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Way-Back Wednesday: The Buxton Case: An Anti-Immigrant Tragedy

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Sponsored By Mick Pryor, Edward Jones Financial Advisor

By Dick Blust, Jr.,

Legislation aimed at immigrants may have contributed to the murder of the first Wyoming game warden killed in the line of duty.

In 1899, nine years after Wyoming became a state, the legislature created the office of the state game warden. Slowly but steadily over the following years, policies and procedures for the protection and management of Wyoming’s wildlife were created and compiled.

John Buxton of Rock Springs was discharged from the Army after World War I and appointed a deputy Wyoming game warden not long afterward. Wyoming Game Wardens Association.By 1919, there were 14 pages of Wyoming state law on the books addressing hunting and fishing, including definitions of game animals and game fish, purchase of feed for game animals, establishment of hunting seasons, beaver trapping and salaries of assistant game wardens and deputy game wardens.

Among those deputy game wardens was John J. Buxton, born in Cincinnati, Iowa, in 1888 and a resident of Rock Springs since 1910. Following a short hitch in the U.S. Army during World War I, Buxton was discharged after the Armistice and appointed a deputy game warden not long afterward.

As described in one newspaper account, on September 14, 1919, Buxton, accompanied by his pregnant wife, Jennie, and his “little son,” was traveling in his car to Rock Springs from the coal camp at East Plane when he encountered Joseph Omeyc, a 17-year-old Austrian immigrant living with his family in Rock Springs, and his companion, John Kolman, 16, also of Rock Springs. The boys were out “shooting rabbits” north of the Union Pacific’s Number 8 coal mine.

Omeyc was carrying a rifle, a Savage .30-30. According to the account, Buxton “saw the boys and went up to them and took Omeyc’s gun from him, stating that he had no license and would have to accompany him to town.” Omeyc then drew a .38-caliber revolver and shot Buxton. Dr. Edward Lauzer later testified that the bullet “had entered a little to the right of the sternal [that is, the sternum], the lower end of the sternal, directly back of the right lung and it fractured the sixth rib and lodged under the skin.”

Kolman later gave the coroner’s jury a slightly different version of events, saying that Buxton “came in the back of [Omeyc] and grabbed the gun and said ‘This is a pretty good gun for me and I just need one.’ The kid got pretty sore and pulled the [pistol] out” and after a few moments, shot the deputy warden.

Buxton was driven to the hospital in Rock Springs, where he was declared dead. Later that day, Omeyc was found hiding in a coal car on a rail spur near the Number 8 mine and arrested by Sweetwater County Sheriff John Stoddard. He was charged with first-degree murder.

It is natural to assume that Buxton seized Omeyc’s rifle because he was hunting out of season, but in fact this may not have been the case. Documents recently uncovered by the Sweetwater County Historical Museum in Green River, Wyo., and a review of Wyoming’s 1915 and 1919 game and fish laws in support instead a scenario wherein Buxton was acting within a state statute that prohibited non-citizens from possessing firearms or even fishing gear unless they had a special license.

First is the question of hunting out of season. Omeyc and Kolman were out shooting rabbits, which, in 1919, were not classified as game animals in Wyoming. At that time, game animals and fish were defined in state statue as “any elk, deer, mountain sheep, wild goats, antelope, moose, trout, grayling, or bass within the state,” with no mention of rabbits at all under the statutes’ Section 55, “Game and Fish.” While hunting seasons for species of game like deer and elk were clearly laid out, there were none for rabbits, which were unregulated.

Next is the license issue. Normally in a situation like the Buxton-Omeyc case, Omeyc’s not having a “license” would seem to refer to a hunting license, but the transcript of John Kolman’s testimony at the Sweetwater County Coroner’s inquest into Buxton’s death implies another type of license.

From Kolman’s testimony:

“Q: Did you [Kolman] have a license?

A: No, my father is a citizen and I didn’t need one.”

Later in Kolman’s testimony:

“Q: Is Oymace’s [sic] father an American citizen?

A: No, he just got his first papers.”

These passages, with their focus on the need for possession of a license contingent on citizenship, appear puzzling until we consider Wyoming law in effect at the time. Passed by the Wyoming Legislature in 1915, Section 13 of “Game and Fish Law” in Wyoming statute reads, in part, as follows:

“Alien’s Gun and Fish License. — There is hereby created a special gun and fish license for aliens. No person, not a bona fide citizen of the United States shall own or have in his possession, in the State of Wyoming, any gun, pistol or other firearm, or any fishing tackle, without first having obtained the specified license therefor, which such special gun and fish license shall cost the owner the sum of twenty-five dollars and shall expire on December 31st of each year after date of issuance thereof.”

Section 13 goes on to declare that:

“Any alien of the United States who shall have in his possession or under his control any gun, pistol or other firearm, or any fishing tackle, without having taken out and being at the time in possession of a license as herein provided, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not less than twenty-five dollars nor more than one hundred dollars; and in the event that such fine and costs are not paid, shall be imprisoned in the county jail until such fine and costs are paid at the rate of one dollar a day.

Austrian-born Joseph Omeyc, 17, was relieved of his rifle by the deputy game warden but had a pistol in his pocket. Wyoming State Archives.“It shall be the duty of the State Game Warden, his assistants, and deputies, and all other peace officers in the State of Wyoming, to search for and take into their possession any gun, pistol, or other firearms or fishing tackle found in the possession of any alien not entitled to hold or possess the same, and to sell the same, destroy or otherwise dispose of the same upon order of any Justice of the Peace, any District Court of the State of Wyoming, or a judge or District Court Commissioner thereof.”

The statute made several exceptions to the license requirements for aliens: “Provided further, that the provisions of this section shall not apply to any alien who is a bona fide resident of the State of Wyoming, and a bona fide freeholder in the State of Wyoming, or one who pays taxes in any county of this state in excess of the sum of One Hundred Dollars, or to any settler on the public lands of the United States or the State of Wyoming and who shall have initiated proceedings to acquire title thereto under the several acts of Congress or the laws of the State of Wyoming, nor shall it apply to persons engaged in tending or herding sheep or other animals in herd or on the open range when in active employment.”

Early in 1919, with Section 21, the Legislature stiffened the already-repressive Section 13 by removing the exceptions for aliens who were “bona fide residents of Wyoming,” “bona fide freeholders,” or those paying taxes in excess of $100.

What state of affairs made it a crime for non-citizens to possess so much as a fly reel without a license? The answer may be in what is often termed the First Red Scare.

The Red Scare of 1919-1920

The years following the end of World War I were tumultuous. More than 116,000 Americans had lost their lives in the conflict, embittering many against Europe and European immigrants.

In 1919, after two years of wartime price controls, workers across the country seeking higher wages went on strike. Four million men and women—one fifth of the nation’s work force—walked out. Two years earlier, in 1917, Lenin and the Bolsheviks had overthrown the Russian government and murdered Czar Nicholas II and his family. The belief gained ground that Bolsheviks bent on revolution here in the United States were behind the strikes.

During and after World War I in Europe and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, anti-immigrant feeling ran high in the United States. This cartoon ran in an Ohio paper in March 1919. The Ohio State University. Click to enlargeThe acts of anarchists and communists, (both actual and imagined), many of whom were European-born, spread fear and bred anti-immigrant paranoia on a wide scale and triggered the Red Scare of 1919-1920.

Some of the trouble was real enough. In April 1919, anarchists mailed dozens of bombs to top-level politicians, government officials and businessmen all over the country, including John D. Rockefeller, Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer and Oliver Wendell Holmes, an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court. In June, anarchists set off bombs in eight American cities. None of the those targeted were killed, though several people were badly wounded.

In the wake of the bombings, the U.S. attorney general and the Department of Justice launched what came to be called the “Palmer Raids,” mass roundups and arrests carried out by federal agents. They targeted suspected communists and anarchists, in particular Italian and east European immigrants, both Jewish and non-Jewish, and immigrant leftist labor advocates. Thousands of arrests resulted, and 556 resident aliens were eventually deported, most often for political beliefs, associations and memberships rather than actual acts. The harsh tactics of the Palmer Raids led to the formation of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in January 1920.

In June 1920, Massachusetts District Court Judge George Anderson ordered the release of nearly 20 of the arrested aliens and denounced the Department of Justice’s actions, writing that “A mob is a mob, whether made up of Government officials acting under instructions from the Department of Justice, or of criminals and loafers and the vicious classes.”

The Buxton Case – Epilogue

Joseph Omeyc’s .38-caliber Eastern Arms Company revolver, similar to this one, had a shrouded hammer and was designed for easy pocket concealment. Guns International.Joseph Omeyc pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in District Court in Green River on March 17, 1920, and was sentenced to 20 to 21 years at the state penitentiary at Rawlins. Paroled in 1924, he violated his parole and disappeared. According to state Board of Charities and Reform records for the Wyoming State Penitentiary, he was never apprehended.­

Deputy Game Warden John Buxton was buried with full military honors in Rock Springs. His wife Jennie died in 1920, a victim of the world-wide Spanish Flu epidemic.

On Feb. 1, 1935, the State Legislature approved a bill awarding $5,000 to “June Buxton and Jacqueline Buxton, minor daughters of John Buxton, deceased, who was killed in line of duty as Deputy Game Warden of the State of Wyoming, on September 14, 1919,” in compensation for their father’s death.

Nothing that happened that day in September 1919 could justify the murder of Deputy Game Warden John Buxton, but bad laws tend to foster bad consequences, not least when they’re directed against people based on political beliefs, ethnicity or national origin. There was no rationale for Section 13 and Section 21 of the game statutes; they addressed no wildlife management needs or issues. A product of the paranoia of the time, they were blows aimed squarely at non-citizens and nothing more. By 1921 both were gone, repealed by the same state Legislature that passed them.

This page from Wyoming’s rich history has been presented by Mick Pryor, Edward Jones Financial Advisor. While we can’t change the past, a financial strategy for the future can be planned. If you have questions, concerns or are simply looking for a friendly advisor to discover your goals, discuss strategy and look to your financial future, contact Mick Pryor today.

Sponsored By Mick Pryor, Edward Jones Financial Advisor

Ford Wyoming Center Rolls Out Red Carpet for Toby Keith, Colt Ford and Wyoming’s Own Chancey Williams

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For country music fans, the countdown has started in anticipation of the Toby KeithCountry Comes to Town Tour” with special guests Colt Ford and Chancey Williams on October 17th at the Ford Wyoming Center in Casper. (Sponsored Partnership with Ford Wyoming Center) 

Casper, Wyoming – Toby Keith is coming to the Ford Wyoming Center in Casper on Sunday, October 17, 2021 with special guests Colt Ford and Chancey Williams. Tickets are on sale now, starting at $25.00 plus applicable fees. To elevate the true fan experience, Limited VIP Diamond Bar tickets are available and include a VIP Diamond Bar Ticket, early access to the Ford Wyoming Center, commemorative laminate, commemorative Red Solo Cup Koozie plus access to full-service bar at the concert.

Toby Keith is the familiar maxim of the triple threat – singer, songwriter, and musician – and salt-of-the-earth patriot; see his September 11th message here. Toby Keith is one of the modern era’s most complete self-directed hit makers. Keith’s newest album, “Peso In My Pocket” is now available for pre-order and will debut just two days in advance of this legendary lineup in Casper. (Hear Toby’s brand new singleOld School“.)

Keith’s recent years are a remarkably accurate representation of his entire career. In October 2019, he released “Toby Keith Greatest Hits: The Show Dog Years” comprised of more than a dozen tracks plus four newly recorded songs added including “That’s Country Bro” and “Don’t Let The Old Man In,” which was inspired by a conversation he had with Clint Eastwood and the song was later featured in Eastwood’s movie, “The Mule.” That album also includes country’s most impactful viral event, “Red Solo Cup,” the video for which has received more than 53 million views and was named ACM Video of the Year. Rounding out his music related accomplishments are his Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic fundraising events, bringing in millions of dollars to support the charitable endeavors of The Toby Keith Foundation which includes aiding sick children and their families. 

From the moment he released his debut hit single “Should’ve Been A Cowboy,” the engine driving everything has been the music. He writes it. He arranges and produces it. And he releases it on his own record label, Show Dog Nashville. At the core is his songwriting, as recognized in his 2015 induction into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame in New York City. That year Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, Willie Dixon, and other songwriters from all genres of music were also included in his induction class.

Toby Keith’s awards are too numerous to count and include Artist of the Decade nods from Billboard and the American Country Awards, as well as the ACM’s Career Achievement honor, Poet’s Award recipient, and twice their Entertainer of the Year award winner in back-to-back years. Keith’s most rewarding experiences, however, have come from giving back locally, nationally and abroad. In addition to his effort and support with The Toby Keith Foundation and OK Kids Korral, his USO Tours have enhanced the lives of nearly 256,000 troops and military families in 18 countries with more than 285 events, and have been recognized with the Spirit of the USO Award (2014).

Colt Ford

Colt Ford consistently blazes his own trail. By doing so, the Georgia singer, songwriter, rapper, musician, performer, and co-founder and co-owner of Average Joes Entertainment keeps up pace as country music’s preeminent independent maverick. Built on a series of staggering successes, Ford has risen to mainstream notoriety. He notched five consecutive Top 10 debuts on the Billboard Top Country Albums Chart with “Declaration of Independence” bowing at #1 in 2012. Two years later, “Thanks for Listening” ascended to the Top 10 of the Top 200, with the album reaching #1 on Billboard Rap & Independent charts. Selling over 3 million albums, attracting millions of followers and hitting 1 billion-plus streams, the country rap pioneer’s dynamic discography spans collaborations with everyone from Toby Keith, Brad Paisley,

Keith Urban, and Jermaine Dupri to members of No Doubt, Lit, and Lady Antebellum. Additionally, he co-wrote Jason Aldean’s #1 hit “Dirt Road Anthem” and Brantley Gilbert’s #1 hit “Country Must Be Country Wide” as a behind-the-scenes force in the studio. For his seventh and eighth albums, “We The People, Volume 1” [2019] & “We The People, Volume 2” [2020], Ford once again tossed the rulebook out the window,

perfecting his dynamic and definitive distillation of country, hip-hop, and rock like never before on nearly 30 songs.

Chancey Williams

Wyoming native Chancey Williams and his Younger Brothers Band have relentlessly toured The Cowboy State and western United States, developing a devout fan base not seen from Wyoming since Chris LeDoux. In fact, Chancey Williams and LeDoux are the only two people to ride in the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo and play its main stage as a major entertainer. The band has shared the stage with dozens of artists, including Lady Antebellum, Old Dominion, Miranda Lambert, Eric Church, Brantley Gilbert, Gary Allan and Travis Tritt. They’ve also enjoyed many bills with contemporaries, Williams says nothing beats the opportunity to have occasionally been direct support for their heroes, legends like LeDoux, Alabama, Merle Haggard and Dwight Yoakam.

Advance tickets can be purchased at, the SinclairTix Box Office at the Ford Wyoming Center and by phone at 800-442-2256. For more information about the Ford Wyoming Center visit:

Way-Back Wednesday: Look At Wyoming State News From 100 Years Ago

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Sponsored By Mick Pryor, Edward Jones Financial Advisor

By Patsy Parkin

100 Years Ago: Sept. 16, 1921

Big Piney has one of the best landing fields in the state. The level bench between Big Piney and Marbleton includes 1800 feet of ground which has been fenced and leveled.

Alfred Walker and Walter Moss, charged with the murder of a taxicab driver last spring near Cheyenne, have been found guilty of murder and sentenced to hang. Adolf Pfunder and Herman Kusel, charged with robbing the Chugwater Bank, have been remanded to jail in lieu of $25,000 bonds. Horace Adams, aged postmaster and hermit of Hecla, was acquitted of the murder of Frank Brown, a young rancher. Alvaron Saicido was convicted of the slaying of Joe Gomez in Cheyenne. Gomez had objected to Saicido’s attentions to his wife.

A racetrack is to be built on the banks of the Powder River about 35 miles north of Gillette. Corrals and chutes for bucking and riding contests are also being planned by the Luton brothers.

A.J. Hardenorff, field manager at the Bolton Creek Field south of Casper, was dragged from a pool of oil just in time to save his life. He had been knocked unconscious by missiles hurled from the well he had just uncapped.

Building permits for the new Moose home and office building have been issued by the city of Casper. Work is scheduled to start immediately with funding of $150,000.

The largest gathering of Women’s Club representatives is expected at the State Convention to be held in Greybull.

Mrs. O.G. Miller was painfully wounded in Sheridan by an accidental gunshot from a revolver in the hands of her 6-year-old son. The bullet passed through her hand and struck her in the face at the cheekbone. She will recover from the accident.

Hans Christian, 6-year-old son of Ejnar Anderson of Buffalo, was killed when his foot caught in the stirrup while he was attempting to dismount from his Shetland pony. He was dragged 100 yards.

What is called “The Clean Up Squad” from the Veterans’ Bureau will be in Basin soon to provide every veteran of the World War from Big Horn County the proper assistance in setting up claims for compensation and advice about hospitalization, vocational education, or any other problems arising from war service. This will be the last organized opportunity for such interaction with the U.S. government.

Five petitioners for naturalization in Green River were denied because they claimed exemption from military service during the recent World War. Twenty-five petitions were granted.

The Rock Springs Lions Booster Club is planning a three-day trip to get better acquainted with the people of “inner” Sublette County and demonstrate to them the advantages of using Rock Springs as their shopping destination. Every businessman is encouraged to participate in the trip which will include stops at Eden, Farson, East Fork, Boulder, Pinedale, Daniel, and Big Piney where a community dance will be held.

The “Lost Gold Mine” near Lyman has supposedly been discovered again near Lake Fork Basin. Several sheepmen have gone to Salt Lake City with samples of ore which they claim were found at the site and were assayed as high as $2,000. Intense excitement has been created in the Uinta Basin since the filings were reported.

The United States Forest Service has completed the largest deal of its kind in the Rocky Mountain region with the sale of 755,000 railroad ties to a Wyoming tie and timber company financed by Denver businessmen. The ties will be driven down the Wind River from the Washakie National Forest to Riverton, a distance of about 135 miles.

This page from Wyoming’s rich history has been presented by Mick Pryor, Edward Jones Financial Advisor. While we can’t change the past, a financial strategy for the future can be planned. If you have questions, concerns or are simply looking for a friendly advisor to discover your goals, discuss strategy and look to your financial future, contact Mick Pryor today.

Sponsored By Mick Pryor, Edward Jones Financial Advisor

Way-Back Wednesday Looks at Lander, Wyoming’s Apple City

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Apple City Festival

Sponsored By Mick Pryor, Edward Jones Financial Advisor

By Randall Wise, Curator of Fremont County Pioneer Museum

It has recently been demonstrated that the Garden of Eden was not in Palestine, but is still situated on the Shoshone Indian reservation in Wyoming and that the variety of apple with which Mother Eve was tempted is still grown on a ranch just outside the reserve.” — Gov. Fenimore Chatterton, speaking at the Lewis and Clark Exposition, St. Louis, Missouri, July 11, 1904.

Agriculture in the Lander Valley literally grew out of the necessity for food. In the late 1800’s Lander was an isolated community. With some 150 miles of travel to the nearest railroad, this meant all goods bound for the town in Fremont County had to be hauled in by freight wagons. The pioneers of the day had to be self-reliant and having their own livestock, gardens and orchards was a big step toward achieving their independence. People planted vegetable gardens and fruit bushes along with the ever popular apple tree. Initially much of the produce went to the mining camps located in the gold district in the mountains above Lander.

The climate in the Lander Valley is, for the most part, favorable for the production of crops. The town and surrounding area is nestled up against the Wind River Mountains, protected from harsh Wyoming winds. In good years the growers avoided weather related problems such as a harsh winter or early spring and fall freezes. Another advantage in the Lander area is the availability of water. The Lander Valley gained a reputation for its abundance of garden and fruit produce. A fresh juicy apple was popular with residents. The fruit could be used to make apple cider, jellies, applesauce, pies or eaten raw. Local residents sold their produce and proudly competed in the county and State fairs.

The stand-out producer of apples was Lander rancher Ed Young.

Ed Young with one of his “Wealthy” apple trees, 1895. This was one of his most successful varieties. In 1897, nearly half of Young’s 2,000 trees were Wealthys. Courtesy Fremont County Pioneer Museum

It all started in 1882, Young planted his first apple trees, the first planted in Wyoming, on his homestead on the Little Popo Agie. Despite setbacks caused by climate and weather, Young kept experimenting with varieties and grafting techniques and was as dedicated as one could be when it came to developing his apple orchard, cultivating new and hardy varieties of apple trees. By 1889 his trees were bearing fruit and by 1894 he was in full production with about 100 fruit bearing trees. 

Ed Young’s apple orchard near Lander, 1903. (WSA JE Stimson Collection Neg 682, hand colored lantern slide)

It was Young’s good fortune that he homesteaded in a beautiful area in Red Canyon that had fertile soil plus favorable climate. His apple orchard became known throughout Wyoming. People would visit his orchard and he would serve them a glass of his tasty apple cider. Lander citizens and merchants looked forward to seeing Ed Young coming across the bridge with his wagon full of apples.

By the turn of the century, Young’s apples were known throughout the region for their quality and his displays were the highlight of county and state fairs.

By 1904, Young’s orchard of more than 2,000 trees was said to produce 60,000 pounds that season. That same year, the newspapers and promoters began calling Lander “Apple City” and Ed Young the “Apple King of Wyoming.” The town used Young’s success to help promote settlement in the area and even made an unsuccessful bid for moving the state capitol from the “temporary” Cheyenne to the more hospitable climate in Lander.

As a matter of fact, Wyoming Governor Fenimore Chatterton, an enthusiastic promoter of Fremont County, mentioned the apples in his address on Wyoming Day at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis in 1904. Chatterton was an American businessman, politician, and lawyer. He was the sixth Governor of Wyoming from April 28, 1903 until January 2, 1905. Young’s apples lived up to Governor Chatteron’s hype, and though they did not win awards, were highly praised as making great progress in the region.

Young gained the reputation as one of Wyoming’s leading horticulturists. His prolific production of apples led to Lander being called the Apple City. While he was a leader in the apple growing industry he also encouraged others in the community to plant apple trees, which many did. Orchards were planted throughout the :ander Valley. 

Despite the success of his orchard, which included cherry, plum, peach and other trees, the Great Depression was hard on Mr. Young who was no longer a young man. Only a few weeks before his death in 1930, at the age of 86, Young lost his farm to taxes. Still, he is remembered fondly for his passion for horticulture and left a lasting legacy in Wyoming’s fruit industry. His successes in Fremont County inspired many other farmers and ranchers to attempt orchards in Wyoming’s difficult climate. Growers bred the trees to grow well in the area, and more than 100 years later, some of Young’s apple trees are still producing.

Families and foodies alike are invited to celebrate Lander’s apple history this month.

The Lander Pioneer Museum is hosting the 2nd Annual Apple City Festival, set for September 18th from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

The event will feature apple cider pressing, crafts for kids, a petting zoo, an apple pie contest, a kid’s applesauce eating competition, hard cider from Jackson and more.

Credit to Randall Wise

In honor of Lander’s apple history, the Pioneer Museum held Apple Fest in 2019, providing a fun family event highlighting the many aspects of apples and apple use in the Lander Valley. The ‘second annual’ was to have taken place in 2020, but like many events was cancelled due to the pandemic.

“Apple Fest in 2019 was a huge success. Kids loved pressing, and drinking, fresh cider,” said Museum Curator Randy Wise. “We’re having that, plus much more this year so people can have fun and learn about this important part of Lander’s history.” Wise said that attempts are being made to bring back some of the historic orchards in the area. 

The 2nd Annual Apple City Festival will include an apple pie contest with cash prizes for the top three pies. There is also a kid’s pie competition with those winners also awarded prizes and ribbons.

“The Fremont County Pioneer Association, which supports the museum, has donated some nice prize money,” Wise said. People are encouraged to get out their yummy family recipes.

The rules are available in person at the Fremont County Pioneer Museum, located at 1443 Main Street in Lander, or online at the museum Facebook page.

Credit Fremont County Pioneer Museum

The judging will be at 11:00 a.m. with three lucky judges getting to pick the winners. At 1:00 p.m. the pies will be cut up and slices sold to the audience with the money going to the museum.

Another fun event is an applesauce eating contest for kids. There will be three age groups and the kid who can eat their bowl of applesauce the fastest will win a prize in each age group. The catch is they have to eat the apple sauce with a straw and can’t use their hands. There will also be kids crafts and local apple demonstrations and talks.

Credit to Randall Wise

A highlight two years ago was the presence of Farmstead Wyoming and their samples of hard cider. Many of the apples the company from Jackson uses to make its cider come from the Lander area, and Farmstead will be back this year offering samples of its tart, tasty Wyoming made drink. People are encouraged to bring in their apples and crabapples by the bag, basket or truck load for the company if they want to see the apples put to good use.

For information call the museum at (307) 332-3373.

This page from Wyoming’s rich history has been presented by Mick Pryor, Edward Jones Financial Advisor. While we can’t change the past, a financial strategy for the future can be planned. If you have questions, concerns or are simply looking for a friendly advisor to discover your goals, discuss strategy and look to your financial future, contact Mick Pryor today.

Sponsored By Mick Pryor, Edward Jones Financial Advisor

Way-Back Wednesday, Sponsored By Mick Pryor, Edward Jones Financial Advisor

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By Randy Brown,

On the Oregon-California Trail in western Wyoming lies the grave of 20-year-old Nancy Hill, who died of cholera July 5, 1852, while traveling with her family from Missouri to California. The fenced grave lies near the summit of Dempsey Ridge about nine miles west of Ham’s Fork.

The stone at the grave is not original, however, and its inscription for many years caused some confusion about the cause of the young woman’s death.

Nancy Jane Hill was born in Monroe County, Mo., in 1832. In 1852 she was traveling with a wagon train made mostly of the families of her father, Wesley Hill, and his three brothers—about 65 people in all, driving 14 wagons and around 400 cattle.

Family background

Nancy was Wesley and Elizabeth’s second child. Her older sister, Mary Elizabeth, was born in Kentucky just before the move to Missouri. The Hills had five additional children who were born later, all in Missouri: John William in 1833, Angeline in 1834, George Wesley in 1837, Sarah Margaret in 1839, and finally Abraham, who was born in 1841. Elizabeth, Wesley’s wife, died in 1842.

Wesley was one of four Hill brothers who had moved to what became Monroe County in about 1830. They were from Bourbon County, Ky., where Wesley and Elizabeth Kiplinger were married on July 23, 1829. Nancy was named for Wesley’s sister, Nancy Jane, who was living with the family as Wesley’s ward since the death of their parents. Elizabeth Hill died in 1842.

Wesley Hill is said to have made one or two overland trips to California with local merchants in the 1840s. Back in Missouri, he married widow Eglantine (Holder) Sanders in 1848. In 1849, Wesley, with his son John, and two of his brothers, Samuel and Stephen, joined the California Gold Rush. Wesley left his six other children in the care of his brother James where they all are listed in his household in the 1850 Monroe County census. Nancy Jane Hill, age 17 appears as “Jane,” as she was probably known, to distinguish her from two of her aunts, both also named Nancy Jane. One of these was the foster sister mentioned above, the other the wife of James Hill.

California census records show that Wesley’s brothers worked as miners, while he worked as a merchant. By 1851 all four were back in Missouri to prepare for another overland journey to California, this time with their wives and families.

Ill health during the journey

Like many companies in 1852, they were plagued by ill health and disease. One of the hired men died of cholera on the Little Blue River in present Nebraska, and on June 8, Henry Hill, father-in-law of Nancy Jane’s sister, Mary Elizabeth, likewise died of cholera while they camped near present Torrington, Wyo. Henry Hill was a member of another Hill family, unrelated, except by marriage, to the family of Nancy Jane Hill.

Two days before Nancy Hill died, members of her family carved their names on a bluff near Emigrant Spring, 24 miles to the east. Author photo.It’s clear that the Hill clan used a trail variant called the Slate Creek Cutoff, for at Emigrant Springs on the cutoff, neatly carved on the sandstone bluffs, are inscriptions of three members of the Hill wagon train. The initials are those of J.W., M.E., and one unreadable initial followed by B. They are dated July 3, 1852.

Since the company did not travel on the third of July due to the illness of Samuel Hill’s son, Abe, who later recovered, the three had time on their hands that day. The first two inscriptions could be John W. and Mary Elizabeth Hill, siblings of Nancy Jane. It cannot be determined with any certainty who “? B. Hill” was, but perhaps he or she was one of their many cousins in the company.

Nancy Hill died on July 5, 1852, and was buried the next day.

The only contemporary account of the journey comes from letters James Hill wrote to a former neighbor back in Monroe County. From one dated July 6, we have a sparse eyewitness testimony about Nancy’s death:

This day was called on to consign to the tomb one other of our company, N.J. Hill. She was in good health on Sunday evening. Taken unwell that night, worse in the morning and a corpse at nine o’clock at night. We had two doctors with her. They pronounced her complaining cholera but I believe it was nothing more than cholera with congestion connected.

Wesley Hill, Nancy’s father, died–probably of cholera–on Aug. 24 after a long illness. He was buried at the emigrants’ cemetery at Ragtown on the Carson River in present Nevada.

Local stories

Local ranchers told many conflicting stories about imaginary Nancy Hill sweethearts who reportedly came back to visit the grave in later years. These stories probably have no basis in fact. One of them included a hair-raising story of an Indian attack on the wagon train and that Nancy had been killed by an arrow, all this supposedly occurring in 1847. This led one rancher to install in good faith the current headstone at the grave with that year as her date of death, and including, as part of the epitaph, “Killed by Indians.”

Family tradition has it that the original headstone was inscribed by Robert Gillaspy, one of the hired hands, who later married Nancy’s sister Angeline in California. Robert is thought to have worked as a stonemason in Missouri. There is no record of how this marker appeared. However, three later emigrants noted the grave and provided evidence of what the inscription was. Sarah Raymond, who having crossed Dempsey Ridge on Aug. 19, 1865, wrote, “We passed eight graves on the mountains one [a] young lady twenty years old from Monroe County, Missouri.”

Two days later Dr.Waid Howard passed the grave and wrote: “Twenty yards beyond [the 1849 Alfred Corum grave and to the right of the road is the grave of Miss Nancy J. Hill who died July 5, 1852, from Monroe county, Miss[ouri]. We are now resting against the headstone. The grave of Corum is plainly in view. Though far from their places of nativity these graves surely have each other company on one of the most lovely spots passed upon the mountain.”

William E. Jackson was on a west-east cattle drive that originated in La Grande, Ore., when he noted the grave on Aug. 3, 1876.

The headstone must have lasted until settlement times, since the grave’s identity was never lost. Eventually, after the headstone disappeared, the other details included on it were forgotten, and the replacement stone, with its incorrect information, along with confusion over other pertinent facts, misled later researchers.

The grave’s actual identity

In the 1980s when Hill family descendants living on the west coast became aware of the grave’s continued existence, the identity of Nancy Hill was firmly established. Later, several of them traveled to Wyoming to attend a dedication ceremony for the Oregon-California Trails Association marker placed at the grave in 1987. The marker and new fence around the grave was funded by Hartwell Gillaspy–a direct descendant of Nancy’ s sister Angeline and her husband, Robert Gillaspy, the hired hand who had engraved the epitaph on the Nancy Jane Hill headstone 135 years before.

This page from Wyoming’s rich history has been presented by Mick Pryor, Edward Jones Financial Advisor. While we can’t change the past, a financial strategy for the future can be planned. If you have questions, concerns or are simply looking for a friendly advisor to discover your goals, discuss strategy and look to your financial future, contact Mick Pryor today.

Sponsored Content: Wyoming Coffee Table Books: For Schools! As Gifts To Your Best Customers! Lots Of Opportunities!

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Lately, Bill Sniffin’s coffee table books about Wyoming have been selling to unusual customers:  First, a school district bought 140 books (Wyoming at 125)  to give to its students in younger grades wanting to learn about Wyoming history.  This book is crammed with photos, maps, flags, and stories about the state starting with dinosaurs and leading up the present.

Sniffin’s first coffee table book (Wyoming’s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders) recent saw its purchase by several businesses wanting to promote itself to its best customers.  The sale of 100 to 200 books at a time worked well.  It is possible to purchase special promotional stickers to put on the covers, as well. 

Over 34,000 copies of Bill Sniffin’s Wyoming-themed coffee table books have been sold over the past eight years.  One edition is sold out but the two other books are available for purchase.

Wyoming at 125, Our Place in the West is the official book of the state’s 125th celebration of statehood. It contains more than 50 historical photos that were colorized and computer improved. This book tracks Wyoming’s history. It is $39.95 plus tax and shipping.

Wyoming’s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders is the first book of the series and includes extensive photo features of the state’s seven great “natural” wonders:  Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Devils Tower National Monument, South Pass, the Red Desert, Thermopolis Hot Springs, and the North Platte River system plus other amazing Wyoming sights and sites.  It is priced at $39.95 plus tax and shipping.

The third book in the series, My Wyoming, is virtually sold out but a few copies remain.  This book features wildlife and unique Wyoming events like Frontier Days. It can only be purchased as part of the Wyoming Trilogy, which includes all three books plus an attractive gift box. It is priced at $125 plus tax and shipping. Supplies are limited so act fast before this item becomes unavailable.

Go to to place your order or send inquiries to Wyoming Wonders, Box 900, Lander, WY 82520 or to

Bulk orders can be arranged for businesses or schools or groups that want to buy quantities of the books to give to customers or friends or family.  Just email

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SageWest: Please #MaskUp

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Some people might be over the pandemic, but we know that it’s far from over.

Slowing the spread of COVID-19 still starts with us. So #MaskUp and stay safe.

SageWest: Please #MaskUp

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SageWest Health Care and LifePoint Health are proudly joining our community partners and hundreds of hospitals across the country in asking you to #MaskUp.

COVID-19 continues to sweep through our community, and we’re fighting hard to keep on providing quality care and keep our patients and employees safe and protected. But we need your help.

Wearing a mask is our best defense against the spread of COVID-19 until vaccines are available. If we all do our part and fight together, we’ll get through this. Together. #MaskUp 

To view the video, click HERE.

Carbon County: Visit Beautiful Saratoga

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Relatively unknown compared to other tourist destinations in Wyoming, Saratoga still holds its unspoiled charm and western heritage to heart. Exemplifying this heritage are places like the historic Wolf Hotel built in 1893, by German emigrant Frederick Wolf. 

This glorious old brick building still stands as a centerpiece of the town and welcomes guests year-round. Other attractions include the Hobo Hot Springs. 

This is a natural mineral pool where visitors can swim and relax in the hot-baths 24-hours a day free of charge. 

Saratoga Hot Springs Resort offers visitors many amenities including a microbrewery, day spa and guided outdoor adventures, while the Saratoga museum is open during the summer affording visitors a peek into the town’s rich past.

The Saratoga National Fish Hatchery, built in 1915, lies just to the north of town. Visitors are welcome, and the tour is something both children and adults will enjoy. Seemingly out of place in the small rustic town is Shively airfield. 

Although there is no commercial service available here, its 8,400-foot runway is capable of handling all sorts of aircraft including private jets.

Saratoga is a sportsman’s paradise offering anglers a true blue ribbon trout fishing experience in the nearby North Platte River. 

There is also access to big game hunting of all kinds in the nearby mountains and plains. Local guides and outfitters are happy to show their favorite places to “bag a big one”. Saratoga is host to many events throughout the year. 

The Ice Fishing Derby held at Saratoga Lake draws anglers from all around. Also there are rodeos, brew festivals, chili cook-offs, outdoor concerts, art festivals, and even chariot races each year, here in Saratoga. Contact the Saratoga Platte Valley Chamber of Commerce for specific information when visiting The Good Times Valley.

Saratoga Highlights

Hobo Hot Springs SaratogaHobo Hot Pool The hot pool is located on Walnut Street. Much of the history of Saratoga revolves around the world famous mineral hot springs and thermal waters. Native Americans would come and soak in the hot springs which were considered neutral territory. 

Eventually a bath house was built as more and more visitors began coming to the Platte Valley. The same waters that brought the first settlers into the fertile North Platte River Valley still attract travelers and natives. Free and open to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the Saratoga Hot Pool is the ultimate for healthy relaxation with water temperatures ranging from 106 to 119 degrees.

The Historical Wolf Hotel

The Historical Hotel Wolf opened its doors on New Years Eve in 1893 with a gala masquerade ball. Over its lifetime, The Wolf has served as a stop on the Stage line, a barber  shop, a guide/outfitter service, a drive through liquor store and an art gallery. It has also played home to many visiting celebrities. The Wolf Hotel is on the National Register of  Historic Places. Today the Hotel Wolf has been restored and looks much as it did in 1893.

Saratoga Lake

Saratoga Lake Saratoga Lake is a favorite spot for fishing, boating, water skiing, and wind surfing. Just a mile and a half and a few minutes north of town off WYO 130/230, the lake is noted for a year-round fishing excellence. A boat dock makes loading and unloading a piece of cake. Also, the lake campground provides water and electrical hook-ups fora fee and is operated by the Town of Saratoga at 326-8335.

Shively Field 

Saratoga also has an airport with an 8,400 ft paved and lighted runway, with a rotating beacon, tie downs for small aircraft and parking for others. Saratoga Aviation is the fixed base operator and can supply jet A and 100 low lead aviation fuels. Car rentals are available from the FBO.

Platte Valley Community Center

The Platte Valley’s home for art shows, wedding receptions, presentations, performing art, workshops, meeting spaces, educational enrichment and cultural experiences. 210 W. Elm Ave. Saratoga, WY • (307) 326-7822 Visit Website

Saratoga Fish Hatchery

The Saratoga National Fish Hatchery is operated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service is located 4 miles northeast of Saratoga Wyoming off State Highway 130. The hatchery present dates back to 1915 and raises rainbow, brook, Snake River cutthroat, Colorado River cutthroat, and the endangered Greenback cutthroat for stocking. 

Adult cutthroat, brown and lake trout are kept there for breeding. Visitors are welcome to visit the display room, tank room, rearing ponds and raceways. Trout eggs produced from the broodstock are shipped to other federal and state hatcheries nationwide where they are raised for stocking. In 1995 and 1996 the hatchery underwent extensive renovations including the addition of new concrete raceways for the fish. Admission is Free. Visit Website

Saratoga Museum

The Saratoga Museum is housed in what was originally the railroad depot for the town, which was moved to the south hill across from the airport several years ago. Since then the complex has grown to include a caboose, boxcar and other exhibits as well as an extensive guide to the past of Saratoga and the Platte Valley. 

Archeology exhibits, regional railroad display, Bison diorama, history of the local Episcopal Church, several hands-on displays and a summer concert series all make it worth your while to stop at the museum. Local volunteers are very knowledgeable and the museum is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day from 1 to 5 pm. In the off season tours can be easily scheduled. Visit Website

Medicine Bow National Forest

Medicine Bow National Forest Like those distance days, the mountain peaks of Medicine Bow National Forest are a welcoming sight. Besides the promise of relief from summer heat, these mountains offer a wide variety of recreational opportunities. Rock-climbing, rafting, boating, fishing, and trails, available for foot, motorized and stock, are some of the activities enjoyed in the Forest. A number of developed camping locations, located close to recreational activities, offer a convenient place for an overnight stay as well as longer visits.  Visit Website

The Red Sage Spa Located in downtown Saratoga, the Red Sage Spa offers Massage, Body Treatments including mud wraps and body polishes as well as traditional treatments like facials, pedicures and manicures.  307-326-8066 

Saratoga Hot Springs Resort  Indulge in some much-needed ‘me’ time with pampering spa treatments designed to relax the mind, body and spirit through the nurturing, health-healing touch of our skilled therapists. The Saratoga Hot Springs Resort occupies the original State Bath House, which was built in 1902. 

Ideally located at the back of the mineral hot spring courtyard, the Spa offers a welcoming and relaxing environment for treatments and services. Plus a fine selection of retail products including Phytomer Skincare-the latest in marine biotechnology, swimsuits, jewelry, Farm House Fresh soaks and scrubs and Naturopathica body oils. Open daily from 9am to 7pm and by appointment at 307-326-5261, ext. 208. Learn more at:

Saratoga Hot Springs Resort Golf Course and Pro Shop Opened for play since the 1950s, this scenic 3,580-yard, 9-hole course is well known for its cliff-top tee, three over river shots and wildlife rich setting. It offers challenge to golfers of all levels and abilities with excellently conditioned fairways and greens that straddle the North Platte River. It’s the type of course you will enjoy playing again and again.

Stop by the Pro Shop and visit with Matt Daubner, PGA Head Golf Professional. Matt offers private lessons, which is the fastest way to learn. The Pro Shop has everything you need to improve your game including accessories, rental clubs, equipment, and golf apparel. Learn more at:

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