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 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.”

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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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Loneliness, Sand and Sunsets: News from Ft. Laramie, August 13, 1867

“War is sometimes described as long periods of boredom punctuated by short moments of excitement. History is often similar, if rather safer.” — John H. Arnold

Robert Patterson Hughes in his uniform, 1860s.  (WSA Sub Neg 23837)

Robert Patterson Hughes in his US Army uniform, 1860s.
(WSA Sub Neg 23837)

It appears that Captain Robert Patterson Hughes whole-heartedly agreed with Arnold’s sentiments. Life for a frontier soldier was brutal, and not just during the fights. Hughes was stationed at Fort Laramie during the summer of 1867.

(WSA H63-28, p1)

(WSA H63-28, p1)

Camp on the Laramie D.T.
August 13th, 1867

Miss Maggie

I am all alone tonight and as near homesick or sick of the wilderness as I ever allow myself to get and as [I] have no other means of communicating with civilization and feeling their influence other than  by letter will you be so very kind as to permit me to address you as one of my old friends.  I trust I may not be doing wrong in this and that you may not think it so.

[I] Have had a very troublesome visit this P.M. from Evens and our Tents were all blown into pie and have been digesting quite a quantity of Sand.  The Surgeon Says Sand is very healthy but I take notice that he is quite careful to keep away from it as far and as securely [?] as possible.  The Laramie River is a small river flowing in the North Platte near our Camp.  [It] Has a disposition to be quite fickled in its depth however , for [it] has taken several sudden notions this Summer and without notifying us of its intention has quietly drowned several people[.]

(WSA H63-28, p2)

(WSA H63-28, p2)

The Platte is decidedly a River of Islands[.]  I think without exaggeration I have seen one hundred from one point.  [It] Has no channel but [is] constantly changing as I have good reason to know for it has been nearly drowning me several times.  The Indians have not been able to operate much thus far since Spring for the Snow thawing in the Mountains has kept the Streams so high that they have been unable to cross them without great difficulty.  They have succeeded in catching a few coaches on the Overland Mail Route [and] also a few small parties of soldiers.  [They] Killed one Lieut [Lieutenant] and ten men near the Republican lately.  But the latest was near Fort Phill [sic] Kearney.[1]  We learned today by telegraph that one office and some men of our Regiment had been killed but wheather [sic] it is reliable or not I can not say.

They do not seem much afflicted with brotherly love for the whites as the peaceable people of Philada [Philadelphia] would have us think.  They are quite unreasonable I think.  The whole of this war is owing to the Government desiring a road though this country to Virginia City Montana and the gold mines in that territory and in the Yellow Stone [sic][.]   They made treaty and granted the permission but some old Squaw put mischief into their heads and they now think that they will soon have no game if we have permission to go quietly over the public highway.

(WSA H63-28, p3)

(WSA H63-28, p3)

Their reasoning is about as good as the Rebels.

Went to war to save Slavery So these people go to War to save game and their country is now being dotted all over with one and two companies of Soldiers who will destroy more game in one year than Emigrants would in ten years.  Had they gone to war to secure something to cover their nakedness or for some christian provisions it would have been reasonable but to get to fighting about a herd of Buffalo or flock of Antelope which neither of us can tame or catch is so foolish that I am almost ashamed to be one of the actors in the Scene.  But our greatest battles now are with mosquitos + Buffalo Gnats.  They come down on us at all hours and they do not use either Modern Tactics of Monoeuver [maneuver] or Logistics but seem to me to move in the old Roman Style by Phalanxes and they make us scratch our heads quite seriously to determine how to flank them.  They are quite bold until they see a Smoke and as though they scented the battle from afar they immediately beat a retreat, but apparently in good order. The only trouble is that the war Dept  does not reward us for our gallantry in this branch of our duty and we now consider it more of a Task than a military pleasure.  But I think it is little as they could do to furnish the tobacco to smoke the blood thirsty warriors out of our faces and hair.  What say you?

(WSA H63-28, p4)

(WSA H63-28, p4)

We have some peculiarities here.  We have beautiful lightning every night, but we suffer for it in heat next day.  We have the most beautiful Sunsets I ever saw.  The Sun will hide behind one of the Buttes and leave the whole western horizon a blaze of fire. Looking at it this evening I remembered a quotation from some one [sic] When?

“Mine be the eve of Tropic sun
With disk like battle Trophy Red
Dies [sic] the wide wave with ____ light
Then sinks to rest & all is night”[2]

It was very much like either a red target or a red old wood country fire and do not know which was nearest the reality.

We have had a broiling old day and I am now simply dressed in my sleeping  — (well if I must say it) Shirt.  Feel as though I would be a great deal more comfortable if I could take the marrow out of my bones and allow the air to blow through[.]  [I]Have a carpet of Wolf Skins[.]  You should see how elegant it looks out in this Sand.  What has come of Clyde.[3]  Have heard of none of your family since leaving the States, but hope you all are as happy and yourself as full of life as ever.  I would be much obliged if you deem this worthy of your notice.

Yours Truly
RP Hughes
Fort Laramie[4]

Born in 1839, Captain Hughes had enlisted as a private in the 12 Pennsylvania Volunteers in 1861 and served throughout the Civil War. By the end, he was a captain and thoroughly accustomed to Army life. He went out west as a part of the Frontier Army, serving at several posts, including Fort Laramie, and was aide-de-camp to Gen. Alfred Howe Terry at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. (Read the description of the battle he sent to his wife, now housed in the Library of Congress here) In 1898, he was stationed at Manilla during the Philippine Insurrection and retired a Major General in 1903. Hughes died in 1909.[5]

 

— Carl Hallberg, Reference Archivist


1. Hughes is probably referring to the Wagon Box Fight which occurred on August 2, 1867. Read more about the fight at http://www.wyohistory.org/encyclopedia/wagon-box-fight-1867.

2. Hughes came close to remembering the poem. Below are the actual lines, an excerpt from Sir Walter Scott’s poem “Rokeby” (1813) (https://archive.org/details/rokebypoem00sco p276-277)

“And now my race of terror run,
Mine be the eve of tropic sun!
No pale gradations quench his ray,
No twilight dews his wrath allay;
With disk, like battle target red,
He rushes to his burning bed,
Dyes the wide wave with bloody light,
Then sinks to rest — and all is night.”

3. Miss Maggie’s husband. According to a letter that accompanied the donation, it appears Hughes and Clyde Douds served together in Co B 85th Reg Pennsylvania Volunteers during the Civil War. Doud had enlisted into the company and Hughes had been its captain. They seem to have kept in contact until at least 1868.

4. Letter from Capt. Robert Patterson Hughes, Fort Laramie, Dakota Territory to Maggie Douds, Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, August 13, 1867, H63-28, Mrs. Earle D. Holmes Collection, Wyoming State Archives.

5. See also the Robert Patterson Hughes Papers, MSS82579, Library of Congress

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Wyoming’s Engineer-Governor: Frank Emerson

 

Happy birthday Governor Emerson! (WSA Sub Neg 1804)

Happy birthday Governor Emerson!
(WSA Sub Neg 1804)

Wyoming’s Engineer-Governor was born May 26, 1882 in Saginaw, MI.  He earned a degree in civil engineering from the University of Michigan.  Emerson came to Wyoming in 1904, settling at Cora in Sublette County where he ran a store for a short time.  The following year he accepted a job at the State Engineer’s office in Cheyenne, but worked there only a few months before accepting a position with the LaPrele Ditch and Reservoir Company of Douglas.  He married Michigan native Zennia Jean Reynders in 1910.  At that time he was employed as Chief Engineer by the Wyoming Land and Irrigation Company which was building the Shell Canal near Greybull.  The family moved to Worland in 1914 after Emerson was hired as the superintendent of the Big Horn Canal Association.  He served on the City Council there for one term.

Governor Emerson, his wife Zena, and their three sons on the steps of the Historic Governor's Mansion. (WSA Sub Neg 15491)

Governor Emerson, his wife Zena, and their three sons on the steps of the Historic Governor’s Mansion.
(WSA Sub Neg 15491)

According to an account by his wife, Emerson ran for a state senate seat to aid his efforts to deal with the problem of alkali seepage in the Big Horn Basin.  He lost the election, but found another avenue for addressing his concerns.  Newly elected Governor Robert Carey appointed Emerson as State Engineer and the family moved to Cheyenne in 1919.  Emerson used the position to promote legislation supporting reclamation projects.

Emerson at his first inauguration as governor in 1927. Out-going governor Nellie Tayloe Ross stands just behind him and Judge Fred H. Blume  stands beside him. (WSA Meyers Neg 1330)

Emerson at his first inauguration as governor in 1927. Out-going governor Nellie Tayloe Ross stands just behind him and Judge Fred H. Blume stands beside him.
(WSA Meyers Neg 1330)

While serving as State Engineer, Emerson was also employed as superintendent of the Lower Hanover Canal Association, and as an engineer for the Worland Drainage District and Wyoming Sugar Company.  He occupied the Engineer’s office from July 1, 1919 to January 3, 1927.  In 1923, Democratic Governor William Ross attempted to remove Emerson, a Republican, from the office of State Engineer.  However, Emerson won a court battle to retain the position.

(WSA Gov Emerson Gubernatorial Papers, RG 001.25, Legislative affairs correspondence regarding legislation February 1 1927-March 12-1927)

(WSA Gov Emerson Gubernatorial Papers, RG 001.25, Legislative affairs correspondence regarding legislation February 1 1927-March 12-1927)

 

Emerson had a leading role in drafting the Colorado River Compact involving the water interests of seven states.  He was credited with guarding Wyoming’s rights in the Green and Little Snake Rivers, Colorado River tributaries.  He served as a special advisor to the Secretary of the Interior regarding Colorado River issues.  Emerson also helped maintain Wyoming rights to North Platte River waters in disputes with Nebraska and Colorado.

Governor Emerson's engineering background gave him unique insights during the negotiations on behalf of Wyoming for the Colorado River Compact.  (WSA Gov Emerson gubernatorial records, RG 001.25, Colorado River Compact Correspondence, April - October 1928)

Governor Emerson’s engineering background gave him unique insights during the negotiations on behalf of Wyoming for the Colorado River Compact.
(WSA Gov Emerson gubernatorial records, RG 001.25, Colorado River Compact Correspondence, April – October 1928)

Emerson was nominated for Governor by his party for the 1926 election, offered as a candidate who could bring development to the state.  He was also recognized as a sound businessman.  He defeated Nellie Tayloe Ross, who had won election in 1924, filling the position previously occupied by her husband, who died in October that year.  Governor Emerson generally worked well with the Republican legislature, emphasizing the need for efficiency, but was unable to advance proposals for the assessment of intangible property and a state income tax to generate revenue to meet needs in the state, such as an improved highway system and the burgeoning financial burden of caring for residents of the state’s institutions.

"Flying Governor Emerson of Wyoming." In 1930, Emerson visited with the Wyoming National Guard and participated in their parachute toss initiation. (WSA Sub Neg 15904, 20552)

“Flying Governor Emerson of Wyoming.” In 1930, Emerson visited with the Wyoming National Guard and participated in their parachute toss initiation.
(WSA Sub Neg 15904, 20552)

Emerson was elected for a second term in 1930, but died of pneumonia on February 18, 1931, a few weeks after taking office.  A weakened constitution from overwork was given as a contributing factor.

The records of Governor Emerson maintained by the Wyoming State Archives provide information on Wyoming government programs and on significant issues affecting the state prior to the Great Depression as well as during the early years of that crisis.

 

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Amos W. Barber: An Army Surgeon as Governor

Dr. Amos W. Barber (WSA Sub Neg 1384)

Dr. Amos W. Barber
(WSA Sub Neg 1384)

Amos W. Barber was born in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, April 26, 1861.  He graduated from the literary and medical departments of the University of Pennsylvania in 1883 and served as a staff physician at the Pennsylvania Hospital after he graduated.  In the spring of 1885 Barber was recruited to run the hospital at the site of Fort Fetterman.  A civilian community had sprung up around the fort, which was abandoned by the military in 1882.  The local hospital provided medical services for subscribers contributing $1.00 per month.

Dr. Amos Barber in front of his hospital at Ft. Fetterman. (WSA Sub Neg 21184)

Dr. Amos Barber in front of his hospital at Ft. Fetterman.
(WSA Sub Neg 21184)

At some point during his first year in Wyoming, Barber was appointed acting assistant surgeon in the U.S. Army, then joined General George Crook’s campaign against the Apache Indians in Arizona, which lasted from May 1885 through March 1886.   Exactly when Barber served with Crook during that period is unclear.  Upon returning to Wyoming he was assigned to Fort D.A. Russell near Cheyenne.  After brief service there he resigned from the Army and returned to Fort Fetterman.    In 1886 he moved to the new town of Douglas and began a private practice there.  He moved his practice to Cheyenne in 1889.

After Wyoming was granted statehood in 1890, Barber was nominated by the Republican Party for the position of Secretary of State and was elected on the same ticket as Governor Francis E. Warren.  A few weeks after taking office Warren was elected to the U.S. Senate by the state legislature, making the relatively inexperienced Barber Acting Governor of Wyoming.   He served in that capacity until January 1893.

The "disturbance" Governor Barber expected thankfully did not materialize.  (WSA Governor Barber  gubernatorial records, RG 0001.12, General Correspondence File)

The “disturbance” Governor Barber expected thankfully did not materialize.
(WSA Governor Barber gubernatorial records, RG 0001.12, General Correspondence File)

One of the most infamous events in Wyoming’s history occurred during Barber’s term.  The degree of the Acting Governor’s knowledge of the plans that precipitated the Johnson County War in April 1892 is unknown.  Though not a cattleman, he was certainly well acquainted with them.   What is known is that when informed by telegram of the developing conflict between 50 armed “Invaders” and Johnson County residents, Barber sent a rather vague telegram to President Harrison about “large bodies of armed men” engaged in battle.  He requested that federal troops stationed at nearby Fort McKinney be sent to quell the trouble.  The President complied and troops intervened where a siege had developed at the TA Ranch south of Buffalo.  Federal troops were also used during the following summer to help maintain order in area.

Letter from Charles Burritt to Governor Barber following the deaths of Tisdale and Jones.  (WSA Gov Barber records, RG 0001.12, Military and Indian Affairs file)

Letter from Charles Burritt to Governor Barber following the deaths of Tisdale and Jones.
(WSA Gov Barber records, RG 0001.12, Military and Indian Affairs file)

The Johnson County War figured prominently in the election campaign of 1892, with Democrats and Populists, newcomers on the Wyoming political map, trying to benefit from the fallout.  John E. Osborne of Rawlins, also a medical doctor, emerged as the Democratic candidate for governor.   The Republicans nominated Edward Ivinson, a Laramie banker.

Osborne was elected but was delayed in taking office.  In spite of reports from the counties giving Osborne a sizable lead, official confirmation did not come from Cheyenne for several weeks.  Acting Governor and Secretary of State Barber said they were waiting on returns from Fremont and Converse Counties.  Osborne finally had enough and went to Cheyenne to claim his prize.  A notary public took his oath of office and Osborne took up residence in the governor’s office on December 2.  He apparently spent the night there, afraid he might not be able to get back in if he left.  Republican reports that he crawled on a ledge to gain access through a window may have been partisan humor.  The State Canvassing Board made Osborne’s election official on December 8 and he was sworn in on January 2, giving his oath of office a second time.  Barber continued as Secretary of State for two more years.

Barber married Amelia Kent of Cheyenne in 1892. (WSA Sub Neg 581)

Barber married Amelia Kent of Cheyenne in 1892. She was the daughter of a prominent local businessman.
(WSA Sub Neg 581)

An event of great personal import for Dr. Barber also occurred in 1892 when he married Amelia Kent of Cheyenne.  When the United State went to War against Spain six years later, Barber joined the army as assistant surgeon.  After the War he continued his medical practice in Cheyenne until his death in 1915.

— Curtis Greubel, State Imaging Center Supervisor

 

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