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Agriculture

Making a Home in Empire, Wyo.

Two highly educated families of African-American farmers founded Empire, Wyo., near the Nebraska line northeast of Torrington in 1908. At one time it boasted school, church and post office. But drought, low crop prices and, evidence shows, the racial prejudices of their neighbors drove the people away; all were gone by 1930.

J. B. Okie, Sheep King of Central Wyoming

The vivid, charismatic J. B. Okie raised sheep near Badwater Creek at the turn of the last century, and was so successful he was called “Sheep King.” A businessman with great vision, he soon owned half a dozen stores in small towns in central Wyoming, and eventually an equal number in Mexico. Lost Cabin, Wyo., named for the legendary Lost Cabin Mine, was his base. Okie built an opulent mansion there, a big bunkhouse for employees, bungalows for guests, an office building, a roller rink, a golf course and an aviary full of birds of paradise (left), cockatoos and macaws.

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Encyclopedia | Two highly educated families of African-American farmers founded Empire, Wyo., near the Nebraska line northeast of Torrington in 1908. At one time it boasted school, church and post office. But drought, low crop prices and, evidence shows, the racial prejudices of their neighbors drove the people away; all were gone by 1930.
Encyclopedia | Frontier newspaperman Asa Mercer began the controversial Northwestern Live Stock Journal in Cheyenne in the 1880s, backing stockmen’s interests. But when prominent cattlemen-vigilantes invaded Johnson County in 1892, he attacked them stridently in his paper and later in The Banditti of the Plains, the book for which he’s best remembered.
Oral Histories | Frank Shepperson has ranched with his family northwest of Casper, Wyo., for many years. In this 2014 interview, Shepperson, a former national rodeo champion, talks at length about rodeo, ranching—and airplanes. He is a past president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association and former chairman of the Natrona County School Board.
Encyclopedia | Moncreiffes, Wallops, Careys and other Wyoming dealers offered local stockmen high prices for tens of thousands of horses for British and French markets during the Boer War and World War I. After that war, the U.S. Army expanded its remount service to improve bloodlines for horses for military markets.
Encyclopedia | In the early 1900s, Jewish families came from eastern cities to Goshen County, Wyo., seeking a better life in the West. They farmed, raised families, founded schools and worshiped in private homes. Many were discouraged by the harsh farm life, however, and nearly all left by the 1930s.
Encyclopedia | The great Wild West showman, Buffalo Bill, failed as a capitalist leading large irrigation projects in northern Wyoming but succeeded in founding the state’s tourist industry and his namesake town, Cody—where the tourist dollar still sustains life.
Encyclopedia | Passed in 1934, the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 regulated the public range around a system of grazing leases after 50 years of dispute over what to do with public lands in Wyoming and the West. The Bureau of Land Management manages most of the state’s federal lands today.  
Encyclopedia | Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin was still largely unsettled in 1900 when irrigation-minded Mormon colonizers from Utah established the towns of Byron and Cowley, expanded Lovell and began digging the Sidon Canal on the Shoshone River. Their influence settled and stabilized a previously lawless part of the state. 

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