William Henry "Will" Bonsell Jr.





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

(August 6, 1898 - October 21, 1952)


The Lusk Herald
October 23, 1952


William H. Bonsell, Lifetime Resident of County, Dies Tues.

William H. Bonsell, 54, owner and operator since 1936 of the famous old O-W ranch north of Lusk, died at the Spencer Hospital at 1:30 Tuesday morning of a lung infection that had placed him in failing health for several years.

Funeral services are being held at the Peet Mortuary Thursday afternoon at 2:00 o’clock and burial will be made in the Lusk Cemetery.

Mr. Bonsell was a native of this county being born at Lusk Aug. 6, 1898, the son of Louie Estelle and William H. Bonsell, Sr. He attended grade school both in Lusk and in country schools and grew up on the O-W ranch which had been purchased by his father and his father’s aunt, Sarah Henry, from the late John B. Kendrick. The younger Bonsell later attended high school in Lusk.

After high school he continued working on the ranch. Oct. 13, 1919 he was married to Frances Louise Peake, a teacher at Magoon school. The marriage took place in Denver. They lived on a homestead northwest of the O-W until 1927, then spent a year on what is now the George Story ranch, and finally moved back to the O-W. In 1936 when foreclosure forced the sale of the ranch, Mr. Bonsell bought it.

He has raised both cattle and sheep, but through the war years raised sheep only and later in 1947 converted solely to cattle. It is believed that the illness that caused his death may have been accentuated by an accident on the range. When he was a boy riding with his father their two horses went over a bank and piled up on him injuring his chest. Doctors were few and far between and he was allowed to recover without medical help. Then the recent war years, as for many ranchers, were extremely hard when both sons were away in the services.

A most handy man, Will Bonsell spent much time improving his ranch home and surroundings and it was always a place of unique quietness and beauty, and through the years the ranch was always a place that young people and older friends liked to visit and were always welcome.

There were four children in the family, who survive, besides Mrs. Bonsell: Donald of St. Paul, Minn. who was arriving here Wednesday, Roger at home on the ranch, Mrs. Rufus Brott of Prairie Center, and Mrs. Homer Paris of Manitou Springs, Colo. who is also arriving here Wednesday.

Also surviving are four brothers and a sister: Raymond of Edgemont, S. D., Harold of Casper, Russell of Cooper, S. D., Mrs. Ray Larson of Morrill, Neb., and Dee of Bend, Ore. Two other brothers, Wesley and George, previously died.


Lusk Free Lance
October 23, 1952
William H. Bonsell, Native of Niobrara County for Half-Century, Dies Early Tuesday; Services are This Afternoon


Concluding rites were held this (Thursday) afternoon at two o'clock at the chapel for the Peet Funeral home for the late William H. Bonsell, native of Niobrara county for better than half a century, who passed away quietly at one-thirty o'clock Tuesday morning, October 21st, at the Spencer hospital, where he had been confined for a short time.

Mr. Bonsell had been ill for a number of years suffering from a lung infection which is believed to have been the result of injuries received in an accident on the ranch which he was a young boy. During his illness, which has covered a period of several years, Mr. Bonsell was cared for at the family home north of Lusk.

Rev. Jacob Nein conducted the rites during which Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Bardo and Miss Phyllis Johns sang "Somebody Cares" and "The Lord is My Shepherd." Mrs. Dale Bardo presided at the chapel organ.

Interment was made in the Lusk cemetery with Don C. Taylor, Howard Eikenberry, Wm. D. Miller, Wayne Dainton, Dan Hanson and Ben Brown acting as casketbearers.

William H. Bonsell, son of Louie Hester and Wm. H. Bonsell, Sr., was born August 6, 1898 at Lusk, Wyoming and departed from this life on Tuesday October 21st, 1952, having attained the age of 54 years, 2 months and 15 days.

His elementary education was received in the country school, near the family home the famous O-W ranch, and in Lusk. He was graduated from the Lusk High school. Following his schooling he continued working with his father on the ranch.

He was united in marriage to Miss Frances Louise Peake, who was then a teacher at the Magoon school, on October 13, 1918 in Denver, Colo. Four children were born to this union.

After their marriage, Mr. Bonsell continued ranching and in 1936 purchased the O-W ranch, where he had spent his early years, and later reared his family.

Over the period of years, the deceased had raised both cattle and sheep, however, during World War II he raised sheep only. In 1947, he again turned to cattle and has built up a fine herd. He undertook, as a hobby, the making of hooded rugs while he was confined at home and produced some lovely rugs that were awarded prizes at both the Niobrara county and State fairs.

Left to mourn his passing are his wife and four children, Donald of St. Paul, Minn., Roger of the family home, Mrs. Rufus Brott of Prairie Center and Mrs. Homer Paris of Manitou Springs, Colo., who were all here for the services. He also leaves five grandchildren, four brothers, Raymond of Edgemont, S.D.; Harold of Casper, Wyo., Russell of Cooper, S. D.; Dee of Bend, Ore.; and a sister, Mrs. Ray Larson of Morrill, Nebr. His parents and two brothers, Wesley and George preceded him in death.


The Lusk Herald
October 30, 1952
Last Rites Held For Will Bonsell


Last rites for William H. Bonsell were conducted from the Peet Chapel Thursday afternoon, Oct. 23, at 2:00 o’clock with the Rev. Jacob Nein, pastor of the Congregational Christian Church, officiating.

The songs, “Somebody Cares” and “The Lord Is My Shepherd,” were sung by Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Bardo and Miss Phyllis Johns with Mrs. Dale M. Bardo as organist.

Interment was made in the Lusk Cemetery with long time friends and neighbors acting as casket bearers. They were Don C. Taylor, Wm. D. Miller, Howard Eikenberry, Wayne Dainton, Ben Brown, and Dan Hanson.

Mr. Bonsell died Oct. 21 after being in ill health for several years. He was a native of Lusk, having been born here Aug. 6, 1898, the second son of Mr. and Mrs. Wm. H. Bonsell, Sr.

Relatives who were here for the funeral services of the late William H. Bonsell included Mr. and Mrs. Homer Paris and children of Manitou Springs, Colo., Harold Bonsell and daughter, Sally, of Casper, Mr. and Mrs. Donald Bonsell and Paul Haller of St. Paul, Minn., Mr. and Mrs. Wendell Peake of Lakewood, Colo., and Mr. and Mrs. Ray Larson of Gering, Nebr.








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