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Johnson County, Wyoming (U.S.)

Last modified: 2016-03-25 by rick wyatt
Keywords: johnson county | wyoming |
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[Flag of Johnson County, Wyoming] image by Jens Pattke, 8 April 2012

Known Flag - indicates flag is known.
No Known Flag - indicates it is reported that there is no known flag.

Municipal flags in Johnson County:

  • none reported

See also:

Description of the flag

Johnson County is in north central Wyoming, containing the City of Buffalo (pop ~4500) and the town of Kaycee.

Sheridan Media ( reports that the county is obtaining three flags, prompted by a request to supply a county flag for a 100th anniversary celebration at the State Fair in August.

The flag is red with a white cross and green saltire throughout as in the Basque flag and the county seal placed over their intersection. The seal has the inscription "JOHNSON COUNTY WYOMING" in black on the white outer ring, around a black on yellow scene with mountains, oil derricks, a cow and a sheep in the foreground, and tree branches at the edges. The horizontal arm of the cross has the black inscription "EST. 1879", interrupted by the seal.

It's not clear whether this is a new design, but it seems there weren't any actual flags previously. Three will be obtained, one for the State Fair, and one each for use in Buffalo and Kaycee. The article says that the flag represents the county's heritage, but give no explanation of the significance of the Basque design.
Jonathan Dixon, 5 April 2012

Basque influence

There is a significant connection between Johnson County and the Basque, since the Johnson County flag appears to be "the first official Basque flag outside the Basque Country, and the first in the nation".

"The history of the Basque presence in the Johnson County begins with the arrival of Jean Esponda in 1902 as reported by Dollie Iberlin and David Romtvedt in their book "Buffalotarrak". Most Buffalo Basques originated in the village of Baigorri, because Jean Esponda, a successful immigrant from Baigorri, settled in that area of Wyoming. Esponda immigrated into California in 1886 and then moved to Wyoming in 1902, where he set up a thriving sheepherding operation, claiming many Basques from his own natal village and neighboring villages for nearly two decades. Esponda became known as the "King of the Basques". He passed away in 1936. By the end of the 1960s, Basque sheepmen owned over 250,000 acres (approximately 390 square mile) of Johnson County land, which was about 76% of the land of the entire province of Nafarroa Beherea. According to the United States Census, in 2000 there were only 869 Basque people in Wyoming, being the smallest, but nonetheless vibrant, Basque community in the American West. 110 years have passed since Jean Esponda set foot in Wyoming, and much of the Basque heritage is still flourishing. It has become part of the social and cultural fabric of Wyoming. In this regard, Johnson County designed a flag to commemorate the State Fair's 100th anniversary, which depicts the Ikurriña or Basque flag (originally designed in 1894 in Bilbao, Bizkaia) with the county's seal in the center, as a way to honor the county's Basque origins. The Johnson County's "Basque" flag is the first official Basque flag outside the Basque Country, and the first in the nation. Its symbolism will definitely help to preserve and assure the continuity of the Basque history in the State of Wyoming. It will be publicly displayed, for the first time, at the State Fair that is going to be held on August 11-18 in Douglass."
Baigorri is the Basque name of the municipality of Saint-Étienne-de-Baïgorry (1,585 inhabitants in 2011, 6,944 ha), located in the Basque traditional province of Lower Navarre, on the border with Spain. The Irouléguy vineyards are partially located on the municipal territory.

Ivan Sache, 9 December 2014