Historical Details

Ruffing, Christ and Gertrude Helena Marking

Courtesy of Our Heritage: Niobrarans and Neighbors, 12/31/2020


by Mrs. Carl Erny

Christ Ruffing, one of the early pioneers of Niobrara and Converse Counties, was born Nov. 2, 1872 in Milwaukee, Wisc. the youngest of 12 children, 9 brothers and 2 sisters. His parents were Mike J. and Mary Pung Ruffing. He came west to Nebraska in early 1890 as a carpenter for the C.B.&Q Railroad. He settled north of Harrison, Nebr., about 12 miles from a sister, Mrs. John Serres. Later he obtained work with a cattle rancher about 19 miles north of Hat Creek, Wyo. Since the rancher wanted a married man, Mr. Ruffing returned to Harrison, Nebr. and married the daughter of Jacob Marking and Anna Mary Feering Marking - Gertrude Helena - on Aug. 12, 1899. The Markings were early homesteaders near Mont­rose, Nebr. Gertrude was born Dec. 1, 1877 in West Point, Nebr., passing away on May 2, 1933 after a prolonged illness.

The couple returned to Hat Creek and to the place he worked. In 1900 they filed on a homestead near his work, some 30 miles north of Lusk, Wyo. and 19 miles from the nearest post office, Hat Creek. Mr. Ruffing rode a saddle horse to Hat Creek once a week for mail. The first house was built in an earthen bank, with boards, windows and door in front and board and tar paper and dirt roof. In 1903 he built the first log one­ room house about a mile north of the present place near Old Woman Creek. In 1905 he built another log house with four rooms in it and to which was added more rooms in later years.   To this union was born nine children. Hubertine Monica Erny was born Nov. 3, 1900; she had three children, William, Gertrude and Thelma, and lives in Alliance, Nebr.   Anna Beatrice Ella Avenell was born Feb. 8, 1902; she married Harry Avenell and they lived on his homestead near Mule Creek for about 30 years before moving to Story, Wyo. Gertrude Luella Himes Plant was born May 2, 1903; she had one son Alvin Himes, passed away Jan. 19, 1952. John Henry George was born June 15, 1905; he married Sophia Grout and they had two children, Kenneth and Jean.  He passed away on May 25, 1964. Charles Edward was born May 12, 1907, he married Irene Burker­ holder and they had six children, Charles, Norman, James, William, Kay and Sherry and they live in Hyattville, Wyo. William Jennings was born May 24, 1910; he married Bess Anstice and they had five children, Patricia, John, Mary, Judy and Jennings.

They live in Lusk, Wyo.  Robert Martin was born July 17, 1912; he married Betty Kraft and they live in Forest Grove, Ore.  Alexan­der Albert was born Dec. 15, 1914; he mar­ried Gertrude Wilson and they had four children, (two dying as infants), Robert and Donna.  They live north of Lusk.  Thelma Agnes Ruffing Nuxell lives in Yankton, S.D.

Pioneering was a very difficult project confronted with Indian scares, rattle­ snakes and wolves and coyotes.    The wolves were very hard on livestock, killing them for food and as cattle was the main source of making money to provide for the family, it was a constant struggle. Farming was done on a small scale, but harvesting hay and alfalfa for the cattle was the main task and this was done in those times by man and horse power. Mrs. Ruffing raised a large garden each year for the winter food supply. Each fall Mr. Ruffing ordered a large order of groceries from a wholesale grocery company and had it shipped to Lusk or Edgemont, S.D. When it arrived he would take the doubleboxed wagon and four horses and go after it, taking two days to make the trip. The supplies consisted of flour, sugar, syrup, dry beans, macaroni, oatmeal and coal oil for the lamps.

Schooling was also a great problem for Mr. and Mrs. Ruffing with their large family.

One of the first school terms was held in the first log house built. The school­ teacher roomed and boarded with the family. Later Mr. Ruffing bought a house in Edge­mont, S.D. where Mrs. Ruffing lived during the school term.    It was during this time that Christ dabbled in the real estate business in Edgemont.

Mr. Ruffing lived on the homestead for over 55 years. He served on the school board, was county commissioner for several terms. For a short time, due to his health he resided in Lusk before his death June 1957. After his death the ranch was sold to Mrs. Amelia Lingquist who later sold it to Steve Sorem.

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Ruffing, Christian (11/02/1872 - 06/15/1957) View Record
Obituary Ruffing, Gertrude (12/01/1877 - 05/02/1933) View Record