Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Traveling Tuesday: Wyoming in the 1870s

Traveling Tuesday: Wyoming in the 1870s

By the time Wyoming attained statehood in 1890, the population was over sixty thousand, however, when my character Beryl shows up in 1875, there were a mere nine thousand inhabitants in an area larger than the United Kingdom where she’d come from. The transcontinental railroad had been completed six years earlier, and the Union Pacific portion of the line cut through the southern section of the territory on its way to California, creating many towns along the route.

However, prior to that Wyoming owed much of its early settlement to the “gentlemen of Europe.” A fondness for beaver top hats created an industry that sent fur trappers such as Kit Carson, Jim Bridger, and Jedediah Smith into the Rocky Mountains in search of the prized pelts. After the Homestead Act of 1862, the number of people entering the area swelled, seeing a peak in immigration in 1868. Wyoming Territory was officially created on July 25th of that year. Four years later, Yellowstone National Park became the world’s first national park.

By the time Beryl arrived, the cattle industry boom and the era of the cowboy were in full swing.
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Demand for beef had grown on both sides of the Atlantic, and the invention of refrigerated rail cars and ships supported the growth. Territorial governors invested, and one of the most powerful political organizations in the West at that time, the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, had been founded four years earlier. More than one resource called the WSGA “the de facto territorial government” in Wyoming.

Being from England herself, Beryl might have noticed that the population was heavily foreign-born, one site claiming as much as three-eighths of the inhabitants. Most came from Ireland, Germany, and England. Unlike Colorado, Wyoming never experienced any major mineral discoveries such as gold or silver. However, there were many places to hide, and the territory was home to more than a few outlaw gangs. The nickname “wild west” became popular for a reason, and Beryl was soon caught up in one of its nefarious plots.


Beryl’s Bounty Hunter

Can a thief and a lawman find happiness?

Orphaned as a child, Beryl Atherton has lived on the streets of London as long as she can remember. Reduced to stealing for survival, she is arrested. During her incarceration one of her cellmates shows her a newspaper ad for an American mail-order bride agency. But all is not as it seems, and moments after landing in Boston, she must run for her life. Will things be no different for her in the New World?

Working as a bounty hunter since The War Between the States, Lucas Wolf just needs a few more cases before he can hang up his gun, purchase a ranch out West, and apply for a mail-order bride from the Westward Home & Hearts Mail-Order Bride Agency. While staking out the docks in Boston, he sees a woman fleeing from the man he’s been tailing. Saving her risks his job. Not saving her risks his heart.

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