Ranching History of the Hamiltons
Carol Hamilton's great-grandparents, Moses and Catherine Byrne, came to the area in the mid 1850s. They earned a living by using scythes and hand rakes to gather hay for the Pony Express stations. By 1860 they went to work for the Overland Stage Company to build stagecoach stations across part of Wyoming and into Utah. They lived at one of the stations on Muddy Creek between Fort Bridger and Evanston, and raised oxen. They would trade a fat, healthy ox for two tired oxen; then they'd feed and rest the tired oxen until they were fat and healthy, then trade them for more oxen. That was Carol's family's first venture into ranching! When construction on the Transcontinental Railroad reached Wyoming, Moses and Catherine moved a few miles south where there was an artesian well. The pure water from the well was valuable for powering the steam engines of the trains. A small community developed as other families moved there to provide food and supplies for the railroad workers who were laying ties and rails for the trains. This community became Piedmont.
Carol's maternal grandparents, Charles and Sarah Robbins, came from the east to help build the railroad. They worked in the forest near Robertson cutting trees and hacking ties with handsaws, axes and special tools to make the ties flat on all four sides. They did this all winter until the spring thaw began; then they built a dam across the river and placed all the ties close to the riverbank below the dam. When the water was deep enough, they broke the dam to floor the river. The high water picked up the ties and floated them several miles downstream to where the railroad workers could get them with wagons.
Richard's grandparents, Charles and Roda Hamilton, homesteaded a few miles south of Fort Bridger on the Smith's Fork in 1898. Roda earned a small herd of sheep as wages for teaching school. She canned a lot of their food from her garden and only rarely went to town for supplies. They earned enough to make it through the year by selling hides. This is where Richard grew up ranching. A portion of this ranch, along with a portion of Carol's family's ranch, is where Richard and Carol live and ranch today.