The Legend of
  G-String Jack FULKERSON

Line of Descent:
Guillaume VIGNE and Adrienne CUVELIER (1st Generation)
Dirck VOLCKERTSZEN and Christine VIGNE (2nd Generation)
Volkert DIRCKS and Annetje PHILLIPS (3rd Generation)
Dirck VOLKERTSON and Maria DE WITT (4th Generation)
Volkert VOLKERTSON (DERRICKSON) and Dinah Aeltje VAN LIEU (5th Generation)
Abraham FULKERSON and Sarah GIBSON (6th Generation)
Richard FULKERSON and Mary (Polly) GRANT (7th Generation)
John Richard Avis FULKERSON and Nancy SAPPINGTON (8th Generation)
John Jefferson "G-String Jack" FULKERSON (9th Generation)
G-String Jack

  John Jefferson Fulkerson had one of the more colorful nicknames of the Old West. Throughout the border region spanning Colorado and Wyoming he was known as G-String Jack. And just like "Buffalo Bill" or "Cattle Annie," it was a nickname that glamorously called attention to his profession. His story is told in the following newspaper articles from the towns of Encampment and Saratoga, both of which are in southern Wyoming:


Encampment ECHO, January 23, 1936

Deal Will Transfer Bohn Hotel and Other Encampment Property

  A deal is now reported in the making as we go to press that portends a bright future for Encampment. When consummated, the deal will make Mrs. H. L. Kuykendall the owner of the Bohn Hotel which has been for some years operated by Mr. and Mrs. J. J. Fulkerson, and of the W. J. Finley property immediately joining it on the south, now occupied by Shorty's Place.

  Mrs. Kuykendall plans, if the deal goes through, to completely remodel the hotel from cellar to attic and refurnish it throughout. It is also planned to change the name when the remodeling is completed. The Kuykendalls are well known throughout Carbon County and much of southern Wyoming, coming from the state's pioneer stock. Their host of friends wish them well in the new undertaking.

  Mr. and Mrs. Fulkerson grew up with the region and too have many friends who are pleased it is their intention to remain in Encampment if they can find a residence to their liking. Mr. Fulkerson, known to old-timers as "G-String Jack", freighted into this region long before the railroad was built and served Saratoga as town marshall when that town was plenty tough.
(NOTE: The deal did go through)


Saratoga SUN, January 1947

Old-Timer of Platte Valley Died Last Sunday, Aged 86
(by Encampment Correspondent)

  John Jefferson Fulkerson, old time resident of Encampment passed away in Evanston, Wyoming on January 12, 1947 at the age of 86 years.

  Funeral services were held in Encampment at the City Hall on Wednesday afternoon. Arrangements were in charge of the Gould Mortuary of Saratoga with Rev. D. N. Shotwell of Encampment officiating. Burial was in the local cemetery. Pall bearers were Bert Oldman, Harley Moore, E. N. Hogan, Iver Strand, Oscar Priquet, and "Doc" Culleton.

  John Jefferson Fulkerson was born in Marshall, Missouri, on March 29, 1860. He spent the early days of his life in Colorado where he was active in freighting and stage driving. On May 3, 1899, he was married to Lenora E. PORTER in Pueblo, Colorado.

  In 1902, Mr. Fulkerson and his wife moved to Wyoming, where they lived in and around Saratoga for 14 years. He was employed for several years as a driver for the Scribner Stage Lines between Walcott and Encampment. He also freighted for the Transportation Company during the erection of the tramway and the smelter for the Ferris-Haggerty mine. In the year 1916, they took up a homestead on Calf creek about 20 miles southwest of Saratoga, where they resided for 12 years. In 1928 they purchased the Bohn Hotel in Encampment, which they operated until their retirement in 1936, when they purchased the residence property where Mrs. Fulkerson now resides.

  The deceased is survived by his wife Mrs. Lenora Fulkerson of Encampment; one sister, Mrs. Fannie Scott of Honeywell, Kansas; three brothers, Abe Fulkerson of Overbrook, Kansas, Sam Fulkerson of Sweet Springs, Missouri, and Emmitt Fulkerson of Necoma, Kansas.

"G-String Jack"

  The death last Sunday of John J. Fulkerson removes
G-String Jack and Team
"G-String Jack" Fulkerson driving an eight-horse jerk-line rig across the Saratoga Bridge, 1906. Frequently, the driver or "skinner" would, as is Fulkerson in the photo, ride the left wheel horse (saddled) rather than riding on the lead wagon.
 
from the Wyoming scene one of the last, perhaps the very last, of the old-time Wyoming freighters, those hardy pioneers who, with their "String teams" attended to overland transportation in the days when we had no railroad transportation and no trucks or tractors. He and others of his clan moved thousands of tons of heavy machinery and other supplies through this valley to the settlements on and beyond the top of the mountain range to the south during the great mining boom of 50 years ago, over roads which the present generation would class as impassable, if not impossible.

  It is possible that in those days a lot of people did not know who John J. Fulkerson was, but "G-String Jack", the freighter, was known far and wide, to every man, woman and child in the region. He was a colorful character, a product of the old west.

  He and his clan have had to move on, to make room for the more modern freighter, who sits in a glass-enclosed cab with a mechanical heater at his feet, drives at high speed over smooth and hard surfaced highways, and probably complains about the weather if he has to get out and change a tire. This modern would hardly survive if he had to forego the cab and the steering wheel and stay out in below zero weather to operate his outfit at three miles an hour with a "jerk line."

  John J. was very proud of his wavy hair. John lived with Samuel (his brother) in Elmwood, MO when he was young, about 20 yrs old, before going to Wyoming. Lena rode shot gun on stage coach with G-String Jack.
John & Lena had no children.

HOW THE HECK DID HE GET THAT NICKNAME?


From the Wyoming Tales and Trails web site we learn that "He apparently received his nick name from his skill at driving the 24-horse teams required to pull the giant freighters which brought the equipment and other gear into Encampment prior to the coming of the railroad." The site goes on to explain that:
A "G-string," more commonly referred to as a "jerk line," is used to guide or steer the front left horse or mule known as the "leader." The G-string or jerk line was connected to the outside bit ring of the leader's bridle. In this manner, the whole team would be guided. The left horse or mule of the lead span would then be connected to the right lead horse or mule by a jockey stick (the stick in the photo beneath the leaders' heads) so that the right leader would be guided in the same direction as the left leader....

Frequently, the driver or "skinner" rather than riding on the lead wagon, would, as is Fulkerson in the photo, ride the left wheel horse which would be saddled....

It has been speculated that the practice in the Americas of driving on the right-hand side of a highway was derived from early freighters riding or walking beside the left wheel horse. By walking or driving on the left side, the freighter could hold the jerk line, or in the case of oxen hold the bull whip, and operate the brake on the left side of the vehicle with his right hand. Keeping the wagons to the right-side of the road assisted in passing on-coming wagons. Thus, by the Civil War, it was the uniform practice in the United States, as opposed to our British cousins, to ride on the right-hand side of a road. Early motor cars in the United States had the steering wheel on the curb side, but were soon moved to the left side. In a sense, therefore, while barrelling down I-80, one is still guiding the left wheel horse.

THANK YOU to Shirley Fulkerson O'Toole, for making this page possible.

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