Cattle Barons vs. Ink Slingers:
The Decline and Fall of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (1887-1894)
By Ross F. Collins
Department of Communication
North Dakota State University
Fargo, ND 58105-5075
Tel 701 231-7295
Fax 701 231-7784
[log in to unmask]
Cattle Barons vs. Ink Slingers:
The Decline and Fall of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (1887-1894)
I. Introduction: Cattle Speculation in the Gilded Age.
The enormous influence of the cattle industry in gilded age America reached
its zenith in the 1880s cattle capital of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Money and
influence from the East and overseas flowed into this upstart frontier town
tied to civilization by a pair of Union Pacific tracks. It led to
Cheyenne's unlikely nickname, "little Wall Street." Where in Cheyenne
was little Wall Street? It was, of course, Sixteenth Street, where stood
the headquarters of the Cheyenne Club. That is, offices of the Wyoming
Stock Growers Association.
The club as a comfortable repose for association members came to life based
on the fortunes of some of the gilded age's richest financiers. The
economic boom of the industrial revolution left lucky families holding more
wealth than they knew what to do with. Particularly they worked from the
great financial centers of Britain, then the world's superpower, but also
from other prosperous European cities, as well as great industrial cities
of the Eastern United States. Capital looking for a home in which to grow
saw potential in a newly emerging big business, the cattle trailing industry.
How could the practice of cattle-grazing in the frontier west offer
potential to investors thousands of miles away? Easy: lots of money meeting
a growing industry promising amazing returns within months. Who with money
to burn wouldn't want to invest? For a fair comparison, think "dot-com
investment" in 1999.
Like the dot-com financial bubble of our own recent memory, the cattle
industry began with a good idea backed by lots of money. After the U.S.
Civil War wandering Texas longhorns owned by nobody met a healthy market
for beef back east. Problem: how to get those beeves to the eastern market.
Solution: hire a few cowboys to drive herds north to rail heads. Cost of
cattle: nothing, although rounding up feisty longhorns demanded
considerable skill. Cost of feed: nothing; cattle could graze on the open
range. Cost of labor: little; cowboys could be hired for the drive, sent
home for the winter. Profit: depended on whom you talked to, but 60 to 100
percent seemed optimistically reasonable.
A burgeoning cattle trailing industry reached the northern plains by the
late 1870s, finally made safe for the cattlemen after the huge tracts of
semi-arid grassland stood abandoned by Indian (pent up in reservations) and
buffalo (slaughtered). The railroad needed settlement along its lonely
routes, and so promoted cattle as ideal in remote lands such as Wyoming
Territory. Promoters like Brisbin joined in, but these would not have had
the powerful voice they enjoyed far away from cow country had it not been
for their partners in promotion, the newspapers. In fact frontier
journalists found it among their most important first tasks as pioneer town
developer. To "boom" the town and encourage settlement would assure growth
and prosperity in what usually began meagerly as a few shacks by the
tracks. Frontier newspaper circulations normally included larger
circulations shipped back east than purchased locally. The investment
potential of a growing cattle industry bled into the big eastern dailies,
and from there to the press of Europe, particularly in London and
Edinburgh. "The stories of vast profits to be made on the range, which
these agencies spread all over the country, could not fail to cause a rush
of men and capital into these new areas."
By the beginning of the 1880s people who barely knew a cow from a camel
spent fortunes on cattle company stock, sometimes without knowing whether
the on-site manager could be trusted, or whether the company even existed
beyond its ornate stock certificates. The wealthiest investors, however,
could do more than talk steers over sherry in Edinburgh. They could visit
their investment on site by merely hopping a train in New York and hoping
off in Cheyenne a few days later. Whence they would make their way to the
sumptuous Sixteenth Street building of the Cheyenne Club. For the men
arriving from Edinburgh, Paris, London, New York, Boston, and other great
cities, stock grower association secretary William Sturgis assured that his
cow town had available a comestible supply meeting their expectations:
Mumm's and Piper Heidseick champagne, sherry, Bass ale, Roquefort cheese,
Such could only be expected of men who moved herds in the hundreds of
thousands, worth millions. Between 1870 and 1900 British investors alone
poured $40 million into western cattle operations. The largest Wyoming
concern, Swan Land and Cattle Company, in 1886 owned 123,500 head of
cattle, 579,000 acres of land. Great fortunes from New York and Boston
were no less prominent in Cheyenne, as the lure of easy money in cattle
reached a speculative frenzy. "It is doubtful whether any other aspect of
western economic development held the same fascination for Americans in the
1880s as did the range cattle industry." By 1885 members of the Wyoming
Stock Growers represented two million head of cattle worth $100 million,
its power reaching through the entire state and into South Dakota and
Nebraska. In 1886 three Wyoming counties alone, Albany (Laramie city),
Laramie (Cheyenne city) and Johnson (Buffalo city) accounted for 483,290
head of cattle.
The association's power reached further than simply membership based on
property. Wyoming, more than any other state in the Old West era, was built
and dominated by a single industry, cattle. Its association more than any
other reserved power to enforce the law as it pertained to their business.
And their business was Wyoming's business. Their inspectors and detectives
enjoyed the power of law, as noted in a letter from association secretary
Sturgis to a new inspector dated 16 December 1885:
You are hereby appointed to the position of inspector at Deadwood, to fill
the vacancy now existing at that point. I accordingly enclose you a
commission and wish you to be deputized by the sheriff of the county in
which Deadwood is situated….If you have occasion to make any arrest for
stock stealing etc., do so without fear or favor.
Association members could fines or blackball of offending cattlemen and
cowboys. Or worse. Its detectives hardly stood above delivering some
lynch-flavored frontier justice when required. They operated in a western
frontier lightly represented by legitimate law enforcement authorities
beyond U.S. Army outposts. People did not become too upset at the
occasional disappearance of a purported cattle thief. It was exactly that,
thievery, that concerned the association most. And just that that led to
its downfall. But not without the close relationship through thick and thin
of the press.
This article examines that relationship. It considers not only the
influence of Wyoming cattlemen on the press, but the influence of the press
on their business during the time when "Old West" moved from frontier
reality to American legend. The stories have grown to become America's most
enduring legend, based on stylized ideals and assumptions that often had
little to do with the reality of the frontier cattle business itself. This
"myth" has been widely studied. So too has the decaying power of the
Wyoming Stock Growers Association to its disastrous final stand, the
"Johnson County War" of April 1892. A century of historians and
storytellers have covered the "war": "All our contemporary preoccupation
with the romance of the cowboy can be traced right back to this one
conflict between 'cattle barons' and 'rustlers….' It is difficult to
overstate the importance of this incident in the development of the
west." What has not been considered is the relationship of cattlemen
and journalists, and the importance of the latter to the creation of that
seminal incident in Old West history. This work tries to help fill that
gap, based almost exclusively on primary archival sources and contemporary
II. The Press and the Cowmen.
Stock grower associations found in the journalist a person delighted to
take advantage of whatever opportunity cattlemen could offer. This was,
after all, a rich collection of gentlemen. And while newspaper men (nearly
always they were male, as were the cattlemen) seldom themselves had the
knowledge or capital to run cattle operations, they did show finely-honed
ability to smell both a good story and a fair profit. As early as 1875,
several years before Cheyenne's cattle industry would take off, stock
grower associations were offering promotional trips to the most significant
events of a cowboy's year, the round up. In one example, six hundred
guests, "newspaper men, business men, dudes and debutantes" traveled by
Kansas Pacific to a Colorado ranch to feast on a barbeque, dance to a
string band, and repose for the night under the cottonwoods. Later
Wyoming cattlemen showed keen interest in self-publicity, and relied on
journalists to convey their viewpoint.
It became clear to opportunistic Wyoming journalists that their dream of
getting rich with a press and some ink in the western hinterlands might
depend on finding several rich vein worth mining—such as the cattle
industry. The first such an opportunist was publisher Edwin A. Slack. He
began like most seekers who found themselves on the western frontier,
itinerant, following fortune from settlement to settlement in an attempt to
gain riches. Or at the least, to gain a decent living. He tried to entice
Democratic favor in early Laramie, establishing the Daily Independent there
in 1871, but found fortunes a slow flow. In 1876 he moved back
east—slightly—to Cheyenne. With $2,500 gained from selling his Laramie
interests, he established beginning 3 March 1876 the Cheyenne Sun. It
was to become the tireless voice of the Wyoming cattlemen through thick
But not the cattlemen's only voice. In the 1880s the cow financiers found
plenty of money to spread around the press, and more than one publisher
decided to get in on the action. Asa Shinn Mercer was to become, if not the
most interesting frontier cattle town editor, historically the most
important one. For it was he, along with a Chicago newspaper man named
Samuel T. Clover, whose journalism determined the myth of the west as many
of us see it today.
Mercer's place in frontier American history would be big enough even if
he'd never set foot in cow country. An indefatigable gadfly free from the
pox of self-doubt, Mercer's activities spanned a huge swath of the west,
from Texas to Washington State. In the sparsely populated frontier pioneers
attempting to build the civilization they left back east found few people
capable of specialized tasks. To succeed they needed to be resourceful,
versatile, willing to face failure, to move on, to try, try again, or give
up and move back "home." Mercer's life in the west offers an example of
what this meant.
Mercer moved west from Illinois first as a surveyor, in 1861. Two years
later he found further sustenance from the federal government contracts so
important in the frontier where jobs were few and money hard to come by. He
was named a commissioner of immigration for Washington Territory. His role,
as he saw it, was to be match-maker of the frontier. In 1864 and 1866 he
returned to New England to recruit young women willing to move west as
wives for frontiersmen. The 300 recruits became "Mercer girls" to bemused
journalists of the time, a story that attracted national attention then
and historical memory later, replayed on television and novel. Mercer also
was elected to the Washington Territorial Council, founded the University
of Washington, and moved to Oregon to pursue business interests. One was
journalism. He established the Oregon Granger in 1873 before deciding to
follow pastures perhaps greener in opportunity, if not in geography. Texas
was bubbling with cattle money when he turned his life toward journalism.
Mercer established five newspapers in Texas. Buthe wealth of the longhorn
trailing industry was reaching its pinnacle and cow money was trailing
north into the high plains. Mercer decided to again reinvent himself based
on experience gained from cow country journalism. S. A. Marney, "roving
commissioner for the Texas Live Stock Journal" of Fort Worth, suggested
in 1883 a partnership in journalism with the aim of serving live stock
interests in what clearly had become the new capital of cattlemen's wealth,
Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory.
The first Northwestern Live Stock Journal appeared 23 November 1883. Fellow
editors declared it a "phenomenal success," the talk of the town,
representing advertising of every cattle owner, and reaching a weekly
circulation of 500, albeit "the number actually paid for was always
Despite that, in 1884 the Journal suspended publication. Why would such a
success so soon fold? As so often happened between partnerships of the
frontier, the paper failed after Mercer and Marney quibbled over
operations, or so later sources tell us. A contemporary source,
however, explained the matter in considerably greater detail. It is worth
recounting because it reveals Mercer's significantly pugilistic personality.
The story was related in the Cheyenne Leader, established in 1867 by the
26-year-old Nathan M. Baker. By the 1880s, under publisher V. S. Glafcke,
it had become one of the territory's most reliable dailies. The Leader
explained Mercer's ability to establish his newspaper based on $3,000
($53,345 in today's dollars) in type and fixtures shipped from St. Louis on
credit. While the paper was "an emphatic success," the work of the
bookkeeper, Frank J. Burton, did not please Mercer. He fired Burton.
Burton, however, was not any bookkeeper, but Marney's brother-in-law. The
mercurial Mercer responded to his partner's protests by firing everyone in
the office. Marney hired them back. Eventually Mercer succeeded in booting
Burton while Marney was away soliciting advertisements. On his return,
well, the newsroom witnessed an unfortunate incident worthy of a saloon brawl.
First Mercer hit Marney. "As the scuffle progressed, Mr. Mercer went over
the railing with an extreme degree of sullenness. Mr. Marney followed him a
close second. When the horizon cleared somewhat it was noted that Mr.
Mercer was on top, clawing fiercely, while Mr. Marney was underneath,
clawing just as fiercely." While office personnel tried to separate the
two, Mercer's wife Annie aimed to bean Marney with "a large majolica
spittoon." He managed to knock it away. Then the Mercer children, "a girl
about ten years of age and a boy somewhat older," began throwing rocks. As
Marney tried to block the rocks he let go of Annie, who recovered the
spittoon and "dealt Marney a terrific blow on the back of the head,
lacerating it in a dreadful manner and breaking the spittoon into a dozen
fragments." As the blood spattered around the office Dr. J. J. Hunt was
summoned to attend to Mercer's unfortunate partner. "All were horrified at
the serious outcome of the situation," the story spreading "like wildfire"
throughout the city. Principal assailants were charged with assault and
battery, and fined $10 each, although more serious legal charges eventually
were dropped. Marney recovered from the beaning and demanded his share of
the business, this time relying on the sheriff to seize his due. It cost
Mercer $2,000 to see Marney leave Cheyenne .
III. Influence of Cattlemen on Frontier Journalism.
By July 1884 the Live Stock Journal was back in business under Mercer's
sole proprietorship and favored bookkeeper. He claimed in an interview with
the Leader that his newspaper made $8,000 profit the first six months, and
was worth $30,000. Indeed the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, now
attracting more than 400 members to its annual meetings, was rich enough to
float Mercer's cow town mouthpiece, along with many other frontier
newspapers. Advertising in Mercer's Journal cost the association $598.44 in
1884, and numerous bills from the Journal in 1885 and 1886 probably totaled
more. As former association president John Clay recalled in later
memoirs, Mercer's weekly "existed on the cattlemen's advertisements and
other revenue that could be gathered from the cow interests."
Association records shows it advertised widely. Cheyenne cattlemen relied
on the press to communicate round up information, meeting notices and
reports, new regulations, brand descriptions, lists of strayed cattle, and
other announcements to a network of cowboys and inspection staff across
hundreds of miles under its jurisdiction: all of Wyoming and parts of
Nebraska and South Dakota. Its 1884 account book lists payments in the
hundreds to twelve newspapers in addition to the Journal, including the
Cheyenne Sun, $404.30, Cheyenne Leader, $371.76, Buffalo Echo, $222.65;
Carbon County Journal (Rawlins, WY), $206.66, and the Laramie Sentinel,
$203.30. Apparently its full-time secretary kept careful track of this
communication, because archives include many newspaper clippings as well as
careful accounting of payments. Most newspapers also ran a job printing
operation to help pay bills, and the association spread wealth to the press
through their many orders for handbills, circulars, directories and other
Cattlemen usually did not limit their financial interests to cattle. The
press often benefited—or suffered—from cattleman influence through
financial investment. For example, A. H. Swan was on the board of directors
of the Cheyenne Leader. Cheyenne's important daily had been sold by Baker
to V. S. Glafcke in 1872. (Baker went to Denver, where he found greater
riches in the cattle business than in journalism.) In fact, largesse always
was welcomed in frontier newspaper business offices. "Small populations and
magnificent distances made their financial lot difficult," recalled W. E.
Chaplin, pioneer publisher of the Laramie Boomerang. In the 1880s W. C.
Irvine, president of the stock growers association and leader of the 1892
Johnson County "war" that was to destroy the power of that group, actually
held majority ownership in the Leader. He sold that interest to
Pennsylvania investors, who placed an editor declaring loyalty to the
Democratic Party. "When this came to the knowledge of Mr. Irvine, he at
once proceeded to the office and his interview decided the management to
again take up political neutrality." It did not last. In 1880 John F.
Carroll and Joseph A. Breckons bought the daily, and re-established a
Democratic slant. Carroll as editor became the foil of the Republican Sun
As for the Live Stock Journal, F. E. Warren was listed as a creditor. This
would be Francis E. Warren, cattleman, territorial governor, Wyoming
senator and, incidentally, father-in-law of World War I Gen. John J.
Pershing. Warren apparently was wont to offer financial encouragement to a
number of journalistic endeavors, "generally had some surplus money for any
printer or publisher in distress." But that assistance sometimes came
at a price. Warren owned a number of Wyoming businesses in addition to his
cattle interests, and in July 1884 pushed the sheriff to briefly shut down
the Journal's offices for an unpaid bill of $457.90 to F. E. Warren
Mercantile Co. At that time the Journal claimed its circulation had climbed
to 20,000. The Leader estimated a more reasonable 5,000, "mostly shipped
out in the mails." An agreement two days later favored cattle interests of
Warren and fellow cattlemen. The report noted the Journal and another
pro-cattle daily, E. A. Slack's Cheyenne Sun, "will hereafter receive
extensive and elaborate reports of everything relating to the cattle
IV. Cattle Speculation: A Boom and a Bust.
In 1873 Wyoming Stock Growers Association members had initially come
together by necessity. Cattlemen had to defend their far-flung industry
through a wild land that offered no public protection from any other corner
beyond the military forts established to keep general order. But in a dozen
years the association had grown to dominate Wyoming laws, politics and
culture, "the most powerful of all plains stock associations." The
territory's early politicians, J. M. Carey (later senator), Amos Barber
(later governor), Baxter (territorial governor) Willis Van Devanter (later
U.S. Supreme Court justice) and Warren all were important cattlemen and
association members. They were able to dictate nearly all issues of concern
to the stock grower and cowboy who, if found to offend, could be
blackballed and so unable to operate in the territory under association
control. It became "the most powerful institution every organized for the
promotion of the range cattle business." And in frontier Wyoming, the
cattle business dominated all business. The arrangement worked well as long
as cattle was king and everyone benefited from the financial fat. But the
problem of political domination by a cowman oligarchy soon drew the
cattlemen to over-reaching arrogance they could not sustain after the
economic balloon burst. Their territorial law of 1884 proved key measure
that eventually led to crisis on the grasslands.
Even in their heyday cattlemen operated an economically challenging, risky
business. Running tens of thousands of cattle over open ranges hundreds of
miles in size left owners with the nearly impossible task of controlling
far-flung resources. Branding was one way to declare ownership no matter
where property may roam. It was not foolproof; cattle thieves could
expertly re-brand cattle to their own mark. Still greater was the challenge
of the "increase."
Huge herds generate new life in the hundreds. These unbranded calves become
valuable resources not only to the owners, but to anyone with a hankering
to run his own small herd on the side. Early stockmen declared that calves
always would follow their mother, and thus their owner could be
established. But cowboys—or thieves—could easily "cut out" the calf so that
it would lose that connection.
Ownership over these mavericks became the lightning rod that split Wyoming
and established the Old West legends that today still guide belief on what
the frontier was all about, and how it relates to today's society.
The 1884 law was designed to control theft of mavericks. It declared
mavericks to be property of the association, which would round them up and
auction them to high bidders, always other wealthy cattlemen. The law
effectively eliminated the small operator who in fact, under later laws,
was actually barred from owning his own cattle if he worked for a larger
owner. Still, the regulation might have been acceptable had the optimistic
economic and climatic conditions of 1884 remained. Rich cattlemen then
could afford to overlook some shrinkage, and the cowboys most likely to
want their own herd could still enjoy good pay for working only summers.
But it took literally a matter of months of frenzied speculation to bring
hundred of thousands of cattle onto a northern range that, big as it was,
could not handle such a herd. Wyoming cattlemen on site reached near panic
the summer of 1886 as the weather proved too dry and the cattle too
numerous. Some had even written to eastern publications to warn speculators
of the risk in overgrazing. Local hands who had grown up in the
industry realized the business teetered on Humpty-Dumpty's wall.
That winter it took the feared great fall. Actually, what fell was snow,
and cold. The severe winter of 1886-87 blew into ranges of the northern
plains already overgrazed by millions of cattle packed onto the land by
speculators who borrowed more and more to fill the ranges with their
investment. The spring thaw saw shocked cowboys reporting savage demise of
huge herds. In fact, up to 85 percent of the cattle perished in these few
harsh months. As ugly as the bloated carcasses choking the stream beds were
the account books in board rooms of Edinburgh, London, New York, Boston,
Chicago, Omaha, Denver and, of course, Cheyenne. Coupled with a collapse in
cattle prices, the "great die-off" drove most speculators out of the cattle
business for good. Many big operators working on borrowed capital went
bankrupt—Swan Cattle Company, owned by an Edinburgh syndicate running out
of Cheyenne, was only the largest to fall. The boom was over. Rich and
famous around the country had lost fortunes. Theodore Roosevelt may have
found inspiration from his ranching days in Dakota Territory, but he didn't
find any profit. In fact he lost an estimated $50,000. That may not
sound like much, until one realizes that in today's dollars that's nearly
$950,000. And Roosevelt was a not a particularly large speculator.
Glum cattlemen gathered for the association's 1887 annual meeting at a
fraction of their numbers the year before. As most overseas investment had
been wrung out of the Wyoming industry, those determined to carry on
represented local interests bolstered by a few hardy investors from back
east. Yet the association had undertaken an obligation to protect its
entire industry from disease, government regulation and, most obvious to
the locals, cattle rustlers. The huge cost of maintaining this network over
great distances demanded a treasury cattlemen could no longer maintain. In
1887 the association appealed to the territorial government to assume the
burden of protection over their industry; it responded by establishing a
commission to oversee stock growers' interests. Members of this new
commission were exactly the same as members of the association.
Survival of the cattle industry now demanded careful control over costs and
inventory. No longer could mavericks be allowed to disappear into some
cowboy's personal herd. To make matters worse, cowboys themselves no longer
could be kept year 'round for a seasonal job. They were expected to find
other jobs over the winter—and yet were forbidden to establish herds of
their own as one way to do that. Moreover, the open range of the great long
drive years was falling into a patchwork of farmers and small livestock
producers. These "nesters" fenced their quarter sections with new-fangled
barbed wire, and greeted with rifle bullets any range cattle daring to
trample the property. Sometimes even cattle that didn't quite trample their
property: at table beef beat coyote any day. A few homesteaders too
wouldn't be above stealing cattle from those big "cattle barons" they so
had learned to despise during the champagne years of the Cheyenne Club.
The cowboys and nesters had a legitimate beef. The association did act to
protect its own while making it unfairly difficult for the little guy. On
the other hand, cattle owners too found it difficult enough to cope with an
industry on hard times without also dealing with persistent shrinkage due
to thievery. In 1891 the association blackballed whole groups of settlers
whose activities they perceived inimical to cattle interests. They still,
after all, could call upon the power of their own in all the top offices of
the infant state's government: governor and senators all were cattlemen.
Killing of two "rustlers" in 1891—probably by association detectives who
were never charged—left two opposing groups on the high edge of tension.
Members of the association at their annual meeting in April 1892 decided it
was time for a showdown. Their decision would prove disastrous for Wyoming
cattlemen, and decisive for the myth of the Old West as we remember it today.
V. Reporters at "War."
What came known as the Johnson County War likely would have left only a
historical footnote had not been for journalists. Two in particular: A. S.
Mercer and Samuel T. Clover. The latter would not even have been the sole
reporter to tell the story had not the association itself believed in the
power of publicity to make its case.
In early 1892 the association bought space in eastern newspapers, "started
floating the big rustler scare across the country, telling the world how
poor old Wyoming had fallen into the clutches of a gang of outlaw cattle
rustlers who killed and slaughtered from dawn 'til dark." The publicity
attracted attention of Samuel Clover, a young Chicago Herald reporter who
had made several expeditions west to report on military campaigns. On a
hunch he presented himself at the Chicago stockyards, ostensibly hoping to
pick up "character sketches of big cattle shippers from the far west." A
friend confided that "hell's a-popping out in Wyoming this spring." To
find out more Clover encountered Henry A. Blair of Chicago, who had cattle
interests in Cheyenne. Blair admitted to Clover that the association
planned an invasion campaign north to deal with rustlers in Johnson County.
To drive them away, but not kill anybody. Would Clover provide his
services as a journalist on assignment with the invaders? It would become,
said Clover, the story of his life.
After reaching Cheyenne, however, Clover found association members debating
the wisdom of having an eastern reporter accompany the group of 55
"regulators," planning the raid into Johnson County and Buffalo city.
Clover said he argued, "you must admit that a tremendous hand will be
raised by the newspapers inimical to your interests, and all sorts of
wild-eyed stories will be afloat concerning the operation of the
regulators. If I go along as a non-combatant, friendly to the interest of
the expedition, it stands to reason I will not give you the worst of it in
any published reports." Expedition leaders F. E. Wolcott and Irving
decided having a large Chicago daily on their side could help their
reputation, long stained by eastern criticism of the "cattle barons."
The local press also wanted a shot at the story. Slack of the Cheyenne Sun
persuaded the association to allow his reporter to accompany the group. As
a Republican newspaper the Sun had shown enduring support of the cattlemen,
even after they no longer could afford to be major advertisers. That
support was not out particular sentimental devotion or political principle:
frontier publishers cleaved to political parties they hoped could award
them government patronage and printing contracts. Cattle interests
controlled the Republican Party.
In fact frontier newspapers changed allegiances as the winds of patronage
blew. Sometimes their role as government representative clashed with their
role as journalist. Herman Glafcke, editor of the Sun's rival paper, the
Leader, established that paper as "independently Republican." But in March
1873 he was removed as territorial secretary by the Republican
administration under Ulysses S. Grant. He discovered that J. W. Carey, then
chair of the Republican Central Committee, had mailed newspaper clippings
from a Laramie newspaper indicating Glafcke's loyalty was in question.
Glafcke responded he attended the meeting as a journalist, not as a
participant. Nevertheless, he was not reappointed. He was, however,
appointed postmaster. Finally Glafcke left journalism to a new editor, John
F. Carroll, who switched horses to the Democratic Party, which he also
counted on for some sideline income.
Mercer as wheeler-dealer extraordinaire also expected patronage to pay some
bills, which seemed always to set him on the edge of foreclosure. It is
surprising his stock grower weekly clung to business in the years between
the great die-off and the Johnson County War, but he maintained allegiance
to the cattle owners, and therefore the Republican Party, until July 1892.
It had become an open secret that spring that association secretary Hiram
B. Ijams had been assigned the task of recruiting a score of "Texas
gunslingers" to accompany local cattlemen in their invasion plans. It
is surprising a reporter from Mercer's Journal was not also asked to
accompany the men. While the Leader by 1892 supported Democrats and so
clearly would not have found a friendly place in the cattlemen's public
relations plan, it was the Live Stock Journal, after all, which in June
1884 had emphatically supported "the hanging noose" for rustlers.
Mercer's business by this time was not as robust as his strident editorials
might suggest, however. A "scrap book publication," as the Leader once
disdainfully called it, Mercer relied mostly borrowed material from
exchanges, and not on reporter-generated copy. Worse, the newspaper was
near death. On 20 February 1892 the St. Louis Type Foundry obtained a
judgment against it for $1,439. The Journal's days seemed numbered,
specifically numbered to 2 September, when the sheriff attempted to seize
the entire printing works from its offices on 1713 Ferguson St.
However, some sort of lawsuit maneuver between the foundry and Mercer's
wife Annie blocked sale of goods. Mercer continued to limp along until
early1893, when even a name change to the Democrat could not save it.
Probably during summer 1892 Mercer was financially desperate, which might
help explain his turncoat writing that outraged the cattlemen.
Clover and Edward Towse from the Cheyenne Sun joined the train that slipped
out of Cheyenne toward Casper. To avoid tipping off homesteaders in
Buffalo, who undoubtedly would form an armed posse in defense of the
"rustlers," the invaders cut the telegraph lines. From Casper the men rode
hours in a snowstorm "that coated every horseman with a white rime of frost
from head to foot." Reaching a cattleman's ranch, Clover found his fellow
reporter could no longer continue. Towse supposedly told him, "It's no use,
Ill have to give up. You'll have a clean swoop."
A Philadelphia doctor visiting Cheyenne, Charles B. Penrose, was persuaded
to accompany the cattlemen. Writing later he agreed Towse stayed behind
with him at the ranch. He seemed to the group to have taken seriously ill.
Some noticed blood stains on his back side. He recovered quickly, however,
in 48 hours was a new man. "Armed with a Winchester and a notebook," the
Sun later reported dramatically, its man on the inside would have been on
the scene had he not been laid up for "surgical repairs." "A case of
hemorrhoids," plausibly observed the Leader. Nevertheless only Clover
stayed with the invaders.
Clover's story became the most famous account of Old West history pitting
"cattle barons" against "nesters." It is familiar in the fictionalized
versions of movies and books, but the reality was as sensationalized as
Clover could make it. He had plenty of raw material to work with. The
invaders, armed with a list of rustlers they planned to kill (or merely
prosecute, or drive away, depending on who you believe), began work by
setting upon a shack in which were holed up two "notorious rustlers," Nick
Ray and Nate Champion. Clover tagged along on the outing, not realizing—so
he later said—that he would witness a gunfight. One of the "marked men"
finally appeared at the door, he wrote. "Crack! Crack! Crack! Went half a
dozen Winchesters in rapid succession, and down dropped the rustler in
Ray managed to inch back to the house, but died soon after. Champion held
off the invaders, who surrounded the house determined to exterminate him.
Their plan to smoke him out needed only some wheels capable of carrying
comestibles to the house, when a nester in a wagon fortuitously happened
past. In it was none other than Oscar O. "Jack" Flagg, blackballed cowboy
and "notorious rustler," passing 20 some yards away. He was not immediately
recognized. Shouting, "Don't shoot boys, I'm all right," he gained a few
moments before the invaders recognized him and took pursuit. But he escaped
with his 16-year-old son, who cut the wagon away to make a quicker getaway.
The jig, the cattlemen now knew, was up—Flagg would raise the alarm in
Buffalo, and as the settlers were to a man on the side of the "rustlers,"
they would form their own force to battle the invaders.
But not right away. Buffalo was 60 miles away. What is more, the besiegers
now had Flagg's wagon. Filling it with hay and whatever else looked
torchable, they pushed the burning wagon against the house. Finally
Champion emerged from the smoking cabin to a hail of bullets. "Nate
Champion," wrote Clover, "king of cattle thieves and the bravest man in
Johnson County, was dead."
The most remarkable thing about Clover's story, most of which was
corroborated later by others at the scene, was the reporter's astonished
discovery: the doomed Champion had actually kept a diary of his last hours.
Clover said he spotted the diary protruding from the dead man's vest
pocket, and snatched it. Others say one of the leaders of the invasion gave
it to him. However he acquired it, he did not look at it until later.
Before leaving the dead man, the cattlemen asked Clover—or Cover took it
upon himself, depending on the account—to attach a sign to Champion
reading, "Cattle Thieves, Beware!"
Clover later examined the diary, "saw to his dismay that a bullet had
ploughed a hole right through the center, which had admitted the heart's
blood of the victim. It was a ghastly prize!" But it would prove to
make sensational copy.
The invaders returned to the ranch. Clover begged off, and instead rode
five hours to Buffalo, intending to file his story. He claimed he feared
the diary would offer incriminating evidence, so copied its contents,
ripped it to bits and threw it in a gully. In Buffalo he was indeed
arrested as a confederate of the invaders. A fort commander who knew him
vouched for his journalism credentials, however, and he was set free. He
rode to the closest working telegraph line, Edgemont, South Dakota, where
he filed his story 15 April 1892.
Clover's transcription of Champion's remarkable diary has been reprinted in
numerous histories, particularly the last paragraph:
Well, they have just got through shelling the house again like hail. I
heard them splitting wood. I guess they are going to fire the house
tonight. I think I will make a break when night comes if I live. Shooting
again. I think they will fire the house this time. It's not night yet. The
house is all fired. Good-bye, boys, if I never see you again. Nathan D.
Realizing the danger in Flagg's having stumbled onto their plan, the
invaders determined to abandon their effort and try to escape back to
Cheyenne. Too late. They were forced to make a stand at the KC Ranch 13
miles from Buffalo, against an armed party of some 300 settlers,
"rustlers," and townsfolk from Buffalo, headed by Buffalo Sheriff William
Angus. Hope for no further bloodshed seemed dim.
The Cheyenne newspapers knew something was up, but without telegraph or
correspondent, they could not determine what. Nor could some association
members themselves, left in Cheyenne. Diary of former association secretary
William Sturgis reports only rumors that cattlemen were under siege, and
"great anxiety abt stock men." The Cheyenne Leader reported only of
"the northern expedition" producing "a vast flood of rumors," adding, "We
sincerely hope, however, for the good name of the state, that the
expedition which went north last Tuesday evening had no such designs in
view as are now popularly attributed to it." The editorial adds that
importing armed men into the state was against its constitution.
The Clover report rocked Cheyenne, and no less the rest of the country. The
Leader noted, "Information was being sent from Johnson County to the
Eastern newspapers. It was of a very sensational character." In a
matter of days Clover's riveting narrative had been reprinted in newspapers
around the country, focusing a nation's eyes on the drama of Wyoming
between the forces of big capital and the forces of "the little guy." It
made an compelling story in an age of rising populism and class division.
Meanwhile a now-panicking cattleman who had unwisely acquiesced to the
invasion plan, Wyoming Gov. Amos Barber, sought help from the president
of the United States. In a telegram dated 12 April 1892, 11:05 p.m.,
Benjamin Harrison replied,
I have, in compliance with your call for the aid of the United States force
to protect the state of Wyoming against domestic violence, ordered the
secretary of war to concentrate a sufficient force a the scene of the
disturbance and to co-operate with our authorities. Benj Harrison.
By this time newspaper correspondents had begun descending on the story.
The Leader said 300 besiegers had left for the KC ranch "with everything in
their possession from dynamite to a newspaper reporter." Outlook for the
cattlemen was "very, very blue."
The cavalry literally saved the day. A force from nearly Fort Russell
descended on the ranch and persuaded the nesters to surrender. No one
beyond Ray and Champion died; the cattlemen were marched into protective
custody at the fort. No one served time; charges were dropped several
Clover was not quite the peerless scribbler he claimed to be, according to
Penrose. After Clover lost his own horse during the ride, "He immediately
took a Texan's horse and "insisted that it was his….The reporter was a
fresh young man with a disposition to take other people's things."
Clover, on the other hand, wrote privately to Blair in a letter dated 15
May 1892, that W. C. Irvine, manager of the Oglalla Land and Cattle Company
and an expedition leader, did not like his coverage after all: "[He] has
already threatened me and I am not fool enough to think his threats idle."
He concluded, "Thanks for the return of Champion's diary pages. I shall
keep them as long as I live in spite of Irvine and Wolcott." This
suggests he did not destroy the famous diary as he publicly claimed. But
the original has never turned up for historical scrutiny.
VI. Aftermath: The War in the Press.
End of the "war" marked the beginning of bitter recriminations between
Cheyenne newspaper editors. The Republican Sun defended the cattlemen while
the Democratic Leader accused them of going too far. Slack's Sun pointed
out that only six months before the Leader and other newspapers agreed
"either the thieves or honest stockmen must go," but now it was acting
holier-than-thou about the invaders.
But Leader editor John F. Carroll had complained as early as the April 4
that the growers plans were "an assumption of power," noting Johnson County
"is said to be the hotbed of the rustling fraternity," but that the
newspaper "has determined to get at the true inwardness of the situation.
Its traveling correspondent is doubtless by this time in Buffalo. He will
devote sufficient time to make a thorough investigation." It
subsequently declared the association "has constituted itself judge and
jury for determining the honesty of the stock growers of the state."
In response the association pulled its advertising and urged a boycott of
the Leader, but not the Sun, which was "vigorously defending the
commission." This action was taken despite that vice president of the
association and former territorial governor Baxter also was a Leader
stockholder. Newspapers around the state were quoted as applauding the
Leader's stand: "Hew to the line Brother Carroll, let the chips fall as
After the stockmen had been saved by the cavalry, the newspaper decried the
"inflammatory reports spread abroad by certain newspapers" as
misrepresenting the situation. "There is no excuse for the course now being
pursued by the Cheyenne Sun and Tribune [another pro-cattleman Cheyenne
daily]. The evident purpose is to inflame and mislead the public
mind…. Cock and bull stories and intemperate diatribes make up a mess
liable to do harm to the very men they wish to help. The expedition was a
That cattlemen like Baxter would become stockholders in competing frontier
newspapers seems incongruous. Still, all journalism was important to
frontier development, to making a settlement stick and grow. Clearly,
however, motives reached beyond frontier altruism. Stockholders of a
company forever operating at the edge of financial embarrassment could
control a publication by deciding at any time to question operations or
financial stability. Cattlemen not only could influence editors though
friendly chats, but through legal bullying through court judgments and
creditor harassment. This, Baxter decided in June 1892, might be an
excellent way to temporize the recalcitrant Leader.
In June Baxter and Frank A. Kemp filed a court complaint against the
Leader. Printed in its entirety in the rival Sun, complainants determined
that "the rustler" faction had taken control of the Leader, therefore
hurting the business of Democratic bankers. "The Leader committed a
grievous error in attacking the live stock interests of Wyoming, which was
the chief source of revenue for the state….It is believed that had it not
been for the Leader's gross misrepresentation of the live stock commission
that there would have been no cattle war."
The Sun summed up the complaint by contending the Leader was being charged
with fraud, and that the paper was "hopelessly insolvent," due to
overspending and letting equipment to deteriorate. Receivership would be
assumed by Hiram Glafcke, former proprietor. Glafcke had by now found
handsome government patronage in his appointment as Wyoming secretary of
state, and as the cattle interests controlled state government, could only
be expected to act in the state's interests.
The Leader, however, refused Glafcke's request to inspect its books, said
the complaint was obviously brought so Baxter "can take control of the
newspaper." The amount of money in question, $500, seemed hardly worth
Baxter's time, and in fact Baxter only controlled 10 shares of stock, Kemp,
6, while editor Carroll and partner Breckons controlled 58 and 38
respectively.  As for the Sun's decision to publish in their entirety
the "libelous" allegations, "We challenge the world to produce a more
contemptible lot of whelps than those which vegetate about the Sun office."
While Carroll and Slack exchanged rants at the side of Cheyenne's major
dailies, cattlemen found a second target in a weekly now limping into
desperate financial quicksand: Mercer's Northwestern Live Stock Journal.
How the man who ran the cattleman's mouthpiece would turn into his nemesis
sports no brief explanation. The editor, at least one cattleman had
charged, actually took part in planning the invasion, as he enjoyed a
special relationship at the Cheyenne Club. Mercer himself explained his
makeover by claiming the cattlemen had gone too far. He decided to defend
freedom of the press against association injustice. On 8 June 1892, E. H.
Kimball, editor of the Douglas (WY) Graphic, was arrested on a charge of
libel against Baxter. Mercer tried to post bail for Kimball. That act was
too much for the association. "He [Mercer] had the temerity to offer to go
bail for Col. Kimball, and the very next day, pretty nearly, every stock
brand in his newspaper was ordered out." In an editorial Carroll noted
Mercer had been "very conservative" in his criticism of the cattlemen thus
far, but "the stockmen may have aroused the wrong person this time, given
Mercer's temperament." Also reprinted was a report from the Rocky Mountain
News of Denver accusing the Cheyenne cattlemen of attempting to "muzzle the
As Mercer raged against his former patrons, a cowboy up north perceived it
as a fine time to get up a new voice allied with the nesters. The man was
none other than Jack Flagg. And his paper was none other than the Buffalo
Voice. That a cowboy would become a newspaper editor in the Old West is in
itself rare; the two groups grew from radically different skills and
motivations. But Buffalo mayor Charles H. Burritt proclaimed the "rustler"
who ducked the invaders and raised the besiegers to be "certainly a very
smooth writer."  Smooth as a business opportunist, too, apparently, for
he made the pitch to buy the former Echo from editor T. J. Bouton. Bouton
was in a bind. He had fled Buffalo in haste, apparently as he harbored
pro-cattlemen sympathies. An outraged Slack wrote in the Sun that Bouton
was "in Cheyenne, a fugitive, and dare not return to Buffalo at the peril
of his life."
Happily Flagg was able to help out by purchasing Bouton's operation to the
tune of $2,800, $800 in cash, $2,000 bank loan. "Flagg says he is to run a
straight Democratic paper. He has absolutely no experience and I don't
think he can last more than six months after that." In 1918, however,
the Voice still published, though under different ownership.
Flagg smartly set to work producing his own account of the Johnson County
"war": A Review of the Cattle Business in Johnson County, Wyoming, Since
1882, and the Causes that Led to the Recent Invasion. In true style of the
quickie publications that mushroom following big news events, his account
began to appear in serial form a short three weeks after the incident.
Flagg's anti-stock growers account likely offered helpful source material
for Mercer's subsequent book.
Mercer's anger had congealed—as Carroll in the Leader had warned. Unable to
obtain Republican Party patronage, boycotted and harassed by the cattlemen,
he conceived a plan to produce a thorough indictment of the Wyoming Stock
Growers Association. In it he was encouraged by the Democratic Party, which
hoped to defeat the Republicans in the 1892 election by thoroughly
discrediting their close "cattle baron" ties. Mercer's financial peril had
sunk to the point where the creditors literally bayed at his door. If the
Democrats won, renewed patronage was a possibility. On 14 October 1892,
he fired a savage indictment through publication of the "confession" of
George Denning, one of the invaders. Its appearance three weeks before the
election was no coincidence. Some 24,000 extra copies were slated for
distribution by Democrats around the state, some 22,600 more than Mercer's
regular circulation. Republican cattleman managed to harass him out of
business for a couple weeks, have him arrested briefly while on a business
trip to Chicago and confiscate a good many of the "handbills,"
Republican Party chair Willis Van Devanter also replied to the charges in
the Sun, which he had temporarily commandeered while Slack was out of
town. But some mud stuck. In 1892 the Democratic Party won a resounding
Mercer spent 1893 collecting together his final thoughts on the Johnson
County "war": The Banditti of the Plains. Or the Cattlemen's Invasion of
Wyoming in 1892. The ringing indictment of the Wyoming cattlemen so
shocked the association that legend tells a tale of theft, treachery and
nearly complete suppression against Mercer, the "cow country Zola." More
recent scholarship, however, makes it clear that the association made no
determined effort of suppress Banditti. Mercer's son Homer Ralph Mercer in
1954 said the book was not banned, and that he indeed remembers trying to
sell copies in rural Wyoming. It does seem probable the association
bought and burned as many copies as it could.
Did Mercer have an ulterior motive? Always. A Cheyenne newspaper notice
suggested the connection between the Democrats and Banditti: "E. T. Payton
of the Leader, who has been doing dirty work for the democratic party ever
since his arrive in the state, started north last night with a horse and a
cart, and a large number of copies of the book [Banditti] which he will
distribute among the ranchmen and settlers who may permit his presence on
the premises." (The Leader responded that any business Payton has in
the north is purely in his capacity as circulation manager.) The book
filtered into American lore even as Mercer left Cheyenne for greener
patronage, in 1895 landing the state statistician's job.
The Johnson County episode so discredited the Wyoming Stock Growers
Association that it never recovered its prestige. Most of the big cattlemen
who had participated pulled whatever stock they had left out of Wyoming,
realizing they would not survive the angry "rustlers." The Cheyenne Club, a
shadow of its former power, no longer exists in Cheyenne, long torn down to
make way for the twentieth century. No plaque marks a site. It has become,
as contemporary papers suggested, an embarrassment. But in the end it was
Mercer's anti-cattleman Banditti that set the tone for a century of stories
pitting "evil" cattle barons against "good" settlers. Mercer's tale of
cattlemen versus settlers most famously became the 1953 movie "Shane," and
lent a theme to countless novels and forgotten westerns. Yet it was a story
constructed originally by journalists, a legend that persists even more
than a century after powerful men made a last stand for an era in America
that was about to come to an end.
 Papers of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA), archives of
the American Heritage Center (AHC), University of Wyoming (UW), Box 46.
 James S. Brisbin, The Beef Bonanza; Or, How to Get Rich on the Plains.
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1959 (reprint of 1881 edition).
 Earnest Staples Osgood, The Day of the Cattleman. Chicago: The
University of Chicago Press, 1929, 85.
 Papers of the WSGA, AHC, UW, Box 195, accounting for 1881.
 Vaughn Mechau, "John Bull in the Cattle Country." Rocky Mountain
Empire Magazine, 28 March 1948, n.p., deposited in papers of the WSGA, AHC,
UW, Box 229.
 Gilbert C. Fite, foreword to Brisbin, viii.
 Report of the annual meeting of the WSGA, Black Hills Daily Times,
Deadwood, SD, 12 April 1885, p. 4
 "Wyoming's Wealth," report to the association, papers of the WSGA,
AHC, UW, Box 88.
 Papers of the WSGA, AHC, UW, Box 88.
 See, for example, William W. Savage, ed., Cowboy Life. Reconstructing
an American Myth. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1975; Robert G.
Athearn, The Mythic West in Twentieth-Century America. Lawrence: University
of Kansas Press, 1986; Don D. Walker, Clio's Cowboys. Studies in the
Historiography of the Cattle Trade. Lincoln: The University of Nebraska
Press, 1981; Everett Dick, Vanguards of the Frontier. A Social History of
the Northern Plains and Rocky Mountains from the Fur Traders to the Sod
Busters. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1941.
 Charles Hall, "Asa S. Mercer and 'The Banditti of the Plains': A
Reappraisal." Annals of Wyoming 49 (Spring 1977), 54.
 Lewis Atherton, The Cattle Kings. Lincoln: University of Nebraska
Press, 1961; Bison Book edition, 1972, 25.
 Jacobucci Collection (early Wyoming journalism), AHC, UW, Box 1, File 1.
 Roger G. Barker, "The Influence of Frontier Environments on
Behavior," in Jerome O. Steffen, ed., The American West. New Perspectives,
New Dimensions. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1979, 78.
 Charles W. Smith, "Asa Shinn Mercer, Pioneer in Western Publicity."
The Pacific Northwest Quarterly 27 (October 1936), 348.
 "A Woman's Weapon," Cheyenne (WY) Leader, 22 July 1884, 3.
 Leader, ibid.
 Joseph Jacobucci Collection, manuscript on early Wyoming press
history, AHC, UW, Box 2.
 Hall, 56.
 Leader, ibid.
 Hall, 58.
 Leader, ibid.
 Account books, papers of the WSGA, AHC, UW, Boxes 46, 88.
 Recollections of John Clay, papers of the WSGA, AHC, UW, Box 195.
 Account books, papers of the WSGA, AHC, UW, Boxes 43, 46.
 W. E. Chaplin, "Some of the Early Newspapers of Wyoming."
Miscellanies, Wyoming Historical Society, 1919, 7-8.
 Chaplin, 16.
 "The House Divided." Cheyenne Leader, 24 July 1884, 3; no title,
Cheyenne Leader, 26 July 1884, 2.
 Reminiscences of W. E. Guthrie, cattle foreman, manuscript dated
1925, deposed in papers of the WSGA, AHC, UW, Box 25.
 Letter from Arther T. Aldis, Sundance, Wyoming, published in The
Atlantic Monthly 29 (October 1885), 360-1.
 Walker, 29.
 Source: Economic History Service, on the web at
 D. F. Baber, as told by Bill Walker, The Longest Rope. The Truth
About the Johnson County Cattle War. Caldwell, ID: The Caxton Printers,
Ltd., 1947 (reprint of 1940 edition). Walker was a witness on the side of
the nesters, but his statement agrees with testimony of George Denning, one
of the men hired to accompany the cattlemen. William Galispie Angus Papers,
No, 8508, Box 1, AHC, UW.
 Samuel Travers Clover, On Special Assignment. New York: Argonaut
Press, Ltd., 1965, (reprint of 1903 edition), 221-2. The book, lightly
disguised, is a word-for-word copy of Clover's 1892 newspaper accounts.
 Charles B. Penrose Papers, in Lois Van Valkenburgh, "The Johnson
County War: the Papers of Charles Bingham Penrose," Master's thesis, 1939,
University of Wyoming. AHC, UW.
 "Caught in a Trap." Cheyenne Leader, 13 April 1892, 1.
 Clover, 223.
 Jonelle D. Moore, "A History of the Wyoming Press Association
1877-1944." Master's thesis, University of Wyoming, 1986, 67-8.
 Penrose Papers.
 Hall, 61.
 Cheyenne Leader, 24 July 1884, editorial, 2.
 Laramie County District Court Case papers, Burton S. Hill Collection,
No. 1602, Box 2, AHC, UW.
 "Put It Out of Sight for a Moment," Cheyenne Leader, 26 May 1892, 2.
 Clover, 251-2.
 Clover, 256; Denning testimony, Angus papers, 35.
 Clover, 256.
 Penrose Papers.
 William Sturgis Papers, AHC, UW, Box 1.
 "The Northern Expedition," Cheyenne Leader, 8 April 1892, 2.
 "News from the North." Cheyenne Leader, 16 April 1892, 1. The
published date may be incorrect: likely April 11 or 12. Both the Sun and
Stock Grower for these dates have been lost.
 "The Northern Situation," Cheyenne Leader, 20 April 1892, 2.
 Telegram from Washington, D.C., Johnson County War Papers, AHC, UW.
 "Caught in a Trap," Cheyenne Leader, 13 April 1892, 1; "News from the
North," Cheyenne Leader, 16 April 1892, 1.
 Penrose Papers, Valkerburgh thesis, 48.
 Herbert O. Brayer, "New Light on the Johnson County War." The
Westerners Brand Book 9 (Chicago), February 1953, n.p.
 "An Explanation," Cheyenne Sun, 3 May 1892, 2. January-26 April
editions of the Sun are lost from archives.
 "To Investigate," Cheyenne Leader, 5 April 1892, 2.
 Cheyenne Leader, 7 April 1892, editorial, 3.
 Ibid., quoting the Fremont Clipper, indicated as Republican, despite
 "The Leader's Troubles," article and reprint of formal complaint,
Cheyenne Sun, 19 June 1892, 2, 3.
 "The Issue Is Plain." Cheyenne Leader, 30 June 1892, 3.
 Cheyenne Leader, 3 July 1892, 2, editorial.
 Hall, 61; Gould, 9.
 Cheyenne Leader, 6 July 1892, 2.
 "Another Boycott," "Bulldozing the Press," Cheyenne Leader, 8 Jul
1892, 2; 13 July 1892, 2.
 Letters to W. R. Stoll, Cheyenne, dated 4 May 1892 and 7 May 1892.
Johnson County War Papers, AHC, UW, Box. 208.
 Cheyenne Sun, 28 April 1892, 2, editorial.
 Burritt to Stoll, 7 May 1892.
 Booklet, Burton S. Hill collection, No. 1602, AHC, UW, Box. 2.
 Lewis L. Gould, "A. S. Mercer and the Johnson County War. A
Reappraisal." Arizona and the West 7 (1965), 7.
 Hall, 60. Most of Mercer's Journal after 1887 is lost from archives.
 Gould, 14.
 Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1954. Reprint editions are
common. The book is still in print.
 Hall, 63.
 Cheyenne Leader, 16 August 1894, 2, quoting the Cheyenne Tribune,
 Gould, 5, footnote.