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Many early settlers along Wyoming rivers and streams were farmers from the Midwest, accustomed to growing crops rather than raising hay and grazing sheep and cattle. Nearly each town had a “Vegetable Man” who attempted to supply fresh produce to locals.
    The following article was obtained from the Aug. 15, 1902 issue of the Grand Encampment Herald and brought to you courtesy of Grandma’s Cabin, a historic group in Encampment, who is preserving history while serving the community. The news item, in part, follows:
    “The local vegetable man is a daily caller at nearly every home in Grand Encampment, supplying the people with the finest fruits from his vegetable gardens.
    “At present, more than six acres of land is blossoming with an abundance of choice vegetables fit for the table of a king. Early in June the radish harvest commenced and continued throughout the entire summer and fall, the planting at regular intervals of time having assured a steady crop of choice varieties for about four months.
    “Before the close of June, ‘The Vegetable Man’ had lettuce for the market, and at this time he brings a large variety of vegetables on his daily trips to the city.
    “The gardens contain beds of radishes, lettuce, cabbage, beans, peas, turnips, parsley, spinach, pumpkins, squashes, cucumbers, beets, celery, potatoes, etc. Every bed or patch is fresh and green and growing under the most favorable circumstances. The raising of celery is a new venture, but at this time the beds look well and give promise of a fine crop.
    “The cabbage patches are well advanced and will give a handsome yield. During the last season several heads weighing 13 pounds each were raised on this ground.
    “Mr. Vegetable Man is one of the few ranchers in this country who grows his crops by the system of sub-irrigation. This fact may not be generally known, but he does not irrigate his gardens by turning water onto the surface of the ground. The one large canal from the South Fork of the Encampment River carries a stream of water through the gardens, and in the center is built a pond or reservoir. From the canal and pond, the water seeps into the ground on either side, keeping it under proper moisture for the steady and vigorous growth of the garden. One small patch of potatoes bas been irrigated in the regular way, but the patch is not a part of the main gardens.
    “Vegetable gardening in Wyoming is profitable. Last season, the farmer harvested 35 tons of vegetables from his gardens and realized a handsome sum of money for the same.”
This poem was originally recited by Frank L. Jones and later copied by Loren “Teense” Willford.
    Wild turkey in the oven and the boys all gathered round

    And they got to kinda talkin’ ‘bout the different things they’d found

    That they could feel thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day, And some, they told it serious-like, and some, they told it gay.
 
    “I’m thankful most for cattle,” says Slim, who thinks a heap.
    “Without them critters in the land we might be herdin’ sheep!”
    Ol’ Bashful claimed that women was the blessing in his life – he must have meant his mother, for he’ll never get a wife!
 
    Tom thanked the Lord that hosses had four legs instead of two, so cowboys don’t have to walk like some poor people do.

    The Foreman he was thankful that the grass was good and long, and Curly said he thanked the stars that he was young and strong.

    And Bud, he blessed his appetite and the way that turkey smelt, and said he felt thanksgiving for the long holes in his belt!
 
    Ol’ Dunk, just kinda sucked his pipe and gazed off toward the hills.
    Well boys, he says, I’m 69 years old and full of liver pills.
    My rheumatism aches me and my pipe is gettin’ stale.
    My hossy days are over, and I’m feelin’ purty pale.
 
    My bunions are so bulblous that I’ve had to split my boot.
    My ears – I’d have to climb the tree to hear a hoot owl hoot.
    Cain’t drown my woes in likker, for my ticker’s on the blink.
    I cain’t even read the cattylogs, the way my blinkers wink.

    I’ve got some nose for smellin’ left – that turkey’s pert near done,
but all the chawin’ teeth I’ve got is about a half of one.
    Ol’ Gus shore savvies fixin’ Turk! I’d like to eat a pound,
    But hell, I couldn’t chaw it if he took and had it ground!

    You talk about Thanksgivin’, boys, and here you see me set,
    A plumb wore-out ol’ cowhand – but I’m mighty thankful yet,
    For every hoss I’ve ever rode and every sight I ever saw,
    But I’m thankful most of all for gravy – which a man don’t have to chaw!
    Frank Jones originally recited the poem “Cowboy’s Thanksgiving” during family gatherings at Thanksgiving beginning about 1900.
    Nationally known Cowboy musician, poet and entertainer Teense Willford first heard it as a kid at those family gatherings and continues to recite it. Teense recently entertained the local coffee club with this rendition and was asked to write it down so we could pass it along to our readers.
    Both Teense and his great-uncle Frank Jones ranched on Calf Creek between Saratoga and Encampment and both served in the Wyoming State Legislature – Frank before 1900 and Teense at the end of the 1900s.
A typed manuscript recently discovered in the Carbon County Museum in Rawlins outlines how an authentic sheep wagon should appear and what it should contain. In part, the untitled and anonymous article states:
    “A sheep wagon is a model of combining a living quarters with a cook house. It was customarily covered with two canvases separated by ribs to effect an insulating, dead air space and tacked over bows that extended from side to side.
    “The back end of the wagon is likewise insulated and carries a window, either sliding or hinged, for ventilation and light. The window is in a frame, which is an integral part of the wagon. The door is in the front end and is of two parts, quite similar to a Dutch door. The lower part is closed when moving. Windows are in the upper part of the door.
    “Upon entering an authentic sheep wagon the combination heating and cooking stove is on the right side with the stovepipe extending through the canvas roof.
    “Suitable cupboards are in back of the stove for cooking utensils and food. The kerosene lamp hangs from a bow. A bench extends from the cupboards to the bed, which is above the wagon box and crosswise of the wagon. The bed is usually of full size with a boxed-in mattress and springs. Under the bed is the ‘cellar,’ where the greater part of the food is carried. A swing door offers access. A sliding table pulls out from under the bed.
    “A second bench on the left side extends from the bed to the front end, sometimes with other cupboards close to the door. The water bucket is usually placed there.
    “On the outside of the wagon and between the front and rear wheels are wooden ‘jockey boxes,’ often metal-lined, to carry flour, sugar, coffee and other supplies. A grain box to provide feed for the horses extends between and beyond the rear wheels and is metal-lined to keep out rodents and water.
    “The sheep wagon has been described as snug and warm when Wyoming blizzards howl. It is truly a home for the herder and camp mover and is a welcome sight for the traveler who is far from home and knows there is sure to be a hot pot of black coffee and a kettle of beans on the stove to provide western hospitality.”
    In the next “Post Card from the Past,” we will conclude our series on sheep wagons with this information, “One of the most fascinating aspects of sheep wagons is the fact that people other than herders made the wagons their home.”
In conclusion of a brief history of the sheep wagon we pass along further comments by Agnes Wright Spring in her feature article, Sheep Wagon Home on Wheels Originated in Wyoming, which appeared in the December 1940 issue of Wyoming Stockman-Farmer.
    The story concluded, “The Schulte Company has continued to make sheep wagons for 40 years and is now turning out, on order, a new type for around $600 – an all metal, flat bottomed wagon, which is streamlined in every detail and is insulated with cellatex. It is mounted on rubber tires. Herders living in these wagons enjoy radios and many modern conveniences and keep snug and warm while blizzards rage.
    “In some locations automobile pick-ups are displacing the faithful, plodding teams used to move the sheep wagons about. In fact, sheep men themselves are using airplanes to go on sheep buying expeditions.
“The sheep industry, including the sheep wagon, unquestionably is keeping abreast of the times.”
    In 1993-94, Mark Junge, then editor of Wyoming Annals, launched a project to update the history of the sheep wagon under the title of “Sheep wagons: Folk Housing in Wyoming.” It included much of the information provided by the Carbon County Museum as well as the Spring article.
    Junge noted, “One of the more fascinating aspects of the sheep wagons is the fact that people other than herders made the wagons their home.
    “Although the image is that of the lone herder and his dog, the reality is that sheepherder’s wives and children often shared the wagon. In a six-and-a-half foot by 10-foot space, one wonders how this was possible!
    “Additionally, the sheep wagon served as temporary housing for folks unrelated to the sheep ranching industry, such as Bill Hudson, who lived in a wagon parked on a vacant lot in Douglas when he attended high school. A sheep wagon was Jessie A. Bryant’s first home, shared with her mother, a Saratoga schoolteacher.
    “Sheep wagons apparently served as temporary housing for many people, especially during the depression years of the 1920-30s.”
    In fact, my first home in the Saratoga area was a sheep wagon. My father, Bob Perue, tells of not being able to acquire a house in 1938 when the family moved from the Laramie Plains to the Pick Ranch below Saratoga, so dad, my mother, a younger brother and I shared a sheep wagon for six months when I was about two years old. In fact, dad used to tell me that I was born in a sheep wagon and I was about 10 years old before I knew the truth.
In previous post cards we’ve outlined the history of the sheep wagon, also known as the original “home on wheels,” invented in Wyoming in 1884. Here’s more of the story.
    In an article written by Agnes Wright Spring in the December 1940 issue of Wyoming Stockman-Farmer and Wyoming Industrial Journal, touted as “Wyoming’s only Agricultural Publication,” it was reported:
    “About 18 years after the first Candlish sheep wagon was put into use, the Schulte Hardware Company of Casper employed Marshall Buxton to make sheep wagons. Buxton had for some time been a buffalo and wild game hunter.
    “The special ‘mountain gear’ manufactured by the Bayne Wagon Company of Kenosha, Wisc. was used for mounting the Schulte bodies. These wagons had seat boxes, a stove, a table and cupboards for supplies. The box was held together by double doors that were strong enough to support the weight of a man. The top was a combination of linoleum, blankets and canvas. When a wagon was first completed the new canvas bagged over the top and looked like a terrible job, but after a rain it drew up ‘tight as a fiddle string.’
    The original Schulte wagon cost $248 plus the cost of the Bayne running gear, which varied from $65 to $195. A wagon with hardwood finish, good for a lifetime, could be furnished for around $1,200.”
    The 1940 feature item noted, “The Schulte Company has continued to make sheep wagons for 40 years and is now turning out, on order, a new type for around $600 – an all metal, flat bottomed wagon which is streamlined in every detail and is insulated with cellatex. It is mounted on rubber tires….”
    But, then, that’s more sheep manure for our next post card.