Cherry County Divided

A map published by the Cody Cow Boy on November 3, 1911, depicted a proposed division of the present Cherry County into five sections: a new, smaller Cherry County to the east; two new counties, Lake and Green, in the north; and the remaining territory on the south to be added to Grant and Hooker counties. The Cow Boy said: “On next Tuesday the voters of Cherry county will say by their votes whether or not they wish to have the county remain the same unwieldy shape as at present or have it divided in a way that will place its citizens within easy reach of a county seat and will have a tendency to decrease the taxes.”

The Cow Boy maintained that a smaller county could be administered more cheaply than a larger one. “The most tangible proof of this can be found in comparing the county levies which shows that the taxes for county purposes are almost invariably less in the smaller counties than in the large ones. Cherry county is now and for a number of years has been paying the largest county levy that the law will allow, and how could it be any larger in a smaller county?”

The Cow Boy also maintained that property values in the western two-thirds of the present Cherry County would be enhanced if county division was approved. “One man with whom we have talked estimates that it will about double the price of the land near the two [new] county seats [in the proposed Green and Lake counties].” Residents would save travel time and money in visiting closer county seat towns. The paper asked, “How much is it worth to the average voter and property owner to have a county seat from forty to sixty-five miles closer to him than it is at present?”

Election results on the county division question were not what the Cody Cow Boy had desired. On November 10, the paper said: “County Division lost out by a large majority, and Cherry County will, for the present, remain as before, the largest county east of the Rocky Mountains with the county seat [Valentine] at one corner.”

The Valentine Democrat several weeks later, on November 23, 1911, ascribed the Cow Boy‘s support of the failed county division plan to self interest: “The Cow Boy had everything its own way this fall and unchallenged went about its great and noble work of moulding [sic] public opinion in order that it might get all the countv printing in and for ‘Lake county.’ We believe that in such matters it is the people and the tax payers who must mold public opinion according to their own welfare and not a newspaper which would hugely profit by the location of a county seat within its jurisdiction.”


One factor behind a proposed division of Cherry County in 1911 was the distance of isolated ranches, such as that of Charles S. Hoyt (above) near Pullman, from the county seat at Valentine. NSHS RG2608-3297


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