Category Archives: WSA Collection Highlights

Bachelor War Bread and Pony Love: Words from White Eagle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Wyoming Wind

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

— published in the Gillette News

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

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

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

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

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

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Would You Have Passed 8th Grade?

Congratulations to the Class of 2016!

Gillette High School Class of 1916 (Lucas Collection, P74-19/26)

Gillette High School Class of 1916
(Lucas Collection, P74-19/26)

Did you know that students have only been graduating from Wyoming high school since 1879? High school education was not common until the early 20th century. Cheyenne opened the first secondary school in the state in 1874, followed by Buffalo in 1881 and Newcastle 1889. This meant that either the family had to move to town or the child was sent to board with family and friends. It also meant that graduation from 8th grade was similar to graduating from high school today.

Wyoming’s state constitution did include a compulsory education requirement, but it only  that:

…the legislature shall require that every child of sufficient physical and mental ability shall attend a public school during the period between six and eighteen years for a time equivalent to three years, unless educated by other means. (Article VII, Section 9)

In 1907, the Legislature passed an act mandating compulsory education for all students between the ages of six and fourteen years of age equating to 6 months per school session (school year).

By 1916, the number of high schools around the state had grown to 25. Today, there are 141 high schools in Wyoming.

The cover of the Superintendent's record book shows Columbia, the feminine personification of the United States.  (WSA Crook County Superintendent of Schools  ledger)

The cover of the Superintendent’s record book shows Columbia, the feminine personification of the United States.
(WSA Crook County Superintendent of Schools ledger)

Buried in the Crook County Superintendent of Schools records are copies of questions from the 8th grade examinations given in 1913-1915. These questions give insight not only into the curriculum of the district, but also into the values of the local community, or at least the County Superintendent.

For the years 1912-1915, the superintendent included details about each of the tests include when and where they were given, who administered the test, and the questions included in the test. Unfortunately, no answers are given. The ledger also includes the names of the students and their test scores, though this information is restricted and cannot be released to researchers.  (WSA Crook County Superintendent of Schools ledger)

For the years 1912-1915, the superintendent included details about each of the tests include when and where they were given, who administered the test, and the questions included in the test. Unfortunately, no answers are given. The ledger also includes the names of the students and their test scores, though this information is restricted and cannot be released to researchers.
(WSA Crook County Superintendent of Schools ledger)

Would you have passed the test? Below are the questions from the test given at 10 schools in Crook County in November 1913.

Physiology and Hygiene

  1. Name the principal organs of digestion.
  2. Name the chief parts of the nervous system. State clearly their use in the system.
  3. Beginning with the right auricle, trace the course of the blood through the circulatory system.
  4. Discuss the importance of ventilation in the home and in the school.
  5. Give three uses of the bones. Name the bones of the hand and the arm.
  6. What are the organs of special sense? How may we increase their usefulness?
  7. What is hygiene? Give several important rules of hygiene.
  8. Why is the use of tobacco more harmful to a boy than to a man?
  9. Give the general effects of alcohol.
  10. Define the following: lymph, corpuscle, cardiac, vertebra, tendon

Agriculture

  1. Define agriculture.
  2. Define humus. Name several kinds of soil.
  3. What are some of the importaint elements that plants require from the soil? What is meant by the term “texture of the soil”?
  4. What is irrigation? What do you understand by the term “dry farming”?
  5. What is soil mulch? How is it obtained?
  6. What plants are called root crops? Name some plants having tap roots.
  7. What three conditions are necessary for germination? How should a seed bed for wheat by prepared?
  8. What is a cutting? What plants are propagated by cuttings?
  9. What are fiber crops? Cereal crops? Name the most important ones of United States?
  10. Name the different classes of insect pests.

Wyoming Civics

  1. Name the three departments of the state. Of what does each consist?
  2. Who is our governor? Give the length of term, salary and duties.
  3. Who represents our district in the state legislature? Give the length of the term of office.
  4. How often does the legislature meet? Give three of its powers.
  5. When was Wyoming admitted as a state?
  6. How are the public schools supported? What subjects does the school law require taught in our public schools?
  7. Name and locate the state buildings.
  8. Define treason; bribery; alien; citizen; jury
  9. What is meant by equal suffrage?
  10. Who is the judge of our district? What are his duties?
List of questions given (WSA Crook County Superintendent of Schools ledger)

This set of questions was used at 10 schools in the county in November 1913, including Sundance, Hulett, Alva and Rifle Pit Schools. 
(WSA Crook County Superintendent of Schools ledger)

Geography

  1. What is geography?
  2. Describe the motions of the earth.
  3. Explain the cause of seasons.
  4. Name the grand divisions in order of their size.
  5. Compare North America and South America in reference to position; drainage; climate; people.
  6. What is the leading production of [the] United States? Brazil? Germany? Cape Colony? Australia?
  7. Where and what are the following: Gibralter? [sic] Popocatapetl? Bombay? Shasta? Afghanistan?
  8. Bound the United States. Name and locate five of its leading cities.
  9. Name the states of the United States bordering on the Gulf of Mexico and give their capitals.
  10. Sketch a map of Wyoming and show the Principal mountains and rivers; a place noted for scenic beauty; locate the capital and two largest cities.

Orthography

  1. Give two rules for spelling.
  2. Define prefix; suffix; affix; antonym; homophone
  3. Give the use of the hyphen

Detach these and pronounce:

courage
grammar
judgement
bureau
magazine
separate
peculiar
prairie
patient
certificate
latitude
eclipse
siege
bouquet
condemn
ridiculous
paralysis
arduous
villain
victuals
telephone
resign
agriculture
control
kerosene
alcohol
permitted
police
examine
palatable

Arithmatic

  1. Reduce to decimal fractions: ½, 1/5, ¼, 7/8, 2/3, 2/5. Find the least common multiple of 3, 5, 8, 15, 24
  2. Find the sum of 2/3, 2/5, 7/8, 13/15, 5/24. How many feet in a mile?
  3. A man bought a hat for $3 and sold it for $4. What was his gain in per cent? One of these hats was damages and he sold it for $1.50. What was his loss per cent?
  4. What do you mean by saying that a fraction in an indicated quotient? Multiply 25 ¾ by 45 2/3
  5. Write a negotiable promissory note. How many parties to a note? What is each called?
  6. What sum put at interest January 1, 1909, will amount to $343.75 February 1, 1911, interest at 7%?
  7. A square field contains 622521 sq. rods. Find the distance around it.
  8. Find the cost of flooring a bridge 60 feet long and 12 feet wide with boards 2 inches thick, costing $40 per M.?
  9. Define mixed number, fraction, percentage, insurance, commission.
  10. Find the interest on $144 from August 1 to December 1. Find the interest on $8100 for 179 das. At 4 ½% interest.

Grammar

  1. Name and define the parts of speech.
  2. What is a sentence? Classify sentences according to use; form.
  3. Parse the underlined words:The spider’s web is a wonderful piece of work.
  4. Write a sentence using a personal pronoun, second, singular, as an attribute complement.
  5. Distinguish between regular and irregular verbs and illustrate.
  6. Give the principal parts of the verbs: see, sit, lay, lie (to recline)
  7. Write a sentence using “they” as the subject, object, attribute.
  8. Write the possessive plural of these words: wolf, donkey, sheep, man, I
  9. Give three uses of a noun in the nominative case and illustrate.
  10.  Analyze or diagram: As we traveled onward many important places were pointed out to us.

History

  1. Describe briefly the life, manners and customs of the inhabitants of North America at the time of discovery.
  2. Name four explorers of different nationalities; and tell what each of them did.
  3. Name the thirteen original colonies and tell about the settlement of one.
  4. Give the direct cause of the Revolution. Name three generals on the American side and give an event in which each was an important actor.
  5. What was the Constitutional Convention?
  6. How was slavery introduced into United States and how was it abolished?
  7. Name four territorial acquisitions of the United States of which Wyoming was a part.
  8. Name four inventions of the nineteenth century. Which do you think was the most important and why?
  9. Who were the Hugonots? [sic] Pilgrims? Quakers?
  10. Name the cabinet offices.

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An Overview of the Poll Tax in Wyoming

The poll tax was an integral part of Wyoming since the territory’s inception.  The Territorial Legislature required counties to impose a poll tax of two dollars ($25.94 in 2015) for each adult.  Initially, it applied only to individuals over the age 21.  In 1873, the territorial legislature limited it to individuals between the ages of 21 and 50.   Later, firemen and their wives and veterans were exempted from the poll tax.

Money raised from this tax was delegated to funding schools.  This provision would be incorporated into the state constitution.  In 1909, a new statute allowed county commissioners’ could institute a special poll tax to pay for roads.

The (WSA Session Laws of Wyoming, 1873)

The statute passed by the 1873 State Legislature limited those responsible for the poll tax to citizens over the age of 21. It did not specify what the money raised would be used. The only penalty for non-payment was a seizure and sale of property to pay the tax by the sheriff or collection agent. It does not appear that non-payment threatened the individual’s access to the polls on voting day.
(WSA Session Laws of Wyoming, 1873)

The poll tax seems to have elicited little discussion in Wyoming circles. Elsewhere, it was a serious matter.   In many states, particularly in the South, failure to pay one’s poll tax resulted in the loss of voting rights.  In Wyoming, failure to pay a poll tax put an individual on a delinquent list.  If still unpaid after a period of time, a person’s property could be seized and sold or wages garnished.

Legislation already defined in broad terms, who could and who could not vote.  Moreover, there is no connection between paying a poll tax and the right to vote.  It seems that the only connection between poll taxes and voting was that poll tax records were used to compile a list of qualified voters.  

In 1890, the state legislature passed legislation that made it unnecessary for individuals to pay their poll tax in order to vote.  One can only guess at the legislature’s generosity.  Maybe they saw this as a way to push the process of statehood forward.  We may never know the true reason.

Telegraph from ___ to Governor Hansen  (WSA RG0001.36, Hansen gubernatorial records)

Telegraph from US Senate leadership to Governor Hansen urging him to ask the State Legislature to discuss ratification.
(WSA RG0001.36, Hansen gubernatorial records)

In 1962, Congress passed a resolution to amend the US Constitution by barring the poll tax as a requirement for voting in federal elections.  In January 1963 Sen. Gale McGee fervently encouraged Governor Clifford Hansen to get Wyoming to support the amendment.  McGee believed that “it would be in the interest of our State to have the legislature consider the proposal during its present session . . .”   Two months later, US Senators Mike Mansfield and Everett Dirksen also strongly urged Governor Hansen to should push the Wyoming legislature to support the amendment.  In their cable they stated that  “The strength and vitality of our democratic processes rests upon every qualified citizen expressing his views through the ballot – surely in this day, those otherwise qualified to vote should not be prevented from doing so by the anachronistic device of a poll tax.”    

Letter from Sen. McGee to Governor Hansen. (WSA RG0001.36, Hansen gubernatorial records)

Letter from Sen. McGee to Governor Hansen personally urging consideration of the amendment in the State Legislature.
(WSA RG0001.36, Hansen gubernatorial records)

Governor Hansen did not share any of the senators’ enthusiasm.  Moreover, even if the political logic seemed to have little effect on him, the matter was poorly timed.  At the time of McGee’s letter, the legislature was already in mid-session.   Hansen acknowledged Magee’s letter and in a dry, dispassionate terms that he had sent a memorandum to the speaker of the House and the President of the Senate to “take whatever action they deem advisable.”  After the legislative session had concluded, he stonily reported that no action had been taken by either chamber.  

Letter from Governor Hansen. (WSA RG0001.36, Hansen gubernatorial records)

Response from Governor Hansen to Senator Gale McGee.
(WSA RG0001.36, Hansen gubernatorial records)

With the legislative session concluded, the only possibility was a special session, but it did not seem practical to do so.  Unlike his Washington colleagues, Hansen was not inspired by the amendment to take any further action.  

In the meantime, between January and March 1963, 29 states ratified the amendment.  Between March 1963 and January 1964, 9 additional states ratified the measure and it became officially adopted into the US Constitution.  Wyoming is one of 8 states, most in the South, that did not ratify the 24th amendment.  

Wyoming is one of only a handfull of states that did not ratify the 24th Amendment. (map from Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:24th_amendment_ratification.svg)

Wyoming is one of only eight states that have never ratified the 24th Amendment.
(map from Wikimedia Commons)

To its credit, the Wyoming legislature was not totally oblivious.  From 1957 to 1963, several house members called for repealing the poll tax provision from the state constitution but the issue failed to get the support of the majority of the house members.  

Finally in 1967, both chambers agreed to endorse the idea, and the proposed constitutional change was strongly approved at the general election in November 1968.  The following year, the legislature repealed the poll tax statutes.

— Carl Hallberg, Reference Archivist

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Tim McCoy: Wyoming Cowboy, Military Officer, Politician and Movie Star

On this day in 1928, the movie “Wyoming” starring Tim McCoy was release. The movie was filmed outside of Lander, Wyoming.

(WSA P2001-11/36)

(WSA P2001-11/36)

Tim McCoy was born in Saginaw, Michigan in 1891, the youngest of seven children.  Both his parents were Irish immigrants.  At age 16 his father enlisted in the Union Army during the Civil War but did not participate in the conflict.  He served as chief of police in Saginaw, Michigan during Tim’s youth.  Tim was exposed to the romance of the West in 1898 when Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show came to Saginaw.  Thanks to his father’s position, Tim was able to meet Cody, who left a strong impression on the boy.  A more readily accessible venue also influenced McCoy’s future career.  A local agent imported wild horses to Saginaw where they were broken and sold.  Young McCoy spent time at the corral observing the cowboys at their work.  In 1908, Tim was sent to St. Ignatius, a Chicago Jesuit school, to learn Latin.  That year a wild west show performed in the Windy City.  McCoy attended the performances regularly.  The following spring found McCoy heading west with a handful of belongings and the goal of becoming a cowboy.

Tim McCoy during his days as a cowboy, 1912. (WSA P2001-11/2)

Tim McCoy during his days as a cowboy, 1912.
(WSA P2001-11/2)

En route by train to Omaha, McCoy met a horse dealer from Lander who suggested he seek employment in Wyoming.  His first job was with the Double Diamond Ranch on the Wind River, where he worked in the hay fields.  Passing this initiation, he was included in the fall roundup, achieving his dream of becoming a cowboy.  After several years as a cowboy employed by other people, McCoy took steps toward owning his own ranch.   In 1915, he filed for a 640 acre homestead on Owl Creek, west of Thermopolis.  The ranch, called Eagle’s Nest, would eventually encompass 5,000 acres.  

McCoy's Eagle's Nest Ranch on Owl Creek, west of Thermopolis, Wyoming. (WSA P2001-11/46)

McCoy’s Eagle’s Nest Ranch on Owl Creek, west of Thermopolis, Wyoming.
(WSA P2001-11/46)

Early in 1917, with Europe embroiled in its third year of war, McCoy read a newspaper article about former president Teddy Roosevelt’s recommendation that a division of soldiers be recruited and sent overseas to assist the English and French.  Roosevelt also recommended a cavalry force be sent. Inspired, McCoy wrote a letter to Roosevelt offering to recruit 400 cavalrymen from Wyoming and Montana.  Roosevelt told him to proceed via telegram.  McCoy had the promised number of commitments within two months.  However, Roosevelt was unable to sell the plan to the Wilson administration.  

The United States entered World War I on April 2, 1917.   The expansion of the army required qualified officers to lead, so the War Department opened a number of officer training schools.   This option was more attractive to McCoy than getting drafted so he traveled to Cheyenne with the hope of finding out how he could apply for training.  He arrived early in the day and was able to visit with Governor Frank Houx, whose secretary, Charlie Thompson, said he read that exams were being given at Fort Logan, near Denver.  Armed with a letter of recommendation from Houx, as well as his Roosevelt telegrams, McCoy headed to Denver.  Although the deadline for applications had passed, he was able to wrangle an order to proceed to the officers’ training camp at Fort Snelling in Minnesota.  With a performance that foreshadowed his acting career he bullied his way through the initial application process and joined the U.S. Army.  

McCoy often drew inspiration for his acting from his experiences as a cowboy in Wyoming. This scene may have been on a movie set, but McCoy had undoubtedly lived the scene in real life. (WSA P2001-11/35)

McCoy often drew inspiration for his acting from his experiences as a cowboy in Wyoming. This scene may have been on a movie set, but McCoy had undoubtedly lived the scene in real life.
(WSA P2001-11/35)

McCoy was commissioned as a captain of cavalry, quite an achievement for a young inexperienced soldier.  He was eventually assigned to Fort Riley in Kansas to help train a regiment of recruits.  However, the fading usefulness of cavalry in mechanized warfare was finally recognized and a large number of cavalry regiments were converted to artillery regiments.  Therefore, McCoy was sent to Artillery Officers’ School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.  He was at Fort Sill when the war ended.  McCoy had attained the rank of lieutenant colonel by that time.

McCoy's first wife Agnes and their children Gerald, Margaret and John at the ranch on Owl Creek, 1925. (WSA P2001-11/6)

McCoy’s first wife, Agnes Miller, and their children Gerald, Margaret and John at the ranch on Owl Creek, 1925.
(WSA P2001-11/6)

While at Fort Snelling, McCoy married Agnes Miller, whom he had met at a dude ranch near Jackson Hole.  Agnes was the daughter of a stage actor and actress.  Agnes and Tim would have three children.  After the war, the McCoys settled in at Tim’s ranch on Owl Creek while he pondered whether or not to remain in the Army.  The decision was settled shortly after his return when Governor Robert Carey offered McCoy the position of Adjutant General of Wyoming.  He promptly accepted.  

Tim McCoy and the group of Arapahoes he recruited for Hollywood on the steps of the Wyoming State Capitol Building in 1922. McCoy and Gov. W.B. Ross are standing in the center of the group. (WSA P2001-11/5)

Tim McCoy and the group of Arapahoes he recruited for Hollywood on the steps of the Wyoming State Capitol Building in 1922. McCoy and Gov. W.B. Ross are standing in the center of the group.
(WSA P2001-11/5)

In 1922, an agent for Famous Players – Lasky, a motion picture corporation that would eventually become Paramount Pictures Corporation, visited McCoy in his Capitol Building office to solicit his assistance.  McCoy was recruited to hire 500 Native Americans for the film The Covered Wagon and bring them to Hollywood.  After ensuring the recruits would be well paid and well treated, McCoy agreed to the arrangement and resigned from his position as Adjutant General.  He was also asked to serve as technical advisor for the film.  During the initial showings at Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, McCoy conducted a “prologue” during which he spoke to audiences about the movie and introduced some of the Native Americans.  He also served as technical adviser for The Thundering Herd, and presented a prologue for The Iron Horse.

Tim McCoy on the set of End of the Trail (1932), with Wade Butler, Luana Walters and Chief White Eagle. The movie was filed outside of Lander, Wyoming. (WSA P2001-11/12)

Tim McCoy on the set of End of the Trail (1932), with Wade Butler, Luana Walters and Chief White Eagle. The movie was filmed outside of Lander, Wyoming.
(WSA P2001-11/12)

1926 found McCoy back at his ranch at Owl Creek and settled back in his role as a cattleman.  However, early in the year he received a telegram from a representative of Famous Players – Lasky who asked McCoy to return to Hollywood for a screen test, with the guarantee that he would appear in at least one motion picture. Thus began an entertainment career which would include over 90 movies.  McCoy starred in the first “all talking” movie serial, The Indians are Coming, in 1930.  His entertainment career would also include a couple of television series, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performances, and Tim McCoy’s Wild West and Rough Riders of the World.  The Wild West venture was launched during the Great Depression and closed after only three weeks of performances.  

McCoy with the cast and crew of Tim McCoy's Real Wild West Show, 1938. (WSA P2001-1/22)

McCoy with the cast and crew of Tim McCoy’s Real Wild West Show, 1938.
(WSA P2001-1/22)

McCoy ran an unsuccessful campaign for a U.S. Senate seat from Wyoming in 1942.  After losing in the primary election, he volunteered for the U.S. Army.  McCoy performed liaison work in Europe during World War II.  Except for a few cameo appearances in later years, McCoy made no more motion pictures after the war.  He returned to Wyoming long enough to sell his ranch, then purchased an estate in Pennsylvania called Dolington Manor.

Tim and Agnes McCoy had divorced in 1931.   Tim met Inga Arvad, a Danish beauty pageant winner and journalist, at a dinner party in Hollywood in 1946.  Arvad drew attention in the mid-1930s when she interviewed Adolf Hitler.  She came to America in 1940 and continued to find employment as a writer, including stints as a Hollywood gossip columnist and as fashion editor for Harper’s Bazaar.  In the early 1940s, while living on the east coast, she had a romantic relationship with future president John F. Kennedy.  

McCoy, his second wife Inga, and their two sons, Ronnie and Terry. (WSA P2001-11/44)

McCoy, his second wife Inga Arvid, and their two sons, Ronnie and Terry.
(WSA P2001-11/44)

McCoy and Arvad married shortly after their meeting.  They would have two children.  After living for a brief time at Dolington Manor, the McCoys moved to California after Tim was recruited for a Los Angeles television program.  The program featured McCoy telling historical stories and Native Americans performing dances.  In 1952, he moved to a Los Angeles CBS affiliate where he won an Emmy award for his presentations about western American history.  The program lost sponsorship shortly after that, requiring McCoy to seek employment elsewhere.   He performed with a couple of circuses for several years.  

In 1962, the McCoys moved to Arizona.  Tim continued to be employed as a performer of cowboy-style acts.  Inga died in 1973 and McCoy retired a few months later.  He published an autobiography in 1977 and died the following year at the age of 87.

McCoy was recognized for his film career with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Additional honors included induction into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum and the Cowboy Hall of Fame. In 2010, McCoy was inducted into the Hall of Fame of Hot Springs County, Wyoming, where his ranch had been located.

McCoy was well known for his very large hats and helped to popularize the "10-gallon" Stetson. Max Meyer, owner of a hat shop in Cheyenne, special ordered McCoy's hats and worked with the Stetson company to produce ever larger specimens. This photo was sent to Meyer in thanks. The inscription reads: "Dear Max - Tom Mix called this a 50 gallon hat. When he saw it he almost fell out of his seat. - Tim McCoy"

McCoy was well-known for his very large hats and helped to popularize the “10-gallon” Stetson, characterized by their exaggerated large brims and crowns. Max Meyer, owner of a hat shop in Cheyenne, special ordered McCoy’s hats and worked with the Stetson company to produce ever larger specimens. This photo was sent to Meyer in thanks. The inscription reads: “Dear Max – Tom Mix called this a 50 gallon hat. When he saw it he almost fell out of his seat. – Tim McCoy” (WSA Sub Neg 19576)

The Tim McCoy collection at the Wyoming State Archives contains correspondence, posters, many of McCoy’s movies on videotape, clippings concerning McCoy’s career and western films, books about McCoy and western films, photographs, and some genealogical information.   

— Curtis Greubel, State Imaging Center Supervisor. Much of the information in this article was derived from Tim McCoy’s autobiography Tim McCoy Remembers the West.

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Robert Evans: A Canadian in South Pass City

In the summer of 1869, Robert Evans, a Canadian carpenter sought his fortune in South Pass City, Wyoming.  Sadly, near the end of November, he died.  While Robert did not become a memorable figure of South Pass history, his personal letters found in his probate file and some basic genealogical research reveal an interesting life.

South Pass City, 1870 (WSA Sub Neg 7785)

South Pass City, 1870
(WSA Sub Neg 7785)

Robert was from Cobourg, Ontario, a thriving community on Lake Ontario in southeast Ontario about 73 miles northwest of Toronto.  Robert was born in 1839 probably in the New England area to Henry and Mary Evans, immigrants from Ireland and England respectfully.  The family later moved to Cobourg, where Henry and Robert worked as carpenters.  A second son, Albert, was born in 1860 and would become a cabinet maker.  Some family members lived in or near Toronto.  

We can only speculate how Robert made the 1800-plus miles trek from Cobourg, Ontario to South Pass City, Wyoming, but his journey did not mean his broke all ties with friends and family.  On the contrary, he wrote to them frequently, probably giving him something to do as well as staying connected to them.  

Letters from friends and their envelopes. (WSA Sweetwater Dist Ct PR Robert Evans, 1869)

Letters from friends and their envelopes.
(WSA Sweetwater Dist Ct PR Robert Evans, 1869)

Jonathan McCleery, a friend in Chicago, was jealous of Robert’s western venture and wanted go there himself.  The problem was money.  “Bob[,] I am anxious to get out there and if you can send me some money or a Pass or Ticket I shall Repay the first Money I get a hold of and if anybody can Rustle I am the man[.] you know that as well as I do [.] But how can a man get any money when these close-fisted-sons-of Bitches wont give it up.”  One wonders if McCleery eventually made it to South Pass.

Evans' friend Jonothan McCreery wrote to beg money to come out to South Pass City. (WSA Sweetwater Dist Ct PR Robert Evans, 1869)

Evans’ friend Jonothan McCreery wrote to beg money to come out to South Pass City.
(WSA Sweetwater Dist Ct PR Robert Evans, 1869)

Robert wrote often to his parents, Henry and Mary.  Besides reassuring them that he was alive and doing well, he sent them money, which was much needed and appreciated.  In one letter he mentioned that he had quit drinking.  After receiving this news Mary reportedly said “Thank God now I Can Dy [die] in Peace.“  

Mary was very ill throughout most of the winter and spring of 1869.  Robert had returned home once to see her but she later desired another visit from him.  A future trip was not to be probably because Robert could not make the time or bear the travel costs. Then one day he received a note from his father stating that Mary had died on June 29, 1869 making “a happy Change from this mortal State to a State of Immortality where Sorrow never Comes.”  

In this letter, Evans' father tells him of his mother's death. The letter was written on mourning stationary. It was typical of the time for individuals to use stationary with a black border after the death of a loved one. As time went by, the black boarder would narrow. This thick boarder denoted deep mourning or a recent death. It is interesting to note that his father did not begin his letter on the usual front of the page within the black boarder. Perhaps he wanted to break the news to his son more gently.  (WSA Sweetwater Dist Ct PR Robert Evans, 1869)

In this letter, Evans’ father tells him of his mother’s death. The letter was written on mourning stationary. It was typical of the time for individuals to use stationary with a black border after the death of a loved one. As time went by, the black boarder would narrow. This thick boarder denoted deep mourning or a recent death. It is interesting to note that his father did not begin his letter on the usual front of the page within the black boarder. Perhaps he wanted to break the news to his son more gently.
(WSA Sweetwater Dist Ct PR Robert Evans, 1869)

Lizzie West, a friend in Elko Nevada, consoled him.  “Death is the only thing we are sure of,” she wrote.  “Let us all strive to be prepared to meet it.”

Following the death of his wife, Henry urged Robert to write often and soon.  The economic outlook in Cobourg seemed bleak but Henry believed he would persevere.  But there was one thing that would really make him happy.  “I would like if you could come home this winter,” Henry wrote.  The date was August 13, 1869.  Sadly Robert never made it home again.

The original deed to Evans' property in South Pass City is included in his probate file. (WSA Sweetwater Dist Ct PR Robert Evans, 1869)

The original deed to Evans’ property in South Pass City is included in his probate file.
(WSA Sweetwater Dist Ct PR Robert Evans, 1869)

Robert Evans died in South Pass City in November 1869.  His estate was meager.  It consisted of a house on Price Street valued at $25, notes on construction computations, a handful of personal letters, some outstanding loan and credit notices, and various clothes, tools, and groceries.  Records do not reveal the cause of death but invoices show he had received some medical care during his illness.  Robert’s estate was eventually settled in 1872.

Examples of bills submitted to the court against Evans' estate. They are a wonderful window into what was worn and eaten but also the cost of goods in South Pass in 1869. For instance, Evans' entire suit of clothing, clothing repairs, and two blankets cost $98 (a bit over $1,760 today) which reflects the inflated prices in the mining boom town. He had run up a grocery bill of $225 (about $4050 today.)  (WSA Sweetwater Dist Ct PR Robert Evans, 1869)

Examples of bills submitted to the court against Evans’ estate. They are a wonderful window into what was worn and eaten but also the cost of goods in South Pass in 1869. For instance, Evans’ entire suit of clothing, clothing repairs, and two blankets cost $98 (a bit over $1,760 today) which reflects the inflated prices in the mining boom town. He had run up a grocery bill of $225 (about $4050 today.)
(WSA Sweetwater Dist Ct PR Robert Evans, 1869)

It is not hard to understand why Robert kept his personal letters.  They had a strong emotional appeal to him, and they made him feel connected to friends and family.  For the modern reader, these records provide interesting perspectives about a pioneer of South Pass and life in the late nineteenth century.

— Carl Hallberg, Reference Archivist

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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. Smith was our tallest governor. According to his family, he was 6 foot 5 inches tall.

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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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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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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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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April 23, 1865: A Sermon and A Pilgrimage

Today we conclude this month’s series of diary entries from Isabella Wunderly Campbell, who became Wyoming’s first lady in 1872. Isabella was a 19-year-old  living in Washington, D.C., during the eventful April of 1865. Her daily diary entries give insight into her experiences during the final days of the Civil War, which ended 150 years ago this month.

April 2-9
April 10
April 11
April 12
April 13
April 14
April 15
April 16

April 17

April 18

April 19

April 20

April 21

April 22

April 23, 1865 (WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

April 23, 1865
(WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

Sunday, April 23, 1865

Mother, Uncle and I went to church this morning. Found Dr. Gurley had gone with the funeral train and we had a stranger preach for us. Heard a very good sermon however and found a good dinner when we returned home. I know not how it happened but I am always more hungry on Sunday than any other day. In the evening we went to Trinity to hear a sermon on the removal of the late President. I liked it all pretty well until he made an appeal in behalf of Virginia which was to say the least very mal a propos. He surely must have been a severe leech at the beginning of the war if he is not at present.

As Isabella mentions, Dr. Phineas Gurley of  New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C, accompanied the funeral train to Springfield, Illinois.

May 9, 1865 (WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

May 9, 1865
(WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

Tuesday, May 9, 1865

Notwithstanding the dampness of the day, Aunt insisted upon going with me to the dressmakers. I had my dress fitted and after we returned I accompanied Aunt Lib to the Patent Office and several other places. Saw also the room in which President Lincoln breathed his last, where his great spirit took flight. Oh how sacred must this humble spot forever be made, where the great and good man suffered and died. How will it be remembered and handed down as a cherished spot to all the world. I cannot yet think of him as gone.

Almost as soon as President Lincoln died, his status as a tourist attraction began to grow. Crowds that had flocked to see him lying in state or to witness his funeral procession now made the pilgrimage to Ford’s Theatre and other sites associated with him. This practice has continued for 150 years and is still going strong. Many sites associated with Lincoln are now museums or historic sites, providing adoring fans a place to remember the lost president.

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