Historical Details

Ward, Alexander Washington and Family

Courtesy of Our Heritage: Niobrarans and Neighbors, 01/15/2021


by Zeb W. Ward

My grandfather, Alexander Washington Ward, was born May 29, 1819, in Tazewell County, Virginia. He married Jane Simon, daughter of Samuel Simon and Synthia Ann Price, in Green County Indiana, May 2, 1844. Their family consisted of seven boys and two girls. My father, George Gran Ward was the youngest. He was born Sept. 23, 1868, in Terre Haute, Ind. He married Susan Ellen Parnell at Almattha, Mo. in Ozark County, Sept. 2, 1894. Their family included Zeb Washington Ward, Zera Nolan and Maudie Cloe.

Father died June 15, 1901. Mother married Samuel Lafayette Wagner July 17, 1904. Their family included Christeen, born June 23, 1906, married Dale Kobbe, and Marie who married Clement Williamson.

We moved to Nebraska in the fall of 1909, landing in Hemingford. We landed in snow that never melted until May. We lived on the Cliff Hubble homestead that winter in Sioux County about six or seven miles northeast of section 22, township 26, range 54W where our homestead was located. We moved as soon as the weather was   per­missible.

I went to school at Curley until I passed the 8th grade. In the spring of 1914 I started out on my own, worked awhile near Biddle, Mont., then went to Miles City to the Remount Station where the English were buying cavalry horses. I did not stay here long, the next stop being Sheridan, Wyo.

Here I missed a chance I have regretted all this time. There in a second hand shop was Jesse James' silver mounted six shooter and I did not buy it. Next place of importance was Elko, Nev. Here I went to work for Jake Reed about 80 miles northwest of Elko on the west side of the mountain. On the east side is a basin called Bullrun and in this basin Tom Horn had a small ranch. I was sent there to try to get a job. I ate dinner with him and there were two other men there. A short time after this the bank in Golconda was robbed. Three men rode to the bank, one held the horses, the other two went in and got $10,000 in gold and rode out of town.

One man with a rifle rode in front and another behind with a rifle. They went back to Bullrun basin, 100 miles. The Elko paper said they were thought to be on their way to South America, which proved to be true.

The law was so close to them that only one escaped, Butch Cassidy, the leader of the Cassidy gang.

I remained in Nevada until the first of June 1918. Then went home to Nebraska, came to Wyoming and in 1918 filed on land on the Dogie Creek which I own now.

Enlisted at Harrison, Nebr. in 1918 and got in the Coast Artillary. Served on a 12-inch disappearing cannon at Fort Winfield Scott, Calif. until Armistice and got my discharge at 2 o'clock Christmas morning, 1918 at Fort Riley, Kan. The government owned the railroads at that time so they shipped the long way around and it took six days to get home.

My brother, Nolan, filed on a section south of me in Wyoming. I established residence in Wyoming May 2, 1919. My brother helped me until we got the fencing finished, then he went to work in the Osage oil field. I went to Newcastle that fall and read the geological data in the library. One day in the Antlers Hotel a man asked me "If you were going to get oil leases where would you get them?"  Lucky Jones, so called, later was drilling on section 19 about three miles southwest of Osage. I told Mr. Patrick to lease west or south. A few days later he got off the train at Osage. We four rode the running gear of a wagon . Mud could not be worse, the wheels as big as tractor wheels. The well was gushing over the mast, the first gusher in Weston County.

I married Ruth Hockett April 2, 1922 at the Alvin Hockett home three miles south of John Kay ranch on the Niobrara River, in Sioux county, Nebraska. It started snowing the day of the wedding and turned out to be quite a snowstorm. We did not get started home for four days. My brother-in-law, Arthur Hockett, bought my brothers' relinquishment, so we had two wagonloads going to Wyoming. It took us four days to get home. My neighbor Emil Mills gave a "get­ acquainted" dance.

Our roads were bad and the creeks impossible some times for several days and it was years and years before we got bridges. The first summer after I was married a horrible tragedy occurred. Emil Wills started down to help brand at the Albert Rochelle ranch, the day before pri­mary election. Election morning Mrs. Wills went to vote at the Rochelle ranch and they asked her where Emil was and she said out in the corral helping brand, but he was not there.  Three or four men started out to look for him. About a half mile southwest of my house, Emil was found dead, his left foot through the stirrup strap.  The horse was in a deep ravine.   One man went back to the ranch to get a team and wagon, one kept watch, two came to eat dinner. This was quite a shock to the neighborhood. Mrs. Wills had Walt Cowger come and shoot the horse.

Lusk started as a mining town, the Silver Cliff mine just west of town was mined for silver as uranium was not known to the miners at that time, or they were not interested. But here is where the Pierre Curies got 700 pounds of ore from which they got radium. All this county needs is the know-how and a lot of boosters, for there is a lot more oil here than has been produced so far.

Our family, after 50 years of life in Wyoming, starting with one family, is now five families.

Grant Robert, born April 2, 1924, married Marie Sides. Their children, Washington Scott, Ruth Ella, Lydia Ione, George Grant, and Earlene  Ester. Grant lives on the ranch on Dogie Creek.

Charley Claud, Nov. 29, 1925, married Stella Petterson; children: Alfred Claud, Robert Charles, divorced, married Karey Dehaven, their children; Sandra Kay, Wade William, Criss Nolan, Fred E. July 26, 1932 married Ethel Katherine Morris, their children, Beth Melinda; May Ellen born May 26, 1943 married Raymond E. Smith as of now, no children.

In the summer of 1949 we moved, as it was seven miles to the nearest school house. I bought the Lloyd Cheney house in Manville where we lived until 1966 when I bought the Lee Stoddard house so Grant's children could be near high school. When Bob Burhoop died I bought his home for Charley and his family. Now the three families live in Manville. Aug. 23, 1971 Charley died; I then bought a block in Dellview Cemetery near Manville; A burial place for my children and their children's children.

I worked winters before getting married to get money to help improve the homestead. Worked on Pathfinder dam putting in a new valve and drilling a new tunnel and doing repair work part of one winter. Should have got a leave of absence and stayed until the job was finished, but didn't. Got home April 1 that spring. Had a big flood that spring and was afraid Pathfinder dam might go out. The spillway was 100 ft. wide and water ran over 16 ft. deep, but it was rock and didn't wash out. However, the dirt fill on the other side of the dam did.  Water got almost to the top.  Had everybody they could get working with teams and sacks of dirt to keep it from washing out and they kept it from going. Everyone on the Platte River was worried for awhile.

Worked in the Gering, Neb. Sugar Factory and also in Bayard Sugar Factory, so couldn't work away part time and raise cattle.

Got a few horses and they could run out on range yet then and get by very well.

After I got married, I got more horses and raised horses for several years. Had both work and saddle horses. Sold some saddle horses to the government. Also had several that were pretty fast. Shipped a carload of work horses back east but didn't do very good with them. Had one horse called two-bits (because he was small) that turned out to be quite a bucking horse. Everyone who owned him couldn't ride him so finally they sold him to the rodeo for bare-back riding and he bucked off most that tried.

Did some farming and raised hogs for several years. Then had some dry years and crops weren't very good so sold the hogs and started raising a few cows. Then got rid of most of the horses and got more cows.  Did odd jobs around the country while trying to make a living. Also trapped and sold animal skins, mostly coyotes. It was quite a job plowing. Used eight horses with a two-bottom plow part of the time.

We raised a pretty good garden most of the time and that helped out a lot. All three boys served for Uncle Sam. Fred was in Korea for some time. He was in the Navy, then the (Seabees) C.B.'s, driving trucks and using big equipment, before he was married.  

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Ward, Zeb (09/06/1896 - 03/06/1975) View Record
Obituary Ward, Ruth (12/25/1903 - 11/27/1994) View Record