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Outlaws & Crime

The Spring Creek Raid: The Last Murderous Sheep Raid in the Big Horn Basin

On April 2, 1909, seven cowmen attacked a sheep camp near Spring Creek in the southern Big Horn Basin. The raiders killed three men, kidnapped two others, killed sheep dogs and dozens of sheep and destroyed thousands of dollars of personal property. It was the deadliest sheep raid in Wyoming history. Unlike many previous incidents after which raiders went unpunished, however, prosecutors this time were successful and five raiders were jailed, marking the end of 15 years or more of violence between cattle- and sheepmen.

The Johnson County War: 1892 Invasion of Northern Wyoming

In April 1892, a private army of 52 cattle barons, their employees and hired Texas guns invaded Johnson County in northern Wyoming, intending to kill as many as 70 men they suspected of being rustlers or rustler sympathizers. The invaders managed to kill two men before word got out, and they were surrounded by an angry posse. Troops from nearby Fort McKinney intervened. The invaders were escorted back to Cheyenne, where they were charged but never brought to trial. The event ended in ambiguity and political division in the new state of Wyoming.

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Encyclopedia | In August 1922, five U.S. Marines “invaded” the U.S. Naval Petroleum Reserve at Teapot Dome in central Wyoming to evict oil drillers the government had determined were there illegally. Bribery connected with acquiring those drilling rights eventually led to the Teapot Dome scandal—one of the worst in U.S. politics.
Encyclopedia | On a jittery night in 1864, a lone warrior stole three horses from a California-bound wagon train west of present Glenrock, Wyo. Early next morning, emigrant Martin Ringo died from an accidental gunshot. His grave is still there, on private land. Johnny Ringo, his son, was later a famous outlaw. 
Oral Histories | Former sheepherder, ranch foreman and schoolteacher Henry Jensen was past president of Wyoming’s historical and archeological societies. One day in the early 1990s he and Casper science teachers Dana Van Burgh and Terry Logue drove southwest from Casper to Devil’s Gate, noting all kinds of geology, archeology and history along the way. 
Encyclopedia | The 1911 murder of newlyweds Edna and Thomas Jenkins remains unsolved. But the crime on a ranch south of Tensleep still fascinates because of senselessness, the lack of hard evidence pointing at any single suspect—though three were considered—and the social prominence of the victims.
Encyclopedia | Clabe Young came with his brothers from Texas to Wyoming Territory in the late 1870s and cowboyed for prominent ranchers including Tom Sun and Boney Earnest. The Young brothers fell under suspicion of rustling by the powerful Wyoming Stock Growers Association, whose leaders hired a Chicago detective, John Finkbone, to set the matter straight.
Encyclopedia | Recurring oil theft on the Wind River Reservation in the 1970s eventually led to better practices that focus on preventing such losses and protecting American Indian tribes’ oil and gas revenues. 
Encyclopedia | News stories published about the July 20, 1889, hanging of Ella Watson and Jim Averell contained inaccuracies that historians and others accepted as fact for more than 100 years, leading to a variety of misunderstandings and resulting in questions about truth and history that haunt researchers today.
Encyclopedia | Train robber and confessed murderer Big Nose George Parrott was lynched in downtown Rawlins, Wyo. in 1881, after he tried to break out of jail. Later, local physician and future Wyoming Gov. Dr. John Osborne had a pair of shoes made from the outlaw’s skin.

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