The Online Encyclopedia of Wyoming History

Two Wyoming soldiers—and the fallout from two contentious Wyoming elections

Two Wyoming soldiers—and the fallout from two contentious Wyoming elections

November 2016

November brings us Veterans Day and Election Day. For Veterans Day, we thought it appropriate to remember the service of Wyoming soldiers 100 years ago, including many who served on the Mexican border and one who went from there to serve in France.
And as this year’s campaign, at least on the national level, has been particularly rough, it also seems a good time to recall two of Wyoming’s harshest political moments: a 1913 fistfight on the floor of the state House of Representatives, and a near-meltdown in Wyoming politics in the wake of the 1892 Johnson County War. 

Guardsmen on the Mexican border

Wyoming National Guard soldiers joined tens of thousands of others from around the nation near the Mexican border in 1916, after regular U.S. troops were sent to chase the revolutionary Pancho Villa and his forces into Mexico. None of the guardsmen saw action, but all received important training as World War I loomed. Read more in historian Carl V. Hallberg’s article “The Wyoming Guard on the Mexican Border, 1916.”.  

Life in the trenches

Bob David’s father managed the vast Carey ranches in central Wyoming. Young Bob grew up on the ranches and later in Wheatland and Douglas. He never liked the life of privilege, though. When the chance came, enlisting to serve on the Mexican border and soon afterward in France was a relief to him. His memories of warfare and the influenza epidemic that followed had a distinctly feverish quality when he wrote them down, 40 years later.  Read more in WyoHistory.org Editor Tom Rea’s article “Bob David’s War: A Wyoming Soldier Serves in France.”

A fracas on the House floor

In 1913, members of the Wyoming House of Representatives—almost equally split between Democrats and Republicans—came to blows during a 45-minute fracas in the House chamber over who should serve as speaker. Learn more in historian Gregory Nickerson’s article “Riot at the 12th Wyoming Legislature: Fisticuffs on the House Floor.”

Gridlock in the legislature

In December 1892, newly elected Gov. John E. Osborne, a Democrat, created controversy by attempting to take his seat a month early. Wyoming still reeled from the aftermath of the Johnson County War, and the 1893 Legislature reflected the political divisiveness when members failed to elect a U.S. senator. Learn more in former WyoHistory.org Assistant Editor Lori Van Pelt’s article, “Gov. John E. Osborne and the Logjammed Politics of 1893.”