Living on a ranch in rural Wyoming must be about as far from living in New York as you can get in terms of lifestyle. I love it. I love hearing pheasants in the field, seeing horses on the road, and I love the knowledge that Open Range still exists, even if in limited areas. I like the novelty of a gun safe down the hall and a 3 mile gravel road to the house. I’m not particularly fond of rattlesnakes in the yard or the abundance of insect life, but you can’t have everything, after all. But most of all I love waking up and finding nothing but the proverbial wide open spaces and scenery no words can describe.
Today, Karen and I headed down the aptly named Crazy Woman Canyon on a round-about way of getting to Buffalo. Karen at the wheel—thank goodness—we wound our way along the creek, tall walls of sculpted rock either side at times. At other moments, the gravel road dipped and coursed into narrow tracks, large pickups as well as ATVs squeezing past us in the other direction. It was an eighteen mile scenic tour for which my Honda was not made, but endured and survived. As did I.
Buffalo, of course, resonates with history. It played a part in the Johnson County War, as did Fort McKinney for which there is a marker outside of town, but earlier the town was a hub for those who came to ranch on the Powder River. The old Occidental Hotel still looks pretty much as it did in the day, bordello-like rooms available for rent, and a sign saying that those without luggage must pay in advance.
The three of us have plenty of luggage, and we are hauling it onwards tomorrow, sadly leaving ranch living behind.
The lynching of ‘Cattle Kate’ is a story most people interested in the history of the west know, yet don’t really know. It’s a story that’s gone through so many permutations, from “Cattle Kate” becoming the name of a western wear company through the all-star, disastrous three and a half hour re-writing of history called “Heaven’s Gate,” that most people nowadays would probably just relegate it to the annals of The Wild West. Basically, the tale as it has stood through the years is that on the morning of July 20, 1889, a vigilante party led by one Albert Bothwell accused Ellen Liddy Watson
Ellen Liddy Watson, by kind permission of the Wyoming State Archives
and her ‘lover’ James Averell of cattle rustling and branding, and summarily took them out and hung them. Subsequently, Bothwell and his cronies were tried but, being wealthy cattlemen and ranchers, members of the prestigious Wyoming Stockgrowers Association, they were let off. It was left as a shameful episode in the history of Wyoming. Continue reading
Posted in 19th C., History of the West, Literature of the West
Tagged Albert Bothwell, Cattle Kate, Ellen Liddy Watson, George Hufsmith, Helen Huntington Smith, High Plains Press, James Averell, Johnson County War, lynching, Teddy Blue, The Sweetwater Lynching, The War on Powder River, The Wyoming Lynching of Cattle Kate, Tom Sun, Wyoming
Courtesy of Moreton Frewen Collection, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming
I first learned of Moreton Frewen when reading Elisabeth Kehoe’s book, Fortune’s Daughters: the Extravagant Lives of the Jerome Sisters (Grove Atlantic, Ltd., 2004). Frewen, born 1853, a younger son of a wealthy and well-connected Sussex squire,
was not originally considered suitable for oldest of the Jerome sisters, Clara, who had been brought up in Paris, virtually in the Court of Louis Napoleon. He could not expect much of an inheritance as the extensive properties held by the squire were entailed under primogeniture. Moreton, as a gentleman by birth, would normally be expected to enter the clergy, the Services or politics. Continue reading
Posted in 19th C., History of the West
Tagged Buffalo Bill, Castle Frewen, Charles Goodnight, Clara Jerome, Duke of Marlborough, John Adair, Johnson County War, Lady Randolph Churchill, Leonard Jerome, Llano Estacado, Moreton Frewen, Powder River Cattle Company, Union Pacific, Winston Churchill, Wyoming