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Our History

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 “Historical 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, Worland, WY., August 2, 1940. These two works provide the best historical look at how the WWGA “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 the Wyoming 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- President.


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 Baird, 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 diseases.

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, and the 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 former WWGA President Harold Josendahl were also key figures in the development and passage of he 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 fiber 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. The WWGAs 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.”

"We herd sheep,
we drive cattle, 

we lead people.
Lead me, follow me, 
or get our of my way."

General George S Patton

"The shepherd always

tries to persuade
the sheep that
their interests and
his own are the same."


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