Last updated: December 7, 2011
July 25, 1990
A Look at a family Trail: From War to Wyoming
by Mary A. Shields, Lusk Herald Editor
In honor of the State of Wyoming's Centennial, Vernal Fosher, long-time resident of Niobrara County, visited with the Lusk Herald recently to tell some of the history as she remembers it about her husband's family, which has lived in Wyoming for more than 125 years.
"The Fosher family came with LaFayette (prior to the Revolutionary War) when he came to help the colonies from France. One uncle was an officer in the French army and the other man, Dr. Daniel was a doctor and he came as a medical aide," Vernal Fosher said. The chest he used to carry his equipment is still in the Fosher family.
"It (chest) was handed down from Daniel to Mathias and then to Mathias's son (Matt) who was my father-in-law and then to our oldest son, Dean. He was the oldest Fosher in the next generation.
"After the Battle of Yorktown, the French Army was sent home. The Fosher boy that was an officer, did not want to go back to France, so he went to Canada as far as we know. That's where he started, but they lost track of him.
"Dr. Daniel chose to stay and was a doctor for the colonist people until the end of the war. Then he went to Liberty, Ind., and squatted on a piece of land. They gave him a deed for that land in 1803.
Dr. Daniel practiced his profession for years and he had several children. Now I cannot name the girls, but there was Rife, Mathias and Daniel, the three boys. But the Rings and the Bells came into the girls' marriages. And then he gave a cemetery out on the back corner of his land and he and Mathias and Uncle Abe's son and different ones from the family are buried there in this cemetery.
Fosher said when Dr. Daniel died, he willed his belongings to each one of the children. Mathias had Rife, Daniel, John, Abe, and William, Nancy, Sis, Amarillas and the youngest girl died when she was very small, but the rest all grew to full age. He raised a grandson, Woody, and they lived in Indiana.
"In 1860, just about the time of the beginning of the Civil War, John and Abe came west in an ox cart and came to Santa Fe and they didn't like it, so they came north to Lander. They squatted on a piece of land under the red rim rock near Lander. They found employment at the mines in Atlantic City. And Uncle John was in the administrative part. Abe was on the hoist," she said. An incident with the hoist that nearly hurt several men at the mine frightened Abe, so he left. John stayed on.
"When Wyoming was first established, there was a square in the southeast corner - there was a notch up in it, so they took that away from Texas and gave it to Wyoming. They had to stand guard duty on this southern border between Texas and Territorial Wyoming. In 1960, when we (Harold and Vernal Fosher) went back to Ohio, at the place where we were staying, a man opened up an advertising letter and here it was a duplicate copy of where the government had paid A. Fosher - that's the way Uncle Abe always signed his name instead of Abraham - $30 for standing guard duty on that line. So I sent it to D C. and found it was legitimate. It was Uncle Abe and there's where he went. He later came back to Lander and went into the sheep business. But Uncle John stayed in political life.
"In 1862 or 1863, he (Uncle John) went back to Indiana on business. While walking down the street one day, he met Esther Hobart Morris. They had been school mates in Liberty when they were in school, so naturally they stopped and visited. And she told him of her plight. She had been married and had two or three children. They wouldn't let her administer her estate as she desired and she was very unhappy. And Uncle John told her about the woman's suffrage program in Wyoming. And whether she told him or not, soon after that Esther Morris came to Wyoming. Uncle John was in the Senate. He was chairman of the Senate. And she worked very diligently for women's suffrage. And before election time - now Mrs. Swan at South Pass had a restaurant - a place where people ate, motel and a gathering place, and a number of people were there and Uncle John and Esther Morris wee among the people. There was quite a little bickering going on trying to buy votes because they knew this suffrage business was going to be very close, if not a tie.
"And they wanted to be assured of any necessary extra votes they might want. Uncle John was very proud. He said no, being chairman, he only had a vote if there was a tie. He said, "No, I'll wait and vote to the dictate of my conscience." Anyway, he voted off the tie. You know I've often wondered, sometimes - you know how family history gets things - but when Mrs. Lapier, who was an American girl married a French Army officer. She came to Torrington. I forget what brought her to Torrington and she taught in Lusk. When she learned I had been here longer than most of them, she brought three or four history books from the state library in Cheyenne and asked me to scan them and bring the report back to her because she was teaching Wyoming history and knew very little about that. When I was scanning those books it stated that the tie was voted off by John Fosher, who was chairman of the Senate. We were all quite proud of the fact that he voted off the tie. That was in 1869. Then Wyoming did not become a state for 21 years.
"When the Foshers went to work in the mines in Atlantic City, they had to turn the oxen loose, because there was no pasture or anywhere to keep them. Turned them loose where they had pitched their little campsite and whenever they had a chance to go home on weekends. They would go home and go into the timber and cut logs and carry them in on their shoulder one at noon and one at night until they had enough logs to build them a house. They built this house and lived there till Uncle John was married. It was later sold. Uncle John was laying, and you can still see today where Uncle John was laying the flag rock from the house to the barn, when he tripped over the chalk line. One night he went out to get something. He had left one of his tools, or something. And he tripped over the chalk line and landed on the rocks and bruised his leg, causing quiet swelling and it killed him. He died that winter of 1895.
"Abe Fosher stayed there (in Lander). My father-in-law (Matt Fosher) went to Lander in 1895 - he and another man - with a double-seated buggy. They drove from North Platte, Neb. - that area today - out to Lander because crops had failed and just things were bad and then Harold's mother came to Lander and his oldest brother, Allen came in the spring of 1896. They came on the train to Rawlins, then on the stagecoash to Lander. Harold was born there. They had a little farm they rented and it had a sod house on it.
"While his (Harold's) father was there, he tended sheep camp for Abe Fosher. Abe Fosher would go to Oregon and western Idaho and buy three or four bands of sheep every spring early - 1,000 sheep in a band, 1,000 ewes in a band - and drive them back to Lander and lamb them out, and shear them and then that fall sell them. Harold's father was camp tender. He went to see they had water and food and had salt and see that everything was alright. He would go so many days a week. On the days he didn't go there, he had four head of horses and a wagon and he hauled supplies out to Fort Washakie. And he was a good friend of Big Dick Washakie.
"They used to have lots of nice visits. The other day some folks came up from Torrington when they had that dance program at the school (ring dancers at Super Saturday). A lady came from Torrington and said don't you want to go and I went. The man that was a big chief came over to talk to us when we were looking at the display table and I said,'you wouldn't happen to know about Big Dick and Young Dick Washakie' and he said I'm related to them. He was quite thrilled to see somebody that had some years back known his relatives," she said.
The Fosher children stayed in Lander then they went to school.
Fosher said the Wyoming license plate logo, the bucking bronco, is Stub Farlow from Lander topping out a horse for Gov. Lester C. Hunt on one of the ranches outside of Lander. He was a classmate of Harold Fosher.
"When our boys - it was in the 1940's - 43 or 44 - were called to Rawlins to give their 4-H demonstrations on handling and shipping of livestock. While we were on the stage, getting ready for their demonstrations, a big tall man came up and put his arm around my husband and I and said, 'You know I'm not a gambling man, but if I could bet, I'd bet you're one of Matt Fosher's boys.' And my husband said 'Yes, I'm Harold.' And he was Stub Farlow. He's the one that's riding this horse. It's a picture of him taken of him topping out the horse for Governor Hunt. And that's the first time they'd met since they were little boys - about 11 years old," she said.
"Then the Foshers left and went to Nebraska in 1910 near Newport, Neb. They were there for three years and decided to homestead south of Manville. And so they homesteaded about six miles south of Manville and lived there and lived in Niobrara County for the rest of our lives.
"Matt and Molly Fosher had three sons, Allen, Harold and Thomas. Harold and Thomas both attended school in Manville. I was a school mate of both. Then in 1920 Thomas died. Allen went into the service in 1918 and joined the Navy and spent most of his time in England and Harold stayed with his folks on the ranch. "But he did other work, Harold freighted. He worked for Ray Baughn and hauled the first casing to the first oil well in Lance Creek. Four head of horses and two wagons. He also worked for the dray in Manville. That's when they did it with team and wagon. And then he rode wagon to haul supplies for the first telephone line from Manville to Casper. Then he went back to the ranch and helped his folks.
"We were married in 1926. We stayed there and farmed for three years and then we bought what is now the Hidden Valley Ranch south of Manville. We had two sons, Dean and Raime and they grew up on the ranch. And today there are only three Foshers living in that age. And that's Dean Fosher, Dan Fosher and Raime Fosher," she said.
"In the next generation, Dean Fosher had one boy, Buddy. Allen had one boy, Dan. Raime had three boys, Monte, Corky and Matt to carry on the family name. There were only two girls, Allen had a daughter, Betty, and Raime had a daughter, Robin," Vernal Fosher said.
In the next generation, Monte Fosher has a boy and a girl. Corky has two sons, and Matt is expecting his first child this month.
Fosher said another interesting thing about local people, not just her husband's family, is that the Lambs, which she was one before she married, and the Alexanders, which include Alvin and Floyd, their parents and grandparents had been neighbors and friends for more than 100 years.
"My grandfather and Mrs. Dustin were kids together in Iowa years and years before. Then I had the Alexander children in school several different time," she said. Fosher taught three generations of Alexander children.
Vernal Fosher came to Wyoming via Oregon from Nebraska. She traveled from Newport, Neb., to Oregon in 1907 on an emigrant train and attended her first year of schooling there at Richmond, Ore.
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