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Minnie & Peter Snyder
Their Feud with Samuel W. Aldrich Explodes with Gunshots
By Robert Michael Wilson
Wyoming, in 1896, was still a land of magnificent wilderness and open range covering thousands of square miles, and yet the ownership of certain land was coveted and fought over.
Minnie C. Hulett of the Belle Fourche River country had married Peter Snyder, a miner, and in 1891 and they settled in Lead, South Dakota. However, after a few years they moved to Fremont County in the Big Horn Basin and settled on ranch land along the Stinking Water River a dozen miles south of Marquette. A neighbor, Samuel W. Aldrich (sometimes Alldredge) wanted that particular piece of property and he had tried several times to acquire it, but the Snyders would not part with their homestead and a great deal of animosity, and a feud, developed between the neighbors.
On April 2, 1896 Aldrich was playing cards with friends at his ranch house when a shotgun blast through a window shattered the pane and several buckshot struck him in the head, but the wounds were not serious. In the morning Aldrich and his friends investigated and found at a fence rail, where the shotgun had rested, foot prints from a woman’s sized boot and they followed them to the place where she mounted a horse. This horse had a peculiar hoof print, well known to the men as the horse favored by Minnie Snyder, and they followed the track to the Snyder ranch. Peter was away so Minnie was placed under guard while an arrest warrant was sent for, but when Peter returned on April 5 he convinced the guards to let him take his wife to Marquette and surrender her to the authorities. Meanwhile, Constable Hurst arrived from Stinkingwater with the arrest warrant.
On April 6 the Snyders harnessed their team to their buggy, loaded their two Winchester
rifles into the buggy, and started for Marquette. Before leaving the area, however,
they stopped at the ranch house of John Rooks where they left with Harry Jordan information
on whom he should contact if they were murdered along the way. Five men, including
Aldrich and Hurst, took up a pursuit and as the couple approached the Belknaff Crossing,
the other three men in the posse were sent ahead to block the road. After the posse
divided Hurst and Aldrich were joined by John Rooks and Bill Nichols, who were intent
on seeing that the Snyders were not harmed, and when the Snyders were halted they
took cover behind their buggy expecting to be shot to death. Shooting then became
promiscuous and more than thirty shots were exchanged. John Rooks was mortally wounded
in the shoot-
On June 2, Judge W. P. Webster of Marquette arrived in Lander but the couple waived
their preliminary examination. They were arraigned on Thursday, June 18, pled not
guilty by reason of self-
The Lander Clipper newspaper reported, “Owing to the fact that one of the defendants was a woman the case created considerable interest and the courtroom during the later stages, particularly of the trial, was filled with sympathetic females.” The Snyders could have been sentenced to as much as twenty years in prison but when Minnie appeared for sentencing, though the evidence proved she had fired the fatal shot, she was only sentenced to serve six years while her husband was sentenced to serve ten years in prison. Minnie was registered as prisoner number 271 and she was released for “good conduct” on August 29, 1901 after serving four years eleven days. Peter was registered as prisoner number 270 and he was pardoned for “good conduct” by Governor DeForest Richards on January 2, 1902 after serving five years six months.
R. Michael Wilson -