Historical Details

Wasserburger, W.D. (Bill) and Family

Courtesy of Our Heritage: Niobrarans and Neighbors, 01/25/2021


by Mrs. Douglas Sides

Wilford Wasserburger was born in Edge­ mont, S. D. June 20, 1895, to Mr. and Mrs. Jake Wasserburger.   As a boy he played on a baseball team and traveled all over the Black Hills. His father ran the general store and Post Office at the Jim Creek Ranch.

As a boy he helped his father with their small ranch. In 1918 he went to the Army and was stationed at Camp Kearney in the Medical Corps. This was during a flu epidemic. After his military service he returned to the ranch and again worked with his father. They hauled supplies from Ardmore and Orella by wagon. The gas was brought in in large barrels and measured into 5 gal. cans (which had to be painted red) to sell.   Wisconsin Cheese was in 100 lb. crates.

Frances Kanrath was born in Montrose, Nebr. Aug. 2, 1897 to Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Kanrath.  She lived in a frame house with six sisters and brothers.    Her father worked on a ranch and traded butter, lard, eggs, etc., for items in the general store. She attended schools in Montrose and Harrison, Nebr. and became a teacher.  In 1920 she visited friends in Canada.

Mom and Dad attended school together from the first day. As she was the only pupil in the first grade and Dad the only second grader, they were put in the same class. Mom says she cried all day 'cause they put her in a class with a "darn boy". They both spoke German and a little English and had an Irish Teacher.

Wilford and Frances were married Sept. 6, 1922 in the Catholic Church at Montrose, Nebr. They first lived in a house built on the Jim Creek Ranch after the store and Post Office were moved to Montrose. They then moved to Montrose and lived there three years. Margaret and Doris were born there.

In 1925 they moved to Ardmore, S. D. and Dad ran a garage for about five years.

During this time, Elaine, Jerry, Leo and Rosella were born. Rosella died as a baby of pneumonia.

Before Leo's birth the family was quarantined with diphtheria. Mom was moved to Dad's folks and Dad kept the children. Dr. Bilger came to Ardmore certain days of the week. Dad had the children all lined up in the yard for shots and when the Dr. appeared, they disappeared.  Leo was the only child born in the hospital in Hot Springs, S. D. Jerry cut his leg on a barb wire fence while ice skating at the time when Mother was in the hospital.  He hadn't told anyone and nearly had blood poisoning when she returned.  She used Lysol and epsom packs and got it cleared up.

The family moved back to Montrose to prove up a homestead. They later traded for another homestead and then sold it. They then moved back to Ardmore and Dad worked on a 1600 acre farm for $5 a day. The farm had four tractors and Dad ran the first com­ bine in the vicinity. The folks' first car was a 1929 Chevrolet.

While living in Ardmore, Margaret, Doris, Elaine and Jerry started out picking flowers. Jerry was carrying two of his Dad's hammers and the girls had their pet kitten. They had walked 1 1/2 miles to the State Line and 1/2 a mile east when they ran into some cattle which frightened them. They had cut through a pasture back toward town and had walked completely around a big lake when their father found them. All were bare footed and full of cactus but still had the hammers, kitten and flowers. Nearly all of the people from this small community were looking for them.

In 1931 the family moved to the Mader Ranch in Sioux County, Nebr. near  Harrison. The rest of the children, Beth, Ralph, Jim. and Ken were born in this vicinity.

During this time and later when the family moved into Harrison Dad did carpenter work.

Dad played the fiddle for square dances all around the Harrison area and in Lusk.

His Dad rode a horse to fiddle for the dances and taught his sons to play.

Christmas and Easter were the big holidays for the Wasserburger family. Packages were opened on Christmas Eve and then attended Midnight Mass, followed by a lunch. On Easter, Grandad Wasserburger boiled eggs all day in onion peels to dye them brown.

During the boom in Lance Creek, Dad drove each day from Harrison to work for six months. In May 1944 the family moved to Lusk.   In 1946 they purchased their home.

Leo died of a heart attack in January 1952.

Mother was a fine seamstress and during the years when we were growing up she made most of our clothes. We always had a large garden and did a lot of canning. Mom was very active in Church, Garden and Homemakers club activities, until her health failed.

Dad would tackle anything in the carpenter line, and although he has had to slow down a bit, is still the best finish carpenter according to many satisfied customers.

Mom passed away June 16, 1971. She had been in ill health for several years. Funeral services were conducted by Fr. Terrance McGovern at St. Leo's Catholic Church in Lusk, June 19.

There are eight surviving children, Mrs. John (Margaret) Lawler, Mrs. Paul (Doris) Thornhill, Mrs. Frank (Elaine) Kuhn,

Mrs. Doug (Beth) Sides, Jerry, Ralph, Jim and Ken Wasserburger, 23 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Wasserburger, Wilford (06/20/1895 - 06/23/1975) View Record
Obituary Wasserburger, Frances (08/02/1898 - 06/16/1971) View Record