A States Rights’ Advocate: Governor Nels H. Smith

Gov Nels Smith and sec in gov office, March 24, 1941 (WSA Sub Neg 21669)

Gov Nels Smith and his secretary in the governor’s office, March 24, 1941.
(WSA Sub Neg 21669)

Nels Hansen Smith was born on August 27, 1884, in Gayville, South Dakota.  He graduated from the University of South Dakota, following which he ranched for two years (1905-1907) near Gettysburg, SD.  He came to Wyoming in 1907 and acquired ranch properties in Crook and Weston Counties. He married Marie Christensen in 1911.  They had two sons, Peter and Christy.

Marie Smith and the couple's sons Peter and Christy. (WSA Sub Neg 19571)

Marie Christensen Smith and the couple’s sons Peter and Christy.
(WSA Sub Neg 19571)

Smith, a Republican, was elected to the Wyoming House of Representatives in 1918.  He lost an election for a Senate seat in 1926.  He continued to be politically active and was nominated by his party for the 1938 gubernatorial election, which he won by a large margin over incumbent Leslie Miller.  This achievement made Marie Smith the first Wyoming born first lady.

Campaign letter in support of Nels Smith for Governor, 1938. (WSA H73-19)

Campaign letter in support of Nels Smith for Governor, 1938.
(WSA H73-19)

The new Governor gave a short and very Republican address to the 1939 legislature, favoring no new taxes, reduced gasoline and utility prices, and less highway transportation regulation.  Regarding education expenses, he thought school districts could manage a “slight decrease” in their budgets.  In 1941, he told the legislature he didn’t think the interpretation of current equalization law fully accomplished the goal of providing equal opportunity to all Wyoming students.

Excerpts from Gov. Smith's 1941 address to the Legislature. (WSA RG0001.28, Gov. Nels Smith Gubernatorial Records)

Excerpts from Gov. Smith’s 1941 address to the Legislature.
(WSA RG0001.28, Gov. Nels Smith Gubernatorial Records)

During his tenure as Wyoming’s chief executive, Smith was credited with removing the Game and Fish Commission from partisan politics after getting approval from the state legislature to reorganize it. He is also remembered for instituting programs that brought about the abolition of the state property tax; starting a vocational training program at the Industrial Institute, which led to the building of 300 miles of roads in the state; beginning a program of acquiring public hunting and fishing areas; recommending a budget system with appropriations for each department; being active in the marking of state historic sites; and strongly advocating states’ rights.

Pamphlet reprint of an article about states' rights written by Gov. Smith and published in the November 1940 Country Gentleman. (WSA H73-19)

Pamphlet reprint of an article about states’ rights written by Gov. Smith and published in the November 1940 Country Gentleman.
(WSA H73-19)

Oil and gas production had been a hot topic for decades and it occupied Governor Smith’s time as well.   In 1941, he urged the legislature to join a compact of other major oil producing states.  The compact had been organized in 1935 to help conserve oil resources and eliminate overproduction, which drove prices down and impacted royalty payments to the states. The legislature, fearing restrictions on Wyoming production, declined to join in 1935 and defeated the Governor’s recommendation in 1941.

Governor Smith is remembered as a straightforward man who struggled with political maneuverings and advice.  His handling of affairs related to the University of Wyoming, particularly the dismissal of President Arthur Crane, were a major source of negative publicity.  He was defeated in a 1942 re-election bid.

The Smiths purchased Ranch A, with its stunning views of Devils Tower, in Crook County from the Moses Annenberg estate in 1942. This log lodge is best known for its interior designs by Wyomingite Thomas Molesworth. The ranch was deeded to the State of Wyoming for educational purposes in 1996. (WSA RAN498, SHPO photo by Richard Collier)

The Smiths purchased Ranch A near Sundance, with its stunning views of Devils Tower, from the Moses Annenberg estate in 1942. This log lodge is best known for its interior designs by Wyomingite Thomas Molesworth. The ranch was deeded to the State of Wyoming for educational purposes in 1996.
(WSA RAN498, SHPO photo by Richard Collier)

Tragedy struck the Smith family in 1952.  On July 16, ten year old granddaughter Connie Smith walked away from Camp Sloane, a summer camp in Salisbury, Connecticut.  It was theorized she left because of an altercation with camp mates, or possibly because of homesickness.  She was last seen hitchhiking on a road near Salisbury.  The Smith family maintained search efforts for years as possible clues to her whereabouts were reported.  However, the case remains unsolved.

Nels Smith continued to be an active public servant later in his life, serving on the Wyoming Highway Commission and heading the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission.  He died July 5, 1976 in Spearfish, South Dakota.

Executive order calling out the Wyoming National Guard. (WSA RG0001.28, Gov. Nels Smith Gubernatorial Papers)

Executive order calling out the Wyoming National Guard.
(WSA RG0001.28, Gov. Nels Smith Gubernatorial Papers)

Governor Smith’s records constitute one of the smaller gubernatorial collections in the State Archives.  The records include a register of visitors to the Wonderful Wyoming exhibit at the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco, executive orders calling elements of the Wyoming National Guard into active service (reflecting pre-World War II tensions), a proclamation concerning livestock importation regulations, some financial records, a copy of the Governor’s 1941 message to the state legislature, an article about states’ rights, and requisitions and extraditions for fugitives from justice.

— Curtis Greubel, State Imaging Center and Records Management Supervisor

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Vote For Gracie!: Gracie Allan’s Whistle Stop Tour in Wyoming

George Burns and Gracie Allen sitting with Governor Nels Smith at the Governor's Mansion (WSA Brammar Neg 4112)

George Burns and Gracie Allen sitting with Governor Nels Smith at the Governor’s Mansion
(WSA Brammar Neg 4112)

With all the presidential hopefully tossing their hats in to the ring this year, we thought it might be fun to take a look back at an unusual presidential candidate who made a brief stop in Wyoming in 1940. That year, Gracie Allen, half of the comedic power couple Burns and Allen, declared that she would run for president in her very own Surprise Party.

(WSA Wyoming Tribune May 9, 1940)

This editorial appeared in the Cheyenne newspaper a few days before Gracie’s stop in Cheyenne.
(WSA Wyoming Tribune May 9, 1940)

It all started as an ongoing radio joke, with Gracie appearing on various other programs to “promote” her campaign to be the first female president. In the following weeks, the gag became so popular that she received invitations from the City of Omaha to host her Surprise Party’s “national convention” as well as an invitation to speak at the National Press Women’s Club by none other than Eleanor Roosevelt, first lady and wife of candidate Roosevelt himself. She was even endorsed by FDR’s alma mater Harvard!

Marketing opportunities abounded during the campaign, as seen in this ad from Rawlins.  (WSA Rawlins Republican May 11, 1940)

Marketing opportunities abounded during the campaign, as seen in this ad from Rawlins.
(WSA Rawlins Republican May 11, 1940)

In conjunction with Omaha’s offer, the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) offered Gracie a special train take her from Los Angeles to Omaha, making campaign whistle stops along the way. After quite a bit of coaxing from her husband and the crew, she finally agreed and made 31 stops between May 8th and May 14. Four of those stops were in Wyoming, including spending Saturday night and all day Sunday in Cheyenne before dipping down into northern Colorado Monday morning.

(WSA Rock Springs Rocket May 14, 1940)

(WSA Rock Springs Rocket May 14, 1940)

On Saturday, May 11th, the “Gracie Allen Special” arrived in Wyoming. Her first stop was at in Rock Springs where she, George and her announcer spoke briefly from the train platform. The city presented her with a kangaroo sculpture made out of coal from a local mine by Elgin “Bud” Meacham. The kangaroo was Gracie’s chosen mascot for the campaign. The Rock Springs Rocket estimated that 5,000 to 6,000 were on hand to greet the train, though she was not the only excitement for the day. The visit coincided with the second annual Golden Spike Days, celebrating the 70th anniversary +1 of the completion of the transcontinental railroad.

The 20 minute stop in Rawlins was scheduled down to the minute.  (WSA Rawlins Republican May 11, 1940)

The 20 minute stop in Rawlins was scheduled down to the minute.
(WSA Rawlins Republican May 11, 1940)

Gracie’s next stop was at Rawlins, where the paper estimated that 3,000 to 4,000 were gathered.  The local Union Pacific clubs had packed much into her 20 minute visit. She was presented with a rug and 26 mountain-caught trout before being treated to a short majorette performance. As she did at all of her stops in Wyoming, Gracie appeared in an 1860s style dress and bonnet, while George wore a dapper beaver hat and tails. The Rawlins Republican also noted that “a loud speaker system [on the train] took her voice to all of the listeners.”

(WSA Laramie Boomerang May 10, 1940)

(WSA Laramie Boomerang May 10, 1940)

That afternoon, she stopped at Laramie for another 20 minute visit. There, Dr. A. G. Crane, president of the University of Wyoming, introduced the candidate and announced his willingness to join the “Surprise Party” as Laramie’s representative.

(WSA Wyoming Trubune May 13, 1940)

(WSA Wyoming Trubune May 13, 1940)

At 7 pm, the train pulled into Cheyenne, its final stop for the day. Gracie, George and Governor Nels Smith then rode atop the Black Hills Stagecoach, led by a torch-lit parade up Capitol Avenue of majorettes, bands and Union Pacific old timers. On the lawn of the Supreme Court Building, she gave her stump speech and again in the Junior High auditorium before being whisked away to the Frontier Park for a “ball” in her honor. After spending a quite Sunday morning, George and Gracie visited the Governor in the executive mansion and touring Cheyenne and Fort Warren. One stop was the Veteran’s Administration to visit veterans and entertained patients. An afternoon rain shower canceled a planned appearance at a Warren Bowl sing-along.

Rawlins Republican 5-11-1940_Gracie Allen_0003

At least two towns on the Wyoming route had special showings of The Gracie Allen Murder Case in theaters in honor of her visit. (WSA Rawlins Republican May 11, 1940)

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This Day in Wyoming History: Crystal Dam Completed

Crystal Dam has provided the City of Cheyenne with dependable drinking water and recreation opportunities for 105 years.

Crystal Dam taken shortly after completion, before being filled with water, 1910 (WSA J.E. Stimson Collection 5401)

Crystal Dam taken shortly after completion, before being filled with water, 1910
(WSA J.E. Stimson Collection Neg 5701)

On August 5th, 1910, the newspapers announced that Crystal Dam would be completed the following day at which time the City of Cheyenne would it take over.

Cheyenne State Leader, August 05, 1910, page 3

Cheyenne State Leader, August 05, 1910, page 3

Timing could not have been better. The summer of 1910 was a scorcher, with high temps, very little moisture and low snow melt from a dry winter. Water was running low and the quality was barely tolerable.

The City had had enough foresight to build the Granite Reservoir and Round Top water treatment plant only a few years earlier, which helped ease some of the drought, but many were still worried. The hope was that the water issue would be solved for the time being with this new addition to the infrastructure.

Construction continues (WSA H55-53/48, from hand-colored lantern slide)

Construction begins
(WSA H55-53/48, from hand-colored lantern slide)

Sub Neg 23949, Construction of Crystal Reservoir Dam

Looking up the valley from what is now the reservoir.
(WSA Sub Neg 23949)

Construction of Crystal Dam  (WSA Sub Neg 18838)

(WSA Sub Neg 18838)

30 inch and 20 inch pipes laid at this same time between the upper and lower Crow Creeks, Granite Reservoir, the new Crystal Reservoir and Cheyenne carried water to the town and Fort Russell (now Warren Air Force Base.)

 

Men laying the 30 inch supply line to bring water from the reservoirs into Cheyenne, ca 1910. (WSA H55-53/91, from lantern slide)

Men laying the 30 inch supply line to bring water from the reservoirs into Cheyenne, ca 1910.
(WSA H55-53/91, from lantern slide)

In an effort to protect the water supply from contaminants, the dry reservoir bed was cleared of debris and plant material burned prior to water being added. Several railroad cars of charcoal were also laid in “purification” beds and dams between Granite and Crystal reservoirs and below Crystal Dam to further remove contaminants before the water entered the City’s pipes.

Group of people in the dry reservoir bed after the completion of the dam. (WSA H55-53/99, from hand-colored lantern slide)

Group standing in the dry reservoir bed after the completion of the dam.
(WSA H55-53/99, from hand-colored lantern slide)

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Hell on Wheels: Truth or Fiction — Update

Last year, we answered some questions about A&E’s Hell on Wheels, a television series with the backdrop of the construction of the transcontinental railroad in the 1860s. Season 4, which was set almost entirely in Cheyenne (though it was filmed in New Mexico), wrapped up earlier this year and Season 5, set in California, premiered last Saturday. Thanks to Netflix binge watching and series marathons preping for the new season, we’ve seen quite a bit of interest in our last fact or fiction and thought it might be time revisit HOW to update the Q&A in light of the events of Season 4. So before we say good-bye to the train and crew and get back to civilizing the plains…

Was John A. Campbell really governor? What was he like?

Wyoming's first Territorial Governor, John A. Campbell. (WSA Sub Neg 1519)

Wyoming’s first Territorial Governor, John A. Campbell.
(WSA Sub Neg 1519)

Yes, John A. Campbell was appointed Wyoming’s first governor, but the transcontinental railroad was already completed by the time he arrived in Cheyenne and he was really nothing like HOW’s Campbell.

Governor Campbell arrived in Cheyenne in May 1869, and the Territory was officially organized on May 19 when all of the appointed officers were sworn in. Read more about Campbell’s first days here.

Campbell was gentleman and a former military officer and worked hard to set a firm foundation for the new territory. He had his job cut out for him bringing order to the wilds of Wyoming. That being said, there is very little evidence that he interfered with local law enforcement nor that he participated in lynchings, fought with the railroad, was a land speculator, or was ever in jail in Cheyenne. In fact, beyond setting up a sturdy foundation for Wyoming’s government, he is most remembered for securing women’s suffrage in the state by vetoing a bill that would have reversed the law in 1871.

Was Sherman Hill as big an impediment to the railroad as they portray?

The original Dale Creek bridge with the man camp on the valley floor. (WSA Sub Neg 16005)

The original Dale Creek bridge with the man camp on the valley floor.
(WSA Sub Neg 16005)

Yes, Sherman Hill was a very big challenge for the Union Pacific Railroad in Southeast Wyoming. The route had been chosen to avoid as many large mountains (and thus tunnels) as possible. The railroad preferred to build bridges rather than blast tunnels as bridges were much faster and less hazardous.

The 50 miles west of Cheyenne through the Laramie Range would be some of the most technically difficult miles of the route. Not only did this include the highest in elevation (8,236 feet above sea level), but they would need to cross a 127 foot deep, 1,400 feet wide canyon at Dale Creek after digging through solid granite for nearly two miles. While many of the major towns on the railroad had been set up 100 miles apart to provide water and coal for the engines, the towns of Laramie and Cheyenne are only 50 miles apart to account for the large amounts of coal and water needed to pull a train across the summit. It took a month to build the bridge using wood transported all the way from Chicago.

The wooden structure was replaced in 1876 by a stronger, more fire resistant iron bridge. But strong winds were still a problem. (WSA Sub Neg 9779)

The wooden structure was replaced in 1876 by a stronger, more fire resistant iron bridge. But strong winds were still a problem.
(WSA Sub Neg 9779)

The challenges were only beginning when the tracks were completed. The winds, normally steady and strong in southeast Wyoming, would scream down the Dale Creek Canyon causing the tressel to sway, despite guy wires that were attached not long after completion. The sway understandably unnerved the crews and passengers and would often halt traffic while they waited for the winds to calm. Even during relatively calm days, trains slowed to just 4 miles per hour. The UPRR also set up a watchman’s hut at the bridge to look out for sparks coming from the engines that could set the wooden tressel on fire. The bridge was replaced in 1875 with a spidery iron system. The girders were replaced with more robust versions in 1885. Ultimately, the tracks were rerouted through a less dramatic portion of Dale Creek and the iron bridge was dismantled. The piers are still visible on private land.

Was the Cheyenne Leader edited by a woman?

In our last truth or fiction piece, we established that yes, the Cheyenne Leader was a real newspaper, but alas, it was not edited by a woman. The editor was a manby the name of Nathaniel A. Baker. The other two Cheyenne papers were similarly published by men: The Argus by Lucien Bedell and the Rocky Mountain Star by O.T.B. Williams.

The first female editor in Wyoming wouldn’t debut until 1890, when sisters Gertrude and Laura Huntington purchased the Platte Valley Lyre in Saratoga. [1]

The Rocky Mountain Star printing house published a newspaper of the same name in early Cheyenne. Unlike the story in HOW, none of the three papers were run by women. (WSA Sub Neg 8780)

The Rocky Mountain Star printing house published a newspaper of the same name in early Cheyenne. Unlike the story in HOW, none of the three papers were run by women.
(WSA Sub Neg 8780)

Were newspaper pressed burnt?

Yes, but not often and not the Cheyenne Leader. Fire was always a danger for printing offices with their stacks of paper and inks in wooden buildings heated by coal or wood stoves. One stray spark could set the whole place on fire. But that was true for most of the wooden buildings in the early towns.

The Frontier Index was a traveling press that followed the railroad and printed from the end of the tracks towns. When the railroad crews moved camp, the press was moved, too. Brothers Frederick and Legh Freeman ran the paper from 1866-1868 under the name the Kearney Hearld. After moving the paper from Kearney to North Platte, they changed the name.

Frontier Index set up shop in several Wyoming towns including Fort Sanders (just south of Laramie), Laramie City, Green River City, South Pass City, Fort Bridger, Bryan and Bear River City.  (Frontier Index March 6, 1868)

The Frontier Index set up shop in several Wyoming towns including Fort Sanders (just south of Laramie), Laramie City, Green River City, South Pass City, Fort Bridger, Bryan and Bear River City.
(Frontier Index March 6, 1868)

The Freeman’s reporting style was rather bias and controversial, stirring up the already rough element in many towns. The end finally came in Bear River City (Uinta County, Wyoming) in November 1868. The town was so notorious, it was said to be one of the worst of the hell on wheels towns. The press was burned during the Bear River City Riot which also claimed the life of at least 16 people and torched almost all of the buildings in town. The particularly opinionated issue that had come out the day before probably did not help the situation. Legh Freeman resurrected the paper as the Frontier Phoenix in Montana a few months later, saying it would “rise from the ashes.”


1. The “Lyre Girls:” First Women Newspaper Owners in Wyoming, by Lori Van Pelt, WyoHistory.org. (accessed July 2015)

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More Than A Handsome ‘Stache: Fenimore Chatterton

Fenimore Chatterton and his iconic mustaches.  (WSA No Neg, governors)

Fenimore Chatterton and his signature mustaches.
(WSA No Neg, governors)

Fenimore Chatterton was born July 21, 1860 in Oswego, New York.  His family moved to Washington D.C. when he was a young child.  There he took preparatory classes at Columbian University (Now George Washington University) and later graduated from Millersville State Normal School in Lancaster, PA.  Chatterton then studied law under an attorney in Washington, before lack of funds sent him job hunting.  After brief employment in Chicago, he moved to Grinnell, Iowa where he earned enough money to attend the State Teachers Institute and obtain a teaching certificate.

Western opportunity continued to beckon and in 1878 Chatterton found employment in a mercantile business at Fort Fred Steele in Carbon County, Wyoming.  He eventually acquired the business, becoming post trader.  The fort was abandoned in 1886, removing the main source of income for the young businessman.    He relocated to the town of Saratoga, an area he enjoyed visiting.  In 1888, the Republican Party sought him as a candidate for Carbon County’s treasurer and probate judge.  He sold his store and ran a successful campaign for the offices.   Two years later he was elected to the first state legislature as a senator representing Carbon and Natrona Counties and again served in that capacity in the second legislature.

Although he was admitted to the Wyoming Bar in 1891, Chatterton felt the need to further his education.  He left Wyoming for a year and graduated from the University of Michigan law department in 1892.  He returned to Rawlins and began a law practice which lasted until 1898.  He also served as Carbon County attorney for two terms beginning in 1894.

Chatterton's law office in Rawlins, 1894-1899. Rev. Bateman standing in the doorway. (WSA Sub Neg 1613)

Chatterton’s law office in Rawlins, 1894-1899. Rev. Bateman standing in the doorway.
(WSA Sub Neg 1613)

Chatterton was involved with several other Republicans in an effort to keep Francis E. Warren from regaining his U.S. Senate seat in 1893.  The two were not on friendly terms after that and Chatterton felt this resulted in obstacles being placed in his career path.  In spite of this, Chatterton won his party’s nomination for Secretary of State for the 1898 election.  During what must have been an exhausting campaign, Chatterton and Republican gubernatorial candidate DeForest Richards traveled 1,500 miles by buckboard, attending 45 rallies, each of which was followed by a dance.  The rally in Buffalo consisted of Chatterton, Richards, and the Republican county chairman.  The Johnson County War, blamed on Republicans, still rankled in that part of the state.

The campaign effort paid off as Richards and Chatterton were elected.  Both were re-elected in 1902.  However, the team was separated on April 28, 1903 when Richards died just a few months into his second term.  Chatterton served as acting governor until January 2, 1905.

One of Chatterton’s most difficult challenges during his time in the executive office was the Tom Horn case.  Horn, whose talents as a scout and gunman were employed in various legal and illegal pursuits, had been convicted of killing young Willie Nickell, the son of an Iron Mountain area sheep rancher.  When Horn was convicted of first degree murder, great pressure was put on Chatterton to commute the death sentence.  He studied the evidence and, in spite of political coercion and threats on his life, chose not to “reverse the judgment of the courts.”

One of many letters, this unnamed woman wrote Chatterton begging him to grant Tom Horn a reprieve saying,

One of many letters, this unnamed woman wrote Chatterton begging him to grant Tom Horn a reprieve saying, “I read your statement with verry mutch Greif, in regards to Horns Sentents. I wish oh! how I do wish, that you could grant the poor Forsaken his wish until some thing more comes to light & then you will have no thought of sorrow in the future that you had done such a great rong.
for if he still Lives, it would not be so bad. trusting that you could give him a Life sentence in stead of the ___ one he has.
I would beg your Pardon a thousand times over for writting this letter to you. My name I wont reveal at present.”
(WSA RG 0001.16, General Records, Tom Horn correspondence reprieve, spelling retained)

When Chatterton’s political career ended at the close of his second term as Secretary of State, he turned his attention to developing the agricultural potential of Fremont County.  From 1907 to 1914 he was employed as the attorney and general manager of the Wyoming Central Irrigation Company, which was granted the right by the state to build a canal system in lands ceded from the Wind River Reservation.  Later, he practiced law at Riverton from 1914 to 1927.  He moved to Cheyenne where he served on the State Board of Equalization and the Wyoming Public Service Commission. He also continued his law practice.

Chatterton on right. Possibly the Wyoming Board of Equalization in the Capitol Building, ca 1927. (WSA Meyers Neg 823)

The Wyoming Board of Equalization in the Capitol Building, ca 1927. Left to Right: C.H. McWhinnie, Claude L. Draper, and Fenimore Chatterton. 
(WSA Meyers Neg 823, photo by Joe Shimitz)

Chatterton had married Stella Wyland in 1900.  They had two daughters, Eleanor and Constance. The Chattertons left Wyoming in 1937, retiring to property near Arvada, Colorado.  Mrs. Chatterton died in 1954.  The Governor passed away four years later on May 9, 1958, two months short of his 98th birthday.

Chatterton with his wife and daughters. Turning water into the dam at Riverton, 1903. (WSA Sub Neg 20081)

Chatterton with his wife and daughters. Opening gate for water into the dam at Riverton, 1903.
(WSA Sub Neg 20081)

Surviving records from Governor Chatterton’s years as Acting Governor include 1904 election returns, reports on fish hatcheries, records concerning the work of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition and Wyoming’s participation in the event, registers of visitors to the Exposition’s agriculture exhibits, general correspondence, 1903 report on the mine explosion at Hanna, appointment records, a proclamation issued upon the death of Governor DeForest Richards, petitions for pardons, requisitions and extraditions, records concerning the Lightning Creek Raid, a few records concerning the opening of the Wind River Reservation to settlement, and records related to the Tom Horn case.

In this letter to Secretary of the Interior E.A. Hitchcock, Chatterton attempts to set the record straight about rumors of mob threats against Native Americans jailed in Weston County for killing game and cattle in an incident known as the Lightening Creek Raid. He also states that Wyoming intends to prosecute them, citing the Race Horse case of 1895 in which the US Supreme Court ruled that state game laws applied to Native Americans.  (WSA RG 0001.16, letterpress book p.131-132)

In this letter to Secretary of the Interior E.A. Hitchcock, Chatterton attempts to set the record straight about rumors of mob threats against Native Americans jailed in Weston County for killing game and cattle in an incident known as the Lightening Creek Raid. He also states that Wyoming intends to prosecute them, citing the Race Horse case of 1895 in which the US Supreme Court ruled that state game laws applied to Native Americans.
(WSA RG 0001.16, letterpress book p.131-132)

— Curtis Greubel, State Imaging Center Supervisor

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Lander: Wyoming’s Apple City

“It has recently been demonstrated that the Garden of Eden was not in Palestine, but is still situated on the Shoshone Indian reservation in Wyoming and that the variety of apple with which Mother Eve was tempted is still grown on a ranch just outside the reserve.” — Gov. Fenimore Chatterton, speaking at the Louis and Clark Exposition, St. Louis, Missouri, July 11, 1904.

Ed Young's apple orchard near Lander, 1903 (WSA JE Stimson Collection Neg 682)

Ed Young’s apple orchard near Lander, 1903.
(WSA JE Stimson Collection Neg 682, hand colored lantern slide)

It all started in 1882, when Lander rancher Ed Young planted his first apple trees, the first planted in Wyoming, on his homestead on the Little Popo Agie. Despite setbacks caused by climate and weather, Young kept experimenting with varieties and grafting techniques. By the turn of the century, Young’s apples were known throughout the region for their quality and his displays were the highlight of county and state fairs.

In addition to selling fresh apples, Young also made cider.  (WSA Wind River Mountaineer 12-16-1904, p3)

In addition to selling fresh apples and other fruits to local stores and restaurants, Young also made cider.
(WSA Wind River Mountaineer December 16, 1904, p.3)

Ed Young with one of his

Ed Young with one of his “Wealthy” apple trees, 1895. This was one of his most successful varieties. These hardy and prolific trees were developed by pioneering Minnesota horticulturalist Peter Gideon. In 1897, nearly half of Young’s 2,000 trees were Wealthys.
(Fruit Growing in Wyoming, no. 34, 1897, by B.C. Buffum, p.126)

Governor Chatterton, an enthusiastic promoter of Fremont County, mentioned the apples in his address on Wyoming Day at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis in 1904. Young’s apples lived up to the hype and though they did not win awards, were highly praised as making great progress in the region.

Governor Chatterton's praise was well deserved. Fremont County's apples won prizes at the World's Fair.  (WSA Wind River Mountaineer January 27, 1905, page 1)

Governor Chatterton’s praise was well deserved. Fremont County’s apples were highly praised at the World’s Fair.
(WSA Wind River Mountaineer January 27, 1905, p.1)

By 1904, Young’s orchard of more than 2,000 trees was said to produce 60,000 pounds that season. That same year, the newspapers and promoters began calling Lander “Apple City” and Ed Young the “Apple King of Wyoming.” The town used Young’s success to help promote settlement in the area and even made an unsuccessful bid for moving the state capitol from the “temporary” Cheyenne to the more hospitable climate in Lander.

Lander began to be called

Lander began to be called “Apple City” in 1904, in no small part because of Young’s successful orchard.
(WSA Wyoming Tribune September 28, 1904, p.8)

The town of Lander's promotional campaign was in full in 1904 when they hosted a

The town of Lander’s promotional campaign was in full in 1904 when they hosted the Wyoming Press Association. A tour of Young’s apple orchard was a headliner. (WSA Copper Mountain Miner August 16, 1907 p1)

Despite the success of his orchard, which included cherry, plum, peach and other trees, the Great Depression was hard on Mr. Young who was no longer very young. Only a few weeks before his death in 1930, at the age of 86, Young lost his farm to taxes. Still, he is remembered fondly for his passion for horticulture and left a lasting legacy in Wyoming’s fruit industry. His successes in Fremont County inspired many other farmers and ranchers to attempt orchards in Wyoming’s difficult climate. And more than 100 years later, some of Young’s apple trees are still producing.

The Wyoming State Journal, Lander's local newspaper, recounts how Young first came to Fremont county as a scout for the US Army and homesteaded the land he would turn into his lush orchard paradise.  (WSA Wyoming State Journal April 16, 1930)

The Wyoming State Journal, Lander’s local newspaper, recounts how Young first came to Fremont county as a scout for the US Army and homesteaded the land he would turn into his orchard paradise.
(WSA Wyoming State Journal April 16, 1930)

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We, The People of Wyoming: Wyoming’s Constitution at 125

Tomorrow, July 10th marks the 125th anniversary of Wyoming statehood. To celebrate, join us here in the Archives from 3-8 pm to see portions of the actual document on display along with the pen used by the delegates to sign it! If you can’t make it tomorrow, check out our online exhibit.

Archives Constitution Exhibit 2015 - title panel 30x30 text cutout (1)

Did you know….

  • 45 of the 55 delegates elected to the convention signed the constitution.
  • The handwritten document is 108 pages long.
  • Governor F.E. Warren called for a constitutional convention without Congressional approval
  • The Wyoming constitution contains much wording that was borrowed from other constitutions, including  Pennsylvania , Montana, Illinois, Nebraska and Nevada as well as 17 other states
  • Two sections are unique to Wyoming: universal suffrage and irrigation and water rights.
  • Wyoming’s revolutionary water policies laid out in the constitution were copies by 12 other western states
  • Despite the fear that including women’s suffrage in the constitution would delay statehood, many delegates were set on including it. During the discussion, Charles Burritt of Johnson County even said, “If we cannot come into the union of states with a platform of right, why then we will stay out and willingly remain in a territorial form of government until all of us have passed away to the grave.”

 

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Rev. Alfred “Uncle Alf” Wraight: Prison Evangelist

In the early years of the twentieth century a prison evangelist roamed the eastern Wyoming, preaching salvation mainly to inmates of local jails.  His name was Rev. Alfred Wraight, better known as “Uncle Alf.”

Born in England in 1838, he claimed to have been a cook, scout, frontiersman, hunter, and dealer in hides and antlers.   According to one account, he arrived in Cheyenne in 1870 but he seemed to favor haunting Crook County for reasons that we can only guess.  His most notable personal memory in that part of the state was not an evangelical achievement but the killing of a rare white deer.

Newcastle in 1903. (WSA JE Stimson Collection Neg 436)

Newcastle in 1903. Uncle Alf seems to have centered his activities
(WSA JE Stimson Collection Neg 436)

By August 1900, according to the Crook County Monitor, Uncle Alf had been a prison evangelist for six and one-half years, and is now “a pleasant old gentleman.”

(WSA Crook County Monitor August 8, 1900 p1)

(WSA Crook County Monitor August 8, 1900 p1)

The newspaper learned that his past was anything but stellar.  Unfortunately no particulars were given, so we can only speculate that he some past dark event made him devote his life to ministering to incarcerated individuals.  According to the Monitor, he preached “entire freedom from sin and that Christian ministers should have the same power with God that the apostles had to heal the sick.”

Uncle Alf occasionally made visits to Cheyenne, as this 1905 article notes.  (WSA Wyoming Weekly Tribune 6-13-1905 p2)

Uncle Alf occasionally made visits to Cheyenne, as this 1905 article notes.
(WSA Wyoming Weekly Tribune 6-13-1905 p2)

From the mid-1890s through the early 1900s, Uncle Alf traveled around much of eastern Wyoming, preaching to jail inmates, church members, and cowboys.  Sometime after 1910, he moved to Los Angeles where he continued his prison ministry up and down the Pacific Coast.   Most observers suspected he was a retired clergyman from the East who had taken up prison work to round out his career.  He died in Walla Walla, Washington on June 17, 1919.

Itinerant ministers, including Uncle Alf, cowboy evangelists and the like, were quite common in the American West.   They were often colorful characters whose personal quirks and idiosyncrasies drew a lot of public curiosity.

Uncle Alf was well known in some press and religious circles, but the surviving, published accounts only give us a glimpse into the man.  It would be nice to know more about him.   Sadly, like many of his contemporaries and counterparts, Uncle Alf may remain only as a footnote in history.

— Carl Hallberg, Reference Archivist

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Wyoming’s Bachelor Governor: Dr. John E. Osborne

John E. Osborne (WSA Sub Neg 2757)

John E. Osborne
(WSA Sub Neg 2757)

John E. Osborne was born in Westport, Essex County, New York, June 19, 1858.  He studied medicine at the University of Vermont.  He moved to Rawlins, Wyoming, shortly after graduating in 1880.  There he served as a Union Pacific Railroad surgeon and opened a wholesale and retail drug store in Rawlins in 1882.  He branched out to sheep ranching in 1884 and was credited with being the largest sheep owner in the Territory a few years later.

It didn’t take the young doctor long to get involved in politics.  He was elected to the territorial legislature in 1883.  However, he resigned the seat when he had to leave the Territory for a while.  His delayed public service career began when he was elected Mayor of Rawlins in 1888.  In 1892, at the rather tender age of 34, he was elected Governor of Wyoming, giving the young state consecutive frontier surgeons in the executive office (see Amos W. Barber: An Army Surgeon as Governor).  Also in 1892, Osborne was named as an alternate to the Democratic National Convention.

Despite Secretary of State and Acting Governor Amos Barber's insistence that he must wait for all of the election results to come in from the counties, Osborne declared himself governor on December 2, 1892 with this proclamation. He issued it from the . (WSA B-764)

Despite Secretary of State and Acting Governor Amos Barber’s insistence that he must wait for all of the election results to come in from the counties, Osborne declared himself governor on December 2, 1892 with this proclamation. He issued it from the governor’s office where he had barricaded himself.
(WSA B-764)

The 1892 election saw a fusion of members of the Democratic Party with those of the new Populist Party.  Fallout from the Johnson County War aided this group against the Republican Party, where the political interests of most of the state’s big cattlemen resided.  Democrats supporting the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, some of whose members planned the Johnson County invasion, were expelled from the Party.  Controversy following the 1892 gubernatorial election is recounted in the previously cited Postscript. In his first message to the state legislature Osborne blamed the state’s lack of growth in prosperity and population on publicity about the invasion and Republican leaders who excused the actions of the invaders.

Osborne own the first "horseless carriage" in Rawlins. Here he is in the driver's seat with W.A. Heath, Yellowtail, No Sleep, Shakespeare and Yellow Eagle in 1902.  (WSA Sub Neg 24794)

Osborne own the first “horseless carriage” in Rawlins. Here he is in the driver’s seat with W.A. Heath, Yellowtail, No Sleep, Shakespeare and Yellow Eagle in 1902.
(WSA Sub Neg 24794)

Osborne’s political star continued to rise when he was elected to U.S. House of Representatives in 1896, narrowly defeating Frank Mondell.  An unsuccessful attempt at a Senate seat in 1898 ended his string of victorious election campaigns.   In 1907, at the age of 49, he married Selina Smith, a native of Kentucky. (Osborne is one of only 2 unmarried governors in Wyoming history. John Campbell married during his term and Nellie Ross was a widow during her administration.)

Salina Smith Osborne  (WSA Sub Neg 18387)

Salina Smith Osborne
(WSA Sub Neg 18387)

Under the Woodrow Wilson administration Osborne was appointed First Assistant Secretary of State and held the office from April 21, 1913 to December 14, 1915.  His time in the nation’s capital, as congressman and in the Secretary of State’s office, provided opportunities to mingle and correspond with current and future presidents and other powerful political figures, such as William Jennings Bryan, with whom Osborne developed a friendship.

When Osborne resigned from the assistant secretary position, he cited a desire to return to private life.  However, he was back in the political arena in 1918, when he was nominated for the U.S. Senate by the Democratic Party.  He lost in the general election to Francis E. Warren, who had decided to run for the office again after initially talking retirement.

Osborne called Rawlins home for over 60 years and served as Chairman of the Board of the Rawlins National Bank.  He maintained an office there until his death on April 24, 1943.  He was buried at Princeton, Kentucky beside his wife.

The Osborne Building in Rawlins, Wyoming, 1905.  (WSA J.E. Stimson Collection Neg 989)

The Osborne Building in Rawlins, Wyoming, 1905.
(WSA J.E. Stimson Collection Neg 989)

The records of Governor Osborne maintained by the Wyoming State Archives include correspondence, appointment records, petitions for the pardon of convicted criminals, proclamations, requests for the extradition of fugitives, and records concerning Indian and military affairs.  Some small privately donated collections document various aspects of his career and include a small amount of correspondence from prominent public figures.

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“My Ignorant Notion of the Whole Gigantic Muddle”: D.C. Nowlin & WWI

Nowlin's solitary life gave him an abundance of time to contemplate, as this 1914 letter shows.  (WSA Sub Neg 9971)

Nowlin’s solitary life gave him an abundance of time to contemplate, as this 1914 letter shows.
(WSA Sub Neg 9971)

Daniel C. Nowlin (1857-1925) was a Texas Ranger , rancher, farmer, state legislator, state game warden and superintendent of the National Elk Refuge in Jackson, Wyoming.  When war broke out in Europe in 1914, Nowlin was an employee at the National Elk Refuge.  In a letter he wrote to his brother, Henry, on October 25, 1914 from Jackson, Wyoming he talks about his view of the war.

Very briefly, here’s my ignorant notion of the whole gigantic muddle.   Morally, the guilt may be divided amongst all the great powers.  All have been preparing for this struggle for many years.  Germany – being the most thorough in all things – had the initial advantage and is making the most of it.  Great Britain will use any nation and any means to check Germanic growth, influence and trade.  Did anybody ever hear of any British qualms of conscience? Has the world forgotten the unholy war on China to protect English opium dealers?  Nevertheless, our people – and all the neutral, enlightened nations, – distinctly favor the Allies – not because of prejudice against the German people but because of an instinctive preference for Anglo-Saxon civilization as exemplified by the British!  The liberal world hates the autocratic “blood and iron” policy – initiated by Bismarck and accentuated by William II.  Unfortunately for the German people, Germany had to impose upon Belgium (it was a military necessity if Germany was to win rapidly) and thus generated an intense prejudice – a prejudice that has been – + will be – “worked to a finish” by the British.

The Germans (as we know them) are peaceable – almost timid – loyal to our flag and the leading homebuilders; and it really distresses me to hear these people (as I have lately) blatantly defending the Kaiser whom I look upon as the worst enemy of the German people!

Well, it’s a bloody mess and is playing smash with us – economically, too! . . .

AS I see it, the only hope for German success – a slim, well-nigh impossible hope – is the destruction of the British Navy.  The English will move heaven and earth, use every other nation (including own, if possible) and eventually hammer Germany to death – as they did Napoleon.  Then English diplomacy will cheat Russia of expected spoils and destroy the friendly feeling between France and Russia – for British advantage.  I hope to see Germany come out of all this (including German Austria) a democracy.  England and Russia will fight some day – with Japan in alliance with Russia – but we may not live to see this. . . .

All this presumptive speculation (about something I’m ignorant of) will serve to amuse you instead of boring you, I trust; but I’ll quit – I might give you “too much of a good thing.”[1]

In his letter, Nowlin makes some interesting observations and predictions, including that England and Russia would eventually be at war. This did not happen in a literal sense, but the two powers were opposed to each other during the Cold War and tensions continue to this day. (WSA H64-90 p3)

In his letter, Nowlin makes some interesting observations and predictions, including that England and Russia would eventually be at war. This did not happen in a literal sense, but the two powers were opposed to each other during the Cold War and tensions continue to this day. Japan did fight England during WWII, though not allied with Russia. 
(WSA H64-90 p3)

— Carl Hallberg, Reference Archivist


[1] Excerpt from letter, H64-90, Percy Nowlin Collection, Wyoming State Archives.

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