Ever see the bucking horse and rider? In Wyoming you can’t miss it. The logo appears everywhere—license plates, web pages, the university, military insignia and all kinds of signage and merchandise. Ever wonder where it came from? For starters, try World War I France: One of its earliest versions was on the fuselage of a U.S. Army biplane; a second was painted on the head of a drum. License plates with the bucking horse didn’t come along for nearly 20 years. Read more at Rebecca Hein’s fascinating new article, Wyoming’s Long-lived Bucking Horse.
If you’ve missed any of our other items on World War I in this centennial year—catch up on them via links in a list nearer the end of this newsletter.
And, thanks to our ongoing project on the historic trails of Wyoming, we offer still more this month on various graves, routes and river crossings of the emigrants bound for Oregon, Utah and California in the middle years of the 19th century.
Hundreds of thousands of people came across, and thousands of those wrote letters, kept diaries or told their stories decades later to others who wrote them down. Thanks to Douglas, Wyo.-based scholar Randy Brown of the Oregon-California Trails Association, we are able to share these stories with you—all of them based entirely on firsthand accounts. Read on!
Mary Homsley’s Grave
Seven pioneer graves survive in Wyoming from 1852, when more emigrants traveled the Oregon Trail than any other year. Near Fort Laramie, Mary Homsley and her baby died from measles, nearly as deadly as cholera at the time. She is buried under a stone on which her husband scratched her name. Read more at The Grave of Mary Homsley.
Sarah Thomas’ Grave and the Seminoe Cutoff
Among the many branches and variants of the Oregon Trail was the 35-mile Seminoe Cutoff, which allowed travelers to avoid the last four crossings of the Sweetwater River as well as the difficult climb over Rocky Ridge. Pioneer Sarah Thomas is buried along the route. Read more at The Seminoe Cutoff and Sarah Thomas Grave.
Charles Hatch’s Grave
The California Gold Rush lured many men away from their families. One was Charles Hatch of Wisconsin, who appears to have died of a fever after a June snowstorm near what’s now Farson, Wyo. His grave is on a bluff by the Big Sandy River near the Oregon/California Trail. Read more at The Grave of Charles Hatch.
Elizabeth Paul’s Grave
In July 1862, a large train of 80 wagons was passing through mountains in what’s now western Wyoming when, within a matter of days, serious troubles led to the deaths of two women and their infants. Elizabeth Paul’s grave remains at the site under a tall pine. Read more at The Grave of Elizabeth Paul.
Crossing the Little Sandy
Whether Oregon Trail emigrants took the westbound Sublette Cutoff at Parting of the Ways or the more southerly route toward Fort Bridger, the next water they had to cross was at Little Sandy Creek, running south through the sandy, sagebrush plains west of the Continental Divide. Read more at Crossing Little Sandy Creek.
Crossing the Big Sandy
The main branch of the Oregon Trail crossed the Big Sandy River at present Farson, Wyo. State Highway 28 running southwest from Farson continues to parallel the route. Swales are often visible alongside the highway, sometimes to the right, sometimes to the left. Read more at Big Sandy Crossing.
Still more to come on Wyoming’s historic trails
Watch for more articles this spring about Wyoming’s historic trails, part of our ongoing collaboration with the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Officeand TravelStorysGPS™ of Wilson, Wyo., to add content on the trails to WyoHistory.org that will translate into three-minute, GPS-triggered audio segments available via the free app at TravelStorysGPS™. Special thanks to Randy Brown of the Oregon-California Trails Association, who has supplied us with the many pioneer journal entries on which these articles are based.
More on Wyoming and World War I
See the following for more on Wyoming before, during and after the war:
Buffalo Soldiers in Wyoming and the West
Horses for War: A Market for Wyoming Stockmen
The Wyoming Guard on the Mexican Border, 1916
Noted Beauty Coming: Suffragist Campaigns Across Wyoming
Life on the Home Front: Wyoming During World War I
Bob David’s War: A Wyoming Soldier Serves in France
Paul Kendall’s War
Sky Pioneers: The Airmail Crosses Wyoming
Laramie’s World War I Memorial