(Photo of Moorcroft Business District in 1921)

HISTORY OF MOORCROFT

    The thriving metropolis of Moorcroft had its beginning as a store, a saloon, and a roadhouse by the Belle Fourche River at the mouth of Donkey Creek and was known as LaBelle.  LaBelle was located where the Texas Trail crosses Highway 16.  In 1891, the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Company built a railroad through what is now Moorcroft.  In the Old Gaelic language, Moorcroft means "Cottage on the Plains".  The exact origin of the name Moorcroft is not definitely known.  One of the following, or both, is true, as they are both recorded in the Wyoming State Archives and Historical Department:

    When the post office was moved to the railroad depot, it was named Moorcroft by Stocks Millar,(the first postmaster in the area) who named it after his mother's maiden name, Moorhouse. Instead of naming it Moorhouse, he named it Moorcroft. 

    Another possibility is that Alexander Moorcroft, a physician, had it named after him because he was the first white man to brave the conditions and build his cabin here, in open defiance of the Sioux Indians who inhabited this rangeland about 1895 - 1890.

    The land on which the original town of Moorcroft now rests was homesteaded by Martin H. Eckert when Benjamin Harrison was President of the United States. When the railroad went through, the Lincoln Land Company bought the 159 acre homestead for $1180.00 on May 22, 1891.

    The coming of 1892 saw the extension of the railroad line to Gillette, and the establishment of a mail route between Moorcroft and Sundance. The stage made three trips a week with passengers and mail.

    On May 16, 1892, there came to town a young man by the name of Lucian Holbrook Robinson. Shortly after he arrived, he founded Moorcroft's first store in a twelve by fourteen foot walled tent. The post office was moved to the store, and "Lou" served as postmaster for several years. The postmastership was turned over to J.K. Somers, who built the first hotel in 1897.

     Moorcroft was incorporated on October 2, 1906.  Frank C. Haselton was elected Mayor, Charles Lewis was the Town Clerk, Dr. N. B. Newcomer was Treasurer, Steve Daily was Marshall and C. E. Kackley was Justice of the Peace.  The long-term councilmen were W. K. Somers and John F. Daily, and the short term councilmen were J. L. Michaels and Charles Kirby.

    Three very prominent gentlemen in Moorcroft in 1906 were, L.H. Robinson, John W. Rogers, and W.J. McCrea. These men were the exectutives of the newly organized Moorcroft Bank and the newly incorporated Robinson Mercantile Company. L.H. Robinson served as President of both, John W. Rogers was vice-president at the bank and secretary-treasurer of the Mercantile Company, and W.J. McCrea was vice-president of the company and cashier at the bank.

    In the early 1900s, the sales from the Robinson Mercantile often exceeded a quarter million dollars per year. The store handled everything a farmer would need. Anything from food to barbed wire and sheep wagons, and also livestock feed and seed for farming could be bought at the store. These items were shipped in on the railroad in carload lots.

    George Briggs and his son, Stewart, built the first lumberyard. J.L. Michaels operated the first barbershop and pool hall. There were two tables in the pool hall, and by a city ordinance, the license to operate cost $5.00 per table. In the barbershop one could get a bath for 25 cents, a shave for 25 cents, and a haircut for 50 cents.

    W.K. Somers was the lawyer in Moorcroft, and he was also a United States Commissioner. Dr. N.H. Baker was the first Doctor to establish an office in Moorcroft. He also owned the first Drug Store. The first grain elevator, which was built by Bill Rife and Charles Schilling, burned down. The cemetary was bought from L.H. Robinson, an agent for the Lincoln Land Company, on January 13, 1908, for $100.00. The first person buried in the cemetary was "Diamond" Joe Thompson.

(Some information taken from Historical Encyclopedia of Wyoming - "A History of Crook County"    written by Helen R. Zimmerschied).

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