Historical Details

Costlow Collection Part 1, Photos Revive Interest In Frank Lusk History

Courtesy of Library Costlow Collection, 10/03/1963

by Mary Anne Griffith

August 22, 1958, Mrs. Mahmood Abozeid, Maadi, Egypt passed through Lusk, one of many tourists. Unfortunately, as she says, "It was a great thrill for me and I felt sad that I did not know anyone there to pass by and see."

In reply to this letter to Pat Costlow, he wrote," I regret deeply that when you came through Lusk you did not make your presence known to the newspaper, or the first oldster you saw on the street. I am sure you and your party would have been royally entertained by the townspeople, for we are friendly folks and would have deemed it an honor to entertain the daughter of the founder of Lusk."

Mrs. Abozeid was born Vivian Gorham but went to live with the Lusks, who were childless at the age of 14 and was legally adopted by them. As she says" I was treated and accepted as their daughter for many years. I spent from age 14 to 27 with them, and we were very devoted to each other. In fact, I did not leave for Egypt, to join my husband, until after the death of Mr. Lusk."

Lusk will have a delayed opportunity soon, however, to honor the founder and namesake of the town when pictures of Frank and Louise Lusk are to be hung in the new Lusk Town Hall.

The pictures as well as the above exchange with the sole survivor of the Frank Lusk family were obtained as the result of research recently completed by Mr. Costlow. Mr. Costlow explains that in addition to his interest because we bear the Lusk name, his research assumed a more personal nature with the recent information that his family genealogy revealed a distant relationship with the Frank Lusk Family.

The pictures have been donated by Irvine and Gladys Bennett now residents of Seattle Wash., but former employees and personal friends of Mr. Lusk at the First National Bank of Missoula, Mont. In addition to the pictures, the executor of the Louise Lusk estate awarded the Bennetts a large American flag, which was displayed by the bank in Missoula during bond drives in World War 1 and the Episcopal prayer books owned by Mrs. Lusk. In explaining the gift, also in a letter to Mr. Costlow, Mrs. Bennett says, "It seems fitting to me that the Lusk museum or other appropriate place should have these things as a memorial to our very dear friends, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Lusk.

Mr. Costlow is not the only Lusk resident that has conducted exhaustive research into the life of the man whose name our town bears. In preparing a lengthy biographical story for the 70th Anniversary edition of The Lusk Herald in 1956, Ralph Olinger now of Youngstown Arizona conducted extensive research the follow are excerpts from Mr. Olinger's story, "Frank Lusk Founded 3 Wyoming Towns."

The history of Frank S. Lusk in his association with Wyoming has to do with the livestock and railway industries. He started one of the first cattle ranches in Niobrara County, and, as the lone Wyoming resident stockholder of the Wyoming Central railroad, was the founder of three of Wyoming's prosperous county seat towns."

He was born in Buffalo, New York, April 27,1857. His parent's were Cornelia M. Stillman and James W. Lusk. James Lusk was then a partner in the Commercial Colleges of Bryant, Lusk and Stratton but later disposed of his interest in order to devote his time to the perfection of the Spencerian System of Penmanship. Mr. Lusk died in 1863 and Cornilia Lusk lived with her mother, Sarah Stillman and taught in the Cleveland public schools. In 1876 her son, Frank came west, and in the early 80's persuaded his mother to take up residence in Denver. In 1896 he built a home for her and his grandmother, Mrs. Stillman, in Lusk and there they resided until their deaths.

Cornelia Lusk was active in the affairs of the town, was one of the founders of the Congregational Church and at the election held after the formation of Converse County (1889) she was elected County Superintendent of Schools and was probably the third women elected in the territory of Wyoming to such an office. When the Lusk Reading Club established a public library for the Lusk community about 1912, it was named the Stillman Library in honor of Cornelia's mother. (The Lusk home was purchased by George Earl Peet in 1931 and converted into the mortuary).

The Lusk Standard, April 29, 1921, in the story telling of the death of Mrs. Cornelia Lusk stated "Mrs. Lusk was among the first women to make her home in our little city and was connected with every thing of an educational progressive nature throughout the years that her health permitted. Her home was ever open to the stranger, hospitality being the keynote of her home. The Lusk home was among the first built with space enough therein to entertain to any degree of satisfaction. It meant that it was called into use most of the time."

When Frank Lusk came to Colorado in 1876 he entered the cattle business with partners. In 1879, when" we thought we were being crowded we determined to move. My partners were favorable to moving into eastern Colorado but I remembered the people I had met earlier in Wyoming and thought them a fine class of people and I decided to go to Wyoming."

In 1880 he located at what is known as Node Ranch about 15 miles east of Lusk. In 1881 he purchased a desert claim about three miles out of where Lusk is now located and used it as a hay ranch. Later he moved his horse ranch to the site of the present town of Lusk. In the late '80's after two disasterous winters his partners decided to move to a locality "where the winters were less severe. I did not approve the move and having interests, I remained in Wyoming."

Frank Lusk was the first postmaster of the Lusk Post Office. In writing for the Wyoming Historical publication, he held that "The nearest post office for Node Ranch the hay ranch and my horse ranch was Rawhide Buttes. In 1882 Luke Voorhees suggested applying for a post office at the ranch would insure the mail being delivered to us instead of our riding 20 miles and back for it. He prepared the necessary application to the Post Office Department. Mr. Voorhees asked me to name the post office, but I was busy and told him to do what ever he wanted. Later he told me he had suggested it be called 'Lusk', and in due course of time it was so established."

According to Post Office Department records a post office was established at Lusk, Converse County, on February 15, 1884 with J.S. McHenry appointed postmaster. Mr. McHenry declined the appointment and he was succeeded by F. S. Lusk.

In 1886, the Elkhorn, Missouri Valley road decided to extend into Wyoming. The laws at that time did not permit railway ownership by a Corporation not organized in the Territory, so the Wyoming Central Railway was organized. Frank Lusk was one of the directors. Lusk was the only post office in Wyoming on the entire proposed line and was named as the place of business.

Frank Lusk bought four parcels of land in addition to what he already held for the original townsite from which he selected six 40-acre tracts. The railway line went through the site from southeast to west on a curve on two north forties.

Frank Lusk continued in the railroad business helping establish not only his namesake community but, that of Douglas and Casper as well. In addition he traveled extensively about the country on railroad business. He continued to keep a small interest in cattle and ranches in Wyoming until 1907 when he settled in Montana permanently and purchased a bank in Missoula (1912) and was president of it for ten years.

In 1894 Lusk was married to Miss Louise B. Findley, a native of San Francisco and the daughter of Thomas Findley, a prominent citizen and former treasurer of the state of California.

Frank Lusk died at Missoula, August 6, 1930. Mrs. Louisa Lusk followed her husband in death four years later, October 26, 1934.

The Missoula newspaper account of Frank Lusk's death attest to the prominence that he had attained in Montana with the following headline, F.S. Lusk, Dies, Pioneer Had Played Leading Part in Building of the West" and at least for those of us in "Lusk" Wyoming, the name is a reminder of this man, a legacy not left by many.

These two photographs are believed to be the only ones of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Lusk that were ever published here. The photos were given to J. P. Costlow of Lusk by Mr. and Mrs. Irvine Bennett of Seattle, Wash. The pictures will soon be hung in the new Town of Lusk Hall.

Images & Attachments

Frank Lusk
Louise Lusk

Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Olinger, Ralph (05/20/1885 - 02/06/1965) View Record
Obituary Lusk, Cornelia (11/17/1832 - 04/22/1921) View Record
Obituary Stillman, Sarah (12/21/1811 - 03/13/1912) View Record
Obituary Lusk, Frank (04/27/1857 - 08/06/1930) View Record
Obituary Voorhees, Luke (11/29/1834 - 01/16/1925) View Record