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U.S. Marshal George A. Wellman (1858-1892)
Contributing researchers: Jim Petrimoutlx, Dave Rogers, Fred Welch & Alan Flood.

Marshal Wellman was born in Canada, to David M. and Elizabeth (Boyle) Wellman. The family members, besides George, consisted of, sons: Richard, James B, Charles T. and David M, Jr.; daughters were: Mary Jane, Josephine and Electa.

His father, a Great Lakes sailor, moved the family to Michigan in 1870, settling in Port Austin. Then in 1884, the family moved to West Bay City, where he found work as a millwright with Bustin and Morse. Shortly before that time George set out on his own heading West to Wyoming, where he was hired as ranch-hand, and was able to work his way up to foreman. During this time ranch owners were experiencing problems with cattle rustlers, and looking for law enforcement help from the government. George, a well liked and respected man, was offered the position of Deputy U.S. Marshal.

In April, 1892, he returned to Bay City on a vacation to marry Lucy Clark, a daughter of John and Rebeeca (Anthony) Clark. The two were wedded on the 21st of April. The honeymoon was cut short as George received word from Wyoming, that he was needed back at the ranch as soon as possible. The situation with the cattle rustlers had turned for the worse!

On May 10th, George who had been appointed deputy U.S. Marshall by Marshall Rankin, was ambushed and killed, while in route to the small community of Buffalo. The incident received national attention being the first marshall to die in the Johnson County cattle war. His death was hard felt, and a large crowd turned out for his funeral service at St. Lukes Church, in Buffalo. The service was performed by Masons of Buffalo, of which he was a member. Afterwards, his body was then put on a train for return to Bay City.

Family plans were being made for George's funeral. His brother headed to Chicago to meet up with the train, and accompany George's body during the last leg to Bay City. While in Chicago, James met with Henry C. Blair, owner of the Hoes Ranch in Wyoming, that George had worked for. Blair sad he was suspicious of the accounts he had received from Wyoming regarding the circumstances of George's death, that he had been shot several times, indicating a gang of rustlers were involved in the killing him. Blair advised James that an autopsy was needed in order to help clear up this matter, to which James agreed. The austopsy results revealed that George had been killed by a "single bullet" in his back. This fact caused much controversy to those investigating the case back in Buffalo as to who actually murdered of Mashal Wellman and why?

James departed Chicago shortly thereafter for Bay City, where plans were made by the family for a George's funeral service at his parents home, followed by burial at Pine Ridge Cemetery.

The story of marshal Wellman is a popular one told by local historians, and his grave site is typically a point of interest during history tours at Pine Ridge Cemetery.

Early Picture of Buffalo, WY - founded 1879, seat of Johnson County.

Background in Wyoming during Spring, 1892. (Became 44th State Jul 10, 1890)

Wyoming: A Guide to its History, Highways, and People, 1941.


Page 274.

In the spring of 1892, the Johnson County nesters and small ranchers prepared for an early roundup. This in effect would have nullified the stock grower's protective legislation, which set definite dates for all roundups and provided State brand inspectors to oversee branding and marking on these occasions. It also would have made ineffective the State's “maverick law,” which made all unbranded cattle the property of the State. The big cattlemen organized a society call the Regulators and planned an expedition in military style, to settle the trouble by hanging and shooting the known rustlers and frightening their friends out of Wyoming. They hired gunmen from Texas, Idaho, and Colorado and placed a former army officer in command. On the night of April 5, a special train carrying equipment, ammunition, provisions, and 52 heavily armed Regulators start for Casper, the plan was to make a lightning march from Casper to Buffalo, seize the town, round up the rustlers, and repeat the process wherever necessary before the populace realized what was happening. Couriers brought the word to Buffalo, but the residents only shrugged their shoulders, unconvinced that the cowmen meant war.

At Casper, wagons were waiting. Telegraph wires to Buffalo and Sheridan were cut. Spies reported that Nate Champion, leader of the rustlers and grangers, and Nick Ray, another wanted man, were at the K C ranch, 50 miles south of Buffalo (see below), and marched northward again.

When the news reached Buffalo, men collected on Main Street, talking excitedly. Messengers were sent to spread the alarm. Robert Foote Buffalo's leading merchant, mounted a black horse and gallop up and down, black cape and long white beard flying in the wind, calling the citizens to arms. Then he opened his store and supplied fighting men with free guns, ammunition, and tobacco. Sheriff Red Angus swore in 100 deputies and started for the K C ranch. Settlers and ranchers from the outlying country converged on the little county seat, and a Home Defenders corps was organized, several hundred strong. Churches and schoolhouses became barracks and places of refuge for wives and children. Approaches to Buffalo were guarded.

The cattlemen never reached the town. Warned of the mobilization, they retreated to the T. A. ranch, 14 miles south of Buffalo. There, as the Johnson County men were about to storm their position (see below), they surrendered to Colonel Van Horn of Fort McKinney. Because of local feelings, the Government refused to turn the arrested cattlemen over to Johnson County authorities. They were held in Cheyenne at the expense of Johnson County and when the county was unable to meet the cost of their lodging and subsistence, the case was dismissed. Soldiers were quartered in Buffalo until resentment cooled.

1884(C) Bar C ranch hands. (1)Nate Champion (2) Bill Rankin (3) Jack Flagg. (photo - Univ. Wyo.)

George shares cattle war story with local newspaper.

April 27, 1892 - The Bay City Daily Tribune.


A Cattleman Tells of His Exciting Experience in Wyoming.

How He Escaped From the Outlaws and Sent Aid to His Friends.

Visiting in Bay City at present is a man who took a leading part in the fierce conflict between the cattlemen and the “rustlers,” in Wyoming territory two weeks ago. His name is George A. Wellman, and he has lived in the territory over 12 years.

To a reporter of The Tribune yesterday Mr. Wellman gave an interesting account of the struggle. He said: “I have been in charge of the ranch of A. Blair of Chicago, who is one of the largest individual cattle owners in that part of the country. The ranch is situated at the Powder river, Johnson county. It is sixty miles from the nearest railroad station, Gillett and until last year there was not a railroad within 115 miles of us. The United States is that in which our ranch is located. As one would naturally suppose (line unreadable) justice. There are more desperate criminals probably than what could be found any place on earth. These men live a riotous life. They are notorious gamblers, thieves and murders, and none of them ever thinks of working for a living. The rough country enables them to carry on their deprecations with a free hand. They steal unbranded and stray cattle in that way they have been getting rich at the expense of the cattle owners. There has always been trouble between the two parties. To show you what a daring ban the rustlers are I will relate one little incident which befell me. I was rounding up last fall when I came across a party of rustlers. They tried every way possible to get me into a fight, but were unsuccessful, and finally went on their way. Upon examining my rifle afterwards I found they had taken it while I was not looking and removed the charges. The scheme was to provoke me into a quarrel and when I attempted to shoot them as under ordinary circumstances I should have done, they would have had an excuse to kill me and do it without endangering themselves.

“The cattlemen have tried time and again to have these outlaws punished. They have had them arrested, but no matter how strong the evidence against them , it was impossible to secure conviction. In every case the jury decided against the cattlemen. This can be accounted for by the fact that none but rustlers were secure for jurymen. The owners became tired of this sort of thing and resolved to take the law in their own hands.

“The last trouble was caused in this way. The time for the first roundup in spring is regulated by law. When this time comes the owners get together and drive their cattle to some spot where each owner takes possession of those that are marked with his brand. The calves are branded and distributed among the owners. Well the rustlers this year expecting to catch the owners napping, started to roundup three weeks ahead of time, with the intention of stealing the best stock. This was more than owners could stand. They petitioned the governor to stop the wholesale thievery, but he could do nothing. The consequence was we had to fight. The first struggle took place two weeks ago. Saturday at the K. C. ranch, situated about 37 miles from our ranch. Here 51 cattlemen found two notorious rustlers name Nat Champion and Nick Ray, who had taken refuge in one of the house. The men opened fire on the two and after hard fighting all day, the rustlers keeping up a steady fire from their fortification, Ryan was killed. Champion tried to escape but had scarcely got out of the house when he fell dead, pierced by 28 bullets. As the fight was about over, Jack Flagg, a notorious rustler, rode up. He was on his way to the democratic convention at Cheyenne, where he expected to be elected delegate to the Chicago convention. Upon learning what had happened he lit out as quickly as he could, followed by a storm of bullets, none of them touching him, however. Sunday the cattlemen moved on to the T. A. ranch on the north fork of the Crazy Woman. In the meantime Flagg had spread the news of the shooting. The rustlers and their friends, to the number of 400 or 500, soon organized and set out to avenge the death of their comrades. The cattlemen on Monday started for Buffalo, thirteen miles away but receiving word of the large force that was coming against them, they went back to the ranch and entrenched themselves as best they could. The rustlers came up but did not attempt to do any fighting. They surrounded the ranch and began a siege, expecting to starve out their enemies. The situation was a serious one, and I resolved to escape and carry word to Cheyenne. Accordingly about 2 o'clock Tuesday morning, I mounted my horse and started. I got through the lines safely and was hurrying on my way when I came to a couple of rustlers, and with them I recognized the city editor of the Cheyenne Sun, who had gone out to write up the trouble and had been captured. I surprised the men, rescued the newspaper man and together we proceeded to Gillett. Arriving there we telegraphed the governor of the situation, who in turn notified the president and in less than six hours the troops had been ordered out and were on their way to the ranch. When the troops came up the rustlers were as quiet as could be . All the troops could do was to rescue the cattlemen and escort them back to Cheyenne. This leaves the rustlers in possession of the ranches and all the cattle, as the cattlemen have not dared to venture back. As the owners have several millions of property at stake, it is not likely, however, that they will remain away. The outcome will either be that the troops will have to protect the men or there will be a fight to a finish between the two factions. I would not be surprised if the latter course is taken. I am expecting a telegram every day calling me to Cheyenne. Where a consultation of cattlemen will be held and when we shall decide what course to pursue."

Wellman's death reported national newspapers.

May 11, 1892 - The New York Times.

First Blood For The Rustlers.

They Shoot From Ambush A Well Known Ranch Foreman.

Cheyenne, Wyoming, May 10. -- George A. Wellman was killed from ambush by rustlers twenty-five miles from Buffalo this morning. He was the new foreman for the Blair outfit, having been promoted after nine year's service as assistant. It was hoped he would be acceptable to the thieves. In any event, it was believe he would be given notice to leave.

Charles Carter, the new dispensation foreman for Dr. Harris, owner of the T. A. Ranch, left on order Sunday. Wellman had not heretofore been on unfriendly terms with many known rustlers, but they did not spare him.

Tom Hathaway, a cook formerly a rustler, was with Wellman, but escaped by hard riding. They were appointed Deputy United States Marshals here last week, and were on the way to meet Marshal Rankin and Deputy Carr.

These and others were to serve injunction notices to the persons now conducting an advance round-up. After getting into the country Wellman and Hathaway felt sure they would be attacked.

It was learned from a rustler friend that the stories of quietness in Johnson County and the published invitation of owners to send suitable men to run outfits were in bad faith.

They were inspired by rustlers to get into the county men they were determined to kill. Wellman and Hathaway were fired upon from be hind by from five to eight men.

Wellman fell from his horse stone dead. Hathaway's mount, struck by a bullet squealed and bounded away, half bucking, but moving rapidly. Volley after volley was sent after the horse and rider. Hathaway's clothes were cut in a dozen places and his hat was perforated.

He was chased four miles, but having a splendid horse managed to win the race for life against picked ponies and sure shots. Hathaway declines to tell whether he knew his assailants or not, but it is believed the Charlie Taylor gang did the work.

They have been thirsting for blood for a month. The Masons detailed a committee to go after Wellman's body. Sheriff Angus promised to exert himself on the case, and United States Marshal Rankin will make every effort to punish the murderers of his top special deputy.

The rustlers said a month ago that they believed Wellman knew all about the regulators before they started. They say he should have told men with who he had lived peaceably for eleven years.

Next day newspaper prints follow up story.

May 12, 1892 - The New York Times.

Wellman's Body In Buffalo.

No Tidings Of Any Of The Other Deputies Yet Received.

Cheyenne, Wyoming, May 11. -- The Buffalo wire was up an hour this afternoon, but is weather-bound to-night.

Wellman's body has reached the rustler capital, in charge of Masonic brethren. Four bullets struck him in the back. Hathaway, the ranch cook with Wellman is “rattled,” but insists that he has no idea as to who did the shooting. He will be held as an accomplice. Nothing has been heard of the other deputies. The friends of young Bob Gibson fear that he has met the fate of Wellman.

The stage driver reports meeting squads of armed men between Buffalo and Gillette. There are in Cheyenne to-night the three Johnson County Commissioners and Tommy Gardner, a reputed rustler. They say the country was quiet when they left, but that some bad men are trying to prolong the troubles.

Wellman's death reaches Bay City.

May 13, 1892 - The Bay City Tribune.


The Tragic Fate of George A. Wellman
of Bay City, in Wyoming Territory.

He Was Shot From Ambush and Killed
Last Thursday – Particulars of the Sad Affair.

About four weeks ago George A. Wellman came to this city to visit his parents, who reside at 912 Fitzhugh street, and also for the purpose of being united in marriage to Miss Lucy Clark, the event occurring three weeks ago.. For the past fourteen years Mr. Wellman has been in the cattle district of Wyoming, being a deputy United States marshal, and passed through a portion of the recent trouble between the ranchmen and the rustlers. At the time of his visit here Mr. Wellman was interviewed by The Tribune and gave a complete account of the trouble which appeared in this paper. He also stated that he was about to return to the west, and did not know but that the rustlers would attempt to put him out of the way, as he had taken an active part in the warfare against them. For the reason that the country was in an unsettled state, on account of the disturbances. Mr. Wellman did and (illegible) him when he departed a few days after his marriage, but said he would send for her as soon as possible as affairs had resumed their normal condition. Mrs. Wellman has received two letters from her husband, the last on Tuesday, in which he stated that there were no indications of any more trouble and that he would soon send for her.

Yesterday morning a telegram was received from Buffalo, Wyo., stating that Mr. Wellman had been shot from ambush by rustlers near that place Tuesday and instantly killed. In company with another deputy marshal named Tom Gibson and a ranch cook, named Hathaway, Wellman started for Buffalo, Wyoming to meet Marshal Rankin, and to serve injunction orders on the thieves and rustlers now conducting illegal roundups. The cook, the only one who escaped, says they were ambushed and he heard two volleys. He saw Wellman fall dead and Gibson fall from his horse and get up. The cook says he put spurs to his horse and escaped. Gibson is missing and supposed to be dead. These were the first agents of the cattlemen sent into Johnson county since the recent trouble. Wellman was the foreman of the Blair ranch and Bob Gibson was foreman of the Sugg Cattle company. A later dispatch says that Hathaway, the cook, who is a rustler sympathizer, has been arrest on suspicion of having com (illegible) edge of the crime.

Mrs. Wellman is heart-broken over the sudden and terrible fate that has befallen her husband. She is at present residing with Charles T. Ryan, at 811 James street. Mr. Wellman's parents are well-night distracted over the sad affair. They have the sympathies of the entire community in their bereavement. It is not known what disposition has been made of the remains of the unfortunate young man, but in all probability they will be brought here for interment.

Reporter calls on Wellman's family.

May 13, 1892.
The Bay City Times-Press.

At the Bay City Home.

The Times-Press reporter called at the home of the dead man's parents, at 912 Fitzhugh Street, this morning. Newspapers with accounts of the murder are here and there, and recent letters from George to his wife, are being read and re-read. The widow is heart broken, and the grief of the sisters of deceased is something terrible.

They had all tried to get Mr. Wellman to return to Bay City and he had about concluded to do so. He said he would go back and close up his affairs as soon as possible and return to Bay City to engage in business.

Wellman received large wages and had accumulated considerable property. It is said he was worth about $10,000. He was largely interested in the buildings and loan association of Buffalo.

C. A. McDonell, brother-in-law of deceased has telegraphed to Buffalo to have the remains sent to Bay City. On account of the telegraph wires being cut by rustlers it is almost impossible to get rapid communications. Mr. McDonell is waiting for another dispatch.

Plans made for return of Wellman's body.

May 17, 1892 - The Bay City Daily Tribune.


They Will Be Brought to Bay City To-Morrow From Chicago.

C. A. McDonnell yesterday received word from H. A. Blair, owner of the ranch which the unfortunate George Wellman was employed, stating that Wellman's body would reach Chicago this morning. D. M. Wellman, father of the deceased, left for Chicago last night and will bring the remains to Bay City reaching here to-morrow morning. The funeral will take place to-morrow at 4 o'clock from the residence of the father, David Wellman, 912 Fitzhugh Street. Wellman was up in Masonic circles, and the masons will take charge of the funeral.

Next day report of autopsy done at Chicago.

May 18, 1892 - The Bay City Tribune.


What an Exmination of the Body of
Murdered George Wellman revealed.

The Unfortunate Young Man had been
Shot But Once, Instead of Five Times.

There have been many peculiar things connected with the murder of George A. Wellman near Buffalo, Wyo., last week, but the most unexpected development occurred in Chicago Tuesday. H. C. Blair, the owner of the ranch on which Wellman was employed , has been in Chicago for some time, and he had arranged to receive the remains and hold them subject to the wishes of the family. When James Wellman arrived in Chicago he hunted up Mr. Blair and the two gentlemen discussed the sad affair. Mr. Blair requested that an examination of the body should be made, in order to fully set at rest some suspicions which had occupied his mind ever since the tragedy.

The body was held in Chicago nearly a day and an examination was made. All accounts of the murder sent out from Buffalo stated that five bullet holes had been found in the body of the dead man, but the most careful scrutiny located but one bullet wound, and that was in the middle of the back between the shoulders. The wound was sufficient to cause instant death. There were no other marks of violence on the body.

The result of the examination fully convinced Mr. Blair and Mr. Wellman that the murder was the result of a deliberate plot to put the unfortunate young man out of the way. Mr. Blair also said that he had given Wellman a check for $500 shortly before he started on the fatal trip. This money was to be used in paying off some of the men working on his ranch. As only two of the men saw Wellman before the murder it is evident that the assassin added robbery to his crime, and this is strengthen by the fact that the dead man's watch was missing.

Mr. Blair was of the opinion that some one at New Buffalo was in collusion with the rustlers and deliberately gave out the false reports in order that the story told by the cook, Hathaway, about the ambushing would appear plausible. He is completely broken up by the terrible affair, as it was in response to his telegram that poor Wellman left this city and went back to work before his vacation has expired.

It is possible that the end of the sad affair has not been reached, and later developments may unravel the mystery which surrounds the case.

Wellman's murderer(s) undetermined.

July 26, 1892 - The New York Times.

Deputy Marshals Have Hard Work Capturing Alleged Murderers.

Buffalo, Wyoming, July 26. -- When Tom Hathaway was under arrest on the suspicion of murdering George Wellman last May there was found no evidence against him and he was released. At the time it was stated that Hathaway evidently knew more than he divulged. He was subsequently arrested by United States Marshals and taken to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where he made a confession implicating three men in the murder.

Yesterday morning Deputy United States Marshals Hale and Smith, accompanied by Scouts Frank Geroud and Little Bat of Forts McKinney and Robinson, left Buffalo in the direction of Gillette. At Stone Ranch they found Jack Long and a man named Starr, whom they attempted to arrest. Long was secured, but Starr escaped on his horse and was followed by Deputy Smith, and a running fight was kept up for several miles. Starr, when close pushed, would make a stand on top of a knoll, where he could keep off the Marshals. In this manner he escaped.

Conflicting reports have been brought in, but the best founded information is that Long was taken into Suggs as a prisoner by Scout Geroud. The two entered a saloon, when Long's friends attempted to a rescue. During the fight which followed Long and others were wounded. A courier left Suggs while the fight was in progress and its results is not known. The Marshals and posse were armed with repeating shotguns loaded with buckshot, and the chances are that a number of men were wounded.

Keiser, the soldier who is in jail in Buffalo, has mentioned the names of Smith, Taylor, and Long as being connected with the plot in May to burn down Fort McKinney. Little credence is given to his statements by the officers of the fort, as he has the reputation of being unreliable. It is evident that a number of soldiers and some citizens were in the plot to destroy Fort McKinney, but evidence showing who are the head instigators of the scheme has not yet been made public. Wellman, a short time previous to his murder, had been commissioned a Deputy United States Marshal, since which event the United States has sought to discover his murderers.

Trial of cattlemen "Invadors" postponed.

August 21, 1892 - The New York Times.

The Hired Texan Murderers.

Their Trial Will Be Put Over To The November Term.

Cheyenne, Wyoming, Aug. 20. -- The trial of the mob of cattlemen and hired Texans who raided Johnson County in this State in April and killed two alleged “rustlers,” or range pirates, will be called Monday and will be put over to the November term. Judge Scott so informed the attorneys this evening.

All arrangements for prosecution and defense had been made by both side, and it was figured that a month would be consumed in getting a jury, that a hundred witnesses would be examined, and that the trial would last till Christmas.

The Judge finds that he will be required to hear court in other portions of his district during the next two months. He had engaged a Judge for this outside work, but the substitute has declined to serve.

Attorneys for Johnson County say that they will be better equipped than ever for the trial in November. The people of Johnson County will not like the postponement.

A local paper has a special from the North to the effect that the Deputy United States Marshals sent to hunt down the murderers of George A. Wellman are unable to do anything so far toward bringing in the assassins to justice. Charlie Taylor, one of the men charged with assisting in the crime has been in Buffalo, the stopping place of the posse, twice since the first of the month. On one occasion he sent word to a newspaper correspondent that further use of his name in news matter would mean death for the writer.

The actual outlaws have a home in the mountains, and have plenty of ammunition and food. They communicate with friends by the use of Indian codes, and their signals fires are often seen from Buffalo.

Sheriff Rankin removed for delay in investigation.

September 19, 1892 - The New York Times.

Marshall Rankin Removed.

Charged With Neglect To Obey Orders From Washington.

Cheyenne, Wyoming, Sept. 18. -- United States Marshal Joe Rankin of this State has been removed. The explanation is that he failed to obey orders from Washington.

It has been know for some time that in the matter of serving warrants in Johnson County, immediately after the Powder River war last Spring. Rankin differed with his superior officers in the work of apprehending the murderers of George Wellman, a Deputy Marshal. It fell to the lot of Rankin to make wholesale arrests of dangerous men. On one pretext and another he failed to make a move toward carrying out instructions until the accused were in other States, Rankin claimed that many of the warrants said he would handle the case in his own way.

He was charged with insubordination and fear. Rankin is the man who made a perilous ride through a country swarming with hostile Indians to summon relief for the Thornburg command during the Ute war on White River in Colorado. This feat gave him a national reputation for daring, and he has always been regarded as a man of excellent nerve. He will demand an investigation.

Two murders in custody.

March 10, 1893 - The New York Times.

The Wellman Assassination.

Two Of The Murderers In Custody And The Third Closely Pursued.

Cheyenne, Wyoming, March 9. -- Two of the men charged with helping in the assassination of George A. Wellman, a Deputy United States Marshal, in Johnson County during the stock troubles last Spring are behind the bars. Clayton Cruz surrendered to the State authorities at Buffalo. Henry Smith is in the county jail here. He was captured in the Indian Territory by Sam Moses, a Deputy Marshal, whose home is at Hot Springs, S. D. Mose has been following his man three months.

Tom Hathaway, the man with Wellman at the time the latter was shot in the back, swore that the men he saw behind them were Cruz, Smith, and Ed Starr. Starr is still at large but closely pursued. The trio were among the most disparate of the thieves and outlaws who caused the trouble in the North. Cruz surrendered to the State authorities hoping for a trial in Johnson County among friends. He must answer in the United States court at Cheyenne. He says he can prove an alibi.

Smith says he was near the scene of the killing at the time, but had nothing to do with it. Wellman had for years been foreman of the Hoe ranch, owned by H. A. Blair and others of Chicago. When he went back it was with a commission as Deputy United States Marshal in his pocket and with papers to serve. Word was sent from Cheyenne that he was coming, and they killed him on the road. Wellman, who was a fine young fellow, brave as a lion, had been married but ten days when he was murdered. His home was at East Saginaw, MI.

T A Ranch

Jackson County Ranchers (Invaders).

Book References:

Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography, by Dan L. Thrapp, Vol. II, P-Z


Wellman, George A., cowman (c. 1859-May 9, 1892). B. in Canada he went to Johnson County, Wyoming, from Bay City, Michigan, in 1880, working as a cowboy for Henry A. Blair's Hoe Ranch. When Frank Laberteaux, foreman, was jailed as a result of the Johnson County invasion in early 1892. Wellman, described as well-educated, intelligent, honest and popular was named foreman. He piloted correspondent Ed Towse safely to Gillette, Wyoming, to escape the country, then entrained to Marha, Wisconsin, where on April 12 he was married. He returned to Wyoming to be named deputy U. S. Marshal in addition to his duties as foreman for the Hoe outfit. He and another deputy, Bob Gibson were directed to go from Cheyenne to Buffalo, Wyoming, to serve papers. About 16 miles east of the Crazy Woman state crossing between the Hoe Ranch and Buffalo Wellman was shot from ambush. The murder never was solved officially, although it was widely believed that Henry Smith, Charlie Taylor and Ed Starr were guilty of it. The killing was believed the last important act of violence of the so-called Johnson County War.

-- Robert B. David, Malcolm Cambell, Sheriff, Casper, Wyoming, 1932.

Banditti of the Plains by A. S. Mercer, William H. Kittrell (1975)

Page 109.

In March, 1892, these thieves (cattle thieves), together with others whom they had intimidated, met together at Buffalo and organized and arranged for round-ups in violation of law, and were endeavoring to execute the same when certain owners of livestock in that vicinity obtained from the United States Circuit Court for the district of Wyoming an injunction order restraining and enjoining the carrying on of these round-ups. The United States marshal and his deputies who went to the vicinity to serve the order of injunction were grossly mistreated and embarrassed in the service of the process of the court, and found it unsafe to remain there. One of the deputy marshals, George Wellman, a courageous and honest man, was foully assassinated without cause or provocation, on a public highroad in that county while going to Buffalo to receive instructions from the United States marshal relating to the service of his injunction order.

Page 138 - 140.

On the morning of May 10th, 1892, George A. Wellman was murdered on Nine Mile divide, in Johnson county. Here is the story as it was first told to the Bulletin, in Buffalo, on the day of the murder:

Thomas Hathaway, a cowboy, who has been for several years in the employ of H. A. Blair Company, known as the Hoe outfit, came into town Tuesday evening, unarmed, wild-eye and excited, and unfolded a tale that created consternation among the people.

His story, as told then, is as follows:

George A. Wellman, who, since the absence of F.H. Labertaux, was in charge of the Hoe outfit, came from Gillette to the Hoe ranch on Powder river, Monday evening, the 9th of May, paid off the men at work there, and Tuesday morning, he (Hathaway) started with Wellman to go to Buffalo. Each was riding a horse, and Wellman was leading a packhorse, packed with Hathaway's bedding. When about 15 or 16 miles southeast from the Crazy Woman stage crossing, and about 10 o'clock in the morning, as they were riding side by side along the Nine Mile divide, two shots were fired in quick succession, so quick that one man could not have fired them, and George Wellman fell from his horse.

Hathaway's horse pitched him off; he mounted again and followed Wellman's horse and the packhorse about 300 yards to the right, stopped, unsaddled both Wellman's horse and the the packhorse, turned them loose and rode as fast as he could to Buffalo to notify the sheriff.

Hathaway changed his story somewhat as he told it to different people, and in the evening he was arrested on suspicion of being a part to the crime. The body was sent for and an inquest held, but no certain key to the mystery was found. The case has been in the United States court because of the fact of Wellman being a deputy United States marshal, but the public is today as ignorant as it was on the morning of the murder as to the identity of the men who fired the fatal shot. Wellman was a popular cowboy with all the people and not known to have an enemy in the country. The Masons of Buffalo buried him with due honors, and general sorrow prevailed throughout the county. He was married at Martha, Wisconsin, April 21st, 1892, and had just returned from that interesting ceremony when he was stricken down.

The belief is general in the northern counties that Wellman died at the hands of the invaders and not by act of the so-called rustlers. As explained in another chapter, they believe he was selected as a victim in the hope of fastening a crime upon the settlers of Johnson county for the purpose of exciting sympathy for the captured white caps.

The Cattlemen by Mari Sanoz (1978)

Page 395.

Then in May George Wellman was shot. He had come as a youth from Canada and rode the local ranges for eleven years, lately for Blair's Hoe Ranch. After the KC attack he helped kidnap Jones and Walker, the men who were captured there. Wellman married since then, on the money he got for ridding the Invaders of these two eyewitnesses to the killing and burning down at Cheyenne. In addition Wellman was appointed deputy U. S. marshal, apparently to serve the Association's injunction papers against the independent roundup, the riders already far out and moving. Others thought he was going to Buffalo to post the declaration of martial law.

Anyway, Hathaway, a former cowhand at the Hoe, brought the news to Sheriff Angus. He said he was riding beside Wellman to Buffalo. Down south of the George Harris ranch bullets came from a ridge, or a draw, and Wellman fell in the road. Afraid to hang around, Hathaway left him there and hurried to Buffalo. No, he didn't see anybody, just heard the shots and then caught Wellman's horse.

Angus went out to investigate, along as usual, but afterwards some of his friends decided this might be a decoy report, to get the sheriff out to a dry gulching. They followed, but Wellman was dead, a .44 carbine bullet in his back.

Although some suspected Hathaway, chiefly because he told so many conflicting stories, the ranchers blamed the Red Sash Gang. Hank Smith, Clayton Crews, and Charley Taylor were arrested. Taylor and some of his cronies did wear strips of red flannel under their cartridge belts to keep the grease of the shells off their clothing. But nobody believe they killed Wellman because they weren't anywhere around there at the time. Some said it was Ed Starr, a friend of Champion, picked by lot to kill Wellman, as a man had been chose to dispose of Hard Winter Davis, only Davis hurriedly took his eastern caution and his bodyguards down to Nebraska and showed no immediate nostalgia for north Wyoming. Of the noose left on the Spectacle Range porch back in April, one had Wellman's name on it, another Hard Winter's. By the time the blame for the Wellman shooting was laid on Starr, he was gone. In the meantime most of Johnson County decided that the shooting was a typical Canton and Hesse job, that Wellman was killed by one of their own men to help them bring martial law to the Powder River country. The large outfits did sign a request for troops. The soldiers came with Hotchkiss guns and scattered over Johnson, Converse, and Natrona counties, which included the Sweetwater region and the ranches of the men involved in the Averill hangings and Wolcott's VR – most of the ranches represented by the Invaders, most of those in which the Clay's interests were involved. Among the troops sounded fishy as a dead bullhead in the sun, but Johnson County was helpless.

Outlaw Tales of Montana by Gary A. Wilson (2003)

Page 17.

Starr was one of the three suspects accused of killing Special Deputy U.S. Marshal George Wellman on May 19, 1892, south of Buffalo, Wyoming, in Johnson County. Starr reported boasted of Wellman's killing and took the mans gun off his blood-soaked body. A reward of $1,000 was offered for Starr by the Wyoming Stock Growers Association.

Additional Notes.

    1861 - Census, Markham, York, Ontario.

  • Wellman, George - age 3, b. 1858, religion W. Methodist.

    1871 - Census, 02, Markham d, East York 45, Ontario.

  • Wellman, George - age 11, b. 1860, religion W. Methodist.

    1874 – Michigan Births, Port Austin, Huron Co.

  • Wellman, David M, b. 16 Oct. 1874, son of David M. & Elizabeth J. Williams (should be Wellman).

    1875 - Directory, Michigan State Gazetteer.

  • Boyle, John, saloon, foot 3d.
  • Clark, Chester, grocer, Water bet 7th and 8th.
  • Clark, John, cider mfr., Paterson, Saginaw.

    1875 - History of Saginaw Co. Mich. (1881)

  • A Lucy Clark mentioned as member of Fountain Head Lodge, when it was founded in 1875.

    1878 - Brown's Directory of the Saginaw Valley.
    Bay City:

  • Clark, Lucy A. Mrs.(wid Washington), res s s 6th bet VanBuren & Grant.
  • Clark, J., wks Dolsen, Chapin & Bro.
    East Saginaw:
  • Clark, John W. Rev, rector St. Paul's Episcopal Ch., res w s Rockwell, bet Carroll & Miller.
  • Clark, John, blacksmith, res w s Jefferson bet Emerson & Mason.
  • Wellman, Curtis, lumberman, res n s Hess, e Mackinaw.
  • Wellman, Frank, lab, bds Lynch Hotel.
  • Wellman, Aaron, teamster, res n w cor Water and 8th.
  • Wellman, Benjamin, teamster, bds A Wellman.
  • Wellman, Herbert, teamster, bds A Wellman.
  • Wellman, James B, lab, res s e cor railroad track and Main.

    1880 – Census, Port Austin, Mich.

  • Wellman, David M - head, age 52, b. 1828, Canada, carpenter.
  • Wellman, Elizabeth - wife, age 47, b. 1833, Canada, keeping house.
  • Ann L. - daughterter, age 19, b. 1861, Canada.
  • Josephine - daughter, age 17, b. 1863, Canada.
  • Margaret - daughter, age 11, b. 1869, Canada.
  • Richard - son, age 25, b. 1855, Canada, carpenter.
  • David M. - son, age 6, b. 1874, Michigan.
  • James B. - son, age 14, b. 1866, Canada, at school.

    1880 - Census, Marsh Basin, Cassia, Idaho.

  • Wellman, George - age 21, b. 1859, Michigan, stock herder, parents b. Canada. (John A. Bridger - age 32, head of house.)

    1886 – Directory, West Bay City, Mich.

  • Wellman, David – millwright, res 1201 Wilson.
  • Wellman, James B. - cooper, bds 1201 Wilson.

    1890 – Directory, Bay City, Mich.

  • Wellman, David M. - Millwright Butman & Rust, res 303 Marsac.
  • Wellman, James B. - Engr Butman & Rust, bds 412 21st
  • Wellman, Josephine – Tailoress, bds 303 Marsac.
  • Wellman, Richard R – Millwright, res n e cor Jennison ave and 26th.

    1891 – Michigan Marriages, Bay City, Mich.

  • Charles F. Ryan, of Saginaw, age 27, marriage on Apr. 20, 1891, to Josephine Wellman, of Bay City, age 25.
  • Groom's parents: Patrick & Elizabeth (Genoy?) Ryan.
  • Bride's parents: David M. & Elizabeth (Boyle) Wellman.
  • Pastor: Thomas Rafter, St. James Church.
  • Witnesses: John Eddy & Annie O'Mally.

    1892 – Michigan Marriages, Bay Co., Mich.

  • George A. Wellman, age 33 (1859), of Buffalo, Wyoming, b. Canada, to Lucy Clark, age 28 (1864), of Nova Scotia, Canada, on April 21, 1892, at Bay City, Mich.
  • Groom's parents: David W. and Elizabeth (Boyle) Wellman.
  • Bride's parents: John and Rebecca (Anthony) Clark.
  • Pastor: Rev. F. J. Roth, Catholic Rector.
  • Witnesses: Samuel Sanutorre(?) & J.B. Turnwelle(?).

    1892 – Michigan Deaths.

  • George A. Wellman, age 33, son of David M. and Elizabeth J. Wellman, died May 10, 1892,
  • Funeral service for George A. Wellman was held at at St. Luke's Church in Buffalo, Wyoming prior to his body being shipped by train to his hometown of Bay City, where he was buried in Pine Ridge Cemetery.

    1900 – Census, Bay City, Mich. (505 Broadway).

  • Wellman, Richard – head, b. Oct. 1853, Canada, millwright.
  • Wellman, Samuel – son, b. Jun. 18, 1885, Mich., at school.
  • Wellman, Harvey – son, b. Sep. 1887, Mich., at school.
  • Wellman, Josephine – daughter, b. Sep. 1890, Mich.,
  • Wellman, George – son, b. Jan., 1894, Mich.
  • Wellman, David – father, Mar., 1828, Mich., carpenter.

    1901 – Michigan Marriages, Bay City, Mich.

  • Richard R. Wellman, of Bay City, age 44, marriage on Oct. 12, 1901, to Mary E. Matthews (nee Gribbon), of Saginaw, age 34.
  • Groom's parents: David M. & Elizabeth (Boyle) Wellman.
  • Bride's parents: Michl & Mary (Fox) Gribben.
  • Paster: Edwin A. Caldwell, Catholic.
  • Witnesses: David Gribben & Anna Gribben.

    1931 – Directory, Bay City, Mich.

  • Wellman, Floyd – r. YMCA
  • Wellman, Richard R (Mary), millwright, h 1412 Marquette av.
  • Wellman, Robert – lab., h 1412 Marquette av.
  • Wellman, Samuel B. (Eva J.) - h 509 2d.

Related Pages/Notes

Map Buffalo, Wyoming

Showing area where Sheriff Wellman was killed.

Related Pages:
Wellman, James B.
Pine Ridge Cemetery
People Referenced
Angus, Wm., Sheriff
Anthony, Rebecca
Bat, Little
Blair, Henry A.
Boyle, Elizabeth (mother)
Caldwell, Edwin A. Rev.
Canton, Frank
Carter, Charles
Clark, John
Clark, Lucy (wife)
Champion, Nate
Davis, Hard W.
Eddy, John
Flagg, Jack
Gardner, Tommy
Genoy, Elizabeth
Geroud, Frank
Gibson, Bob
Crews, Clayton
Cruz, Clayton
Fox, Mary
Gribben, Anna
Gribben, David
Gribben, Mary E.
Gribben, Michael
Hale, Marshal
Harris, Dr.
Hathaway, Thomas
Laberteaux, Frank
Long, Jack
McDonalle, C.A.
Moses, Sam
Frafter, Thomas Rev.
Rankin, Joe Marshal
Ray, Nick
Ryan, Charles F.
Ryan, Charles T.
Ryan, Patrick
Sanutorre, Samuel
Scott, Judge
Smith, Henry
Starr, Ed
Taylor, Charlie
Towse, Ed
Turnwelle, J.B.
VanHorn, Col.
Wellman, Anne L. (dau.)
Wellman, David .M (father)
Wellman, George A. (subject)
Wellman, James B. (bro.)
Wellman, Josephine (sis.)
Wellman, Richard (bro.)
Subjects Referenced
Bay City, MI
Chigaco, IL
East Saginaw, MI
Hot Springs, SD
Matha, WI
Pine Ridge Cemetery
U.S. marshal
Ute War, CO
- Buffalo
- Casper
- Cheyenne
- Converse Co.
- Crazy Woman
- Ft. McKinney
- Ft. Robinson
- Gillett
- Hoe Ranch
- Home Defenders corp
- Johnson Co.
- K C ranch
- Masons, Buffalo
- Natrona Co.
- Powder River
- Red Sash gang
- Sheridan
- Spectacle Ranch
- St. Lukes Ch., Buffalo
- Stock Growers Assoc.
- Stone Ranch
- Sugg Cattle Co.
- T.A. Ranch
Washington, DC
More on Wellman
Marshal Wellman's casket shown inside of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Buffalo. Years latter a stone memorial market created in Wyoming in his honor of his memory.

Wellman's Pistol.

Model 1878 Double action Colt .46 gun.

Home where final furneral service was held.

Wellman's Burial Site.

Pine Ridge Cemetery

Marker Wellman & Boyle.

Buried next to George, and scribed on the left edge of his marker is, James S. Boyle, died 1863, 25 yrs old. This would be a relative of George's mother, Elizabeth Boyle.

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., where Marshal Wellman's name is inscribed.
People & Places
Angus, Wm.: Sheriff of Buffalo, retrieved Wellman's body.

Blair, Henry A.: b. 1852, Michigan City, IN. Considered one of Chicago's "Captains of Industy," at that time. In 1882 he purchased and lived on his Hoe ranchin Wyoming, until 1891, when he returned to Chigcago.
Buffalo Masons: Installed Dec. 7, 1885, as Anchor Lodge, No.7. Members were in charge of Wellman's held at St. Lukes Church in Buffalo.
Brown, Arapahoe: Leader of the rustlers in seige of T.A. ranch.

Canton, Frank: Ex-sheriff of Johnson Co., and rancher. Suspect in Wellman's death.

Champion, Nate: Notorious leader of cattle rustlers.

Map T.A. Ranch.

Shows layout of ranch and locations of rustlers.
Internet Resources
The Last War for the Cattle Range by Arthur Champman (1905). [Google Books]
A Nebraska Episode of the Wyoming Cattle War. by A.E. Sheldon (1899). [Google Books]
Cattlemen's Invasion of 1892. History of Wyoming, Vol. 1, by I.S. Bartlett [Google Books]
Six Guns Under Their Aprons Article (pdf) on the masons handling of Wellman's funeral. [LongPineLodge]
St. Luke's Episcopal Church: History, where masons held Wellman's funeral. [View]
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.