When Roy Young was a child, he would hear stories about both sides of his family.
On his father’s side, he would listen to the tales about brave lawmen, specifically Texas Rangers, who investigated crimes ranging from murder to corruption. Some of them sacrificed their lives because of their call to duty. He ended up finding out that he had 24 Texas Rangers in his family, dating all the way back to their formation in 1823.
“If anyone has a Ranger in their family, it’ll be maybe one or two in the entire family,” he said. “For me to have 24 ancestors who were Texas Rangers, from grandfathers to uncles to cousins, I just think I’m really fortunate to have that kind of connection to the agency.”
However, at least one of his relatives on his mother’s side of the family wasn’t quite as law-abiding.
Young’s mother was a Stilwell. While that name might not immediately ring a bell, those who know their Wild West history would have their jaws drop to the floor.
As a member of the Stilwell family, this meant Young and his mother were distantly related to Frank C. Stilwell, one of the men suspected in the murder of Morgan Earp, brother of famed lawman Wyatt Earp, in March 1882.
Stilwell was killed by Wyatt Earp two days later in an act of both justice and revenge.
As a descendant of both lawmen and outlaws, Young has always been fascinated with history, especially about the West. He’s spent years delving into history books and scouring the internet, finding everything he could about the “old days.”
He’s not alone, though.
Later this week, Young and the other members of the Wild West History Association will hold their annual convention at the Little America Hotel and Resort. They’ll begin gathering in town early in the week, but the convention will officially kick off (and be open to the public) Thursday morning.
Beginning that day, members of the association will welcome fellow history buffs and dive in. A number of the men will give talks about various historical figures, many of which are connected to Cheyenne.
On Thursday, there will be discussions covering topics such as Cheyenne’s history becoming the “Magic City of the Plains”, Tom Horn and “Wild Bill” Hickok.
Young will actually be the person giving the presentation on Hickok.
“I’m thrilled to talk about Wild Bill, especially since it’ll be my first time giving a presentation on him,” he said. “I usually talk about Billy the Kid or the Texas Rangers. I wanted to talk about him while we were in Cheyenne, because it seems like that’s an unreported time in his life. He got married there for the first time and only time. When he left Cheyenne, he set out for Deadwood, South Dakota, for the gold rush. That’s where he was killed.”
During his research into Hickok, Young discovered how important Cheyenne was during the gold rush. It was considered a major gathering point for hundreds of people looking to head north and strike it rich.
An event later in the evening Thursday will include a panel discussion about the Johnson County War.
On Friday, the group will head to Laramie to take in the city’s sights, as well as tour the Wyoming Territorial Prison and participate in the venue’s Butch Cassidy Day. They will head back to Cheyenne in the afternoon, returning around 4 p.m. That evening, there will be cowboy poetry, storytelling and music session that the public can attend.
On Saturday, the final day, there will be a few more talks in the morning, but they will end the event in the early afternoon.
Young admitted it was exciting to bring the convention back to Cheyenne after more than a decade.
“I think the last time we had a convention in Cheyenne, it was around 2007,” he said. “We really want to spread the word that Cheyenne has a great and rich Wild West history. One of our major goals with the association is to tell the truth. While we love fiction like ‘Lonesome Dove,’ our purpose is to get to the bottom of things and tell the factually documented truth.”