The origins of this book are obscure. For more than thirty years the original manuscript has been in the Wyoming State Penitentiary files at the Carbon County Museum in Rawlins, Wyoming. While it was probably written around 1923, this book covers some specific events in Wyoming history dating from 1903 until late 1912. These events are verifiable in prison records and period newspapers. The author's close association and direct participation in significant history are without question. Chronological accuracy seems to suggest the text may have been a loose transcript from a prisoner's daily diary.
The manuscript was untitled and written anonymously. Though research has pointed to a likelyauthor, his identity has not been revealed in the body of the text, keeping with the spirit of the original text and the author's apparent intention. The title- The Sweet Smell of Sagebrush -was given to this book in an effort to reflect the author's unique sensitivity and undaunted spirit.
Very little has been changed from the original manuscript which was typewritten on 8 l/2 x ll " paper without margins. Spelling and punctuation have been left as written. Because the author capitalized the first letter on every page, this unusual practice has/ been repeated in this publication. No words have been omitted or added to the story. Typographical errors have been corrected only when the author's intention was clear. When the story changes, the text has been broken to give the reader a visual rest. The original was written as one long paragraph without breaks from beginning to end. Archival photographs have been added to identify some characters. The historical integrity of the original manuscript has been a primary consideration of this publication from start to finish. This book is being published by Friends of the Old Pen Inc., which is a nonprofit corporation formed to help preserve, develop and promote Wyoming's Frontier Prison in Rawlins. The Old Wyoming State Penitentiary was opened in 1901 and closed in 1981, when the prisoners moved to a new facility south of the town.
This book is one of the more important sources of information available on the early history of the Frontier Prison. Profits from the sale of this book will go directly toward historical enhancement of the old penitentiary. We feel the author would have wanted it that way.
-Friends of the Old Pen