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Wind River County, A. Bierstadt
Dubois, Wyo., 1940's
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As noted with regard to the discussion of Lander, several of the early mountain man rendevous were conducted in the area. Some question exists as to the exact location of several of the rendevous. Hiram Chittenden, History of the American Fur Trade, discussed with regard to Yellowstone, contended that the rendevous of 1830 was conducted near South Pass or Lander. On the other hand, Charles Giffin Coutant, in his 1899 History of Wyoming, contends that it was conducted at the head of the Wind River near Dubois. The expedition, led by William Sublette, consisted of 81 men on mules, 10 wagons drawn by 5 mules each, and 2 carts. It took from April 10 until July 16 to get from St. Louis to the Wind River Basin, making 15 to 25 miles a day. Additionally there is evidence that Andrew Henry and William Ashley's company had its winter camp in the area in 1823-24 as did Jedediah Smith in 1829.
The area around present-day Dubois was first settled in the 1870's by stockgrowers and tie hacks. It was known as "Never Sweat." The area was also on the military road through To from Fort Washakie to Fort Yellowstone. The road, however, was not suitable for ordinary travel. As late as 1913, the Commander of Fort Yellowstone described the road between Moran Junction and Dubois:
The bridges and culverts need repairing, and, in addition, if the road is to be made passable for automobiles the location must be changed in places in order to reduce the grades, and many small streams that are now forded by teams must be provided with bridges. I am informed that this part of the road is in very poor shape; that the grades in many places are excessive—20 to 40 per cent and even as high as 45 per cent in a few places.
Fred T. Dubois
When it came time for the establishment of a post office, officials in Washington determined that it should be named for Idaho United States Senator Fred Thomas Dubois (1851-1930), a member of the Postal Committee, and today remembered primarily for his strong anti-LDS beliefs. During the Bannock War, a headline the New York Times, July 31, 1895, indicated that he also favored the "extermination" of the Bannock Indians. The text of the story did not bear out the claimed support for extermination but quoted him as saying the Bannocks were "blanket" Indians. The story also indicated that he believed that they were the "laziest and most worthless" Indians. He was chairman of the committee of the Senate that required navy bean soup to be always on the Senate menu. He opposed annexation of the Philippines and later favored sale of the Islands to Japan.
The first postmaster of Dubois was Alice A. Welty, the wife of Dr. Francis H. Welty (1846-1919), the post physician at Fort Washakie. The post office was established in a store established by her son, Frank A. Welty, Sr. To a great extent the existence of Dubois as a town was the result of the store and post office. Frank had worked as a government surveyor and also for a while had worked in the J. K. Moore's store in Ft. Washakie. Indeed, he later recalled that one of the customers coming into Moore's store was Butch Cassidy to whom Frank sold to cigar.
In the mid-1890's Frank homesteaded in an area near on Horse Creek to the north of the present site of Dubois. His mother also claimed homestead. His mother, Alice, proved up her homestead in 1901 and Frank proved up his claim in 1901. Frank constructed a store on the homestead. In 1897, George Y. Hays and Hewitt M "Huey" Yeomans constructed a store on the present site of Dubois. The following year, Frank bought out Hays and Yeoman's, dismantled the store on his homestead and moved it to the Hays-Yeoman establishment and rebuilt it as a rear extension to the store. Thus began a series of extesnsion and additions to the store over more than 100 years.
F. A. Welty's Store, approx. 1910
In 1915, another addition was constructed to the front of the building. The store served many of the ranchmen in the area. The goods purchased in Omaha were shipped by rail to Shoshoni and then brought the 100 miles to Dubois by 16-horse freight wagons. The trip which today takes less than two hours in those days could take more than a month.
Welty's Store, 1920's
In 1922, the extension of the building and gas pump as seen in the above photo was added. In the meantime, Frank Welty became a partner with Eugene Amoretti, Jr (1871-1950). and Ernest B. Helmer (1874-1927) in a private banking company, Amoretti, Helmer, Welty and Company, founded in 1913. Amoretti was the son of a Lander banker and owned a 240 acre cattle operation also on Horse Creek. The ranch was adjacent to a horse ranch owned by a George Cassidy and Al Hainer. Cassidy and Hainer purchased their property in 1889. Occasionally they would work on the Amoretti ranch. The Cassidy-Hainer operation only lasted about a year. Residents later recalled that the two always seemed to be able to sell more horses than they could raise. Cassidy banked with Amoretti's father. Amoretti later recalled Cassidy making a $17,500 deposit in the bank in Lander. Subsequently, Cassidy became known by the nickname "Butch." Amoretti also had an interest in a bank in Bridger, Montana. He later served as a State Representative (1927-1928). In Lander, Amoretti owned and was the manager of the electric light company. With Amoretti's other interest and Welty's interest in the store, general management of the Amoretti, Helmer and Welty bank was left to the cashier, Ernest Helmer.
Welty's Store, 1920's
Later in the 1920's as seen in the above photo, Welty constructed a new gasoline station to the west of the original store. Note, also, the lean-to section of the earlier building behind the new addition. In 1927, Ernest Helmer, Welty's partner in the bank, died. Shortly thereafter the state bank examiners discovered that the bank was insolvent as a result of a shortfall in Helmer's account. As discovered in subsequent lawsuits, Helmer had been misappropriating customer funds. The shortages were made good by Frank Welty.
Welty's Store, approx. 1952. Photo by Wm. P. Sanborn
Welty's Store, 1960's
Welty's Store, 2006
Next Page: Dubois continued.