Last updated: August 11, 2004
Library Costlow Collection
December 30, 1965
Costlow Collection, Lusk Family, Pt. 8, Town & Country #13
Before 1965, Wyoming's 75th Anniversary year, comes to a close a good look should by given at the life of Charles Hitschew of Lusk who has lived in the Converse and Niobrara County area longer than any other individual.
It is likely that Mr. Hitchew, who was 84 on December 13, may have spent more years in Wyoming than any other person. He was born to Mr. and Mrs. George Hitschew in Cheyenne on December 13, 1881, and has lived his entire life in Wyoming.
When he was a young boy, in either 1884 or 1885, the Hitschew family moved from Cheyenne to an area near the head of Lance Creek. Manville was the trading point for Hitschews, and he says that as a boy he can remember the building of the Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley Railroad which is now the Chicago and North Western. The railroad arrived in Lusk in 1886, but didn't make it to Douglas until 1887.
In order that the Hitschew children might have a better education Mrs. Hitschew moved to Manville with the children and there they attended school. Mr. Hitschew continued to homestead and operate a ranch some six miles north of Keeline.
"We didn't get to Lusk very often" he says, but remembers, as a boy, the stage coach coming to the stage station which was located north of the former town of Silver Cliff. Silver Cliff was located in the area where the number 2 green at the Country Club is positioned.
Mr. Hitschew claims that he witnessed the last killing in the notorious Johnson County War between the cattlemen and sheepmen. The incident took place in what is now Niobrara County, but at that time was Converse County. In the fall of 1892 Mr. Hitschew was cleaning up meadow land on the Horseshoe Shoe ranch some eight miles north of Keeline, when he heard a shot. Looking up he saw a horse circling on a nearby hill and together with Joe Grant went up to catch the horse, and found a young man shot dead.
Meanwhile the killer, Mike Shonsey, with a witness, went to Lum Barber, the Deputy Sheriff in Lusk, and told of the killing. Shonsey and his witness swore that the dead man, Dudley Champion had pulled his gun first and that Shonsey acted in self-defense. Shonsey was released and went to Cheyenne where it is said that he was paid off by his employer, former governor George Baxter, and went to Mexico.
Shonsey later returned to Nebraska and is believed to have been the last man to take part in the Johnson County War.
Mr. Hitschew also recalls that he witnessed the battle of Lightning Creek. In fact he says that he was only about ten feet from Louie Falkenberg, the Deputy Sheriff from Newcastle, when Falkenberg was shot in the leg. The battle of Lightning Creek was the last conflict between the Indians and the white men in this area. It took place near the western edge of central Niobrara County on October 31, 1903.
Mr. Hitschew laid out the town plot for Lost Springs. He recalls that there were a great many people in Lost Springs many years ago. Today Lost Springs is the smallest incorporated municipality in Wyoming with a population of 9. The main industry of Lost Springs was the coal mines located some 9 miles north.
Mr. Hitschew moved from rural Niobrara County to Douglas, but since World War II has lived in Lusk.
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