Historical Details

Anderson, Gaylord and Family

Courtesy of Our Heritage: Niobrarans and Neighbors, 12/08/2020


The Anderson family members, of which were early settlers of what is now Niobrara County, Wyo. came originally from the island of Rennesty, Norway, which was located a short distance from the Port of Stavanger.

As was common with other inhabitants of the island, they owned a small farm and also en­gaged in fishing during part of the year, joining with other members of the family to man one or more of the small fishing vessels belonging to the island.  The family name in Norway was Sorbo, or Serby in English, taken from the small community of that name at the North end of the- island.

During the years immediately preceding the Civil War in America, a great enthusiasm for the United States swept Norway, and many families emigrated to the new world, one group forming a settlement in the Fox River Valley in LaSalle County, Ill. about 25 miles west of Joliet.  It was to this location that the widow, Gunvor Johannesdatter Sorbo brought her family of six sons and one daughter in 1858, after losing her husband, Andreas Sorbo on a fishing trip a short time earlier.    Her oldest daughter, Karina, had preceded her to this location a year earlier with her husband and infant daughter.

The oldest son of Gunvor Serby, Johannes, who was 20 years of age when coming to America followed the Norwegian custom of the oldest son of the family by taking his father's given name with the suffix son or sen as a middle name.  He dropped the family name of Sorbo (Serby) as no longer applicable in America but kept the initial resulting in his American name of John S. Anderson, by which he was known the rest of his life. To avoid a confusion of surnames in the country his brothers also adopted the name of Anderson and kept Serby as a middle name.  This is the origin of the Anderson family name in this country.

Relatives of the family in Norway are the Sorbo and Hoverstens of which Gunvor Serby was a member. A large number of Hoverstens also emigated to America and form the larger part of the Anderson - Hoversten family group in this country.

After his arrival in Illinois in 1858, John Anderson lived and worked in and near La Salle County for a number of years. He  married Engebor Askevold in 1863. To the union three daughters and a son were born. They were Gurine, born in 1864, Matilda in 1866, Josephine in 1868 and Andrew in 1870. In 1871 the family, together with a number of friends and relatives, moved to Hamilton County, Iowa where good farm land could be bought at more reasonable prices than in Ill. In 1877 his wife died and the following year he married Anna Martha West. Two girls and a boy were born to this marriage. They were Mary, born in 1877, and Thomas in 1884. She died in 1885.

In 1887 the family, except for the younger children, joined an immigrant train heading for the Rocky Mountain area.    After crossing most of Nebraska the main body of the train turned south but the Andersons and T.L. Thompson families continued on west into what is now Niobrara County, Wyo.   The reason for them leaving the group and coming to Lusk was the presence of wood for housing and fences.

Sod houses were necessary in other areas of the western plains where trees did not grow before being planted by the settler.  Both families filed on homesteads northeast of Lusk.

Four years later, in 1891, the John Andersons returned to Hamilton County, Iowa and the father, one of the girls, Matilda, and the youngest boy, Thomas, remained there.

Wyoming had a strong appeal to the other children, all of whom returned to Lusk and lived in this community at one time or another. The first to return was the oldest son, Andrew.    He worked for a number of ranches in the area before filing on a home­ stead on Youngwoman Creek about 20 miles north of Lusk and which is now the home of his son, Gaylord Anderson. In 1904 he married Lottie Lehmes of Sherman, Wyo., a native of Wyoming who came to Lusk as a school teacher. Their children were Stephan and Gaylord Anderson, both of whom were born on the ranch and educated in the local schools and Lusk High school.

One of the older girls, Josephine, had become acquainted with a young local rancher, O.J. (Red) Hanson, during the time the family was in Wyoming and kept in correspondence with him after their return to Iowa. In January, 1892, he made a trip to Iowa and brought her back to Lusk as his bride.They had a family of 3 boys and 4 girls most of whom were born in Wyoming.  One of the girls, Mabel, and her husband, Henry Satre, who owned the Snyder Building, were residents of Lusk for a time during the 1930's.  Other members of the family live in Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota.

The oldest daughter of John Anderson, Gurine, married Jonas Olson and lives in Iowa where her family was born. She came later, as a widow, to Wyoming with her three sons, Newton, Chester and William and her daughter Ruth and took up a homestead on Old Woman Creek, north of Lusk.   She later moved to Lusk and lived there a number of years before moving to California.  The younger children attended the Lusk schools and the oldest son, Newt Olson was associated with the A.P. Stewart Lumber Co. in Wyoming and Colorado.

Mary Anderson came west to visit her sister and brother and stayed to take up a homestead of her own She married Otis Bump in 1907 and lived in or near Lusk for the rest of her life, dying there in 1964.  The Bumps had three children, Meda, Emma and Robert, all of whom were educated in the Node and Lusk schools.

The youngest sister, Julia, also came west and spent a number of years in Wyoming and South Dakota before returning to Iowa where she married Eric Hove. She died there in July, 1971 at the age of 90.

The youngest son, Thomas, remained in Iowa and died there at the age of 23.

Matilda Anderson married William Olson in Iowa and raised a family of five girls and two boys.  While most of them remained in Iowa, the oldest daughter, Belle, married Walter Bump and lived in Niobrara County for a number of years before moving to Oklahoma.

Since our part of the county was settled at approximately the same time, there were no schools in existence until the children of our family and our neighbors reached school age.

The first school in the community was held in an abandoned homestead building on Young Woman Creek slightly below the Ed Barber ranch, during the summer and fall of 1913.   The teacher was Mrs. Edward Colgan and the pupils included three Hubbard children, Percy, Helen and Vilna, two Clouse children, Howard and Marie, Dan Hansen and Stephan Anderson.   The school started in early July and continued to Thanks­ giving, at which time it transferred to the bunkhouse on the Joe Hubbard ranch further west on Young Woman Creek. At this time Pat Costlow became the teacher. Later in spring the school moved to the log bunkhouse on the Anderson ranch, the school year coming to an end in a community picnic.

During the summer of 1914 a schoolhouse was built about one mile north of the Frank Hanson ranch house. It was of frame construction and painted white. This school was later known as the Buena Vista school and became the second standardized school in the county on April 21, 1921.  The first teacher was Mildred Means and the pupils were the three Freeman children, Clara, Ray and Bertha, Dan and Sadie Hanson and Stephan Anderson. Two years later Donald Olinger and Gaylord Anderson also joined the school. The school remained in this location until this group of pupils had completed the 8th grade and gone on to Lusk to complete high school after. which it was moved to a new location near Highway 85.

The teachers from 1914 to 1924 are as follows:


Mildred Means


Helen McFarlane


Miss Carstairs, Martha Pfister,



Margaret Dorsey


Margaret Dorsey


Izetta Renswold


Izella Renswold


Anna C. Turner


Gudrun Kittlesby

The only post office in the community during the early 1900's was at Hat Creek. The postmaster was Andrew Faulkner.  He also operated a general store and raised fine Hereford cattle. The mail was brought out from Lusk in bulk and distributed at Hat Creek into pigeon holes for those who lived close to the store and into cloth mailsacks for delivery to the mailboxes further along the route, which extended on north to Warren.

When the oil boom brought a large influx of homesteaders further north and west of Hat Creek, a new post office was established at Joe Hubbard ranch house with Mrs. Hubbard as postmistress in the early part of 1918.

Since their ranch was located on Young Woman Creek the name selected by the Postal Department for the new post office was Young Woman, Wyo. When a new townsite of the same name was organized a short distance north of the Hubbard ranch on the Lance Creek road a store was built there in the summer of 1919 by Willard Magoon and the post office was transferred to that location and he became postmaster. After this store burned in the spring of 1920, Mrs. Hubbard resumed as postmistress and the office was returned to the Hubbard ranch.  After they moved away from the   ranch the post office was operated for a time by Mrs. Robert Browning at the Browning home. Our family got its mail through Hat Creek until the Young Woman post office was established and again after its discontinuance and so had several changes in address while living at the same location the entire time.

Telephone service was established at an early date, 1906 or earlier.  An iron wire, single conductor "party line" ran north from Lusk, through the brakes near Lee Miller's place down Old Woman Creek, past the Petz, William and Jim Bonsell and Goddard ranches and terminated at the Albert Rochelle place. Branches of the main line provided telephone service to the George Hargrove, Jacob Mill, Ed Cook and Frank Hanson places as well.  The Rochelle ranch was also served by a similar line out of Newcastle and the two lines were sometimes joined so that on occasion it was possible to telephone into Newcastle from our line.  This line, known as the 5-F line for purposes of identification, was user-owned and maintained and paid switching charges to the Lusk exchange for connections to other telephones.   Within the party line system, each subscriber had a distinctive coded ring, with a single long ring being the call for the operator at central".   In bad weather it was sometimes necessary to relay the rings one or more times to reach central or one of the more remote locations.  The telephone was even more important than the mail service in providing daily news and communication within the community.   Privacy of conversa­tion was unheard of and "listening in" was practiced by all.  The telephones them­ selves were of the dry battery, hand cranked magnetic type now much in demand as antiques. However, they were very reliable and served their function until quite recent times when they were replaced by more modern equipment.

The first habitation on the Anderson ranch was a dug-out cellar similar to a basement for a house.   It was below ground, with a dirt roof slightly above ground level supported by logs and wooden boards. This was used for shelter during the time the first house was being constructed and later was used as a cellar for storage of food.

The first house was a two-room log structure with a dirt roof of the same con­struction as other ranches in the neighbor­hood. The floor was of locally sawn rough lumber with many knot holes.  These houses were warm in  the winter and cool in the summer due to their thick walls and dirt roof and required little maintenance other than chinking the cracks between the logs with mortar and occasionally replacing the dirt lost from the roof by rain.

In 1910 a two-story frame house was built and in 1912 a leanto kitchen was added. This is the same house presently in use on the Anderson ranch. Illumination was originally by kerosene lamps, then around 1914, by gasoline and now by electricity.

Home entertainment was provided at first by Edison phonograph with its cylindrical records, then by radio and presently by television.

Because of the threat of bad roads and storms in the winter it was our custom to provide a six months' supply of essential groceries in the fall so that it would not be necessary to make trips to town for food if the weather was unfavorable.   Flour and sugar were bought in 50 pound · sacks, canned goods by the case, tea, coffee, rice and beans in quantity.   These dry groceries were kept in the house while the winter's supply of potatoes, onions and other root vegetables were stores in the cellar together with the home canned fruit and vegetables.

In winter we would usually butcher a beef and sometimes one or more hogs to pro­vide meat during cold weather. Home cured hams and bacons lasted into spring or summer. We had our own chickens and eggs and milk for our own use most of the year.  We always had a home garden to provide green vegetables during the summer, and at one time even raised bees for a supply of honey, so that we were largely independent of outside sources for our food supply except for such items as flour, sugar, coffee, tea, and spices.

The usual mode of personal transportation in the early days was by horseback. Not only were horses plentiful and everyone could ride, but a horse could go anywhere and the lack of roads was not a hindrance to their use. If several people needed transportation at a time or heavy or bulky material had to be trans­ ported, horse drawn buggies or wagons were used. Most of the roads were merely wagon trails, with deep ruts and steep grades.   We lived 20 miles from Lusk, but the road was considerably longer and it required four hours to make the trip each way in the summer time with a good team and a light wagon. Understandably we didn't get to town very often, perhaps three or four times a year for the children.

Everyone welcomed the automobiles when they became available, but they, too, were not usable much of the year until better roads were provided.    Our first car was a Model 838 Overland touring car which we bought in the spring of 1916 from Mrs.

Charley Thomas.  Bad roads limited its use to the summertime and we reverted to the team and wagon until 1926 when. we  got a Model T Ford and transportation on the ranch has been motorized ever since.

The social life of the community was much the same as today except that we were limited to shorter distances than at present. On Sundays we would visit one of the neighbors or they would visit us, and every­ one would enjoy a big dinner, often chicken and dumplings. Dances were held from time to time at the various ranch houses or later at one of the larger schools and finally at the community hall located on Old Woman Creek. These dances were all night affairs with refreshments of sandwiches, cake and ice cream and sometimes ice cream served at midnight after which dancing re­sumed until daylight.   The dances consisted of polka and schottisches, as well as the round dances or quadrilles with a caller directing the patterns of the dances.  The music was usually with assorted guitars, banjos or mandolins. Brass instruments and pianos were seldom encountered until after World War I.

Another popular entertainment was the card party. These were often held in the daytime as well as at night and also involved refreshments. The games played included hearts, high-five, or five hundred for the grownups, while the children favored pitch, rummy or old maid. Community picnics were held during the summer and sometimes com munity fairs in the fall. Picnics were usually held on the 4th of July and also near the middle of August, the latter by the Farm Bureau Federation during the 1920's.

The original homestead at the site of the Anderson ranch on Young Woman creek was the 160 acre filing of Andrew J. Anderson. Other homesteads which have been added to it over the years include that of his sister, Mary Anderson Bump, Pat Dyra, Charley Makerswitz and Chris Prelle as well as several other small parcels of land, now the home of Gaylord Anderson.

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