JAKEY’S FORK HOMESTEAD History
The Jakey’s Fork Homestead was originally built in the late 1800’s, and like most homesteads, has been added onto and reconfigured many times since. The history includes residents John & Margaret Simpson who were U.S. Senator Alan Simpsons great-grandparents. This was the ranch headquarters for the first herd of 20,000 cattle to be raised in the upper Wind River valley. The homestead is also where Robert LeRoy Parker, alias “Butch Cassidy,” spent the Christmas of 1889 with the Simpson family. We also have the original Jakey’s Fork School on the property, with plans for restoration in the future
Butch Cassidy at Jakey’s Fork
Robert LeRoy Parker alias, “Butch Cassidy,” and his cohort Al Hainer owned a cabin on Horse Creek around 1889 which had been constructed by two local bachelors, Hughie Yeoman and Charlie Peterson (a picture owned by Frankie Moriarity shows Cassidy, Hainer, Yeoman and Gene Amoretti Jr. and Bill Donely in front of Cassidy’s cabin). According to another source the two men closest neighbors were Eugene Amoretti Jr. who had the EA Ranch and John and Margaret Simpson who lived on the Jakey’s Fork. The EA Ranch was adjacent to the Cassidy and Hainer cabin. (The Simpsons were U.S. Senator Alan Simpson’ great-grandparents.)
Cassidy and Hainer probably purchased supplies from J.K. Moores store in Fort Washakie but they also got cigars from F.A. Welty Sr. at his store in Dubois. Cassidy and the young Amoretti became friends. When Cassidy later became an outlaw, Amoretti, who was associated with his father in the banking business in Lander, never had his bank robbed by him.
Cassidy and Hainer spent the Christmas of 1889 with the Simpson family at the mouth of the Jakey’s Fork on the Wind River, four miles downstream from their own cabin. One Wyoming historian wrote of that occasion: “It cannot be said that anyone brightened up at the sight of Al Hainer, but Cassidy brought the spirit of frolic with him. Before dinner was on the table, those who grinned in silence were beginning to laugh out loud. The children hovered close about him. In the afternoon there was eggnog and then they had games.”
It was later that same winter that Cassidy rode 120 miles roundtrip in a blizzard for medicine from the doctor at Fort Washakie for the Simpson’s child who was stricken with influenza…Cassidy made one futile effort to locate money he had buried in the Wind River Mountains when he returned to the area in 1936. He came to Dubois and spent some time visiting in Welty’s store with Frank A. Welty Sr.
— from Dubois Area History by Mary Allison
Jakey’s Fork Schoolhouse
The building is still on the property, but the schoolhouse is in desperate need of restoration.
The history of the small schoolhouse is unique and telling of a bygone era. Sometime prior to 1909, a school was built on the Jakey’s Fork and was called the Jakey’s Fork school. Verna (Locke) Leseburg and Nova (Locke) Gilliland’s grandfather Wilson got out the logs and built this school, which was located on the Herrin place now owned by Irene Keinert (2003 –to present Carolyn Gillette). Eloise (Fox) Williams and her sister Myra attended school there as well as Verna and Nova. The teacher was Etta Foster from Lander. Mrs. Williams recalled that since she had completed the eighth grade in Nebraska and Etta being kind and having time taught her some high school subjects.
Later in 1913-14, Mrs. Williams applied there for a job teaching and was hired at $55.00 per month. To qualify for the position took a teachers examination, which was about the equivalent of an eighth grade examination. No normal training was required at this time, according to Williams. Jakey’s Fork School and the East Fork School were in the same district. Some of the early day board members were John Hascum, E.S. Wilson, and Billie Duncan. Pupils and teachers road horseback to school or walked, terms were usually so short that pupils could not complete a full term in one year. Mrs. Leseburg stated that school was held for half a year there and the other half at the East Fork or Duncan school.
— from Dubois Area History by Mary Allison
Tie Hack Era
At one time, Wyoming was the principal source of railroad ties in the United States. The tie areas of the State were mainly in the Medicine Bows, which supplied ties for the Union Pacific, The Big Horns that provided ties for the Burlington System and the Northern Pacific, Upper Green River that also provided ties for the Union Pacific, and the Wind River that provided ties for the Chicago and North Western.
In 1914, the Wyoming Tie & Timber Company began cutting railroad ties in the Togwotee Pass. Ties were also cut in Union Pass where the remains of some of the old log flumes may still be seen. The ties would be floated down the Wind River to Riverton for use on the Chicago and Northwestern. Tie Hacking in Wyoming, however, dates back to the coming of the Union Pacific in 1868 when tie hack camps sprang up in the Medicine Bow Mountains to serve the Railroad. At the beginning of the 20th Century, tie hack camps were located in the Big Horn and Wind River Mountains. Tie camps all bore a similar structure. There was a headquarters camp which included a commissary, possibly a small school, provision for mail and housing. The headquarters camp for the Wyoming Tie & timber Company was at DuNoir near the present site of the Brooks Lake Lodge. Out in the woods there would be smaller subordinate camps.
—From Wyoming Tales and Trails