coal stock

In 1915, Edward A. Whitney, founder of Whitney Benefits, made a list of his ranch properties. Always concerned about economy, he made the notes on the back of a used envelope.

At the time, Whitney was one of the wealthiest, if not the wealthiest man, in Sheridan County. He made his money in various ventures in Iowa then in Wyoming, mostly Johnson and Sheridan counties. Land development formed the core of his investment and revenue stream. Yet Whitney did not purchase ranches, at least not directly. Instead he invested in cattle, town lots and shares of reservoir water. He loaned money to plenty of stockmen, however. They pledged their land as collateral. And, as it happens sometimes, some of these cattle operations folded. Whitney received title to the land.

Samuel Western is a Sheridan-based freelance writer focusing on the economic and demographic history of the West and western communities and locavore food issues.

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