Baughn Recollections of Early Dangers in Niobrara County

Last updated: April 24, 2013

The Lusk Herald
September 30, 1992

Recollections of an early-day Manville area woman

(Ed. note: In an earlier installment, former Manville area pioneer Jessie Baughn was featured in a story, taken from the September-October 1969 issue of 'Westerner Magazine.' This is the continuation of her remembrances from her life south of Manville at the turn of the century. The story was written by Homer Crisman, a free-lance writer. In an earlier installment, Jessie recalled the large cattle drives which used to come through the area south of what is now Manville, enroute to Yellowstone and Montana. In this installment, she recalled the every-day dangers of life in what was to become Niobrara County.)

"I was older, and the folks were permitting me to do some of the chores, which had been refused my sharing up until then," Jessie noted. "It became necessary for someone to make an unexpected trip to Manville for some supplies. I do not recall the occasion," she added, "but possibly it was a buyer to look at our cattle, which Dad was anxious to get to market.

"I remember that it was spring," she added, "and I had been permitted to drive our team hitched to the 'spring wagon,' when accompanied by father. He did not want to be away if buyer should come, and asked me if I could take the team and drive to the village for provisions. I, with the superior confidence of youth, assured him that I could. I was given permission to visit for a short time with a girl friend, about an hour," Jessie recalled.

"In the afternoon, with plenty of time to reach home before dark, I started back," she added. "A portion of the road which I was to follow passed through a rather deep 'draw.' It was here that things began to happen. I noticed that the team was becoming nervous and when I looked behind I saw a large animal skulking along, apparently trying to keep out of sight, as it approached.

"One of my team was a mare with a colt a few months old.

"The colt had been permitted to come along. The animal behind became more bold and I noticed it was not a stray dog, as I first supposed, but one of the not too uncommon prairie wolves. The interest of the wolf seemed to focus on the colt and the mare tried to keep it near her head for protection.

"When the wolf came close to the colt, I began to use my whip to keep it at a distance. Mother had kept the baby at home, but my sister had gone with me to town," Jessie said. "Now, the wolf dropped behind the spring-wagon and seemed to give attention to her. I got my sister into the seat beside me, where, though she was crying, she felt more secure.

"I continued to strike at the wolf each time it came in reach of the whip. With all of this, I somehow managed to keep the team under control, but was beginning to wonder just how much longer this would be possible," Jessie noted in the story.

"It seemed like an endless time when at last we pulled up out of the 'draw' and began the rapid ascent where we could look down upon our improvements. We attained the rise all right, and with the sight of the house and barn, the wolf dropped back and we proceeded safely home.

"I did not need to be encouraged to relate the terrifying experience which had been ours," Jessie said. "They, of course, were very much concerned and father saddled a horse and rode to the home of a neighbor several miles away to enlist his aid.

"Upon his return, father told us that the next day they would have a look into the draw. Come morning, they departed with guns and shovels to see if they could locate a den. Some distance up the draw, and away from the road which I had followed, they killed a female wolf and dug out the den of six small pups.

"This accounted for the boldness of the wolf in following me and the team," Jessie recalled.

"She was hungry and had to provide for six other hungry and growing members of her family. We girls were sorry, of course, but those were the days of 'survival of the fittest' -- which did not include marauding wolves."

(In the next installment, Carl Baughn shares his recollections of the cattle drives, and the instincts cattle display during severe storms on the trail drives of 90 years ago).




Historical Search

Type your search terms into the box below and his 'Search!' to begin searching the historical archives.




Historical Links

Debbie Sturman, Director
425 South Main Street, P O Box 510
Lusk, WY 82225-0510
Phone: 307-334-3490
© 2014, Niobrara County Library