Historical Details

Rare 1882 Brand Book Reveals Many Interesting Facts About Early Days

Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 05/24/1956

The Wyoming brand book of 1882 published by The Wyoming Stock Growers’ Association is full of historical information connected with the cattle business of the cattle business of the ‘80s.

When this section of Wyoming along with the Black Hills of Dakota, was ceded by the Sioux Indian tribes to the Federal Government in 1876, many individuals knew of the conditions favorable for livestock grazing. They knew it  was the best short grass country in the whole outdoors. They knew the water was good, although it was far between drinks. The Indians had told them it was the coldest spot in all Wyoming with hard winters, big blizzards, and lots of wind; despite this they were willing to gamble, for the grass that would fatten their livestock.

Before the government could survey the land, the cattle came. There were any amounts of cattle coming north from the plains of Texas to buy. And there was plenty of money available to start a spread; investors in the United States and in the United Kingdom, were eager to furnish the capital. Also, it was easy to get into the cattle business; select a location and running water or a lake, erect a few necessary buildings and bring in the cattle and turn them loose.

All was not sunshine and roses. There were troubles and problems to overcome. Range riders were needed to keep intruding cattle of any other ranchmen off the grazing land one wanted to use. Often times drift fences were built for this purpose. There were too many cattle in the same area for the grass that grew. The railroads came and brought the homesteaders. There were dry summers and grasshoppers; hard winters with one blizzard following another. And it was most likely that of all the handicaps, overgrazing was the worst.

Less than ten years was the span of existence of many of the great cattle barons of the ‘80’s. Smaller ranches sprung up and took their place, and many of these have survived to this time, and are gradually growing larger each year.

The photostatic reprints from the 1882 brand book show a few of the original cattlemen in this section of Wyoming.

The 77 brand was continued for years by Addison Spaugh, although the original owner, T.B. Hord & Co. had disappeared.

The JM ranch of Rawhide was acquired by Silas Harris of Wisconsin over fifty years ago, and has greatly expanded in holdings and is still owned by the Harris family.

Van Tassell’s ranch at the state line that started as a hay ranch, continued for a long period, having been sold by Mr. Van Tassell’s heirs almost five years ago. John Bruegger is living on the old ranch house built about 70 years ago.

The LZ ranch site was selected by Luke Voorhees, probably in the late 70’s, and stocked with cattle bought with money furnished by eastern industrialists. Harry Snyder was foreman in the 80’s; it was here he bought his bride in 1886. Two of his children, the late Nellie Griffith and Vira Olinger, were born while he was there. The Snyder family moved to Lusk in 1895. The original ranch buildings disappeared over 50 years ago.

The CR ranch on Sage Creek was evidently a branch of the largest of all cattle companies, The Swan Land and Cattle Co., with headquarters on the Chugwater south of Wheatland. The capital investment came from Scotland.

The heroic epic of the Swan company could start with the title “cattle on a thousand hills with a hundred brands“. The CR ranch was evidently of a very short period, and came to the ownership of John Storrie. The land is presently owned by George Mill. The original buildings are all gone. However, the Swan company survived for over 60 years before being dispersed during the recent ten years.

The history of the Node ranch has been given in detail in the Frank Lusk history; at this time a few of the buildings mark the site. It has not been occupied for a number of years, and the land is owned by the Dan Jordan family. What was known as the lower or eastern part of the ranch, when owned by Tom Bell, and which included part of the original LZ ranch north of the railroad, is owned by the James Christian family.

Colonel C.F. Coffee came to western Nebraska with the trail herds from Texas and located north of the present town of Harrison, and on Rawhide Creek in Goshen County. Granville Tinnin was manager of the latter for years, followed by Cliff Dorman, both Texans; at this time the O10 Bar is operated by Roscoe “Peach” Shaw.

The Dakota Stock and Grazing Co. with A Circle bar brand claimed land on Indian Creek in eastern Wyoming and in the Hat Creek basin in Dakota.

Mather & Guernsey Cattle Co. with the 999 brand had range on Lance Creek and the Cheyenne River with a post office address at Hat Creek.

J.H Ford with a couple of Cross A’s for his brand, address at Cheyenne, claimed range on Old Woman and Lance Creeks.

Rockford Live Stock Co., P.O. address Hat Creek, Wyoming with TH for a brand was located on Lance, Lightning and Crow Creeks. W.S. Hurlbert, Cheyenne, with a figure 1 over a lazy X, was on Lance Creek, E.R. Hurd, Cheyenne, who had the seven diamond A connected brand, was on Lance Creek and Cheyenne River, Bartlett & Rinker, Rawhide Buttes, Wyoming, who branded 7 box L connected, were on the Rawhide and Muskrat Creeks.

A cow might be a walking directory in those days of the open range lands,with a Texas owners' brand, a spectators' brand or two, and finally one for the last owner. This accounts for the listings of many brands in the early day brand books, by many of the large cattle concerns, to protect their purchases over a period of several years.

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Christian, James (09/07/1915 - 09/13/1976) View Record
Obituary Christian, James (03/30/1884 - 01/02/1962) View Record
Obituary Bruegger, John (09/13/1926 - 06/24/1973) View Record
Obituary Griffith, Nellie (11/07/1888 - 05/02/1955) View Record
Obituary Mill, George (10/08/1906 - 11/06/1975) View Record
Obituary Snyder, Harry (06/24/1861 - 11/23/1916) View Record
Obituary Christian, James (04/08/1885 - 10/12/1952) View Record
Obituary Spaugh, Addison (03/31/1857 - 12/23/1943) View Record
Obituary Storrie, John (10/12/1846 - 03/31/1915) View Record
Obituary Lusk, Frank (04/27/1857 - 08/06/1930) View Record
Obituary Voorhees, Luke (11/29/1834 - 01/16/1925) View Record
Obituary Bruegger, John (12/21/1890 - 10/23/1947) View Record
Obituary Tinnin, Granville (10/31/1873 - 04/11/1942) View Record