Historical Details

Siemsen, Jesse Burkhart

Courtesy of Our Heritage: Niobrarans and Neighbors, 02/04/2021


by Irene s. Curtin

The John Burkhart homestead was eight miles north of Van Tassell, Wyo. in the com­munity known as Sunny Side. At this time, there were no fences between Van Tassell and the homestead, and no roads to follow.

The homestead was about 17 miles east of Lusk, Wyo. Wyoming was an amazement to the Burkhart family, for it seemed to have few trees and only prairie.

John William Burkhart and his wife, Cora Scott, were born and raised in Illinois. After they were married they moved to Worthington, Minn., Nobles County. Jessie Burkhart was born Oct. 10, 1896 at Worthington, the second of four girls.

In the summer of 1908, her father came to Wyoming with two friends. The men filed on their homesteads, but did not stay to make any improvements. The men returned to Minnesota to harvest their crops, but return­ ed to Wyoming after harvest to build the homestead shacks that were needed to prove on the homesteads.  After the homes were built they returned to Minnesota to help their families move to Wyoming.  The men came by an emigrant train. Mrs. Burkhart with Jessie and two of her sisters and Mrs. Chas. Taylor with their seven children came by passenger train.

The family arrived in Wyoming in April 1909. Jessie was 12 years old. The first impression she had of Wyoming was the vast­ness and wide-open spaces. The families disembarked from the trains at Van Tassell, Wyo. and the first "sight" was a long plat­form filled with stacks of cow hides and several box cars waiting to be loaded with these hides. There were no fences, no roads and few buildings to be seen. 

The Burkhart family brought household furniture and food supplies, farming sup­plies, two horses, two milk cows and some chickens on the emigrant train. Two days after arrival at the homestead, a Wyoming blizzard struck. Very little shelter was available for the livestock, but they sur­vived.

Before too long a small grocery store was started in Van Tassell by Mr. Wheeler. A schoolhouse was built on a corner of the Burkhart land which was a quarter of a mile from the house. Mr. Burkhart gave the land to the school, for he was interested in education. There were four girls in his family to attend this school, Pearl, Jessie, Ethel and Eva. The teachers usually stayed with the family. This school was known as the Sunny Side School. Jessie attended this school, later her son, Nyal also went to school at Sunny Side. Her daughter, Irene, also attended the same school, but by then it was moved to a school section two miles to the northwest of the former site.

Jessie Burkhart married John Siemsen  Dec. 10, 1914.  John's homestead was about four miles north of her parents home. By 1914 there was quite a community. Every half-section of land was filed on. During the early years of their marriage John own­ ed a well drilling outfit and a threshing machine, so he was away from home quite often. When John was gone this left Jessie to do the work outside and to take care of the livestock.

Jessie always did a lot of sewing for her family.  Before the marriage she worked for the Swanson Sisters at Douglas, Wyo. and learned dressmaking trade. There was the gardening, canning, baking, and sewing which kept Jessie very busy. 

Two children were born to the union of John and Jessie Siemsen. Nyal Siemsen was born April 25, 1916 and Irene Siemsen Curtin was born at Douglas, Wyo. Oct.20 1926.There are four grandchildren, Nyonne and Synthia Siemsen and Pat and John Curtin.

The Burkhart homestead was purchased by the Siemsens when Mr. and Mrs. Burkhart decided to move to Missouri. For several years the Siemsens lived on this land. Gradually the Siemsen ranch became larger for they purchased land from other homesteaders that moved away.

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
Obituary Siemsen, Nyal (04/25/1916 - 06/15/1989) View Record
Obituary Curtin, Irene (10/20/1926 - 12/12/2000) View Record