A few weeks ago, I posted about why I named my ranch Jackson Fork Ranch.  Some folks asked me about this blog post and why I refer to the area where my ranch is as “Little Jackson Hole.”

Since we bought Jackson Fork Ranch a little more than 20 years ago, I’ve tried to learn more about the area – the Upper Hoback Valley.  My early research revealed some interesting things.  First and foremost, I learned that the name “Bondurant” is a relatively recent creation, having been introduced in the early 1900s when Benjamin Franklin Bondurant’s ranch served as the area’s first post office.  For more than 70 years before that, however, the historical records suggested the area had been known as “Little Jackson Hole” or Jackson’s Little Hole.” 

But I’m no expert, so in 2018 I asked historian Elizabeth Watry to conduct comprehensive research into the area’s history.  Ms. Watry had served as Curator for The Museum of the Mountain Man in Pindale, WY and came to the project with a deep knowledge of the area.  (Fun fact:  The Ricketts Art Foundation partnered with The Museum of the Mountain Man and the Buffalo Bill Center of the West to create Fur Traders and Rendezvous, the largest collection of Western art by Alfred Jacob Miller.)

I learned some absolutely fascinating things about the Upper Hoback Valley from Ms. Watry’s 110-page report, including:

  • The nine-mile long and four-mile wide valley in Sublette County, Wyoming recognized today as Bondurant was once known as Jackson’s Little Hole by hundreds of fur trappers and traders, a few missionaries, and assorted other Euro-American travelers and explorers in the area between the early  1830s and 1878. 
  • Warren Ferris may have written the first usage of the place name Jackson’s Little Hole in early August 1832.
  • Almost 70 years later, Benjamin Franklin Bondurant became one of the first settlers in Hoback Basin once known as Jacksons’ Little Hole. His ranch served as the first Post Office, which began operation in 1903. Mrs. Bondurant worked as postmistress until 1926. Bondurant was the Post Office name from 1903 until 1935. From 1935 until 1938, the Post Office was named Triangle F Ranch. In 1938, the name Bondurant was reinstated.

I find the history of this charming place to be quite interesting and thought I would share Ms. Watry’s excellent work with those who might enjoy reading it for themselves.  Ms. Watry’s complete report – along with its copies of the maps and historical artifacts –  is available right here.  I hope you enjoy it!

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