Historical Details

Percival Family

Courtesy of Our Heritage: Niobrarans and Neighbors, 02/11/2021


by Mrs. Paul Percival, Written in 1972

Garth and Edna Percival were both born in Des Moines, Iowa. Garth Denman was born on Nov. 15, 1877, the second son of five children of Henry and Ella Courtney Percival. The parents were pioneers of Des Moines. His mother came there from Ohio in a wagon drawn by an ox team during the Indian uprising at Spirit Lake, Ia. She was one of the pioneer school teachers of that city. Garth grew to manhood in Des Moines, having been graduated from high school there. Shortly after graduation he volunteered in the Army during the Spanish-American War. After receiving an honorable discharge, at the end of the war, he entered Ames College at Ames, Ia. He completed three years of training and then spent 11 years traveling and buying furs and selling butcher supplies. His family was of English descent.

Vernona Edna was born July 31, 1891 to Fred L. and Clara Ella Morse. Her father was French and her mother English, having been the daughter of Sir Henry Manning who immigrated to Wisconsin from England. Sir Henry's family estate had reverted to the English Crown when he came to the United States to live. Edna had one sister, Flora, who was married to George Boyd of Lusk.

She died of cancer in December 1945. The girls grew up and received their education in Keokuk and Ottumwa, Ia. and Chicago, Ill. The father was a railroad man and the family lived in many cities.

Garth and Edna were married in St. Louis, Mo. in 1908.  Soon after their marriage they began to hear about the homesteads available in Western Nebraska and Wyoming. Garth came west to choose a spot.  This was 
raw land and the early settlers were very unhappy about President Teddy Roosevelt ordering them to tear down their range fences and open the land to homesteaders. In June of 1909 Garth filed on a homestead of 320 acres at a spot about eight miles east of the old Hat Creek Fort, close to the head of Indian Creek. He returned to Iowa for his wife and small son. Necessary equipment, supplies and some livestock were purchased which he transported to Lusk in an immigrant car on the railroad. In August of that year his wife and small son Garth, Jr. joined him. They spent part of their first year here in a house on the Charlie Roberts homestead three miles east and south of their own place. Upon arrival in Lusk, Garth pur­chased a wagon and team to haul his supplies and to do the work on his homestead.  He cut logs in the hills to construct a house, a barn and corrals. He fenced his property and began to farm the land and by the spring of 1910 was established on his own place.

In a few years the government allowed 640 acres more for homesteading. Then, with various other homesteaders giving up and selling out and with the aid of some state land made available for leasing, Mr. Perci­val was able to accumulate enough land for a sizable ranching operation.

Garth, Jr., was soon followed by brothers Roger in 1910, Paul in 1911, and sisters Ella in 1913 and Flora in 1914. Life was never easy. There were no doctors for baby delivery, only the help of a neighbor to serve as a mid-wife. Trips to town were made once or twice a year with a team and a spring wagon to buy the necessary supplies. Edna seldom made the arduous trip that took two days to complete. She recalls that at that time there was not a single house    between Lusk and Hat Creek and only 

one house between Hat Creek and the ranch site.(That being the Crinklaw place--now owned by Roy Johnson). When the children became old enough for school, it was neces­sary to board the school teacher in an al­ ready crowded home. Securing a teacher and getting the children to school was always a problem.  At one time Edna was forced to attend summer school at the University of Wyoming at Laramie to prepare herself to teach her children for several years.   As the youngsters grew bigger they rode horse­ back to school, sometimes as far as 10 miles. They took their first years of high school at a country school and then moved to town and took an apartment and cared for themselves.   They all graduated from Lusk High school.

Mail was brought to Hat Creek twice a week in the early days. Edna went for the mail about once a week. Sometimes she hitched up a team and the spring wagon or sled, depending on the weather at the time. The children looked forward to this outing. One time she had a run-a-way with her team and scattered kids all along the way. When the horses were finally stopped all but the littlest girl had bounced out!  Part of the time she rode horseback for the mail and the youngsters remained at home with their father.

Garth, Jr., the oldest, was born in Keokuk, Ia. He attended Niobrara County schools and graduated from the University of Wyoming with a B.A. degree in Science. He worked for many years as a teacher, farm security supervisor and county agent.         He married the former Mae Heckt of Powell, Wyo. They had one daughter, Peggy Mae, now Mrs. George Johnson of Missoula, Mont.  She has one son Randy.  Garth died of cancer in 1960 at Deer Lodge, Mont. where he was serving as County Agent.  His widow still teaches school there.

Roger, born on the ranch, attended local schools and the University of Wyoming.   He served in the armed forces during World War II in the South Pacific. Following his discharge from the service he established a liquor store in Lusk which he has operated since. He is presently a Director of the Lusk State Bank. He married Sara Stone of Lusk in 1953. They have no children.          Roger is a member of the Elk Lodge.

Paul, born on the ranch, attended local schools and the University of Wyoming, maj­oring in Engineering.   He is a licensed land surveyor and worked for the Wyoming Highway Department and the U. S. Engineers for many years.  Following World War II he, with his family, moved back to the home ranch and has operated it ever since. He is married to the former Elizabeth (Betty) Thompson of Sundance. They have two children, Dorothy Rae, Mrs.Donald Whiteaker of Lusk, who is a graduate of the University of Wyoming. The Whiteakers operate Whiteaker's Clothing store in Lusk.   They have two children, Marybeth and Tommy. Paul's son William Paul (Bill) is a graduate of the University of Wyoming and is a teacher, as well as being associated with his father and brother­ in-law Donald Whiteaker in the ranching operation.  He is married to the former Gayleen Schneider of Worland, who is also a teacher.   They have two children, Douglas and Krista Lenae. Paul is a very busy rancher as well as being a practicing land surveyor. He has recently developed underground water on his ranch in the Prairie Center area in Goshen County on which he is raising irrigated pasture.   He is a member of the executive committee of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, past president of the Niobrara Feeders Association, past master of Harmony Masonic Lodge, a 32nd Degree Mason, served for many years on the Niobrara County School Board, served as county commissioner, is active in the Republican Party, having been county vice­ chairman and presently is state committee man, and is on the Vestry of St. George's Episcopal Church.

Ella attended local schools and worked for a time in Lusk.  She is married to Harold E. Rogers, a native of Niobrara County, who is the county sheriff, as well as having previously been county clerk and county assessor. They are the parents of three children.  Lloyd of Fort Collins, Colo. is married to the former Saletta Craig of Yuma, Colo. they have one daughter Sinnamon. Roger, the second son, lives in Milwaukee, Wisc. and works for State Farm Insurance Co. He is a graduate of Chadron State College and is married to the former Julia Brown of Scottsbluff, Nebr.    Their      daughter Flora Mae is married to Cody Clark of Lusk and they reside on the Clark ranch north of Hat Creek. They have two sons, Dusty and Cory.

Flora attended local schools and work­ ed for Dr. Reckling for several years after high school graduation.              She then attended Mercy Hospital School of Nursing. Upon graduation she enlisted in the Army Nurse Corp serving in the South Pacific during World War II, becoming a 1st Lieutenant.

After the war she continued working for the government, serving at Fitzsimmons Hospital in Denver, Colorado. She married Charles Bray of Bluefield, W. Va. who works as an expediter at Sandia Base in Albuquerque.

They have no children. Flora is a member of the Order of the Eastern Star and the P.E.O. Sisterhood. 

Garth and Edna continued to ranch on their original homestead for many years. They raised Hereford cattle, hay, wheat, and some pigs. They experienced many rough times, drought, hail, blizzards and grass­ hopper infestations. They obtained their first motor car early in the 1920's - a Model T. Ford and as the years went by had better cars and traveled more easily.

Both took an active part in social and community organizations. They pursued a hobby of fishing after the children were raised and took several nice trips.  Garth was a past master of Harmony Masonic Lodge, past patron of Niobrara Chapter #26, Order of the Eastern Star, was an Elk, belonged to the United Spanish War Veterans, was a member of the Presbyterian Church and the Wyoming Stock Growers Association. In January of 1944 they moved to town to re­ tire.  Garth was taken ill in the spring and died in May following surgery. Edna has remained in the home they established together in Lusk.  She is a member of the Eastern Star, Past Matrons Club, Does Lodge, American Legion Auxiliary, Cow-Belles,

Episcopal Guild, Homemakers Club, Lusk Womans Club, Country Club Woman, Historical Society.    She enjoys her life, her family and her community.

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Record Type Name
Obituary Percival, Garth (11/15/1877 - 05/01/1944) View Record