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Wyoming in the 1890s


Wyoming landscape
Wyoming landscape

The open-range cattle industry, still reeling from the disasters of the late 1880s, was struggling for economic survival in the early 1890s. Many of the ranchers’ difficulties were the result of what had plagued the industry in the earlier decade—absentee ownership, poor management, and overstocking of the range. Nonetheless, many owners of large ranches accused small ranch operators of stealing cattle. Conflict between the owners of small and large ranches came to a head in 1892 when cattle barons hired Texas gunmen and invaded Johnson County to capture alleged cattle thieves.

The invaders surrounded a ranch cabin occupied by two men they suspected of stealing cattle. After a standoff lasting most of one day, the two men, Nate Champion and Nick Ray, were killed. County residents, angered by the vigilante behavior, armed themselves and surrounded the cattle ranchers and Texas mercenaries who were holed up in a barn on a nearby ranch. In an attempt to avoid further bloodshed, President Benjamin Harrison sent in cavalry troops to resolve the problem. The cattle ranchers and their hired gunmen were escorted back to Cheyenne for trial. Soon after their arrest, they were set free and no trial was ever held. The incident temporarily damaged the careers of both Warren and Carey who were accused of protecting the large cattle ranchers. "Wyoming" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.

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