On April 10, 1892, the
"Cattlemen" burned Nolan's ranch house and murdered Nate Champion and Nick Ray,
who were leasing the ranch from Nolan at the time. This was part of a plot to scare
the smaller ranchers into leaving Wyoming to the sole use of the large outfits so they
could let their herds of cattle have the miles and miles of unfenced grazing land.
To this day, this lawlessness has gone by without due punishment.
In 1896, Jim and Jesse Potts decided to build a
blacksmith shop at the crossroads where the road from Buffalo to Midwest crossed the
Powder River. It was only a short distance east of the burned Nolan building.
This point was ideal for a business location. Besides being on the main road, they
would also have the trade from up and down the river. It was right on the road to
the Hole-in-the-Wall country. Logs were brought down from the pine ridge, but
before they could commence work on the blacksmith shop, George Peterson talked them into
selling the logs to him. He then (in 1897) built the first building, a saloon, in
what was to be the city of Kaycee. He located it on the spot where the post office
later stood - the building south of the Grange Hall. In approximately 1928, this
building burned down. The blacksmith shop was eventually built on the river bank in
back of the Grange Hall. The Potts brothers sold it and it is possible it changed
hands twice before O.A. Parker became owner of it. He moved his business down where
the hotel and cafe now stand, on the east side of Main Street.
From all records, the City hall (present Library) is the
oldest building in town. Although it was erected on what is a part of the present
townsite, it was built about a quarter of a mile west of town and moved to its present
location. The walls are made of hand-hewn logs, almost two feet thick. An
unusual bit of fact about this building is that it has an escape hatch and tunnel leading
out into an adjacent draw. It is a grim reminder of the lawlessness of the west and
evidence of the need for a quick exit in case of undesirable company at the front door.
The oldest residence built in town was the Gordon Ellis
house. It is a little log cabin located out back of the Red Horse Station. For
several years it has been known as the "Goat House" since Chet Hall once housed
goats in it. Since then, this house has been renovated, and is now used as living
About this time, the first store was established.
According to J. Elmer Brock, "On September 7, 1897, the Powder River Commercial
Company was incorporated. It had a capitalization of $20,000 and was under the
management of five trustees. They were R.E. Hasbrouck and Fred Hasbrouck of Buffalo, Wy;
James Rinker and A.L. Brock of Mayoworth, Wy and George Kaltenbach of Griggs,
Wy." That building is now the Grange Hall. After the store became an
established business, the need for a post office became evident. Previously, all the
mail was routed through Buffalo to Mayoworth, down Kaltenbaugh draw to the Griggs post
office., which was located west of Kaycee on what is now the Art Haines ranch.
Everyone wanted the name of the post office to be "KC", the brand of the Nolan
ranch but the government required them to spell it out, resulting in
"Kaycee". The first postmaster was Andy Kennedy.
The town of Kaycee was incorporated in 1906. The first
church was organized in February 1918, under the jurisdiction of the Methodist
Church. Prior to that, the only religious messengers the community had were circuit
riders and cowboy preachers.
Kaycee today is a town of about two hundred and forty.
In addition to livestock raising and farming, great interest is centered around the oil
fields, which are expanding daily. The bentonite and uranium deposits are also
vitally important. Hunting has become important in the Kaycee area and helps make us
the biggest little town in Johnson County. We are so historically rich that no
matter how modern the city becomes, the old landmarks cannot be destroyed!