George Luther Willson



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

(November 1, 1848 - June 11, 1931)


Lusk Free Lance
June 11, 1931


George L. Willson, Pioneer Settler In West Succumbs To Heart Attack At Ranch Today

News of the sudden death of George L. Willson, pioneer settler of Wyoming and a resident of this section for more than 50 years, has spread a feeling of deepest sorrow over the entire community, and a man, known to every old-timer in the state and to many of the later comers in this county is being spoken of in tenderest tones, because a real friend has been taken from those who loved and respected him beyond expression of words.

Mr. Willson succumbed to an attack of heart failure at 9:10 this (Thursday) morning, June 11th, at the Willson Bros. ranch, about five miles west of this city. He was apparently in his usual good health and had arisen early as was his custom. He had gone to the barn to saddle a horse, as he had planned looking over some irrigation ditches on the ranch when he was stricken. He died almost instantly.

Dr. E. S. Watson was called, but Mr. Willson had passed away before assistance could reach him. The remains were placed in charge of the George Earl Peet mortuary and brought to Lusk in preparation for burial.

Mr. Willson was born in Como, Ill., in 1848, and was about 83 years old at the time of his death. He came to Wyoming in 1873 and homesteaded on a piece of land near Manville. Practically ever since that time he was engaged in stock raising with his brother, Eugene B. Willson. He had never married. In his first years in this state, which was then a territory, Mr. Willson was employed with the government survey, which was staking off the original state line.

He was widely known, and every one of his acquaintances listed him as a warm friend. He was one of the true pioneer type, accustomed to anything and everything, and was able to take the good with the bad, never complaining of conditions.

Mr. Willson was just recently appointed on the Commission working toward the preservation of Old Fort Laramie, and last Sunday met with that body at the old fort site to discuss action in behalf of such a program.

There he greeted such old friends as former Governor B. B. Brooks, Tom Powers, Fred Sullivan, Malcolm Campbell and many others. It was a sort of reunion for these lovable characters and all had a great time bringing to mind again the occurrences of years ago on the Wyoming plains.

Mr. Willson is survived by his brother, Eugene B. Willson of this city. Two brothers, William, of Illinois and Ed, of Guernsey, Wyo., and one sister, Miss Helen Willson of Boston, preceded him in death.

No definite plans have been made regarding funeral arrangements but services will probably be held Saturday or Sunday afternoon.


Lusk Free Lance
June 18, 1931
Last Rites For Geo. L. Willson Held Sat'day


Funeral services for the late George L. Willson, who died suddenly at his ranch, west of Lusk last Thursday morning of heart failure, were held at 2:00 o'clock Saturday afternoon, June 14, at the Congregational church, Rev. Edwin Irwin, pastor, officiating.

Many were the old-time friends some of them coming from miles, who attended the services, in a parting tribute to one of the first to settle in this state. Rev. Irwin paid a glowing compliment to the deceased, telling of his life, the manner in which he lived, and his love of Nature. Several numbers were rendered by the Congregational male quartet at the church service. As the friends filed past the bier, tears came to eyes of not a few of them, for they realized the loss of a sincere friend.

Interment was made in the Lusk cemetery.


George L. Willson

George L. Willson was born at Como, Whiteside County, Illinois, on November 1, 1848, and passed away at his ranch home west of Lusk, Wyo., on Thursday, June 11, 1931 at the age of 82 years, 7 months and 13 days.

He received his early educational training in the public schools of that vicinity, and grew to manhood there.

In 1872 he came to Cheyenne, then in the Territory of Wyoming, and joined his brother, Eugene B., who had come two years before. A younger brother, Edmund, came a year later and the three engaged in surveying under the general direction of the firm, Hay & Thomas, U. S. surveyors. They continued in this occupation for several years.

In July, 1880, they engaged in the stock raising business and made settlement on the place between Lusk and Manville, which has become one of the finest ranches in this part of the state, and where Mr. Willson passed away. In November of the same year, they brought the first band of sheep ever taken into the northern section of Wyoming.

They also had a number of fine Hambletonaian thoroughbred horses later broadening their scope of the livestock industry by building up a herd of Shorthorn and Hereford cattle. Their ranch grew to several thousand acres, including much good hay and meadow land.

Mr. Willson is survived by his brother, Eugene B. of this city and several nieces and nephews. Preceding him in death were two brothers, William, who served in the Civil War, and Edmund, and one sister, Miss Helen, who lived in Massachusetts.

Throughout all the years of their lives in the West, the Willson brothers have remained inseparable, and their partnership in the stock has been a remarkable success.

The following were pall bearers at the funeral: A. L. Miller, D. E. Goddard, E. M. Arnold, Frank Chambers, Tom Black, H. B. Card, R. I. Olinger and L. C. Stoddard.








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