Grampa Borders Read The Douglas Budget

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Many years after my paternal grandfather, Carl Borders, left Wyoming, he continued to subscribe to The Douglas Budget and Converse County Review. He and his father had left Illinois in 1918 to homestead 640 acres in Converse County, about 50 miles northwest of Douglas, which then had a population of about 2,300. It now has about 6,500 residents.

Although he left Wyoming in the mid-1940s to pursue a career as a professional Boy Scout, Grampa Borders continued to subscribe to the weekly paper. This was when folks had to rely on the paper to find out what was happening in places they used to live. As far as I know, he subscribed to The Budget until his death in 1994. My great-grandfather had retained his portion of the mineral rights to the homestead long after it sold. Decades later, it provided a comfortable retirement income for Grampa Borders, who never made much money as a scout executive but loved the job.

Thanks to the Wyoming Online Historical Newspapers project, one can view copies of the Douglas Budget from the comfort of a study chair parked in front of a computer screen. I decided to take a look at what was happening in Wyoming when Grampa Borders, then 12, helped his dad, Henry W. Borders, to homestead in 1918.

  • News of the Great War was a constant feature. A front-page ad urged citizens to participate in National War Savings Day and HELP WIN THE WAR! The Princess Theater was showing The Kaiser, The Beast of Berlin, which promised “genuine thrills, for bringing an audience to its feet in an outburst of patriotism, this film cannot be beat.” Meanwhile, Douglas resident Nicholas Cheleweski wrote that “when we hit that old top, boys, it will be all over with Kaiser William.”
  • Homesteaders who had lived on their land the required three years published legal notices to establish their claims, including a surprising number of women. The irony is that women could legally homestead but still could not vote in 1918. That would come in 1920.
  • The Douglas Mercantile Company was selling “carpenters union made white duck overalls” for $1.25. A competitor in the haberdashery business advertised that “Women May Wear The Pants Now — Some have been wanting to for some time.” For $7.50, women could purchase a khaki suit for work or travel.
  • An ad for the One Hundred Per Cent Club urged citizens to “Work, Enlist or Travel: Any person who refuses to accept employment at the going wages, or after employed throws up his job without a just cause, will upon complaint filed with the One Hundred Per Cent Club be treated as a vagrant and slacker.” It was not clear what the consequences would be.
  • A slew of ads promoted various oil drilling ventures. Glenhurst Wyoming Oil Co. started drilling on its lease in the Big Muddy Oil Field and was selling shares for 30 cents. It told readers, “You have seen others make great profits in Big Muddy oil stocks by buying when stocks were first put on the market. Do the same for yourself, now!”
  • Ranchers registered their brands by publishing facsimiles of them in The Budget as well as a brief description. Al Ayers branded “AL” on his cattle — on the left hip or thigh, and the left ear was cropped. In a land not yet fenced, each rancher described where his cattle ranged, in his case LaPreie Creek.
  • Finally, in the Nov. 14, 2018 issue, The Budget with eight decks of headline announced that DEMOCRACY TRIUMPHS IN GREATEST WORLD WAR. The Kaiser had abdicated and, as the story reported, “It is ended — officially ended.” Less than 20 years later, Hitler would rise to power. But that’s another story.

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