1 Johnson County was in Wyoming,
a region of the High Plains.
2 During the 1860's and 1870's, when
farmers began to move onto the
plains, this area was avoided at first.
3 Partly because there was
fierce resistance from the
Indians to white settlement.
4 But the cattlemen set up ranches in
Wyoming in the 1870's and were
firmly established there by the
1880's when the farmers came.
5 Some of them had become wealthy
and were trying to occupy more and
more territory across the Plains.
6 In Wyoming, these cattle 'barons' had
formed themselves into the Wyoming
Stock Growers Association. It had a
membership of around a hundred
cattlemen who at the Cheyenne Club.
They were a powerful force in the county.
7 In 1890 Wyoming became a state.
8 This strengthened the position of the
cattle barons as the state governor and
a number of senators (members of the
state assembly) joined the Cheyenne
Club and supported the big ranchers.
9 In the process of acquiring more land, the
barons came up against farmers and
small cattle ranchers who resisted them
and refused to give up their land.
10 These farmers were accused of rustling
cattle - a hanging offence.
11 Although it is likely that some of them really
were rustlers, this provided a very
convenient way of removing resistance,
especially as 'justice' was in the hands of
the vigilantes who worked for the barons.