A collage of characters shaped the west of the nineteenth century. Large and powerful cattlemen, backed by eastern and European investors, flooded the prairie with herds often numbering 50-80 thousand head. They had visions of doubling or tripling their money quickly while their cattle grazed on the free grass of the open range. Others, like Martin Gothberg wisely invested in the future of the young frontier. Starting with a humble 160-acre homestead in 1885, he continued to expand and develop a modest ranch that eventually included tens of thousands of acres of deeded land.
Gothberg’s story parallels the history of open range cattle ranches, cowboys, roundups, homesteaders, rustlers, sheep men and range wars. It does not end there. As the Second Industrial Revolution escalated in the late 1800s, so did the demand for petroleum products. What began with a demand for beef to feed the hungry cities of the eastern United States fostered the demand for wool to clothe them and graduated into a demand for oil to warm them in winter and fuel the mechanized age of the twentieth century. All were a critical part of shaping American history. Through the lens of this family saga—a part of the history of the West comes to life in the hands of this storyteller and historian.
John Baptiste Richard known as Reshaw the French pronunciation of his last name was both an adventurer and an opportunist. The early American West was changing fast, and Richard jumped on opportunities before most men even realized they existed.
He was a fearless adrenaline junkie, always on the edge of danger in his many personifications. Richard owned several trading posts and was not above illegally trading whiskey with Indians. He built the first bridge to span the North Platte River, which washed away in high water. Despite this failure Richard continued to see the money-making possibilities of a toll bridge and rebuilt near present day Casper. From there he had a front row seat for the Westward migration. His historical contributions were not limited to Wyoming as he was a merchant in Colorado during their gold rush and made frequent trips to Pueblo for supplies for his trading posts. Richard could also be considered Wyoming s first rancher.
Richard was right in the middle of the action and from that vantage point he took part in some of the greatest events of early Western history.