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This Page: Douglas, Ft. Fetterman, George Pike.

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Douglas, Wyoming

Douglas was established in 1886 with the arrival of the railroad. The area, however, was settled beginning in 1867 with the establishment of Ft. Fetterman, 11 miles north of present day Douglas.

Cedar Street, 1909, Davis House Hotel to left
Lower left, looking North from Oak and 4th, 1911

The fort and the adjacent community of Fetterman City were named after Capt. Wm. J. Fetterman, who was killed near Ft. Phil Kearney. The Fort was always regarded due to lack of amenities and supplies as hardship duty. Until the arrival of the railroad, supplies had to be brought overland from either Medicine Bow Station on the Union Pacific or from Ft. Laramie. The fort was abandoned in 1882. C. H. King, grandfather of Gerald Ford, had a merchantile establishment in Fetterman City, but moved to Douglas upon the arrival of the Railroad and Fetterman City was abandoned. King later moved to Shoshoni where he also operated a merchantile business. The site of his store in Shoshoni is now occupied by the Yellowstone Drug Store, famous for its real milkshakes.

Fetterman City was also the site of the Fetterman Hospital Association, an early form of a health maintenance organization. Cowboys, working for some of the large ranches, could belong by having a small sum deducted from their pay, and be guaranteed health care for anything except certain social ailments.

In 1886, the Chicago, and Northwestern reached Douglas, photo below, built across the river from the site of Ft. Fetterman. In the Douglas Park Cemetary lie the remains of James M. "Doc Middleton" Riley, who begain his career as a horse-thief and murderer at age 14 and George Pike, rustler:

    Underneath this stone in eternal rest
    Sleeps the wildest one of the wayward west
    He was a gambler and sport and cowboy too
    And he led the pace in an outlaw crew
    He was sure on the trigger and staid to the end
    But he was never known to quit on a friend
    In the relations of death all men are alike
    But in life there was only one George W. Pike

Riley was reputed to have stolen 2,000 horses from ranchers and the Sioux in one two-year period and was, reputedly, associated with Kid Wad who ended this mortal coil as the guest of honor at a necktie party in Bassett, Neb.

Pike, in contrast, supposedly died of a heart attack after winning a large hand in a poker game in a local saloon. Since it is impolite to quit when ahead, the remaining players decided that if George could speak for himself he would have stayed to the end, he would not quit on a friend and the game should continue. George was propped up and a bystander was requested to continuing playing George's hands. George's winning streak continued and allegedly he won enough to go off in grand style and pay for the tombstone pictured above right. In some sense, one can perhaps see a rather punny allusion in the epitaph to how George played out life's last hand.

Hauling wool from the Fiddleback Ranch to Douglas
Below left, 3rd Street looking north, 1920's

The Fiddleback Ranch, north of Douglas on the Cheyenne, was owned by Ephrain Tillotson. Tillotson, among other things donated the original building for the Hospital Association. The Association when it was formed, employed Amos Barber as its physician at a salary of $100.00 per month and paid his moving expenses to Wyoming. Contrary to some assertions, Dr. Barber did not come to the Territory with the military, although he subsequently did serve in the Southwest and in the Spanish-American War. In 1889 the Association was discontinued and Dr. Barber went into private practice in Douglas. With statehood, Dr. Barber became the first Secretary of State. With the election of Gov. Francis E. Warren to the Senate, Dr. Barber became Acting Governor and was so serving at the time of the Johnson County War. Both the hospital and Dr. Barber are mentioned in Owen Wister's stories of Wyoming, although he refers to Fetterman City as "Dry Bone." After Tillotson's death at the turn of the century, the Fiddleback was sold to a corporation headed by Roscoe Crary, a principal of Texaco.

Douglas, 6th Street, looking north from Center