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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.

“Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.” 

“Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.”

“Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.”

“A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.”

“Words that soak into your ears are whispered, not yelled.”

“Meanness don’t just happen overnight.”

“Forgive your enemies. It messes up their heads.”

“Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.”

“It don’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.”

“You cannot unsay a cruel word.”

“Every path has a few puddles.”

“When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.”

“The best sermons are lived, not preached.”

“Most of the stuff people worry about, ain’t never gonna happen anyway.”

“Don’t judge folks by their relatives.

“Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.”

“Live a good and honorable life. Then, when you get older and think back, you’ll enjoy it a second time.”

“Don’t interfere with somethin’ that ain’t bothering you none.”

“Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.”

“If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.”

“Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.”

“The biggest troublemaker you’ll probably ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin’.”

“Always drink upstream from the herd.”

“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.”

“Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back in.”


“If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around.”

“Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly and leave the rest to God.”

“Don’t pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he’ll just beat you to death with his cane.”

And remember, “Some days all you can do is smile and wait for some kind soul to come pull your fanny out of the bind you’ve gotten yourself into.”

This advice was printed years ago in a local publication and still applies today. The author is unknown, but you can bet your bottom dollar he had spent a lot of time on the cold, hard, steel seat of an old tractor. As the cowboy saying goes, If it ain’t all true now, it surely will be someday.”

Or as I brag on my historical tours, “I’ll tell you a lot of stories, and a few will even be true.”

And most important, make every effort to shop at home and support the good merchants in your hometown.

Although the date on this “Roundup” may read a day after Veterans Day, it is never too late to salute our veterans and the brave men and women now serving in all branches of the armed forces. – Dick Perue, Air Force veteran and member of Angus England Post 54 American Legion.

While searching for information for this week’s “Postcard” the following interesting facts were discovered:

Ferdinand Branstetter Post No. 1 of Van Tassell, pop. 18, has not only the distinction of being the first American Legion Post organized in Wyoming, but this little post was the first to be established in the United States. Van Tassell, Denver, St. Louis and Washington, D.C. were the first Posts organized, and their charters were all signed June 28, 1919.

The first meeting of the Post was held that same day and called to order by Wyoming State Chairman Alfred H. Beach. A motion was made and carried that the Post be named in honor of Ferdinand Branstetter, who came to Wyoming from Nebraska about 1914 and filed on a homestead south of Van Tassell. Inducted into the service during World War I, he was one of the first from the Van Tassell area to cross the broad seas and fall on the field of honor.

Charter members were: Mitchell Ammons, Floyd Deuel, Edward C. Calhoun, Albert Chapman, Carl Dallam, Harry Heckert, Harrison Kellogg, Forest Porter, Don C. Taylor, George Ringsby, Nels Nelson, Harry Housh, Warren Jones, Joseph Wright, Ernest Hennebeck, Thomas Ammons, Oscar Miller, Hill Z. Boyles, Tula G. Winey, Otis M. Deeder, Andrew Garretson, Warren Waranock, Otto Kanaka, Stanley Peters, Clarence Kuttner, Ward B. Hill, Carl Hayes, Earl Alderman, Ivor Parker, John Zulinski, Haskell Best and O.B. Peterson.

At the Oct. 4, 1919, meeting, the main order of business was the election of Edward Calhoun, Floyd Deuel and Warren Jones as delegates to the first State Convention of the Legion, which was to be held in Douglas. The Commander E.C. Calhoun was also sent as a delegate to the first National Convention of the American Legion, which was held in Minneapolis, Minn.

In 1921, the Van Tassell Post held Memorial Day Services, and through the years, many impressive ceremonies were conducted by members. Post No. 1 assumed the caretaker responsibilities for the Van Tassell cemetery for many years and was responsible for many improvements in the community.

The structure that originally housed the Van Tassell American Legion Post is no longer in existence. However, the site is listed on the National Registry of Historical Places and both a memorial plaque and state historical marker have been erected, as is shown below.

The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization. Focusing on service to veterans, service members and communities, the Legion evolved from a group of war-weary veterans of World War I into one of the most influential nonprofit groups in the United States. Membership swiftly grew to over 1 million, and local posts sprang up across the country.

Today, membership stands at over 2.4 million in 14,000 posts worldwide. The posts are organized into 55 departments – one each for the 50 states, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, France, Mexico and the Philippines.

American veterans who served at least one day of active federal duty during wartime, or are serving now, are potentially eligible for membership in the American Legion. Members must have been honorably discharged or still serving honorably.

A soldier from Saratoga stood guard in Paris, France during the organizational meeting of the American Legion. . . . but, then, that’s another war story.

Poem by Anthony H. Euwer

from November 1919 “Saratoga Sun”

Once every year the President

Proclaims a general day

For folks to get together and

Hold services and pray.

And eat roast turkey by the peck

With cranberries and dressin’,

To show how gratitudinous

They are for every blessin’.

 

But when we gaze down through the maze

Of history and fiction,

You’ll find lots more Thanksgivin’ times

That came without prediction;

Thanksgivin’ times when fate did seem

Most direful, dark and murky,

Nor celebrated with ice cream

Nor cranberries nor turkey.

 

When poor John Smith was just about

Almost burned at the stake,

And Pocahontas begged the chiefs

To save him for her sake,

And when he clasped the maiden dear

And pressed her to him tight,

I guess it was Thanksgivin’ Day

For Johnny Smith all right.

 

When to the Curfew Bessie clung

Until the great bell ceas’d,

Then ran and told old Cromwell bold

Who’d just come from the East,

And for her deed got him to heed

Her Basil’s woeful plight,

I guess it was Thanksgivin’ Day

For Bess and Bas all right.

 

When little Willie Tell so brave

Stood ‘neath the apple red,

And watched the arrow pointed toward

The region of his head,

Then felt the pish – the juice go swish

Down o’er his cheeks so white,

I guess it was Thanksgivin’ Day

For little Billie all right.

 

When that there kid chucked in his fist

Right through the dike’s small hole,

And so saved Haarlem from the flood

That mighty soon would roll,

Saw someone comin’ so that he

Could rest and stretch a mite,

I guess it was Thanksgivin’ Day

For little Dutch all right.

 

When Jonah for three goozly days

Flopped ‘round the whale’s dark tum,

Then finally felt him give a gulp

Till Jonah had to come,

A landin’ him all safe and live

Out in the air and light,

I guess it was Thanksgivin’ Day

For that Jonah boy all right.

 

When honest George decided that

It was best to tell the truth

To keep himself from gettin’ licked,

Way back there in his youth,

And then thought how he had escaped

The birch’s woeful smite,

I guess it was Thanksgivin’ Day

For honest George all right.

 

When what’s-his-name of ancient fame

Beheld the lion’s woe,

And got down on his knees and plucked

The thorn from out his toe,

And when for that the lion he,

Did neither growl nor bite,

I guess It was Thanksgivin’ Day

For both of them all right.

 

And when one day, that hollow tree

Bruce saw and crept inside ‘er,

While o’er the hole a web was wove

By that kind hearted spider,

Which his pursuers seenin’ there,

Passed by as well they might,

I guess It was Thanksgivin’ Day

For Bobby Bruce all right.

 

When Sister Anne from Blue Beard’s tower

For succor long did gaze,

To save her sister from the power

Of her hub’s scandalous ways,

And down the road a cloud of dust –

Oh joy! Oh dear delight!

I guess it was Thanksgivin’ Day

For Blue Beard’s wife all right.

 

And when the check for these here lines

Comes through the wintry weather,

To keep my soul and body both

On friendly terms together,

I can go and feed my face

In a really swell place that night,

Cause it ‘twill be Thanksgivin’ Day

For truly yours, all right!

 

These headlines in the May 23, 1907 issue of the “Wyoming Observer,” published in Saratoga, portrays a controversial election and vote count. The newspaper reports:

The city election was not altogether what some anticipated. The decision of the council was not as some of the members thought it should be, judging from views expressed by them. The decision was not a surprise to any one, especially to those present, who were attentive to the actions of the majority it was plain to see the outcome.

The town clerk had already notified the two men to appear on Saturday night at the town hall at 8:30 p.m. at which time and place a tie vote was to be decided. They were there, the poll book was in Rawlins – a move unnecessary, and the canvas could not be had. Adjournment to Monday night at 8 o’clock, when they again had the book in their hands, but in some manner, and apparently at Rawlins, a technicality was found in the scoring by fives in the Brewer column, which, if correct, gave him one vote to go on. The judges had compared their books with the ballots counted, and their totals had balanced.

Those examining the book, at least a good number of them, expressed their opinion that it was a clerical error, a false stroke of the pen or the pen had run out of ink and the pressure had caused the points to spread, making two feint lines instead of one as intended. Some of the council seemed to think they could not go back of the judge’s total count, having their oath for the correctness of the count.

To settle the matter, Councilman Price made a motion that J.B. Eager and John C. Brewer, having received the highest number of votes, be declared elected. The motion carried.

We now have C.C. Hickok to wield the big stick as mayor and his cabinet of councilors consist of John W. Cluff, C.R. Brenner, John B. Eager and J.C. Brewer.

The political ring rule method seemed to permeate the heart and brain of some who were so afraid of losing control of the affairs of the town. This control is taken into business, to the detriment of the business interests of the town. It is used personally and socially to the detriment of the citizens. The political bosses know full well that with a town united in business, its people united on all other lines for the good of the community and the up-building of the town and community, means without dispute a popular convention for the nomination of town officers, and with this their political controlling power is gone and they are merely political relics of the past.

Many people oppose a centralized government. Some of our best writers tell of its evils to a nation and a commonwealth. It is considered ruinous. It places the control of affairs in too few hands. In the election just closed the appointments made by Mayor Hickok on the night of his qualification are:

C.S. Taylor to succeed himself as marshal; George Broadhurst remains clerk, and J.F. Crawford will handle the wealth of the town.

Editorial comment in the same issue of the paper declared:

A man remarked on the street Monday night that a man who stole a coat or a sheep was sent to the pen for five years. The man who committed murder stood a mighty good show of acquittal, but the man who stole a town council should draw a premium. We wish to ask who is at fault, the man or the council?

Today, as in 1907, your vote does count. Be sure to exercise that right, no matter how painful it seems in 2016.