Isabel (Mack) Willson

Picture courtesy of Anne Willson Whitehead, author of <i>Willson Brothers Running Water Ranch: The Homestead Cabin Story</i>
Picture courtesy of Anne Willson Whitehead, author of Willson Brothers Running Water Ranch: The Homestead Cabin Story

Photo courtesy of the Joshua Brackett Eagle Scout Project
Photo courtesy of the Joshua Brackett Eagle Scout Project

(September 20, 1865 - September 19, 1955)


The Lusk Herald
September 22, 1955


Isabel Willson, Early Day Pioneer, Dies Monday.

Mrs. Isabel Mack Willson, one of the oldest pioneers of Niobrara County, died at the Spencer Hospital at 8:35 a.m. Monday of complications following a fracture of the hip suffered in a fall August 14. If Mrs. Willson had lived until Tuesday morning she would have passed the 90 year mark.

The Rosary service was being held this Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. in the Peet Chapel. Funeral services are being held at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Peet Chapel, with Rev. Father M. J. McBrien, pastor of St. Leo's Catholic Church officiating.

Mrs. Carl Bruch and Miss Pauline Bruch, will sing "In Paradisium" with Mrs. Bruch as organist.

Honorary casket-bearers are: C. W. Irwin, T. A. Godfrey, John Agnew, L. J. Bass, Carl Lund, and Hans Gautschi. Active pallbearers are: George Gibson, Roy Chamberlain, Roy Johnson, James B. Griffith, Jr., L. C. Stoddard and Marion Rasmusen. Interment will be in the Lusk Cemetery with the Peet Mortuary in charge.

Isabel Mack Willson was born September 20, 1865 in Kingston, Ohio, the daughter of Rev. Charles D. and Caroline McMunn Mack. Her mother died when she was five and though several wished to adopt the child her father, and Episcopal minister, took her with him whenever possible and had her play the organ for services. She went to boarding school at Kenosha, Wisc., and Wolf Hall, Denver, where she graduated. Many poems of hers were published in the Wolf Hall Banner, the school newspaper.

At 16 years of age she taught school at Castle Rock south of Denver. Later she taught for two terms in a suburb of Chicago and made her home with her aunt, Mrs. Sarah Claflin.

Mrs. Mack became interested in nursing and graduated from St. Luke's Hospital in Chicago. She did district nursing for two years and was a special district children's nurse often with a policeman on guard.

She met her future husband, Eugene Bigelow Willson, in Chicago when he was in the hospital. A year or so later his sister, Miss Helen Willson of Boston met her in Chicago; they bought a car of furniture and came west, where she married Mr. Willson at Chadron, Neb., July 23, 1890.

They lived in the cabin three months until the house was finished. This is the house where her son Eugene P. Willson now lives. Here her four children were born and here they lived until the children had to go to school. Then they left the Running Water Ranch for the ranch near Manville where she often played and sang in the church and Sunday School and helped with the young people's organizations. During World War I, while her three sons were in the U.S. Army, Mrs. Willson did a great deal of Red Cross work.

In 1912 they built a house in town, but moved back to the ranch about 1933. Mr. Willson died there in January, 1935. Since then she has often spent winters with her son, Kenneth, in Ft. Worth, San Antonio, Houston, Tex., Tulsa, Okla., Wichita, Kans., and Carmel, Cal. and also visited often at the home of another son, Frederick, in Ponca City, Okla.

Mrs. Willson wrote and published a booklet "Cabin Days" and also did some painting of pictures.

She was a past regent of Lusk Voorhees Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution; a past Worthy Matron in Mariposa Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star at Manville, and a member of the Colonial Dames. She also belonged to the Niobrara Chapter, O. E. S. at Lusk and the Woodbine Chapter at Douglas.

This past winter she spent mostly with her son, Eugene P. Willson, at Running Water Ranch and this summer at Lusk with her daughter, Mrs. Harry Koontz.

Besides the above mentioned children, Mrs. Willson is survived by eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.



Thon Book 7
Mrs. Isabel Willson, 89, Well-Known Pioneer Resident, Laid at Rest Today; Last Services From St. Leo's Church


Death came quietly to Mrs. Isabel M. Willson at 8:35 a.m. Monday, at the Spencer hospital, her demise being attributed to complications following a fracture of the right femur. Mrs. Willson was one of the best known and beloved pioneer women of Niobrara County, for her kind and gentle ways, her thoughtfulness of others and her writings of pioneer days.

Rosary services were held at the Peet chapel Wednesday evening with mass being held at ten o'clock this (Thursday) morning from St. Leo's church with Father M. J. McBrien, officiating at both services. During the mass, Miss Pauline Bruch and Mrs. Carl Bruch sang "Paradise," with Mrs. Henry Wasserburger, Sr., as accompanist.

Interment was made in the family plot beside the remains of her husband, Eugene B. Willson, with George Gibson, Roy Chamberlain, Roy Johnson, James Griffith, Jr., Lee Stoddard and Marion Rasmussen acting as pallbearers. Honorary bearers were C. W. Erwin, T. A. Godfrey, John Agnew, Lou Bass, Carl Lund, Hans Gautschi and Ed Arnold.

Isabel Mack Willson was born September 20th, 1865 at Kingston, Ohio, the daughter of Rev. Charles D. and Caroline Edith Mack, and departed this life September 19, 1955 at the age of 90 years.

She was married July 23rd, to Eugene B. Willson, following her graduation from nurses school in Chicago. The couple returned to Mr. Willson's ranch on Running Water, west of Lusk establishing their home. They became the parents of four children.

Survivors include three sons, Eugene P. Willson of Lusk, Kenneth M. Wilson and Frederick Wilson, and one daughter, Mrs. Harry Koontz of Lusk.

A complete obituary will be carried in next week's issue of the Free Lance.








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