Historical Details

Burkett, Charles Family History

Courtesy of Our Heritage: Niobrarans and Neighbors, 11/09/2020


by Imo Burkett Alvord

My father, Charles Hiram Burkett, better known as Charley Burkett, was the son of Ephraim and Sarah (Hartman} Burkett. He was born July 27, 1858 at Brookville, Ind., and died on his ranch near Manville, May 7, 1933.

My mother, Ida (Eliza) Burkett, was the daughter of Jacob K. and Ann (Vanaman) Foote.    She was born Dec. 25, 1861 at Wheeling, W. Va. and died in Douglas, Wyo.

Sept. 10, 1954.  Dad and mother were married in Peoria, Ill. Oct. 26, 1878, and are buried in Dellview Cemetery in Manville, Wyo.

Charley Burkett came to Manville, Wyo. from Danvers, Ill. early in the year of 1888 for his health. He found that the natural resources of pure air and good water in the Manville area were beneficial to his health, so on April 28, 1888 he filed for homestead rights on 160 acres of land three miles northwest of Manville.

He proved up and received title on the homestead on the 17th day of June 1895. This title was also referred to as a 'patent'.

After filing on the land, he returned to Illinois and brought his family, consisting of his wife, Ida, 27, and three daughters - Della, 9; Pearl, 4, and Imo, 10 months, to Wyoming. With us came our furniture, a team of young horses - a blue roan mare Nellie and bay gelding Billie. The transportation was a combination passenger and freight train.   Nellie was afraid of trains and Billie feared hogs.

Our neighbors were mother's sister and her husband, the Joe Bright’s, who also came from Illinois and lived a mile or two east of us.    The Kellars, an elderly couple, lived a mile southeast. The Peter Davins also lived south of our place.  Sam Bennett, wife and son Billie, were west of us, and Henry Connors and son Mike were north of our cabin.  The William Pinkerton family were settled east of our homestead and due north of town.

The town of Lusk was founded in 1886. The Chicago and Northwestern Railroad track was laid as far as Lusk and Manville in 1886, and on to Glenrock in 1887 and to Casper in 1888.

My father was ill and unable to work or make improvements on the homestead. It was my mother who shouldered the burden of carrying on. She and a neighbor lady, Mrs. Sam Bennett, took their teams north to the timber, approximately seven or eight miles from the homestead, and hauled the logs for the cabin.  They used their teams to skid the logs up runners onto the running gears of the wagon. Other neighbors helped in building the cabin that consisted of one room. A ladder went to the attic where we children slept.  Later a lean-to kitchen was added, which was two steps lower and had a dirt floor.  The ridge-log for the cabin was so large that Addison Spaugh kept it as a souvenir after he purchased the homestead from my father. My mother did the farming with a walking plow, as powered machinery was unheard of. So, she stumbled along trying to plow a straight furrow in the rich soil - and she did a good job of it.  Later mother went to Lusk and cooked in the Hotel.   She also cooked in Douglas to bring in money until Dad was able to take over.

My father played the violin and often, on winter nights, we would put out the lamp, open the window and Dad would play. The music would attract the rabbits, and by moonlight we could see them  on the snow­ drifts close to the cabin, going through didos very much like an old-time quadrille.

We were making a trip to Lusk to see mother when Nellie became frightened of the train and she ran away - throwing me onto the dashboard and cutting my right eyebrow. I was quite young but I remember mother standing me on a cook table, crying and bathing my face.

During that time my sister, Pearl, and I had scarlet fever. No doctor was available. I recovered without ill effects, but Pearl suffered a kidney ailment which caused edema.  Mother, with the assistance of Mrs. Sam Bennett, sweated the fluid from Pearl by wrapping her in sheets rung out of hot water.    Pearl's eyes were swelled shut but as the edema subsided, she was able to open them, but normal kidney function was never completely restored.

A little school house was built a short distance to the southeast of us and we three girls attended school there. Taught by Henry Connors, who lived with his son, Mike, in a dugout north of our place, we had school three months a year.  Mike was also a pupil.

Final proof on the homestead land was made Feb. 16, 1895. It was later sold to Addison Spaugh.  By this time Della was married to Fred Smith and was living north of Lusk.   Mother, Pearl, and I left for a visit to Illinois and Missouri.   My father later drove through in a covered wagon and joined us in Missouri.   

We lived in Lowry City, Mo. for a year and a half, then  returned to Manville by covered wagon. We arrived with the team and a race horse named 'Black Diamond', a wagon and $100.00. Black Diamond won several mile races. My father bought 100 head of sheep at a $1 per head and went out to herd sheep for William McReynolds and ran our sheep with the McReynolds band.

We moved into a house and mother gathered up a few pieces of furniture from friends - such as a four-hole cook stove with one leg missing - so we supported the stove with bricks in lieu of the missing leg. The hearth was broken and made a very sharp corner for us to avoid if we could. Mother took in boarders and did laundry.  While living in this house, I was nine years old and Pearl was twelve.

Mother had typhoid fever and was five months pregnant. She was very ill and lost the baby. There was no doctor, but a friend who was a druggist and lived near Hat Creek, rode over on horseback and told us what to do.  The neighbors and aunt, Mrs. Bright, would bathe her and change the bed linen.

My father never had his clothes off for three weeks - he slept on the floor by her bed and worked all day.  After seven weeks mother began to improve, but had to be taught to walk.

Later, accompanied by Jack Bowen and wife, we went to Thermopolis, by covered wagon in hopes the baths in the mineral water would benefit mother. The old town of Thermopolis was six miles downriver from where it is now located and consisted of a few buildings made of logs, such as the post office, a store and saloon. The new town was started at its present site and consisted of nothing but tents - not a single building in the "town". The saloon and dance hall were in a large tent. We were ferried across the river and pitched our tents there to get away from the saloon element. The bathtubs were hewed from rock and the spring water stood in pools with ditches running into the tubs.  When the tubs were full rocks which fitted into the ditches were put in place and the water then went around the bath house and into the river. The hot water came into the bath house and tubs directly, but the cold water was cooled in the pools. We then returned to Manville as mother was much improved in health.

By 1898 our sheep had grown to be too numerous to run with the McReynolds band, so they were brought to Manville and corral­ ed in the stockyards. Each morning Pearl and I trailed the sheep out west of town about a mile and a half where there was open range. We would herd them all day and corral them again after sundown. Pearl married Harry Cox Dec. 24, 1900 and I herded alone for two years, including one winter.

In July 1899 by father acquired 400 acres from Harry L. Higby.  This land was a little over a mile northwest of Manville.

We moved there and I continued herding sheep four summers and a winter, then my father sold the band of sheep.

Dad deeded the land to mother in 1923 and she sold it to James R. Kaper in 1942. After we purchased the land and buildings from Higby, dad built a log house up on the hill, which he later sided the outside and lath and plastered the inside. We had fine well water so trees and garden did well.

Dad also built a barn, corrals, garage, milk house and cave.

About 1917 they moved into town and rented the farm out. In Manville they owned the hotel and bar, pool hall, drug store and dad was. a director in the bank. They had a large house that was built by Tom Blair.

Dad made money by investments in the Lance  Creek Oil Field, but later lost it through bad loans and was forced to return to the Higby place where he passed away May 7, 1933.  Mother moved into Manville and lived in a house she owned up on the hill near the city water tank.  She later rented out the house and then sold it to Marion and Louise Rasmusen and moved to Douglas to be near me, as Pearl lived in Omaha and Della in Chicago. Pearl and Della are gone now and mother passed away Sept. 10, 1954.

I am the last of the Burketts.

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Burkett, Charles (07/27/1858 - 05/07/1933) View Record
Obituary Burkett, Ida (12/25/1860 - 09/10/1954) View Record