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Abner Luman

Abner Luman was born in the 1840’s. At the age of fourteen, Abner Luman left his family farm in Kansas and started bull whacking on the Santa Fe Trail from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas to Fort Union, New Mexico.


Luman left home again in the spring of 1864 with a four-yoke of two-year-old oxen hitched to an army wagon. He and a neighbor arrived in Denver, Colorado during June. 1865 was Abner Luman’s first year in Wyoming when he hauled corn from Pueblo, Colorado to Fort Laramie, Wyoming. He helped move Fort Sanders to Laramie City. In September of 1866, Luman went from Laramie to Utah. What would later become his headquarters and the town of Rock Springs, Wyoming was known as No. 6 District and just had a stage station in it at this time. Green River City had several shacks along the river bank. In the spring of 1867, he went to Helena, Montana where he was in the freighting business in Montana, Idaho and Utah.


In 1878, Abner began trailing cattle and sheep for different parties from the northwest to Cheyenne and Pine Bluffs. He sold cattle at Pine Bluffs and returned to Utah. He brought Utah cattle to Elk Mountain and sold them. During the 1878-1879 winter, Luman trailed a bunch of cattle into the vicinity of Rock Springs, then up North Platte valley and wintered on a little stream named for him, Luman Creek, near Wheatland, which was near where his sister, Jane (Jenny) Thompson lived. On this trip, he trailed the first cattle where Casper is located. Francis Valentine Goodman, who was on the first Powell expedition and lived at the Finch and O’Driscol ranch at the mouth of Henry’s Fork, stated Abner Luman was the only one who came out whole the bad winter of 1879-1880.


Abner Luman started ranching for himself during 1880 in Sweetwater County after purchasing 1300 shorthorns in Utah that winter. He trailed them to the Green River valley with his headquarters above Boar’s Tusk. The following year he sold them to Valentine Hoy of Brown’s Park. Abner Luman stated to the Kemmerer Gazette of February 1, 1929, “There was not a head of cattle here on the range when I came in. I believe I am the pioneer cattleman of the region. Not a range sheep was here when I came.”


One source stated Luman bought a spring and way station at the Sands in 1880. In 1882, he returned to Utah and procured more cattle. Luman wintered his cattle on the Red Desert during the bad winter of 1882-1883, which was prone to blizzards. Luman commented to the Kemmerer Gazette of February 1, 1929, “I remember the awful struggle we had in the winter of 1882, the worst and most tragic period I ever experienced in my career of many turbid adventures.” According to Luman’s grandson Abner Luman, “Luman slept with his cattle on the Red Desert during the winter of 1882-1883 trying to save them. Luman would trail the wild horses through the draws and break trail, so he could put his cattle on the ridges where the snow had blown off revealing some grass and horse manure the cows could eat. Luman would build a little fire and sleep right there with the cows. The next day he would go find another bunch of marooned cattle and do the same thing.” This winter wiped out Mr. Luman’s cattle, but Paddy Barrett of Green River refinanced him at 25% interest. With this money, Luman went to Corvallis, Oregon where he purchased three bands of sheep which he and his men trailed back to Wyoming. The sheep cost twenty-five cents a head and Luman often referred to them as his chickens. It is said he paid for them with a bucket of gold. The fall market went up and he received a dollar a head for his lambs and paid off his loan with interest. He was in business again.


After this winter, Abner Luman decided to build ditches and try to irrigate the land to get hay. At what is the Fred Radosevich place, Abner built a stone cabin on the bank of the Little Sandy River and built a ditch out of the Little Sandy River in 1883, but he never did file on the water rights. Joel Walters filed on the water rights in the Luman Ditch during 1887. One story states Luman stayed at the stone cabin during the 1886-1887 winter which was a cold and rough winter. He had 4000 head of cattle in the fall, but suffered heavy losses. Some of the surviving cows were without tails and ears from the cold. Abner Luman also had a cabin and barn on the Red Desert near Luman Butte. There was a reservoir built with ditches that irrigated alfalfa fields. Abner Luman also started using land on Big Sandy River after the 1882-1883 winter.


Abner Luman must not have liked paper work and dealing with the government because he never filed on any of the land or water rights until 1894 and then on only one of the places. On September 13, 1894, Abner Luman filed on his homestead of 160 acres at section 25 Township North 24 of Range West 106 according to his homestead application papers. Abner had settled on this land in 1882 when he built two cabins during November for his residence. He was unmarried at this time. After becoming married in 1885, his family lived on the land until the fall of 1887. At this time, Abner moved his family to Rock Springs, but he continued having the homestead as his headquarters for his ranching operation. In 1885, there was a six-room frame house, two miles of wire fence and two miles of irrigation ditches on 60 acres of cultivated land, which was valued at $2000. Abner had sheep, cattle and horses on the range in the vicinity of his homestead. Zachariah Gillett, William Ace, William O’Donnell and David Abrams, who all had a Rock Springs address, were the witnesses for Abner Luman’s homestead, which was approved on July 9, 1895. This land was what became known as the Washington Place in Eden Valley. Abner sold the place to Mary Mattie Washington on October 14, 1897 for $1000.


Luman entered the sheep business again in 1897 when he bought sheep around Idaho Falls, Idaho and trailed them to Wyoming. In 1899, he had 30,000 sheep until the government regulations cut him down. At the end of December 1899, Abner Luman bought his first shares in the Rock Springs National Bank. He acquired more shares in March 1907. In June 1913, Abner became president of the State Bank of Pinedale. He was also a stockholder in the State Bank of Superior and the American National Bank in Cheyenne.


Lon and Frank Poston went into the sheep business with Abner Luman in 1900. Abner sold his sheep to Lon and Frank Poston and moved to Idaho during the spring of 1902. Not liking Idaho with all the people who had moved there since Abner had been there in the 1870s, Abner was back in the Green River Valley in 1903. Abner bought the place on the Green River on April 11, 1903, where his grandchildren and great grandchildren are still ranching.


On October 22, 1885, Abner Luman married Jeanette Snedden in Salt Lake City, Utah. Miss Snedden was the daughter of Robert and Mary Monteith Snedden, and she was born on February 28, 1864 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Jeanette Luman lived in Rock Springs or Salt Lake City. In 1897, Abner built Mrs. Luman a home on C Street in Rock Springs, Wyoming. She moved to Salt Lake City in 1905 and lived on the ranch in the summer.


During the early 1900s, Abner Luman belonged to the Big-Four-Little-Four Association and was an active member of the Upper Green River Cattle and Horse Growers Association.  Abner Luman died June 4, 1931 in Rock Springs, Wyoming.

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