Addressed to Con Shea, c/o General Delivery, the letter arrived during WWI, probably in 1914, and ended up behind a wall in a house built three years later. Con’s sister thanked him profusely for a gift he had sent and told him, “You may bet I was delighted when I got your letter for I always know your writing before I opens them.”
And Con must have loved hearing from his family because he saved that letter for at least three years before it was walled in for the next century.
A sheepherder, Con rode the hills and pastures around Casper. The west was still wild in 1914, and the last deadly confrontation between cattlemen and sheep ranchers in the state had taken place just five years previously when masked men attacked a sheep camp, killing three herders and burning their sheep wagons.
Con himself was gunned down in 1928, but not by a disgruntled cowboy. Fellow herder Frank Bennett killed him after they argued over how much Frank ate for breakfast.
Sheep continue to roam Wyoming, but the number has fallen from millions to 500,000. Peruvian herders watch the flocks now, still riding horseback, so isolated they can’t receive a cell phone signal. Like Con and his family, perhaps they turn to letters.
Read a full transcription of the letter from Ireland and more about both the find and Con Shea in the Casper Journal.