Hat Creek Dateline: 1877-1890 Territorial Elections

Last updated: May 6, 2013

The Lusk Herald
November 11, 1992


Territorial elections are held in 1877
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer


Prior to 1876 that portion of Wyoming Territory north of the North Platte and Sweetwater rivers to Montana and east to the Wind and Bighorn rivers to Dakota territory was treatied to the Sioux as hunting grounds. County lines expended across this area however there were no white settlements and no organized county governments in that northeastern 1/3 of the territory.

The Sioux Indian War and subsequent actions by government officials and the U.S. Congress in 1876-1877 ceded the area from the Indians, turning loose the Black Hills gold rush and opening the area to settlement.

Hat Creek was the first settlement and a strategic stop on the Black Hills trail. The stage station and military post were midway between Fort Laramie and the Black Hills. When John Bowman built the stage station there in 1876, he was the only law north of the Platte River, for he had been elected as a Laramie County constable in the general election on Sept. 1, 1874.

From 1869 to 1880 a general election was held every year in the territory. On the even numbered years the Delegate to Congress and county officers were elected on the first Tuesday of September. On the odd numbered years members of the Territorial Legislative Assembly were elected on the next Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Starting in 1880 all general elections were held on the November date.

In the Sept. 4, 1877 election, John (Jack) Bowman was an unsuccessful candidate for a seat in the Territorial House of Representatives. This was the first election in the territory with a precinct north of the North Platte River, at Hat Creek. Bowman received 42 votes at Hat Creek and 728 in the county, however this was short of the 905 he would have needed to get one of the seven seats Laramie County had in the House.

In 1878 Hat Creek remained the only precinct in all of north-eastern Wyoming. Rawhide Buttes and Fort Fetterman were added in 1879 and Powder River and Jenney Stockade in 1880. By 1882 new precincts were added at Hartville, Running Water, Crazy Woman and Lance Creek (at the 999 Ranch where Lance Creek runs into the Cheyenne River).

From 1878 to 1888 Justices of the Peace and Constables were selected by precinct. Some of these officers at Hat Creek were:

1878: J.P. - John Bowman; Constable - Charles Snyder.
1880: J.P. - J.R. Keyes; Constable - L.J. Brown
1882: J.P. - John Groheer; Constable - W.A. Crabbe
1884: J.P. - Charles Partridge; Constable - W. Cunningham

In the first general election of Converse County in 1888 John Storrie, Hat Creek Postmaster was elected to the Board of County Commissioners and Cornelia M. Lusk was elected Superintendent of Schools.

(Information source: "Wyoming Blue Book, Vol. I," by Virginia Cole Trenholm.)




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