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Sheridan County Formed 135 Years Ago this Month

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March is an historic month in Sheridan. On March 6, 1884, the town of Sheridan, was incorporated. It was named for John B. Louck’s commander in the Civil War, General Philip Sheridan, who was born on March 6, 1831.

On March 11, 1888, the county of Sheridan was formed out of Johnson County, which was incorporated in December of 1875, from parts of Albany, Carbon and Sweetwater Counties.

Many in Johnson County were not thrilled with the forming of the new county. This from the Big Horn Sentinel in Buffalo, April 21, 1888 – The county division fight, as far as it concerns the people of Buffalo directly, is now a thing of the past, the board of county commissioners having unanimously decided that it is a matter that threatens to a great extent financial ruin to Johnson County, and therefore obtained an injunction restraining the commissioners for the proposed county of Sheridan from organizing.

Of course. as will be noticed by the injunction, a copy of which is published on the local page of this paper to-day, the plaintiffs the chairman of the board, but it was the wish of each individual member of the board to take up the matter and counsel for the plaintiff was so instructed to make out the papers in the case inasmuch as division would seriously affect the financial condition of the county.

While the people of Sheridan directly charge Mr. McCray as being the leader in the injunction suit, their grievances and petty spite cannot attache to him alone as counsel for plaintiff to present his case in the proper light before the court deemed it necessary to select one member of the board as complainant. The fight has, viewing the duties of the board of commissioners, been taken up by the proper parties.

General Sheridan statue at Fort Mackenzie, Sheridan.

Commissioners are sworn officials to look after the financial welfare of the county, and direct the machinery in a manner that will prove to the best interest of the taxpayers as a whole. In the injunction suit we believe that this has been done by each individual member of the board, without prejudice or partiality to any one section or any particular set of individuals. What the outcome of the injunction will bo no one can foretell, but the people who are acquainted with Chief Justice Maginnis have the utmost confidence in him that he will render a fair and impartial opinion of the question he will be called upon to decide. There is, however, one gentleman connected with the suit whose testimony is liable to disclose some information as to the hour the bill passed the legislature that will not look favorable for the organization of Sheridan county. The gentleman in question is Herman Glafcke, chief clerk of the house, and his testimony with the endorsement of the governor on the bill as to the time received at the executive’s office lead one to suppose that the injunction will not to dissolved by the court.

This from the Sheridan Enterprise on May 12, 1888 – In spite of the injunctions served by officers of Johnson county upon the judges of election for Sheridan County, the election came off last Monday. On the last day of the session of the Tenth legislative assembly of Wyoming bill was passed delegating to the people within the boundaries of the unorganized counties of Converse and Sheridan to organize when three hundred bona fide citizens and property taxpayers should petition the governor for that purpose.

The act was bitterly opposed by the citizens of the present Johnson County from the time of its introduction, nearly two months before its final passage, and it was only by the hardest work and cooperation of the friends of division that the bill became law. Immediately after its passage petitions were gotten up praying the, governor to appoint three commissioners to organize Sheridan County, and Thos. M. Cotton was sent to Cheyenne for that purpose.

The governor took exception (and very justly) to the manner in which the petitions were drawn up and to the title of the bill, and Mr. Cotton returned to inform the waiting and anxious public of the result of his trip. Another petition was circulated in accordance with his excellency’s suggestions, and the necessary three hundred names secured and placed ill the hands of M. 0. Harris, who journeyed to the territorial capital to interview Governor Moonlight. The people of Buffalo made every effort to induce the executive not to appoint the commissioners, claiming the bill was illegal, but upon the advice of Attorney General Douzelman he appointed M. C. Harris, C. Boulware and Henry Baker as commissioners to proceed with the organization of Sheridan County.

Scarcely had the ink dried upon the document when an injunction, with A. J. McCray, chairman of the board of commissioners for Johnson County, as complainant, was served upon two of the commissioners, even before Mr. Harris had returned from Cheyenne, forbidding them to act. After few preliminary skirmishes the case was brought, before Chief Justice Maglnnis, In the absence of Judge Blair from the territory, at Cheyenne, for hearing. The best legal talent of the territory was employed on either side. The non-divisionists held that the act was not legal because it was passed on Saturday morning after the session should have expired; the divisionists holding that the session did not end until Saturday at noon. Judge Maginuis very promptly dissolved the injunction.

Mr. Harris returned and meeting of the commissioners was called, day of election designated and judges of same appointed, when lo and behold here comes three or four officers from Johnson County with an order from G. W. Munkres, probate judge, threatening destruction and annihilation to the judges if they undertook to hold an election.

Upon the advice of the attorney general and other legal lights at the capital, the commissioners sent out notices to the judges directing them to pay no attention whatever to the injunction, as the probate judge had no authority to issue paper of that kind, and to go ahead with the election, With one exception, we believe, the judges performed their duties, and the election was held. For the past two or three weeks the question of county seat location has been the all absorbing one.

Dayton, Big Horn and Sheridan each rolled up their sleeves, spat on their hands and went into the fight with determination to win. Koch claimed to have enough votes pledged lo knock the persimmon, the two parties nominated candidates for the various offices, but politics cut no figure in the contest, and an aspirant for office was supported by the different towns in proportion to the influence he would lend to this or that place for county seat.

We of Sheridan have always been confident of victory, both because we believed the people recognized the fact that it was the proper place for the county seat, and knowing that its citizens had spent all the money and done all the work to secure division the generosity of the people of Sheridan county at large would not permit that rival town should secure the plum; but the result surprised even the most sanguine, as glance at the tab tabulated returns elsewhere shows that Sheridan received more votes than Dayton and Big Horn combined. The officers elected are all good men and true, and about equally divided between the two political parties.

Again from The Enterprise on July 7, 1888.The Latest News in Round No. Eleven Johnson County is Knocked Clear Over the Ropes – News was received here just before going to press to the effect that Judge Snutley had thrown the whole controversy between Johnson and Sheridan counties out of court and declared that Sheridan county is legally and fully organized county. This apparently settles the controversy, and Sheridan County is Sheridan County, and we’ll get the taxes, too-.

The cases against Messrs. Marks, Vail and O’Neal, who were indicted by the grand jury at Buffalo for the killing of Billy Smith, were also thrown out by the judge, saying that Sheridan County is the proper place to try them.

As may have been expected, Johnson County survived the split just fine, in spite of all the drama. This from the Wyoming Commonwealth Cheyenne November 1890 – Sun reporter found Joe DeBarthe, the enterprising proprietor of two newspapers in northern Wyoming, at the Inter Ocean last evening and pressed him into an interview regarding the prospects of his section. When questioned in regard to Johnson county he replied: “Johnson County is all right. When Sheridan County was cut off there were rumors of bankruptcy and decay, but neither came.

Now the Big Horn Basin folks are looking forward to the time when their taxable values will allow them the right given by the last legislature to form new county by cutting the western half of Johnson off, while this will take away great scope of territory it will in my opinion be benefit to the east side of the range and an incalculable boon to Big Horn Basin inhabitants. The latter are cut off from the county seat of Johnson County four or five months of the year, and trip to Buffalo in the winter means hardship and great expense.” “What are the prospects of your section as regards railroads and mines?”

“The incoming of railroads mean everything for Buffalo and Johnson counties and the recent talk of the Burlington building direct to Buffalo has raised our expectations very high. What we want is capital to develop the mighty natural resources of our section. To the west of the city of Buffalo is the Big Horn range of mountains where in time will be uncovered some of the richest deposits of gold and silver found in west.”

So, in spite of Johnson County at first not being really happy about cutting off a portion to form Sheridan County, it became a reality 135 years ago this month.

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    James Brower

    March 18, 2023 at 8:54 am

    Woo hoo Sheridan congratulations we knew you were #1

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