Historical Details

Dryer, Orval Family

Courtesy of Our Heritage: Niobrarans and Neighbors, 12/14/2020


by Bertha E. Dryer

Orval J. Dryer was born near O'Neil, Nebr., Oct. 9, 1884. He was the fourth  son born to William R. and Libby Dryer. In the spring of 1879, after the death of their first son at Shandaken, N.Y., Mr. and Mrs. W.R. Dryer and Mr. Dryer's five­ year-old daughter, Minnie, left New York and came to Holt County, Nebr.,  where an uncle of Mrs. Dryer was located. They located near O'Neil and here four sons were born: Frank, Eugene, Orval and Omar. Mr. Dryer's father, William H. Dryer, had come with them from New York.He died here in 1885 and was buried in a small cemetery near the homeplace.

Plagued by drought and grasshoppers, they decided to move on to Wyoming.  In early summer of 1886, their belongings were loaded on an immigrant car and headed for Chadron, Nebr., which was then the end of the rails.   From Chadron  they travelled west in a covered wagon drawn by a team of horses, a bull and a milk cow.  After several weeks, they reached the tent town of Silver Cliff. They were camped there during the flood in August, 1886.

A large crew of men were putting the finishing touches to the railroad grade. The railroad company located a boarding car part way between Manville and Silver Cliff, near the Willson Ranch. Mr. and Mrs. Dryer lived in the car and boarded the railroad crew. There were herds of antelope near and their meat was mostly antelope, which Mr. Dryer killed with a shotgun. Trail herds coming through often watered at the Running Water Creek near their camp. Mr. Dryer built a log house in Manville where they lived for a time. The building was later a part of the Foster Lumber Company buildings and is still standing. The first church services held in Manville were held in the Dryer home.

Mr. Dryer was a carpenter by trade and he worked at this around the country. He spent two winters as carpenter and blacksmith at the Ogalalla Ranch of Billie Irvine north of Douglas. He built the Methodist Church in Douglas and helped build the Methodist Church in Manville in the early 1890's.

Mr. Dryer filed on a homestead some three miles northwest of Manville.    It is now part of the land owned by Mr. and Mrs. Dave Bryant.  The boys and Minnie attended a country school near there.  Orval said the first school he remembered was in a dugout with one window. His first teacher was Henry Connors. Later the children attended school in Manville. Some of the early teachers were Charles Sherman, Lillian Crownover {later Mrs. Charles Sherman), Mrs. Jennie Baughn, Elizabeth Kern {Mrs. J.A. Manorgan), Mary Kern (Mrs. Ad Spaugh), Hattie Amspoker, Elda Orme, Ruby Studley (Mrs. Billie Sherman), Clarke Woods, Mr. McNamee, and Otto Knactman.

A good many families lived near Manville. The men worked on the ranches, herded sheep, or worked for the railroad. Neighbors helped each other.   It took very little to "keep up with the Jones", as wants were simple and everyone was in the same position. Oranges and bananas were treats seen only at fair time.    Toys were made at home, and were sleds, bowguns, wagons, sling-shots and the like.    Marbles was a popular game. Some of the cowboys sometimes stopped to play marbles with the schoolboys.  There was no doctor in Manville, but William McReynolds usually had a remedy that worked for man or beast. Mrs. Jack Bowen (Auntie Bowen) was a willing and capable nurse and midwife when there was need. John Foster was the local dentist.

At the time of the Indian trouble at Wounded Knee, reports of an Indian uprising spread.   Many families gathered in Manville, where the women and children were bedded down on the upper floor of the Opera House, a two-story stone building.    It served for many purposes but this was the only time it was used as a fort.   The only entrance to the upper floor was an outside stairway.   The men stood guard with every available weapon: guns, knives and axes. The children had a picnic, but it was an anxious time for the parents.   After a few days word came that the report was unfounded and the Indians were under control.

In 1894, the Dryer's daughter, Minnie, was married to William S. Pinkerton and they went to live on their homestead three miles north of Manville. This place is still in the hands of the Pinkerton family. They raised a family of five children; one son died in in­ fancy.   Mrs. Pinkerton died in 1959 at the age of 85.

Mr. Dryer had traded his homestead for a bunch of horses and needed range for them. In 1898, the family moved to the Jim Fitzsimmons' place about 15 miles east of Hat Creek Post Office. They lived here until the Spring of 1901, then bought a place on Indian Creek in the corner of South Dakota and moved there.

Mr. Dryer and his son, Omar,  were  cutting logs in the hills near the Fitz­simmon.s'  place in December, 1901. He, Omar and a neighbor, Steve Eldridge, and son, Tom, were carrying a log when Mr. Dryer slipped and fell.   The log struck him in the head and he was killed instantly.  He was buried in the Kirtley Cemetery Dec. 24, 1901. Later he was moved to Lusk Cemetery and in May, 1941, Mrs. Dryer was laid beside him.

The family remained on the Indian Creek place and Mrs. Dryer filed on land nearby.   They built a house here and Mrs. Dryer and the younger boys lived there.

Frank was married to Margaret Brown in 1903 and they lived on the old place for a time. Later they lived at various places including Manville, where Frank operated a livery barn, and Big Piney, Wyo., where he operated a ranch.       He finally bought the Sam Seaman ranch in the foothills south of Indian Creek some 14 miles.  On March 16, 1927, while operating his sawmill, something broke and a small piece struck him in the chest. He died almost instantly.  He was buried in the Harrison Cemetery.

Omar was married in 1908 to Edith Herman.In 1910 they moved to Mitchell, S.D., and several years later to Detroit, Mich. Omar died in Detroit in August, 1945, and was buried at Mitchell.       They were parents of four daughters.

Eugene never married. He made his home with his mother until her death in 1941. His last years were spent in the home of this brother, Orval. He died in February, 1945, and was buried beside his parents in the Lusk Cemetery.

Orval Dryer worked as a cowboy on several ranches around the country.     He worked at the Oscar Story ranch north of Harrison and Clark's T4 Ranch south of Harrison and spent several years at the 77 Ranch north of Manville.   He also worked as a government hunter and trapper and helped trap the last of the grey wolves in this area.

Orval was married June 25, 1913, to Bertha Eutsler at the home of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Eutsler, at Manville. Bertha was born March 28, 1896, near Glendo, Wyo., on the Platte River, where Glendo Dam now covers the area.  They lived for a time on Indian Creek with Orval's mother, spending part of the time on Orval's homestead which was near.   He and his brother, Gene, operated a cattle ranch here.    Their post office was Ardmore, S.D., 16 miles away.  There was no mail route so the neighbors carried each other's mail. Telephone wire was strung on fence posts and later a high line was built between neighbors. It was gumbo country and in wet weather travel was difficult. Good water was scarce, so dams were built for stock water, and water was hauled for house use from these dams. Cisterns were filled with snow and rainwater and a lot of ice and snow was melted in winter. In dry times, drinking water was hauled from Ardmore where the railroad shipped it in from Belmont, Neb.

Four of the Dryer sons were born here; William, Donald, Orville and Frank. In the spring of 1929, Orval bought from Mr. and Mrs. L.L. Wills the Charles Thomas ranch on Plum Creek in the foothills near Whitman, Wyo. The family moved here in April, 1929. Then Gene and his mother sold the place on Indian Creek and rented a place near Orval.

One of the blessings of the Plum Creek place was a running stream of good water, and how they enjoyed it.          The boys had never known good water. There were several springs on the place so there was no need to build dams to water stock, and no gumbo mud. This was living! It was six miles to the post office served by a mail route from Harrison, Neb.   It was just a nice horseback ride for one of the boys. Estel Whitman was the postmaster and also official caller at the square dances.   Melvin Burke helped out in later years.  It was a friendly community and whenever the neighbors could get to­gether to help each other, they made an occasion of it. There were numerous dances, parties, wood-cutting, turkey picking, threshing, branding, and always a carry-in dinner. Some of the near neighbors were George Walker, Sam Thomas, John Burke, Claude Van Blarcum, Earl Hales, Maurice Keel, Floyd and Frank Moore, Swope families, Milo and Chauncy Wolff, Dan Jordan  Bunny Chard and Henry Kraft.

Aug. 20, 1931, another son, James Harold, was born to the Orval Dryers. Here in the shelter of the hills, the five boys grew to manhood. Orval was good at many things and he taught these things to the boys. They learned carpenter work, mechanics, blacksmithing, farming, handling cattle, building fence, cutting timber and many other things. Since  there were no girls to help around the house, they also learned to cook and do household chores.

For some years, school was held in the yard.Mrs. Jim Murphy, Mrs. Beecher Strube, Mrs. Dallas Swisher, Mrs. Viola Fancher, Mrs. Donald Porter and Miss Vivian Griffith.

As the boys grew older, one by one    they left the ranch. William (Bill) attended high school in Lusk and in 1935 enlisted in the C.C.C., Civilian Conser­vation Corps, which was promoted by President Roosevelt.  He spent some time at Camp Guernsey and also at Dayton and Devil's Tower in Wyoming.  In 1940, he was married at Sheridan to Hazel Woods. In 1942 they went to California where Bill worked in the U.S. Navy Yard at Mare Island. When he returned to Wyoming

he worked at truck driving.   For 17 years he has driven for Salt Creek Freightways at Casper where the family resides.They are parents of six children:  Bill, Esther, Bob, Ruth, Carol and Martha. The three older ones are married and have families.

The Bill Dryers have seven grandchildren.

Don Dryer spent sometime with the C.C.C. at Dayton and Saratoga.  He also worked as a welder in the U.S. Navy Yard at Mare Island. In 1942 he went into the U.S. Army.  He spent nearly 20 years in the service in the Philippines, Korea, and at Fort Lewis, Wash. Since his retirement, he has worked at the Bremerton, Washington, Navy Yard.   He and his wife, Hazel, and three sons live at Olalla, Washington. Of their eight children, two sons and a daughter   in military service. Two daughters are married and live in Washington.

Orville Dryer graduated from Manville High School in 1940. In September of that year, he was badly burned in an explosion and fire at the Andy Martin place near Kirtley.  His legs were so badly damaged he was unable to walk for many months.

He finally regained his health under the care of Dr. Walter Reckling of Lusk and Dr. R.L. Ivans of Crawford, Neb. and with the help of the family.
In 1943, he was married to Iola LaFont of Creede, Colo. They lived  for a time at Napa, Calif. and both worked in the U.S. Navy Yard at Mare Island. On his return to Wyoming, he worked at road construction and for several years has operated his own construction company out of Casper. The family lives in Casper with their four daughters: Ellen, Eileen, Elaine and Evelyn.

Frank Dryer remained on the ranch to help his parents.  In July, 1950, he and Lois Sullivan were married in Lusk at the home of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. T.R. Sullivan.  They remained on the ranch and Frank's parents bought a home in Manville and moved there but continued to help with the ranch work when needed.   After the ranch was sold, Frank worked at ranches near Pinedale and Saratoga in Wyoming and Elko, Nev.   He and Lois have lived in Montana, where he is manager of the Dear­born Ranch Company at Wolf Creek.

Jim Dryer graduated in 1949 from Natrona County High School. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and in 1951 went to Korea. When he returned he was stationed at the air base at Great Falls, Montana. While here, he was married to Margaret Rankin, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. B.A. Rankin of Huntingdon, Quebec. They re­ turned to Wyoming in 1955 and made their home in Casper. Jim has worked at Casper's Texaco Refinery since 1956.    He is presently employed as operating foreman there.   Mrs. Dryer has been employed at the First National Bank for the past 15 years.  They have two children, David and Libby Jane.

Orval sold the ranch in 1957 to Ralph Louthan of Crawford, Neb. He and Bertha then settled down in Manville.   He was still very active and could not be content with loafing.  He worked at small carpenter jobs and also planted a large garden and a great many flowers. In the years on the ranch, he had collected a good many odd and unusual specimens of red cedar.  In his later years he spent much of his time in his shop making lamps, tables, stools, chests and many other things from these pieces. Many of his friends treasure gifts of his handi­work. He loved to play checkers and spent many hours with Harry Howard over the checkerboard.

In the early spring of 1970 he be­ came ill. He grew weaker gradually and entered the hospital in Casper on April 27. He passed away May 16 and was buried in Manville Cemetery.

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Dryer, Orval (10/09/1884 - 05/16/1970) View Record
Obituary Dryer, Bertha (03/28/1896 - 12/08/1976) View Record