First election held at Hat Creek
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
September has been a busy month. Hat Creek was a voting precinct for the first time in the 11th general election to be held in Wyoming Territory on Sept. 2. A disastrous fire occurred on Sept. 25 in Deadwood.
For the first time since Wyoming Territory was created, in 1868, there were voting precincts in the northern two-thirds of Laramie County in the recent general election. Hat Creek and Raw Hide Buttes were the only precincts open north of Fort Laramie, even though the county extends all the way to the Montana border. There were nine voters at Raw Hide Buttes and 32 at Hat Creek who cast their ballots for members of the territorial legislative assembly.
Republican M.E. Post was the top vote getter in the Legislative Council race with 1,338 votes in the county. H. Glafcke, a Democrat was second with 913 votes, E.P. Johnson had 879 votes, Thomas Swan another Republican was fourth with 868 votes and Charles Hecht, who bought the stage station, was the next runner up with 702 votes.
In the House of Representatives election, the number of voters for those elected from Laramie County were; J.S. Taylor 782, S.K. Sharpless 1,355, W. C. Irvine 900, E.W. Mann 789, W.J. Hardin 988, B.F. Deitrick 739, Thomas Conroy 852 and John E. Davis 995.
Charles Hecht has purchased the Hat Creek Ranche, including the stage station, 200 acres under fence, buildings, corrals, and 400 American cattle. The price paid for this fine ranche was around $10,000. Hecht is one of the biggest bull train operators in the area, having freighted from Cheyenne to Fort Laramie and Fort Fetterman for several years before the Black Hills' gold rush started, he is often referred to as the "boss freighter." He brands his work with a 7U (seven-U). Hecht and his bull trains have had several thrilling encounters with Indians, outlaws and the weather along the Cheyenne to Black Hills' route. (Note the painting in the Senior Center in Lusk, by Elsie Christian, is of some of Hecht's bull trains at Hat Creek).
John (Jack) H. Bowman who built the Hat Creek Ranche in 1876, has moved to Gunnison County, Colo. He brought his bride, Sallie C. Smith, from Denver to Hat Creek soon after opening the station. He had been frequently deputized to assist in the arrest of outlaws. He has been one of the most reliable station masters along the entire Cheyenne to Black Hills route. (Note: He was elected sheriff of Gunnison, Colo., in 1883).
The fire in Deadwood, D.T., on Sept. 25, destroyed most of the business area of the town. These businessmen began rebuilding before the embers had hardly cooled.
Immediately after their telegrams started coming through here to Cheyenne, ordering new stocks of goods and supplies. Freighters will be very busy for the next few weeks.
(Information source: "They Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage and Express Routes," by Agnes Wright Spring; "Wyoming Cowboy Days by Guernsey, Wyoming, Blue Book Vol. 1," by Trenholm; "John Hunton's Diary 1878-'79," by Pat Flannery.)