THE STORY OF CHEYENNE
|How the City Was Located—General Dodge's Account—The First Settlers—Organizing a Government—The First Election—A New Charter—Vigilance Committee—Early Justice—"Judge" Bean—Early Business Interests—Cheyenne Rangers—When Ten Years Old—The Postoffice—Public Utilities—Twentieth Century Cheyenne ... 548|
| The City of Cheyenne, the capital of the State of Wyoming and county seat of Laramie County, dates its beginning from July 27, 1867, when the Union Pacific engineers completed the survey of the town. Ballard Dunn, of the Union Pacific system, gives the following account of how the city came to be located where it stands:|
"A band of hostile Indians that had attempted to ambush and murder Gen. Grenville M. Dodge, chief engineer of the Union Pacific Railroad during the days of its construction, was responsible for the founding of the City of Cheyenne. Credit must be given in this way to this band of savages, for the reason that out of this attempted ambush came the fortunate circumstances of locating the pass across the mountains west of Cheyenne over which the line of the Union Pacific was built."
For about two years surveyors and engineers, operating under the direction of General Dodge, had examined practically every valley from the Arkansas River to the Yellowstone, in the effort to find a route across the Rocky Mountains. At the end of that time the route by way of the North Platte River, through what is now known as the "Goshen Hole" country was regarded as the most feasible, when the incident mentioned by Mr. Dunn caused a change to the Sherman Pass. In his book entitled "How We Built the Union Pacific," General Dodge tells how this was brought about, to wit:
"While returning from the Powder River campaign, I was in the habit of leaving my troops and trains and with a few men examining all the approaches and passes from Fort Laramie south over the secondary range of mountains known as the Black Hills, the most difficult to overcome with proper grades of all the ranges, on account of its short slopes and great height. It was on one of these trips that I discovered the pass through the Black Hills and gave it the name of Sherman, in honor of my great chief. Its elevation is 8,236 feet, and for years it was the highest point reached by any railroad in the United States. The circumstances of this accidental discovery may not be uninteresting.
"When I reached the Lodge Pole Creek, up which went the Overland Trail. I took a few mounted men and with one of my scouts as guide, went up the creek to the summit of Cheyenne Pass, striking south along the crest of the mountains to obtain a good view of the country, the troops and trains at the same time passing along the east base of the mountains on what was known as the St. Vrain and Laramie Trail.
"About noon, in the valley of a tributary of Crow Creek, we discovered Indians, who, at the same time, discovered us. They were between us and our trains. I saw our danger and immediately took means to reach the ridge and try to head them off, and follow it to where the cavalry could see our signals. We dismounted and started down the ridge, holding the Indians at bay with our Winchesters when they came too near. It was nearly night when the troops saw our smoke signals of danger and came to our relief. In going down to the train we followed this ridge until I discovered it led down to the plains without a break. I then said to my guide that if we saved our scalps I believed we had found the crossing of the Black Hills. * * * I reported the result of my examination on November 15, 1866, to the company, and on November 23, 1866, the company adopted the lines which I had recommended."
|THE FIRST SETTLBRS|
| About the time the plat of the town was completed by the Union Pacific engineers, James R. Whitehead, Thomas E. McLeland, Robert M. Beers, and three other men, all accompanied by their families, located upon the town site and to these men belongs the distinction of being the first to acquire a residence in Cheyenne. Mr. Whitehead was appointed lot agent for the railroad company. At first lots sold for $150, one-third cash, and within thirty days some of the same lots sold for $1,000. The first two-story house was built by Mr. Whitehead on the west side of Eddy Street (now Pioneer Avenue), and the first house south of Crow Creek was built by a man named Larimer. The lumber for these houses was brought from Denver. Morton E. Post purchased two lots on the corner of Seventeenth and Ferguson (now Carey Avenue) and erected a store building there early in August.|
The first white child born in Cheyenne was a daughter of J. D. Manderville, a soldier at Camp Carlin. It was contrary to the rules of the regular army at that time for a soldier to keep his wife at or near the post where he was stationed. Notwithstanding these regulations, Manderville's wife came quietly to Cheyenne and the attending physician when her child was born was the post surgeon at Camp Carlin. The baby lived, grew to womanhood, married a man named Gregory, and at last accounts was living at Fort Collins. Colo.
|ORGANIZING A GOVERNMENT|
| At first, Cheyenne was little more than,a construction camp for the builders of the Union Pacific Railroad. General Dodge, writing of early conditions, says: "All the riffraff of the frontier gathered in that new-made camp–gamblers, bad men, hangers-on, a tough lot I assure you; so bad that at last I ordered the officer commanding the military to sweep them out of the place, which was done."|
It was about this time that Cheyenne became known by the undesirable name of "Hell on Wheels." Within a month of the time that the first permanent settlers took up their residences and Mr. Whitehead was appointed for the sale of lots, Cheyenne had a population of several hundred, many of them of the "bad man" type, and the better class of citizens detennined to institute some form of government that would have authority to rid the town of these undesirable characters. Accordingly, a call was issued by a self-constituted cominttee for a mass meeting to be held on the evening of August 7, 1867.
James R. Whitehead called the meeting to order, Edward M. Brown was chosen permanent chairman and Robert M. Beers was elected secretary. On motion, the president appointed R. E. Talpey, A. C. Beckwith and James R. Whitehead a committee to draft a charter for the town, with instructions to present the same at an adjourned meeting to be held the following evening in A. C. Beckwith's store. The charter submitted by the committee consisted of a long list of laws, ordinances and regulations, taken from the laws of the territories of Colorado and Dakota and the ordinances of the cities of Omaha and Denver. It was adopted by the adjourned meeting, and, as one of the pioneers afterward expressed it, Cheyenne from that date "began to put on airs."
|THE FIRST ELECTION|
|Events followed each other in rapid succession in those days on the frontier. The charter was adopted on Thursday evening. August 8, 1867, and the same meeting ordered an election for city officers to be held on the following Saturday. At the election H. M. Hook was chosen mayor; Thomas E. McLeland, clerk and recorder; J. R. Wliitehead, city attorney; James Slaughter, police magistrate ; Edward Melanger, marshal; and the following six gentlemen were elected councilmen: R. E. Talpey, A. C. Beckwith, J. G. Willis, G. B. Thompson, .S. M. Preshaw and W. H. Harlow. From the minutes of the mass meeting and the returns of this first election can be gleaned the names of those pioneers who were most active in laying the foundation of the city.|
|A NEW CHARTER|
| The government thus established by the people was lacking in authority from a higher power to enforce the laws passed by the council. To obviate this difficulty, the Legislature of Dakota Territory, in which Cheyenne was then situated, passed an act incorporating the City of Cheyenne. This act was approved by Governor A. J. Faulk on December 24, 1867, "to take effect and be in force from and after its passage." J. P. Bartlett, G. M. O'Brien and William Martin were named in the act as commissioners to conduct the first election. They immediately posted up notices and published in the Cheyenne Leader that an election would be held on Thursday. January 23, 1868, and the citizens began to array themselves into parties for the campaign.|
The first officers elected under the new charter were: Luke Murrin, mayor; Edward Orpen, city clerk; R. K. Morrison, treasurer; J. C. Liddell, Charles Sternberger, Patrick W. McDonald, William Wise, W. A. Hodgeman and J. F. Hamilton, councilmen. These officers assumed their respective duties on January 30, 1868.
Luke Murrin, the first mayor of Cheyenne under the charter enacted by the Dakota Legislature, was born in County Sligo, Ireland, and came to America in the fall of 1855. After attending Brown County College (Ohio) for three years, he took a course in a commercial college at Cincinnati. In 1861 he enlisted as a lieutenant in Company K, Tenth Ohio Infantr}-, and was in numerous engagements during the great Civil war. In January, 1865, after several promotions, he was commissioned colonel and given command of a new regiment until mustered out of the service. After the war he came West and finally located at Cheyenne, where he engaged in business.
The new city government at once set about the task of "cleaning house.'' On February 25, 1868, a comprehensive ordinance was passed and approved by the mayor against gambling and disorderly houses, and providing fines ranging from ten to one hundred dollars for each offense.
| For some time prior to the passage of that ordinance the lawless element had been practically in control. The government established in August, 1867, seemed to be unable to improve conditions and a number of citizens decided to take matters into their own hands and see what could be done toward purifying the moral atmosphere. In the Leader of January 11, 1868, nearly two weeks before the first election under the new charter, appeared the following item of local news:|
"GREAT EXCITEMENT—VIGILANTES AROUND
THEIR FIRST DEMONSTRATION"
"Yesterday three men, F. St. Clair, E. De Bronville and W. Grier. were arrested by Deputy United States Marshal Goff, charged with stealing $900, and the court being busy in the examination of other cases, the prisoners were put under bonds of $4,500 to appear before United States Commissioner Bartlett on next Tuesday to answer to the charge of grand larceny. The prisoners were set at liberty and this morning the three men were found on Eddy Street, tied together, walking abreast with a large canvas attached to them, with the following letters very conspicuous:
"$900 Stolen—Thieves—$500 Recovered
F. St. Clair E. De Bronville
City Authorities Please not interfere until ten o'clock A. M.
Next Case Goes up a Tree.
Beware of Vigilance Committee."
"About 8 o'clock this morning Deputy Marshal Goff took the placard ofF, cut the cords and turned the men loose. All sorts of rumors are afloat."
The Leader cautioned the vIgilantes to go slow in their summary methods of dealing with offenders against the law, though the editor admitted the necessity of "cleaning up the town." A few days after the first demonstration of the committee, the new city officers went in and after the passage of the ordinance of February 28, 1868, many hoped for better conditions. Some improvement was soon manifest, but there were still enough of the '"bad men" left in the city to cause trouble occasionally, and the Vigilantes again came to the front. The Leader of March 21, 1868, says:
"This morning rumors of the Vigilantes' doings were in circulation at an early hour, and about 8 o'clock the bodies of two men were brought to the city hall just as they had been cut down, with the ropes still on their necks. They were soon after taken in charge by Dr. F. W. Johnson, county coroner, and an inquest was held. Various parties testified and the following facts were elicited:
"Charles Martin, who was recently acquitted of the charge of murder by a jury of his countrymen, was last night about 1 o'clock called to the door of the Keystone Dance Hall, where he was dancing, and told that a friend wished to see him. Martin went to the door, others being prevented from going out by a display of several revolvers. The last that was seen of Martin, he was making some desperate struggles, and marks on his head show that he had been beaten with a pistol or some other instrument. He was found this morning just east of the city, hanging upon a temporary scaffold consisting of three poles.
"Morgan, the other unfortunate victim, was found hanging in the rear of the Elephant Corral. It appears that some mules had been stolen and the owners had suspected certain parties. On the road between here and Denver they found Morgan and a man named Kelly, who after being taken into custody confessed being in with other parties from whom they bought stolen mules. W. G. Smith, one of the owners of the mules, was bringing Morgan and Kelly to this city for the purpose of giving them up to the officers of the law, when they were met about 9 o'clock last night near Crow Creek by about two dozen men who took the two men from him, which was the last he saw of them. Kelly is yet missing and it is suspected that he has met the fate of his companion."
The verdict of the coroner's jury was that the two men met their death by strangulation by persons unknown. The jury was composed of F. W. Williams, E. M. Tower, J. H. Follett, Harry Powers, Fred ClifTord and Bud Sternberger. The hanging of the two men caused great excitement, some of the people commending the Vigilantes and others condemning mob rule. It was generally believed that the vigilance committee organized in January, and believed to be about two hundred strong, was not responsible for the hanging of Martin and Morgan, but that the deed was perpetrated by others. Martin shot and mortally wounded William A. James (alias Andy Harris) about 5 o'clock in the afternoon of February 13. 1S68. James (or Harris) died about noon the next day, Martin was arrested and tried for murder, but was acquitted under a plea of self-defense. There were a few others hanged or banished by the Vigilantes, but the above were the demonstrations that occasioned the most comment
| In the early days the town had an old log cabin on Thomas Street, immediately back of the Dyer Hotel, that was used as a jail, where tramps, petty th'eves and men arrested for drunkenness were confined. The jail was small and when it was filled with offenders a mild form of vigilance committee tactics was practiced. A crowd would repair to the jail, round up the occupants and ask each of them where he wanted to go. When he named his destination, he was faced in that direction and commanded to "Git!" The command was enforced by the application of a cowhide, sometimes aided by a heavy boot, to the town limits, and the "hobo" was allowed to continue his journey, glad that he escaped without more serious injury.|
During the late '60s and early '70s the Union Pacific was overrun with tramps, who beat their way on freight trains when they could and walked when they could not evade the watchfulness of the conductors and brakemen. Every town along the line was filled at times with these gentry, and Cheyenne came in for its share. Among the early justices of the peace was James Bean, who had an original and novel way of handling tramps. When anyone charged with vagrancy was brought before him, "Judge" Bean would get down from a convenient shelf a large law book and in an impressive manner would read the penalties for vagrancy and begging. For the first offense the penalty was a modest fine; for the second a "ball and chain." the culprit to work on the streets for a certain number of days; and for the third offense "twenty lashes to be administered in public." For graver crimes the penalty was life imprisonment or hanging to a limb of a tree.
The law as thus expounded by "Judge" Bean was the product of his own fertile brain, and sometimes a "hobo" would question its accuracy and ask to see for himself. In such cases the "Judge" was always equal to the emergency. Within easy reach he kept the "butt end" of a heavy billiard cue, which was quickly produced and generally had the effect of convincing the incredulous prisoner that the law was correct. The tramp was then given his choice of paying the penalty or of getting out of town and staying out. He usually chose the latter, and during "Judge" Bean's administration not many tramps were fed at the public's expense in Cheyenne. After several years as magistrate, Mr. Bean went to California, where he passed the remaining years of his life.
While T. J. Carr (formerly United States marshal) was sheriff of Laramie County, the notorious Doc. Baggs and his gang of bunco men, who were working the Union Pacific, were arrested in Cheyenne and sentenced to serve a certain term in the county jail. Baggs tried to bribe a deputy sheriff to permit him to escape. The deputy told Carr, who remarked: "Well, I'll make him talk, and talk hard," and immediately started for the jail. Carr was a powerful man physically. He picked Baggs up for a few gentle caresses, tossed him in the air several times, catching him as he fell, and as he kept up the sport told Baggs he was going to "kill him by inches." When released, Baggs fell on his knees and begged for mercy. Other members of the gang were treated to the same kind of medicine and at the expiration of their jail sentence they lost no time in placing Cheyenne below their horizon.
|EARLY BUSINESS INTERESTS|
| Morton E. Post and A. C. Beckwith were among the first merchants. Stephen Bon opened a shoe shop on Sixteenth Street a little while after the town was started. Early in the fall of 1867 H. J. Rogers & Company opened a bank in the store of Cornforth Brothers, but it was soon afterward removed to a small building on the corner of Sixteenth and Eddy streets. They were soon followed in this business by Kountze Brothers and the firm of J. A. Ware & Company. ( See chapter on Financial History.)|
The rapid growth of the town created a demand for hotel accommodations and within a few months several houses of entertainment were advertised. Among these were the Cheyenne (later the Wyoming) House, on the corner of Seventeenth and Thomas streets, kept by Holladay & Thompson; the Dodge House, on the corner of Eighteenth and O'Neil streets, of which J. H. Gildersleeve was the proprietor; the Pilgrim House was located on the corner of Twentieth and O'Neil streets and was kept by Hook & Moore, who also conducted the Great Western Corral and Stables, and advertised the "only Fairbanks hay scales in the country." Other hostelries, more or less popular, were the Talbott House, on the corner of Sixteenth and Thomas; the Sherman, on Ferguson Street, between Fifteenth and Sixteenth: the International, the Everett, the Karns and the Meigs, all of which did a profitable business.
In July, 1868, when Cheyenne was one year old, the Daily Ledger carried advertisements of six hotels, two banking houses, nineteen mercantile establishments, nine physicians, seven lawyers or law firms, and a number of miscellaneous business concerns. Besides, there were numerous small shops, etc.. that did not advertise. A popular place of amusement about this time was McDaniel's Variety Theater, where drinks and other refreshments were served by girls during the performance. This theater was much frequented by cowboys, stage drivers, "mule skinners," as drivers of freight wagons were commonly called, and the applause could frequently be heard a block away.
| In the winter of 1873-74 the Sioux Indians began committing depredations against the frontier settlements. An Indian was captured about three miles north of Fort Russell, brought to the fort and after an examination was set at liberty. He started for his tribesmen and about the same time a party of the Fifth United States Cavalry set out on a jack rabbit hunt. The huntsmen returned to the fort a few hours later, but the Indian was never heard of afterward.|
This affair, with the threatening attitude of the Indians north and northeast of the city, led to the organization of a volunteer military company that adopted the name of the "Cheyenne Rangers." A. H. Swan was chosen captain. John Talbott and Herman Glafcke, lieutenants. W. P. Carroll, who afterward wrote an account of the company for the Cheyenne Leader, says that at one of the early meetings of the company some one proposed the election of a second set of officers to act as alternates in the event of the absence of those first chosen. The motion was carried and another set of officers was chosen, leaving Mr. Carroll "the only private in the company." He was a new arrival in the city, which probably accounts for his not being elected to an office.
Each man was to furnish his own horse and equipment, to be ready at any moment to respond to a call to arms. As the Indian scare subsided, interest in the company also abated, though meetings were held regularly for several weeks. At one of these meetings W. G. Provines offered a motion that every member of the company be required to provide and carry with him a large bucket. When asked what for, he replied "To catch the blood in." Whether or not this sarcasm was responsible for the disbanding of the company is not certain, but that was the last meeting of which there is any record.
|WHEN TEN YEARS OLD|
| In 1877, when Cheyenne was ten years old, the city was visited by Mrs. Carrie A. Strahorn, whose husband, Robert E. Strahorn, was for several years in charge of the advertising and publicity department of the Union Pacific Railroad Company. Some years later Mrs. Strahorn published a book entitled "Fifteen Thousand Miles by Stage," in which she deseribes the scenery and resources of Wyoming. Concerning Cheyenne at that time she says:|
"Of all the forlorn, homesick looking towns, Cheyenne never had an equal. * * * Without a spear of grass, without a tree within scope of the eye, without water except as it was pumped up for domestic use, with a soil sandy, hard and barrren—that was the raw Cheyenne in the '70s.'"
With the discovery of gold in the Black Hills in the early '70s, Cheyenne came into prominence as an outfitting point for prospectors and others going to the new mines. A line of stage coaches and freighters was opened to the mining districts, and Mrs. Strahorn tells of the dialogue between an outgoing and a returning freighter, in which the former, when asked of what his cargo consisted, answered: "Twenty barrels of whisky and a sack of flour." Whereupon the other laconically inquired: "What in hell are you going to do with so much flour ?"
The story is an exaggeration, but there is no question that whisky was then an important article of commerce, not only in Cheyenne, but also in the other towns and cities of the West. Mrs. Strahorn also mentions the great hail storm in the spring of 1878, the worst in the city's history. On this subject she says:
"In our home a hail stone went through a window, then through a cane seated chair, hitting the floor with force enough to bound back and make a second hole through the cane seat. Many of the stones measured seven inches in circumference and our enterprising landlady gathered enough hail stones to freeze several gallons of ice cream and gave what she called a 'hail stone party.' "
Could the writer of that book visit Cheyenne in the year 1918, she would no longer consider the place a "forlorn, homesick looking town." Hundreds of thrifty shade trees would greet her eyes, the public parks and well kept lawns would disprove the statement that the soil is "barren," and the handsome homes, excellent sidewalks and modern system of waterworks would present a marked contrast to the conditions that existed in 1877.
| One of the first things the early settlers did was to apply to the United States Government for the establishment of a postofifice. In this they were supported by the Union Pacific officials. The petition was granted, Thomas E. McLeland was appointed postmaster, and the office was opened on August 10, 1867, in a frame building 10 by 15 feet on the southeast corner of Ferguson (Carey Avenue) and Seventeenth streets, where the Bankers and Steckmen's Trust Company is now located. The same day the office was opened for business, Mr. McLeland was elected city clerk. A complete list of the postmasters is not available, but among those who succeeded Mr. McLeland were: W. W. Corlett; Herman Glafcke, formerly secretary of Wyoming Territory; Mrs. Susan R. Johnson, widow of Edward P. Johnson, who was territorial attorney for seven years; and John S. Jones, better known as "Timberline" Jones, on account of his excessive height and the fact that he was bald, his hair marking a "timber line" around his head. Postmasters in more recent years were A. C. Snyder, William Massey. George Draper and George W. Hoyt, the last named holding the position for over sixteen years. The present incumbent, Walter L. Larsh. received his appointment in February, 1914.|
From the establishment of the office in August. 1867 to 1903, it was kept in various quarters rented by the Government. The present Federal Building, located on the north side of Eighteenth Street, between Carey and Pioneer avenues, was erected in 1903-04. Besides the postoffice, which occupies the main floor, the building contains the United States courtroom, land office, marshal's office, the headquarters of the railway mail service, etc. The cost of the building and site was about half a million dollars.
| As early as 1868 General Dodge made an examination and reported that a water supply for the city could be obtained by the construction of a reservoir on Crow Creek, but the people then were not financially able to undertake the project. The first contract for digging trenches and laying water mains was made in the fall of 1877. Since that time Cheyenne has expended approximately two million dollars in constructing the system of waterworks, with the result that no city in the West has a more bountiful supply of water of the purest and most wholesome quality.|
In 1886. when the site of the state capitol building was selected, some of the citizens of Cheyenne organized a street railway company for the purpose of constructing a line from the Union Pacific Station to the capitol. J. C. Baird was secretary and general manager of the company. Three cars, each twelve feet long, with a seating capacity of sixteen passengers, were built in Cheyenne, and on January 10, 1888, the first car passed over the tracks. After that trips were made every half hour from Abney's livery stable to the capitol building. J. C. Abney was superintendent and furnished the horses to draw the cars.
This horse railway was the only one in Cheyenne for more than twenty years. On June 20, 1908, Thomas A. Cosgrifif and his associates were granted a franchise for an electric railway, Work was commenced at once and the first car was run on August 20, 1908, during the Frontier Day celebration. Later the line was extended to Fort D. A. Russell.
Cheyenne has efficient gas and electric lighting plants, a modern sewer system and a central heating plant which supplies steam heat to many of the buildings in the business section of the city. Five public parks provide places of rest and recreation. One of these. Frontier Park, is the place where the Frontier Days celebrations are held annually. The public school system embraces six modern buildings.
|TWENTIETH CENTURY CHEYENNE|
| From the tent and shanty town of 1867, the City of Cheyenne has developed into a modern and progressive city of 12,000 inhabitants. Among its manufacturing concerns are wagon and machine shops, a trunk factory, a large flour mill, creamery, ice manufacturing plant, harness and saddle factory, a large pressed brick plant, candy and cigar factories, planing mills, bottling works, bakeries, etc. Wholesale and retail stores carry all lines of merchandise, and the six banks on January 1, 1918, reported deposits of nearly fifteen million dollars.|
The city has a $50,000 Carnegie Library, a city hall, a number of good hotels, two daily newspapers and several weekly and monthly publications, ten religious denominations have church organizations and most of them have fine houses of worship, the Masonic fraternity has a temple that cost $100,000, the Elks have a $50,000 clubhouse, the Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias and Eagles all own their own buildings, and the paid fire department is equipped with motor apparatus.
Near the city is Fort D. A. Russell, the largest exclusive military post in the United States, and adjoining the fort are the Pole Mountain maneuver grounds of 100 square miles, capable of maneuvering 30,000 troops. The buildings and improvements at Fort Russell have cost the United States Government about seven million dollars.
Cheyenne is the headquarters of the Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph Company, which occupies a $25,000 building on one of the principal business corners. The Industrial Club, numbering in its membership several hundred of the active business men of the city, owns a fine clubhouse on East Seventeenth Street and is active in its eft'orts to advertise Cheyenne's advantages as a commercial and social center. The Country Club has a neat clubhouse and golf links north of Frontier Park, and there are several social and literary organizations. Taken altogether, the business, educational, financial and social life of Cheyenne justifies the name of "Magic City of the Plains."