Current Edition

current edition

Last week we related information found in a rare book entitled “Collections of the Wyoming Historical Society” by Robert C. Morris. This week we offer our readers more about the creation of the:

WYOMING HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Entire sets of works are specially solicited or collections of books on any subject, but single volumes and copies of pamphlets will be gratefully received. The library of the Society, it is hoped, will grow into a library of reference on all subjects, hence books, pamphlets and other publications on all subjects are solicited.

Especially do we desire everything relating to Wyoming.

1. Every book or pamphlet on any subject relating to Wyoming or any part of it; also every book or pamphlet written by a Wyoming citizen, whether published in Wyoming or elsewhere; materials for Wyoming history; old letters, journals and manuscript narratives of the pioneers of Wyoming; original papers on the early history and settlement of the territory; adventures and conflicts during the early settlement, the Indian troubles or the late rebellion; biographies of the pioneers, prominent citizens and public men of every county, either living or deceased, together with their portraits and autographs; a sketch of the settlement of every township, village and neighborhood in the state, with the names of the first settlers. We solicit articles on every subject connected with Wyoming history, including fossils, geological specimens, ores and minerals.

2. City ordinances, proceedings of mayor and council; reports of committees of council; pamphlets or papers of any kind printed by authority of the city; reports of boards of trade; maps of cities and plats of town sites or additions thereto.

3. Pamphlets of all kinds; annual reports of societies; sermons and addresses delivered in the state; minutes of church conventions, synods or other ecclesiastical bodies of Wyoming; political addresses; railroad reports; all such, whether published in pamphlet form or newspapers.

4. Catalogues and reports of colleges and other institutions of learning; annual or other reports of school boards, school superintendents and school committees; educational pamphlets, programmes and papers of every kind, no matter how small or apparently unimportant.

5. Copies of the earlier laws, journals and reports of our territorial and state legislatures; earlier Governors’ messages and reports of state officers; reports of state charitable and other institutions.

6. Files of Wyoming newspapers and magazines, especially complete volumes of past years or single numbers, even. Publishers are earnestly requested to contribute their publications regularly, all of which will be carefully preserved and bound.

Items also wanted by the society are “Maps of . . .” but, then, we have to preserve something for the next “Postcard.”

“Preserving local history one picture at a time,” has been my life-long goal. Recently a friend brought me a rare book entitled “Collections of the Wyoming Historical Society,” by Robert C. Morris. The illustrated book was the first volume published in 1897 by the newly founded “Wyoming Historical Society” of Cheyenne.

“Sun-Leader Publishing House” of Cheyenne was listed on the fly page as the printer and publisher.

The book lists the 1897 officers of the Wyoming Historical Society,” as William A. Richards, Cheyenne, president; Robert C. Morris, Cheyenne, secretary; John Slaughter, Cheyenne, librarian; and Joseph M. Carey, Charles W. Burdick, James I. Patten, Frank M. Foote, James H. Hayford, Bryant B. Brooks, along with Richards, Morris and Slaughter as members of the board of trustees.

The first entry in the book is:

LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL

The Wyoming Historical Society, Cheyenne, Wyo., March 15, 1897.

Hon. William A. Richards, Governor of Wyoming:

Dear Sir: – I have the honor to submit herewith the first volume of Wyoming Historical Collections, containing contributions from various sources on the Early Settlement of Wyoming, Its Social and Commercial Progress, Mines, Agriculture, Stock Growing, Personal Reminiscences, Memorials of Pioneers, Public Men, Pre-historic Remains, Indians and other subjects of historic value. Among the most valuable donations made to the Society have been the bound files of Cheyenne daily newspapers, covering a period of 30 years; also, numerous books, pamphlets, portraits, photographs, engravings, minerals and other treasures illustrative of the past history of Wyoming. A list of these donations, with the transactions of the Society, will be found hereto appended.

The historical information contained in the first volume of the Society will be found necessarily limited but indicates the general scope of the work contemplated by the Society under the law. A judicious selection and editing of original articles upon the early events of Wyoming was deemed of more historical value than any connected narrative written at this time. We trust, however, that with the co-operation of local societies, composed of settlers and others interested in the subject, material will be forthcoming that will furnish an adequate basis at some future time for a complete history of Wyoming. If the Wyoming Historical Society contributes its full measure to this important task, its object will have been accomplished.

Yours very respectfully,

Robert C. Morris,

Secretary

Under the heading of “Wyoming Historical Society. Introduction,” the tattered book continues:

The Wyoming Historical Society, established by an act of the Legislature of 1895 for the purpose of securing historical collections relating to the state, is now located in the library at the State House and is a safe depository for valuable books, files of newspapers, pamphlets, manuscripts, maps, charts, portraits, mineral specimens and articles of value illustrative of the history and progress of our state. Heretofore, Wyoming has been a free-foraging ground for collectors of fossils and pre-historic treasurers for other states and countries. Neither the state nor any of our institutions possesses a collection of these treasures worthy of the name.

What our Society especially desires are books and pamphlets on American History, Biography and Genealogy, particularly of the West; works on Indian Tribes, and American Archaeology and Ethnology; Reports of Societies and Institutions of every kind; Statistical and Scientific Publications of States or Societies; Books or Pamphlets relating to the Great Rebellion and the Wars with the Indians; privately printed works, newspapers, maps and charts, engravings, photographs, autographs, coins, antiquities, and encyclopedias, dictionaries and biographical works.

Entire sets of works are specially solicited . . . but, than that’s material for our next Postcard.

The following story of how W.F. Cody got the nickname Buffalo Bill appeared in the Nov. 13, 1903 issue of the “Grand Encampment Herald.”

Buffalo Bill

Upon being questioned, Col. Cody repeated the oft-told tale of how he was given the title of Buffalo Bill.

He said, “The name was given to me by the hoboes who helped to build the Union Pacific. When the rails reached the buffalo country, the Indians were pretty thick and pretty bad on the whites, and desiring a change from salt meats, the company employed me to hunt buffalo for the men. I had quite a reputation as a buffalo hunter and so was put on the force as the meat man. I was a welcome visitor in camp upon my first few return trips, and the men used to yell out, ‘Here comes Bill with some nice buffalo meat.’

“The company found that it was cheaper to feed buffalo than to import salt meat, and the rations were limited to that. Thus the men wearied of a good thing, and they got to saying, ‘Here comes Bill with some more of that tough buffalo meat.’ My association with buffalo and a gang of hoboes who always nicknamed people gave me the title of Buffalo Bill.”

The Wild West show

Col. Cody talked at length about the great Wild West show of which he was the founder and which has made him famous throughout the world. Following a suggestion, he said that he did not believe any other man would have had the courage to launch such a show.

“People thought that a show without clowns, without snakes or elephants would not be a drawing card, but the fact is that the show has been on the road for 21 years and has traveled more miles, showed in more countries, played to more people and played before more royalty than any other show ever organized in the history of the world. I take great pride in the fact that the show is educational and therefore above all others.

“Wyoming and the West are pictured as they are and without exaggeration. One lives an hour in the West when he sees the show. When I hire a western cowboy to ride for the season, I tell him not to buy new chaps – the gaudy kind for show – but to report for business in the chaps he has worn while in the saddle, on the round-up and on the plains. I want the cowboy just as he is at home, and that is the way I present him to the world.”

“When will you promise to bring the show to Grand Encampment?” he was asked.

“Well,” replied the Colonel, “I will not show at Cody or Grand Encampment for another year at least, but I will tell you that the show takes well here at home. In 1892, I took the show – 70 cars, 600 people and 600 animals – all over my old scouting trails, starting at the Dakotas, through Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana and back across the Mississippi, a distance of 14,000 miles, the greatest number of miles ever traveled by a show in one season. I met with the greatest approbation and success in the country where I had scouted for years.”

Next week, we will learn more about Buffalo Bill and his partner White Beaver.

Dr. D. Frank Powell, better known in Wyoming as “White Beaver,” was a friend and business associate of Buffalo Bill and often accompanied the great showman to various locations in Wyoming. Such was the case when Cody visited the Upper North Platte River Valley in south-central Carbon County in 1903.

An article in the Nov. 13, 1903 issue of “The Grand Encampment Herald” notes:

Pulling for Wyoming

“Where did I start the Wild West?” repeated the Colonel. “At North Platte in 1882, when I got up a frontier celebration. That was my home then, and I helped to build up Nebraska. Being a natural born pioneer, I drifted West, but I am going no farther. I have gotten through pushing but am now pulling for Wyoming. My head press agent used to pick up the English papers and remark, in speaking of my interviews, that, ‘I’ll bet he has wound up with something about Wyoming.’ And I always did. While I am interviewed perhaps more than any other American, I always close with a word about the resources of my home state, Wyoming, which I believe will someday be one of the greatest between the Missouri and the coast.”

Col. Cody came here (Grand Encampment) Saturday afternoon in company with Dr. D. Frank Powell, “White Beaver,” whom Buffalo Bill claims as his foster brother. In company with Supt. Waterbury, the two frontiersmen visited the Copper Giant property on the North Fork and took in the sights about town, leaving Tuesday for Saratoga. On Saturday night, the people of Cody will give their leader a royal welcome home by holding a celebration in the Colonel’s honor. Col. Cody has arranged to be here again with Dr. Powell sometime during the winter. Next year, the Wild West show will resume its tour of England.

Had to show him

Dr. Powell says that he has nothing new to say about the camp, only that he feels more confident than ever in its future. He denies the newspaper report that he died a few weeks ago and says that if any such event took place he has yet to realize the change.

His visit has been pleasant in the extreme, and he adds that he had to bring Col. Cody here just to show him that his northern Wyoming town is not in any respect ahead of the little city, “Situated upon a mesa at the junction of the north and south forks of the Encampment, etc., etc.”

While researching material for another project, I came across this unpublished manuscript in the Bob Martin/Dick Perue collection and pass it along to the readers of the “Postcard of the Past.” Enjoy this article, believed to have been written in the 1930s by an A.S. Gillespie of Rock River.

A cairn by the roadside where the highway north out of Fort Collins crosses into Wyoming notifies the wayfarer that he is passing the grave of “Old Blue.” Taut barbed wires confine the heap of stones marking the last resting place of the former Warren Ranch cow pony. The spot is hallowed in the memory of many a cowboy who knew and admired Old Blue in his working days.

A weather-beaten painted sign bears a tribute to the departed equine. A tenderfoot wrote it and put it up. The epitaph is noted with curiosity by passing motorists, and many are the inquiries as to the story of the famous horse.

Fred E. Warren, son of the late Senator Warren and manager of the Warren Ranches in Wyoming, gives an account briefly as follows:

“The horse was a blue roan cow pony of average appearance but of unusual wisdom. In his early years, he was used for ordinary work on the range but later found his calling in the education of colts. He was the horse that would drag them into the barn when they were first roped. Then, with the recalcitrant colt tied in the stall, he would be sent in alongside of the plunging animal so that the help could get to the head of the young horse without getting the eternal daylights kicked out of them.

“When we had horses to break for driving, Old Blue was the horse that was harnessed with the youngster to sit on the singletree when the youngster felt like running away and to jump to the collar and drag him ahead by main strength when the colt felt balky.

“As he grew older he seemed to know what was expected of him and furthermore he seemed endowed with quite a sense of humor. If a new man came in the spring and fancied himself as a rider Old Blue was saddled up and given to him as his means of transport. On such occasions, the rascal would look back to size up his rider and then crow-hop around to discover whether the man could really ride or not. As soon as he felt his man slipping he would look back and almost wink his eye as he stopped dead still.

“At other times it was the custom to have the new hands lead Old Blue to water from the barn to a little stream that ran by a short distance away. On such occasion, he would invariably bury his nose in the stream and apparently drink with great gusto, regardless of the fact that only a few minutes before perhaps two or three of our new hands had led him at different times to the same place. In short, he was the universal pet on the ranch, and when the time came for him to cash in his chips, there was much grief in the bunkhouse.

“We had on the ranch at that time a young follow who had at one time fallen into considerable money which was promptly spent on various kinds of whoopee, which won him the title of ‘million dollar cowboy.’ The million dollar cowboy in his grief over the loss of the horse felt that the occasion called for an elaborate funeral service, and so on a Sunday the horse was buried with considerable ceremony. Appropriate sermons were delivered, and I think the boys even tackled a hymn.”

The headboard, with the following inscription, was made at the time and has never been changed although it has many times been repainted.

Erected to the Memory

of Old Blue

The Best Old Cow Pony

That Ever Pulled on a Rope

by the Cow Punchers of the 7XL Outfit

Rest in Peace

At first there was only a small pile of stones placed upon the grave, but for sometime afterwards, it used to be the custom when driving raw colts with the breaking cart to pick up stones along the way, bring them to Old Blue’s grave and pile them up until there was quite a cairn made up of stones from miles around – and incidentally, I suspect that it contained most of the section corners within range of the ranch – at least they have all disappeared.