History of Dewitt, Dean B. and Winifred Leach in Lusk, Wyoming
This Leach family history was compiled and given to the library by Terry Connelly, she is still confirming the dates the family was in Lusk.
Dewitt was the son of A.J. (Adonoram) Leach who helped settle the Oakdale area of Nebraska. He wrote a book Early Day Stories which is still printed to this day and used as reference to the history of that time and place. Adonoram’s father was Dewitt Leach and the Indian agent for the Michigan appointed by Abraham Lincoln.
At some point, for reasons we would like to know, but do not, Dewitt and his son Dean moved from Neligh, Neb. Where his father, A. J. had settled, to Lusk, Wyoming. Also, at some point his brother, Roy, who had gone to school and became a successful dentist “suddenly left his successful practice” to move there also. His wife, Winifred Connelly–Leach and his three remaining boys also moved to Lusk with him. Winifred was also pregnant at the time with their fifth child. They had been married five years at that time. Winnie had five babies in five years. The first boy, Clarence had died when only 4 mo. old.
Winifred’s brother, George was apparently living with them in Lusk also as he is listed on the census there in 1920.
What we do know is that Winifred, Roy and someone listed as Ray (may have been a hired hand) contracted the flu. This was during the Great Flu Epidemic which killed thousands. The history I have as reported by one of the Connelly family is that another brother, Frank sent for a doctor for his sister, but was told she was “too far gone.” Roy and Ray(?? were put in the hospital. Frank called a cousin who was a nurse to come take care of her, the cousin said she would come on the next train. Frank had to call back shortly after to tell her not to come as Winifred and the new born baby had already died. Frank had the baby baptized and brought them both back to Tilden to be buried. Winifred died on Feb. 11 1920. Roy Leach left two of his boys, Hugh my Uncle, age 2 and my father, Robert, age 1 with his father Dewitt and left to set up a dental practice in Venice, Calif. With his older son Kenny age 4.
We also know because there are records that Dean bought a piece of land along Silver Springs Road to homestead on Feb. 27th 1920. This seems strange as it would have been only a few months after Winifred died there. This is one of mystery’s I am hoping to solve. It could also be that Dean homesteaded the land in 1900 as both are listed on the deed.
In any case what appears to have happened in those years according to the records is that Dean and Dewitt passed the land between them until in 1922 they sold the land to a S.E. Morton. My thought on this is that they were very poor and struggling and as taxes or mortgage came due they would pass it back and forth in an attempt to keep the land until they finally just had to let it go. I know little from my father about this time except that he always had a deep memory of the depression and being poor and it along with other parts of his past haunted him. He used to tell me exciting stories though of the times on the farm and spoke of the cowboys and sheep men and the trails they endured.
Dad was a great story teller and always loved the outdoors. I am sure it came from his time in Wyoming. He lived with his Grandfather Dewitt and his wife Nettie until he was around 13 I believe. He is listed with Dewitt Leach in San Fernando Valley in 1930.
Dean meanwhile seems to have been the Post Master in Lusk for a time before moving back to Tilden, Neb. I know there are stories about Dean in the newspaper of that time and look forward to researching those more and hopefully discovering more about him and the others of my family while they lived in Lusk.
At least one of the articles that I have read listed Dewitt, “Dean’s father as having died on the farm." We know that is not the case and that he and his wife moved with my father and his brother Hugh to the L. A. San Fernando Valley.
There are many mysteries about this period in their life’s that I am hoping to uncover yet. It does seem though that while the Leach’s time in Lusk was difficult, in spite of that it was remembered with fondness and a love for the outdoors that never left my father.