Monthly Archives: December 2014

William Jennings Bryan Wishes A Wyoming Governor Happy New Year

Mrs. Bryan wrote this note to Gov. and Mrs. Osborne wishing them "a happy and prosperous New Year" (WSA P73-28_2, RPPC, no date)

Mrs. Bryan wrote this note to Gov. and Mrs. Osborne wishing them “a happy and prosperous New Year”
(WSA P73-28/2, real photo postcard, no date)

John E. Osborne was among other things, governor, congressman and assistant secretary of state during the Wilson administration.  A little known fact is that he was a good friend of William Jennings Bryan, Populist politician and silver-tongued orator best known for his “cross of gold” speech and anti-evolution activism.

Gov. Osborne was one of the most colorful governors of Wyoming. In addition to playing a major part in the Big Nose George Parrot story, he also barricaded himself in the governor's office. (WSA Sub Neg 2758)

Gov. Osborne was one of the more colorful governors of Wyoming. In addition to  playing a major part in the Big Nose George Parrott story, he also barricaded himself in the governor’s office.
(WSA Sub Neg 2758)

Within the State Archives there are a handful of letters from Bryan to Osborne dating from 1908 to 1913.  The earliest letters deal with the presidential election of 1908.  In October, a campaign manager informed Osborne about the political outlook.  The detailed communication suggests that Osborne was considered a close confidant within the Bryan circle.  Although Bryan lost the election, he wrote a short letter to Osborne, expressing how appreciative he was of Osborne’s work.

Bryan visited Wyoming during his first presidential campaign in 1908. A large crowd met him at the depot in Cheyenne. He is marked striding toward the camera at the bottom.  (WSA Sub Neg 5723)

Bryan visited Wyoming during his first presidential campaign in 1908. A large crowd met him at the depot in Cheyenne. He is marked striding toward the camera at the bottom.
(WSA Sub Neg 5723)

Magnification of the photo reveals a smiling Bryan talking with an unidentified man. (WSA Sub Neg 5723)

Magnification of the photo reveals a smiling Bryan talking with an unidentified man and followed by a group of boys.
(WSA Sub Neg 5723)

Byran wrote Osborne to thank him for his "devotion and labors during the campaign" after his defeat in the 1908 presidential election.  (WSA H65-71, John Osborne Papers, letter dated 11-7-1908)

Byran wrote Osborne to thank him for his “devotion and labors during the campaign” after his defeat in the 1908 presidential election.
(WSA H65-71, John Osborne Papers, file 2)

The remaining letters are more social in tone, reflecting a long-standing friendship between the two men.  It is apparent that they corresponded frequently and visited each other when the opportunity presented itself.

This ca 1909 note from Bryan to Osborne says: "My Dear Osborne, Your letter just received. I shall be delighted to eat dinner with you if the lecture people have not made other arrangements. See them at once. You must not invite anyone else. It will take most of the time to inspect the baby and the rest to talk politics and winter homes.  In haste yours,  Bryan" (WSA H65-71, John E. Osborne Papers, undated letter)

This ca 1909 note from Bryan to Osborne says:
“My Dear Osborne,
Your letter just received. I shall be delighted to eat dinner with you if the lecture people have not made other arrangements. See them at once. You must not invite anyone else. It will take most of the time to inspect the baby and the rest to talk politics and winter homes.
In haste yours,
Bryan”
(WSA H65-71, John E. Osborne Papers, file 2)

In 1909, after purchasing a winter home near Mission, Texas, Bryan suggested that Osborne settle near him.  “Why don’t you buy a little piece near us and do the same thing so that we can have the pleasure of visiting together each winter?”   In another letter, after noting all the property improvement he had made and plan to make, he commented “you will see that there are local advantages in this particular place.”  To Bryan, Mission, Texas would make an ideal winter home for the Osbornes and, more importantly, they would be close to the Bryans. “It would delight us to have you near, for as we get old we will have more time for companionship than we have had during the last twelve years.”

Bryan wrote Osborne several times about the advantages of wintering in Mission, Texas. (WSA H65-71, John E. Osborne Papers, file 2)

Bryan wrote Osborne several times about the advantages of wintering in Mission, Texas.
(WSA H65-71, John E. Osborne Papers, file 2)

The Bryan House, possibly in Texas. Bryan attempted to convince Osborne to purchase a lot near his home in Texas so that the two families could spend the winter together.  (WSA P73-28)

The Bryan House, possibly in Texas. Bryan attempted to convince Osborne to purchase a lot near his home in Texas so that the two families could spend the winter together.
(WSA P73-28)

By 1923 the Bryans had moved to Miami, Florida.  Here he bought a sizeable amount of property with the objective of selling parcels to his friends.  Once again, Bryan encouraged Osborne to move and build a summer house next to the Bryans.

Unfortunately, we do not know how Osborne responded or what action he took, if any, to Bryan’s kind proposals.

Bryan’s last letter is dated August 22, 1924 in which he outlined the terms for selling a parcel of his property to Osborne.   He died less than a year later on July 26, 1925 in Dayton, Ohio. No doubt Osborne mourned the loss of a close friend.

In this letter, Bryan talks about how busy he was in the State Department and looks forward to things calming down in the coming year. The calm probably did not come as the US watched World War I developing in Europe. "I wish I could get a little time to fish and hunt with you in Wyoming, but possibly we will have more time next year when the strain is off. With a revolution in China, an insurection in Mexico, and Castro just landing in Venezuela, we are having more than our fair share of trouble." (WSA H65-71, John E. Osborne Papers, file 2)

In this letter, Bryan talks about how busy he was in the State Department and looks forward to things calming down in the coming year. The calm probably did not come as the US watched World War I developing in Europe.
“I wish I could get a little time to fish and hunt with you in Wyoming, but possibly we will have more time next year when the strain is off. With a revolution in China, an insurection in Mexico, and Castro just landing in Venezuela, we are having more than our fair share of trouble.”
(WSA H65-71, John E. Osborne Papers, file 2)

— Carl Hallberg, Reference Archivist

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This Day in Wyoming History: Happy Birthday Gov. Houx!

Acting Governor Frank Houx was the last Wyoming governor to regularly sport facial hair. (WSA Sub Neg 2108)

Acting Governor Frank Houx was the last Wyoming governor to regularly sport facial hair.
(WSA Sub Neg 2108)

Frank L. Houx was born on December 12, 1854 near Lexington, Missouri.  He attended business college in Kansas City and was involved in various commercial activities from his mid-teens to mid-20s.  Houx married Augusta Camp in 1875, a union which would produce four children; Carrie Pearl, Horace, Earl and Florence.

Three of Houx daughters, Vera, Mercedes and Thora in 1915. During the first couple decades of the 20th century, it was in vogue for girls to wear larger and larger hair bows. (WSA Meyers Neg 5692, photo by Joe Shimitz, Cheyenne)

Vera, Mercedes and Thora, Houx’s daughters by his second wife Ida. During the early 20th century, it was in vogue for girls to wear larger and larger hair bows.
(WSA Meyers Neg 5692, photo by Joe Shimitz, Cheyenne, 1915)

In 1885, Houx took his family to Montana where he made a living in the cattle business for ten years.  The fledgling settlement of Cody, Wyoming then beckoned and the family relocated again.  Shortly thereafter Houx purchased the stage depot at nearby Corbett.  Augusta died the following year and Houx returned to Cody, where he made a living in real estate and the insurance business.  In 1898, he married widow Ida Mason Christy.  Three more girls would be added to the Houx family; Vera, Mercedes and Thora.

Houx as Mayor of Cody (WSA Sub Neg 26386)

Houx as Mayor of Cody
(WSA Sub Neg 26386)

Houx was elected Cody’s first mayor after the town was incorporated in 1901.  He was re-elected in 1905 and served four more years.  Seeking a bigger public service role, Houx ran for the office of Wyoming’s Secretary of State in 1910, representing the Democratic Party.  With recently converted Democrat Joseph M. Carey easily winning the gubernatorial race, Houx narrowly defeated incumbent Secretary William R. Schnitger. He won another close race for the same office in 1914, as Wyoming voters elected another Democratic governor, John B. Kendrick.  When Kendrick was elected to the U.S. Senate two years later, Houx completed Kendrick’s term as Acting Governor.  However, rather than turn the executive office immediately over to Houx, Kendrick held onto the position until the state legislative session was over.  This apparent lack of trust was used against Houx in the 1918 gubernatorial election, which he lost to Robert D. Carey, Joseph’s son.

Houx signed the proclaimation for the Prohibition constitutional amendment as both Secretary of State and Acting Governor.  (WSA Gov Houx gubernatorial papers, prohibition)

Houx signed the proclamation announcing the 1918 adoption of the constitutional amendment for prohibition in Wyoming as both Secretary of State and Acting Governor.
(WSA Gov. Houx gubernatorial papers, prohibition)

Gov. Houx himself was a vocal supporter of prohibition, as this letter shows.  (WSA Gov Houx gubernatorial papers, prohibition)

Gov. Houx himself was a vocal supporter of prohibition, as this letter shows.
(WSA Gov. Houx gubernatorial papers, prohibition)

The United States entered World War I shortly after Houx occupied the executive office.  A spirit of patriotism filled the state, resulting in about 12,000 Wyoming men joining the military.  Acting Governor Houx mobilized the Wyoming National Guard, which was offered to the United States for overseas service.  He also appointed the Wyoming Council for National Defense.

This memorandum lays out the duties of the governor in preparation for the enactment of the selective service registration starting June 5, 1917. (WSA Gov Houx gubernatorial papers, WWI)

This memorandum lays out the duties of the governor in preparation for the enactment of the selective service registration starting June 5, 1917.
(WSA Gov. Houx gubernatorial papers, WWI)

Out of politics, Houx spent most of his later years in Texas where he engaged in the oil business.  Ida Houx died in 1934 while visiting a daughter in California.  Frank Houx returned to Cody the following year, residing with his daughter, Pearl Newell, until his death in 1941. He is buried in Cody.

The records of Acting Governor Houx at the Wyoming State Archives are distinctive for their World War I documentation.  War related series include Council for the National Defense, Women’s War Work, Army Nurse Corps, Selective Service, American Red Cross, Conscription, and Appointments and Commissions.   The collection also includes the routine records associated with the duties of a governor:  Proclamations,   appointments, pardons, extraditions, and correspondence.

In 1917, William F.

In 1917, William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody was accused of skipping out on a mortgage on a car. This request for extradition was filed with Gov. Houx’s administration. This must have been slightly awkward for Gov. Houx since he was a long time resident of Cody and probably knew the man.[1]
(WSA Gov Houx gubernatorial papers, extraditions)

— Curtis Greubel, State Imaging Center Supervisor


1. UPDATE: Houx and Cody were, in fact, close friends, which would have made this extradition request very awkward indeed. According to Houx’s reminiscences published in the Cody Enterprise, he rushed to Denver upon hearing of Cody’s death in order to claim his body and transport it to Cody for burial, as per Cody’s wishes. Unfortunately, when he arrived he found that Mayor Speer of Denver had already taken charge of the body and made arrangements to bury him on Lookout Mountain.

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Filed under WSA Collection Highlights, Wyoming at War, Wyoming Governors

A “Fasten-ating” Find

Fasteners are nothing new here in the Archives. We see them everywhere in the records. From the dreaded desiccated rubber-band and rusty staple to the modern binder clip and plastic paper clip. Sometimes we even find straight pins or actual “red tape” ribbon holding papers together. But today we found a unique fastener with a tie to history that goes beyond its document.

"A

During World War II, nearly everything that could possibly aid the war effort was heavily rationed or simply unavailable to civilians,  including sugar, meat, silk, metal, rubber and gasoline. This  encouraged American ingenuity to design products to fill the voids left in the production lines. Apparently by 1945 when this couple was granted a divorce, even metal file clips were considered to be a misuse of precious resources.

IMG_4862 deriv

A side view of the cardboard clip.
(WSA Big Horn County District Court case CV 6047, Nazer vs Nazer)

The clip looks to be pressed cardboard, nearly identical in form to its metal counterparts. Only the sliding bands on the back are metal. Thankfully, this thin case file hasn’t seen much use in the last 69 years so the fastener is in great condition. It may not have held up quite so well in a thick or often accessed file.

The cardboard clip (bottom) is nearly identical in form to the metal clip it replaced. (WSA Big Horn County District Court case CV 6047, Nazer vs Nazer)

The cardboard clip (bottom) is nearly identical in form to the metal clip it replaced.
(WSA Big Horn County District Court case CV 6047, Nazer vs Nazer)

 

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The Short Life of Lacy, Wyoming

In the spring of 1921, surveyors for the Union Pacific Railroad were studying at the land south of Torrington for a proposed route into the Goshen Hole Country.  On their heels were land speculators, several of whom bought the land of Charles Lacy and named a townsite after him.

"Lacy's Corner, 1/2 mile west of Yoder", 1921 (WSA Homesteader Museum Print 19)

“Lacy’s Corner, 1/2 mile west of Yoder”, 1921
(WSA Homesteader Museum Print 19)

Between March and June, the new town of Lacy quickly took shape.  Among its businesses were two general stores, a bank, two restaurants, a dance hall, and a barbershop.  A post office, community club, and baseball team added to the social life of the fledgling community.  In the offering were a Methodist church, school and a drug store.  “Lacy is still in its infancy,” the Torrington Telegram observed in late June 1921, “but is a lively little place.”

Interestingly, according to early reports, the buildings were not on permanent footings just in case they had to be moved.  Three nearby communities – Mason, Springer and Yoder, all near Lacy – hoped the railroad would come through their respective areas.  But as the summer progressed, the future of Lacy looked bright.  Because land owners were in close contact with railroad officials, the prospect of the railroad coming through Lacy seemed certain.

But it was not meant to be.

In June 1921, railroad officials decided to locate the route through Yoder, one quarter mile northeast of Lacy.  On July 4th, the buildings were moved and the town of Lacy was no more.

(WSA Torrington Telegram July 7, 1921 p1)

(WSA Torrington Telegram July 7, 1921 p1)

— Carl Hallberg, Reference Archivist

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