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Marshals were active in what is now Wyoming even before the beginning of the territorial period in July, 1868. In the Bridger Valley, Marshal Dotson acted as the arm of Salt Lake City's federal courts in the 1850's. Earlier marshals had doubtlessly worked in the area in connection with civilian migration along the Oregon and Bozeman Trails, but none of these activities has come to light. It was the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad along the southern Wyoming corridor in the period 1867 to 1869 which gave the rise to the earliest incidents of routine activities by Marshals and their Deputies. Noting a " state of society bordering on anarchy" in these "Hell on Wheels" towns at the end of the Union Pacific track, Governor Faulk of Dakota Territory, then encompassing Wyoming, asked these lawmen to do what they could to bring law and order. When James Chisholm stayed in Cheyenne in March 1868, he roomed with the Dakota Marshal, noting federal Official was an "Object of Dislike" because he refused to hand his prisoners over to vigilante mobs. Deputy Marshal Gaff received "Threats and Intimidations" from local citizens when he insisted on seeing that three men charges with larceny received a fair trial. As federal agents in an isolated and tumultuous frontier environment, marshals had to go about heavily armed in order to carry out their duties and to ensure their own personal safety.

When President Andrew Johnson signed the Organic Act establishing the Territory of Wyoming on July 10, 1868, this earliest, somewhat chaotic, phase of marshals' activities ended.