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FACTS ABOUT THE SPRING CREEK RAID

Date - April 3, 1909

Location - a sheep camp on Spring Creek, about six or seven miles south of Ten Sleep, in what was then Big Horn County, but is now Washakie County, Wyoming.

Incident - Three men were murdered. Two other men were released unharmed.

Joseph Allemand - sheep rancher - killed

Joe Emge - former cattle, now sheep rancher - killed

Jules Lazier - sheep herder - killed

Pete Cafferal - sheep herder - released unharmed

Bounce Helmer - son of a cattle rancher and volunteered for his first sheep drive - released unharmed

The victims had trailed a flock of approximately 2500 sheep from Worland to the campsite on Spring Creek. Both Allemand's and Emge's ranches were on Spring Creek. There were according to later accounts these five men, several dogs, two sheep wagons and a buckboard at the campsite, which was comprised of two campsites - one on each side of the creek. The two men who were released were on one side of the creek, and the men who were killed were on the other.

Surprised by a group of intruders, the size of which was never fully determined, the sheep men found themselves outnumbered. Two of the men were released unharmed, and three of the men were killed. The wagons were then apparently burned, and two of the bodies were in a wagon when burned.

Seven men were suspected of being in the raid. Five men were charged, and two men turned state's evidence.

Herb Brink

Albert E. Keyes

Charles Farris

Ed Eaton

George Saban

Tommy Dixon

Milton Alexander

We will not cover the various aspects of the trial. Many, many books have been written on the subject. The sources listed below cover all aspects very well. There is one point we would like to make, however. Joe Emge, one of the victims who lost his life, had been a former cattleman. He had been a major player in a recent lawsuit over a fence he had built which kept sheep and other cattlemen out of that area of the Big Horn Mountains. He later changed from raising cattle to sheep because of economics. He was disliked by both sides of the cattle/sheep issue. It goes to prove that the issue in Wyoming at that time was not only about cattle and sheep, but about economics, fencing and other factors as well.

Results of the trial were as follows:

Herb Brink - convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to hang. Sentence later converted to a prison term. There are many accounts of Herb Brink and his escapades in/out of the Wyoming prison system. Paroled on December 9, 1914.

Tommy Dixon pled guilty to arson, sentenced three to five years in the state penitentiary. Sentence was commuted on November 1, 1912.

Ed Eaton pled guilty to arson, sentenced three to five years in the state penitentiary. Died in May or June of 1912 of spotted fever from a tick bite while working on a prison work crew in the Big Horn Basin.

Milton Alexander pled guilty to second degree murder, sentenced twenty to twenty six years in the state penitentiary. Paroled on December 9, 1914.

George (Henry*) Saban pled guilty to second degree murder, sentenced twenty to twenty six years in the state penitentiary. On December 15 or 16, 1913, he escaped while being transported from Colter, Wyoming (after completing an assignment on a work crew) back to Rawlins, Wyoming. They had stopped in Basin, Wyoming for the night. He was never heard from again. Despite efforts to locate him by authorities and family alike, none of the various sightings of him proved out.

Albert E Keyes turned state's evidence, and no charges were brought.

Charles Ferris turned state's evidence, and no charges were brought.

Sources:

A Vast Amount of Trouble - A History of the Spring Creek Raid by John W. Davis, senior partner of a law firm in Worland, Wyoming and president of the Washakie County Bar Association.

Cattlemen vs. Sheepherders - Five Decades of Violence by Bill O'Neal, author-historian.

Further suggested reading:

Grass was Gold by Paul Frison.

Tensleep and No Rest by Jack Gage.

Wyoming's Wealth - A History of Wyoming by Bill Bragg.

Suggested reading for earlier history of the cattle and sheep conflicts:

The Banditti of the Plains by A.S. Mercer

The War on Powder River by Helena Huntington Smith.

*George Saban's full name was George Henry Saban. He was born October 22, 1872. We are putting this information here to clear up any questions. There is a George Saban who is buried in the Worland Cemetery, whose full name was George William Saban. He was born June 14, 1896, and died June 20, 1960 in Worland. He had lived in Ten Sleep most of his adult life.

Created by Don and Mary Saban April 6, 2000 Perpetual Copyright 2000 All Rights Reserved

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