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Natrona County, Wyoming
History


Source: "History of Natrona County Wyoming 1888 to 1922"
By Alfred James Mokler, 1923
Submitted by a Friend of Free Genealogy


Organization of Natrona County

The first step toward the segregation of Carbon county and the establishment of a new county to be known as Natrona was taken when a bill was presented in the Wyoming territorial legislature in 1888, entitled: "An act making divers appropriations, and for other purposes." The act, after being passed by the legislature and engrossed, was presented to Governor Moonlight for his signature, but instead of signing the bill, the governor promptly vetoed it, and when it was returned to the legislative halls with his disapproval, the members of the legislature just as promptly passed the bill over the governor's veto.

The next step taken in behalf of, the new county was during the latter months of 1888, when a petition was circulated and signed by about two-thirds of the people living in the northern part of Carbon county (now Natrona county). The petition requested Governor Moonlight to appoint Jacob K. Ervay, Nathan S. Bristol and Bryant B. Brooks as temporary commissioners for the purpose of organizing the new county. The segregation would divide Carbon county near the center by a line running east and west, thus giving Natrona county an area of about 5,500 square miles, or seventy-five miles square, the area of Carbon county at that time being 170 miles long and seventy-five miles wide.

The petition, containing nearly 300 names, was carried from Casper to Cheyenne by Attorney C. C. Wright on January 31, 1889, and was formally presented to the governor. A man named McCoy, who was at that time booming the townsite of Bothwell, in the Sweetwater country, and who had been in the county less than three months, made the trip to Cheyenne for the purpose of filing a remonstrance with the governor, objecting to the three commissioners being appointed, and he filed affidavits to the effect that many of the petitioners were not legal residents of the county, and therefore, the petition should not be considered by the governor.

Governor Moonlight, after the petition and remonstrance had been presented, announced that he would keep the matter open for eighteen days, in order that further evidence and argument might be produced for and against the commissioners being appointed, and after the eighteen days expired he would require eight days more to review the evidence and render a decision.

On February 26, 1889, the governor gave notice that he would not appoint the temporary commissioners as requested by the petitioners, and from this decree there was no appeal. Thus the organization of Natrona county was delayed for the time being.

Governor Moonlight was removed from office in about thirty days after he vetoed the petition, and on March 22, 1889, President Benjamin Harrison appointed Francis E. Warren as governor of the Territory of Wyoming. Then the people of the northern part of Carbon county again circulated a petition praying that Governor Warren appoint George Mitchell, Bryant B. Brooks, and Jacob E. Ervay as commissioners to act in the organization of the county of Natrona. Mr. Bristol declined the honor of having his name on the second petition. In due time the petition was presented to Governor Warren, and on March 3, 1890, the governor made the appointments as requested in the petition.

The boundaries of Natrona county, at the time the bill was enacted by the territorial legislature, which have been changed but little since, were defined as follows:

"Commencing at a point on the seventh standard parallel north, at its intersection with the western boundary line of the present county of Albany; thence west along said standard parallel to its intersection with the west boundary line of the present county of Carbon; thence north along said last described boundary line to the southern boundary line of the present county of Johnson; thence east along said boundary line of Johnson county to the northwestern corner of the present county of Albany; thence south along the western boundary line of said county of Albany to the place of beginning; being all that portion of the present county of Carbon, Territory of Wyoming, lying north of the seventh standard parallel north."

Natrona county derives its name from the natural deposits of natrum or carbonate of soda, which is found in the numerous basins and lakes that abound in the central part of the state. Judge Charles E. Blydenburgh of Rawlins suggested the name "Natrona" as the thirteenth county of Wyoming.

Carbon, our mother county, was one of the original five counties of the Territory of Wyoming, and was organized by legislative enactment in November, 1869.

Carbon county originally included all that portion of the Territory of Wyoming lying between a point on the Union Pacific railway one-half mile east of Aurora station on the east, and the 107th degree and 30 minutes west longitude on the west, and the north and south boundary lines of the territory. The area of the land embraced was 22,080 square miles, thirty square miles more than arc included in the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. In 1879 Carbon county was divided on the parallel of 43 degrees and 30 minutes north latitude, and the north portion was organized under the name of Pease, but was later changed to Johnson county. After this division Carbon county was reduced in land area to 12,816 square miles. Reduced to acres the county contained 8,783,040 acres of land. Its population in 1877, before Johnson county was segregated, was given as 2,500 and its assessed valuation was $1,900,000. With the two divisions of Carbon county that have been made from its original area, Natrona is left in the center of the old county, Johnson being to our north and Carbon to the south. Sheridan county was organized from part of Johnson in 1887, and Big Horn county was organized from part of Johnson in 1897.

The beautiful valleys of the Sweetwater, Powder and North Platte rivers and the numerous small streams in Natrona county, and the contiguous plains, largely visited by the warm winds from the shores of the Pacific ocean, make this region one of the most desirable locations on this continent. The valleys in this section are so protected by mountain ranges on the immediate south and west that it is signally exempt from the perilous storms which make winter so dangerous and destructive to livestock in the north and east, and the dreadful blizzards which sweep a considerable portion of the United States during the winter months do not reach this section to any appreciable extent.

The commissioners appointed by Governor Warren took the oath of office on March 5, 1890, before R. H. Wilbur, a justice of the peace residing in Casper. Immediately after the oath of office was administered, the commissioners designated Casper, in the unorganized county of Natrona, as the place to hold its meetings. The first regular meeting of the new commissioners was held on the 5th day of March, 1890, at 4 o'clock p. m., in the office of the Wyoming Lumber company, George Mitchell being president of the lumber company, and the office was located where the Nicolaysen Lumber company yards are now located. At this meeting Bryant B. Brooks was chosen chairman of the board, George Mitchell, secretary, and F. H. Harvey was appointed attorney for the board. The commissioners then established voting precincts and appointed judges of election for each voting precinct as follows:

Casper precinct Joel J. Hurt, J. A. Casebeer, R. H. Wilbur.
Muddy precinct C C. P. Webel, Edward Beach, James Milne.
Bessemer precinct Rufus Rhoades, G. W. Johnson, G. C. Riggles.
Bates Hole precinct Joseph Bowie, M. Benedict, Jacob Crouse.
Sweetwater precinct H.C.Wilson,Daniel Fitger, J. H.Omstead.
Durbin precinct LaFayette Griffin, Wm. Hunt, Samuel Johnson.
Ervay precinct J. J. Holliday, D. P. Smith, John F. Landon.

The board ordered that an election be held within the unorganized county of Natrona, on the 8th day of April, 1890, for the purpose of electing all county and precinct officers of the said county of Natrona, and for the selection of a county seat for the said county.

The notice of the election was ordered published in the Casper Weekly Mail, the first paper published in Casper, and the only one published here at that time.

The next exciting event was the county election, held April 8, 1890, and the selection of the county seat was the big drawing card of the day. The contest for the county seat was between Casper and Bessemer from the very moment that it was officially declared that there was to be a Natrona county, and after the smoke of battle had cleared away it was learned that in the entire county Bessemer had received 731 votes, against 353 for Casper. It was claimed by both sides that a great many fraudulent votes had been cast, but it was very evident when the commissioners met to canvass the returns, that Bessemer "overplayed her hand," and the entire vote from that precinct, for the county seat, as well as for all the county officers, was thrown out on the official count, the commissioners reporting that "The official returns from Bessemer made to the board of commissioners, upon being opened, were found to be grossly irregular, no official summary or return being made, or certified to in the poll book, as required by law, nor was the tally list signed or certified to or identified in the manner provided by law, and it is therefore, upon motion, ordered that the said returns from Bessemer voting place be not considered or counted in the canvass."

The vote on the county officers and upon the seat of the county government from all the other precincts of the county excepting Bessemer, gave the following totals:

Sheriff W. W. Jaycox, 241; Oliver M. Rice, 177.
County Clerk and ex-Officio Register of Deeds Peter O'Malley, 226; George Mitchell, 193.
Judge of Probate and County Treasurer Bryant B. Brooks, 175; John McGrath, 241.
County and Prosecuting Attorney Alex T. Butler, 176; C. C Wright, 218.
County Commissioners C. C. P. Webel, 212; A. McKinney, 339; S. A. Aggers, 224; John Greenlaw, 154; J. P. Smith, 218; I. N. Speer, 99.
County Superintendent of Schools Cordelia M. Cheney, 415; Cora Cantlin, 1.
Coroner Joe Benson, 1; A. P. Haynes, 267; D. L. Clark, 3; R. J. Marsch, 2.
Surveyor J. B. Bradley, 273; Chris Baysel, 145.
Assessor E. L. McGraugh, 202; Allen Cox, 82; William Clark, 131
Justice of the Peace Fred E. Place, 35; R. H. Wilbur, 284; Ida M- Richards, 2.
Constable Hugh Patton, 282; Jacob Crouse, 18; Norman Calmon, 23.
County Seat Casper, 353; Bessemer, 64.

The board of county commissioners, consisting of A. McKinney, S. A. Aggers and J. P. Smith, met in regular session on April 12, and after perfecting their organization, thereupon issued a proclamation which declared that "the county commissioners, the sheriff, the county clerk and ex-officio register of deeds, and the judge of probate and county treasurer, having each severally received certificates of election, and having each duly qualified according to law, did then and there enter upon the duties of their said offices, respectively, and the county of Natrona,Territory of Wyoming, was declared duly and regularly organized."

At this same meeting the board of county commissioners leased three rooms in the second story of White & Co.'s building, to be used as county offices, at $450 annually. These are the front rooms in the building on Center street the second door south from Second street, on the west side of the street, which for many years were occupied by the Grand Central hotel.

But little business was transacted by the board of county commissioners at its first meeting held April 12, except to provide for rooms for the county officers, but on May 5 a contract was made with the board of county commissioners of Converse county "to take and care for any prisoners from Natrona county at the rate of one dollar per day in United States currency for each prisoner, the bills to be paid monthly." On the same date the county clerk was instructed to make an order for the county superintendent of schools to establish the school districts of Natrona county which were to be a part of the records of said county. This was all the business of importance transacted at this meeting. At the meeting of June 3, the board passed a resolution to the effect "that the Casper-Bates Hole road is of sufficient importance to be opened and traveled, therefore, it is ordered that the said road be and the same is hereby established." O. M. Rice was appointed road overseer for the new county. A grand jury was selected at the meeting held July 7, and it was the duty of this grand jury to select a list of sixty names to serve as petit jurors at the term of the district court.

The Casper-Muddy road was established October 9, 1890, "commencing at the town of Casper and running in an easterly direction to a point just east of J. A. Stroud's ranch, thence on the road now traveled in a southeasterly direction to John Greenlaw's ranch, thence in an easterly direction to a pass in the hills about one fourth of a mile south of the old traveled road and about one-half a mile west of the TAX ranch, connecting with the said old road about 100 feet above and north of the first bridge on Dry Muddy creek west of said TAX ranch, thence following the old road in an easterly direction to the top of the hill, thence in a southeasterly direction as far as the southwest corner of the OK ranch, thence in an easterly direction to the northwest corner of the Mines and Jaycox ranch on West Muddy, crossing said West Muddy close to Hines and Jaycox ranch, thence southeasterly to a point about one-fourth of a mile from said crossing of West Muddy, thence in an easterly direction to the county line, crossing the Main Muddy creek, on section line between C. C. P. Weber's ranch and the Lajaunesse ranch, immediately south, terminating at the county line."

The second election to occur in Natrona county was held on September 11, 1890. The republican ticket nominated was: Sheriff, Harry Biggs; clerk, Peter O'Malley; treasurer, W. A. Denecke; attorney, A. T. Butler; clerk of court, C. W. Wixcey; commissioners, B. B. Brooks, P. A. Demorest, Fred E. Place; assessor, Samuel A. Aggers; surveyor, J. B. Bradley; coroner, H. A. Lilly; superintendent schools, Cordelia M. Cheney; justices of peace, R. H. Wilbur and G. E. Butler. The democrats nominated for sheriff, W. W. Jaycox; clerk, Laura E. Stroud; treasurer, John McGrath; attorney, Carl C. Wright; clerk of court, George Mitchell; commissioners, S. C. Leach, J. P. Smith, A. W. Jones; assessor, E. L. McGraugh; surveyor, Chris Baysd; coroner, A. P. Haynes; superintendent schools, Cordelia M. Cheney; justices of peace, J. J. Corbett and Robert Parks. The ticket elected was about evenly divided among the republicans and democrats, the successful candidates being: W. W. Jaycox, sheriff; Peter O'Malley, clerk; John McGrath, treasurer; George Mitchell, clerk of court; B. B. Brooks, Fred E. Place, J. P. Smith, commissioners; E. L. McGraugh, assessor; J. B. Bradley, surveyor; H. A. Lilly, coroner; Cordelia M. Cheney, superintendent of schools; R. H. Wilbur, and G. E. Butler, justices of the peace. W. F. Dunn was elected on the republican ticket as joint representative to the state legislature from Natrona and Carbon counties. Mr. Dunn was the first man from Casper to be elected to that position of honor.

On account of the regular election, as provided by the state law, occurring in September of this year, Natrona county's first set of officers was in charge of affairs only from April 9 to December 31.

In November, 1890, the business in the county clerk's office had increased to such extent as to make it impossible for one man to do it justice, and, with the sanction of the county commissioners, County Clerk O'Malley appointed J. B. Bradley deputy county clerk.

Nothing of importance was transacted by the county commissioners since their meeting in November until the first meeting in January, when the newly-elected county officers were sworn in. At this meeting, January 2, 1891, judgment against Natrona county in favor of Carbon county in the sum of $15,565.71, with interest at the rate of 8 per cent from April 8, 1890, as adjusting debt, was assumed by this county.

On February 10, 1891, a special jail fund was created for the purpose of paying for the keeping of committed prisoners and it was, "Resolved that all funds derived from the county clerk's office for the months of January, February, and March, 1891, be carried to the jail fund and the county treasurer is hereby instructed to place to the credit of said jail fund all moneys paid him for the months of January, February, and March by the county clerk." There was now in the county clerk's office $152.80 which was the earnings for the month of January, 1891. This was ordered covered into the county treasury and to be applied on the jail fund. George Mitchell was confirmed as clerk of the district court on February 11, 1891, by Judge J. W. Blake.

Early in the spring of 1891, William W. Jaycox, who had served as sheriff of Natrona county since its organization and was twice elected to that office, and without resigning from the office or saying good bye to his friends, changed his place of residence. His bondsmen immediately made application to be released, and the county commissioners, having announced that inasmuch as the "said Jaycox had fled the state and left no one in charge of public affairs, the office of sheriff is declared vacant and the bondsmen are discharged from further liability as surety of the said Jaycox as sheriff." Jaycox was an exceptionally good officer and his financial affairs were all straight, but domestic trouble caused him to "flee" from the state. O. M. Rice was appointed sheriff by the board of county commissioners to fill the unexpired term.

Dr. W. W. Miller was on May 4, 1891, appointed physician and surgeon for the county at a salary of $125 a year.

B. S. Ross was allowed $2,517.20 for making the transcript of the county. On July 7, 1891, the county was bonded for $23,000 to pay the Carbon county indebtedness and other accumulated indebtedness. The county was without funds at this time and the fact caused some of the alarmists considerable uneasiness. There were no improvements made or bills contracted except those that were absolutely necessary. By strict economy the county was soon "on its feet," and in commenting on our financial condition, the local newspaper in January, 1892, said:

"Natrona county is now not quite two years old. It sprung into life under the most adverse circumstances and many people predicted that its course would be brief and that bankruptcy would be its ultimate end. Yet today there are few counties in the state in better financial condition. It begins the new year with a balance of $5,271 on hand, all bills have been paid up to the fifth of the month and our warrants arc sold on the market for ninety-five cents on the dollar. Several large herds of cattle have left our county during the past two years, but in their place have come small ranchmen with small herds, so that the number of head has been but slightly decreased while the additional number of improved ranches makes up the sum of our revenue. Our mineral resources have been developed and received an impetus such as has not been known before in the history of the state. We are witnessing the dawn of a glorious day."

The road from Casper to the Sweetwater country was established at the meeting of the board of county commissioners held on July 5, 1892. The soda lakes near Independence Rock were the incentive for the expenditure of a considerable amount of money to put this road in good repair. At this same meeting, the Lost Cabin road from Casper was also established. The establishment of county roads was about the most important business to come before the board of county commissioners in those days.

The building of a jail for the county and the town of Casper was a subject that taxed the minds of the officials considerably at this time. The town was progressive; a town hall had already been built and the town council had devised ways and means to build a jail to replace the one that Dr. Joe Benson had caused to be destroyed by fire. The proposition was for the town and county to build a union jail to cost about $4,000, the town to pay half and the county to pay half, and on July 27, 1892, the county accepted a proposition from the town of Casper for the building of a union jail by adopting the following resolution:

"Whereas, The county of Natrona has no jail or place to confine its prisoners, and it is hereby adjudged and considered that the best interests of Natrona county will be served by accepting the proposition of said town of Casper, and the same is hereby accepted and approved, and the county treasurer in and for said county is hereby authorized, empowered and a copy of this order shall be his authority for doing so, to pay over out of the money remaining from the sale of county bonds to the said town of Casper for the uses of said jail the sum of $2,000 whenever the said town of Casper shall execute to Natrona county a bond in the sum of $4,000 for the building and completion of said jail."  The bond was furnished by the town on December 5 and was accepted by the county commissioners, and an agreement was entered into for a union town and county jail. On April 4, 1893, the building was completed and accepted and the contractors paid. The prisoners of the town and county were then relieved of the inconvenience of being transported to Douglas for safe keeping and back to Casper for trial by court, and the town and county were relieved of the expense of taking them to and from Douglas.   This union jail was the brick and stone building which stood in the old court house square, immediately in the rear of the new lire house and municipal garage on the west side of David street, between Yellowstone Highway and Midwest avenue.   It was torn down late in the fall of 1921. Many noted criminals, such as horse thieves, bank robbers, post office robbers, cattle thieves, murderers, and other desperate men, had been lodged in this jail, among them being old Chief Red Cloud, who is said to have caused the death of more white men than any other human being in this part of the country. If the old walls could have talked and revealed the thoughts of some of the men who had been confined there, what a story they could have told. *

The public road to the Alcova hot springs was established April 6, 1894, and on the same date a contract was entered into with C. R. Countryman to build a bridge across the Sweetwater river at Independence Rock for $267.92, the county to furnish the material.

The business of the county steadily increased year after year until the need of a new court house was felt, and at the meeting of the board of county commissioners held in May, 1895, it was decided to put up a new court house on the land recently acquired by the county. The building was described as "twenty-four by thirty-six feet, two stories, frame, covered with standing seam iron; a large brick vault eight by twelve feet." The contract for the masonry work was awarded to W. F. McMillen for $227 and the carpenter work to E. Erben for $250. The new building was finished the latter part of June and was occupied by the county officers the first week in July, 1895. This building was in the same block with the union town and county jail and at that time was considered a creditable building for the housing of the county officers. It was used for that purpose until March 13, 1909, when the new court house on Center and A streets was occupied. At a meeting held on August 2, 1895, Chairman Charles K. Bucknum was appointed a committee of one to purchase material to enclose the ground of lots 3, 4,9,11, 12, 15, 27, 28, 31, 39 and 40, in block one, which had been acquired for court house purposes.

The bridge across the Platte river at Alcova, owned by the Alcova Hot Springs company, was on July 6, 1897, declared to be in a dangerous and unsafe condition and that loss to life and property might ensue should the structure be allowed to stand. It was therefore condemned and ordered removed within thirty days or the county would remove it as provided by law.

The resignation of H. L. Patton as sheriff of Natrona county on June 7, 1898, was accepted and O. M. Rice was appointed by the board of county commissioners to fill the vacancy. Mr. Patton resigned in order to enlist with the Torrey Rough Riders in the Spanish-American war.

Ed Crapon was appointed county assessor for Natrona county January 3, 1900. The salary was $650, and it required about three months to do the work. After this year the assessor was elected every two years the same as other county officers and the salary was increased to $125 per month.

The foregoing is a brief resume of the most important work done by the county officers for the first ten years of the county's organization. Details have been gone into for the purpose of making a comparison of how the business was transacted in those days and how it is transacted at the present time, as well as to show how we have builded up from the smallest county in Wyoming, both in population and wealth, to the most populous and richest in the state.

On the page following will be found a list of the county officers, and the dates upon which they served, from 1890 to 1923, inclusive:


  Apr., 1890 Dec. 31,1890 1891-1892 1893-1894 1895-1896 1897-1898 1899-1900 1901-1902 1903-1904 1905-1906
County Clerk Peter O'Malley Peter O'Malley Peter O'Malley Peter O'Malley M. P. Wheeler Marion P. Wheeler Marion P. Wheeler Marion P. Wheeler E.B. Shaffner
County Treasurer John McGrath John McGrath John McGrath W. F. Dunn Frank Bull Frank Bull Oscar Hiestand Oscar Hiestand John S. Van Doren
Sheriff W. W. Jaycox W. W. Jaycox (1) Oliver M. Rice H. L. Patton H.L. Patten (2) Oscar Hiestand W.C. Ricker Frank K. Webb Frank K. Webb
Clerk of Court George Mitchell George Mitchell John F. Heagney M. P. Wheeler M. P. Wheeler Marion P. Wheeler M. P. Wheeler M. P. Wheeler E.B. Shaffner
Commissioner A. McKinney J. P. Smith A.W. Jones C. K. Bucknum J. W. Price P.C. Nicolaysen P.C. Nicolaysen T. S. Steed T. S. Steed
Commissioner S. A. Aggers B.B. Brooks Robt. White Ed. S. White L.C. Morrison Wm. Jones D.D. Crum E.L. McGraugh W.D. Blattenberg
Commissioner J. P. Smith F. E. Place G.S. Martin Okley K. Garvey J. P. Smith David Kidd Jake Crouse P.C. Nicolaysen L.L. Gantz
County Supt Cordelia M. Cheney Cordelia M. Cheney Florence Kennedy Wilhelmina Clark Wilhelmina Clark James L. Craig May Hamilton May Hamilton Effie M. Cummings
County Assessor E. L. McGraugh E. L. McGraugh E. L. McGraugh Daniel R. Fitger Frank Bull Ed. Crapop-1900 D.P. Smith D.P. Smith L.W. Bailey
Constable H. L. Patton   John McClure E.A. Johnson E.A. Johnson E.A. Johnson      
Prosecuting Att'y. C. C. Wright Alex T. Butler Geo. B. McCalmont Geo. S. Walker Eugene D. Norton Alex T. Butler Alex T. Butler John M. Hench Alex T. Butler
Coroner A. P. Haynes   Mathew Campfield Mathew Campfield J. B. Bradley Edward Kropp A. Hemingway J. B. Bradley Dr. A.F. Hoff
County Surveyor J. B. Bradley J. B. Bradley J. B. Bradley J. B. Bradley H. A. Lilly Frank Jameson Frank Jameson Frank Jameson J.B. Bradley
Justice of Peace R. H. Wilbur R. H. Wilbur J. B. Smith Jas. Ford E.A. Johnson E.A. Johnson     Frnk H. Sawyer

  1907-1908 1909-1910 1911-1912 1913-1914 1915-1916 1917-1918 1919-1920 1921-1922 1922-1923
County Clerk F.H. Sawyer F.H. Sawyer F.H. Sawyer F.H. Sawyer F.H. Sawyer F.H. Sawyer (3) E.M. Ogburn (4) Helen Carlson (5) Alma F. Hawlwy
County Treasurer Lizzie McDonald Lizzie McDonald John T. Scott John T. Scott Fred W. Aishton M.C. Price E. McDonald E.McDonald Agnes M. Clare
Sheriff J.A. Sheffner J.A. Sheffner J.A. Sheffner J.A. Sheffner H.L. Patton H.L. Patton Pat Royce Lee Martin (6) Perry A. Morris
Clerk of Court F.H. Sawyer F.H. Sawyer Fred E. Place Fred E. Place Fred E. Place Fred E. Place (9) Hazel Conwell Hazel Conwell Hazel Conwell
Commissioner LL Gantz David Kidd James B. Grieve S.W. Conwell John T.Scott T.A. Hall T.A. Hall T.A. Hall T.A. Hall
Commissioner C.C. Hall C.C.P. Webel S.W. Conwell R.D. Campbell R.D. Campbell A.G. Checey Robt J. Veitch Robt J. Veitch G.T. Morgan
Commissioner C.C.P. Webel James B. Grieve A.G. Cheney A.G. Cheney Chas Anda Chas Anda J.B. Griffith Chas Anda J.E. Scott
County Supt Effie Cummings Kate C. Stannard May Hamilton May Hamilton May Hamilton May Hamilton May Hamilton May Hamilton May Hamilton
County Assessor L.W. Bailey F.S. Price Frank J. Sturgeon E.L. McGraugh Chas. M Hawks W.S. Kimball Jr. E.L. McGraugh Lyle E. Jay Lyle E. Jay
Constable Trumen C. Bulter Wm Jones              
Prosecuting Att'y. E. Richard Shipp John B. Barnes Wm O Wilson Wm O Wilson R.H. Nichols R.H. Nichols W.H Patten (7) A.R. Lowey (8) E. H Foster
Coroner Herman A. Lilly Dr. A.F. Hiff Wilbur Foshay Wilbur Foshay W.J. Chamberlin Lew M Gay Lew M Gay Lew M Gay Lew M Gay
County Surveyor A. Hemingway   M.N. Wheeler M.N. Wheeler M.N. Wheeler M.N. Wheeler M.N. Wheeler Albert Park Albert Park
Justice of Peace G.R. Hagens James B. Grieve James B. Grieve W.E. Tubbs W.E. Tubbs W.E. Tubbs W.E. Tubbs W.E. Tubbs Henry F. Brennan
                   

(1) Declared vacant; O. M. Rice appointed.     (2) Resigned; O. M. Rice appointed.          (3) Died; E. M. Ogburn appointed.
(4) Resigned; Helen Carlson appointed.           (5) Resigned; Catherine Dunn appointed.    (6) Resigned; J. L. Marquis appointed.
(7) Resigned; A. R. Lowey appointed.             (8) Resigned; M. W. Purcell appointed.      (9) Resigned, November 1917; Warren L. Bailey appointed.

Natrona County's Senators and Representatives in the Legislature

Elected State Representative State Legislature State Senator
1890 William F. Dunn  
1892. Bryant B. Brooks Joel J. Hurt
1894 Patrick Sullivan Joel J. Hurt
1896 John S. Warner. Robert Taylor
1898 Patrick Sullivan. Robert Taylor
1900 Edward S. White  (1) Patrick Sullivan
1902 Donald A. Robertson Patrick Sullivan
1904. Charles K. Bucknum Patrick Sullivan
1906. Charles K. Bucknum. Patrick Sullivan
1908 Hugh L. Patton Patrick Sullivan
1910. Patrick O'Connor. Patrick Sullivan
1912 Robert Grieve Patrick Sullivan
  Stephen Tobin  
1914 Robert Grieve Patrick Sullivan
  Stephen Tobin  
1916 W. W. Sproul Patrick O'Connor
  L. C. Mills  
1918 J. William Johnson Patrick O'Connor
  Leslie L. Gantz  
1920 Harry N. Free. J. William Johnson
  J. E. Frisby  
1922 M. L. Bishop, Jr J. William Johnson
  E. A. Froyd Harry N. Free
  C. W. Mapes  
  M. C. Price  
  J. H. Jeffrey  

The representatives and senators were elected in November and took the oath of office the following January.
Bryant B. Brooks of Casper was elected governor of the state of Wyoming in 1904 and again in 1906, serving as chief executive six successive years.
Charles E. Winter of Casper was elected congressman from the state of Wyoming for the 1923-4 term.

Natrona County's Judges of the District Court

If the regularly elected and appointed judges of the district court who have presided at the sessions of court held in Natrona county could and would tell some of their experiences what interesting tales they could unfold. There have been many criminal cases tried in Natrona county. A record of about all of them may be found elsewhere in this volume, but the story told by a layman does not give the inside history that could be related by the presiding judge. In addition to the criminal cases there have been hundreds and hundreds of civil cases heard by these judges. Some of these cases provoked amusement for the spectators as well as the court, and many, many of them carried sadness, disappointment and sometimes financial ruin to the losing side, and few, indeed, were those who gained a great deal, either in wealth or reputation, even though the case was decided in their favor.

From 1890, when Natrona county was organized, until 1913, Albany, Natrona and Fremont counties comprised the Second judicial district. All the judges during that time come from Albany county, not because Albany had any better material than Natrona or Fremont county for a presiding judge, but because there were more voters in Albany county than the combined votes of Natrona and Fremont counties. J. W. Kingman of Laramie City was the first man to preside over the court in the Second district, and his successors on the bench were the following-named gentlemen, all from Laramie City: Judge E. A. Thomas, Judge J. B. Blair, Judge N. C. Sauffly, Judge J. W. Blake, Judge J. H. Hayford, Judge Charles W. Bramel, Judge Charles E. Carpenter and Judge V. J. Tidball.  In February, 1913, our state legislature created the new Sixth judicial district, comprising the counties of Natrona, Fremont and Converse. Judge Charles E. Winter, who had located in Casper on the 6th day of January, 1913, was appointed during the first part of March, 1913, by Governor Joseph M. Carey, the first judge of the district, and later resigned from the bench to enter private practice. Judge Winter was very popular while on the bench and was elected in 1922 to represent the state of Wyoming in the lower house of congress. Governor Robert D. Carey appointed Ralph Kimball of Fremont county as Judge Winter's successor, and Judge Kimball resigned to be elevated to the supreme bench of Wyoming, and Judge C. O. Brown of Converse county was appointed to succeed Judge Kimball. At the general election in the fall of 1922 Judge Brown was elected to succeed himself, in the thirty-two years of Natrona county's organization she has furnished but one resident judge, Hon. Charles E. Winter.

1 Edward S. White, Natrona county's representative in the lower house of the sixth session of the Wyoming state legislature, died in Cheyenne on January 14, 1001. Mr. White occupied his seal only three days when he was stricken with pneumonia, and his death resulted after being confined to his hotel but a few days. At the time of his death the members of the house and senate were on a special train going to Rawlins, Laramie, Rock Springs and Evanston, to make a personal inspection of the state penitentiary, the university, the state hospital, and the hospital for the insane.   Senator Patrick Sullivan, and Chief Clerk Alfred J. Mokler, both of Casper, were on the special train and the news of Representative White's death cast a gloom over all those on board the train, for it had been announced that the patient's condition was greatly improved when the special train left Cheyenne that morning. The members returned to Cheyenne the second day following the death of their colleague and funeral services were conducted in the capitol building by the members of Wyoming Consistory of Masons. The body was brought to Casper an very impressive funeral services were held here by the Masonic bodies, of which the deceased was a member. Four deaths occurred among the members of the legislature during the sixth session and the flag on the capitol building floated at half-mast during most of the session. After Mr. White's death, Natrona county had no representative in the lower house during the remainder of the session.

Natrona County's Assessed Valuation

Most important for the maintenance of a county government is the taxation levied upon the property of the citizens of a county. and, probably, among the most interesting documents stored away in the "dead" vault in the Natrona county court house are the tax schedules for the year 1890, being the first year that our county was segregated from Carbon. A great many people who have taken up their residence here in recent years are of the opinion that this part of the state was then an exclusive cattle country, but, according to the assessor's figures, there were then 28,901 sheep in the county, valued at $44,184, against 28,029 cattle, valued at $295,660. The valuation of the cattle per head, as placed by the state board of equalization, ranged from $10 to $25. There were ninety people in the county that year who owned cattle, the largest number owned by one person being 4,000 head; another person owned 3,500 head; another 3,000 head, a number of others were assessed for 2,500 head. There were but ten people in the county who claimed that they were the owners of sheep. George Ferris had 6,000 head, and they were assessed at $9,000, or $1.50 per head; Lorn Hood had 2,040 head; C. P. Dasch, 4,598; Wm. Madden, 1,500; John Morton, 5,250; Woodruff Bros., 9,500, and then there were thirteen more sheep in the county divided among four people as owners. There were 2,432 head of horses in the county, valued at $52,762, and no mules and asses, valued at $5,625. There was not a dog or a hog in the county, according to the records of the assessor. There were 158 carriages, valued at $6,690, and the farming utensils and mechanics' tools were valued at $8,305.   There were but forty-seven people in the whole county who owned clocks, watches and jewelry that seemed to be worth assessing, and the valuation placed upon all of them was $1,817.15.    Fifteen people owned musical instruments, the most valuable one being assessed at $150, and the one of the lowest value being placed at $10, the whole being valued at $935.  There were two law libraries in the county, one owned by Alex T. Butler, valued at $100, and C. C. Wright was the owner of the other, valued at $50. Fourteen people in the county owned household furniture valued at more than $100. the whole being assessed at $980. The capital employed in manufacture was assessed at $21,755.  But one merchant in the county had store fixtures that were worth assessing, and that went in at a valuation of $200. Three people owned stocks and shares in corporations, the valuation of the whole going in at $180. There was $3,377.13 in moneys and credits put in to be assessed, divided among eight people. One merchant had $1,200 in moneys and credits; another had $1,000, another $500, another $230, another $200, two men had $100 each, and the lowest amount turned in was $47.13. The total valuation of all the personal property in the county turned in to be assessed was $6,731, divided among ninety-six people, the highest amount being $1,000 and the lowest five dollars, there being four people coming in at the five-dollar assessment, one at six dollars; more than a dozen at ten dollars and a great many at twenty-five dollars and up to one hundred dollars- The total assessed valuation for the whole county was $449,151.28. To compare the above with the assessment made in 1921, which is published at the conclusion of this chapter, will show to some extent how the county has grown in valuation and the wonderful change that has taken place in the short space of thirty-one years.

With each succeeding year the county enjoyed an increase in its assessed valuation, but even with the increase year after year the county in 1895 showed less than a million dollar valuation. To be exact it was $958,724.92. The town lots and improvements thereon within the county in 1895 showed an assessed valuation of $11,231.75. There were 11,527 head of cattle in the county at that time; 257,273 head of sheep; 2,460 horses; twenty swine, and three dogs. In five years, or in 1900, the total assessed valuation of the county had increased to $1,359,313.76. The town lots and improvements were assessed at $191,992.50, showing an increase of $180,760.75. There were 8,917 cattle, 3,207 horses, 297,717 sheep and thirty-three swine. In 1901 the total valuation for the county was $1,794,514.48; and in 1902 the total was $1,766,973.63, with 364,037 sheep, and 11,968 cattle. In 1903 town lots and improvements were assessed at $216,532, and there were 499,557 sheep listed for assessment, 16,103 cattle and 5,000 horses. In 1907 the total assessment had increased to $2,998,371, with town lots and improvements assessed at $361,750. There were 24,274 cattle, 4,636 horses, 538,876 sheep and 153 swine. In seven years, or in 1914, the total assessed valuation was increased to $12,373,273, divided as follows: Acres of land, 177,629, $1,223,322; town lots and improvement, $3,531,557; cattle, 12,685 head, $372,550; sheep, 352,567 head, $1,181,080; horses, 5,601 head, $249,540; mules 113, $10,325; swine, 544 head, $2,978; personal property $2,281,078: dogs, 810; oil output, 2,284,843 barrels, $1,142,421; railroads, telegraph and telephone, $2,292,316; private car lines, $5,996. In 1918 the total was $27,286,676, and in 1919 an increase was made to $33,600,178; 1920 showed an increase to $47,723,518, and in 1921 the total was $61,070,426, an increase over 1920 of $13,346,908, divided into the following classes of property: Number acres patented land, 243,918, $1,536,920; improvements on land, $1,261,939; improvements on land, not taxable, $331,974; value town lots, $6,332,339; value improvements on town lots, $9,794,477; equities in state land, $15,309. Total real property in Natrona county, $19,272,958. Cattle. 22,096 head, valued at $819,500; sheep, 270,093, $1,176,671; horses, 6,340, $202,125; mules, 40, $3,765; swine, 234, $1,785; goats, 7, $35; dogs, 23, $1,130; carriages, wagons and vehicles, $54,999; automobiles, $1,132,258; motor cycles, $1,425; farming utensils and mechanical tools, $355,313; clocks and watches, jewelry, $47,775; musical instruments, $158,775; private libraries, $4,500; law libraries, $19,395; household furniture, $572,026; average capital in merchandise, $2,621,527; average value employed in manufacture, $151,966; office and store fixtures, $409,171; stock and shares in corporations, $610,400; money and credits, $72,372; other property not herein enumerated, $7,773,265; private car companies, $157,670; railroad companies, $5,155,673; telegraph and telephone companies, $232,148; pipe line companies, $1,042,120; mining companies, $7,467; oil companies, $19,304,391; gas companies, $123,741; public utility, $839,131.

Natrona county in 1921 showed the largest assessed valuation of any county in the state and also had the largest number of sheep listed of any of the several counties in Wyoming. It will also be noted that the assessed valuation had increased from less than half a million dollars in 1890 to more than sixty-one million dollars in 1921. This phenomenal increase was due mostly to the development of the oil fields and construction of the oil refineries, which, in addition- to the money invested in the development of the oil fields and the building of refineries, was the incentive for bringing many other industries, with additional mercantile houses and professional men to the county, but considerable credit is also due to the stock raising industry which is yet responsible, and always has been, for no small amount of the county's taxes.

Earnings in the County Clerk's Office

The earnings in the office of the county clerk during the year 1917 reached its highest peak, and was more than the earnings in any other county clerk's office in the state for any year, the amount being $23,679.90, as against $5,500.05 for 1916. A total of 16,390 instruments were filed for record, as against 3,595 for the previous year. For 1918 the earnings in this office showed a decided falling off with a gradual decline with each year following.

County's Budget for 1922

In making up the budget for the year 1922 the board of county commissioners estimated that there would be an income of $252,350, $10,000 of which would be derived from the earnings in the county clerk's office, $2,000 from the office of the clerk of the district court, and $240,350 from taxation. Of this amount it was estimated that the salaries of officers and deputies would amount to $68,000, transportation and contingent expense for the various departments, $8,000; district court expense, $14,750, justice court expense, $4,550; coroner's expense, $3,350; printing and records, $6,500; court house and jail expense, $20,000; criminal costs, $15,000; roads and bridges, $29,500, and miscellaneous expense $82,500. The salaries for the officers and deputies were divided as follows: Sheriff, $9,000; county clerk, $9,000; county treasurer, $6,000; county attorney, $6,500; superintendent of schools, $1,500; assessor, $13,000; county commissioners, $3,000; clerk of the district court, $4,000; county physician, $2,500; county agent, $2,500; health officer, $4,000; miscellaneous expense to be divided among the several offices, $7,000. The general miscellaneous expense was estimated as follows: Poor and pauper, $20,000; county hospital, $18,000; premium on official bonds. $1,500; election expense, $5,000; contagious disease, $5,000; postage and freight, $1,000; telegraph and telephone, $4,000; inspection of horses and cattle, $1,500; mothers' pensions, $3,500; county poor farm, $1,000; clinic, $4,000, and to cover the 1920 deficit, $18,000.

The County Poor Farm

The poor and pauper and "widows' expense" of Natrona county is an annual burden to the taxpayers of more than $25,000, and on account of the liberality of the members of the board of county commissioners the amount is rapidly increasing, and it is truly said that many of the people who are kept by the county eat better food, wear more expensive clothing and live in better houses than many of the laboring class who "earn their bread by the sweat of their brow." At one time the county clerk had published in the official proceedings of the county commissioners the names of those who received alms from the county, and the amount given them, but such a protest was made against the action of the clerk in the publication of the names of those who were classed as "poor and pauper," that the commissioners ordered the clerk in the future to forego the publication of the names, "because of the extra advertising expense."

On April 29, 1919, the board of county commissioners bought from N. S. Wilson 870 acres of land situated four and one-half miles east from the city of Casper. Two hundred acres of this land was under irrigation from water supplied by Elkhorn and Cloud creeks. The improvements on the farm included a six-room house, stables, garage, electric light and water systems, private telephone connecting with the Casper exchange, and many other conveniences. It was the intention of the commissioners to send the county's indigent to this farm where sustenance would not be so great, but they refused to go to the farm, and for a short time some of them did not apply for aid. In a few months, however, they were on the county pay roll again and some of them have been there ever since, and they continue to live in the city with all the comforts and conveniences that a liberal county administration can provide for them.

The Banks of Natrona County

One of the best indications of a community's growth and prosperity is to be found in its banking institutions, and certainly the growth shown in the banks of Casper since the town was organized has been phenomenal. The steady increase in the volume of business transacted by the banks is but a reflection in the growth of all lines of business in Casper and vicinity, which few cities in the whole of the United States will duplicate.

The Bank of Casper, with George Weber as cashier and proprietor, opened its doors for business in Casper in the fall of 1888. This was the first bank in Casper. January 1, 1889, it carried an advertisement to the effect that its paid-up capital stock was $5,000, with a surplus of $114.39. The financial statement published October 11, 1889, showed the resources consisted of loans and discounts, $3,916.82; overdrafts, $795.98; due from National banks, $1,498.25; checks, currency, gold, silver, legal tender, and other cash items, $2,592.87; real estate, furniture, ;and fixtures, $1,800. The liabilities were: Deposits, subject to check, $3,902.80; demand certificates of deposit, $600; time certificates, $4,073.02; capital and surplus, $4,252.30. In January, 1891, W. A. Denecke became cashier and the name was changed to W. A. Denecke & Company's Bank of Casper. On November 27, 1903, this bank failed. It was said that the cause of the failure was that the heaviest depositors drew out large amounts of money and the heaviest borrowers were unable to meet their notes which were due and owing the bank. S. W. Conwell was appointed receiver and it was announced that about $51,000 was on deposit and there was $4,000 cash on hand when the bank closed. Notes and securities outstanding were ample to pay the depositors in full as soon as the money depression was relieved and the outstanding indebtedness to the bank could be collected. In due time the depositors were paid in full. This was the first and only bank failure in Casper.

The banking house of C. H. King & Company of Casper commenced business in the early summer of 1889, with Alex. J. Cunningham as cashier and C. H. King, president. This was the second bank for Casper. At the close of business on October 29, 1889, this bank in its financial statement showed it had resources at its command as follows: Loans and discounts, $861.24; overdrafts, $355.83; due from National banks, $3,966.93; furniture and fixtures, $545.79; expenses, $28.30; checks and other cash items, $151.75; legal tender, $1,450; nickels and cents, $631; specie, $25; total, $7,391-15. The liabilities were: Capital stock, $1,250, and undivided profits, $26.36; individual deposits, subject to check, $6,1(4.79. In 1894 the C. H. King & Company bank was merged into the Richards, Cunningham & Company bank. The Richards, Cunningham & Company bank was merged into the Casper National bank on July I, 1903, with a capital stock of $50,000. The officers were: A. J. Cunningham, president; J. DeForest Richards, vice president; E. P. Palmer, cashier; Maud Bohner, assistant cashier; and E. C. Harris, B. B. Brooks, Patrick Sullivan, P. C. Nicolaysen, A. J. Cunningham and J. DeForest Richards, directors. The statement to the comptroller of currency on September 9, 1903, showed: Loans and discounts, $249,205.27; National bank notes outstanding, $13,500; undivided deposits subject to check, $229,788.39; demand certificates of deposit, $1,140; time certificates of deposit, $60,141.82. The capital stock paid in was $50,000. There was no surplus but the undivided profits were $18146. This was the only bank doing business in Casper at that time. On December 29, 1922, there were: Loans and discounts, $1,753,561.08; overdrafts, $989.28; U. S. bonds and government securities, $61,543.46; other bonds and stocks, $74,327.24; banking house, furniture and fixtures, $141,355.89; cash due from other banks and bankers and U. S. treasurer, $819,353.58. Capital stock, $100,000; surplus, $100,000; undivided profits, $26,851.64; circulating notes outstanding, $50,000; demand deposits, time deposits, cashier's checks, certified checks and all other deposits and those due state and National banks, $2,574,278.89.   Total, $2,851,130.53.

The American Exchange bank was opened for business in Casper on March 2, 1891. This was Casper's third bank. The financial statement showed that the institution had real estate worth $1,500; furniture and fixtures, $1,000; cash on hand, $3,500; and other property owned by the firm, $15,000; making a total of $21,000. The liabilities were listed as naught. Alexander McKinney was president, Peter O'Malley, vice president, and J. E. Plummet, cashier. The American Exchange was very short lived, having been in existence just a year and a day, but its affairs were closed up in a business-like manner. On March 2, 1892, a notice was published in the local news-paper to the effect that the co-partnership between A. McKinney, Peter O 'Malley, and J. E. Plummer, under the name of the American Exchange bank, was dissolved, and that all notes and bills of the co-partnership were payable to A. McKinney. There was then not enough business in the town for three banks and the law of the "survival of the fittest" prevailed.

The Stockmen's National Bank of Casper was granted a charter in October, 1903, with C. H. Townsend, P. H. Shallenberger, Fred A. Gooding, Frank Wood, L. L. Gantz, C. K. Bucknum, and S. T. Mosser as stockholders. The capital stock was $50,000. The institution was opened for business in the Townsend building on the north-west corner of Center and Second streets on Monday, December 28, 1903, with C. H. Townsend, president; Percy H. Shallenberger, cashier; and Miss Lizzie McDonald, assistant cashier. This was the second bank in Casper at that time. The directors and officers on December 31, 1922, were: C. H. Townsend, president; Frank Wood, vice president; L. B. Townsend, cashier; V. W. Mokler, assistant cashier; L. L. Gantz, L. E. Townsend, C. L. Rhinemuth, directors. On December 29, 1922, the statement showed: Loans and discounts, $951,992.50; U. S. bonds, $146,000; overdrafts, $1,405.17; other bonds and securities, $155,911.50; furniture and fixtures, $2,500; cash on hand, due from banks and the U. S. treasurer, $275,568.83. Capital stock, $50,000; surplus, $125,000; undivided profits, $28,298.66; bills payable, $75,000; circulation, $48,500; deposits, $1,206,579.34. Total, $1,533,378.

The First Trust and Savings Bank of Casper was organized January 19, 1915, and opened for business January 25, 1915. The following associates were elected to the first board of directors: Harold Banner, C. H. Townsend, Henry Bayer, John Daly, F. H. Sawyer, John T. Scott, William O. Wilson. The bank opened with a capital of $25,000. The first statement was made December 31, 1915, with figures as follows: Capital, $25,000; loans, $55,115; deposits, $40,972. The following associates were on January 1, 1923, serving as board of directors: C. H. Townsend, W. O. Wilson, W. O. Ratcliff, L. B. Townsend, C. L. Rhinemuth, A. J. Mokler, Sam Switzer. The financial condition on December 29, 1922, was:   Real estate loans, $441,865.55 bonds, securities, etc., $1,086; cash and sight exchange, $72,795.48. The resources were: Capital stock, $25,000; surplus, $25,000; undivided profits, $17,869.71; savings accounts, $393,308.66; time certificates, $54,568.66. Total, $515,747.03.

On January 11, 1913, Messrs. Thomas A. Cosgriff and George E. Abbott, together with Roy C. Wyland, organized a bank in Casper under the state banking laws, with the name of Cosgriff & Abbott, Bankers. The capital stock was $10,000. The bank was opened in a small room in the Iris theatre building. A later change of location placed them in the corner room known as the Grand Central hotel lobby, on the southwest corner of Center and Second streets. On May 2, 1914, the bank received its charter as The Wyoming National Bank of Casper. B. B. Brooks was then chosen as president, Thomas A. Cosgriff and G. E. Abbott as vice presidents, and Roy C. Wyland as cashier. Under the National laws the bank was organized on a basis of $50,000 as capital and $5,000 as surplus. Since that time the capital of the bank increased to $100,000 and $100,000 as earned placed to the surplus account of the bank.   From a small capitalization and initial deposits on the first day of $4,000 the bank, on January 1, 1922, had increased to a capital of $100,000, a surplus of $100,000 with resources of $4,000,000.   The bank is now located in the Midwest Refining company's building on the corner of Second and Wolcott streets. The officers and directorate of the bank have remained practically unchanged since its organization, Carl F. Shumaker, the present cashier, having succeeded Thomas A. Cosgriff, deceased, as a director, Mr. Wyland being made vice president. The officers and directors at present are: B. B. Brooks, president; G. E. Abbott, vice president; Roy C. Wyland, vice president; Carl F. Shumaker, cashier; P. J. O'Connor, director. At the close of business December 29, 1922, this bank had loans and discounts amounting to $3,002,439.53 overdrafts, $1,729.19; U. S. bonds and revenue stamps, $119,122.69; other bonds and warrants, $2,456.30; stock in federal reserve bank, $7,500; furniture and fixtures, $85,697.90; real estate, $9,813.50; cash on hand, due from banks and U. S. treasurer, $843,578.29.  Capital stock, $100,000; surplus, $150,000; undivided profits, $61,264.10; circulation, $100,000; deposits, $3,-661,073.20.   Total $4,072,337.40.

The National Bank of Commerce was organized October 10, 1919, and opened for business November 24, 1919. The bank was organized by Arthur K. Lee, with the following associates, who were elected the first board of directors: John McFayden, Ira G. Wetherill, Joe E. Denham, H. L. Patton, Arthur K. Lee, L. A. Reed, Earl C. Boyle, Thomas Kenney, T. F. Algeo. George B. Nelson, L.G. Murphy. The bank opened with a capital of $125,000 and with $12,500 paid up surplus. The first statement to the comptroller of currency was made December 31, 1921, with figures as follows: Capital, $125,000: surplus, $12,500; loans, $280,000; deposits, $455,000. At the close of business December 29, 1922, this bank had loans and discounts amounting to $1,151,327.82; overdrafts, $705.11; U. S. bonds to secure circulation, $125,000; stock in federal reserve bank and other securities,$6,650; furniture and fixtures,$17,500; five per cent redemption - fund with the U. S. treasury, $6,250; cash in vault and due from banks, $457>449-3S- The capital stock was $125,000; surplus and undivided profits, $30,950.30; circulation, $125,000; deposits, $1,483,930.98, with a total of $1,764,880.28.

The Citizens National bank of Casper was chartered as a state bank and opened for business May 1, 1917, with a capitalization of $50,000. Dr. John F. Leeper was elected president and had associated with him as directors John Beaton, M. J. Burke, C. M. Elgin, T. A. Dean, C. H. Horstman, and T. A. Hall. W. J. Bailey was elected as cashier. This bank was first located in one corner of the Chamberlin Furniture company's store room which was then doing business in what is now the Golden Rule store building, on the south side of Second street, between Center and Wolcott, but when the Oil Ex-change building, now known as the Consolidated Royalty building, was erected a modern banking room was fitted up for this bank where it has since been located. The vacancy caused by the death of Dr. Leeper in December, 1920, was filled by the election of M. J. Burke to the presidency. The capital stock was increased to $100,000 with a surplus of $25,000 at the time of the conversion from a state to a National bank. On December 29, 1922: Loans and discounts, $619,169.92; overdrafts, $2,993.72; U. S. bonds and other stocks and bonds, $229,427.37; furniture and fixtures and real estate owned, $21,724.02; cash on hand, due from U. S. treasury, and from other banks and bankers, $332,130.04.   Capital stock, $100,000; surplus, $25,000; undivided profits, $17,501.06; circulating notes outstanding, $100,000; demand and rime deposits, cashier's checks, certified checks and all other deposits and those due state and National banks, $962,944.01; with a total of $1,205,445.07.

The Wyoming Trust Company bank was organized and opened for business July I, 1921. The board of directors at the time of the bank's organization were: P. J. O'Connor, president; R. C. Cather, vice president, N. S. Wilson, vice president; Leo A. Dunn, cashier; B. B. Brooks, Roy C. Wyland, Carl F. Shumaker and R. H. Nichols, directors. The bank opened with a capital of $100,000 and $10,000 paid up surplus. The first statement to the comptroller of currency was made on September 6, 1921, with figures as follows: Capital, $100,000; surplus, $10,000; loans, $204,000; deposits, $176,000. December 29, 1922, there were loans and discounts, $347,831.45; overdrafts, $208.38; stocks and bonds, $16,037.50; banking house and fixtures, $14,597.30; cash on hand and due from other banks $121,801.36.   Capital stock, $100,000; surplus, $10,000; undivided profits, $1,132.28; demand deposits, time deposits, cashier's checks, certified checks and all other deposits and those due state and National banks, $389,343.71; with a total of $500,475.99. The Casper Clearing House association, whose membership consists of all the banks of Casper, was organized February 7, 1921, with A. J. Cunningham, president; Roy C. Wyland, vice president; J. R. Schlueter, secretary, and W. J. Bailey, treasurer. The asociation clears all bank debits of the town each day, and all the banks of the city work in harmony. Since its existence the Clearing House association has solved many perplexing problems which has resulted beneficially to all concerned. The clearings of the banks by the month since the association was organized up to the first of January, 1922, was as follows:

February $ 2,917,506.18; March 4,209,967.47; April 4,646,571.60; May 4,924,915.52; June 5,434846.09; July 5,030,959.69; August 4,034,593.70; September 4,114,817.47 October 4,714,725.10; November 4,469,457.00; December 4,885,696.47; Total. $49,384,056.31

The Bank of Salt Creek, with a capital of $25,000, was opened at Lavoye, or the Mosher camp, in the Salt Creek oil field, October 21, 1922. The stockholders and directors were J. H. Montgomery, president; A. C. Andrews, vice president; E. W. Downing, cashier; H. S. Durrie, assistant cashier; Barton A. Myers and George A. Gatewood, directors.

The Salt Creek State bank was established and opened for business on October 21, 1922, located at Lavoye, which is commonly known as the Mosher camp, in the Salt Creek oil field. Its capital stock was $25,000 and the incorporators and directors of the institution were: Roy C. Wyland, president; B. B. Brooks, vice president; Carl F. Shumaker, P. J. O'Connor and G. E. Abbott, directors, and Thomas Keith, cashier.

Newspapers of Natrona County

The Casper Weekly Mail was established November 23, 1888, by Lombard and Casebeer and was the first newspaper published in Natrona county. Mr. Lombard retired on April 1, 1889, and James A. Casebeer, who was Casper's third postmaster, became sole owner of the newspaper. Mr. Casebeer was also the only delegate from Casper to the Constitutional Convention which was held in Cheyenne in September, 1889. Alex T. Butler bought the Mail from Mr. Casebeer and assumed the editorial and business management on May 16, 1890. Mr. Casebeer left at once for the Yellowstone National park and never returned to Casper. An effort was made to find him and have him attend the reunion of the delegates of the Constitutional Convention, held in Cheyenne in 1920, but he could not be located. The Mail suspended publication after its issue of January 16, 1891, after having been published a little more than two years. It was under Mr. Butler's ownership when it suspended. This was the third Natrona county publication to go to the newspaper graveyard, the Mail having been preceded by the Sweetwater (Bothwell) Chief and the Bessemer Journal.

The Bessemer Journal was the second newspaper to be established in Natrona county and the second to suspend publication. It was first published late in the year of 1888. J. Enos Waite was editor and business manager from its beginning to the end. After struggling until the latter part of December, 1890, the publication was suspended and the plant was seized by its creditors.

The Sweetwater Chief, published at the town of Bothwell by H. B. Fetz, was the third publication to make its appearance in Natrona county and the first to start the newspaper graveyard. It was established in the spring of 1890, blooming forth with the flowers in the Sweetwater valley and it also withered and died with those same flowers in the fall of the year. During its existence it advocated the building of a railroad through the Sweetwater country, the removal of the state capital to Bothwell, the development of the gold, silver, and copper mines in that vicinity, the drilling of oil wells in the basin and the development of the soda lakes close at hand. Instead of the town's increasing in population, two of its citizens, who were considered a menace to the community but nevertheless were responsible for a great number of visitors making frequent pilgrimages to the place, were hanged to a tree on a summer's day, and as no one seemed to care to come there to continue the business they had started, but had so suddenly left, and many visitors ceased their coming, on account of the lack of some of the things they considered necessary for their entertainment, the Chief lacked the financial support necessary in all well regulated printing offices, and it was not long until that disseminator of news and advocator of all that was good ceased publication, and the plant was packed up and taken to Rawlins.

Volume 1, number I, of the Wyoming Derrick, published in Casper, was issued May ?, 1890, by the Natrona County Publishing company, with W. S. Kimball as editor and business manager. The stockholders were Joel J. Hurt, C. C. Wright, P. C. Nicolaysen, George Mitchell and A. J. Cunningham. The Derrick was a typographical gem and one of the best edited newspapers in the then Territory of Wyoming. On June 25, 1891, Mr. Kimball retired as editor and bought a half interest in the Pioneer drug store with C. F. G. Bostleman. Joel J. Hurt at this time bought up all the stock and became the sole owner of the plant, and he leased it to P. T. McNamara and C. W. Wixcey. Wixcey retired in two months and Mr. McNamara continued as editor until March 3, 1892, when Major E. H. French took charge temporarily. Alex T. Butler bought the plant from Mr. Hurt and was editor for nearly four months, when he sold it in July to J. K. Calkins, who was editor and publisher until April 15, 1895, when he sold it to W. H. Korns. P. C. Hays bought an interest in the plant with Mr. Korns in the fall of 1896, and on April 7, 1898, Mr. Korns sold his interest to Colonel Emerson H. Kimball. Mr. Hays bought Mr. Kimball's interest on July 1, 1898, and published the paper until August 10, 1905, when he leased the plant to M. A. Cameron. Mr. Cameron continued the publication until March 2, 1906. The leading editorial in that issue was: "This space is reserved. Watch it next week." Next week never came for the Derrick. It went the way of its three predecessors. The Tribune was then the only newspaper published in Natrona county.

The Natrona Tribune was first published on June I, 1891. J. Enos Waite was the publisher. The plant was owned by about twenty men, organized under the name of the Republican Publishing company. Waite retired on February 10, 1892, and was succeeded by M. P. Wheeler.  Mr. Wheeler published the paper until June 24, 1893, when Alex T. Butler leased the plant and remained until August 7, 1893 W. E. Ellsworth was then hired to conduct the business and wrote the local news and editorials. He was in charge until July 1, 1894. Ben L. Green followed Mr. Ellsworth, and on November 22, 1894, O. A. Hamilton succeeded Green. April H, 1895, Hamilton relinquished to Fred E. Seeley.  Seeley published the paper three weeks and on May 2, 1895, F. H. Barrow became editor and publisher. George P. Devenport leased the plant on December 31, 1896, and was publisher until June I, 1897, when A. J. Mokler bought the plant from the Republican Publishing company and changed the name to the Natrona County Tribune. Mr. Mokler published the Tribune for seventeen years and four and a half months, and on October 15, 1914, sold the plant to J. E. Hanway and a number of associates. A stock company was organized, with Mr. Hanway as president. The development of the Salt Creek oil fields had commenced at this time and Casper showed encouraging signs of developing into a city, and the Tribune keeping pace with the conditions, made improvements as its patronage justified. On February 9, 1916, the Casper Daily Tribune was established and has grown to be the leading newspaper, with the best equipped plant, in the state. The weekly Natrona County Tribune was absorbed by the Wyoming Weekly Review on February 19, 1921. The Review was a state news-paper, and its mission was to present a review of the week's happenings not only of Wyoming, but of the nation. The Tribune Publishing company was the owner of the Review. On August 25, 1922, J. E. and E. E. Hanway sold the Tribune and Weekly Review to Charles W. Barton of New York City, and on September 20. 1922, the publication of the Review was discontinued and merged with the Sunday Morning Tribune.

The Casper Press was established in August, 1908, by a man named Merrill of Wheatland, with Alex T. Butler as owner. Merrill retired in about ten months and Mr. Butler edited the paper until January, 1909, when H. J. Peterson took charge and conducted the business until August II, 1911.  Mr. Peterson then bought a new plant and established the Casper Record, and C. Littlefield bought the Press plant from Mr. Butler, who conducted the paper as a weekly until June 19, 1914, when a small daily paper was issued. Neither the weekly nor the daily was a paying proposition; the town was small and the newspaper field was limited; instead of three weekly papers and one daily to cover the field and reap the harvest one weekly was sufficient, and the survival of the strongest was the only road to supremacy.  In about a year the Press became so heavily involved in financial difficulties that Robert D. Carey, the heaviest stockholder, took over the plant and leased it to Henry F. Brennan. This was Mr. Brennan's first venture in the newspaper business, and he was making no better success than his predecessor, and on March I, 1916, W. W. Slack, an experienced printer, became editor-manager, in partnership with Mr. Brennan, on a lease agreement with Mr. Carey.   Mr. Brennan retired September 30,1916, and Wm. the Press and Record were consolidated and H. J. Peterson became sole proprietor. The oil business at that time brought great prosperity to Casper, and the Press-Record prospered with all other lines of business here. On November 1, 1917, Percy E. Cropper and associates of Salt Lake bought the Press-Record from Mr. Peterson but in about six months it became involved in financial difficulties and the creditors relieved Mr. Cropper. A. J. Mokler was appointed temporary receiver and remained until the financial difficulties were straightened out. Within ten days the business was put on a paying basis, and on June 15, 1918, W. B. Holliday bought the plant and changed the evening paper to a morning publication. It was not long until failure again showed her face at the door and there were so many men at the helm attempting to keep the publication from sinking that a list is unobtainable, but the creditors in the fall of the year appointed Ira W. Naylor receiver, "on account of the assets of the company being in danger of disruption." The daily publication was suspended October 30, 1918, and the Weekly Press was issued on Thursdays and the Record on Sundays. New life and new blood was injected into the business, and on November 18th, the Press resumed publication as a daily morning paper with W. W. Sproul as editor. It was short-lived, however, for on December 23, 1919, the Weekly Record and Daily Press suspended "on account of the lack of financial and business support," and the doors of the office were closed by the creditors, and this was the last of the Press and Record, the fifth and sixth newspapers of the county to give up the ghost.

The Wyoming Oil World, published in Casper, was founded June, 1918, by Victor Clark, who conducted the publication for one year, when L. C. Bailey took charge until April, 1921. The Wyoming Oil World and the Wyoming Oil Review were consolidated in July, 1920, and in February, 1922, the publication absorbed the Northwest Oil News. A. J. Hazlett bought the publication in April, 1921, and in January, 1922, changed the name to the Inland Oil index. As its name indicates, its news and business is wholly with the oil interests.

From the remains of the Casper Press-Record plant sprung the Casper Herald. Frank M. O'Brien, Elizabeth D. O'Brien and P. C. Kelley were the original stockholders of the new enterprise, which made its first appearance as a morning newspaper on July 20, 1919. Much new machinery and equipment was added and the paper became very popular as a morning publication from the beginning. The business was conducted as a partnership until the spring of 1921, when the Casper Herald Publishing company was incorporated with a capital stock of $100,000, with the three original owners as the principal stockholders. On September 18, 1922, Mr. O'Brien sold the controlling interest in the Herald to M. M. Levand, who had been connected with the Denver Post and the Kansas City Post.

The Free Press, published in Casper, for the enlightenment and in the interest of organized labor, was first issued June 18, 1920. Its founder and first editor, John F. Leheney, proudly boasted that the publication was started on a sheet of wrapping paper. Miss Bessie McKinney and John D. Salmond, leaders of organized labor, and Michael J. Qucaley, a capitalist, were interested in the Free Press with Mr. Leheney in a financial way, and had it not been for their influence and timely financial assistance there would be nothing further to chronicle in this connection, except to announce the date of its suspension, but now, like Tennyson's brook, it hopes to "go on forever." For the first year, and in fact ever since its existence, the Free Press has been in a precarious financial state, and while it cannot claim the distinction, like Topsy, in "Uncle Tom's Cabin," of being entirely without parentage, it was a homeless wanderer for more than a year. It was conceived in idealism, born in poverty and nurtured in adversity.  It was printed by one of the local printing offices for the first fourteen months, but since August, 1921, it has been issued from its own plant, which was installed at an initial cost of about $15,000, the greater portion of which is causing the stockholders to loosen their purse strings at regular intervals when the payments become due, and at the same time serves as a reminder that while the editorials in a labor journal generally beam with brilliancy, "all is not gold that glistens." In February, 1921, the Free Press Publishing company was incorporated, with a capitalization of $50,000. Under a provision of the by-laws then adopted, stock may be sold to organized labor only. The outstanding stock is, therefore, owned by the various labor unions throughout the state of Wyoming and by the members of union labor.   In September, 1921, Mr. Leheney resigned as president of the board of directors and as editor, and John A. Barker was elected to the positions, but on February, 1922, E. A. Shields was elected president; Charles L. Howard, secretary-treasurer; Austin Riley, Edna Hoffman, George Vogel, A. E. Gosnell, Wm. Schatzlein and John A. Barker, as the board of directors, with Mr. Barker as editor.

The Mills Item had very bright prospects to "fill a long felt want" in the new town of Mills, but it was the shortest lived newspaper ever published in Natrona county. The first, last and only issue was published on Saturday, May 27, 1922. Theo. Flanagan was the editor and publisher. He had no type or machinery but arranged with a Casper printing establishment to furnish these necessary articles. In his salutatory he said he "hoped the people of Mills would form a good impression of both the paper and the editor. The Item is for Mills first, last and all the time." Inasmuch as the Item as well as Mr. Flanagan did not again make their appearance the people of Mills did not form a good opinion of the paper or the editor as he had hoped they would.

Mr. Flanagan moved from Mills to North Casper, where he established the North Casper News, "a community paper, published in the interest of North Casper."

The Salt Creek Gusher, with E. A. Gatewood and Gregory Powell as publishers, whose motto, carried at the top of the paper "'Tis a Privilege to Live in Salt Creek," and whose editorial policy was "Our Aim is to Serve Salt Creek," was established April 8,1922. The first issue was a six-page four-column, home-print sheet, and was a credit to the town it represented, and had bright prospects of surviving the vicissitudes that usually are encountered by a small-town weekly newspaper.

The Salt Creek Journal, with Frank O'Brien as publisher, was the second newspaper venture in Salt Creek. This paper was published in the Casper Herald office, with Salt Creek news items and the events of the day taken from the Herald columns. M. M. Levand became proprietor of this publication on September 18, 1922, when he purchased the Herald.



Natrona County's Two Court Houses

From the date of Natrona county's organization in April, 1890, until July, 1895, the county officers occupied two rooms on the second floor over Robert White's saloon, on Center street. The terms of the district court were held in the town hall. In the early spring of 1895 the board of county commissioners, with Charles K. Bucknum as chairman, wisely decided that a new court house was needed, and accordingly a contract was let for the construction of a two-story frame building to be covered with seam iron. The dimensions of the building were 24x36 feet and the size of the brick vault was 8x12 feet. The cost of this building, complete, was $477. There were eight rooms in the building, and the county clerk and clerk of the district court, the board of county commissioners and the brand commissioners occupied the two lower rooms on the south side, the county surveyor and treasurer occupied the two lower rooms on the north side; the county attorney and the sheriff were in the rooms on the south side, upstairs, and the terms of the district court were supposed to be held in the two rooms upstairs on the north side, but as these rooms were too small to accommodate these proceedings, they were generally vacant. The county surveyor occupied any of the rooms that suited him best, and he generally could be found in one of the rooms with the county clerk. From this very convenient and commodious arrangement it can readily be seen that there was plenty of room for all and some to spare. This building was located on the west side of David street, between Yellowstone Highway and Mid-west avenue.


Casper's First Jail Building, 1890
Dr. Joseph Benson was cremated in this jail.

In the early days the population of the county was from 500 to 1,000 and the assessed valuation was in the neighborhood of a million dollars. But in 1906 the county had grown in population and wealth, and the people felt that they must have a court house in keeping with their size and money, and on March 1, 1906, at a meeting of the Casper Booster's club a committee consisting of Patrick Sullivan, W. A. Blackmore, C. M. Elgin, Oscar Hiestand and E. F. Seaver, was appointed to meet with the board of county commissioners and request that preliminary arrangements be made for the selection of a site and the erection of a suitable court house for the county. Petitions were circulated requesting the commissioners to submit to the electors of the county, at a special election, the question of whether the board of commissioners should be authorized to issue coupon - bonds in the sum of $40,000 for the purpose of raising funds with which to build a new court house. The election was held in November, 1906, and 676 votes were cast for the bonds, with 139 against.

Everything up until this time, apparently, had been going smoothly, but there were some people in the county then, as there probably are now, who were always and completely out of tune with their environments. Some of these people had lived in the county almost from the beginning of its organization and they had nearly always opposed everything and everybody that looked progressive, and it was surprising that matters had progressed so far without friction. But when the selection for the site of the new building was to be made by the board of county commissioners the war clouds commenced to thicken, and it was soon found that the taxpayers were wallowing in the mire of personalities and the intricacies of the law, from which the majority extricated themselves from the cataclysm with difficulty. No doubt there were a few men on both sides of the question who were self-centered, case-hardened, hide-bound and utterly uncharitable, while there were many others who were unquestionably honest and sincere. It was a bitter contest, and everybody was active; the men on each side "bowed their necks and stiffened their backs," and were determined to make a fight until their last chance to win had gone.

Three sites were favored, one on north Center street, where the building was finally located, one on south Wolcott street, eight blocks south of what was then the center of the town, and the other on David street, where the court house at that time was situated.

On January 1,1907, the $40,000 bonds were issued, and the board of county commissioners, consisting of L. L. Gantz, C. C. P. Webel and C. A. Hall, met in special session for the purpose of deciding upon the location for the new building. A great many people were present at this meeting and some heated argument was indulged in. Petitions were presented favoring the three sites, and after patiently listening to the argument, carefully perusing the petitions and diligently studying the situation from every angle, it was decided the north Center street site was the one favored by the greatest number of taxpayers, and the commissioners unanimously decided that this was where the building should be. But this was far from ending the controversy, as will be seen later.

C. A. Randall, the local architect, was instructed to draw plans and specifications for the building, and by the time they were finished the summer months were far advanced, but the blood of the defeated factions was still boiling. In November, 1907, at a meeting of the board of county commissioners the contract for the construction of the building was awarded to Schmidt & Esmay of Douglas, the price being $44,274, the building to be completed November 1, 1908.

The contractors commenced at once to excavate for the foundation and carry out their part of the contract, but on December 20, 1907, Silas Adsit, through his attorney, Alex T. Butler, filed a petition with the clerk of the district court asking that an injunction be issued by Judge Carpenter restraining the board of county commissioners of Natrona county and Schmidt & Esmay, the contractors, from constructing the court house at the north end of Center street. The petitioner alleged that when the board of county commissioners claimed that a majority of the taxpayers favored that location, and when they said that it was a suitable and plausible location, they did not tell the truth, and that the commissioners decided upon that location for the purpose of cheating and injuring the petitioner and deteriorating the value of his real estate in the town of Casper, and that the commissioners were in collusion with speculators that owned real estate near the proposed site. He further said that the records of the county would be imperiled by the overflow of the Platte river and the continuous blowing of sand, and that the grounds could not be beautified because of the lack of water and the abundance of sand. After making numerous and divers other charges he concluded his petition by claiming that all the actions of the county commissioners in regard to selecting the site and awarding the con-tract for the construction of the building was illegal, and for these things he asked the court to issue a perpetual restraining order, enjoining the commissioners from paying out any money for the construction of the court house.

For some of the allegations contained in the petition which reflected upon them, the contractors and the architect made arrangements to bring action against Mr. Adsit, charging him with libel, and asking for damages to the amount of $100,000.

When the matter of granting the temporary restraining order came before Judge Carpenter, he said he would readily grant the order when Mr. Adsit should procure a good and sufficient bond, in the sum of $18,000, but until the bond was presented the contractors would continue uninterrupted with their work. The matter came up for final hearing the last week in February, and on account of the petitioner being able to secure only one name on the bond, it was declared to be insufficient, and the court refused to grant the injunction, but this did not settle the controversy. The objectors had not yet exhausted all their means to stop the progress of the building, for after the excavation for the basement had been completed, and a great deal of material was on the ground, and when the contractors had hired a large force of men, J. M. Carey refused to deliver to the county a deed for that portion of the ground he owned upon which the court house was to be built, and work on the building was then temporarily suspended.

Shortly after the site for the building had been selected by the board of county commissioners, a contract was made with Mr. Carey, through M. P. Wheeler his Casper agent, for the purchase of the lots, and at the same time a number of other lots which would be used for the court house grounds were purchased from other parties.   The contract for the purchase of the lots from the Carey company were drawn up and properly signed by the Carey company agent, and the agent of the individuals who were purchasing the land and were going to present it to the county, free of charge, for court house purposes. And it was agreed that full payment would be made when the deed was delivered. Shortly after this contract was made Mr. Wheeler was compelled to undergo a dangerous operation, and before he could return home from Chicago the time agreed upon for the payment of the lots had expired, and Mr. Carey at once canceled the contract and withdrew the lots from the market, although the money was tendered him for the payment of them according to the contract.

A delegation immediately went to Cheyenne and waited on Mr. Carey, and he agreed to come to Casper the first week in April and make an investigation of conditions, and at a mass meeting held in the town hall on April 3, at which Mr. Carey and a large number of citizens were present, much argument was presented for and against the building of the court house on the proposed site. Mr. Carey did not at once give his decision in regard to the sale of the lots, but after returning to his home in Cheyenne he wrote to the board of county commissioners, protesting against the court house being built on the north Center street site, "unless the property is first donated by us, purchased of us or procured by condemnation proceedings." A number of citizens and taxpayers put up a bond to the county commissioners guaranteeing title to the north Center street site, regardless of the protest of Mr. Carey, and at a special meeting of the town council an ordinance was adopted which vacated and closed to public use the land provided for a court house building and a court house yard on north Center street. Some of those who were opposed to this site were present at the council meeting and they threatened to throw "the members of the town council in jail, as they had thrown the members of the school board in jail, and if this street was blockaded, they said they would tear up and blockade and fence the alleys and the streets anywhere in town that they chose. The majority of the members of the town council and all the members of the board of county commissioners, together with about fifty substantial taxpayers, were determined that the work on the building should proceed, and they personally guaranteed to the city and county and the contractors the payment of all the expense of court proceedings and any other expense that might arise, and the con-tractors again commenced work on the building, and continued with-out interruption, but were annoyed with a great deal of objection until the building was completed.

The cornerstone was laid by the grand master of Masons on Monday, June 22, 1908, and the building was finished February 10, 1909, but was not occupied until March 13, on account of the new furniture and jail fixtures not arriving before that time.

Natrona Courthouse, 1908

The formal opening of the building was on March 17, 1909, when the Casper band furnished music, and a reception was held from 3 o'clock until 5 in the afternoon, and, although it was declared that "everybody in town" was at the reception, those who made such a strong resistance against the building being erected on this site, must have been out of town that day, for they were not at the reception.

But even after the new building was occupied the rancorous feeling had not been smothered and on November 9, 1909, Judge Carey wrote a letter to the board of county commissioners in which he said that "upon examining the location of the new court house in Casper we find that you have used a street that was dedicated by us for public uses, without our consent. You have also destroyed the means of ingress and egress to property belonging to us in blocks fifty-four and fifty-five. We are entitled to some compensation for this and we want to hear your proposition and what you propose to do."

In due time an agreement was reached between the board of county commissioners and Mr. Carey as to the price he should have for his lots upon which the court house was built and the amount of damage to blocks fifty-four and fifty-five, because of the closing of Center street. The county commissioners informed the men who had agreed to bear all the expense of the amount to be paid to Mr. Carey and the bondsmen raised the money and turned it over to the county commissioners; the county commissioners then paid Mr. Carey, and thus ended for all time the Natrona county court house controversy.

Natrona County's Public Library

Natrona County's Public Library ranks with the public schools as being an institution that is indispensable and of untold benefit, and although it is very liberally patronized and no doubt greatly appreciated by the general public, it does not receive the financial support that it deserves. While it is conducted along economical lines that arc not equaled by the county or city governments, or even by the schools of the county, the annual appropriations made for its support and maintenance are very meager, compared with the enlightenment, entertainment and benefit it returns. Donations, appropriations and "drives" are continually being made in the county for the support of some worthy cause, but never yet has the public library of this county received any consideration except the annual appropriation made by the board of county commissioners, which is provided by the statutes of the state.

A public library was first established in Casper late in the fall of 1902, by the local Women's Christian Temperance Union. The books were few and they occupied some shelves in a small building located on the east side of Center street, between Second and First. Although the number of books was limited, there was a sufficient number at that time to supply the demand. This library was conducted by the ladies of the organization above named for about a year, when, on November 3, 1903, the Natrona County Public Library association was organized, and F. E. Matheny, N. S. Bristol and W. S. Kimball were appointed trustees. An annual levy of not less than one-eighth of a mill and not more than one-half of a mill of the assessed valuation of the county for the establishment and maintenance of such a library was provided by the state statutes, which also provided that the county must own its own building and books.  The statutes further provided that "the board of trustees must keep a strict account of all the association's property and make a complete report to the board of county commissioners at the end of each year. The books of the library must be non-political, non-sectarian and only twenty-five per cent of them fiction. All the books must be of a character that would inform the mind and improve the character of the reader. The library must be free to the residents of the county."

The library association at that time did not own a building, but arrangements were made for the use of the building and books owned by the Women's Christian Temperance Union. But little interest was taken in the institution and probably not a dozen books were borrowed in a month's time, and the board of trustees and the association in a short time became inactive. The annual appropriations were made regularly and a fund of several hundred dollars was accumulated, no part of which was used for several years.

In the summer of 1906 some of the county's enterprising citizens conceived the idea that there should be a public library building in the city of Casper, not that there was at that time any particular need or demand for such a building or a library, but if some outside philanthropist would furnish the money it would give to the town a building to which we could point with pride. Accordingly Andrew Carnegie was appealed to for the money, and he agreed to give $10,000 toward the erection of a building, provided the town of Casper would agree to make an annual appropriation of $1,000 for its maintenance. The agreement was entered into between the town of Casper and Mr. Carnegie. C. A. Randall was then Casper's only architect, and he drew the plans and specifications for the building, which were approved by the town council and were then forwarded to Mr. Carnegie for his approval. They were returned with Mr. Carnegie's approval, and on September 30, 1906, Charles Galusha was awarded the contract for the erection of the building, the price being $10,375. Work was commenced upon the building at once, but on account of the many changes that were necessarily made in the plans and specifications there was considerable additional expense to the original contract and much delay in completing the building. For more than two years the contractor was hampered by changes and additional expense, and by this time the appropriation of $10,000 was exhausted and the building far from being finished. An appeal was made to Mr. Carnegie for more funds, and under certain conditions he agreed to donate $3,000 more with which to complete the building, and at a meeting of the Casper town council, held January 23, 1909, a resolution was adopted to the effect that "Andrew Carnegie has offered to donate to the town of Casper, Wyoming, an additional sum of three thousand dollars for the purpose of completing the Carnegie library, upon condition that the town annually raise three hundred dollars, in addition to that already pledged, for the support and maintenance of the said library, there-fore, we do hereby pledge the said town of Casper to raise three hundred dollars, in addition to the amount already pledged, for the support and maintenance of the said public library, to be raised annually, and expended for that purpose." Work on the building was resumed and there were encouraging prospects that it would be completed without delay.

On April 8, 1909, the board of county commissioners appointed C. H. Townsend, C. C. P. Webel and J. E. Schulte as the board of directors of the Natrona County Library association, giving them charge of the library fund, and directing them to purchase furniture, fix the salary for the librarian and hire a librarian. This board was organized July 1, 1909, with J. E. Schulte, chairman; C. H. Townsend, treasurer; C. C. P. Webel, secretary. In August Mr. Webel resigned as secretary and member of the board, and Harold Banner was appointed to fill the vacancy.

It was discovered by this time that the town of Casper could not fulfill its part of the agreement in raising funds for the maintenance of the institution, and on the first of November, 1909, the town of Casper, by a resolution adopted by the town council, presented to Natrona county the Carnegie library building, which even at that time was still far from being completed and ready for occupancy. Natrona county, through its board of county commissioners, accepted the gift from the town, and on the third of November the members of the board of directors of the library were instructed to furnish the building and have it in condition for occupancy as soon as possible and appoint a librarian.

To some people living in Casper this did not appear to be legal, nor did they deem it just to Mr. Carnegie, and the matter of finishing, furnishing and occupying the building was in status quo until February 2, 1910, when a resolution was adopted by the board of county commissioners "authorizing the Natrona County Public Library association to take charge of and assume control of the Carnegie Public Library building, situated in the town of Casper, and to open and manage the same as provided by law," and it was further ordered that the "Natrona County Public Library association, as soon as practicable, take charge of, open and maintain the said Carnegie Public Library building as the free public library of Natrona county, Wyoming, and that said association cause to be placed in said library building all library property and books belonging to Natrona county."

The thirteen thousand dollars donated by Mr. Carnegie for the building had by this time been expended, and the building was yet a long way from being completed, and of course could not be opened for public use.

Complaint had been made by Casper's "Trouble Makers' Club," of which the membership consisted of about a half a dozen men who on numerous occasions had previously attempted to thwart movements that would add to the progress and upbuilding of the town, and one of the men even appealed to Mr. Carnegie to "send an attorney here and enforce your contract, and cause the library to be opened." Mr. Carnegie paid no attention to the complaint.

The library board could not, under the Wyoming statutes, expend tax funds to complete the building, but the attorney general of Wyoming advised the trustees that they could legally expend such funds as were at their command for repairs on the building, but, he advised, "If the sentiment of the community is in favor of using the tax funds for completing the building, I would not suppose there would be any serious objections."

The work of "repairing" the building was then commenced, under the supervision of the county library trustees, but it was not in condition to be occupied until the middle of May. On the evening of May 20, 1910, the trustees of the association and the ladies of the Casper Civic Club were hosts and hostesses at the formal opening of the building, the reception to the public being held from 8:30 until 9:30, after which there was dancing until midnight. The next day, Saturday, May 21, the library was opened to the public, with Mrs. Sarah Place as librarian. There were but a few books on the shelves, and there were but few calls for those on hand. Many fixtures were to be added to the interior of the building and a heating plant had not yet been installed; there was no sidewalk in front of the building and the grounds had not yet been cleared of the rubbish, but with the aid of the Civic Club, the town council, the library trustees and some of the public-spirited citizens, all these things were accomplished before the cold weather in the fall approached.

During the six months ending December 31, 1910, the trustees expended $776 for furniture; $300 for plumbing; $309 for books, and $500 for a heating plant. During the same period the librarian had let out 2,805 hooks, and $16.45 'n fines had been collected. During the year 1915, 16,218 books were loaned, and the receipts from all sources were $2,657.88, with $2,192.76 expended. In 1918, 18,632 books were loaned, and 1,180 new books were purchased. The fines amounted to $75.25. During 1921, there were 63,331 books loaned and 2,338 new books purchased. The daily average attendance at the library, including active borrowers of books and reading room visitors, was 396. Books were sent to the schools of Salt Creek, Kasoming, Ohio Camp, Poison Spider, Alcova, and other schools in the county, which were not included in the number reported loaned during the year. A children's room has been established in the library where there are many carefully selected books and pictures, with stereopticon views. The children's story hour is made most interesting and instructive by well-trained story tellers. The hours have been extended to the public and an assistant and an apprentice are required in addition to the librarian. It is noted with satisfaction that no changes have been made either in the personnel of the board of trustees or the librarian except in cases of death or their departure from the county. On January 1, 1922, the trustees were C. M. Townsend, J. W. Johnson and Miss May Hamilton. Mrs. Effie C. Rogers was appointed librarian June 1, 1919, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Mrs. Place. Mrs. Rogers is assisted in her work by Clara C. Douds, assistant librarian; Frances Giblin, children's librarian; Floyd Mann, page; Cathryn Cole, apprentice.

In his report to the board of county commissioners in January, 1922, Mr. Townsend, the treasurer of the library board, said: "When the library was accepted from the town of Casper by Natrona county, there was scarcely an armful of books, and the building was unfinished. At the present time this library has very comfort-able quarters, although it is somewhat limited in space for the rapidly growing community. The number of books has been increased from almost nothing to nearly 12,000 volumes. During the past twelve years the library association has had an average of $3,000 per annum to meet the expenses, but the expenses have always been kept within the limit of the receipts. With the coming year we hope the funds v/ill be increased which will enable us to increase our service by giving the public longer hours and the purchase of a greater number of books than we have heretofore been able to buy. The trustees have always conducted the library on an economical basis and have spent only the money that seemed necessary. On account of the increased patronage of the library, it will be but a short time until the building must be enlarged which will be in keeping with the rapidly growing community."

During the year 1922 new steel bookcases were installed, which allowed a much closer classification of the books and better arrangement on the shelves.
On January 1, 1923, the library had 14,413 books accessioned, an increase of 3,785 during the year.
The daily-attendance at the library, including active borrowers and reading room visitors, averaged 398.
The number of books loaned during the year was 74,162, an increase of 10,831 over the previous year.
In contrast to the above report, these figures are taken from the report of 1910: 1910 1922

Number of books in library.............................. 850 - 14,413
Largest daily circulation........................................ 50 -651
Books checked during year.............................. 1,000- 74,162
Number of books purchased............................. 100 -3,785
Fines and damages collected............................. $20.00 -621.11


Natrona County's Public Hospital

Hugh L. Patton, Natrona county's representative in the house of the legislature in 1909, introduced a bill for an appropriation of $22,500 from the state of Wyoming for the erection, equipment and management of a branch of the Wyoming General Hospital, to be located in the town of Casper, Natrona county. Without a dissenting vote the bill passed the house and the senate, and with the governor's approval it was enacted into law. A provision in the bill specified that the town of Casper should furnish to the state a proper site for the institution without cost.

But little time was lost after the legislature adjourned in carrying out the provisions of the act. The members of the state board of Charities and Reform, whose duty it was to select a site, award the contract and buy the equipment for the building, made a visit to Casper on the 12th of April, 1909, and, with the members of the town council and a committee from the Casper Industrial Club, after making a thorough survey of the town, all agreed that block 32, in Park addition, would be an ideal location for the hospital. J. M. Carey & Brother had donated this piece of ground to the town of Casper for park purposes, but it was said that Mr. Carey had consented to allow it to be used for the hospital. It was presumed that the decision to locate the building on this block settled the matter, and the state board returned to Cheyenne and immediately made arrangements to have the plans and specifications drawn for the building, and the prospects seemed encouraging that the town of Casper would have at least one public building erected without delay and without a jangle among our citizens, but the bright dream was soon disturbed by the gentleman who so kindly donated the strip of ground to the town to be used for park purposes. On the 26th of August the mayor of Casper received a letter from Mr. Carey's agent to the effect that "while Judge Carey was willing to give some charitable organization a site for a hospital, he would not, either directly or indirectly, donate a site to the town of Casper, the county of Natrona, or the state of Wyoming. The reason he would not give a site for the hospital was that he thought he had been unjustly treated in the matter of taxation, and until that was righted no favors might be expected from him."

Past experiences with Mr. Carey convinced the people of Casper that an attempt to buy the ground, or to appeal for a reconsideration in the withdrawal of the block for a hospital site would be useless, and arrangements were made between the town of Casper and Henry L. White for a tract of land 300x420 feet on East Second street, between Washington and Conwell streets.  A deed for this tract was given to the state; the plans and specifications were finished, but there was a misunderstanding between the state board of Charities and Reform as to whether the state or the town of Casper would furnish and maintain the institution, and on December 4, 1909, Governor B. B. Brooks, State Auditor LeRoy Grant and State Superintendent A. D. Cook, three members of the state board of Charities and Reform, came to Casper and conferred with the members of the Casper Industrial Club regarding the construction of the building.  The governor, who acted as spokesman for the state board, said that the people of Casper had done all they agreed to do in regard to selecting the site and giving to the state a deed for the land, but he understood that the people of Casper were willing to furnish and maintain the institution.   If this were true, the state could spend the full amount, $22,500, appropriated for the construction of a building, but if the state were to furnish and maintain the institution, only about $16,000 could be used for the building. Spokesmen for the Casper Industrial Club said that many people objected to the institution being equipped and maintained by the town of Casper or Natrona county; that they felt that because they had always been liberal in such matters was no reason that they should be imposed upon, and it was their opinion that the state should furnish the building and maintain the institution the same as it did the hospitals at Rock Springs and Sheridan.   After considerable discussion, it was finally decided to use the full amount appropriated for the building and take a chance on the next legislature making an additional appropriation for the furnishing and maintenance of the institution.

Early in January, 1910, the contract for the building of the hospital was awarded to Archie Allison of Cheyenne, and W. F. Henning of Casper was given the contract for the installation of the plumbing and heating apparatus. Construction work was commenced in March, 1910, and the building was completed and accepted by the state on August 31 of the same year, but the institution was not equipped or furnished and no superintendent had been appointed, and no funds were available with which to furnish and maintain the institution. A watchman was put in charge of the vacant building until the convening of the next session of the legislature, when it was hoped that an appropriation would be made with which to equip and maintain the institution.

Governor Brooks, as well as the other members of the state board of Charities and Reform, retired on the first of January, 1911, by reason of the expiration of their terms in office, and Joseph M. Carey, who had heretofore displayed his opposition to the hospital, the town of Casper and Natrona county, became governor of the state.

At the session of the legislature in January, 1911, a bill was introduced and passed both the house and senate appropriating the sum of $12,500 for the purpose of maintaining and furnishing the hospital. The governor vetoed the bill, but an appropriation of a similar amount was incorporated in another bill which, if vetoed, would have had a disastrous effect upon other state institutions, and after it passed the house and senate it also received the approval of the governor. It then only remained for the state board of Charities and Reform to come to Casper and have a few minor repairs made to the building, buy the furniture, appoint a superintendent and put the hospital in operation, but the governor's time was so completely taken up with other affairs of state that he could not come to Casper with the other members of the board, and the building remained unoccupied, except for the presence of the watchman, who had furnished for himself a room in the basement.

On August 3, 1911, State Auditor Robert Forsythe and Miss Martha Converse (now Mrs. W. S. Kimball), came to Casper with the authority and for the purpose of letting contracts to finish the building and to furnish and equip the same and get it in shape to be operated. The building was completed and furnished and ready for occupancy the latter part of October, and on the 30th was formally opened for business, with Miss Converse as superintendent. It was operated as a state institution until January t, 1922.

At the session of the legislature in 1921 a bill was introduced and became a law giving to the counties in which state hospitals are located the privilege of purchasing them for the sum of one dollar, the purchase price being nominal, and merely sufficient to constitute an exchange which prevents the state from violating the constitution. The exchange included the building, lands and all equipment and supplies on hand.  On January 1, 1922, Natrona county paid to the state of Wyoming the purchase price of one dollar, and the title was changed from the Casper Branch of the Wyoming General Hospital to the Natrona County Hospital, since which time it has been under the direction of the board of county commissioners.

During the summer of 1922 a contract was let by the board of county commissioners for the erection of a nurses' home, to be the property of the county, in connection with the county hospital. The new building consists of nine rooms and two baths and is sufficient to accommodate eighteen nurses. Work was commenced on the building the latter part of September and was finished in November. The building cost about $14,000, and is located about fifty feet south of the hospital building. With the completion of this building Natrona county affords hospital accommodations equal to any county in the sate of Wyoming.

Railroads in Natrona County

The first railroad passenger train that came into Natrona county according to schedule arrived in Casper on June 15, 1888. The end of the road at that time was about a mile east from where the present passenger station is located. The "old town," or temporary location of Casper, was a short distance to the northwest from where the railroad track ended. A big celebration was had that day and night by the citizens of Casper and the passengers who remained over. How they celebrated can be imagined from the fact that Casper was then a typical frontier "cow town." A regular passenger train service was established after a short time, but this service was abandoned in 1892, and after that the passengers reached here on an "accommodation," or combination train.

After about ten years, passenger train service was, on May 11, 1903, re-established between Chadron and Casper on the Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley Railway, which is now the Chicago & Northwestern Railway. The train was due to arrive in town at 1 o'clock, and there were gathered at the depot to welcome it the mayor and members of the town council, the president and executive committee of the Chamber of Commerce, the Casper Gun Club (all of whom had their guns with them), and about three hundred citizens. The greater portion of the male population had six-shooters in their belts. The whistle at the electric light plant gave the signal when the passenger train arrived within the town limits and immediately ten anvils were fired, which caused a vibration sufficient to break the windows in several of the business houses of the town. When the train arrived at the depot more than a hundred shots were fired from shot guns, rifles and six-shooters, and one or two of the tenderfoot passengers became frightened and refused to come from the coach until they were assured by the conductor that the citizens would do them no harm, but that this was the manner in which they wished to show their appreciation of the improved train service into a western frontier town at the end of the road. The train consisted of three passenger coaches and a combination baggage and mail car. When it departed from Chadron at 5 o'clock in the morning there were thirty-eight passengers on board and when it arrived in Casper at 1 o'clock in the afternoon there were twelve passengers. In commenting upon the improved train service the local newspaper said:

"What a joyful awakening there was in Casper Monday, May 11, 1903, when the toot of the first passenger train was heard. As it flew into the station whistles blew, anvils were Bred and the din from hundreds of guns, adding to the noise, must have convinced the incoming passengers that something out of the ordinary was transpiring. The train was on time too, which was something comparatively new in railroad annals at Casper. I he mayor and town council were there, county officials, members of the Chamber of Commerce and citizens of the town and county in general had gathered for the event. The Northwestern could not but be impressed with the welcome accorded the new service. For years the people of Central Wyoming have begged, entreated, argued with, cajoled, threatened, fought, cursed and raved; have leveled shafts of advice, irony, venom and vitriol, at the mis-managers of the road tons of ink and bushels of gray matter have been used to show the officials the error of their ways, bur all to no avail, but at last our dreams and hopes have come true."

Many tales have been told concerning the train service before the passenger train was put on, some true and some exaggerated, but it is a fact that the train was often stopped between stations while the train crew went out on the plains and hunted sage chickens, and the passengers, anxious to reach their destination, remained in the coach and slept or cursed, as best suited their fancy. In the winter time when there were heavy snow storms, train service was abandoned sometimes for three and four days, but whenever the train did arrive there were always a great many people at the station to meet and welcome it and the few passengers aboard were always thankful to arrive, even though they were always far behind the schedule.

Casper was the terminus of this road until the spring of 1905, when work was commenced in May on the extension to Lander. Many were of the opinion that the building of the road farther west would cripple Casper in a business way and some of the business men followed the road to Shoshoni, Riverton, and some of the other newly-established towns, but it was not long before those who left us realized their error. Casper commenced to grow in a business way and increase in population and has steadily advanced ever since the extension of the railroad to Lander.

Construction work on the extension of the Chicago & Northwestern Railway from Casper to Lander was commenced on Monday, May 2, 1905. The end of the track from 1888 until this time was several hundred yards west from where the roundhouse is located. Train service was established to Casper from the west whenever the rails were laid into one of the new stations. Cadoma, 12.1 miles from Casper, was the first station, which was established in August, 1905; this station, which has but few dwelling houses, and no business houses, but has large sheep shearing pens, has the convenience of two railroads, and it is burdened with two names; it is Cadoma on the Northwestern, and Bishop on the Burlington.   Rails were laid into Seminole, the name afterwards being changed to Bucknum, 22.4 miles west, on November 13, and on that date a daily passenger train service was established between this point and Casper. Natrona, 32.1 miles from Casper; Powder River, 41.1 miles; Mokoma, afterwards changed to Waltman, 53.2 miles; Walton, 62.8 miles; Richards, 73.2 miles;   Moneta, 82.5 miles; Ocla, 93 miles, and Shoshoni, 103.1 miles west from Casper, required more than a year in the building of the line. Passenger train service between Casper and Shoshoni was established on Monday, July 3, 1906. The train consisted of three passenger coaches, one mail and baggage car, and all the freight cars that were required to haul the freight that was consigned to any of the stations along the route.  This train left Casper daily, except Sunday, at 4 o'clock in the afternoon and arrived at noon.   Passenger train service was established between Casper and Lander, a distance of 14S.1 miles, on Wednesday, October 17, 1906.

A great many of the people living at Lander had never seen a train of cars until this train came into the station. Some of the citizens came into the country before there were any railroads in the central part of the state, and as they had no occasion to make a trip to Casper or Rawlins, which were their nearest railroad points, the distance to each point being about the same, they were content to do their traveling in a buckboard or on horseback. Others were born there and never had occasion to go out of the confines of the county. One old fellow, when he learned that the train was to come into Lander that day, immediately went to the station, and when informed that the train would not arrive for several hours, remarked that he had been waiting sixty-live years to see a train of railroad cars, and he guessed he could wait now with patience for several hours.

When the train arrived it was immediately surrounded with a throng of curious, excited men, women and children who looked upon the engine especially with awe and admiration. When the people were the most interested and were listening to an explanation and description of the mechanism of the locomotive, by a man who had seen a railroad train several times before, the engineer put his head out of the cab window and called out: "Stand back, for I am now going to turn this train around." There was immediately a great scattering, and it did not dawn upon them for some time that the train could not be turned around on a single track. In a beautiful description of how the people felt about the railroad invading the confines of Lander, Cora V. Wesley, editor of the Mountaineer, the weekly newspaper of that town, said: "Tears trickled down our cheeks and sadness crept over the household because the rural beauties of the western life were to sink into the great abyss of the past. Real, genuine tears of grief and joy chasing each other in mad confusion, trying to gain the victory."

The most disastrous and death-dealing accident that ever occurred on the Chicago & Northwestern Railway system in Wyoming was the wreck that took place on Sunday night, shortly after 9 o'clock, March 19, 1906, about twenty-six miles northwest of Casper, which resulted in the death of ten men and the injury of sixteen. The wrecked train was an extra which left Powder River station about 8 o'clock in the evening, and consisted of a new model heavy engine, two large water cars, a tool car, and two way cars. The twenty-six men who were either killed or injured were in the front way car. The scene of the accident was where the railroad crossed the old channel of Casper creek, where a four-foot culvert had been placed under the track, and this had been washed out in the afternoon of that day, leaving only the rails and ties over a chasm about twelve feet wide and eighteen feet deep. The train was being run at a moderate rate of speed when this point was reached and the engineer could not see that the earth had been washed away. The engine, tender and two water cars passed over the unsupported rails in safety, but the way car in which the workmen were riding broke through, the front end of the car tipping into the channel, and as the car went down the men and everything in the car were thrown in a heap to the front end. The tool car, which was at the rear of the way car, broke in the middle at the edge of the channel, half of the car, with its contents, piling on top of the way car. The engine, after passing over the chasm, broke loose from its tender, straddled the rails and went ahead a short distance, but the two heavy water cars had broken loose and came back on the track and fell in the channel on top of the way car where the men were pinioned.  These water cars, as they fell into the channel, broke through the way car and no doubt were the cause of the death and injury of most of the men. The trainmen who were in the rear way car, which did not leave the track, were powerless at first to render assistance to the unfortunate men who were pinned beneath tons of heavy wreckage and were in the midst of the muddy, roaring, rushing stream. The awful cries of the poor unfortunate men caused some of the men who were looking on to faint, while others were so shocked and bewildered that they were speechless and dumb for the first few minutes, and then, to add to the horror of the situation, the wreckage caught fire. The horror-stricken men who were on the bank lighted torches and, assisted by the light of a few lanterns, succeeded in getting down to the edge of the water among the wreckage, and by dipping water in their hats and soaking their coats and throwing them on the flames, in a short time succeeded in extinguishing the blaze.

A heavy, wet snow was falling and the weather was intensely cold, and this added to the suffering of the injured men and the discomfiture of the rescuers.  Holes were chopped through the floor of the car in which the men were fastened and the timbers were cleared away as much as possible, but the cold and stormy weather, and the pitch-dark night handicapped the rescuers. Twice more the wreckage caught on fire during the night, but through the heroic efforts of the men the flames were extinguished, and when daylight came all the injured men had been rescued and four of the men who had been killed had been removed from the wreckage.

The news of the disaster was received in Casper at about 10 o'clock that night, less than an hour after it occurred, and at 11 o'clock a train was made up with about forty men on board, consisting of all the available doctors in town, railroad officials and workmen, but on account of the weakened condition of the bridge across the Platte river, a mile west from town, the train could not cross.  A number of hand cars were then secured and most of the men started for the scene of the wreck by this means of transportation. At 1 o'clock in the morning they had traveled but twelve miles through the heavy, blinding snowstorm, and the hand cars were abandoned and the men started to walk the balance of the distance, sixteen miles, through snow, slush and mud. Many fell by the way-side and others had to be assisted along the route. After traveling all night Father Bryant was the first to arrive at the scene of the wreck at about 7:30 in the morning. He at once baptised the injured men who desired it and he gave words of cheer and comfort to all the sufferers.  Superintendent J. P. Cantillon and Drs. Dean and Gillam were not far behind and they dressed and cared for the wounded as best they could, until Dr. Keith and Dr. Morgan and two doctors from Douglas, who came to Casper on a special train, arrived in a buggy at about 9 o'clock, and they assisted in the care of the injured men.

The Platte River bridge was repaired as soon as possible, and at 10 o'clock in the morning a relief train left Casper, but on account of the bad condition of the track very slow time was made and it did not arrive at the scene of the wreck until about 1 o'clock in the afternoon. The injured men were taken into this train and placed on cots and the men who had worked all night and half of the day without food or drink were provided with hot coffee, meat and bread. The relief train returned to Casper at about 4 o'clock in the after-noon, and the bodies of the men were taken to the undertakers' and the injured men were taken to the annex of the Episcopal church were an emergency hospital had been established.

Among the killed was Charles Moll, who had been an employee of the railroad company for about ten years. J. W. Price, who was assistant to Mr. Moll, was also killed. D. B. Blue, section foreman at Cadoma, was also among the killed, and the other seven who were killed and all the injured were Servians who had come to Casper a few months before to work on the railroad extension from Casper to Lander. The railroad company paid all the expense of having the injured men cared for and in addition gave each man $100. To the relatives of the Servians $1,000 was given for each man killed, and to the families of Charles Moll, D. B. Blue and J. W. Price $3,500 was given.

The burning of a bridge two and one-half miles east from Wolton until there were only a few charred embers remaining of the structure was the cause of another wreck at about 2:15 Sunday afternoon, September 9, 1917, and E. R. Anderson, engineer, and Frank Cross, fireman, were killed. When the train approached the bridge there was no visible indication from the engine cab that the frame-work of the structure had been destroyed and the engine plunged down a seventeen-foot embankment and the sixty-foot span immediately gave way. Seven freight cars came over the embankment on top of the engine and the chasm was completely covered with wreckage. The trainmen made an effort to rescue the engine men but their efforts were unsuccessful, and one of them walked back to Wolton and had word sent to Casper to have the wrecking and construction crews come out and clear the debris and build a temporary bridge, while the others remained at the scene of the wreck to extinguish a fire of the wreckage should one be started from the coals in the fire box of the engine. The bodies of the engineer and fireman were brought to Casper and the railroad company made every effort to find the parties who caused the fire, but they were never apprehended. It was thought that tramps built a fire under the bridge in order to keep warm, and then went away and left it, and the upright timbers were burned unknown to anyone.

Early in October, 1897, Thomas S. Moffat, of Chicago, superintendent of construction of the Wyoming & Northwestern Railroad, wrote a letter to the publisher of the Wyoming Derrick, published at Casper, saying, "I am pleased to tell you that the building of the Wyoming & Northwestern Railroad west from Casper is a fixed fact, and operations will be begun just as soon as the detail of getting material together can be arranged." This was the company which filed articles of incorporation with the county clerk in Casper in the spring of 1897, defining the route from Casper to the western boundary of Natrona county, or, more particularly, to Ervay, at the foot of the Rattlesnake mountains.   "It is strange, indeed," commented the local newspaper, "that the Rattlesnake oil basin has not long since been opened to the world, and would have been, had not the financial stringency of the past five years through which the country has been passing hindered.  Regarding the Rattlesnake petroleum, and its high standard of value, needs but a reference to Professor Taylor, the celebrated Standard Oil company's chemist; to Professor Aughey, the distinguished Wyoming oil chemist; Wyner and Harland, public assayists, London, England, and scores of other reliable chemists of the United States, Germany, Holland, France, and Canada." The proposed railroad was to have extended sixty miles from Casper, its main purpose being to transport the oil from the Rattlesnake oil fields to Casper.   The people of Casper, however, did not become very enthusiastic or excited over the proposed new railroad, and like many of the numerous other railroads, its construction was wholly on paper.

For twenty-five years there was but one railroad in Natrona county. I he Chicago & Northwestern Railroad company hauled all the freight, mail, express and passengers in and out of Casper from June 15, 1888, until October 20, 1913, then the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy railway service was established, and Casper was considered the largest railroad center in Wyoming.

A temporary survey was made by the Burlington company for its line through Natrona county in the fall of 1909, but the question of building the road was not definitely settled until December of that year, when the real estate agent for the company bought eighty acres of land in the extreme northern part of the town from W. F. Dunn, Eugene McCarthy and Patrick Sullivan, forty acres northeast of town from J. F. Stanley and twenty acres northeast of town from W. A. Blackmore and John Cosgrove. The land north of town was considered at that time worth $250 per acre, but the land agent of the railroad company declared that he would pay but $100 per acre for it, and if he could not purchase it at that price the railroad com-pany would build its station a mile east from town. The owners of the land finally reduced the price to $150 per acre, and the citizens of the town subscribed enough money so the railroad company got the land for $100 per acre and the owners received $150 per acre. After the agreement for the sale of the land had been made it was announced by the railroad officials that Casper would be a general division station; that the machine shops would be located here, and that "the people of Casper would have no regrets that the Burlington system was going to become a part of the community."

This was considered the greatest addition the town had had since the Chicago & Northwestern had been built into Casper, and the people were greatly encouraged and it was predicted that the town would increase from a population of less than 3,000 to at least 7,000 inside of one year after the road was in operation; that many new lines of business would be established here and that a second railroad was all we required to make this the great metropolis of Wyoming. There was then scarcely a house on the land purchased by the Burlington company, and now there are more than a thousand dwelling houses on the land north of the track, in addition to the many stores," shops and buildings of other kinds, among which are two fine school buildings which accommodate more than six hundred pupils.

The contract was awarded by the Burlington for the building of its grade from Powder River station to a point sixteen miles east from Casper on February 25, 1910, but construction work was discontinued during the month of December, 1910, when the rails were laid through the canyon east from Thermopolis to a point near the Boysen dam, and work was not resumed until the spring of 1915. A contract was let on February 10, 1913, for the building of 140 miles of track, from Powder River to Orin Junction. After this contract was let the work was pushed as rapidly as possible, and on September 23, 1913, at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, the first rail within the limits of Casper on this road was spiked to the ties. The laying of this rail in the limits of the town was witnessed by about fifty citizens, and after that most important event they came uptown and celebrated the occasion as such events were usually celebrated in those days.

Passenger train service between Billings and Casper was established on October 20, 1913, the first train coming in from the west at 7 o'clock in the evening. The service was tri-weekly, and the train departed from Casper on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 7 o'clock in the morning and arrived on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 o'clock in the evening. Two boxcars were fitted up and used as a passenger, freight and express depot at that time.

The work of laying the rails from Casper to Origin Junction, a distance of sixty-eight miles, was commenced on June 26, 1914, the connection being made the middle of October, and through passenger train service from Billings, Montana, to Denver, Colorado, was established October 19, 1914.   By this time a frame building had been erected in Casper which was later used as a freight office, but was then used as a passenger depot.  Work was commenced on the excavation for the foundation of the $100,000 passenger depot May 27, 1915, and the building was formally opened on the evening of February 3, 1916. The Casper band furnished the music, refreshments were served and it was estimated that more than four thousand people went through the building during the evening. The hopes and anticipations of the people at that time of Casper becoming the chief city of the state have more than come true and the citizens surely can have "no regrets that the Burlington railway system has become a part of the community."

The railroad mileage in Natrona county is 170.18, with the Chicago & Northwestern covering 85.35, and the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy covering 84.83 miles.

Some Hot County Politics

For twenty years after Natrona county had been organized, from 1890 to 1910, there was always a bitter contest between the republicans and democrats during election time. During the heat of battle, political lines were closely drawn and the forces on either side left nothing undone to gain favor for their candidates. Every precinct in the county was visited by the candidates on each side and every voter in every precinct received a friendly call. The campaign always wound up in a blaze of glory with a big torchlight procession on the streets of Casper and speaking and singing in the town hall. After the speaking there was always a dance at which the candidates and workers on both sides participated. As an example of how they did things in those days, herewith is a brief description of the demonstration at the close of the campaign in 1896:

Saturday night before election, after the arrival of the train a parade formed at the wool warehouse. It was headed by Grand Marshal W. H. Duhling, followed by the Douglas Military band. Then came a procession of beautiful floats, ladies in carriages and men carrying transparencies, banners, torches and discharging fireworks. Among the many attractive floats was that of "The Good Ship Protection, Captain McKinley," being a large ship under full sail, designed by H. A. Lilly. Another by Kenneth McDonald was "The Campaign of "96,"showing McKinley in the Urge end and Bryan crawling out of the little end. Another float showed two ladies operating spinning wheels, using Wyoming wool; another float by F. W. Okie showed his shearers at work. One, the McKinley shearer, was well-dressed; the other, a Bryan shearer, poorly clad. Wm. Clark's coach and four was covered with appropriate mottoes, and on the top stood a protected sheepman and a free wool sheepman, each suitably dressed. The "Goddess of Liberty" float was the handsomest feature of the parade. The Goddess was appropriately attired with a shield and scales, and surrounded by fifty little girls in white.

An imposing feature of the parade was fifty-two decorated carriages, each containing from three to six ladies. After them came the flambeau club, 100 strong. They were armed with Roman candles, and a stream of fire constantly shot heavenward. Mere and there red tableau fire burned, making the parade look the more imposing. The last of the procession was "Butler's Brigade" of 100 boys carrying torches and blowing tin horns. Dwight Secly and Jack Tiller made the anvils roar, while Jeff Crawford fired seven-inch cannon crackers continually. Among the amusing features was Jay Wilcox and his bear, John Ambruster and his dog, and Charles Hewes representing a hayseed. Then there were Uncle Sams, kings and queens, gold men and silver men, and an endless variety of characters. There were not less than 500 people in the parade, and over 200 horses were used to haul the floats and wagons. Over 500 twenty-ball Roman candles, 100 pounds of tableau fire and 500 seven-inch cannon crackers were burned during the parade.

Only a small part of the procession could gain admission to the hall, so great was the crowd. Those who did were entertained by the McKinley quartette with "Wyoming Will Be in Line," Chairman Bradley introduced Judge Carey and the judge made a most convincing argument. The quartette then sang a song on local candidates. When the meeting was over the dancers enjoyed themselves until nearly morning.

The democratic candidates and their workers were by no means idle, and among other things, they issued circulars and distributed them throughout the several precincts of the county. In these circulars the republican candidates and many of the republican workers of the county were arraigned in a rather caustic manner, which caused them considerable embarrassment, but the criticism was the means of the republicans putting forth a more determined effort for success, and there were very few successful democratic candidates at the polls that election.

At the time the republicans made their nominations of candidates for the several county offices there was not always unanimity among the brethren. There were two factions, generally, and the county convention in the fall of 1898 went down in history as the most bitter and hardest-fought political battle ever held in any county in the state between two factions of the same political faith. In those days the Australian ballot system was not in vogue for the nomination of candidates, but primary elections were held in each precinct where delegates were elected.   These delegates later attended a regular nominating convention. In numbers the factions were about equally divided and, therefore, generalship was necessarily the winning factor. In each precinct throughout the county two sets of delegates came up for election, and every available vote was gotten to the polls. After this contest was over, each faction put forth its supreme effort in an attempt to get a majority of the delegates lined up in its favor. In Casper nine delegates were to be elected, and every team and buggy available was gotten out to carry the voters to the polls. Five o'clock was the time set for the closing of the polls and two minutes after five a buggy drove up in front of the polling place with four voters, but they were not allowed to cast a ballot on account of being two minutes late. Had they been allowed to cast their ballots, the whole republican ticket would have been changed.

One hundred eleven voters had exercised their franchise in the Casper precinct and five delegates favoring one faction were elected, while four for the opposite side received a majority. So close was the contest that fifty-nine votes were cast for the delegate receiving the highest number, and fifty-one votes were given to the candidate receiving the lowest number.

At the nominating convention every precinct in the county had its full quota of delegates present. As soon as the convention was called to order every point was contested for supremacy, even to the election of a chairman and secretary and the appointment of committees. After the organization of the convention was accomplished, the work of nominating candidates for the several county offices was begun. The candidate for sheriff was the first to be nominated. D. E. Fitger, 0. M. Rice and W. E. Tubbs were the three candidates. On the first ballot each candidate received about an equal number of votes. On the second, third, fourth, and up to the thirty-seventh ballot there was a deadlock. Neither faction would give in to the other. There were twenty-six delegates present and each of the three candidates had received from five to thirteen votes. On the thirty-seventh ballot, Oscar Hiestand received twelve votes and with the next ballot the deadlock was broken and Mr. Hiestand was favored with the nomination by twenty-two votes. Pandemonium then broke loose and both factions claimed a victory.

But another conflict came up in the nomination of a candidate for county clerk. Pledges had been made by all the delegates and when the first ballot was counted M. P. Wheeler was credited with thirteen votes and J. A. Sheffner had the same number. It looked like another deadlock, and a recess of ten minutes was taken. One of the delegates confidentially declared he had pledged himself to vote for one of the candidates on the first ballot only, and he was un-willing to carry the fight any further. After this declaration was made every effort was put forth to keep the opposition from learning of this delegate's intention, and under no circumstances was he allowed to mingle or communicate with the other side. When the convention was re-convened, the second ballot was immediately ordered and the count gave Mr. Wheeler fourteen and Mr. Sheffner twelve, and this ended the contest. The balance of the ticket was nominated without a contest and thus ended the bitter struggle for supremacy. Both Mr. Hiestand and Mr. Wheeler were elected at the general election. Some of the men on each side who took the most prominent part in the fight, in a few years became the closest friends and many times afterwards took the greatest of pleasure in extending to each other a helping hand either in politics or in personal affairs.

Federal Census for Thirty Years
The official federal census returns gave Casper and Natrona county's population for 1890, 1900, 1910 and 1920 as follows:

  1890 1900 1910 1920
Natrona county. 1,094 1,785 4,766 14,635
Casper. 544 883 2639 11,447
Muddy precinct.   199 179  
Bessemer precinct   72 139  
Freeland precinct   240 230  
Johnstown precinct   159 338  
Ervay precinct   71 80  
Lone Bear and Powder River precincts     777  


The census returns for the precincts of Muddy, Bessemer, Freeland, Johnstown, Ervay, Lone Bear and Powder River cannot be given for 1920 on account of the fact that many new precincts were established between the years 1910 and 1920, thereby reducing the territory embraced in the original precincts, and for the further reason that the enumeration districts in 1920 were considerably changed from the previous years, but it will be observed that the population of the county, outside the city of Casper, has shown a substantial increase, for in 1890 the population of the county, exclusive of Casper, was 550; in 1900, the outside precincts had a population of 902; in 1910, the same territory was increased to 2,127, and in 1920, all the precincts in the county, exclusive of Casper, returned a population of 3,188, or a total, including the city of Casper, of 14,635.

Natrona County Pioneer Association

The membership of the Natrona County Pioneer association is composed mostly of the men and women who gave up the comfort; of established homes and friendships and came to a "new country." Transportation was difficult in the early days and the pioneers wen without many of those things which we nowadays consider absolute necessities. Many of the pioneer women of Natrona county had been reared in comfortable homes, but they bravely endured hard-ships and sometimes privations without losing any of their womanly charm, or their refinement or their culture.

The work of the early settlers was to organize a town and county and bring in those things necessary to the solid foundation of a prosperous, progressive community. Because of the hardships and privations so courageously faced by these pioneers, it is but proper that they should have an exclusive organization which meets annually, or oftener if desired, and thus strengthen the bonds of friendship.

With this idea in view, the Natrona County Pioneer association was organized on November 12, 1901, with Mrs. W. S. Kimball, president;   Mrs. R. L. Carpenter, vice president;   Mrs. W. D. Rhoades, secretary; Mrs. P. A. Demorest, treasurer. Those present at the time the association was organized were Mrs. W. S. Kimball, Mrs. W. A. Denecke, Mrs. J. J. Svendsen, Mrs. C. H. Townsend, Mrs. N. S. Bristol, Mrs. Hannah McClure, Mrs. C. C. P. Webel, Mrs. Northington, Mrs. H. L. Patton, Mrs. Lew Scely, Mrs. Wm. Jones, Mrs. David Graham, Mrs. C. E. Hewes, Mrs. P. A. Demorest, Mrs. H. A. Lilly, Mrs. John McGrath, Mrs. A. T. Butler, Mrs. Sarah Stroud, Mrs. C. H. King, Mrs. W. D. Rhoades, Miss Grace Demorest and Miss Etta Butler.  Many new members have been added since the association was organized, but the membership was limited to those who came to the county previous to 1895. However, in recent years the by-laws were changed so as to include those who came to the county previous to 1900.

The first annual reunion of the association was held on November 14, 1902, and about 300 men, women, and children were present. Mr. Charles K. Bucknum acted as chairman of this meeting and among the speakers was Hon. Bryant B. Brooks, who said:

"A pioneer is one who goes before and prepares the way for others coming after. Who knows what the future has in store for us? Who would dare lift the veil of futurity? Who can foretell the treasure that may yet pour forth from these surrounding hills? Who knows the secret locked deep beneath the surface of these oil-stained plains? Who guesses at the result to follow the spreading of yonder on-rushing river over thousands upon thousands of acres of deep alluvial soil ? Who is sagacious enough to predict the price of live stock, of beef and mutton, when yonder ribbons of steel span the continent? When six hundred million people in the Orient, and in all the islands of the sea cry to us for food ? When our stock trains face west, instead of east. God alone knows, and to God-like souls he gives the larger hope. Standing now in the presence of a miraculous achievement history looks out upon the future and stands dumb.

"Look about you, and see what has been accomplished in fourteen years. Then tell me, oh, ye prophets, what will it be like, when the first half of this new century is history? What sort of people will then inhabit this oasis, in the Great American Desert? I will tell you.

"Women so surpassing fair, that all the world pays homage. Men of vigorous strength, with an unheard of power for effective action, capable of solving the deepest riddles of the ages. Giants, physically, intellectually and morally. Made so by their natural environment. Made so by an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent force. Steadily uplifting every fibre of their bodies, every atom of their souls. Made so by the spirit of " these rugged mountains, by the voiceless influence of these matchless plains, by the intoxicating ozone of this high, dry, perfect atmosphere. Made so by Nature's quick and lavish returns for honest toil.

"If there be any here present, who are not Natrona pioneers, to all such, I say: Welcome, thrice welcome, to the best climate, the best state, the best county, the best city, and the best society on earth."

Governor DeForest Richards, Alex T. Butler, William ("Missou") Hines, Patrick Sullivan and others made short addresses, songs were sung by Miss Savilla King and Mrs. B. B. Brooks, and then the following letter from Charles W. Eads was read:

"Thermopolis, May 30, 1902
Mrs. W. D. Rhoades, Secretary Natrona County Pioneer association,
"Your kind favor of May 10th is at hand and contents carefully noted, and I will say that I was pleased to hear from you.
"I will tell you that I was the second man that came to Casper. I located there on June 7th, 1888, and when I landed there was just one man there, and that was John Merritt. He was on the bank of the river, and was getting his supper. He was frying his meat on a bent stick and making his coffee in an oyster can. I went up to him and asked if he had any idea where Casper was, and he said he could hardly say, that he had been looking for it about a week.
" I told him to come over and help me put up my tent and he could camp with me. I had a tent and stove and a little grub and he said he would just put in with me. So the next morning we talked over the location, and we set up the first tent of the old Casper, and after that I was familiar with all the transactions of Casper for ten years. Yours very truly. C. W. Eads."

After the reading of this letter an old-time dance was enjoyed; a round-up supper was served at midnight, after which dancing was resumed and continued until an early hour in the morning.

At another annual meeting, held in November, 1906, the following appropriate remarks were made by Mayor W. S. Kimball:

"Pioneering held a certain fascination for the men, which was almost entirely lacking with the women. Pioneering, with the latter, meant hardship, privation and even isolation, and it undoubtedly required greater courage, even greater devotion, and vet greater staying qualities upon the part of the woman than the man. We can never bestow too much praise, too much honor, on the pioneer women, and we rejoice today that most of them are prosperous in the enjoyment of comfortable homes and giving their children every advantage that is given young people elsewhere. "Show me a pioneer, man or woman, and you have shown me one who possesses qualities which command your respect; one, too, who appears equally well in a log cabin or a gilded mansion; who can in a rough and ready manner meet any danger or emergency that may arise, or in evening gown or in dress suit grace any drawing room."

Annual reunions have been held each year since and occasionally picnics are held in the summer time. With each annual meeting it is observed that some of the members have been called to that "bourne from whence no traveler returns," but as each member goes hence, it is pointed out with satisfaction that he played a part in the building of one of the best towns and most prosperous counties in the west, and although his taking off is regretted, it is but the way of the world; it is God's way.


Source: "History of Natrona County Wyoming 1888 to 1922", By Alfred James Mokler, pub. 1923. Submitted to Genealogy Trails by a Friend of Free Genealogy


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