Hidden Valley Homestead
Ben Whitaker left Pennsylvania in 1880 along with his friends, Will and Walt Stewart. With no clear plan, they worked their way west by helping drive cattle from Nebraska to Oregon. When they finished the cattle drive, the three men returned to the majestic mountains of Wyoming Territory, where the Stewart brothers set up a sawmill, and Ben became a cattle rancher.
The wide western valley was their dream come true. Abundant timber provided Will and Walt the lumber to build cabins and barns. A creek along the length of a meadow gave Ben plenty of water for his ranch.
Several years later, when the land was surveyed, they applied for homesteads to legally own the valley. Ben’s cabin was on his homestead, but his barns and water well were on the vacant homestead between his own and the Stewarts. Desperate to secure those one hundred and sixty acres before someone else applied for them, Ben asked his brother Caleb to come from Pennsylvania and take up the vacant land.
Caleb agreed, but he never arrived. In his stead, another hesitant pioneer appeared— someone who would take up the homestead only under certain conditions. Ben soon realized he would pay a high price to obtain the land on which he had set his heart.