A collage of characters shaped the west of the nineteenth century. Large and powerful cattlemen, backed by eastern and European investors, flooded the prairie with herds often numbering 50-80 thousand head. They had visions of doubling or tripling their money quickly while their cattle grazed on the free grass of the open range. Others, like Martin Gothberg wisely invested in the future of the young frontier. Starting with a humble 160-acre homestead in 1885, he continued to expand and develop a modest ranch that eventually included tens of thousands of acres of deeded land.
Gothberg’s story parallels the history of open range cattle ranches, cowboys, roundups, homesteaders, rustlers, sheep men and range wars. It does not end there. As the Second Industrial Revolution escalated in the late 1800s, so did the demand for petroleum products. What began with a demand for beef to feed the hungry cities of the eastern United States fostered the demand for wool to clothe them and graduated into a demand for oil to warm them in winter and fuel the mechanized age of the twentieth century. All were a critical part of shaping American history. Through the lens of this family saga—a part of the history of the West comes to life in the hands of this storyteller and historian.
“This history by award-winning author Jefferson Glass introduces readers to Martin Gothberg, a German immigrant, who came to Wyoming in the 1880s to be a cowboy. Through the years, he built an empire through investing in ranching and oil. Not only is Gothberg’s story an inspiring tale of a self-made man, but it also weaves his life through past range wars, bank robbers like Butch and Sundance, severe weather, and fellow cowboys who rode both the range and with Buffalo Bills’ Wild West. Not only will Gothberg’s hard-won success inspire you, but various stories about his friends, family, enemies, and partners also reveal how Wyoming earned its nickname, the cowboy state.” Jeremy M. Johnston, Historian at Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
“Empire is the sweeping story of the Martin Gothberg family and other settlers of central Wyoming. The saga stretches from the open range of the late nineteenth century well into the developments of the twentieth, chronicling the day to day lives of regular people, their births, marriages, deaths, their hopes, dreams, and efforts to create better lives for themselves and their families. Day to day chores are interspersed with tragedies of nature, robberies, and murder. As people strove to transform Wyoming to become more productive, the land brought out the best in many of them.” Bill Markley, author of Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson: Lawmen of the Legendary West and Billy the Kid and Jesse James: Outlaws of the Legendary West.
“…it really brings the dynamic shifts of America home…it is the story of a changing industry, a changing world, through the eyes of one man, and those closest to him. To me, this takes the macro world presented in books like Christopher Knowlton’s Cattle Kingdom and brings it to the level of the personal. You get to know the real-life characters intimately, and that intimacy heightens the understanding of what the changes in their lives – in the American West – meant to the men and women who lived and worked there…”
Matthew Kerns, Author of Texas Jack: America’s First Cowboy Star.
October issue of True West Magazine – “Martin Gothberg arrived in Wyoming Territory in 1880 at the age of 16, intent on finding adventure and opportunity. He initially worked a variety of odd jobs, before finding work in Denver at Elitch’s Restaurant. But the lure of open spaces drew him back to Wyoming. He worked for a time at Fort Laramie, before beginning ranch and cowboy work. Years as a range rider gathering cattle on the open range while working for several ranchers led to the opportunity to homestead in central Wyoming. In Empire: The Pioneer Legacy of an American Ranch Family (TwoDot, $26.95), Wyoming author Jefferson Glass follows the intricate details of Gothberg’s life—which parallels the rise and expansion of both Casper, Wyoming, and the oil industry in the state. Glass is a master researcher, and it’s clear he dug deeply into the archival record to write this biography of a man, his family and also a place.
Candy Moulton, author of Legacy of the Tetons: Homesteading in Jackson Hole.