Roundup of 1884, by Addison A. Spaugh

Addison A. Spaugh in 1883, when he was a range detective for the Wyoming Stock growers Assocation
Addison A. Spaugh in 1883, when he was a range detective for the Wyoming Stock growers Assocation

The OW ranch, on Lance Creek, Wyoming, in 1883
The OW ranch, on Lance Creek, Wyoming, in 1883

Tintype of Addison A. Spaugh as a young cowhand.
Tintype of Addison A. Spaugh as a young cowhand.

Last updated: August 19, 2011

Lusk Free Lance
May 17, 1934

Addison A. Spaugh Looks Back Half a Century to Day He Started on Famous OW Roundup of 1884; Was Foreman

Half a century is a long time to anyone — more years than many live, but for A. A. Spaugh, prominent pioneer stockman of this county, it marks merely a part of his life spent in Wyoming, during which he has experienced many things we read about in books. Fifty yeara ago Tuesday, Mr. Spaugh, then a man of less than thirty years, started out from Hat Creek station as foreman of one of the great roundups of 1884, any one of which has made history for this state.

The particular roundup in which Mr. Spaugh "bossed," and was assisted by his brother, Curtis Spaugh, lasted for six weeks, and covered the vast territory m which the Cheyenne River and its tributaries flow, west of the Black Hills.

Roundups were roundups in those days. There were no fences or gates to worry about, and the range was there for those who arrived first. Before that, roundup, which is known as Number 15 in the records of 1884 Roundups, was completed, a total of 200 men and 2,000 saddle horses had figured in the gathering of more than 400,000 head of cattle. It was one of the largest of the spring gather-ups in the state. It started May 15th at the head of Sage Creek, coursed thence to the OW ranch, down to Old Woman creek to mouth; thence up Lance creek to head; thence to head of Harney creek, down Harney creek to mouth, working Twenty Mile; thence across to Walker creek; working to Beaver Dam on Lightning creek; thence to Cow creek; thence down Snyder creek to mouth; thence up Lodge Pole to head thence down Black Thunder to Cheyenne river; thence up Cheyenne River to mouth of Antelope and tributaries to head; finally working Dry creek, Box creek and head of Lightning creek.

There were others on that roundup, who since helped to make history for the state and who rose to fame in later years. Many have died but Mr. Spaugh in relating the anniversary occasion, named such men as the late U. S. Senator John B. Kendrick, Billy Irvine, Lee Moore, J. W. Hammond, deceased; and Mark Beathem, Tom Bell and Harry Crane, who still survive, as having worked with him on this roundup.

Mr. Spaugh came to Wyoming in August, 1875, worked as a ranch hand and cowboy through the years preceding and including 1884. The following year he started in the cattle business for himself, and has since that time been continuously engaged in the stock-raising industry.

He was foreman of the famous OW ranch at the time it was owned by A.R. Converse. The late Senator Kendrick followed him as foreman of the OW outfit.

So interesting was Mr. Spaughs information on this phase of Wyoming's early history, that we persuaded him to write an article relating some of the details of the 1884 roundup, which he has been so kind as to do. The article will be found in another column of this issue.



THE FAMOUS OW ROUNDUP OF 1884
By A. A. Spaugh, Foreman of Roundup No. 15

Editor's Note: - The following letter, written by Addison A. Spaugh pioneer rancher and stockman of this county, tells of many of the interesting incidents which took place during and preceeding the famous OW Roundup of 1884. This information, authoritatively given by Mr. Spaugh, who was foreman of the spring roundup that year, will, we are certain, be thoroughly enjoyed by our readers and we take greatest pleasure in offering it in these columns. Tuesday marked the 50th anniversary of the date when that famous roundup began.

Manville, Wyoming
May 14, 1934
Mr. Arthur Vogel, Editor
Lusk Free Lance
Lusk, Wyoming

Dear Mr. Vogel: -

Pursuant to our talk yesterday, I am writing you some pioneer history leading up to the famous OW Roundup of 1884.

In the summer of 1879, John Kendrick drove a herd of cattle from Texas up the Chisholm Trail for C. W. Wulfgen and turned them loose in the late summer just west of the old Madden ranch, a stage station on the Cheyenne and Black Hills Trail, on what was then known as the west prong of Running Water, later on taking the name of Quinn Creek, and on another creek north called Duck Creek. During the winter the cattle drifted over on the head of Old Woman Creek.

In the spring of 1880, they gathered the cattle and drove them down onto Lower Lance Creek, near where the old Warren postoffice was located later on, and built the ULA ranch, and located there permanently.

In the summer of 1880, while on a roundup where the town of Wheatland is now located, I was introduced to Mr. H. S. Manville and James S. Peck by A. H. Swan, the owner of the Swan Land & Title Company, who had contracted a herd of 2,000 Oregon cattle to be delivered to Manville & Peck on the Laramie Plains in August of 1880. They wanted to hire a man to receive the cattle after having looked up and located a range for them. I was working for John Sparks at the time from his ranch at Pine Bluffs. After the roundup was over, I joined Mr. Manville in Cheyenne for the purpose of looking up a location for his cattle. We bought a team of horses and a buggy in Cheyenne and started north.

Manville & Peck were much impressed with the land and ranch in Cheyenne Pass 30 miles northwest of Cheyenne which was offered for sale, but I argued with them that if they were looking for a summer resort, that would be a fine place, but if they wanted to build up a cattle ranch, we should go some place north of the North Platte River. We went from Cheyenne to Ft. Laramie and from there to Ft. Robinson to look over the White River country and from there to Hat Creek staion on the Cheyenne & Black Hills stage line, looking over the country en route.

We met a man at Hat Creek by the name of O. C. Wade, who had a mule train and also an ox train freighting on the Cheyenne-Black Hills Trail. He also had a ranch and 1,200 head of cattle 8 miles west of Hat Creek on the Old Woman Creek. There was nothing to the ranch but a squatter's right, as the country had not at that time been surveyed, a dug-out, a small stable, a corral and a small tract of land fenced in for a meadow. But he did have 1,200 head of fine cattle on the ranch. He wanted to sell the cattle and ranch, and we were not long in making a trade with him, since people bought cattle in those days by book account, taking the man's word for what he had. Mr. Manville thought that was like buying a school of fish in the sea, but the trade went through.

We looked the cattle over for a day or so, as best we could, as there was no other cattle on the range at that time, and saw that they were all well branded with an OW on the left side. Wade also had a few saddle horses which we bought. We left a man in charge of the ranch and cattle and Mr. Manville and I returned to Cheyenne to make (preparations) to receive the Oregon cattle on the Laramie Plains from Mr. Swan. I bought some saddle horses and rigged up a camp wagon in Cheyenne and pulled out for the Laramie Plains where we received the cattle and drove them down across the mountains, just east of Laramie Peak, across the Platte River at the mouth of Muddy.

It was on this trip up the Muddy that I discovered the Spanish Diggings. Thinking I had discovered a Spanish gold mine, I reported the fact to Mr. Manville and he reported it to Adams and Glover, two drug store men in Cheyenne, who had two men mining in the Hartville country by the name of Locke & Stein and who afterwards made some exploration of the Diggings, I will write more about the Spanish Diggings later on.

We arrived safely at the OW ranch with the cattle. It was on the fall roundup of 1880 in the Lance Creek country that I first met John Kendrick. After the roundup was over, I hired a woodsman, whose name I cannot remember now, and a man to help him, and set them to work to build a house of logs and a barn and prepare for winter, for we had already put up what hay there was in the meadow and stacked it in the corral near where the barn was to be built.

That winter we organized what was called The Converse Cattle Co. in Cheyenne with a capital stock of one million dollars. W. C. Irvine who owned the JY herd on the north side of the North Platte River consisting of about 5,000 head of cattle, where the railroad station of Irvine is now located, went in with us, and was made vice-president of the company. A. R. Converse, president of the First National Bank of Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory, also joined us and was made president of the company. Mr. H. S. Manville was made general manager, Mr. James S. Jeck, secretary and Treasurer and I was made the range manager.

During that winter of 1880 and 1881, I succeeded in getting a very good ranch built up: a three room log house, a store house for storing provisions, which was very necessary in those days when we bought our supplies in large quantities, a good log barn that would hold twenty horses, wagon shed, blacksmith shop, which was also very necessary on a well equipped ranch in those days.

In the spring of '82 and before the spring roundup started, we bought the Horse Shoe Bar herd on the head of Lance Creek from a man by the name of Andy Carr. Later on, we bought the V5 ranch on Lance Creek from a man by the name of Harkness, where the Lance Creek oil field is now located. Still later we bought the U Bar L ranch on Lance Creek, ten miles below the V5, and a little later bought the ULA ranch from Kendrick & Wulfgen which was located in Lower Lance Creek. These outfits consisted of about 3,000 head of cattle to each outfit, but no land was purchased with these ranches as at that time the land had not been surveyed, and we could get only a squatter's right with each ranch.

Following the sale of the ULA ranch to the OW outfit, Kendrick took an interest in the 77 ranch on Wyatt Creek, a tributary to Lance Creek, with T. B. Hord, and did much improving and building at the 77 ranch which still stands out as his handiwork in ranch building today.

It will be fifty years ago tomorrow, May 15th, 1934, that Kendrick met me and many others at the OW ranch for the famous OW Roundup of '84. We made the first roundup that morning at Hat Creek station on the Cheyenne-Black Hills stage line. There were about 20 different cattle outfits represented by nearly 200 men with 2,000 horses. Among them were:

Tom Bell Cattle Co, Range, Lance Creek, 15,000 cattle.
Boyd Bros. OU. Range, Cheyenne River, 10,000 cattle.
J.M. Carey & Bro., CY, Range, Platte River, 60,000 cattle.
Carlisle Cattle Co, COD, Range, Powder River, 10,000 cattle.
Concord Cattle Co., COD, Range, Powder River, 10,000 cattle.
C. F. Coffee, 010 Bar, Range, Hat Creek Basin, 10,000 cattle.
M.O. Connors, MC, Range, Powder River, 8,000 cattle.
Converse Cattle Co., OW, Range, Lance Creek , 40,000 cattle.
Dater Bro. & Co., O Bar O, Range, Cheyenne River, 15,000 cattle.
Davis & Robins, Spectacle Brand, Powder River, 9,000 cattle.
J. H. Ford, A. Range, Cheyenne River, 12,000 cattle.
Plunket Cattle Co., EK, Range, Powder River, 15,000 cattle.
Dr. E. B. Graham, 04, Range, Running Water, 8,000 cattle.
Hammond Cattle Co., 4W, Range, Cheyenne River, 9,000 cattle.
Mike Henry, 88, Range, Cheyenne River, 8,000 cattle.
T. B. Hord, 77, Range, Lance Creek, 7,000 cattle.
Geo. Keeline & Sons, Hog Eye Brand, Platte River, 15,000 cattle.
Ogallala Cattle Co., Keystone Brand, Cheyenne River, 60,000 cattle.
Union Cattle Co., Bridle Bit, Range, Cheyenne River, 50,000 cattle.
Suffolk Cattle Co., AU7, Range, Cheyenne River, 25,000 cattle.
Circle Bar Outfit, Range, Indian Creek, 30,000 cattle.
Bar T. outfit, Range, Indian Creek, E. W. Whitcomb, 15,000 cattle.
Major Wolcott, VR, Range, Platte River, 15,000 cattle.


This roundup is listed on the roundup bill of 1884 as number 15, and it worked the Cheyenne River and all its tributaries west of Hot Springs, So. Dakota. It rounded up and worked 400,000 cattle in six weeks. I was the foreman of this roundup, and C. E. Spaugh was the assisant foreman to the mouth of Black Thundrr on the Cheyenne River and J. B Moore was the assistant foreman.

What Happened after the Roundup
The Cheyenne River Ranges and its tributaries became badly overstocked. In the winter of 1885, I sold out my interest in the OW outfit and started the ranch that I now own at the head of Running Water and Lance Creek. W. O. Irvine, the vice president of the Converse Cattle Co., took over the range management of the OW outfit. A year later, he accepted the management of the Ogallala Land & Cattle Co., and the OW outfit. This was about 1886 and 1887, and he moved the outfit to Hanging Woman in northern Wyoming where he operated a cattle ranch up to the time of his death.

What happened to A. A. Spaugh, the foreman of the Roundup of '84, will be related in a book entitled, 'Fifty-Seven Years in the Shadows of the Rockies," which means all the way from Old Mexico to Canada.

Yours Truly,

A. A. Spaugh
Addison A. Spaugh

P.S. - I have a photograph taken ten years ago of the survivors of the Roundup of '84. Among them were Senator Kendrick, Tom Bell, Lee Moore, Mark Beatham, Billy Irvine, C. L. Talbot, Harry Crain, J. W. Hammond, A. A. Spaugh. Four from this group have since passed away. Among those in this community who were here during the roundup of '84 are Edward M. Arnold, Lee Miller, Frank Decastro, Harry Card and Jack Blackwell.


Photos from Fred A. Rosenstock, Denver; published in When Grass Was King: Contribution to the Western Range Cattle Industry Study, Colorado Press, 1956




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