Anthony Wilkinson “Andy” Sedgwick
1882 – 1964
By Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns
Born in May of 1882 at his parents’ public house “The Bluebell Inn” in Kettlewell, Yorkshire, England, Anthony Wilkinson Sedgwick was named after his mother’s brother. He had no more belief that he would become a Wyoming cowboy and rancher than he did that the Bluebell Inn would appear in a 21st Century movie and be operating yet today. Andy’s life was full of surprises, like being widowed at 38 after a brief 16 years of marriage and with four children to raise.
His Uncles Anthony and John Wilkinson broke the trail seven-year-old Andy followed to Wyoming with his parents and siblings, first on the White Star Line’s “City of Chicago,” then by train to Cheyenne, arriving just weeks before Wyoming voted to join the Union. His father John Sedgwick immediately went to work at a Wilkinson Brother’s ranch, a dozen miles north on Muddy Creek near Campstool; necessitating Andy’s boarding with a Cheyenne blacksmith’s family to attend school and sing in St. Mark’s Episcopal Church choir that winter.
His cowboy education began the following spring when his father homestead near Grover, Colorado. Andy grew to young manhood learning horses, cattle, and ranching skills, often riding with area roundups. Those experiences provided great stories, like his slim escape from bodily harm while helping trail a herd of big steers through Cheyenne. One steer invaded the yard of a fancy home and about the time Andy’s loop settled over his horns he circled the outhouse . . . resulting in both steer and Andy fleeing dangerous front porch threats screamed by a hysterical housewife!
Andy’s bride Paulina Dorothea “Lena” Thompson was the daughter of German immigrants, her father Henry a partner in Street and Thompson — mule and ox freighters who built the first general store in Custer City, Dakota Territory. The couple homesteaded east of Grover after their marriage in 1904, moving to the Sedgwick Brothers Ranch on the south bank of the Cheyenne River in Niobrara County, Wyoming when Andy and brother Len bought it from Owen Shay four years later.
Andy branded the Quarter Circle Z on cattle and the 60-some blooded Hambletonian horses he trailed up from Colorado. Army remount buyers favored them throughout World War I and beyond and by 1930 he had incorporated the good Kentucky Thoroughbred bloodlines of Mr. Woodward, All Smiles and Locket into his herd. After the market tumbled, Andy gathered a big bunch into the shipping pens at Dewey, South Dakota, where Grand Island, Nebraska, horse buyer Bradstreet culled a hundred head of young ones to a mere $4 per head; paying only $6 for the heavier ones.
The ranch was continually enlarged by purchasing relinquished homesteads, and sheep were soon added. The community enjoyed Andy’s frequent social soirées with good food, dancing and card games at the big house.
Andy’s fraternal affiliations included the Elks Lodge and Modern Woodsmen of America along with Wyoming Stock Growers and Wyoming Woolgrowers. As a Wyoming Brand Inspector for 14 years he tallied thousands of cattle and horses shipped by rail through nearby Dewey and Edgemont stockyards. He was a longtime Niobrara County Road Supervisor, School District Trustee and Treasurer, served on the Mule Creek Election Board, and began to operate a U.S. Weather Observation Station in 1918; which is still in use by the second, third, and fourth generations maintaining his Wyoming centennial ranch.