narrowly missed the observatory in Green River on the 3rd, but thankfully it was operational on the 8th for the main event.[5] 

Cheyenne photographer Joseph Shimitz captured this image of the solar eclipse on June 8, 1918. The eclipse is not total at this instant. The clouds, which made for a striking photograph, created less than idea viewing conditions. Several people can be seen in the foreground at the very bottom of the frame.
(WSA Meyers Neg 6162)

On the day of the eclipse, the view from Rock Springs was clear, but at Green River the sun was obscured by cloud cover. This dampened spirits a bit, but they were soon revived when Dr. E.E. Barnard, who was in charge of the Yerkes observatory, observed a new star that night which he named “Nova Aquilae”, as reported by the Rock Springs Miner.[6]


1.  Big Horn Sentinel, December 29, 1888, page 3

2. Allen was only off by a year and New Year’s Day would have been a logical date for a community celebration. WPA Bio 9, Gus Allen, page 5-7

3. ibid.

4. Carbon County Journal January 5, 1889, page 3

5. Green River Star May 17, 1918 page 1, and  Cheyenne State Leader June 4, 1918, page 3

6. Rock Springs Miner June 14, 1918, page 1. Nova Aquilae 1918 is also known as V603 Aquilae. For more information about Dr. Barnard, the 1918 eclipse and Nova Aquilae, see The Immortal Fire Within: The Life and Work of Edward Emerson Barnard, by William Sheehan, page 405-407.

Further Reading:

Leave a comment

Filed under Eyewitness to History

Laramiewood: Douglas Fairbanks Films in Wyoming

The_Man_From_Painted_Post_1917

 

On August 8, 1917, while guns blazed in Europe, silent film and Broadway star Douglas Fairbanks and his troop of actors began filming scenes for his newest movie, “The Man from Painted Post” at the Riverside Ranch near Laramie, Wyoming. They would stay for 2 weeks.

The film arrived in Wyoming theatres in mid-October 1917 to record crowds. Theatres around the state, who usually only showed a film twice a day on Friday and Saturday, scheduled double or triple this number to keep up with local demand.

(WSA Wyoming Tribune October 17, 1917)

(WSA Wyoming Tribune October 17, 1917)

Fairbanks had grown up in Denver before moving to New York to pursue an acting career on Broadway. In 1915, he began acting for the camera when it was still being looked down upon by many “serious” actors. His gamble paid off and he was soon one of the biggest names in the blossoming motion picture industry.

Fairbanks not only acted in “The Man from Painted Post”, originally titled “Handsome/Fancy Jim Sherwood,” he also wrote the screen play and acted as producer for the film. His brother, John, was the general manager of the Fairbanks Company troop. Many big name rodeo cowboys, like Sam Brownell, also made appearances beside the famous actors.

(WSA Laramie Daily Boomerang August 4, 1917)

(WSA Laramie Daily Boomerang August 4, 1917)

The climactic fight scene was shot at the Woods Landing schoolhouse with students playing themselves while Fairbanks fights the “bad guy” for the schoolmarm’s affection. Apparently the cameraman caught some “real” action when a couple of boys also started to brawl.

Filming was not without incident. $1500 in jewelry went missing from cowgirl Prairie Rose Judd’s tent. A fire broke out and destroyed most of the wardrobe for Douglas and two other actors. Cloudy skies and rain stalled filming on several occasions. The mayor of Rock River interrupted filming of the final scene on Main Street, insisting the company needed permission first. Despite these setbacks, Fairbanks was very pleased with his time in the “Gem City.”

(WSA Laramie Daily Boomerang August 9, 1917)

(WSA Laramie Daily Boomerang August 9, 1917)

The Laramie Chamber of Commerce took the opportunity to speak with Fairbanks about permanently locating his company in Laramie. The local paper was full of talk of setting up a permanent filming camp and even a “resort” near Woods Landing to cater to the visiting stars. Fairbanks seemed to entertain the idea, mentioning that the location half way between California and New York would certainly be convenient and promised to send a company representative to look into the possibility, but nothing ever came of it.

Leave a comment

Filed under This Day in Wyoming History...

On This Day in Wyoming History… 1892: What Invasion?

This week marks the 125th anniversary of the Johnson County War or Johnson County Invasion, depending upon you’re view.  Much has been written in the last century about the events of April 1892 and the debate rages to this day about what did or did not happen in Northern Wyoming.

This is the story of an erstwhile traveler who was caught up in the excitement, as told by Albert W. Richards of Sheridan in the 1930s.

Gillette, Wyoming in 1892.
(WSA Sub Neg 8983)

In the Spring of 1892, I, in the company of other young men, made a trip into Kansas City where we heard that the new railroad extension of the CB&Q which ran from Kansas City, Missouri, to Gillette, Wyoming, was offering to take anyone into the new territory for the nominal price of $2.

I was a young man of 27 then and craved to be a lawyer and had the idea that if I could get out west I could work and save enough money to study…

I never will forget the day I stepped off the train at Gillette. It was April the 15th and I was met by a reception committee composed of 5 or 6 men who looked daggers at me and roared, “What do you want?”

I just stood and stared at them. I guess I presented a rather ludicrous spectacle standing there staring at these men who just plain “jumped all over me.” I wondered if this was the West that Horace Greeley advised young men to go to. Too astonished to speak, I just stood and stared and one of the men rammed a six-shooter into my totally empty stomach and yelled, “Well?”

That made me pretty mad and I snorted, “Say, is this the West where they meet a man with six-guns and ask him his business?”

One of the other men said, “Do you know where Powder River is?”

“Never heard of it in my life. Do they want men to work there? That’s what I’m looking for, is work.”

“What kind of work?”

“Farm.”

They looked at one another and went on with their questioning. “What made you think you could get work on a farm in this country?”

“Well, I thought there was work of that kind and I took a chance with $2.”

“You’re not sure somebody didn’t round you up?”

“Round me up nothing. My pardner and me,” here I turned to look for my pardner but discovered I had none, “Well,” I fairly screamed at my reception committee, “just what do you folks want to find out?”

“Well, we want to know have you or have you not come out here to help capture the invaders?”

“Invaders? Why I didn’t even know you had an invasion. Where is it?”

Johnson County Invaders being held by the US Army at Fort DA Russell in 1892.
(WSA Sub Neg 9516)

My reception committee held a consultation then and decided to OK me. I went on my way toward the restaurant where I found my pardner half scared to death. “Say,” he whispered to me, “I’m getting out of this town. They say they shoot strangers on sight.”

“Well,” I told him, “there seems to be some sort of invaders they are afraid we came to help. If anyone asks you any questions, why you just tell them the plain truth and you’ll be OK.”

Gillette at that time was the end of the railroad and it was certainly a busy little town but of course the excitement that prevailed was the outgrowth of the Cattlemen’s Invasion which had taken place a few days previously and the cattlemen were then being held prisoners at Ft. McKinney and everyone was excited, suspicious and nervous. But Gillette was a typical little railroad burg at that time: there were a few dwellings and only about half a hundred business houses which were for the most part saloons or combinations of saloons and restaurants. But what Gillette lacked in buildings, it made up for in crowds – everywhere, on the street corners, in saloons, restaurants, everywhere there were large groups of freighters, cowboys, farm hands, emigrants and Indians. They were a heterogeneous mob but they were all good fellows and a spirit of good fellowship prevailed that you find nowhere today.

Richards and his partner found a ride to Sheridan with a freight outfit for $5 each.

Three weeks later, we reached Sheridan. It had been a terrible trip. Rain and snow and soft roads all the way up. As soon as I landed in Sheridan, I secured a job with [James M.] Works, father of Clara Works and Mrs. Jack Flagg. Clara was the first teacher to teach in Sheridan… in 1882-83… Mrs. Jack Flagg was married to a rustler of Johnson County and Works was all riled up over the invasion and I began to believe that this was a wild and woolly West sure enough. I didn’t know anything about the controversy between the rustlers and the cattlemen and told Works so, so he fired me. I laugh about it now when I think about it all. I guess Works thought I was in sympathy with the cattlemen and he was all wrought up about it.[1]

Cowboys around the Bar C Roundup Wagon, ca 1884. Several of the men in this group would be involved in the 1892 range war, including Nate Champion and Jack Flagg.
(WSA Sub Neg 12128)


1. WPA Bio 2208, A.W. Richards, Wyoming State Archives. Punctuation corrected. Richards settled in Sheridan County, working as a mail carrier, milk man, ranch hand, gold miner, and farmer, among other things.

For more information about the Johnson County War (list not inclusive):

Leave a comment

Filed under This Day in Wyoming History...

A Day Without Unidentified Women

No Neg, P82-21_15 Riverton women and children one dog standing by a wooden home.jpg

Do these women or this building look familiar? Help us identify them and celebrate A Day Without Unidentified Women (WSA P82-21/15, near Riverton, WY 1912)

Happy International Women’s Day!

During this day to celebrate women around the globe, one of our colleagues at the University of North Carolina had a interesting idea: take the “A Day Without A Woman” observance, turn today into “A Day Without Unidentified Women” and give the women in our archival photo collections their identities back. We think it is a wonderful idea but we need your help!

P2011-34_18, 3 contestants for Miss Indian America, All-American Indian Days, Sheridan.jpg

Recognize these beautiful and accomplished contestants for Miss Indian America, All-American Indian Days, Sheridan, Wyoming 1950s-1960s? (WSA P2011-34/3)

Not all of the photos of women in our collection are identified in our catalog records, but you may recognize them. To help us update our records and give these women their identities back, follow these links to photos including either the term “unidentified woman” or “unidentified women” in our online photo database. If you recognize someone in a photo, either send us an email with the URL link to the image and a updated description OR leave a note here in the comments so we can see how many women have been identified today.

Don’t forget to try your hand at identifying women in other archives and museum collections!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Today in Wyoming History: 1886, The Beginning of the End of the Open Range

130 years ago today, on November 1, 1886, heralded the first snowfall for the disastrous winter of 1886-87. It was unusually cold and wet, with record snowfall and temperatures shattering left and right across the region. This winter also put the final nail in the coffin for the open range cattle industry, killing much of the livestock on the range and decimating the fortunes of many “cattle barons.”

nws-cheyenne-station-daily-record-journal-may-1885-march-1888-nov-1886

Official weather observations for one of the most historically significant winters in the history of Cheyenne are missing due to the severe illness and eventual death of the station attendant. Thankfully data exists from other stations in the region. (WSA National Weather Service, Cheyenne Station, daily record journal May 1885 – March 1888)

No one knows if any temperature records were official broken in Cheyenne that winter. The National Weather Service station observer, Corporal Stephen R. Richey, was sick and unable to record his observations. According to the log book, Corporal Richey came down with Malignant Erysipelas, also known as St. Anthony’s Fire, which is an acute streptococcus bacterial infection. His last entry was October 23, 1886, just days before that first snowfall. Apparently the US Signal Corp had held out hope for Corporal Richey’s recovery because they did not send his replacement until after he died on March 5, 1887, at the end of the brutal winter. Richey was interred in the Fort D.A. Russell (now Warren Air Force Base) Cemetery. [1]


1. Stephen R. Richey memorial, FindAGrave.com

Leave a comment

Filed under This Day in Wyoming History...

The Last WWI Pilot from Wyoming

As a young man, Herman Kreuger dreamt of being

image-238

Photo accompanied the article “WWI flying ace talks with pilots on Italian team”, Billings Gazette August 25, 1988. A copy of this article is filed with Kreuger’s oral history interview at the WSA. It is interesting to note that “ace” was blacked out on the copy in the file.

a pilot.  During World War One, he got
his wish – serving in the U.S. Aviation Service piloting Italian bombers in northern Italy.

 

Herman was born on April 5, 1894 in Bern, Kansas.  His father worked for company prospecting for coal and moved his family from Nebraska to Wyoming in 1885.  Herman’s mother “figured that Wyoming wasn’t much of a place to raise a family.”  Moreover, “there was nothing except rattlesnakes and long horned cattle and cowboys.”  

Given this rather glum outlook, it is not surprising that the family eventually returned to Nebraska.  After graduating from school, Herman earned a living as a teacher.

In the early 1900s, airplanes were a novelty.  Herman was so fascinated by the romance of flying that he built a glider in 1910.  It crashed shortly after takeoff but he was not seriously injured.  “It turned out that it wasn’t very comfortable and my mother put a stop to that foolishness after the first flight,” he said.

Prior to America’s entry in World War One, Herman was working at an army camp near San Antonio, where he was mesmerized watching airplanes flying into and out of the nearby field.  Following America’s declaration of war, he enlisted in reserve officer training but later opted for artillery and then aviation.  

caproni_ca5

The final version of the Caproni aircraft used during WWI. Krueger probably would have flown one of these later iterations. Photo from Wikipedia

 

After his training in Austin, he was shipped to France and then was finally assigned to the First Aerial Squadron in Italy where he flew Capronis, an Italian bomber.  His initial responsibility was to train other pilots.  A fellow pilot in his squadron was future New York City mayor Fiorello LaGuardia.

In 1918, Herman was sent into combat, flying missions against Austrian forces near Padua in northern Italy.  It was not without danger.  The large plane with a four-man crew (Herman and three Italians) was an easy target.  One occasion, after returning to base, Herman and his crew discovered 67 bullet holes in their plane.  

Herman flew numerous aerial missions during the last five months of the war.  For his efforts he was decorated with the Italian War Cross.

sub-neg-1172-22nd-wy-legislature-house-1933-krueger

Krueger’s 1933 Wyoming House of Representatives portrait. (WSA Sub Neg 1172)

After the war, Herman moved to Wyoming, where he filed for a homestead and operated a car and farm-tractor dealership near Garland.  He married his wife Celia Gordon in 1925 in Deer Lodge, Montana, and served many years as a Wyoming state representative from Park County. In 1937, he was selected as Speaker of the House.

Herman Kreuger died in August 1991 at the age of 97.  He was the last World War One pilot from Wyoming.

— Carl Hallberg, Reference Archivist

 

 


Additional Resources

  • OH-905, Herman Kreuger oral history audio and transcript, 1983, Wyoming State Archives
  • Herman Fred Krueger Find A Grave memorial

Leave a comment

Filed under Wyoming at War

On this Day in Wyoming History… 1936: FLOTUS Birthday Visit to Cheyenne

Happy Birthday to Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt who was born October 11, 1884!

brammar-neg-5026-gov-leslie-miller-eleanor-roosevelt-and-ladies-by-train-oct-11-1936

Gov Leslie Miller and Eleanor Roosevelt with several local ladies in front of the president’s special train. (WSA Brammar Neg 5026)

In 1936, Eleanor and President Franklin Roosevelt stopped in Cheyenne during a campaign swing through nine western states. The 20-hour pause was the longest of the trip and the couples’ second visit to the Capitol City. The Sunday “rest” just happened to coincide with Eleanor’s birthday.

brammar-neg-3911-fdr-and-eleanor-roosevelt-coming-out-of-st-marks-episcopal-church-1936

President Franklin Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor leaving St. Mark’s Episcopal Church follow the Sunday service. (WSA Brammar Neg 3911)

brammar-neg-4962-franklin-d-and-eleanor-roosevelt-in-car-st-marks-episcopal-church-1936

From St. Mark’s, the Roosevelts were drive to Fort F.E. Warren where they had an informal luncheon at the residence of Brig. General Charles F. Humphrey, Jr. Follow the meal, Roosevelt briefly addressed the crowd. Though the stop was a part of a campaign trip, Roosevelt declared the Sunday a political day of rest and did not speak about the election. (WSA Brammar Neg 4962, President, daughter-in-law Betsey (Mrs. James Roosevelt) and Eleanor Roosevelt in car in front of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church)

img_3609-deriv

A large bouquet of dahlias was presented to Eleanor by Governor Miller. There is a very good chance that the flowers were grown by Miller himself, possibly on the Capitol Building grounds. He was a dedicated dahlia enthusiast. (WSA Gov. Miller scrapbook page showing photos from the Roosevelts’ visit in 1936)

brammar-neg-4488-franklin-d-roosevelt-speaking-from-train-eleanor-on-left-oct-11-1936

President Roosevelt speaking to the crowd from the back platform of his special train car. (WSA Brammar Neg 4488)

Leave a comment

Filed under Presidential Visits, This Day in Wyoming History...

It’s Electronic Records Day: 10.10.16

Do you create documents on your computer?  Your tablet?  Do you write texts and posts on your cell phone?  Then you are creating electronic records.  Think of all the files you create in a week or a year.  Then, imagine how many such documents are created by Wyoming state employees in the same amount of time…  Where are they all kept?  How do we know that we will be able to read and have access to them in the future?  These are the knotty problems that your State Archives staff wrestle with every day.

electronic records logo_2015

We are participating in Electronic Records Day 10.10.16 this year by telling you about how we are solving those problems via the Wyoming Digital Archives, our system for preserving digital files created in the conduct of state business.

Why do electronic records need special attention?

Consider this tongue in cheek answer from the Council of State Archivists, “Managing electronic records is like caring for a perpetual toddler: they need regular attention and care…”

On a more serious note, they add,

With the increasing reliance on information technology, the challenge to manage, preserve, and provide access to digital records and information continues to grow. Action must to taken to ensure future access to electronic records.

Paper records stored in good conditions can be read centuries afterwards. Typical electronic file formats have a life span measured in decades at best.

Rapidly changing software and hardware environments can leave electronic records virtually inaccessible after just a few years if not monitored.

Electronic records require proactive management. The best time to plan for electronic records preservation is at the time records are created, rather than when software is being replaced or a project is ending.

State Archivist, Mike Strom, says he is most happy that the Wyoming Digital Archives shows how the state of Wyoming is involved in e-records in a substantial way.   He says it is good to work with agencies to manage records so that they’re kept the right amount of time, according to our records retention schedules.

The State Archives is already working with fourteen state agencies that are entering their records into the Digital Archives – which contains over 300,000 individual records so far.

Strom’s goals for the future include seeing that all state agencies are engaged in some way with this project.  A broader goal is ensuring the long-term preservation and accessibility of all of the state’s records regardless of their format.

Can the public see these records, too?  Yes, the Digital Archives has a public access feature so that records which you might be able to see by contacting a state agency (like incorporation or other state reports) will be accessible through a portal on the State Archives’ web page or by a link to that portal from the state agency’s website.

src-wall-of-boxes-pallet-of-boxes-with-pallet-jack-7-22-2013

The State Archives operates a Records Center which has rows and rows of boxes, shelved fourteen levels high and served by staff with forklifts.  The Wyoming Digital Archives will soon house the same amount of records, but we won’t need a forklift to find the right box or file.  We will use online searching to find the information that agencies need to conduct their business – and that you, the public, need to find a court file or school transcript, write a research paper, or dig into your family history.

Still wondering what to do with your own personal digital files?  Here are some great tips from COSA. We also hope you join the staff of the State Archives this Thursday, October 13th as we present  recommendations on how best to store and preserve all types of family records, including electronic records.

preserving-not-just-veggies-flier-no-blurb

Leave a comment

Filed under Archives Month 2016

Bachelor War Bread and Pony Love: Words from White Eagle

“Few towns can boast an Indian writer. This Gillette can do with impunity.” So began the editor of the Gillette News’ introduction of White Eagle to Gillette and ultimately the nation.

White Eagle, photo from his 1916 The Gillette Cook Book, reprinted by the Campbell County Historical Society ca 1965

White Eagle, photo from his 1916 The Gillette Cook Book, reprinted by the Campbell County Historical Society ca 1965

Shields Wright, known as White Eagle, was born in 1878 or 1879 to a Sioux couple “on [the] south fork of [the] Red River 4 miles from Eufaula, Oklahoma,” deep in the heart of Indian Country. Born deaf, the cards were stacked against him from the start, but his infirmity seems to have only made him more observant. He was taught to read and write and eventually could speak with some difficulty. At age 15, he left the reservation and struck out on his own.

During the summer of 1909, White Eagle found himself working on the range as a cowboy near Gillette, Wyoming. This was a life he loved, out on the plains with only cattle and his horse for company and plenty of time to think. And write. Like many cowboys, White Eagle had the heart of a poet.

This pamphlet of poems included "Indian Maiden Up-to-Date", "I Love You My Pony", "The Dog Supper", "Indians Lament" and "Indian Cow-Boy Song" (WSA P2007-11)

This pamphlet of poems included “Indian Maiden Up-to-Date”, “I Love You My Pony”, “The Dog Supper”, “Indians Lament” and “Indian Cow-Boy Song”
(WSA P2007-11)

Starting in August 1912, White Eagle became an infrequent contributor to the Gillette News. He was compensated for his work, which was often published on the front page. Sometimes he would offer his opinion on a topic, but more often it would be a poem. He later published a pamphlet of poems entitled “The Dog Supper and Other Poems” and sold them for a bit of pocket change. Though much of his work spoke about his life as a cowboy, he also wrote about his experience as a Native American walking between both the old and new West and the Native and White cultures.

The Wyoming Wind

O, Wyoming wind why this way
Of coming round so rough today?
You close my door with such a slam
You almost caught me in the jam.
You make me feel a bit afraid
You shake the roof so e’er-head
You startle me with your wild roar
As you go racing past my door.
Coming screeching across the land
You fill my eyes with dust and sand
You catch up mud in your mad race
And sling it roughly in my face
You snatch my hat with gusts wild
And have me chase it most a mile.
You whip in rags my one old coat
And blow my breath back down my throat.
You took my wash tub most to town
And left it sitting upside down
You take the moisture from my crop
And leave me wondering where you’ll stop.

— published in the Gillette News

Some time around 1916 White Eagle acquired a printing press of his own. His first endeavor was to publish a local cookbook. He asked local women to share their best recipes and often included a short biographical note about the contributor. He also added a few of his poems for color.

White Eagle on his horse, Red Bird, made quite a splash when he appeared on the streets of Chicago promoting the Custer Battlefield Highway in 1922. (WSA Sub Neg 285)

White Eagle on his horse, Red Bird, made quite a splash when he appeared on the streets of Chicago promoting the Custer Battlefield Highway in 1922.
(WSA Sub Neg 285)

In 1922, White Eagle rode the entire length of the Custer Battlefield Highway, from Sheridan to Omaha to promote the highway and encourage tourism. His horse, Red Bird, was provided by Sen. John B. Kendrick. From Omaha, he toured the East by train, stopping in Chicago, Detroit and Washington, DC. He met with General Custer’s widow and was interviewed by Cornelius Vanderbilt. When he returned to Wyoming, White Eagle published a piece in The Highway Magazine entitled “Good Roads Force the Passing of the “Old West” about his travels and his memories of the west as it was. His story was also written up in Popular Mechanics.

Flowing his trip East, White Eagle’s writing disappear from the newspaper. There is a mention of his greeting Queen Marie of Romania in Washington State in 1926, but beyond that, his trail fades away. Perhaps he just rode off into the sunset.

1 Comment

Filed under This Day in Wyoming History..., WSA Collection Highlights