A Wyoming Titan of Industry: Frank Bosler

[Editor’s note: The AHC invited UW students enrolled in Professor Rick Ewig’s Archival Methods course to contribute a post for the AHC blog.  Here is one such entry!  Enjoy!]

One of the most underused collections at the American Heritage Center has a gold mine of information (some on an actual gold mine) spread across dozens of boxes and hundreds of folders.  Titans of industry in the waning Gilded Age are highlighted in correspondence and business contracts, deeds, and minutes.  Such men could be staying at a swanky hotel in our nation’s capital while sending and receiving letters from venture capitalists in London, cattle foremen in New Mexico, estate lawyers in Iowa, and desperate hucksters, inventors, and panhandlers from areas in between.  Such was the lot of James and Helen Bosler of Carlisle Pennsylvania, and their heir apparent, Frank Bosler.

Frank Bosler, along with a few other notables such as Edward Ivinson, would become the closest thing Wyoming had to a Rockefeller or a J.P. Morgan.  A level-headed businessman who made decisions by the numbers rather than by personal feelings, ran what amounted to a minor business empire that comprised large tracts of Southeast Wyoming, land and cattle in Iowa and New Mexico, and mine deeds in Colorado.  His holdings included a dizzying array of companies that included the Iron Mountain Ranch, the Iron Mountain Alloy Company, and the Ashland Mining Company.  Frank Bosler could be found sending letters and contracts that exchanged tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars, and later, he could send a letter to his bank enquiring about a discrepancy of one dollar and seventy-two cents, making him meticulous, miserly, or both.

Photograph of John Coble.  Photofile: Coble, John.  UW American Heritage Center.

Photograph of John Coble. Photofile: Coble, John. UW American Heritage Center.

Juxtaposed with this gentleman from back East, a tenderfoot some might have called him in his younger years, was the rough and tumble John C. Coble.  Coble was the owner of the world famous bucking bronco Steamboat, the horse immortalized as Wyoming’s unofficial symbol.  Coble, an undisputed leader of cowpokes and survivor of a grisly knife attack by the father of the boy allegedly murdered by Tom Horn, was Bosler’s business partner and primary operator of the Iron Mountain Company.  Bosler, cultured and unemotional, and Coble, hardened cowboy and hothead, made for quite the odd couple.  It is no wonder that their business partnership dissolved with Coble allegedly misallocating company funds in order to pay for Horn’s defense, Horn being a close, personal friend.  Coble eventually won a civil case Bosler that went all the way to the Wyoming Supreme Court, which held that Bosler owed Coble over twenty thousand dollars in damages!

All these events represent a fraction of the interactions found in the Bosler Family Collection that bring to life the changing Wyoming landscape at the turn of the last century.  Dig in, and enjoy this precious stone at the AHC in the Gem City of the Plains.

–Oscar Lilley,  HIST 4055  Student

[Author’s note regarding sources consulted:  Frank Bosler Papers, 1864-1930. Collection Number 5850.  American Heritage Center.  University of Wyoming.  Boxes 61-63, and 115 were highlighted in this blog post.]

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16 Responses to A Wyoming Titan of Industry: Frank Bosler

  1. Cliff Roberts says:

    Do you have any information on the location and condition of the Iron Mountain ranch buildings where John Coble lived and where Tom Horn stayed while working for John C? I am aware of a second ranch located on the east side of Iron Mountain that was owned by John Bell in the 1970’s which I visited while leasing grass for Ceres Land & Cattle. Mr. Bell claimed that Tom Horn stayed at this ranch house while working the Chugwater drainage. Thanks !

    Cliff Roberts’
    P.O. Box 1335
    Lyons, CO 80540

  2. dicksiem@yahoo.com says:

    The Albany County Ranch Toured this ranch several years ago and the information about the ranch is located at the Albany County Library. I went on that tour and the buidings are in great condition.

  3. mary ann miller says:

    Good material. But what are names of Frank C. Bosler’s children? One son bought the Fairfield
    Ranch “just over the hill” from my home: Wellington, Nevada in the late 1950s. That unknown man (son of Frank C. Bosler) lent a caterpillar so an old bar could be pulled from Wellington, Nevada (near a Basque bar) to
    the highway junction of Highway 395 for a new life as a bar and steak house Norman Brown and his wife, Idele, were opening. It was a great watering hole for the few people in the area for years!

    • ahcadmin says:

      Thanks for sharing your memories and for the question. I’ll research this and respond with an answer in the next few weeks!

    • ahcadmin says:

      Hi Again Mary Ann,

      This blog post is about Frank Bosler Sr. (1870-1918). He was married to Hannah Bosler (1882-1944) and they had two children, Frank Bosler Jr. (1916-1993) and James D. Bosler, who died young (I could not locate years for James). I hope that this answers your question. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. Dr. Darrol Bussler, Professor Emeritus, Minnesota State Umiversity says:

    I am doing research on family names, including the Boslers.
    Is Bosler Way named after Frank Bosler Sr. and/or Jr.?

    • ahcadmin says:

      Thank you for your question Dr. Bussler. I will do some research into this and send you a response to the email address associated with your account, as well as leaving a reply here. Please note that it can take 30-60 days for requests to be researched and answered. If you have any additional questions in the meantime please feel free to email me directly at mmarcuss@uwyo.edu. Molly Marcusse, Reference Archivist

    • ahcadmin says:

      Thanks for your patience while I researched this question, Dr. Bussler. I have emailed you a full reply to the email address associated with your WordPress account. The short answer is no, Bosler Way does not appear to be named after Frank Bosler Sr. or Jr., but it does seem likely that the Way is named after one of their family members. Unfortunately, I could not find a name of that individual or when they would have likely gone to Nevada.

  5. Matilda says:

    Are there any descendants to Frank C. Bosler Sr. who are still alive?

    • ahcadmin says:

      Thank you for your question Matilda. I am not sure if I will be able to answer this question, but I will try my best. I will send my full response to the email address associated with your WordPress account, but I will also post a note here so that you know to look for the response. Please note that it can take 30-60 days for an archivist to research and respond to questions.

    • ahcadmin says:

      Thank you for your patience as the archivists at the American Heritage Center (AHC) have researched the Bosler family on your behalf. Our last contact with the family was in 2014. While we cannot release specific names/addresses, we would be glad to forward a letter from you to the last known name/address we have on file. If you would like to do so, please send your letter to the AHC Reference Unit at ahcref@uwyo.edu and will forward your letter along. Thanks for reaching out to the American Heritage Center.

    • Charles W Bosler Jr says:

      Yes, there are some of us that are alive. 🙂

      Charles W. Bosler Jr.

  6. Merrie Lee Price says:

    What an interesting site! There are two things on which I would like to comment. One is in response to your reply to Maryann re: the names/dates of Frank C. Bosler (Sr. if you will) 2 children: F.C. Bosler 1916-1993 and his younger brother, James Dudley 1918-1926. I have a little bit more info on that if you like. The second is re: your response to Dr. Busker. Could Bosler Way be named after Frank C. Bosler’s father, James Williamson Bosler 1833-1883? I know Bosler, Wyoming is named for him.
    I too am doing a paper on the Boslers, well,on some of the Bosler men and their lands and properties in Cumberland County, PA; Although the Boslers’ owned much property in Carlisle and throughout Cumberland County, there’s no doubt the acreage here pales to the acreage accumulated out West in Wyoming, Iowa, Nebraska, New Mexico and the Dakotas. If you have information re: names of ranches and acreage, I would be most interested to learn about them.
    JW Bosler was really the pioneer in going westward in the mid 1850’s and gained much wealth in his business ventures there and most likely creating the foundation of much of his success here in Cumberland County. A most interesting family.
    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Thank you

    • ahcadmin says:

      We appreciate your interest in the post. The American Heritage Center’s Reference Dept. would be most appreciative of your information. And could possible answer your questions. You can reach them at ahcref@uwyo.edu or 307-766-3756.

  7. My father owned all of Bosler on the side opposite the old school. Leonard John Georges ran the motel, bar, dance hall, garage, grocery store, and gas station for about 7 years prior to the road change. I lived there during that time. Very cool old place. My last visit, I actually found, and have kept a Laramie, County license plate from 1954, my birth year.

    The link below shows one of the old cars I found in Bosler about 20 years ago.

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