Jackson Photos

From Wyoming Tales and Trails

This Page: Jackson continued, National Elk refuge, the Bannock War of 1895 .

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Table of Contents
About This Site

Elk Herd, Jackson Hole, 1901. Photo by Stephen N. Leek.

Jackson, the town, without the "Hole", was given its name by Maggie Simpson when she was appointed post master and the post office was moved to the Simpson homestead on Cache Creek. Margaret Susan Sullivan "Maggie" Simpson (1846-1922) and John Porter Simpson (1835-1921) were the parents of William L. Simpson, who in turn was the father of Governor Milward Simpson. Governor Milward Simpson was the father of Sen. Alan K. Simpson. William L. Simpson, a lawyer, married the daughter of Fincelius "Finn" G. Burnett. The Simpson homesteaded in the area in the 1890's and received their homestead patent in August of 1899. In 1897, the Town of Jackson was platted by Maggie and John Simpson and Robert E. Miller (1863-1934) and Grace Green Miller (1865-1948), with Grace doing the drafting. The Miller homestead became the site of the National Elk Refuge. Miller arrived in the valley in 1885. the valley was somewhat deserted. Miller in one letter, perhaps tongue in cheek, described the loneliness of the valley: "[T}he country only affords one woman and she is an Indian woman."

He complained of outlaws that infested the valley, but later joined a posse intending to drive them out.

"Well we reached their camp and surrounded it before day break, 7 men in the stable with their saddle horses and 5 men behind a knoll in front of the house, 75 yards and 50 yards from the house and laid in wait for them to get up and come out to feed and I tell you it was a long wait, for it was cold and we had to keep quiet. Finally the first one came and we let him come within 15 steps of us before we ordered him to throw up his hands and walk in -- but no! he stepped one step back pulling his six shooter leveling at the cracks through which our seven guns were pointed and which he could see was sure death to him, but he was to slow. A volley of seven downed him, though he emptied his six shooter at us after he was down and made the splinters fly around us plenty. He never spoke a word."

S. N. Leek.

Stephen N. Leek (1857-1941), a rancher and guide, later became widely known for his efforts for the preservation of elk. Billed as the "Father of the Elk, Leek toured on the Orpheum Circuit giving lectures on elk illustrated by photographs he took. Born in Ontario, he moved to Wyoming and worked in southeastern Wyoming before settling in Jackson Hole about 1888. He served in the Legislature in 1907.

"Recent Uprising Among the Bannock Indians
A Hunting Party Fording the Snake River Southwest of the Three Tetons"
Frederic Remington

The preservation of Elk was one of the causes of the so-called Bannock War of 1895. In the 1890's and first years of the 20th Century the use of elk teeth in jewelry became popular. As in earlier years when buffalo were killed solely for their hides, elk were killed for their teeth by hunters known as "tuskers." This led to the possiblity of the extinction of the animal. Indeed, in some areas of their original habitat such as parts of New Mexico and Colorado, the elk did, in fact, become extinct. The elk in the area of Estes Park, Colorado, are reintroduced elk having been brought in from the area of Jackson.

Headline Baltimore Morning Herald, July 27, 1895.

As a result, the Wyoming legislature passed an act making illegal the wanton killing of elk. Under the Treaty of Fort Bridger, the Bannock were guaranteed the right to hunt in occupied country. Bannock Indians of Idaho relied upon elk for sustenance and were, perhaps, not very astute as to the significance of political boundary lines such as the Idaho-Wyoming border. By the later half of the 1890's, Jackson Hole was also becoming popular with big game hunters. Local guides regarded the Indians' taking of elk as interferring with ig game hunting. In July of 1895, a band of Bannocks crossed into Jackson Hole and were confronted by a posse under the leadership of William Francis "Bill" Manning (1836-1932). During the Civil War Manning served in the 57th Ohio Infantry. Later in 1872, he enlisted in the Fifth U. S. Infantry and spent some time with General Miles pursuing the Indians. After working for a time in Colorado, Montana, and Idaho, in 1891 settled in Jackson's hole living near Cheney south of Jackson. He proved up his homestead for 160 acres in 1904. Manning in addition to ranching, worked as a game warden. When he was in his 80's and early 90's he carried the mail for over ten years from Pinedale to Jackson. When he was 90 years old his contract was again renewed. He died on August 14, 1932. The services were conducted by the veterans of Foreign Wars with state representative W. D. DeLoney as principal speaker. A quartet sang the old hymns "Rock of Ages" and "Sun of My Soul."

The posse including in addition to Manning, Vic Gustaveson, William Crawford, Andy Matson, Stephen N. Leek, George Wilson, J.G. Fisk and Martin "Slough Grass" Nelson. "Slough Grass" Nelson received his nickname as a result of his moving slough grass. He had settled in a swampy area. Rather than mowing the slough grass in the early fall, he would wait until after everything had frozen. In this manner, the mowing machine would not sink into the soft soil. Near present-day Cora west of Pinedale, Six Indians were arrested. Found guilty and, as a result of their inability to pay the fine, placed in jail. As a result of the inability of local authorities to pay for their food, they were permitted to "escape."

Shortly after the "escape" of the Indians, another confrontation occurred along Hoback Creek in which an old blind Indian was killed and more Indians arrested for illegal hunting. Jackson, then known as "Marysvale." was, at the time, some 125 miles from the nearest telegraph at Market Lake, Idaho. On July 16, 1895, the staccato sound of the telegraph in Cheyenne tapped out a message to Governor Richards from Market Lake, Idaho. dated the day before at Marysvale:

Nine Indians arrested, one killed, others escaped. Many Indians reported here; threaten lives and property. Settlers are moving families away. Want protection immediately. Action on your part is absolutely necessary. "

Justice of The Peace."
Wm. MANNING, Constable"

Messages passed from one to another like a child's game of "telegraph" became garbled and exaggerated. Thus, a New York newspaper excited the interest of its readers with the information that all within Jackson Hole had been massacred. The same information was headline news in other eastern papers. The headline in the Baltimore Morning Herald shown to the above right was typical.

William Manning, 1922. Photo by W. C. Lawrence.

The newspaper, using as its source three fishermen, reported that "every man, woman and child in Jackson's Hole [was] murdered." The paper continued by reporting that smoke from a large fire south of Grand Teton in the direction of Jackson's Hole could be seen and "[t]here is no doubt that the redskins have fired every home and cabin and by morning they will be repeating their work [in Idaho]."

In an earlier story, the newspaper, citing as its source a mail carrier from the Star Valley, reported that the Indians had blocked the various passes into Jackson Hole and that the residents of the Hole had abandoned their homes and crops and were fleeing for their lives. Soldiers were dispatched to Jackson. Most were unable to make it over Teton Pass. One company of black soldiers, however, by unhitching their wagons and lowering them on ropes down the steep slopes of the pass made it into Jackson Hole, only to discover an entirely peaceful scene, no massacre, no fires and no Indians. Other reports began to come into Washington that the situation was entirely exaggerated. The Indian agent at Fort Hall made his way into Jackson Hole also to find a peaceful scene. He reported that the Indians had killed or harmed no one:

All Indians absent from reservation have returned. Had big council. Requested me to telegraph you their hearts felt good. Had not harmed a white man, and would start haying, leaving their grievances to the justice of the white man.

An action for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of one of the Indians who had been arrested for poaching, Race Horse, was brought in the United States District Court in Cheyenne. The District Court held that the Wyoming law was superceded by the Treaty of Fort Bridger. Before the United States Supreme Court, however, the Wyoming law was sustained and held to apply to Indians off of their reservation. With the no-wanton hunting law having been sustained, the charges against Race Horse were then dropped. Thus ended the Bannock "War" of 1895.

Fighting Elk, 1911. Photo by Stephen N. Leek.

Nonetheless, efforts to preserve elk continued led by the Millers and Leek. Originally, the elk migrated south to winter in warmer areas of the Red Desert and Green River. Growing development of those areas interrupted the annual migrations and, thus, the elk wintered over in the Hole. The state created an elk preserve north of Moran. In 1912, Congress appropriated $45,000.00 for the creation of the National Elk Refuge with the first headquarters the former Miller homestead.

Miller Homestead, present-day National Elk Refuge. The Miller cabin is the smaller of the buildings on the left. The larger building on the right was constructed later as the headquarters of the Elk Refuge.

Robert E. Miller, approx. 1893.

The Millers received their land patent to 160 acres in December of 1898. Robert E. Miller, with the money recieved from the Federal Government for his homestead, in 1914 formed the Jackson State Bank of which he was the president. Locally he was sometimes referred to as "Old Twelve Percent." The Miller home in Jackson is now on the National Register. Miller was born in Wisconsin but grew up in Illinois where his father was a machinist. By the time he was 17 he was on his own working as a clerk in Joliet, Illinois. In 1927, the "Snake River Land Company" was formed representing interess ostensibly from Salt Lake City. Miller was employed as its principal land agent. Secretly it was owned by the Rockefeller family, which accummulated the land for the purpose of donating it to the government for the Teton National Park. Miller was the first superintentent of the then Grand Teton National Monument. It has been contended that Miller was unaware of the plan as he was opposed to expansion of the National Park into the valley. In 1929, it became known who was behind the land company and Miller was terminated and has been described as becoming bitter toward the Rockefeller interests.

In November 1924, Miller died at his home of an apparent heart attack. The following year, Grace had heart problems and moved back to Ottawa, Illinois, where the two had been married in 1893. Grace died there in 1948.

Next Page: Jackson continued.