Historical Details

Frosheiser Family History

Courtesy of Our Heritage: Niobrarans and Neighbors, 11/23/2020


by Marie Frosheiser Korhonen

The family of Alexander Frosheiser came to Wyoming in the spring of 1910. Mr. Frosheiser had filed for a homestead in Converse County, but by the time he proved up on the homestead, Niobrara County had come into being, so the land was located in the west end of Niobrara County, a mile and a half south of the Chicago-Northwestern railroad and Highway 26.   The land was  equal distance between Keeline and Lost Springs, but Keeline was the mailing address.

Mr. Frosheiser and his wife, Katherine Maria, nee Dreuth, were of German ancestry, born in Russia. Soon after they were mar­ried, they emigrated to America, settling in Lincoln, Nebr., where he worked for the Burlington Railroad.  Four of their nine children were born in Lincoln, namely; Conrad, Amelia, Marie and Alexander, Jr.

Mr. Frosheiser was not happy with his job. He wanted to work with land so when he heard that free land was available in Wyoming, he went after it.  With the help of some friends, he built a small frame house, a barn, and had a well drilled.

Then the family was ready to come too.   With the family on the train also came a cow and some chickens. Horses had been acquired in Wyoming. These were the beginning of a long successful life on the prairie for the Frosheisers.

In the spring the fields were plowed, first with a one-share walking plow pulled by one or two horses.  After the ground was well tilled, the grain seed was scattered by hand (broadcast) then covered by harrow­ing.  The corn and pieces of potato were dropped in the furrows by hand behind the plow. We children took part in this planting.  In the summer the corn and pota­toes were cultivated by hand with a hoe (hoed).    When the grain was ripe, it was cut with a scythe by father. Mother and children gathered the grain stalks and put them in bundles, tying them with some of the grain stalks. My first recollection of threshing the grain was horses tramping out the grain on a dirt surface that had been prepared by scraping off the grass and watering the ground and letting it dry, tamping it, wetting again, etc. so that the surface was hard for the threshing.  The chaff was removed from the grain by the wind. The cleanest of the grain was sack­ed to be ground later for flour.   Clean seed was also saved for next year's plant­ing.   The rest of the grain was used for feed.   In the years to follow, there were improvements in farming methods from a walking plow to a 2-share plow with a seat to ride on and pulled by four horses, then a Fordson tractor to replace horses and later a larger tractor.   Cultivators pulled by horses replaced the hoe and threshing was done by a threshing machine powered by a steam engine.    Father even had his own threshing machine in later years.

The dairy herd grew from one cow to 31 milking cows. The dairy products, eggs and chickens, and pork products were the stead­iest source of income the year round.     In­come from the crops wasn't always certain because of drought or hail.  There always seemed to be enough grain to feed the animals because father planted fall rye, (winter wheat wasn't the "in" wheat yet), spring grains (wheat, oats and barley), corn and potatoes.   A few crops always made it in spite of drought or hail.

The little one-room frame house about12 x 24 feet became two rooms when the woolen rug brought from Lincoln was hung on a wire across the room for a partition.

Next the house was plastered. Lath was put on the walls and a kind of adobe (a mixture of sod and straw) was put between the lath and siding, making it a well-insulated house against heat and cold. The rug was replaced by a wooden partition of a wains­ coat type of wood. Next, a homesteaders' shack covered with tar paper was moved and attached to the two-room house for a kitchen. Several years later the shack was removed and two bedrooms were added to the original house, making it a four-room house. In 1925, three more rooms were added, making it a house with three bedrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen, storeroom and large walk in closet.

The family kept growing too - really faster than the house grew. Five more children were born into the family - George, Fred, Elizabeth, Wilhelmina and Katherine.

Life on the homestead meant hard work and sacrifices. At first, there were no fences, so the cattle strayed. Before the children were old enough to get the cows, mother would go after them and milk them. To the north and east of us were dry creek gullies. When the cows grazed that far they could not be seen so mother would run in one direction and if she didn't find the cows would come back home, check on the child­ren and then go the other direction after the cows. After the harvesting was done in the fall in those early years, father would go to work in the Rosen coal mine, leaving mother to take care of the home, feed the livestock, milk the cows and care for the family.   He did come home for weekends. He had a 2-horse team and wagon, so mother and children were without transportation. Father worked in the mine only a couple of falls. With the livestock herds growing and the family growing, he gave up working away from home. The children's starting school influenced father's decision that he was needed at home in the fall. We lived three miles from school. If a storm came up during the day, father would hitch up the team of horses and bring us home. Sometimes the snow storms were quite severe. One day, we three older children were lost in one of them for quite awhile. We had come as far as the Jake Amend place with them, then set out on foot for our place which was about a half mile due north.  In the snow storm we lost our direction and walked north and west. Our parents weren't worried about us, since it was our custom to stay with our aunt and uncle, the Adam Backers, when the storms came up.  Because we had a ride with the Amends this after­ noon, we planned to go home. We wandered in the storm getting farther and farther away from the house.     It was one of those afternoon storms that came up suddenly, but by six o'clock in the evening had blown itself out. We had walked to the northwest corner of the Amend place. We knew we were lost because going due north, we should not have encountered a fenced in corner. We eventually recognized our gate which was in our corner adjoining the corner to which we had wandered. Since the sky was clearing, we found our way home. Had it been an all-night storm I could not have written this. In the years to follow we experienced many blizzards. The one that hurt us most was the blizzard in May, 1922. It started as a rain storm in the afternoon, turned to snow and snowed the next day and into the night. Livestock losses were very heavy. We lost some good Belgian draft horses and a herd of year-and two-year-old cattle.  They drifted with the storm into some breaks, were covered with the snow and smothered.

We attended the Prairie View School, Trestle School (that school house burned the winter of 1921 so the school was moved into the two room Bacon house) and later the Brown School which had been the Peterson School at one time, the Keeline school for some in the family and high school in Man­ville for eight of the nine children. The education in these schools helped our family to become teachers, mechanics, businessmen, a nurse, secretaries and a doctor of plant pathology.

My parents professed the Lutheran faith.The first Lutheran Missionary to have worship services in our community was Rev. Hilgendorf from Cheyenne, followed by Rev. P. Dannenfeldt.   In 1911 the Rev. Martin Leimer became our resident pastor. He traveled about on horseback going as far as Jay Em, where he served a small congre­gation of Lutherans that included the Lenz families.    Our services were held in the various school houses in the community.

The first house of worship for the Immanuel Lutheran Congregation was the remodeled creamery building in Keeline, used from the early thirties until 1951, when the congregation merged with St. Pauls Lutheran Church in Lusk.

Sunday was the only day when the people ceased from their labors. We always went to Sunday School and church in the morning.

After church we either had friends in for the noon meal (dinner to us) or we were in­vited to friends' homes.  The adults would visit and the children played games.  Base­ball was a favorite sport as we grew older. Visiting the neighbors in the evening was always a pleasure. When we became teen­agers we enjoyed playing cards with the neighboring young ones.  We played pitch, five hundred, rummy, hearts, and flinch. My father bought a piano when I was nine years old, so we often gathered around the piano and sang.

The first contact our homestead family had with a doctor was with Dr. Christensen of Manville. One washday I fell into a tub of clothes over which mother had poured scalding water.  I don't know just how they got word to the doctor, 14 miles away, no phones yet in our neighborhood, but after a time he did arrive in his horse-drawn buggy with a top - a real nice looking buggy. He dressed the burned arm and side and a week or so later came again, peeled off the dressing leaving the burned places as bare and red looking as beefsteak, but heal they did.  The burn payed off for me, be­ cause from Mrs. Runser I got a box of cracker jacks and from the Heine's I got two nickels.   It was quite a privilege to be singled out of all the children in our family and receive gifts.    Dr. Christensen also attended mother when Minnie was born. Mrs. Crabb, a midwife, delivered our first Wyoming babies, George and Fred.  Dr. Murphy, who had his practice in Keeline un­til about 1920, delivered Elizabeth.

In 1919, we had our first automobile. It was a Baby Grand Chevrolet - one of the first cars with a V-8 engine. Since there were now nine in the family we needed a larger car.  We had it less than two years when our garage burned with the car and grain binder plus many of father's tools. It was back to transportation in the spring wagon until 1925 when father bought a Maxwell.

Over the years we had many good things and also the droughts, hailstorms, the garage fire, run-aways, illnesses, but we always overcame the disasters and looked for the better things to come. My parents, the Alex Frosheisers, lived on their land until they were in their very late sixties when they sold the land and retired in Lusk.

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Frosheiser, Katharina (01/11/1891 - 06/29/1951) View Record
Obituary Frosheiser, Alexander (11/26/1879 - 08/17/1973) View Record