Historical Details

Rolling Acres

Courtesy of Our Heritage: Niobrarans and Neighbors, 12/22/2020


by Herbert E. Sabin

On a mild spring morning in March 1910, Samuel W. Sabin arrived at Node, Wyo. with an immigrant car of household goods, farm machinery, a cow and some horses and proceeded to haul it to the homestead upon which he had filed a mile and a half west of Node. That evening a blizzard struck.

A cow and team of horses were sheltered in a "dugout" cellar near the railroad section house and a team of mules put back in the partially unloaded box car. The several immigrants who had arrived on the same train found a welcome shelter from the storm in a small addition to his claim shack Mr. Peter Hansen had partially com­pleted and warmed by burning railroad ties the section boss had generously offered.

When the storm was over three days later reports came of heavy losses of cattle and horses over all of Niobrara County. A dis­couraging welcome to Wyoming!

By May, when the rest of the family arrived, a granary had been built that was to serve as the house for many years.

Contrary to the belief that ranchers disliked the new settlers, John Pfister and Tom Bell, who surrounded the Sabins, proved to be most helpful and friendly neighbors.

The accepted agriculture for homesteaders was based on "the cow, the sow and the hens.. plus a garden.”   In time specialties were added to supplement the income. The first was turkeys, then purebred hogs and then certified potatoes. The potatoes were money-makers for a few years, but the soil blowing from the bare fields was serious and potatoe production was stopped.

In 1926, Donald, the youngest Sabin boy had graduated from the University of Wyoming and was Superintendent of the Experiment farm at Gillette.    He heard of a new grass being tried in eastern Oregon and bought a few pounds of this crested wheat grass seed and sent it home to try to grow grass on the old potato fields. From this small be­ginning many tons of crested wheat grass seed were sold. The production of seed and hay for the stock became the major farm enterprise.

To the original homestead of 320 acres was added the homestead of a daughter Ruth and a son Herbert, and by purchase, land from Oscar and Anna Moe, Lionel Bill, Wm. Doman and Peter Hansen and a few other small plots so that "Rolling Acres" as the farm was called, totaled about 2,000 acres when it was sold in 1970 to Mr. Ken Gropp.

From the Shorthorn milk cow that provided most of the living in those first tough years, a herd of very good cows was develop­ ed, producing a couple of fat steers that took firsts in the open class at the Denver Stock Show and several 4-H winners.     Since 1940 purebred Corriedale sheep were raised that were a source of pride and won many ribbons for Rolling Acres at shows and fairs.

S. W. Sabin, Sr. was quite civic minded and served on District 5 school board for many years. He worked for a nine month school year and then for consolidating of the district. The Node school was one of the first to consolidate and become a Standard" school with three teachers and about 50 pupils.  He and a couple of neigh­bors started a community telephone line that served for many years until it was taken over by Mountain Bell.

Mrs. Sabin (Ernestine) invited the neighbors' children to meet at the Sabin home each Sunday afternoon and the response was fine, especially after the  second summer when ice cream was served. The Sabins were the onlv family around who had ice. Ice was harvested from a pond on the Tom Bell ranch, stored in a pit dug in the ground and packed with straw. The Sunday School later became the Node Congregational Church.

The two Sabin girls, Ethel and Ruth became teachers and authors. Alfred, an engineer, was in the Navy during World War I.  He worked with mining companies in the United States and Africa and has been a consulting engineer for several years. Donald with a degree in agriculture from the University of Wyoming was an agriculture teacher, Wyoming Extension Agronomist, and during World War II served as an agriculture director for Japanese relocation camps.For manyyears he worked for the U.N. and Unicef in the rehabilitation of war-torn Europe feeding the world's hungry children.    For this humanitarian work he was awarded an honorary Ph.D. from the University of Wyom­ing.

Herbert and his wife Esther took over Rolling Acres in 1935 and want to express their appreciation to the Wyoming Extension Service for the advice and help that was a large part of any success we may have achieved.

They have two children: Mary, a graduate of the University of Wyoming and a mother of four children, is teaching in Oklahoma; Sam, with an M.A. from Wyoming and a Ph.D. from Oregon, is extension director of 4-H livestock at Cornell. He served with submarines in World War II.

Herbert, in addition to his farming activities has served as a school board mem­ber and an official of the Congregational Church. He was one of the original organizers and directors of the Niobrara Rural Electric; was on the Wyoming State Board of Agriculture for 12 years and for 22 years was a 4-H leader. He was also a veteran of World War I.

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Sabin, Samuel (12/02/1861 - 06/25/1936) View Record
Obituary Sabin, Ernestine (10/31/1863 - 04/13/1949) View Record