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The Sundance Times
Sundance, Wyoming
January 18, 1979     The Sundance Times
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January 18, 1979

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PAGE 14 THE SUNDANCE TIMES JANUARY 18, 1979 .~~#) STORIES FROM WYOMING'S PAST 11-]I m I THE ~FORTHE COURT HOUSE by Phil Roberts Wyoming editors have a tradition of forceful advo- cacy. When an issue be- comes critical to a com- munity, no holds are barred. Such was the case in 1896 when the contest for the county seat of Big Horn county ignited passions in Otto and Basin. The Wyoming legislature in 1890 took portions of Sheridau; Johnson and Fre- mont Big H~ organi~ was not~ The f wasto new 0 Otto, p~ tmties and formed k ~ounty. Formal ion of the county ~gun until 1895. mt order of business $1ect a site for the Inty court house. relation about 200, was th@ most obvious loca- tion. F~yQnded in 1878, the town we named for wealthy poineerl cattleman Otto Franc. ~The town was cen- trally located and had been the commercial hub of the area. Aside from the boom town of Bonanza, Hyattville and Metteetse were the only other populated areas in the region. In the hte 1880's Winfield S. Collins, a lawyer and civil engineer, was living at Bo- nanza. Years before, Collins had come from Ohio to Fort Fetterman, had helped found the town of Douglas and came to Bonanza to practice law and promote oil explora- tion. (In 1888 he drilled the first oil well in the Big Horn Basin near Bonanza.) When Big Horn county was formed, Collins planned {which he assumed would be Otto) because his law prac- tice and other interests re- quired proximity to the court house. When he went to O~ to purchase land, the owner refused to sell for the price Collins offered. After some haggling, Collins de- cided to start his own town of the Big Horn River. He named the site "Basin City." By the summer 1896 the townsite had been sur- veyed and lots went on sale. (Cody was founded the same year.) Basin City soon had a couple of mercantile stores, three saloons, a lawyer (Col- lins) and a newspaper. Soon farmers began to occupy homesteads in the area. Collins brought in the Basin City Herald by encour- aging O.T. Gebhart, editor of the Paint Rock Record, to move his newspaper from Hyattville to Collins' new town. Hired to edit the publication during the county seat battle was Joe Magill, a European-educated journa- list who was working as a cowboy in the area. Magill, an accomplished linguist who spoke seven languages, had served as editor and coores- pendentfor several large Midwestern dailies. (Inci- dentlly, it was Magill and a friend , Dr. Julius A. Schuelke, who were respon- sible for the naming of Thermopolis. ) In Otto, lawyer Lou Blake- s]~ey's Courier geared up for the campaign. The Bonanza newspaper's move to Otto added another voice for Otto newspaper's move to Otto added another voice for Otto in the contest. The new paper, the Big Horn County Rustler, was edited by Tom Daggett, a former city editor of a large New York City newspaper. From scattered issues of those newspapers from that period in the collection of the Wyoming State Archives and Historical Department, the Basin editor appears to have conducted a low-key cam- paign. The two Otto papers countered with well reasoned arguments until late in the campaign when it became apparent that upstate Basin had a real chance to win. Public opinion leaned to- ward Otto in the beginning. Just before the election, however, Basin politicians and the Herald editor made a play for the Cedy vote. Although Cody was too small to be a serious con- tender for the county seat, Basin supporters encouraged the young community to make a bid for it. Basin's strategy was to split the vast Big Horn county vote be- tween Cody and Otto. AIP parently, a promise was also made that if Cody should grow larger, Basin would not oppose creation of a new county out of west Big Horn county. "A low lived, brainless coward, biggest lying coward that ever breathed the breath of life, half witted cur, brain- less pup, skunk and poor fool" was how one Otto editor described his Basin counterpart after Cody en- indicates how serious Basin's challenge had become and how masterful the strategy had been. The election results were counted at Bonanza, the temporary county seat, Basin was the winner by about 25 votes. After the election, Otto was doomed. The Rustler moved to the new county seat and the Courier moved to Meeteetse. Other Business- es moved as well. By 1900 Otto's population was small- er than it was in 1895. Today about 50 people live in the town whose future was de- cided in the 1896 "news- paper war" for the county. seat of Big Horn county. Hulett F~ol~l~e Osborn Jan. 13,1979 Another life-long resident of this and the Belle Fourche area, Lewis Clark, passed away Jan. 8th. The very large crowd at his final services here on Jan. l lth speaks for him and all his family and convey the feeling and sympathy of western folks when an old- timer is called to his Heavenly reward. From 4 to 6 inches of snow fell here Friday, Jan. 12th and predictions and alp pearances indicate a good deal of below zero tempera- ture for the coming several days. Mr. and Mrs. Welchie O. Patterson and family had their sen-in-law and daughter Mr. and Mrs. Steve {Yvonne) Beck of Gillette as dinner-guests on New Year's Day. Their son Welchie M. Patterson, who recently finished Technical School at Lackland Air Force Base spent his Christmas leave in Lusk,.Wyo. with his paternal grandmother Mrs. Pearl Patterson. He will report for furthe: duty at Warren Air Force Base at Cheyenne, Wyo. Jan. 14th. We're happy to have Bill Wood back at his home here after a two weeks stay in the to move to the county seat ~ the contest. The Bonanza tered the field. The invective Belle Fourche Health Care COW POKES By Ace Reid At Sundance State Bank "We're makin a survey of how many energy conserving devices are being used in your home" We I~ieve ~ ~Id try to preserve our natural resources; but when it comas to serving our custmmrs, WE DON'T CON- SERVE ANY ENERGY. We try our best to give you the best possible service. We have BEEF GIFt CERTIFICATES Available PHONE 183-1074 PHONE 283-1074 Center. Mrs. Lola Wilson is back home and doing nicely fol- lowing surgery at the Belle Fourche Hospital but she returns every few days for a check-up. Her brother and sister-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. C.S.McAmis are in Roches- ter where the latter had surgery early this week. Re- ports are that she is doing nicely. Carl had surgery at Rapid City in Dec. and is progressing nicely. Mrs. Florence Bunney has moved back to her ranch north-east of Aladdin where she has just had a new modular home set on a full basement. but trust she'll happy, well and country life again. Mrs. Verna ing a visit from Gladys whose Kansas City. *** The Veterans tion operates one largest life grams in the world istering some $97 life insurance policies'. million veterans and service personnel. TIMES Gets Results Fishiff For Ciood "1 DON'T KNOW WHY THEY CALL US SMELTS'...I CAN'T SMELL A THING" Let the Insurance PROFESSIONALS At our office "Sniff Out" the BEST PRC FOR YOUR Home, Farm, or Ranch Vic & .Susan Worthington Ph. 283- I 182 Sundance SECURITY INSURANCE An open and shut case for heating your home Considering the cost of oil, gas and lectric heat these days, it's easy to see why hundreds of thousands of homeowners across North America have turned to wood heating. l:'s more economical (it can trim ~ ", - ' ,; 50');- or more off your heating bill). ..,~ ~ ....'._.. Wood smells and sounds as good as , ...,:, it bums. And it's one form of energy that's still growing. But what do you bum woad in to get the most heat out of it'? We'd like to suggest a Fisher Stove. The Fisher's unique two-step combustion chamber i recirculates wood gases back into the flames, resultin more heat and fewer ashes. Its,patented spin and virtually airtight construction mean you how much heat it puts out. And because it's made from carefully welded, heavy plate steel, it will give you of remarkable heating efficiency. We have a varier/of Fisher Stove models to choose Sm come in soon and find out what makes a Fisher a i I M,I ,,=.,.,,._ An idea America is warming up to. Neiman Sawmill, Inc. Box 218 Ph. Hulett, Wyoming 82720 .,~