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As the threat of the United States entering World War I loomed, most newspapers issued a call to arms to former service personnel. The following appeared in the March 1, 1917 issue of “The Saratoga Sun.”

“Once a Marine always a Marine” is the loyal answer of hundreds of “ex-soldiers of the sea” in response to the recent telegrams from Marine Corps Headquarters asking their return to the colors. Many are re-enlisting and others, who are handicapped by domestic or other responsibilities, are, for the present, doing remarkable work in the obtaining of men for their old Corps, according to recruiting officials.

Upwards of 10,000 trained men are discharged from our military and naval services yearly, and under ordinary circumstances, one-third of them immediately re-enlist. Of the remaining, fully 80 percent are eligible for re-enlistment. It is therefore estimated that the United States would have at least 150,000 trained regulars in civil life ready for duty at the first call.

Forgetting that their fingerprints are bound to betray them, many deserters who have adopted fictitious names are attempting to re-enter Uncle Sam’s service, since the breaking of diplomatic relations with Germany. Recruiting officers have been flooded with this class of applicants, who trust to luck or indifference on the part of the military authorities to cover up their misdemeanor, according to Captain Frank E. Evans of the United States Marine Corps.

It is believed that the present patriotic wave has awakened many of these deserters of a sense of duty, but a comparison of their telltale fingerprints with the originals, kept on file in Washington, D.C., proves a bar to their further service.

An editorial in the same weekly newspaper notes:

Pertinent to farmers

Every hour seems to draw the country nearer to war. No man can assure us that he will escape, for no man knows. This year, 1917 may see us shut off from all source of supplies from the outer world, and dependent entirely upon local production.

Facing such a possibility, it is incumbent upon every farmer to cultivate to the limit of his acreage and ability, and the town person who has a vacant lot should do the same.

The time to begin is now. If we place armies in the field, those armies must be fed, and the products come from the farms.”

The newspaper’s assessment of the situation was correct with the USA entering “the war to end all wars” on April 6, 1917. The Encyclopedia Britannica states:

World War I, also called First World War or Great War, was an international conflict that in 1914-18 embroiled most of the nations of Europe along with Russia, the United States, the Middle East and other regions.

The war pitted the Central Powers – mainly Germany, Austria/Hungary and Turkey – against the Allies – mainly France, Great Britain, Russia, Italy, Japan and, from the spring of 1917, the United States.

It ended with the defeat of the Central Powers. The war was virtually unprecedented in the slaughter, carnage and destruction it caused.

Prior to the invention and use of the refrigerator, food was preserved and kept cool in “ice boxes,” which required chunks of ice cut from local sloughs, creeks and rivers.

The ice was harvested in winter months, stored in sheds filled with sawdust and then distributed to businesses and households during the warm summer days.

Harvesting ice was a necessary and newsworthy endeavor, as reported in a February issue of a Wyoming weekly newspaper in the 1920s.

The annual ice harvest will get under way here the latter part of this week or the first of next, according to Clark Wilcox, who is filing up his saws and greasing up his loading chutes in preparations for a busy several days. He has made tests of the ice on the Davidson slough a mile or so above town, where cutting will be done, and states the ice is of fine quality – clean and clear, and it will average 12 to 18 inches in thickness. There are several inches of snow on the ice, he says, and this is being plowed loose and cleaned off this week.

Mr. Wilcox expects to cut between 600 and 700 tons, about the same amount as last year, and hopes to deliver to the haulers from 50 to 60 tons per day. The ice will all be stored locally, by business houses and individuals, and several local storage houses will be filled to be retailed during the summer.

Supt. Ainsworth has a crew of men from the fisheries station cutting ice at a location down the river, which is being hauled and stored at the hatchery. He said between 35 and 40 tons will be cut.

Ice crop gathered

Another earlier account states,

George W. Sisson and C.S. Taylor have had teams busy for several days, up to and including Monday, gathering the ice crop.

It was feared that the warm weather, which had been with us since the first of the month, would clear the river of ice, but ice of a very excellent character was discovered just above the dam and 500 tons were cut and hauled in, filling up every ice house in town.

There will now be no lack of ice for the coming year.

Isolation was a major problem for some pioneer women in Wyoming, according to one written account about a couple Cowboy state ranches.

An owner of the A Bar A brought his young bride Margaret, just out of finishing school at Washington, D.C., to the valley. She could sing and paint very well but was in no way prepared for a rigorous and isolated life on a Wyoming ranch.

Upper valley ranches were high, cold and far from town. In winter, folks could cross the river on the ice if it was strong enough to hold them. Otherwise, they took the long, snow-bound route down the east side of the river to the Butler Bridge at Bennett’s Peak and on into Saratoga or Encampment.

Margaret often rode miles on horseback to visit her neighbor, Mrs. Charles Sanger, and remembered once dismounting and crawling on her hands and knees on the icy trail. Mrs. Sanger was a valued friend and offered great help and strength including showing Margaret how to make bread, but by the time Margaret got home, the “yeast foam” was frozen, so the effort was a failure.

It was not long before Margaret’s husband realized that, happy as the men were here and romantic as was the setting, it was no place to rear a family, so he took her to California.

However, most pioneer ranch women proved to be of sturdier stock and remained to thrive.

One of those sturdy pioneer women was Josephine Brown, who after a failed courtship with one of Wyoming’s most famous cowboys – Corporal Skirdin, better known as “The Virginian” in Owen Wister’s famous novel – went on to operate a creamery and serve as postmistress before marrying a local rancher.

When Josephine came to realize that Skirdin would never be acceptable to her mother and with a broken heart, she set off to a different life at a ranch owned by her brother Jackson.

A creamery was a good-looking enterprise to Josephine and Jackson. In June of 1902, they put in a complete creamery, which was operated by steam. They were well on their way to supplying the valley towns with butter. The Browns turned out some 300 pounds of butter each week. To supply the cream for the plant, some 40 cows were needed, and for a number of years, butter was sold at 35 cents a pound.

When Jackson died his sister inherited the property and was able to finish paying for the ranch with the creamery profit.

In 1907, Josephine was appointed postmistress of French, Carbon County and moved the post office to the Brown Ranch.

The local weekly hometown newspaper reported, “Miss Brown must be commended for the public spirit she shows in accepting the position as it is a large nuisance with practically no remuneration.”

She continued to operate that post office for many years.

Josephine and her neighbor, Charles H. Sanger, were married at the Episcopal rectory in Saratoga March 2, 1908 and moved to Sanger’s ranch home, thus incorporating the adjoining property. She continued to serve as postmistress and became a noted homemaker, as well as a good neighbor, friend and mentor to Margaret and many other pioneer women.

The following poem is taken from an undated yellowed newspaper clipping found in the Bob Martin/Dick Perue collection. No author was listed, but it could have been written by any cowboy, on any range, at any time for all of us who love America and especially the West at this joyous time of Christ’s birth. – Dick Perue


I ain’t much good at prayin’, and You may not know me, Lord.

I ain’t much seen in churches where they preach Thy Holy Word,

But You may have observed me out here in the lonely plains,

A-lookin’ after cattle, feelin’ thankful when it rains.


Admirin’ Thy great handiwork, the miracle of grass,

Aware of Thy kind spirit in the way it comes to pass

That hired men on horseback and the livestock that we tend

Can look up at the stars at night and know we’ve got a Friend.


So here’s to Christmas comin’ on, remindin’ us again,

Of Him whose coming brought good will into the hearts of men.

A cowboy ain’t no preacher, Lord, but if You’ll hear my prayer,

I’ll ask as good as we have got for all men everywhere.


Don’t let no hearts be bitter, Lord; don’t let no child be cold.

Make easy beds for them that’s sick and them that’s weak and old.

Let kindness bless the trail we ride, no matter what we’re after,

And sorter keep us on Your side, in tears as well as laughter.


I’ve seen old cows a-starvin’, and it ain’t no happy sight.

Please don’t leave no one hungry, Lord, on Thy good Christmas night.

No man, no child, no woman and no critter on four feet –

I’ll aim to do my best to help you find ‘em chuck to eat.


I’m just a sinful cowpoke, Lord – ain’t go no business prayin’ –

But still I hope you’ll ketch a word or two of what I’m sayin’.

We speak of Merry Christmas, Lord – I reckon You’ll agree

There ain’t no Merry Christmas for nobody that ain’t free.

So one thing more I’ll ask You, Lord, just help us what You can

To save some seeds of freedom for the future sons of man!

That Demon claiming this half-acre

Possessed a mind both lithe and active.

He well knew how, were he the maker

To make its weirdness quite attractive.


Those gray-green slopes invite your sliding

Down to see what’s that queer shape,

That seems to be a gnome a-riding

Upon a surface once a lake.


There’s no lake there, the water frightened,

Fled through a gateway deep and wide.

For fire-fiends roared and glowered and tightened

Their hold, and fought on every side.


Great rocks seem to have been their weapons

As angry their emotions spent,

Themselves to grind to flakes and atoms

Old Mother Earth her bosom rent.


A feeling somehow quite uncanny

Creeps o’er you as you stand and gaze

At shades and colors, oh, how many,

That leave your thoughts all in a maze.


Pray do not miss it, for its beauty

Will stay with you for many a day,

Forsake a little work and duty

To learn a bit from gnome and fray.

– Elizabeth Binns Moreland

While looking through a Christmas present from a friend, who also is possessed with history and historical photographs, I discovered the above poem and accompanying photo. The gift was a 1938 magazine aptly called “Wonderful Wyoming,” published by Wyoming Department of Commerce and Industry with Charles B. Stafford as editor.

In the forward Gov. Leslie A. Miller writes, “This tabloid is designed to briefly picture the scenic beauty spots, unusual attractions, recreational opportunities and outdoor life resources of our state.”