Historical Details

Fancher Family History

Courtesy of Our Heritage: Niobrarans and Neighbors, 11/20/2020


by Mrs. Joe Vaughn

Harlan P. Fancher was born in Wyoming, N.Y in 1872, the son of Charles and Frances Fancher. After his mother's death he came, when a young boy, in 1886 with an immigrant wagon heading west to Lander, Wyo., while Wyoming was still known as the Territory of Wyoming, and made his home with his Uncle Frank and Aunt Alice Lowe, who were early day settlers at Lander.

Josephine Catherine Latman was born in Russell County, Kan. in 1878 and in 1879 moved to Burlington, Iowa. They resided there until 1892 when she came, with her parents, one brother and one sister in a covered wagon westward, following the Oregon Trail to Lander.  Here she met and married Harlan P. Fancher on May 27, 1896.

Mr. Fancher was at that time serving as deputy sheriff at Lander. At one time he was called on to cut down and help bury the woman known as Cattle Kate, and a rancher by the name of Avery, who had been hanged for cattle rustling. They were buried on the Sweetwater. He became a friend of Chief Washakie of the Shoshone Indian Tribe and learned to master some of the Indian language.  Many times in later years he spoke of Chief Washakie.

The following year of 1897, the Fanchers emigrated east by covered wagon, looking for homestead land. Mr. Fancher and Will Latman drove 17 head of cattle and some horses, and Mrs. Fancher drove the wagon loaded with their personal belongings and a small amount of furniture. They arrived at a spot 21 miles east of Lusk, Wyo. later known as Pleasant Ridge, on May 28, 1897.

Here the land seemed very fruitful with tall grass for livestock available and was open for homesteading. Here Mr. Fancher took up a homestead and they built a small two room house, some livestock sheds and had a deep water well drilled.   Later they "proved up" on this homestead property and in 1910, bought the Charlie Thomas home­ stead, which joined their land on the west. There they built a new house and ranch buildings.  On this property they resided the rest of their lives.

Dry land farming and cattle were their means of support for many years and in lat­er years they ran sheep.

Mrs. Fancher in early years worked as a dressmaker, found time for extensive gar­dening, canning, raising chickens and many other things, as well as helping sick neigh­bors and serving as a mid-wife on many oc­casions.

Mrs. Fancher was a member of the Rebecca Lodge and Mr. Fancher was a charter member of the Woodman of the World Lodge and a member of Lusk Odd Fellows Lodge. He served for many years on the school board.

There were many hardships for the early prairie pioneers. Many swirling snow storms leaving 10-foot drifts around places closed all roads in and out. Roads leading into the town were mostly wagon trails. Plowing was done by horse power and grain and hay stacked with a "pitch fork" by hand. The grain was hauled by wagons to the small towns of Van Tassell or Node, Wyo. where it was shipped by rail to the east.

Homesteaders were required to "break up" a certain amount of their land and also to live on it for a period of time before being able to "prove up" on it.

The early day walking plow was guided by hand and two horses furnished the power.  The plow was hard to handle in the virgin sod of the prairie.   By 1928 the Fordson tractor had revolutionized farming and was fast crowding out the horses.

The original homestead and other land accumulated by the Fanchers is now owned and operated by their son, Frank W. Fancher, and his wife Viola. Sheep and cattle ranching is still their means of support.

Mrs. Fancher took great pride in the small Pleasant Ridge Pioneer cemetery where many of her friends and neighbors and also her children were laid to rest. She worked many hours in the improvement and beautifi­cation of the cemetery.   When she passed away in 1961, friends and neighbors had a memorial gate erected over the entrance to the cemetery in the memory of her efforts there.

Mr. and Mrs. Fancher were the parents of ten children, five dying in infancy and five still living. Those living include Florence F. Vaughn of Lusk; Ila K. Paulson of Denver, Colo.; Harry C. Fancher of Scappoose, Ore.; Frank W. Fancher of Lusk; and Floyd E. Fancher of Seattle, Wash.

Also there were 19 grandchildren and a host of great grandchildren. As we write this biography in memory of our beloved Pioneer parents it seems that traditions will always live to say:

"Hold High the Torch

You did not light its glow,

T'was given you by other hands, you know T'is yours to keep it burning bright."

(Florence F. Vaughn died Dec. 4, 1974.)

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Fancher, Harlan (11/30/1903 - 01/19/1905) View Record
Obituary Fancher, Catherine (12/09/1878 - 08/13/1961) View Record
Obituary Fancher, Harlan (11/30/1871 - 12/27/1953) View Record