|Chicago Daily News newsroom, 1915|
The report fails to include any of the cowboys' grievances against the owners. Most owners now represented investors from the East and Europe and had introduced lots of new rules and regulations. Key among them was the end of the poorly paid cowboy’s traditional source of additional income, the right to claim ownership of mavericks with his own brand and thus build his own herd. The owners added insult to injury by refusing to increase wages to compensate for this loss.
|Painting by Anders Zorn, 1887|
An earlier item in the Tribune on May 19, 1883, dateline Austin, Texas, reported that cowboys in one Panhandle county were returning to work – and without a pay raise. The source in this case was an officer of the State troops. He reveals that the stock-owners have asked for the presence of rangers at roundups in other counties. [I’m guessing that if the cowboys had their own newspaper, coverage of the strike would have had a whole different slant.]
|Ralph W. Emerson (1803-1882)|
Sheriff Stevens is credited by the grateful community for attempting to stop an outbreak of bloody feuding among rival gangs. A second Kid, wanted for horse stealing, has been apprehended. However, two other lawmen are overdue in return from a manhunt following a stage robbery. The robbers, with a gang of seven cowboys, are believed to have retreated to a “stronghold” in the Santa Catalina Mountains.
Troubles in Idaho. Finally, an item in the March 24, 1884, Tribune, dateline Ogden, Utah, reports of a cowboy-related murder trial. The alleged assailant is the “notorious outlaw cowboy,” W. T. Stokes, who “just for amusement” fatally shot a violinist at a dance in American Falls, Idaho. Previously, Stokes and his gang were known for holding up a train and forcing a group of musicians on board to perform for them.
At a preliminary hearing, court proceedings were disrupted by a contingent of heavily armed supporters attempting to intimidate the presiding justice of the peace. The sheriff and a posse were required to disarm and disperse them. Stokes was subsequently held without bail.
Cowboy strike of 1883
Elmer Kelton, The Day the Cowboys Quit
Image credits: Wikimedia Commons
Coming up: Springfield Rifle (1952)