Historical Details

Wilson, Marcellus Hamilton and Minerva Marrs Wilson

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


by Iva Paige Wilson

Marcellus was born in Hendricks Co., Indiana, on July 11, 1848, one of eleven children.  His parents moved to Iowa when he was a small boy.

Minerva Caroline Marrs was born on Feb. 24, 1854 in Johnson County Indiana. She was raised by her grandparents, the Cornelius Roberts.    It was in their home where she and Marcellus was married April 2, 1879 at Newton, Iowa.

To this couple were born four children; Francis Howard, March 27, 1876 in Jasper County Iowa; Gertrude    May, Nov. 24, 1879 in Jasper County Iowa; Raymond Otis, April 9, 1884 in Crawford County Iowa; Edith Pearl, Jan. 22, 1886; (Edith Pearl passed away as a small child).

Having been in the farming and lumber business with his father, Hamilton Wilson, Marcellus and Minerva decided to buy a sawmill and head west. So in 1886 they went to the Black Hills where they lived for two years, contracting sawing out lumber. Then in 1888 they went to Chadron, Nebr. where Marcellus homesteaded on Dead Horse Creek. Here he ran the sawmill until the timber started to run out, so in 1896 he came to the Hat Creek country of Wyoming.

Here he set up his sawmill at several different locations along the Hat Creek breaks, sawing out lumber for the home­steaders.  It was during this time that Francis (Frank) and Raymond (Ray) attended the schools held in the Pleasant Ridge area.

In 1897 their daughter, Gertrude, and Edward Daley were married, setting up housekeeping on his homestead in the vicinity of Old Woman Creek, nine miles from Lusk. To this couple was born four children. The oldest, Francis Daley, passed away in 1918 during the flu epidemic, leaving a young widow, Helen Shariden Daley. His son was born after his death, (Francis Daley, Jr.) Other children of Gertrude and Edward were: Merle Daley Sellog, Thelma Daley Ganoung, and Zelda Daley McPherson. After selling his ranch to his father-in-law, the family moved to Lusk where he ran the Silver Stable for several years.Then in the early 20's they moved to the State of Washington.

In the spring of 1904 Marcellus bought out his son-in-law's homestead. Since he had a contract to saw lumber near Upton, Wyo., he didn't take possession until fall. He then sold his mill and went into raising horses with his two sons. Frank and Ray homesteaded on adjoining lands, giving them some more pasture.

In 1914 Ray married Iva Fanner Paige; they set up their headquarters on her home­stead four miles east of the main ranch (it is now known as the Townsend Place and is owned by Richard Lenz). This family branch consisted of a step-daughter, Emma Paige, and Merton H. and Gertrude Wilson.In the early 1920's they gave up ranching and Ray went to work in the Roundhouse in Lusk, later taking up oil field work at Lance Creek. He moved to Casper during World War II, where he lived until he passed away on Aug. 16, 1956. His widow now resides in Douglas, Wyo.

Marcellus and his son Frank continued to ranch together. When the horse market failed they changed to cattle and to raising mules.             During this time they were able to buy up the homesteads of Mrs. Shepley and Julia Burt besides leasing the Bliss land that joined them. Marcellus passed away on June 22, 1934 at the age of 86.  Minerva continued to  live on the old place with her son Frank until her death on July 7, 1936. This short sketch of those two early settlers cannot close without a few words of praise. They were hard work­ing and as honest as the day is long, al­ways willing to lend a hand to their neighbors. It was not an easy life for a woman, living in a sawmill camp, but never was there a word of complaint. She was an excellent housekeeper and a wonder­ful cook, even though many times she was living in a tent or dugout. Even though she was 82 years old there was home-made bread in her bread box when she passed away.

Frank never married during his parents' life time. After his mother's death he married Mary Swaim Wills, Oct. 1936.   He had inherited the old ranch, but didn't live many years to enjoy it; in 1947 he moved to town, leasing the ranch to a niece and her husband, Mr. & Mrs. Albert Ruffing. Frank passed away in Oct. 1949. After Frank's death, his widow sold the ranch in 1954 to the Ruffing's, where they have lived these past 24 years raising their two children, Robert Douglas Ruffing and Donna Irene Ruffing Cotton. Since buying the ranch they have acquired the Roy Beard land that joined them.

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Wilson, Marcellus (07/11/1848 - 06/20/1934) View Record
Obituary Wilson, Minerva (02/24/1854 - 07/07/1936) View Record