Nelson Homesteading

Last updated: July 16, 2012

Library Archives
July 16, 2012

by Mrs. Maggie Nelson Howell and brothers Ira Nelson and William Nelson
written by Zella Zimmerman


Maggie Nelson Howell was born in Ferthamboy, N.J. October 12, 1874.
Ira Nelson was born in Iowa January 1881.
Wiliam Nelson was born in Iowa Sepember 1882.

Their parents came from Denmark in 1872. On November 21, 1898 Maggie Married George A. Howell. On March 5, 1910 George Howell died leaving Maggie Nelson Howell with a baby girl Archie 5 days old and two other girls Zella ten and Sylvania eight years old. She and her brother Ira decided to go to Wyoming and Homestead. They filed on their claims in April or May 1911.

In June Ira Nelson came to Lusk with an imigrant railroad car which was loaded at Bristow, Nebraska, with all the house hold things including a sewing machine, four horses, one colt, two cows, and a dozen hens and some farm machines, wagon and a spring wagon or two seated buggy that made a light rig for trips to town or with both seats a buggy for the family, and two mild cows.

Ira and the emigrant car which he traveled with got to Lusk in June. He had all the things out to the Homesteads which were five miles east of the Hat Creek Store. Mrs. Howell and the girls came to Lusk by train on July 4, 1911. Ira was there to meet them and take them out to the Homestead. Sylvania and Zella did not go back to town till the summer of 1915 when there was a chactuqua (Chautauqua) in town which we went to see and hear.

The first winter we just had a one room shack. We needed the rest of the time that summer to get up shelter for the horses and cows.

The next summer Ira built one large log room onto what we did have and he also built his claim shack which was used for him to repair shoes, harness or anything else he could repair. The first year we heated and cooked with a small cook stove. After that we got a heater and burned wood for several years.

We had a very hard winter the first year. The winter of 1911 and 1912. The snow came early and didn't go off til March then in April we had two blizzards. We had to haul all the feed for the cows and horses from Lusk. The big ranchers had large loss in (their) cattle and sheep that year.

The spring of 1912 when Mrs Howell was getting ready to do the washing, Sylvania kept saying she could hear a funny hissing noise Mrs. Howell kept saying it was the teakettle on the stove. When Mrs. Howell went outside, she heard the hissing much louder so she grabbed the hoe and started toward the sound when she froze for a second for there was Archie then just two years old and the cat and dog forming a triangle and a rattle snake in the middle not knowing which way to strike. Mrs. Howell killed the snake. The same day we found another rattler near by. We saw several but none of us or our animals were ever bitten by a snake.

The first summer was all very interesting to us. As it was the year of the last big round up in that area.

They didn't bring the cattle down where we lived but we had good spring water where they liked to bring in their chuck wagons and horses that they held in a rope corral. The cook would come in with his wagon start a fire and let down the tail gate of the wagon which made a table for him to work on. The cowboys would come in three or four at a time...Eat, change horses and ride off then another bunch would come in till they all had eaten, then they would move on to the next camp. One day Sylvania was running with our dog on a string when a cowboy rode up and shot the dog.

The winter of 1911 and 1912 we had no school as the nearest school was in Lusk twenty five miles away. The fall of 1912 Mrs. Al Bryant had the homesteader children in that area come to her home. She taught us till Christmas time when the weather got too bad. There was five of us. Two Jensen girls Anna and Verna who drove a horse hitched to a one horse buggy and Wilbur Bryant who was close enough to walk and Sylvania and Zell Howell. They rode horse back double. The Jensen and Howell girls had three miles to go.

The next spring the people in the area got a pertition up demanding a school. Mrs. Howell gave the land to have a school built. The Fall of 1913 we had our first school. Alsey Jewett was the teacher it was a seven month school.

About this time the people in the community organized a Sunday School. Mrs. Howell, Alsey Jewett and Mrs. Cameron were the ones that got the Sunday School going. In the summer time we had Sunday School on Sunday but after school started in the fall we had Sunday School on Friday afternoon as it was too hard for the people to get to the school so often.

The school was here I think, till about 1921 or 1922. When several country schools were consolidated and they built a two room school where the old highway that went north and south past the Hat Creek Post Office and the road that comes from the East. It is now being used as a club house for the community. The old school was moved over to this location for the teachers to live in and they now had nine months of school and two teachers.

The first bus driver was Bob Himes for the east route.

Our Post Office was the Old Hat Creek Store. The Post Master was Andrew Falconer. He had a good supply of groceries and a supply of men's work clothing for the cowboys. The building is still standing. It is a large log building on Sage Creek about a mile east of the Hat Creek Store building.

William Nelson came to visit in January of 1913 and stayed to homestead just south of Mrs. Howell's homestead.

When Mrs. Howell and Ira Nelson proved up on their homesteads in 1914.

Ira Nelson used to work in the oil field around Casper, Wyoming. He was a riviter on the big storage tanks. In 1917 he joined the army and was sent to the Mexican border were he served till 1919 when he was discharged. He stayed a few years on the homestead then he went to Martin, S. Dakota where he went to drilling water wells. He died on the job Dec. 21, 1927.

William Nelson after the homesteads were sold went to McMinnville Oregon with his nieces Archie Howell East and Zella Howell Zimmerman where he died May 1952.

Fred Bryant was in the first World War, when he returned home Sylvania Howell married him on June 28, 1919. They were married by Rev. Clark at home. She died just after they celebrated their 40th anniversary in 1959. They made their home on the homestead of Fred Bryant. They had seven children - one dying as an infant.

Their oldest Iris Bryant Cline lives in Texas. She has two sons. Her husband died in 1972.

Evelyn Bryant Guibault had three living children - two dying as small children. She lives in California.

Howell (Burr) Bryant, his wife and his daughter live on the old Fred Bryant ranch just east of Hat Creek. Burr served in the second World War and was in the D Day invasion of France.

George Bryant was a soldier in the second World War. He was killed with a snipper (sniper) bullet on Jan. 30, 1945.

John Bryant and his wife live at Riverton, Wyoming. They have one son.

Tiny Bryant Crofutt and her husband live in Lusk. They have two sons.

Zella Howell married Charlie Zimmerman March 12, 1916. Charlie died Jan. 11, 1973. They had lived for over 20 years in Reedsport, Oregon. They had six children. One died as a small child.

The oldest son Charles I. Zimmerman and his wife live in Reedsport, Oregon. They have four children - three girls and 1 boy. Charles served in the second World War in Japan for one year.

Ruth Zimmerman DeLange has six children - three girls and 1 boy.

Robert N. Zimmerman and his wife live in Denver. They have three children - two boys and one girl. Robert served in the Korean War. He was in Korea for a year.

Ira S. Zimmerman and his wife have ten children and live in Colfax, Washington. Ira served in the navy and was on the commution ship that was in the Dew Fleet - the first ships to the North Pole.

Kenneth A. Zimmerman and his wife have three boys and live in Portland, Oregon.

Archie Howell married John East on Feb. 22, 1930. They had three girls. They had lived on Mrs. Howell's homestead. In 1942 they went to McMinnville, Oregon where they lived until Archie died in March 1964. John still lives there.

The oldest daughter Peggy Ann East Balk lives in Beaverton, Ore. has three children.

Arlene East is a school teacher for the last several years she has taught in military bases all over the world. She is now in Germany teaching.

Linda East Staples lives in Portland, Oregon. They have two children.

Mrs. Maggie Howell died in Aug. 1941. Is buried in Lusk where William Nelson and two of her grandchildren are buried.

Our entertainment was partys in the home if there was room enough and someone to play a violin or any other thing that would make music we would dance. We had some very good fiddlers - Fred Bryant and others and some good square dance callers - Roy Eastburn and Melvin Miller and others I do not remember their names or all who made music.

If there wasn't enough to dance or some one to make music, we played cards.

These partys we often went to as soon as the chores could be done in the evening. We often went ten miles or more in a wagon and we would stay till it started to get day light and get home to do chores. The women always took sandwiches, cake, cookies and the hostess furnished coffee...which was served about midnight.




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Debbie Sturman, Director
425 South Main Street, P O Box 510
Lusk, WY 82225-0510
Phone: 307-334-3490
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