Historical Details

Van Blarcum, C. A. , Mr. and Mrs. and Family

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


by Milton Whitman

Claudia A. Van Blarcum was born in Knobnoster, Mo. Aug. 31, 1877.  His folks lived on a farm near Knobnoster, where he grew to manhood. He attended a country school near his home and as he grew older worked for neighbors to earn a few dollars to supplement the family's income. In his late teens he went to Montana and worked on a cattle ranch for a time, then went back to Missouri.

Louie May (Sprague) Van Blarcum was born in Knobnoster Jan. 16, 1883. When she was just a small girl her family moved to Cortland, Nebr. where they lived for a few years then they moved back to Missouri.

She attended school at Tater Hill school, which was just a short distance from her home.

On Feb. 19, 1903 Claudia and Louie were married and to this union were born four children: Frances, now Mrs. Ralph Berg; John William, who died at six months of age; Genevieve, now Mrs. Fay Swope; and Claude Olen who passed away in 1934 at the age of 15 years.

In 1907 Claudia and Louie (hereafter will be referred to as Claud and Lou, the names they went by) and Frances moved to Crawford, Nebr.   They moved by immigrant train from Warrensburg, Mo. to Crawford. They worked on farms and ranches near Craw­ ford until 1910, when they took up a home­ stead about 30 miles northeast of Lusk, Wyo.

During the fall and winter of 1910, Claud and my dad, E. R. Whitman, hauled lumber from Crawford by team and wagon, and built their houses on their homesteads.

In April 1911, Claud, Lou, Frances and Genevieve, along with two other families, Mr. and Mrs. John Swope and Edith, and Mr. and Mrs. E. R. Whitman and their four chil­dren- Elizabeth, Milton (Doc), Esther and Hazel moved from Crawford to their home­steads.    It was a two day trip so they camped over night about half way between their new homes and Crawford.

After the family was settled Claud and my dad each dug a well.The well was about 40 feet deep but didn't have much water, just enough for the house use and work horses. Claud hewed out a log for a water­ing trough and this trough had to be filled with a hand pump for the teams. Frances and Genevieve provided the power that work­ed the hand pump.

During the first few years Claud worked around Crawford to get enough cash to buy the bare necessities for the home.  In the fall he dug potatoes and took enough to last the family. through the winter in lieu of cash. As Frances said, "Our main meal was Cornbread, potatoes and a chicken now and then for meat."

In the winter Claud worked for different sawmills that were operating out of Harrison, Nebr. and one fall worked in Lusk digging ditch for water mains and sewer lines.  Several neighbors worked there and lived in a camp they set up near town.

While Claud was away from home, Lou kept the homestead going, with Frances and Genevieve.

The first year or so she was afraid of the cowboys that were always riding around the country. When she would see them she would make Frances and Genevieve go into the house and stay until the cowboys were gone.

After awhile she learned who they were and the ones she had seen the most often were Ray and Andrew Christian. Their dad owned land that join­ed the homestead.

The first year in Wyoming their crops were planted in sod. The sod, when worked well, grew good crops, but no amount of work on sod made for good potato ground and the first crop of potatoes, the tubers were about the size of peas. A lot of the ground was what they called "black root", which was tough, hard, and hard to work into a seed bed. The first year or two were dry years and the winters were pretty severe and this didn't help to get a very fast start on a new place.

They lived about two miles from school so Frances had to walk. The school was called Pine Knot and at that time it was east of our place about a mile.

After a few years the homesteader be­ came self-supporting, so Claud was home more of the time and developed it into a good small ranch.

He had quite a few horses and it seemed to me that he was always breaking horses to work.  Two of his old faithful ones were Prince and Gyp.  They were both gentle and were broken to ride, as well as work.

Along in mid-winter, one time, Claud had a toothache and it had abscessed. He got on Gyp and started for Harrison, which was about 20 miles away. It was a cold bitter day and the snow was pretty deep. The going was slow and the tooth was very painful. When he got through the Monroe Canyon and got out on top, about four miles from Harrison, the snow was deeper. The road was blocked so the people had nailed down the fence and went through the pastures. When he came to the fence Gyp refused at first to go over the wire but with a little persuasion and a few (kind) words she jumped the fence and when she came down the abscess broke, the pain was gone immediately and it appeared the trip was all for nothing.  He nevertheless went on into town and Dr. Wallace took care of it.

Each fall the neighbors would stock up on the staple groceries they needed for the winter and in the spring one of them would make a trip to Harrison for groceries that they would be short of.  They took turns making this spring trip.  It was Claud's turn one spring and when he got about a mile from home a storm came up and at times he couldn't see where he was going. Aunt Lou had a lamp in the window so he could see where the house was, but due to the storm and lack of vision he couldn't stay on the road.  One of the horses was a fast­er walker than the other one , so they kept going around in a circle.  This went on for quite some time until finally there was a break in the storm long enough for him to get to the road that was straight north of the house. Then knowing exactly where he was, he could keep the horses going straight.

In the spring, just after school was out, Uncle Claud was always my buddy. I would go up for a visit, supposedly, and before I went home he would cut my hair off real short, which I couldn't have done at home. I guess my folks didn't like my hair short, but I guess I figured after it was cut nothing much could be done about it and Uncle Claud was too far away to get punish­ed for doing it.

Their first car was a Model T Ford.

There were several times when they and my folks went to Harrison we would push our Model T up the Holtz hill. The longest trip they made was to Crawford, Nebr. to visit Aunt Lou's folks.  One evening they and my folks started to Crawford for a visit.  We were east of Harrison, about straight north of Andrews, when we came to a gate across the road.  The gate hadn't been used for some time and there was a road that left the main tracks that went around the gate. We were in the lead and went around the gate, Uncle Claud saw that we didn't stop so he stayed in the main tracks and drove into the wire gate.     We kids were watching them and when he hit the gate it looked like a bunch of firecrackers had gone off.    We went back and helped un­tangle the Ford from the gate and put the gate back together the best we could.   The next morning we looked the Ford over but there were very few scratches on it.

Each August before school started Aunt Lou and mom would spend a week or so together making dresses for the girls for school.  I think the time was spent about equal between the two homes. I always thought of it as sort of a ritual. We kids would be out playing and every so often they would call one of the girls in to be fitted. The girls were always waiting to be called in. Me being the only boy in the bunch, I thought it was sort of dull and I guess I caused plenty of squabbles during that period, because every once in a while, Mom or Aunt Lou would come out and settle us down.

Claud was quite a sports fan and was a pretty good ball player. The community started out playing baseball and they would play the other communities close around.

Then they started playing soft ball and  branched out by playing teams farther away from home. I remember one time they played a team from Lance Creek and were beaten pretty badly. Uncle Claud's only comment was, "I guess we played out of our class". They  played  under the lights in Lusk one time but didn't come out so good in that game either. The lights made the ball look like it was some place else than where it was. They had a good time, nevertheless.

He liked big game hunting and went hunting several seasons around Dubois and in Jackson Hole. He always came home with his game.  He bought a hunting horse, called Paint, which he took with him on each trip.

When he quit work he spent a lot of his time tramping around in the hills south of his home. He also spent a lot of time building a foot path around a fishing pond he had above the house. He called the path 'Nature's Walk'. It was an interesting path to walk around the pond on. The last time I walked around on it was in the spring and in the upper end of the pond was a mother duck with a bunch of little ones swimming around. You could let your imagi­nation go and you felt like you were miles away from civilization.  He lived his life out on the place he developed from the open range.

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary VanBlarcum, Claude (08/31/1877 - 01/27/1963) View Record
Obituary VanBlarcum, Louie (01/16/1883 - 08/04/1971) View Record