WyoHistory.org

The Online Encyclopedia of Wyoming History

A Black man lynched, and elk populations protected

A Black man lynched, and elk populations protected

December 2020

This month, we feature one man’s efforts to feed hungry elk, and a vicious lynching in Laramie.

Jackson Hole rancher-outfitter feeds elk, spawns National Elk Refuge

Stephen Leek’s efforts to save the starving elk of Jackson Hole came when survival of the entire species was doubtful. The founding of the National Elk Refuge in 1912 was one result—a huge achievement. But feeding wildlife in herds leads to disease, we now know. And Leek himself was a decidedly complicated man. Read more in John Clayton’s article “Stephen Leek, Father of the Elk.”

Many witnesses, all silent before the grand jury

In 1904, a Laramie mob hanged African-American Joe Martin from a light pole near the courthouse, drawing a crowd of 1,000 people or more. Despite having called several witnesses, a grand jury brought no indictments. And lynchings of Black men became more and more frequent in Wyoming in the coming two decades. Read more in Kim Viner’s article “The Lynching of Joe Martin.”