Homesteading and Ranching in the Upper Green River Valley


Homesteading and Ranching in the Upper Green River Valley

By Ann Chambers Noble and Jonita Sommers
Author signed copy
330 page, hardback with dust jacket
12″ x 10.5″ x 1″
ISBN: 9780984000777

Extensive history of homesteads and ranches on the many drainages near the headwaters of the Green River in western Wyoming . Accompanying the lengthy history are hundreds of historic photos, many published for the first time. Interspersed throughout the book is breath-taking photography of the Upper Green River Valley mostly from local photographers, including David Rule, Mark Gocke, Ronald H. Chilcote, Elizabeth Boehm, Rita Donham, Isaac Spotts, Arnie Brokling, and Curtis S. Anderson. Large and beautiful book, published by Laguna Wilderness  Press. Proceeds from the book will go to the Green River Valley Program of the Jackson Hole Land Trust.

SKU: 1789 Categories: ,


Table of Contents:

Forward: James Baker III
Chapter 1: Upper Green River Valley
Chapter 2: Fontenelle Creek
Chapter 3: La Barge Creek
Chapter 4: Piney Creeks
Chapter 5: Cottonwood Creek
Chapter 6: Horse & Beaver Creeks
Chapter 7: Upper Green River
Chapter 8: Kendall, New Fork River, Willow, Pine, Pole Creeks
Chapter 9: Boulder Creek, New Fork and East Fork Rivers
Chapter 10: Muddy Creek and Big Sandy River
Chapter 11: The Upper Green River Valley Today: Responses to a Changing Landscape

From the dust jacket:

Homesteading is often a glorified piece of American history. The history of homesteading the Upper Green River Valley, though, is often about hardship and heartache.  Starting in the 1870s, homesteading began in the Upper Green River Valley. This vast area is the headwaters of the mighty Green River and its many tributaries born in the Wyoming, Gros Ventre and the Wind River Mountains.  Men and women came to have their own ranch, taking advantage of the Homestead Act of 1862 and its subsequent variations.  They moved from the eastern side of the United States, from the Civil War-ravaged deep south, or from the “old country,” in Europe. They came from various backgrounds, yet they had one thing in common: they believed in the American dream and a better, self-sufficient life.  They were willing to risk everything they had to start a new life with often little more than a wagon, team of horses, a smattering of livestock, a young family and deep hope.

While many homesteaders failed, not for lack of trying, but for reasons far beyond their control, there were some that succeeded.  Their success can be attributed to enormous hard work, fierce determination and some luck.  The fiercely independent rancher overcame many challenges, yet he never made it alone.  Neighbors were dependent on one another, despite the distances between their places.  Large workloads were always shared.  Ranchers worked together — because they had to in order to survive.  They created and maintained community.

In some cases, these Upper Green River Valley ranches are still owned and operated by descendants of those early homesteaders.  Other ranches sold out of the original families into hard working families that came later.  With each major economic downturn in the twentieth century, shifts in ranch ownership were inevitable.   This is also the story of the generations of ranchers and their families, and their ongoing challenges.  The successful ranchers, on successful homesteads, now preserve a precious commodity:  open space.  They are also creating and saving critical wildlife habitat and migration routes.  This book is a tribute to the homesteaders and the ranchers who are the conservationists for much of the Upper Green River Valley.

Some of these ranches are now being assisted in maintaining these valuable commodities with the benefit of conservation easements held by various land trusts.  This book is a fundraiser for the Green River Valley Program of the Jackson Hole Land Trust.  The Land Trust has assisted ranches, many on original family homesteads, preserve open space and wildlife habitat.  With additional funds, the Land Trust work can continue its preservation work.


—- Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal

While the setting is Wyoming, these are American stories recounting the perils of the people who fulfilled America’s vision of Manifest Destiny. Relying on gritty, first person accounts and extensive research, the authors capture the courage, tenacity, heartache, loss and violence of learning to live with an unforgiving land.

Captured in the chronologies of individual ranch settlement is the European immigrants “need” to own land and build an agrarian life.  The authors thoughtfully explain the evolution of this “need” into the modern land conservation movement, guided by those in agriculture and the philanthropic community.

A “must” read for those seeking to understand the American West. And a wonderful adventure for anyone who cherishes our land and wildlife resources.

—– C.J. Box, #1 New York Times bestselling author and Wyoming native.

“As I write this, a bald eagle hangs motionless in the sky as if tethered while vertical snow and strong winds howl down from the mountains and I think to myself, ‘This is very tough country here in Wyoming.’  Just how tough is explained in well-researched detail in Homesteading and Ranching in the Upper Green River Valley by Ann Chambers Noble and Jonita Sommers.  The book is organized as it should be: drainage by drainage, creek by creek, all flowing eventually into the mighty Green River.  The people who established homes and ranches in this epic isolated region were flinty, courageous, violent, and sometimes a little mad.  I recognized many of the names and families because their descendants are still around.    This book will be cherished and studied for generations as the fine compendium of Wyoming history and lore that it is.”

About the Authors

Ann Chambers Noble and her husband, Carroll David Noble, raised their four daughters on the Noble homestead in Cora.  Daughter Laura, fifth generation on the Noble ranch, is now assisting with the ranch management.  Ann received a B.A. in history from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and a M.A. in history from the University of Utah.  She has authored numerous books and articles related to Wyoming history.  Ann serves Wyoming on the State Review Board of the National Register of Historic Places, McCracken Library Board with the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, and University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center.

Jonita Sommers is a fourth-generation cattle rancher on her family homestead on the Green River.  Jonita has researched and written extensively about the history of ranching, particularly in the Upper Green River Valley.  She received a B.A. from the University of Wyoming and a M.A. from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.  She encouraged numerous students to pursue history during her 25-years teaching with Wyoming History Day.  Jonita has given a life-time of service to history related groups including the Green River Valley Museum, Sublette County Artists’ Guild, Sublette County Historic Preservation Board and the Wyoming State Historical Society.  Jonita and her brother Albert Sommers placed a conservation easement with the Wyoming Stock Growers Agriculture Land Trust on their historic ranch.  The siblings also donated the family’s original homestead buildings to the Sublette County Historical Society and help establish the Sommers Homestead Living History Museum.

Additional information

Weight 2 oz
Dimensions 12 × 10.5 × 1 in