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Fear Of Cowboys

June 2024
1min read

Wallace Stegner’s irritation with cowboys—as expressed in “Who Are the Westerners?” (December 1987 issue)—has always been shared by most residents of smaller Western towns, as is shown very well by the following historical newspaper articles:

From the River Press , Fort Benton, Montana, November 17. 1880: “ COWBOYS ON THE: WARPATH, TWO OF THEM KILLED AT THE SNAKE RIVER BRIDGE . For some time the herders on Snake River, commonly known as cow-boys, have been emulating the deeds of their kind in Texas and have established a reign of terror in the towns where they meet or pass through on their drives and are as desperate and reckless marauders as ever infested any country. Mr. S. E. Larabee, who returned November 1st, says that about ten days ago they kicked up a mess at Blackfoot, breaking in windows and running the town for a while, but that citizens rallied and put the worst one in jail. On the 28th, two or more of them came to Anderson’s store at Snake River bridge, shot the dog and chickens and finally fired into the store, presumably at one of the storekeepers who had remonstrated with them. They then went toward the corral. Two men from the store followed them with guns. When near the corral, the two cow-boys jumped up and fired but missed. The store men then fired, killing one of the cow-boys and a shot fired by another person killed the second one….”

From the Cheyenne Daily Leader , October 3, 1882: “Morally, as a class, they are foulmouthed, blasphemous, drunken, lecherous, utterly corrupt. Usually harmless on the plains when sober, they are dreaded in towns, for the liquor has the ascendency over them.”

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