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Outlaws & Crime

The Rock Springs Massacre

On September 2, 1885, long-simmering tensions between white and Chinese coal miners in Rock Springs, Wyoming Territory, boiled over into a massacre in which whites murdered 28 Chinese, wounded 15 more, and looted and burned all 79 shacks and houses in Rock Springs’ Chinatown. Though the remaining Chinese miners wanted desperately to leave Wyoming, the Union Pacific Railroad, which owned the mines, refused to grant them railroad passes or the back pay owed them. The Chinese finally had no choice but to return to work, which kept wages low and the coal flowing from the mines.

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.

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Encyclopedia | In May 1950, Louise Spinner Graf served as foreman of a jury in Green River, Wyo.—practically the first Wyoming jury to include women since 1871. The jury convicted Otto Long of second-degree murder. Afterward, Long’s attorney blamed the outcome on “those damn women.” Women have served successfully on Wyoming juries ever since.
Oral Histories | In May 1950, Louise Spinner Graf served as foreman on the first Wyoming jury, with one minor exception, to include women since 1871. Born in Green River, Wyo., she attended university and worked in local banks. After marrying George Graf in 1930, she quit working to raise their daughter, and remained active in the community the rest of her life.
Encyclopedia | The onset of Prohibition in 1919 not only didn’t stop drinking in Wyoming, it added new layers of lawlessness—bribery, corruption, murder. Enforcement officials had to battle crime in their own ranks, too. One high-profile federal case charged corruption at all levels in Casper, but the jury refused to convict.
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.

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