#Lookback: Baldwin Cabin

A County 10 series in partnership with the Fremont County Museum System where we take a #Lookback at the stories and history of our community and presented by Mick Pryor, Financial Advisor with Edward Jones.

Major Noyse Baldwin was assigned to Fort Bridger in 1864 and assumed command of the fort. He and his family lived there until he was mustered out of the service in July of 1866. When he was released from the service, he began looking for other possibilities. He decided his best choice was to open a trading post in the Wind River Valley. He evidently knew the Bonneville cabins were sitting abandoned close to what is now the town of Hudson. These cabins were a readymade site for his first trading post. He packed up his family consisting of his wife, Josephine, and 5 children along with trading goods and started for the Bonneville cabins in the summer of 1866. The Plains Indians were still quite hostile in 1866 defending their way of life. Baldwin occupied Bonneville cabins from 1866 to 1967. By the Spring of 1867, hostilities forced the family to retreat to the safety of South Pass. The Baldwin’s oldest daughter remembered there were pumpkins growing volunteer around Bonneville Cabins.

With rich gold strikes being made in the Spring of 1867, the Baldwin family settled at South Pass for a while. Baldwin still was interested in developing a trading post in the Wind River Valley. He chose a spot on an Indian trail north of what is today Lander. The trading post consisted of a 30 by 75-foot log building divided into 7 rooms and a small 12 by 20-foot cabin used as a family home. The cabin was purchased at South Pass disassembled and moved to the trading post site in 1868. The original trading post has long since been torn down, and the logs of the original trading post were probably sold to the army to build part of the original Camp Auger where Lander is today. There is a record of Baldwin sending a bill to the army for the logs.

Baldwin’s 12 by 20-foot cabin is still standing on a high knoll with clear views in all directions. It is the oldest structure still standing in Fremont County. The one-room cabin is built of logs with a native stone floor. There are gun sites in the walls facing north and east to defend from attackers. It is assumed the trading post had similar gun sites facing west and south. In this cabin Baldwin’s wife, Josephine gave birth to her sixth child, George Lyman Baldwin the first white child born in Lander Valley on May 4th, 1869. The Pioneer Museum has George’s cradle in the collection. The cradle was probably made from a pair of discarded chairs. Nine days later, while Noyse Baldwin was away on a trading trip, friends evacuated Josephine, the baby, and 5 of her other children to the safety of South Pass. It was deemed too dangerous to leave her alone in such isolation.

South of Baldwin’s cabin is a hole that was probably the original well for the trading post. There are pipes running from the hole to the cabin.

Baldwin’s books record 3700 hides of buffalo, elk, deer, otter, and mink pelts collected and traded. Baldwin’s trade goods would have included guns, gun powder, lead balls, knives, beads, brightly colored cloth and possible sugar, flour, salt, and bacon tobacco and whiskey.

Baldwin’s Cabin and the Trading post became a community center. In 1868 his store was used as a courtroom and Baldwin received payment of $100 for its use. Baldwin’s store was also used as a polling place in September of 1869; perhaps the trading post was where some of the first votes cast by women were counted.

Josephine Baldwin remembered two Native American men coming to the trading post with a young antelope they had killed. Josephine estimated it weighed about 25 pounds dressed out. The men built a fire and roasted their antelope and had eaten all of it by morning.

At the front of the property where the trading post probably stood is a newer home, the Harding house. It is built of adobe brick covered in plaster in the interior. Amos Gustin sold a piece of his claim to Angus McDonald who built the house in 1881 of adobe bricks with walls 16 inches thick. Henry Harding and his family moved to the house in 1912 or 1913 after their young daughter drowned in the North Fork River. Henry sided the house with wood. It was occupied until the 1970s when the property was deeded to the county. Henry Harding originally came to Fort Washakie as an Indian fighter and scout. He settled down and became a carpenter, stoneworker, and blacksmith. His original blacksmith shop is a pile of collapsed timbers and tin at the back of the property. In front of the Harding house is an apple tree that still bears fruit. Most homesteads of this time had at least one apple tree.

About 1870, Major Baldwin was appointed camp sutler and postmaster to Camp Stambaugh, close to Miner’s Delight. He and his family settled down at the Camp until it closed in 1878. When Camp Stambaugh closed, the Baldwin family which by then consisted of 9 children moved to Lander and built a general store on the corner of Third Street and Main Street. The family home was built on South Second and still stood until recently.

Next up for the Fremont County Museums

Upcoming Programs

August 6th, 7 pm at the Dubois Museum “More Than Just Yellowstone: Recent Volcanism In The Dubois Area”

              Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

August 6th, 10 am from the Pioneer Museum in Lander “Wyoming: A History of the West” By Sam Lightner

              Virtual Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

(View on https://www.facebook.com/pioneermuseumlanderwyoming)

August 7th, 9 am at the Dubois Museum “Volcanic Geology of the Dubois Area by Mathew Brueseke”

              Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek

Consider supporting The Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander or the Riverton Museum with a monetary donation. The museums are more reliant than ever on donations from the private sector to continue to provide quality programs, collections management, exhibits, and services that have become their hallmark. Please make your tax-deductible contribution to be used specifically for the benefit of the museum of your choosing by sending a check to Fremont County Museums 450 N 2nd Rm 320 or taking it directly to the museum you choose to support.

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