Historical Details

Joy, Jane Pfister

Courtesy of Our Heritage: Niobrarans and Neighbors, 12/18/2020


by Margaret Joy Sharkey

In the summer of 1884 my mother, with four small children, left Junction City, Kan. by train for Cheyenne where my father John Pfister and Uncle Ed Arnold were to meet us, after having come to Lusk earlier in the spring to file on homesteads, and make preparations for a home.

They were too late to meet the train so Mother started for a hotel, carrying a baby brother John, and leading me. Valen­tine and Margaret were twins, four years of age, and had run away.  A stranger brought them back and said, "Lady, I believe you have your hands full."  She replied, 11I believe I have." He then helped her to the hotel. My father John Pfister and Uncle Ed Arnold came in later in the evening, and, next morning loaded two covered wagons with supplies. We left Cheyenne, Mother driving one team, and Father one, with Uncle Ed driving the cattle, which had also been shipped by train.

All went well until they reached Old Fort Laramie. There the river was running high and the bridge was guarded by soldiers to prevent people from crossing it.

After waiting there for three days, they noticed it was not guarded after mid­ night, so the stock was bedded down close, and all was readied as nearly as possible. Just after midnight the two wagons, mother driving one, Father the other and Uncle Ed the stock, safely crossed - but, all could have gone down.

By daylight they were well on their way to their homesteads several miles south­ west of Lusk.

The old bridge still stands, not for use, but, as an historical sight. I have gone back on different times, one in May, 1966.

A house had been started but not com­ pleted enough to be occupied, so the two covered wagon boxes were lowered to the ground for sleeping quarters. Four posts were put in, in rectangular shape, a roof put on where the cooking was to be done.

One morning while Mother was at a spring, caring for milk, the shed caught fire. My sister Maggie, age four, pulled my baby brother to safety, got me, age two, out, then called Mother who then called the men who were putting up hay not far away.

They dropped the tugs from the movers, each mounted a harnessed horse and as my Uncle expressed it, "Rode like Comanche Indians."· They got there in time to pull the wagon boxes to safety.

The railroad was being built into Lusk and in those days such work was done with horses. Hay, which there was plenty on the prairies, was needed, but there were few to put it up so it sold for a good price.

The winter of 1886, of which I have a faint recollection, came blowing in. There was plenty of hay, but the stock were not acclimated and there was a heavy loss.

All supplies were brought from Cheyenne, and winter having caught up with us, made it impossible to get material to finish the buildings. The windows and doors were made of burlap sacks. Fortunately plenty of fuel had been stacked up.

It was impossible to get a school in our vicinity, so we moved to another location several miles south east of Lusk where there were more homesteaders. There we got about three months of school a year. For­ tunately, there were both summer and winter schools at different times of the year so we attended both, some times going several miles on horseback.

On the last homestead we grew up, the old barn built in 1900 still stands, but the house and belongings burned.   More land was acquired and all is now owned by a nephew, Richard G. Pfister and sister-in­ law Martha Pfister and is located on the Niobrara River about nine miles south east of Lusk.  The children increased to 13 over a span of years and included three sets of twins. Two passed away in infancy.

In 1902 I left Lusk by train for Bucknum, west of Casper. From there I left in an almost blinding blizzard, in an open buckboard for Barnum, Wyoming.

There the late L. R. A. Condit met me and took me to the Loy ranch where I was to stay and teach the Rinker, Loy school.

After having retired one evening, Mrs. Loy came rushing into my room calling, "A skunk has gone in my cellar and will ruin all of my preserves.  Do come help me kill it." I hurriedly put on my shoes, carried a kerosene lantern, while Mrs. Loy carried an axe. With the help of a dog we hazed the skunk to the outside, where Mrs. Loy succeeded to kill it with an ax.    Need­ less to tell, we were two sick people.

During those years the school terms were much shorter than the last years have been.

Before coming to the Barnum vicinity  had taught two terms of school in Converse County and one in Sheridan County. From the Loy, Rinker school I moved on to the Street­er, Sutton, Sussex, Kaycee, and Johnson Creek schools in Johnson County.

During all of this time Margaret Bow­ man was County Superintendent of Johnson County.

In 1905 I married Andrew Joy and we homesteaded east of  Kaycee. On Nov. 9, 1908 our daughter Margaret Joy Sharkey was born. Being so far from town, wagon-days, most of the time no phones, I found it necessary to be a midwife, nurse, or a doctor. I found myself in all these posi­tions.  One time it was necessary for me to put the late John Cooper's ear back on after a horse had kicked it almost off.

As time passed we acquired more land and had built a comfortable home. But, after living there for 42 years, age and failing health caught up with us, and we sold.

The place is now the home of the Jean Indart family.

Images & Attachments

There are no attachments for this record.

Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Joy, Hannah (10/21/1881 - 01/04/1988) View Record