The following account of how the Wyoming Wool Growers Association came to be
formed was taken primarily from two sources: (1) Edward Norris Wentworth’s
work entitled “America’s Sheep Trails: History;
Personalities”, published by
the Iowa State College Press, 1948; and (2) a manuscript entitled
Phases of the Sheep Industry in Wyoming” an address by Col.
Edward Norris Wentworth’s, Director,
Armour’s Livestock Bureau, Chicago
Illinois before the Wyoming Wool Growers Association Convention,
WY., August 2, 1940.
These two works provide the best historical look at how
“came to be”.
“In 1873 the Laramie County Stock Growers Association was organized, with
both cattle and sheep owners
in the group. In fact, most of the members had
both classes of livestock. Its object was “to advance the
interests of stock
growers and dealers in livestock of all kinds within the territory.” It
continued to operate
under this name until 1879 when the name was changed to
Stock Growers Association. In his annual report of 1878,
Governor John W. Hoyt reported that sheep numbers exceeded 200.000 head.
The Wyoming Wool Growers Association was organized under the auspices of the
State Board of Sheep Commissioners. Early in 1905, a newspaper call was
issued for a meeting of flockmasters of the state “to organize a state
association for the mutual protection and the advancement of the industry.”
The meeting was called by Dr. J.M. Wilson, then president of the State Sheep
Board. Later in the session he was elected president of the new
organization. John W. Hay of Rock Springs, was selected to serve as Vice-
The Secretary was George S. Walker, who was also secretary of the
board of sheep commissioners. Leading figures of the state’s industry formed
the organization- Governor B.B. Brooks, Robert Taylor, John W. Hay, Colonel
E. J. Bell, Tim Kinney, T.A. Cosgriff, M.P. Wheeler, Senator Francis E.
Warren, John D. Holliday, William Hogg, F.A. Hadsell, J.D. Woodruff, Richard
Young, Robert Selway, Edwin Chapman, C. W. Burdick, John T. Williams, John
W.W. Daley, and Tom Lamb.
The chief task of the new organization was to
free the state of scab. Dr. A.D. Melvin, then Assistant Chief of the Bureau
of Animal Industry, spoke on federal cooperation in the eradication of
infectious diseases, and the resolutions urged a campaign against all sheep
Over the years, the Association has taken an active part in the handling of
the numerous governmental and economic problems that have affected the
industry. Senator Francis E. Warren
and Dr. J.M. Wilson became national
figures in the tariff controversies, the public lands problems,
difficulties of disease control.
||All through the early days of the forest service, its (the Association’s)
officers opposed the multitudinous restrictions
which a “reform” bureaucracy
sought to impose. The forestry problem was introduced through a resolution
requesting that the number of sheep allowed on Forest Reserves be increased
from approximately a third of a million head to one-and-a-half million, and
that only Wyoming residents be allowed to graze on the Reserves in the
state. In this connection, its secretary for more than a quarter century, J.
Byron Wilson, played a highly constructive role. [Note: J. Byron Wilson and
|President Harold Josendahl were also key figures in the development and passage of the Taylor Grazing Act].
In 1909, the Association endorsed the truth-in-fabric bill and for over
(thirty years) has sought to inform the consumer of the character and
quality of the fibre in the woolens purchased.
In 1910, it retained an association detective as a means of solving the
identity of persons involved in attacks on sheep camps and corrals.
The association was one of the early participants in the Chicago wool
warehouse and storage plan promoted by John Holladay, which was the first
forerunner of modern growers’ wool marketing systems. [Note Here: The WWGA’s
efforts in the development and promotion of opportunities to provide
producers avenues to “add value” or further enhance the income to their
operations continues to this day in that the WWGA developed and was
responsible for the formation of the Mountain States Lamb Cooperative].
Since this was the formative period for many government programs- especially
in the national forests, predatory animal control, and disease eradication-
the Wyoming state association has held a closer individual relation to
federal policies than any other association not national in scope.”