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Bull named ‘Wyoming’ Grand Champion of 1916 Denver Stock Show

Written by Dick Perue

With the 2017 National Western Stock Show in full swing, headlines and articles on the internet proclaim, “The National Western Stock Show is considered the Super Bowl of Livestock Shows as one of the World’s Largest Cattle Shows! The National Western Stock Show hosts nearly 20 breeds of cattle during its 16-day run. Visitors are able to view traditional competition among exhibitors of breeding animals ultimately used for seedstock in agricultural production, including beef cattle, sheep and goats. Viewing these events is all part of the Stock Show experience and can be done with a grounds admission ticket.”

Hundreds of exhibitors and viewers from across Wyoming have enjoyed the National Western Stock Show for over a century. Following is an article from the hometown newspaper 100 years ago.

Registered Hereford bulls from the fertile Upper North Platte River Valley in south central Wyoming captured several top prizes at the 1916 Denver (Colorado) Stock Show.

Grand Champion Hereford bull was “Wyoming,” a senior yearling sired by Beau Carlos II from the Davis Ranch located along the North Platte River between Saratoga and Encampment. The bull was bred and shown by ranch owner L.G. Davis and sold in the livestock sale for $5,000 – the highest price ever paid for a bull at that time.

Capt. Davis Progressive Rancher

According to an article in “The Saratoga Sun,” Cap. Davis established the JX ranch, eight miles south of Saratoga, on the North Platte about 1900. He was known as “Captain” after returning from serving with Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders in the Spanish American War.

Enterprising and energetic, Davis experimented successfully with irrigation and the raising and feeding of alfalfa and native hay. Irrigation ditches he plowed at the turn of the last century are still in use today. His Hereford cattle gained a national reputation, and in addition to topping the Denver sale, he also received the highest price paid for a carload of steers at the Kansas City market in the 1910s.

When he established the valley’s first herd of over 100 registered Hereford cattle, the “Laramie Boomerang” newspaper reported that he had started a Hereford breeding revolution:

The cattle were a departure from those of the past – heavier bone, shorter legs, longer barrel and heavier weight,” all of which contributed to greater meat development.

Louis Grant Davis married Helen Elizabeth Turnbull in 1891 in Saratoga. She came from Illinois to teach in the valley. She was a college graduate, which was most unusual for women at that time, according to a family history account. They had two children, Dorothea and Robert (Bob).

Lou was one of the most colorful and well-known members of the town of Saratoga, and he and his wife frequently entertained the governor and well-known leaders of the state at the Davis Ranch. An undated picture in the Martin/Perue collection shows President Teddy Roosevelt and Capt. Davis on horseback at an undisclosed location – possibly the Davis Ranch. Others in the photograph include Wyoming Gov. Brooks and Sen. Warren.

A natural leader, Capt. Davis was president of the Saratoga Valley Stock Growers Association in 1900 when the organization’s first action was the printing of a brand book.

When the Saratoga State Bank was charted on April 1, 1899, Davis was a founding director for the Cosgriff Bros. When the Cosgriffs sold out in 1920, Davis became bank president. He held that office until 1926 when the bank was sold. At that time, he also sold his ranch to R.J. Spears and retired to Kansas City, Mo.

Presently, the ranch is part of the Kelly Cattle Co. Over the years it was also known as the Lazy River and McIlvaine’s Lazy CJ.

Capt. Davis returned to his beloved Wyoming in 1951 at age of 84 to be buried with military and state honors in the Cheyenne cemetery.