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. Sullivan, father of Governor Milward Simpson,
and great-grandmother 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 and Grace Miller, with Grace doing the
drafting. The Miller homestead became the site of the National Elk Refuge.
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"
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 consisting of
Constable William 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. "
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.
FRANK H. RHODES,"
Justice of The Peace."
Wm. MANNING, Constable"
William Manning, approx. 1922
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.
The Millers received
their land patent to 160 acres in December of 1898. Robert Miller, also a banker and sometimes referred to as
"Old Twelve Percent," was a major land agent for the Snake River Land Company, owned by the Rockefeller family, which
accummulated the land which was ultimately turned over to the government for the
Teton National Park. He was the first superintentent of the then Grand Teton National Monument.
Next Page: Jackson continued.