Historical Details

Siemsen, John Peter

Courtesy of Our Heritage: Niobrarans and Neighbors, 01/19/2021


by Irene s. Curtin

John Siemsen came to Wyoming for the first time in April, 1909. The land of Wyoming was made available to people through the Homestead Act, and the desire to own his own land was his reason for moving to Wyom­ ing. The homestead that was filed on is still the main part of the Siemsen ranch that is located approximately 18 miles east of Lusk, Wyo., or 12 miles north of Van Tas­sell, Wyo. near the Kirtley Community.

John Siemsen was born at Davenport, Ia., Aug. 18, 1888. He was the seventh child of a family of 15 children. His parents im­ migated to Davenport, Ia. from Twllingstadt, Kolstein, Germany in 1879. Both of his parents were born there. John Siemsen, Sr. was born May 28, 1850 and Christina Neuhofel Siemsen was born Dec. 6, 1855.   They had three children born in Germany before they came to America. The family also brought a younger brother, Fred Siemsen, with them. The brother was to go to the army and he was smuggled aboard ship in a barrel. At this time Germany was in an upheavel and many families were coming to the U.S.   Later three sisters of Christina Siemsen's also came to America, but they made their home in Nebraska so the John Siemsen, Sr. family moved to Pierce, Nebr. so they could be nearer relatives.    Life was not easy during these years. The older children were requir­ed to help support the family. At a very early age, the boys especially, were hired out to supplement the home income or they worked in the fields at home.  As John said, I had to earn my own way from the age of 12, so when I had a chance to come to Wyoming it seemed a good idea."

In April 1909 John, a brother, Henry, and a sister, Dona Sporleder and a brother­ in-law, John Brahms, came to Wyoming and filed on homesteads.   After the homesteads were filed on they all returned to Pierce, Nebr.  to   put in crops. John stayed with his sister Dona and her four children be­ cause her husband had passed away and she needed his help. In Aug. 1909 the men re­turned to Wyoming to put some improvements on the land. Six months were allowed to get a shack or building on the land. Rattlesnakes were very bad and in the after­noons five or six snakes would come out of each shock of hay when the men were loading the hay onto the hayrack. Some improvements were made on his land before fall and then he returned to Nebraska to help his sister harvest her crops. The winter was spent in Nebraska, but in March 1910, John decided it was time to look towards Wyoming again. Progress on the homestead was going too slowly but he didn't know about Wyoming blizzards then.This trip he was initiated and all the group wondered if moving to Wyoming was a very good idea.

This trip he came in three emigrant railroad cars, along with Henry Siemsen, his brother-in-law, John Brahms, and William Bruckhorst. They brought 10 head of horses, two cows, some chickens, two dogs, baled hay, tools and naturally food supplies. Two sisters, Dora Sporleder, with her four children and Louise Brahms with her six children came out on a passenger train. The men landed at Node, Wyo.

Three wagons were loaded and they traveled to the Brahms homestead that was near Node. The men had a tent to live in and the baled hay made a hen house , but the horses and cows had no protection. A three day blizzard hit during the first night. Snow broke the tent down and the wind was blowing continually. 
The group thought they were doomed.  The fourth day the sun came out and Wyoming looked a little better.     Homestead shacks began to appear, fences were put up and the prairie began to look different and not so lonely.

That summer of 1910 John made his last trip back to Nebraska. Money was scarce and he needed to work so he could put more improvements on the homestead. During that summer and fall most every half-section of land had a family on it, and it wasn't long until schoolhouses were being built. They were also used for church, Sunday school, dances and all the entertainment the com­munity had was   a very long trip with team and wagons to go to Lusk or Harrison, Nebr.  Thus it was necessary to have com­munity entertainment.  Even as late as World War II dances and community recreation was held at the Kirtley Hall, which was about five miles from the Siemsen ranch.

The Node schoolhouse was also a center of activity for years and years.  At celebra­tions like Fourth of July, fairs, etc. the main entertainment was riding bucking horses and ball games which John took an active part in.

John Siemsen and Jessie Burkhart were married Dec. 10, 1914. Her parents, John William Burkhart and his wife, Cora Scott Burkhart with four daughters homesteaded in the Sunny Side Community in 1909. This was about eight miles north of Van Tassell.

The Burkhart homestead was later to become part of the Siemsen ranch.

John and Jessie Siemsen made their home on John's homestead, although later they lived several years on the Burkhart home­stead which had been purchased from Jessie's parents. During the early years of their marriage, John was away from home part of the time.  He had a well drill and also a threshing machine which were both in demand. New homesteaders needed wells drilled and each homesteader had to farm 40 acres to meet requirements of proving on the land.

Two children were born to John and Jessie Siemsen.  A son, Nyal Siemsen was born April 25, 1916. Nyal married Wyoma Paisley of Node and have a ranch east of Lusk. To this union two girls were born, Nyonne and Synthia.

A daughter, Irene , was born Oct. 20, 1926. Irene married Francis Curtin of Douglas and they live in Thermopolis.   Irene and Francis have two sons, Patrick and John.

The Siemsen family had to move to Fort Laramie , Wyo. for two years during 1931 and 1932. A drought hit at this time and feed was needed for the livestock.   Bad luck hit later after they returned to the ranch when the home burned. John moved a house from Van Tassell, Wyo. to the ranch.    The years brought a change, for ranches grew larger and neighbors were farther apart because so many homesteaders had sold and moved.

Good health and the love of the ranch enabled the family to be in the ranching business approximately 50 years. There were good years and there were bad years, but John Siemsen always says, "I have never regretted moving to Wyoming."

Images & Attachments

There are no attachments for this record.

Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Siemsen, John (08/18/1888 - 02/11/1976) View Record
Obituary Siemsen, Sarah (10/10/1896 - 03/21/1993) View Record