The Online Encyclopedia of Wyoming History

Rocky coexistence and a sandstone bulletin board

Rocky coexistence and a sandstone bulletin board

July 2018

The Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho both live on the Wind River Reservation as a result of a supposedly temporary arrangement engineered by the U.S. government in the 1870s, despite the two nations having warred against each other just a few years earlier. WyoHistory.org offers that story this month. We also conclude our extensive Oregon Trails series with articles on the deaths of two young travelers and a site where many carved their names on a rocky bluff.

Arapaho Arrival

In the spring of 1878, about 950 Northern Arapaho people arrived with a military escort on the Eastern Shoshone Reservation in the Wind River Valley in central Wyoming Territory. The two tribes had been in open warfare as recently as four years before, and bad feelings lingered between them. Learn more in WyoHistory.org’s article “The Arapaho Arrive: Two Nations on One Reservation” at https://www.wyohistory.org/encyclopedia/arapaho-arrive-two-nations-one-reservation.

More Oregon Trail sites

Trails historian Randy Brown has written three more articles about Oregon Trail sites. This completes—for now at least—our series about Wyoming’s historic trails.  

The Grave of Nancy Hill
On the Oregon-California Trail in western Wyoming lies the grave of 20-year-old Nancy Hill, who died of cholera while bound for California in 1852. The gravestone, though old, is not original and part of the inscription—“Killed by Indians”—for many years misled locals about the cause of her death. Read more at https://www.wyohistory.org/encyclopedia/grave-nancy-hill

The Grave of Alfred Corum, Forty-niner
Alfred Corum, bound for California in 1849 with two dozen other Missouri men, died on July 4 on the Sublette Cutoff in present western Wyoming. His brother and five other men stayed behind to bury him, deeply saddened on what otherwise would have been a day of celebration. Learn more at https://www.wyohistory.org/encyclopedia/grave-alfred-corum-forty-niner.

Emigrant Spring on the Slate Creek Cutoff
Emigrant Spring, west of the Green River on the Slate Creek Cutoff of the Oregon Trail, offered pioneer travelers cold, clear water, plentiful grass for their livestock and plenty of sagebrush for their cooking fires. And the sandstone bluffs above the spring made a natural bulletin board where thousands carved their names. Read more at https://www.wyohistory.org/encyclopedia/emigrant-spring-slate-creek-cutoff.

These articles conclude—for now, at least—our series about Wyoming’s historic trails, part of a collaboration with the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office and TravelStorysGPS™ of Wilson, Wyo., to transfer to WyoHistory.org the information on many dozens of trails spots from a historic-trails website SHPO developed a dozen years ago, and to make GPS-triggered audio information about the sites available to smartphone-using travelers. To hear audio accounts about more than 60 sites on the historic trails as you drive across Wyoming, download the free app, TravelStorysGPS on your mobile deviceand select the Westward Ho! tour. 

Timely Books!

Rescuing Beefsteak: the Story of a Pragmatic Pioneer Idealist, by Myron Harrison, 169 pages, published by author, 2018. Hardcover $27.98, trade paper $10.99. Available on Amazon.com or directly from the author. Query him at P.O. Box 2758, Jackson, WY 83001, or myron48@mac.com.

Readers interested in the history of the emigrant trails in Wyoming, and especially in the Mormon handcart companies, the Mormon War and life at forts Laramie and Bridger in the 1850s will want to check out this book by Myron Harrison of Jackson, Wyo. Well-written and deeply researched, the book is a life-and-times biography of the author’s ancestor, George “Beefsteak” Harrison, known across Utah around the turn of the last century for the beef, singing and stories he served up for decades at his restaurant in Springville, near Provo.

In 1856, George Harrison, 15, emigrated with his family from Manchester, England, and with the underfed, ill-managed Martin handcart company crossed the plains as far as Deer Creek—present Glenrock, Wyo. There, starving and sick with malaria, he deserted the company and stumbled into the tipi of a French-Oglala Sioux family, who fed him for the winter, saving his life. By way of forts Laramie and Bridger, he eventually made his way with the invading U.S. Army to Utah. There he found his parents and siblings, made a living as a cook, freighter and trader, started a family of his own and finally prospered with the restaurant and an attached hotel.

The book is packed with background about 19th century Utah as it grew from a narrow theocracy to a modern, democratic state. It’s packed as well with vivid detail: One woman among the Martin handcarters remembered for the rest of her life trying to save what remained ofthe feet of her 6-year-old boy, cutting the tendons so the frozen parts could fall away. Of the scissors she used, she wrote, “Little did I think when I bought them in old England, they were bought for such a purpose.”