Beckoning Frontiers


Beckoning Frontiers

The Memoir of a Wyoming Entrepreneur

Special edition

George W. T. Beck
Edited and with an introduction by Lynn J. Houze and Jeremy M. Johnston
Foreword by Alan K. Simpson and Peter K. Simpson
Afterword by Betty Jane Gerber, George Beck's granddaughter

The Papers of William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody Series

432 pages
19 photographs, 2 illustrations, 3 appendixes, index


June 2020


$75.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

2021 Publication Award in Biography from the Wyoming State Historical Society
Westerners International Co-Founders Book Award, second place

George W. T. Beck, an influential rancher and entrepreneur in the American West, collaborated with William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody to establish the town of Cody, Wyoming, in the 1890s. He advanced his financial investments in Wyoming through his numerous personal and professional contacts with various eastern investors and politicians in Washington DC. Beck’s family—his father a Kentucky senator and his mother a grandniece of George Washington—and his adventures in the American West resulted in personal associates who ranged from western legends Buffalo Bill, Jesse James, and Calamity Jane to wealthy American elites such as George and Phoebe Hearst and Theodore Roosevelt.

This definitive edition of Beck’s memoir provides a glimpse of early life in Wyoming, offering readers a rare perspective on how community boosters cooperated with political leaders and wealthy financiers. Beck’s memoir, introduced and annotated by Lynn J. Houze and Jeremy M. Johnston, offers a unique and sometimes amusing view of financial dealings in eastern boardrooms, as well as stories of Beck’s adventures with Buffalo Bill in Wyoming. Beck’s memoir demonstrates not only his interest in developing the West but also his humor and his willingness to collaborate with a variety of people.


Author Bio

George W. T. Beck (1856–1943) was a rancher, politician, and community developer in the American West who collaborated with William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody to establish the community of Cody, Wyoming. Lynn J. Houze is the director and curator of the Cody Heritage Museum. Jeremy M. Johnston is the Tate Endowed Chair of American Western History at the Buffalo Bill Museum. Alan K. Simpson served as a U.S. senator for Wyoming from 1979 to 1997. Peter K. Simpson is a historian and a former administrator at the University of Wyoming in Laramie and also served in the Wyoming House of Representatives from 1981 to 1984.


"This book is a delightful armchair visit to the old American West provided by a true Wyoming entrepreneur. His varied experiences, extensive travels, vivid stories, and nonstop adventures make this great reading."—Ann Chambers Noble, Pacific Northwest Quarterly

"Beck's memoirs from childhood to old age make good reading."—Sandra K. Sagala, Roundup Magazine

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Alan K. Simpson and Peter K. Simpson
Series Editors’ Preface
Lynn J. Houze and Jeremy M. Johnston
Beckoning Frontiers: The Memoir of George Washington Thornton Beck
1. Family and Boyhood in Kentucky and Washington DC, 1856–1865
2. Post Civil War, 1865–1874
3. A Student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1874–1876
4. Prospecting in Colorado, 1877–1879
5. Working on the Northern Pacific Railroad, 1879–1880
6. Homesteading in Wyoming, 1880–1886
7. Sheepherding and Crow Indians
8. Return to the East
9. Trips to the South and to Cuba
10. Wyoming Territorial Legislator, 1889–1890
11. Another Trip Back East and to California
12. Beckton, Wyoming
13. The Johnson County War, 1892
14. Wyoming Politics
15. The Shoshone Irrigation Company and Cody, Wyoming
16. Developing the Town of Cody and Hunting Trips
17. Finishing the Cody Canal, Marriage, and Family Life in Cody
18. The Leiter Ball, the Frederic Remington Visit, and a Bank Robbery
19. Another Ute Uprising and Famous Guests
20. The Shoshone Reclamation Project and the Cody Power Plant
Betty Jane Gerber
Appendix 1: Select Letters from William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody to George Beck regarding the Cody Canal Project
Appendix 2: Speech by George Beck at the Laying of the Cornerstone for a New City Hall, Cody, Wyoming
Appendix 3: Summary of a Talk Delivered by Thornton “Tee” Beck about the Beck Family


2021 Publication Award from the Wyoming State Historical Society
Westerners International Co-Founders Book Award, second place

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