Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Cyd Lass
Staff Intern 

Clay Gibbons presents 'The Woman in Blue' for Hot Springs Historical Society

WORLAND – The 1897 Wyoming was more of a wild and lawless settlement than ever. Sweeping upon this scene came the unruly Belle Drewry, who brought her own brand of mayhem and debauchery.


January 12, 2018

WORLAND – The 1897 Wyoming was more of a wild and lawless settlement than ever. Sweeping upon this scene came the unruly Belle Drewry, who brought her own brand of mayhem and debauchery.

Worland man Clay Gibbons spins the true tale of crime, death, gun smoke, and the eternal triangle in his highly acclaimed presentation “The Woman in Blue” this Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Hot Springs County Historical Society.

Gibbons has been a lover and seeker of history from a very young age. His quest to search out stories and locate exact sites has led him to establish five state historical markers in northern Wyoming, according to a Historical Society press release.

The first one was the discovery of information and an original map made of the Spring Creek Raid, the last major conflict between the cattlemen and sheep men, which occurred south of Ten Sleep. Gibbons started his search for this in the mid 1980s after intensive research. He had succeeded in finding legal description of the legal site where the wagons had been sitting and where the bodies of the sheep men were.

“It was such an eye opening experience that I realized it was a place that needed to be saved and needed a marker put up.” Gibbons said. “But when I approached the State Historic Preservation Office, they said it was an incredible discovery, however, they were out of money and I was on my own. So, I went about raising money. I went and talked with the Kiwanis Club, and the Rotary Club, and the Lions Club. And, the Daily News was also very helpful. They covered me very well and let it be known what I was doing. The leases came in from $1,000 to $1,500 at a time. I had ended up raising about $3,000. Then I had to get permission from the county commissioners and the highway department to build a turn out in the highway six miles south of Ten Sleep.”

Gibbons also had donated time to help build monuments on both sides of Spring Creek and had a dedication on the 80th anniversary of the raid on April 2, 1989.

That historical marker was followed by Gibbons’ next discovery of the Colby Mammoth kill site marker, two miles east of Worland.

“It’s the site of the earliest evidence of man in North America.” Gibbons said. “It’s one of the most important archeological sites in North America. Most people don’t realize we have that around here.”

The wooly mammoth featured in front of Washakie Museum and Cultural center was found in the kill site.

The third historical marker was Arland, three miles north of Meeteetse. This town was what held the place of the story of “The Woman in Blue,” the topic of Saturday’s presentation by Gibbons.

Gibbons’ next discovery was of the famous ‘Hole-in-the-Wall’ fight site of 1897.

“I was able to do a lot of research through court documents and newspaper articles to find the exact site of the fight. It was between the large cattlemen and the rustlers. I did a lot of metal detecting there and was able to discover the exact site. I was able to find shells and bullets that were used at the time.” Gibbons said. “I also found some of the weapons that were used at the time, that were lost in the state museum.”

The fifth site was at the town of Nieber, 10 miles south of Worland. It was an early day stage stop marker on the way from Thermopolis to Worland.


Gibbons found his passion for history from his father, who got him excited about it at an early age.

“I remember when I was in high school, I was a sophomore, and it was the 100th anniversary of the Fetterman Massacre. The entire day, I was living minute by minute out of everything that was happening to Fetterman’s group in the massacre by the Sioux Indians and I was not able to concentrate too much on my school work that day.” Gibbons recalls. “But for a 16-year-old, I was consumed with my love for history at such an early age. So it wasn’t something that just happened recently.”

Gibbons has been giving talks and speeches around the country for many years. He’s also given tours at events, especially for the Hole-in-the Wall.

His advice for any aspiring historians would be to “get involved early. Be relentless. Do your research, and do it with a passion.”


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2017

Rendered 03/18/2018 13:17