Category Archives: Wyoming at War

Bombs Over Wyoming

By: Jessica Cosgrove

The Japanese Bomb Balloons, courtesy of the Library of Congress,  LC-USZ62-34568.

At approximately 6:15 p.m. on December 6, 1944 three men and one woman at Ben Goe coal mine west of Thermopolis witnessed a strange event. They saw a parachute in the air with lit flares, a few moments later they heard a whistling noise then the sound of an explosion. They saw smoke rising from a draw near the mine. Notified of the event Sheriff Kem Moyer proceeded to investigate that night and into the following day. He searched for a man believed to be with the parachute; no man was found but something else was. Moyer told the Thermopolis Independent Record a heavy bomb had exploded leaving its fragments behind about a mile and a half from the mine, near the Meeteetse-Thermopolis highway.[1]

An undated birds eye view of Thermopolis. If the bomb had been dropped a mere fifteen miles to the north of where the fragments were found it would have hit this sleepy town.

When word of the bomb fragments reached Casper Air Base an investigator for the base was dispatched to Thermopolis to investigate the incident. The investigator sent the fragments to Casper to be examined and the word came back that no bombs of this make were in Casper. The investigator flew over the area where the reported parachute was spotted. He did not find any sign of a parachute. Louis Artman, a sheep herder, claimed to have seen a parachute land in an area Northwest of Thermopolis and stated that the flares burned for at least ten minutes. The base investigator came back out to fly the area a second time, but no parachute was found.[2]

Finally, the search for the parachute was called off by Sheriff Moyer. The running theory was that the parachute seen was a landing flare. No planes were heard or seen the night the bomb exploded, and no planes were reported missing. Some claim a plane that can carry the type of bomb dropped could be flown so high it would neither be seen nor heard. [3]

Thermopolis Independent Record, December 14, 1944

This bomb did not come from a careless United States pilot. This bomb came from, in the time of 1944, a far more sinister force. The bomb came from Japan.

Six days after the bomb incident in Thermopolis on December 12, 1944 a large paper balloon with Japanese ideographs and armed with incendiary bombs capable of starting a major wildfire was found 17 miles southwest of Kalispell, Montana. The Federal Bureau of Investigation was dispatched to investigate the balloon and warned the Kalispell population not to talk about the balloon. The five hundred people who saw the balloon heeded the FBI’s warnings. The entire town clammed up about this incident because they all had sons and husbands in the service and did not want to give away valuable information to the enemy. This censorship expanded to the rest of the country. Not many people knew about the balloon bombs except for law enforcement, newspaper writers, and publishers.[4]

The Laramie Republican Boomerang, December 19, 1944

On May 22, 1945 the Laramie Republican Boomerang ran an Associated Press story stating the Japanese had been making an effort to bomb the western U.S. mainland with unmanned balloons. The article stated: “The balloons, which carry a few small bombs, were described as being of gray, white or greenish-blue paper and about 33 feet in diameter. The main purpose of the bombs, it was said, is believed to be to set brush and forest fires. The balloons are unmanned and cannot be controlled by the enemy.”[5] The war and navy department also stated negligible damage had been done; but some of the balloons had landed or dropped explosives in isolated sections of the country, like in Thermopolis, Wyoming.[6]

In an August 22, 1945 article found in the Cody Enterprise the stories of these balloons over Wyoming finally started to come out. According to unofficial reports at least 16 of the bombs bearing Pacific crossing balloons were sighted or landed in Wyoming. One of the first reported sightings was in Thermopolis. The last reported sighting was near Cheyenne where residents reported to see what they claimed to be a “Jap balloon.” This particular sighting took place in June of 1945. Other sightings came from Cody, where on January 15, 1945 people claimed to have spotted a balloon over the Cody refinery. Another was reported on February 8, 1945 by Kenneth Adkins about 25 miles west of Newcastle. This balloon was taken to Newcastle and placed under guard in a state armory. On February 22, 1945 a former Park County Treasurer by the name of Harry Barrows and several others heard an explosion and felt the concussion near Ralston. [7]

According to T.A. Larson’s book Wyoming’s War Years: 1941-1945, Japanese officials who were interviewed after the war claimed the balloon bombs were a reaction to the Doolittle fire bombings in Tokyo, April 18, 1942. There were two years of experimentation before 9,000 balloons were launched from three sites near Tokyo. This mission cost the Japanese $2,000,000. Due to a lack of evidence of success the operation was deemed a failure and called off April 20, 1945. In fact, Japanese officials had only heard of one balloon landing in America. The censorship of information pertaining to these balloon bombs in the United States worked. The Japanese officers said the aim of the operation was to “create confusion by starting wildfires and frightening civilians.”[8]

An August 15, 1945 Casper Tribune Associated Press article titled “Japanese Bomb Balloons Come Down in 16 States” prove these bomb balloons were widespread across the western portion of the North American Continent. The states where a bomb balloon made land included Oregon, Washington, California, South Dakota, Idaho, North Dakota, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, Iowa, Michigan, Alaska and of course Montana and Wyoming. The article also stated balloons were found in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Northwest Territory and one or two were found in Mexico.[9]

No lives were lost in Wyoming due to these Japanese balloon bombs, but Oregon wasn’t so lucky. In Lakeview, Oregon on May 5, 1945 the Japanese balloon bombs claimed six lives. Elsie Mitchell and five neighborhood children with her, Edward Engen, Sherman Shoemaker, Jay Gifford, Richard Patzke, and Ethel Patzke, were dragging the Japanese balloon out of the woods when the bombs exploded. Elsie and the children were the only civilians to be killed on the continental United States during WWII. By the end of the war with Japan approximately 500,000 Japanese civilians were killed due to bombings by the United States and its allies.[10]

[1] Thermopolis Independent Record, December 14, 1944; Thermopolis Has Airplane Mystery; Bomb Dropped Nearby

[2] ibid

[3] ibid

[4] The Laramie Republican Boomerang, December 19, 1944; Mysterious Balloon Bearing Jap Insignia and Armed with Bomb Uncovered in Montana Forest.

[5] The Laramie Republican Boomerang, May 22, 1945; Jap Efforts to Bomb Western U.S. with Balloons Is Revealed

[6] ibid

[7] The Cody Enterprise, August 22, 1945; Story of Jap Balloons Over Wyoming Being Told by Informed Press

[8] T.A.Larson, Wyoming’s War Years: 1941-1945 p76-78 (Stanford: Stanford University Press,1954)

[9] Casper Tribune, August 15, 1945;  Japanese Bomb Balloons Come Down in 16 States

[10] Editors, Six killed in Oregon by Japanese bomb, February 9, 2010;

Leave a comment

Filed under Events, Eyewitness to History, Japanese, WWII, Wyoming at War

The Sedition Act of 1918

By: Robin Everett, Wyoming State Archives

Schweder pg 3

Throughout history, when governments have perceived threats from within, they have taken measures to protect their sovereignty. Unfortunately, there is ancillary damage along the way – innocents caught in the process because of who they are and what their heritage is.  One such measure is a US federal law passed just after entry into WWI, the Espionage Act of 1917. An extension of the Espionage Act came a year later, when Congress passed the Sedition Act of 1918, which covered a broader range of offenses, notably speech. The Act forbade the use of “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language” about the US government.    

During WWI, invoking the interests of national security, US authorities required non-naturalized citizens to register as “enemy aliens”.  The action targeted several nationalities, but focused mainly on non-citizen German born residents. Women born in the US, married to such individuals were also included.  


Schweder pg 1

The State Archives has a small collection of enemy alien registrations from some cities, district courts and the US Department of Justice.  Like many records created for one purpose, they now serve another: genealogical research. If your ancestors might have been included in this group, read on:   In 1920, Congress authorized the destruction of these records, but some have survived. The National Archives has some from Missouri, Arizona and Kansas. Strewn across the country in various state/local archives and libraries, are more records.  These records contain biographical information, a physical description, and usually a photograph. The form also asked about loyalties to the US or sympathies to the enemy. Registrants were expected to provide names of friends and family members serving in enemy armed forces.  The documents reproduced here show the registration of a Henry Schweder of Sheridan County, Wyoming, and includes listings of his wife and daughter, a photo – and the notation that he was blind. 

Schweder pg 2To determine whether these records may contain some of your ancestors, start with the Federal Census prior to and following WWI.  Information contained on the 1910 federal census can assist you in determining an ancestor’s citizenship prior to WWI Enemy Alien Registration.  As a follow-up, the 1920 census specifically asks the year of naturalization. Through deciphering information from both returns an ancestor’s 1918 citizenship status may be determined.  All open U.S. census returns are available via in all Wyoming libraries. 

Basic research of WWI era Wyoming newspapers Schweder pg 4provides reports of actions being taken not only locally but in other countries and across the US.  In April 1917, various Wyoming newspapers reported how New York police officers directed all enemy aliens to turn over all firearms. An October 1917 Park County Enterprise reports how many American women, through marriage were now perceived as potential enemies, – even Gloria Vanderbilt. In December 1917, a Newcastle man was held for federal authorities, after making seditious talk.  Various April and May 1920 Laramie newspapers reported on a German born male, who had registered as an enemy alien and had illegally voted in a local election.




For further reading

“Featured Story: Rights Amid Threats” from online exhibit, “Documented Rights.”  National Archives and Records Administration,, accessed August 16, 2017. 

“Civil Liberties in Wartime,” from Share America online exhibit by the Bureau of International Information Programs, United States Department of State,   accessed August 16, 2017.

Leave a comment

Filed under Genealogy, Wyoming at War

They Would Not Be Denied: Wyoming’s 1st (and only) NFL Game

Advertisement for football game

Uncle Sam was enlisted to promote the game. (Wyoming Tribune September 10, 1944)

75 years ago today, Wyoming became a part of NFL history. On September 10, 1944 the Brooklyn Tigers, a professional football team in the National Football League, played the Fort Warren Broncos at Cheyenne, Wyoming. The Broncos team was comprised of active duty servicemen stationed at Fort Warren (now Warren Air Force Base) during World War II. This game was the first and only time an NFL team played in the state of Wyoming during the league’s 100 year history. 

Legendary sports announcer and commentator, and Wyoming native son, Curt Gowdy covered the game for the local Wyoming Eagle. He described the game as “[slated to be] a battle of the pros’ power and experience against the spirit and hustle of the quartermasters. It turned out just that way. A team that won’t be beat, can’t be beat.”[1]

Bleachers in the stadium

The Warren Bowl was an large multi-use sports field on the east side of Fort Warren (beside what is I-25 today). The sunken oval track and infield were surrounded by wooden bleachers, which had been expanded for this game. The press box and radio room also received upgrades. (WSA Stimson Neg 4756, Warren Bowl, 1930 by J.E. Stimson)

The game kicked off at 2:00 P.M. at the Warren Bowl with 3,000 to 4,000 in the bleachers, including 1,200 Cheyenne civilians. Enlisted personnel attended for free, while civilians paid $1.75 or $2.75 admission.[2] The low turnout among Cheyennites was partially blamed on predictions that the professional team would steamroll the Broncos. Bronco coach Captain Willis M. Smith remained optimistic, proclaiming the Broncos would give a good showing against the professional team. [3]

The naysayers were correct, but for only one quarter of the game. The first quarter belonged to the Tigers. The Tiger’s offense routinely smashed through the Broncos’ defensive line allowing for long gains on the ground. After a 49-yard march down the field Tiger’s halfback Frank Sachse lateraled to star fullback Pug Manders who then plunged into the endzone from the 12 yard line. Kicker Bruiser Kinnard’s extra point kick was good. The first minute of the second quarter saw another Tiger score. Ray Hare broke through the Broncos’ defensive front for an easy score. Kinnard’s extra point was good and the Tigers were up 14 points on the Broncos.

Photos of the football game from the newspaper

The Broncos, in their new red, white, and blue uniforms, stand out against the Tiger’s black and orange. (WSA Wyoming Eagle September 12, 1944)

The Bronco defense settled down and dug in, not allowing the Tiger’s into the endzone through the rest of the second quarter and all of the third quarter. The Tiger’s offense did do some scoring of their own in the second and third quarters but penalties called the touchdowns back.

The fourth quarter opened with the Broncos still trailing the Tigers by two touchdowns. The Bronco offense came alive in the closing quarter of the game to score 21 unanswered points. The Tigers came back and scored a third touchdown in the final minute of the game. The Tiger kicker, Kinard, missed the extra point by sailing it high over the upright as the clock ticked to zero. If the game was played to college rules the kick would have been good, but professional rules stated the kick must go between the uprights. The final score was Broncos: 21 Tigers: 20. [4]

Final game box scores

(WSA Wyoming Tribune September 11, 1944

Bronco coach Captain Smith told the Wyoming Tribune after the game, “I am very pleased with the showing my team made. Everyone on the club who saw action did a remarkable job. The Tigers did everything we expected them to do and a little more.”

Brookly Tiger coach Pete Cawthorn lauded the tenacious Fort Warren Broncos. He told the Wyoming Tribune, “The Fort Warren team played a fine game after being behind two touchdowns. They made a swell showing and Captain Clifford Long (Bronco back) turned in an outstanding game… The credit shouldn’t go to any one Fort Warren player, however, as the entire Bronco team deserves credit equally for beating us.”

When asked if he could have changed anything about the game, Coach Cawthorn said he would have kept his starting line up in longer. “We probably took our first string out of the game too soon, early in the second quarter, but Fort Warren wasn’t to be denied.”

The 1944 season was the last season for the Brooklyn Tigers (whose name changed from the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1944.) Not surprising for a team in dead last with no wins during the regular season. Franchise owner Dan Topping announced he was joining the new All-America Football Conference, so the NFL canceled his franchise and merged the team with the Boston Yanks.[7]

The Fort Warren Broncos brought the confidence gained from beating the professional squad into their next game against University of Colorado at Boulder on September 23. The Broncos won this game 7-6.  Despite ended the season with an average record of 5-4-1, this football club is rumored to lay claim to an extraordinary feat in football history: the Fort Warren Broncos are the only independent team to ever defeat a professional football team and a major college program in the same season. [7]

ViewScan Premium PDF ouputIn his post-game commentary, Gowdy asked what “intangible something” underdogs possess that enabled them to pull off the unexpected. “That intangible something is team spirit… That team spirit must originate within the players themselves” and be fostered by the coaches. Gowdy’s credit started at the top with the fort’s commanding officer Brigadier General H.L. Whittaker for fostering participation in team sports on base and continuing to the coaches, who he praised for preparing the team to tackle what he argued was “one of the toughest schedules in the entire nation.” He ended with lavish praise of the team themselves:

To single out an outstanding player… would be doing an injustice to the Fort Warren eleven. They were jittery, out manned, and badly outplayed… and all fought together in one of the most perfect examples of team play you’ll ever hope to see. There were captains, lieutenants, enlisted men and players of different races hustling and winning side by side. Think that through. Isn’t that truly the democratic way of life?[8]

1. “Curt Comments”, Wyoming Eagle September 12, 1944 p12. Born in Green River in 1919, Curt Gowdy began his career in journalism covering sports for his high school newspaper. Graduating with a degree in journalism and 3 letters in both tennis and basketball, Gowdy enlisted in the Army hoping to become a fighter pilot. It was not to be and he was medically discharged from the Air Force in 1943. That year he began calling high school and local sporting events in Cheyenne and covering sports for the Cheyenne radio station and Wyoming Eagle newspaper while he recovered from back surgery. By 1945, he was in Oklahoma covering and calling minor league and college sports. His distinctive style got him a job with New York Yankees in 1949. In 1951, he began calling for the Boston Red Sox. During his over 30 years on the national stage, Gowdy covered professional and college games in both football and baseball, including several noteworthy moments and numerous post-season games in both sports. He also called all of the Olympic Games televised by ABC from 1964-1988 and hosted or narrated several television shows.

2. “Fort Warren Broncs Vs. Brooklyn Tigers”, Wyoming State Tribune September 10, 1944
3. “Tough Broncs Trim Brooklyn Pros, 21 to 20.” Wyoming State Tribune, September 11, 1944, p. 5
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid.
6. “NFL’s Brooklyn Dodgers.” Pro Football Hall of Fame (retrieved May 2019)
7. “Curt Comments”, Wyoming Eagle September 12, 1944 p12.
8. This claim is not corroborated. We would love to hear from anyone with more information.

Leave a comment

Filed under Eyewitness to History, This Day in Wyoming History..., Wyoming at War

The Last WWI Pilot from Wyoming

As a young man, Herman Kreuger dreamt of being


Photo accompanied the article “WWI flying ace talks with pilots on Italian team”, Billings Gazette August 25, 1988. A copy of this article is filed with Kreuger’s oral history interview at the WSA. It is interesting to note that “ace” was blacked out on the copy in the file.

a pilot.  During World War One, he got
his wish – serving in the U.S. Aviation Service piloting Italian bombers in northern Italy.


Herman was born on April 5, 1894 in Bern, Kansas.  His father worked for company prospecting for coal and moved his family from Nebraska to Wyoming in 1885.  Herman’s mother “figured that Wyoming wasn’t much of a place to raise a family.”  Moreover, “there was nothing except rattlesnakes and long horned cattle and cowboys.”  

Given this rather glum outlook, it is not surprising that the family eventually returned to Nebraska.  After graduating from school, Herman earned a living as a teacher.

In the early 1900s, airplanes were a novelty.  Herman was so fascinated by the romance of flying that he built a glider in 1910.  It crashed shortly after takeoff but he was not seriously injured.  “It turned out that it wasn’t very comfortable and my mother put a stop to that foolishness after the first flight,” he said.

Prior to America’s entry in World War One, Herman was working at an army camp near San Antonio, where he was mesmerized watching airplanes flying into and out of the nearby field.  Following America’s declaration of war, he enlisted in reserve officer training but later opted for artillery and then aviation.  


The final version of the Caproni aircraft used during WWI. Krueger probably would have flown one of these later iterations. Photo from Wikipedia


After his training in Austin, he was shipped to France and then was finally assigned to the First Aerial Squadron in Italy where he flew Capronis, an Italian bomber.  His initial responsibility was to train other pilots.  A fellow pilot in his squadron was future New York City mayor Fiorello LaGuardia.

In 1918, Herman was sent into combat, flying missions against Austrian forces near Padua in northern Italy.  It was not without danger.  The large plane with a four-man crew (Herman and three Italians) was an easy target.  One occasion, after returning to base, Herman and his crew discovered 67 bullet holes in their plane.  

Herman flew numerous aerial missions during the last five months of the war.  For his efforts he was decorated with the Italian War Cross.


Krueger’s 1933 Wyoming House of Representatives portrait. (WSA Sub Neg 1172)

After the war, Herman moved to Wyoming, where he filed for a homestead and operated a car and farm-tractor dealership near Garland.  He married his wife Celia Gordon in 1925 in Deer Lodge, Montana, and served many years as a Wyoming state representative from Park County. In 1937, he was selected as Speaker of the House.

Herman Kreuger died in August 1991 at the age of 97.  He was the last World War One pilot from Wyoming.

— Carl Hallberg, Reference Archivist



Additional Resources

  • OH-905, Herman Kreuger oral history audio and transcript, 1983, Wyoming State Archives
  • Herman Fred Krueger Find A Grave memorial

Leave a comment

Filed under Wyoming at War

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Carl Hallberg, Reference Archivist

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Wyoming at War

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

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

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

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

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

(WSA H63-28, p1)

(WSA H63-28, p1)

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

Miss Maggie

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

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

(WSA H63-28, p2)

(WSA H63-28, p2)

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

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

(WSA H63-28, p3)

(WSA H63-28, p3)

Their reasoning is about as good as the Rebels.

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

(WSA H63-28, p4)

(WSA H63-28, p4)

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

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

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

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

Yours Truly
RP Hughes
Fort Laramie[4]

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


— Carl Hallberg, Reference Archivist

1. Hughes is probably referring to the Wagon Box Fight which occurred on August 2, 1867. Read more about the fight at

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

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

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

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

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

1 Comment

Filed under Wyoming at War

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



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

This Day in US History… 1865: “Ring the Alarm Bells, Murder and Treason”

We continue 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, 1865 (WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

April 15, 1865
(WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

Saturday, April 15, 1865

“Ring the alarm bells, murder and treason” We are terror stricken, horrified, stand helpless as children. What can we do – Last night the President was shot at the Theatre and died at 7-22 this morning. Our President the great and good man has fallen by the hand of a base assassin. Was ever sorrow like unto this? Oh Father could not this bitter cup have been spared us. We know thou doest all things well. Thou too hast ordered this. The most intense excitement pervades the city. Every house is draped in mourning. The contrast is appalling and chills the warmest stoutest heart. I am almost beside myself and everybody seems to be insane. As yet the assassin has not been captured. Almighty God, do not permit him to escape the hand of law and justice.

Following the excitement and festive air of the Grand Illumination only two days earlier, the city turns black with mourning upon the news of President Lincoln’s death.

1 Comment

Filed under Eyewitness to History, This Day in Wyoming History..., WSA Collection Highlights, Wyoming at War

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.


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.


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)


1 Comment

Filed under Wyoming at War