The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 51, July 1947 - April, 1948 Page: 14
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Laramie County, Wyoming. One of these was reported to have
had 130 miles of unlawful fences.41
"Some morning," the !Wyoming Sentinel warned, "we will
wake up to find that a corporation has run a fence about the
boundary lines of Wyoming, and all within the same have been
notified to move.' '4 In Nebraska in 1883, one company had
fencing for eleven miles in one direction and twelve to fifteen
miles in the other. In that year another Nebraska company sold
four enclosed pastures, one of them containing 143,ooo acres.
In Custer County, Nebraska, where the Brighton Ranch Conm-
pany had enclosed a pasture about fifteen miles square, disrupt-
ing postal service, several settlers located homesteads inside this
fence in the fall of 1884. These settlers asked the company to
remove the illegal fence within thirty days. When their request
was ignored, they destroyed part of the fence and used the posts
as rafters in their sod houses. For this action the ranch foreman
had the settlers arrested. While they were in town for trial, the
foreman and some of his cow hands tore down the sod houses
to recover the posts. In the end the grangers were freed, and
the ranch foreman was fined for destroying the houses.43
In 1883 the secretary of the interior advised homesteaders to
cut all fences from federal land on which they wanted to settle.
This invitation led to much snipping, some of it on the fences
of privately owned ranches." Two years later Congress passed
a law to expedite prosecution of those who built fences on fed-
eral lands. Suits filed under this law brought the removal of
numerous fences, but a survey by the Public Land Commission
in 1904-1905 found illegal fences remaining in many sections.
While elsewhere much communal grazing land remained,
barbed wire quickly closed the open range in Texas. The fence-
cutters' war of 1883 was the last spurt of a dying economy. The
farmer and the ranchman who owned their land won out over
the landless cowman who expected the state to provide him
with grass and water. Wire sales zoomed again, and within a
41Annual Report of the Commissioner of the General Land Office, 1896.
42Louis Pelzer, The Cattlemen's Frontier (Glendale, California, 1936), 175-176.
43D. Butler, Pioneer History of Custer County (1910), 185-186.
440ra Brooks Peake, The Colorado Range Cattle Industry (Glendale, California,
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 51, July 1947 - April, 1948, periodical, 1948; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101119/m1/32/: accessed October 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.