Historical Details

Arnold, Edward Martin Personal History

Courtesy of Our Heritage: Niobrarans and Neighbors, 11/10/2020


December 10, 1862 - January 20, 1960

by Ethel Arnold Gibson

Edward M. Arnold was born Dec. 10, 1862 in Kansas City, Mo., on the corner of 5th and Main where today stands Jones Department Store, one of Kansas City's largest.   The location then was his Aunt Mary Hickey Maloney's corn field where her farmhouse stood. His mother Margaret Hickey, came from Nana, Ireland: his father was a Scotchman from Memphis, Tenn. He had one sister Ellen, Mrs. John Pfister, Sr., of Niobrara County.   After the Civil War his father died, times grew hard in Kansas City, and his mother moved her family to Junction City, Kan., to be near "Aunt Mary " who by this time lived on a farm nearby.

It was here that young Ed worked on the farm and went to school until he was 17.

While Ed was still in school his pal Bill McChuskey returned from a brief stay in Wyoming. He fired Ed's adventuresome spirit with tales of cowboys and driving herds of cattle. He asked Ed to return with him, so Ed took his small savings and without telling anyone he departed with Billy by train for Denver, then a city of about 12,000, where he wrote his mother. The boys arrived in Cheyenne, a city of about 2,500, by stagecoach March 8, 1879, then on to the Rawhide Buttes, where they started their walk across the plains for 30 miles to a cattle ranch owned by the Western Livestock Company, a big outfit east of Node. Billy and Ed owned no horses, so Fred Reddington, the boss, gave them a job helping the cook and wrangling horses for the cowboys.    Ed was disappointed and home­ sick but decided to stick it out. 

When fall came their job finished. Reddington saw the plight of Ed and Billy. The first wire fence was being built in Northern Wyoming, so he sent the boys to the end of Indian Creek to get out dry logs for fence posts.  The boys made $72 each in 18 days, which was more than they could make in seven months in Kansas. They dug post holes at $70 a month until the ground froze, then they strung wire. In the spring they were sent out on the round- up and that winter they cooked for the outfit. Ed and Billy were good enough cooks for Reddington to ask them to cook for the round up the following spring, but the boys had different ideas and moved over to another outfit, the LZ on the Running Water, where they rode the round- up, real cowboys again.

Ed saved his money and sent it to his Aunt Mary, who bought cows for him and fed them on her farm. She taught him pride in thrift and ownership for which he was forever grateful. He had not seen his mother for three years so he and Billy decided to ride to Kansas on horseback for a visit.

The trip took 17 days with good horses. The weather was warm and the prairies were beautiful in the fall. It was a trip they never forgot. Billy married and never re­turned to Wyoming.  Ed remained through the winter and got a job driving the Army hack for the Settlers Store between Ft. Riley and Junction City.  He had a good time that winter and was relieved to see his mother happily married to a widower with two daughters.  A son was born to this marriage, Ed's half-brother Frank Languine.His sister Ella had also married John Pfister who decided to return with Ed in the spring to look over Wyoming. He liked what he saw and another Kansas farmer moved to Wyoming locating seven miles east of Lusk. Together Pfister and Arnold had about 50 cows, which, with John's farm equipment, took two railroad cars. They made the trip from Cheyenne where they unloaded, Ella driving one wagon and John another.   Arnold drove the cattle on horseback. It was a hot trip in mid-July, 1884, with the twins, Maggie and Tine, and Jane and John the baby. It took 10 days. John homesteaded seven miles southwest of Lusk and Ed was just below him on the Woods Place.

In January, 1884, Arnold had married Emma Reynolds, a native of Junction City. Her brother Billy Reynolds, was a pioneer a few miles south of Lusk and the three men formed a partnership for a short time using the brand RAP.    Arnold's son Tom and daugh­ter Ella were born on the Woods Place.

Arnold built a house and barn there and went twice a year to Cheyenne by horse and wagon for supplies. They raised a garden, had 17 milk cows and plenty of beef and wild game, but life wasn't easy.

In the summer of 1885, Pfister and Arnold put up tons of hay on the Paige Flats south of Manville.  Arnold wrote, "The future generations will never know what hardship is compared with the winter of 1886 and 1887. The storms started early in November and increased in severity through the spring. There were no fences and our cattle drifted with the range cattle as the winds and snow blew.  What few cattle survived came down from the hills onto the bare flats and were driven by the spring blizzards into the draws for shelter and perished. We could hear their hooves going by in the crunching ice, then hear them coming back as the wind changed. They made for the draws for protection and when the blizzard was over, we could see their horns and heads sticking out of the frozen snow and ice, dead.  The cattlemen failed to gather 10 percent of their herds in the spring.  It was a discouraging setback for all.

The spring of 1887 saw the railroad come through this part of this country.  The contractors, Kirkpatrick Brothers and Col­lins, needed hay for their mules.  There was none to be had except the hay on Paige Flats. Arnold met with Frank Lusk and a price of $20 per ton was decided upon, in­credible as it seemed. That substantial figure was what catapulted Arnold and Pfister back into the cattle business in quite a big way by mid-1887. They bought cows at eight dollars per head from a man who came from Kansas and things looked brighter. Their partnership was a good one and lasted about six years.

In 1889 Arnold was forced into a new location, as loco weed took over his land. He moved to the Clifton Place, south of Lusk using his own brand (E open A). It was here his marriage ended, leaving him with Tom and Ella to raise alone. They attended the country schools and the Man­ville school.

On Jan. 10, 1898, he married Anna Bergren who came from Gifle, Sweden, in 1867. They first located in Bishops Hill, Ill. then moved to Lusk in 1886 where they engaged in ranching on homesteads eight miles east of Lusk known as the Bergren Place to the north of the Lind Place. The three women were sisters. Arnold took her to his home southeast of Lusk, now the Johnson Sisters Ranch. Homesteaders started moving in and fences restricted the roaming of the range cattle for feed. About 1900 Arnold moved up on the Cheyenne River where he engaged in a business new to the range, sheep raising. He never liked sheep, but they made money fast.  He spent about six years in the sheep business It was hard work, but it accomplished what it promised. It was while the Arnolds were on the Cheyenne River that Ethel and Lil­lian were born. Indian scares were not uncommon up north and the neighbors on the River formed a close friendship for companionship and for safety.  There was the Jim Spencer family, the Hoggs, Jim Hammels and the Hansons.  It became harder and harder to trail the sheep to market as fences went up, so Arnold sold his sheep to Blain of Douglas, just before the panic of 1907, and moved his family to Lusk where he built the beautiful home just south of the Ranger Hotel now owned by Roy Chamber­lain. The old Frank Lusk home, now a mortuary, is in the same block.

Actually Mr. Arnold never retired from the cattle business to the time of his death. It is well remembered that he always called Wyoming "God's Country" and here he offered financial assistance to serious young ranchers who valued his years of experience with livestock and his faith and encouragement through good times and bad.

He was a good judge of men as well as live­ stock and he helped them build up a fine breed of cattle. He dealt with them with deep respect because they were fine men who deserved it. They loved and respected him also, and many expressed their grief at his death to his family saying they felt they had lost a father.  He was a man of courage and nerves of steel in times of trouble but tender-hearted and comforting in sadness and disappointment. He was on the Town Council and School Board for many years. His name is on the cornerstone of the first High School in Lusk, now the Elk's Club.

He helped build the first Church in Lusk by hauling lumber, for he had no money. He contributed to every church built there­ after including his own St. Leo's Catholic Church.   It was written that he was appoint­ed receiver of all four banks in the County which went under after the Oil Boom in the 1920's and was greatly instrumental in bringing the town and County back to nor­malcy after that calamity.  His confidence in "God's Country" and his steel nerves seem to account for his longevity.  He died Jan. 20, 1960 at the age of 98 and is buried in the Lusk cemetery.

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Arnold, Edward (12/09/1862 - 01/20/1960) View Record
Historical Arnold House View Record
Historical From a Pioneer Album - Ed Arnold View Record