Monthly Archives: June 2014

Wyoming Day Questions (& Answers)

In honor of the Wyoming Day festivities at the Historic Governor’s Mansion in Cheyenne, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle published five questions yesterday about Wyoming. For those who are interested, here is “the rest of the story.”

1. What is Wyoming’s “almost” state cookie?

The Chocolate Chip Cookie almost became our official state cookie in 1995. House Bill 158 was introduced in the by Representative James C. Hageman of Goshen County, but died in the general file. The legislation even included a proposed official recipe:

(i) The following ingredients:

(A) One (1) cup granulated sugar;
(B) One (1) cup brown sugar;
(C) Two-thirds (2/3) cup butter or
(D) Two-thirds (2/3) cup shortening;
(E) Two (2) eggs;
(F) Two (2) teaspoons vanilla;
(G) Three (3) cups flour;
(H) One (1) teaspoon soda;
(J) One (1) Teaspoon salt;
(K) one (1) twelve (12) ounce package of chocolate chips.

(ii) Mixed and baked as follows:

(A) Cream sugars, butter or margarine and shortening together;
(B) Add eggs and vanilla and mix well;
(C) Sift together remaining ingredients, add to creamed mixture and mix well;
(D) Bake eight (8) to ten (10) minutes at three hundred seventy-five (375) degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Who sent the telegram informing Wyoming of statehood?

During the summer of 1890, Territorial Governor Francis E. Warren traveled to Washington, DC, to help lobby for support of Wyoming statehood in Congress. Congress seemed favorably disposed toward adding states to the union, having added North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington and Montana in November 1889.

The first official step toward statehood had come in February 1888 when the Territorial Assembly passed a jointed resolution asking Congress  for legislation that would enable to people of Wyoming to draft a constitution and organize as a state. Though several members questioned Wyoming’s readiness in terms of finances and population, Governor Warren, Wyoming’s lone congressional delegate Joseph M. Carey, and several of Wyoming’s political heavyweights campaigned mightily.

The bill for statehood was introduced into the House of Representatives by Carey in December 1889. Desipite much vocal support, it was not until July 10, 1890 that an act was finally signed into law by President Benjamin Harrison. That same day, Carey sent a telegram to Acting Governor (Territorial Secretary) John Meldrum announcing the news.

Telegram announcing statehood sent by Senator Carey in Washington DC to Acting Governor John W. Meldrum (WSA Secretary of State record group, Constitutional Convention)

Telegram announcing statehood sent by Senator Carey in Washington DC to Acting Governor John W. Meldrum
(WSA Secretary of State record group, Constitutional Convention)

3. The Cheyenne Daily Sun used what color ink to celebrate Statehood?

In 1890, nearly every newspaper was published using black ink but the Cheyenne Daily Sun changed things up a bit to celebrate statehood. They used red and blue ink throughout the 8 page paper on June 29th. This issue reported the passage of the statehood bill in both the Senate and House of Representatives. All that remained was a signature by President Harrison, which was assumed to be imminent.

Colored inks were more costly than the standard black and dual tone copy, like the red and blue used that day, were also more labor intensive than using a single color. But it was well worth the extra cost and time to celebrate such a momentous occasion.

The Cheyenne Daily Sun printed their June 29th, 1890 issue in red and blue ink to celebrate statehood.

The Cheyenne Daily Sun printed their June 29th, 1890 issue in red and blue ink to celebrate statehood.

 

4. The official Wyoming 44 star flag was presented by whom?

Esther Morris presented the official 44-star American flagon behalf of the women of Wyoming to Governor F.E. Warren at the statehood celebration on July 23, 1890.  Money was contributed by women around the then territory and covered the cost of the flag. Co K of the Wyoming Girl Guards was the guard of honor for the flag.

Cover of the booklet listing all of the women who contributed to the purchase of the 44-star flag presented during the statehood celebration in 1890.  (WSA P2004-8)

Cover of the booklet listing all of the women who contributed to the purchase of the 44-star flag presented during the statehood celebration in 1890.
(WSA P2004-8)

 

5. How long was the original Wyoming State Constitution?

The original Wyoming State constitution includes 40 hand-written pages. Wyoming’s constitution is one of the longest in the nation and includes over 300 sections. It is nearly 5 times longer that the United States Constitution!

Preamble of the original, hand-written Wyoming Constitution. (WSA Secretary of State RG)

Preamble of the original, hand-written Wyoming Constitution.
(WSA Secretary of State RG)

Don’t forget to stop by the Historic Governor’s Mansion tomorrow, June 21st, to join in the fun!

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Don’t Fence Me In: A Baxter Sets the Record Straight

To fence in or fence out…that is the question. At least it was one of the major questions early Wyoming lawmakers grappled with when it came to landowners’ rights.

Large cattle operation relied upon open range grazing on government lands to sustain their herds. These savvy businessmen could control much more land than they actually owned by controlling the water and access to it on the semi-arid plains. There was still bickering among these large outfits, mostly about said water rights, but the major disputes did not erupt until fences began to appear, cutting up the wide open spaces and making it hard for open range cattle to access grazing and water.

The construction of fences eventually contributed to the end of the large scale open range cattle industry. The question became was this fence to keep the cattle in or out? (WSA Sun Neg 9338, B-183_37, Hereford calves, photo by CD Kirkland, 1870s-1880s)

The construction of fences eventually contributed to the end of the large scale open range cattle industry. The question became was this fence to keep the cattle in or out?
(WSA Sun Neg 9338, B-183_37, Hereford calves, photo by CD Kirkland, 1870s-1880s)

Cattlemen argued that their livelihood relied upon the open range and they were entitled to the use of government lands and thus fencing was detrimental, if not criminal. Settlers, farmers and smaller producers argued that fences helped to protect their lands and herds from the damage done by open range herds (and their handlers). Tempers flared, sides were chosen, and lawyers hired (and some gunmen, too) as the situation escalated. Eventually, it was decided that Wyoming would be a “fence out” state, meaning that if you owned property you were expected to construct and maintain fences that kept whatever it was you did not want on your property out, rather than building fences to keep what you wanted in, or on your property.[1] This decision favored the open range cattle industry who continued to use their money and influence to protect this right.

Roundup at Heaton Warm Springs near Douglas, 1887.  (WSA Sub Neg 17589)

Roundup at Heaton Warm Springs near Douglas, 1887.
(WSA Sub Neg 17589)

On November 5, 1886, President Cleveland appointed George W. Baxter as governor of the Territory. This decision was made in deference to the plea that he choose someone from the Territory to fill the position rather than bringing in a politician from back East. They argued that the territory needed a local executive who was familiar with local issues and players. The implication, of course, was that the big cattlemen wanted one of their own to protect their interests. Baxter was in fact a resident and a cattleman, too. He and his brother, John, ran a ranch (later called the LU) near Fort Washakie and he had recently served as president and founding member of the American Cattle Company. Baxter was also a graduate of West Point (class of 1877) and his appointment as 2nd Lieutenant brought him to Fort Washakie. According to his brother, “While there he saw so much of the cattle raising on the public domain, he resigned his commission… and became a cattleman.”[2]

Territorial George W. Baxter  (WSA Sub Neg 1395)

Territorial George W. Baxter
(WSA Sub Neg 1395)

But his time as governor was not long. Baxter’s opponents almost immediately accusing him of illegally fencing government land and he was removed from office December 20th, less than two months later. Secretary of State Elliot S.N. Morgan took over until Thomas Moonlight of Kansas, a vocal opponent of cattlemen in general, was appointed in January 1887. Baxter was later a delegate from Laramie County to the Wyoming Constitutional Convention and made an unsuccessful run for governor in 1890 against Francis E. Warren.

In 1936, Edith Alger of Lander contacted John A. Baxter requesting information about his time in Wyoming.[3] Alger was employed by the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Writers Program. This program was designed to provide jobs to the unemployed while collecting the history of their area through the Stories of Pioneer Life project. Baxter and Alger exchanged several letters that year, one of which included this defense of his brother’s actions.

September 16, 1936
Tulane Hotel
Nashville, TN

When Cleveland was president of the US and Wyoming a territory, and the governors were appointed by the president, the people of Wyoming requested he appoint someone who resided in Wyoming instead of sending some on from some eastern state out to Wyoming to be governor; so Cleveland consented, and he tendered the honor to my brother, who, while a Democrat, was not a strict partisan, but he was classed as a businessman.

Now, some of the active Democratic politicians, no doubt hoping to be the lucky man, began to complain and told Cleveland that Baxter had fenced in unlawfully government land. He was removed as governor and Moonlight of Kansas was named instead. You may know that the United States gave the Union Pacific Railroad as a subsidiary every other square mile for twenty miles both north and south of the survey of said railroad. The railroad held said land for about twenty years after they had finished their road before offering it for sale. My brother sought advice from the best lawyers in the east, and was assured that he would have the right to fence the same.

Now this grant of every other section of one mile square made a checkerboard condition, so I herewith hand you a diagram, showing clearly, that it was impossible to fence his land purchased of the railroad, without fencing thereby the government sections. On this map I enclose you will notice the little black spots at the corners of each section represents the cornerstones that marked and defined each section, and to make it clear to your mind I have used red ink marking a dotted line around four sections, and the same necessarily enclosed the one section of government land (where there is a blot of red ink) and that was the cause of their saying he had unlawfully enclosed government land. Now to remove any impression upon the minds of the public that he had unlawfully fenced government land and to remove the implied stigma, my brother forced the question after his removal up to the US Supreme Court, and they decided in my brother’s favor, and that the same was Not Unlawful as every post hole was on his own land, and the wires from post to post were over the land he had purchased and owned. So you see he was removed for a charge which did not exist.

In spite of their political trickery and a false accusation, my brother’s name is respected by all that knew him as an honorable upright man.

Your truly,
Jno. A. Baxter[4]

Diagram sent by John Baxter showing how his brother's fences were constructed.  (WSA WPA Bio File 45)

Diagram sent by John Baxter showing how his brother’s fences were constructed.
(WSA WPA Bio File 45)

____________

1. To be precise, Wyoming is a “fence out” state for cattle (and domestic buffalo), but a “fence in” state for sheep. For more information, see “You Fence It, They’ll Stay Out” from the University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service.

2. “Letters from John A. Baxter, Concerning his brother, Territorial Governor George W. Baxter” September 6, 1936. WPA Bio File 45, Wyoming State Archives.

3. Governor Baxter had died at his home on Long Island, New York, in 1929. He is buried in the family plot in Knoxville, Tennessee.

4.  “Letters from John A. Baxter, Concerning his brother, Territorial Governor George W. Baxter” September 18, 1936. WPA Bio File 45, Wyoming State Archives. Minor formating and spelling changes, but the emphasis is his own.

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This Day in Wyoming History… UPRR Express Train Robbed at Wilcox

“On Friday morning June 2, 1899 a party of [6] masked robbers held up the first section of train number one of the Union Pacific Rail Road Co about 10 miles west of Rock Creek Station Albany Co Wyoming and after dynamiting bridges, mail and express cars and robbing the later, disappeared. The second section of this train being the Overland Limited passenger, following ten minutes behind, was fortunately stopped by the breakman of [the] first section who escaped from the robbers.” — excerpt from message sent by UPRR to the Laramie County Sheriff June 11, 1899

The Union Pacific Railroad Car after it was blown up by dynamite during the robbery. (WSA Sub Neg 21457)

The Union Pacific Railroad Car after it was blown up by dynamite during the robbery.
(WSA Sub Neg 21457)

For rest of June, confusing reports swirled around the country as members of the Curry and Wild Bunch were pursued by posses of lawmen, soldiers and concerned citizens. The situation escalated further when Sheriff Joe Hazen of Converse County was killed in a confrontation with the outlaws at Dugout Creek, 10 miles north of Casper. By the middle of June, rewards of up to $3000 per outlaw were offered jointly by the Union Pacific Railroad and US Marshall’s Office.

The outlaws used dynamite to blow open the safe. It is unknown just how much money was actually stolen, but it is believed to have been more than $10,000. Unsigned $100 treasury notes were used to track the robbers through the region.  (WSA Sub Neg 9720)

The outlaws used dynamite to blow open the safe. It is unknown just how much money was actually stolen, but it is believed to have been more than $10,000. Unsigned $100 treasury notes were used to track the robbers through the region.
(WSA Sub Neg 9720)

 

The interior of the railroad car.  (WSA Epperson Neg 808)

The interior of the railroad car.
(WSA Epperson Neg 808)

The posses included many of the most notable lawmen in the area. These men were determined to bring the outlaws to justice by any means necessary, including the use of a pack of bloodhounds brought out from Beatrice, Nebraska. The high profile nature of the crime caught the attention of the Pinkerton Detective Agency who also sent “operatives” to aid the investigation. It is believed that US Marshall Frank Hadsell and Tom Horn, both of whom were involved in the investigation, were Pinkerton operatives. Hadsell would later pursue Horn himself and orchestrate his capture.

Various military organizations offered their assistance. Governor DeForest Richards ordered a group from the state militia to join in the pursuit and he visited Casper himself to be updated on the situation. Regular US Army troops were also called out from Fort Washakie and a contingent from the Wind River reservation also participated.

Some of the men who pursued the Wild Bunch after the Wilcox Train Robbery. The Union Pacific shipped posse members and their horses in order to save time help the men catch up to the bandits.  (WSA Sub Neg 27294)

Some of the men who pursued the Wild Bunch after the Wilcox Train Robbery. The Union Pacific shipped posse members and their horses in railcars to save time help the men catch up to the bandits.
(WSA Sub Neg 27294)

By the end of June, the trail had gone cold. In August 1900, the Union Pacific express train was again robbed at Tipton, Wyoming, netting the bandits nearly $50,000 in gold. The Wild Bunch was also credited with this crime, but they eluded the posse again.

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