Historical Details

Fullerton, Ernest E. Family History

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


by Edith Fullerton  Bone

Ernest E. Fullerton was born at Oskaloosa, Iowa Jan. 9, 1872 and moved to Atkinson Neb. with his parents in 1884. There he attended the local schools and joined the United Presbyterian Church, which then and in    later years was a very important part of his life.

He married a native girl of Nebraska, Maude Gray, who was born at David City April 23, 1880 and came to Atkinson as a small child with her parents. Ernest and Maude were married March 13, 1901 and began their lives together on a farm a few miles from town raising mostly corn. They had heard and read about the Christian College which had been founded in 1909 at Jireh, Wyo. by people from Indiana, and the free homestead land there. It appealed to them, and as they had seven children to raise and educate, Mr. Fullerton took his oldest son, Lysle nearly 13 years old, and went there with intentions of filing on a homestead.

He liked what he saw, but had trepidations, and wrote to his wife that he was coming home.

Leaving five children with relatives and friends, Mrs. Fullerton took the baby, Reba, boarded the train and went to Jireh which decided the issue--Mr. Fullerton filed on the homestead and they made plans to move. He returned to Atkinson, leased a railroad immigrant car which held the house­ hold goods, some horses, milk cows, pigs, chickens and his second son, 10-year-old Beryl to help with the livestock, and they arrived at Jireh in  April, 1914. The place was located 3 ]/2 miles north and west and it was quite a chore getting the car un­loaded and moved there. A barn was hastily constructed, which housed the family as well as the livestock. About this time, Ray and Roy Elder, nephews of Mr. Fullerton, arrived and filed on homesteads joining Fullertons on the north and west.  They lived with the family while they built their own shacks and a house which the family occupied by early fall of that year.  It was a very busy summer.

Some fencing had to be done, sod was broken, worked and planted and the necessary vegetable garden.

The children who were left behind were homesick, so Tom Elder, father of Roy and Ray, took them by train to their new home, discovering enroute that they all had whoop­ ing cough.  He was kept busy taking each one who started to "whoop" to the little enclosure­ at the rear of the train to give them cough medicine he had picked up on the way, and he worried that they'd be evicted from the train.   They arrived without incident and were very happy to see the rest of the family. They loved it there even when it rained and the roof leaked and everything had to be shifted around, which must have been a dilemma to those who had to make it work. There was no snow and beautiful wild flowers grew everywhere. The grass was very green and tall. Mr. Fullerton made the remark years later that he had never seen it that way again. He thought that he had found the Land of Canaan or Paradise.

The Fullertons adapted readily to their new home and soon became a part of a very thriving community.   The college had al­ready been built and a three-story girl's dormitory was built the year before they came.     There was a hotel, a bank, lumber yard,  grade school, post office, jewelry store, garage, grain mill and a large general store, which was known as The Jireh Farmer's Association.  Mr. Fullerton was one of the board members.   Everything a family could need or want could be found in this store.  It was a hang-out for the kids after school too, which must have been a headache for the manager, Mr. Seward. There was a state experimental farm located south of the railroad track which was the scene of many diversified field days and activities. The community was great for get-togethers and picnics.

The college building was the central part of the community, not only for educational purposes, but for every holiday, church, and spur-of-the-moment things which everyone attended using the trusty horse as a means of conveyance, or walking. An integral part too, was the depot which had a permanent agent.    The people were very dependent upon the incoming and outgoing trains, as they furnished much needed com­munication, a means of fast transportation, and the shipping of their produce. Every available person met these trains, bidding good bye to or welcoming someone, or just to be going.  It was almost like a picnic. The kids walked the rails to see who could walk the furthest without falling off and laid pennies, nails, or some-such to have flattened, and then scattered like rabbits when they heard the whistle blow and saw this great lumbering giant coming toward them belching smoke and shaking the ground. It was scary, but exciting.

Whether the fall of Jireh was attributed to financial difficulties of the college or discontent of the settlers is not known to this writer, but fall it did. Many left, but Fullertons and a few others stayed and continued to make a good life.     Most busines­ses closed, but the town had a post office and a grocery store for many years being housed together in the lumber yard building. The college building was used for a long time as usual, but without the school. The building could not he kept in repair, so it was torn down. Mr. Fullerton bought some of the lumber and built a more solid and compact barn (it even had a hay mow) as the original was fast deteriorating.    He leased the Campbell and Townsend homesteads, en­larging his holdings which in later years became part of the Sherman Ranch.

In 1920 another boy was born to Mr. and Mrs. Fullerton, but lived only a few days. This happened in May, and then in June they lost 14-year-old Donald who was dragged by run-away horses.  The other children went through grade school at Jireh and to high school at Manville.  They walked those 3 1/2 miles to and from school most of the time.     Sometimes they rode their horses or drove them to a buggy.  By the time the three older ones began high school, Mr. Fullerton had bought a Model T Ford, which they drove to Manville.  When the younger ones were ready for high school a bus picked them up at Jireh, but they still had to walk those miles.

In 1930 Mrs. Fullerton passed away not yet 50 years old.  By this time most of her children had married.  Reba was still single, and Lysle never married. Beryl married Edna Simms whose family had settled on Twenty Mile Creek North of Lost Springs. Together they bought the Sherman Ranch after tragedy had come to Mr. Sherman, when his wife and grandson perished in a fire at his home. Ivan married Clara Rice of Lusk, and after living south of Lance Creek a number of years they made their home at Riverton, Wyo. Hazel married a local man, Clarence Carpenter. They lived in Colorado several years, then came back to Wyoming 
and now live at Powell. Edith and Reba found their husbands in Holyoke, Colo. and brought them back here--Emmit Bone and Bill Summers respectively. Later Reba married Walter Elkin, a music teacher in the Lusk grade school.

After his wife died Mr. Fullerton sold the homestead and a few years later he followed her.  He was 69.

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Fullerton, Ernest (01/09/1871 - 02/10/1941) View Record
Obituary Fullerton, Lilly (04/23/1880 - 04/04/1930) View Record