Another great guest speaker to wind up National Library Week! This time it was local historian Clay Gibbons talking about A. S. Mercer’s book, Banditti of the Plains. For those not familiar with western history, Banditti of the Plains was an exposé of the Johnson County War, the large cattlemen versus small that occurred in 1893.
Mercer was an interesting bloke, living quite a life before coming to Cheyenne. There, as a newspaperman, he became friends with many of the large, rich, foreign investors who all wanted to own ranches. As their power grew and they began to hang suspected rustlers (Cattle Kate), Mercer still supported the stockgrowers until finally, while the large ranchers were instigating the Johnson County War, Mercer changed sides.
His book named names, from businessmen to senators to the governor and president. He laid out their plans, their collusion, their attempts at misleading public sentiment. Banditti was banned, burned, and bought back by the Stockgrowers Association. Few original copies exist today.
Clay may have a copy of the original manuscript and it was thrilling to see the start of the book.Find me here!