#Lookback: The Early History of Fremont County Part 1 – By H.G. Nickerson

    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.

    Captain H.G. Nickerson was an early pioneer in Fremont County.  In July of 1924, he wrote about our early history and his memoirs were published in the State of Wyoming Historical Department’s Historical Bulletin.  The following is taken directly from Nickerson’s memoir.

    The first prospectors and locators of mines at South Pass were from Salt Lake.  In the summer of 1867 men reached South Pass and located the famous Clarissa mine, and on the 10th of August they were attacked by Indians.  They killed Captain Lawrence at the Clarissa mine, killed Tony Sholes at Sweetwater and captured a man named Taylor, whom they burnt at the stake about two miles back, or north of South Pass.  They captured 23 head of horses and drove out the prospectors who returned in September with large reinforcements and have held the County since.  

    In the summer of 1868 Jeff Standifer, an old western explorer, prospector and Indian fighter, left South Pass and Atlantic with six other men from the places to prospect on the head of Wind River.  On the 28th day of June while in camp on the Big Wind river near the mountains, they were attacked by a large party of Indians so suddenly that they could not secure their horses, which were near camp and had not even time to make defense.  Hank Lehman was killed in camp, McAuley was killed nearby, Moore and Duncan made their escape for a time by swimming the river, but were followed to Bull Lake, ten miles, and were killed, their remains being found some years afterwards and buried at the head of Bull Lake.  Standifer and one man escaped to the mountains and made their way to South Pass, Standifer slightly wounded in the hand; Andy Newman, the present survivor of the party, after great hardship and exposure, made his way into Little Wind River Valley (now the Shoshone Agency) where a few men had located agricultural claims and were there camped. He presented a pitiful appearance, being nearly starved and almost naked, his flesh torn and his feet lacerated and full of cactus thorns.  He was provided for and he then went on to South Pass.

    On the second of June the little party of seven in the Wind River Valley were attacked by the same Indians so suddenly that they could not save their horses, all of which were stolen.  Henry Lusk was surrounded by Indians, but being well armed stood them off, escaping with a broken arm, shot by the Indians.  Sage C. Nickerson was a short distance away looking after the horses, who seeing the Indians coming and having no weapons with him, ran to a small stream (Squaw Creek), got into the willows, then in the stream, and the banks being very steep and over hanging, he managed to get under the water with only enough of his head out (but under the bank) to breathe.  There he remained while the Indians searched up and down the stream for him but they could not find him, so they shot the dog that was barking around where he was and which might have told the Indians of his hiding place.  They took all his horses, some of which were fine and valuable, and did not leave until the night was nearly over.  The others of the party went to look for Nickerson, whom they supposed was killed, and after a long search they found him more dead than alive from remaining so long in the water, He supposing the Indians to still be there.

    More of Nickerson memoirs in will appear in future Lookback articles.

    Next up for the Fremont County Museum

    December 2022-October 2023 at the Pioneer Museum, “Wind River Memories: Artists of the Lander Valley and Beyond” art exhibition

    March 10, 7:30 pm at the Dubois Museum, “Kids Corner: Interactive Stargazing” Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

    March 29, 6pm at the Riverton Museum, “Talking Photography with Wes Uncepher” Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

    April 13, 7pm at the Dubois Museum, “What’s This Stuff Called Air” Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

    April 21, 10-11 am at the Dubois Museum, “Kids Corner: Scat, Tracks and Skulls” Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

    April 22, 9-3 pm at the Pioneer Museum, “Garden-Expo: Planting Historic Vegitables for Kids” Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

    April 29, 1-3pm at the Pioneer Museum, “Sheep Shearing Day” Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

    May 13, 9-1 pm at the Pioneer Museum, “Lander Area Petroglyph Trek” Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek Series

    May 17, 7 pm at the Riverton Museum, “Gold Fever in the Atomic Age: Wyoming’s Uranium Boom” by Zach Larsen, Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

    Call the Dubois Museum 1-307-455-2284, the Pioneer Museum 1-307-332-3339 or the Riverton Museum 1-307-856-2665 for detail regarding their programs.

    The Wind River Cultural Centers Foundation has been created to specifically benefit The Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander and the Riverton Museum.  The WRCCF will help deliver the long term financial support our museums need to flourish.  In the current economic environment, the museums are more reliant than ever on donations from the private sector to continue to provide the quality programs, collections management, exhibits and services that have become their hallmark over the last four years.  Please make your tax deductible contribution to be used specifically for the benefit of the museum of your choosing by sending a check to Wind River Cultural Centers Foundation at PO Box 1863 Lander, WY 82520 or taking it directly to the museum you choose to support.  

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