Historical Details

Osborn, Mabel B. and Leach, Martha D.

Courtesy of Our Heritage: Niobrarans and Neighbors, 02/18/2021


by Mable Bussinger Osborn

I was born at Thurmond "Rock County" Neb., May 14, 1901. My father was Ernst Bussinger, born June 30, 1850 and my mother was Martha "Dyson" Bussinger, born Dec. 30, 1877. Father was a Swiss Immigrant and came to America Sept. 5, 1882. His family tree dates back to 1570. Sebastian Bussinger Von Arinalingen born 1570 and Magtalina Vollmin Van Arinalingen married 1590.

Father's family were residents of Ormalingen, Switzerland for several gene­ rations. He was married to Mary Geisen, 1874 and they had two children, Ernest and Mary when they came to America. His mother and father were: Johannas Bussinger and Mother Anna Martha Breitenstein of Ormaligan, Switzerland.

My father homesteaded on a timber claim in Rock County, Nebraska, 20 miles southeast of Bassett where I was born.

His wife died in 1892 when Mary was 14.  In 1895 he married my mother Martha Dyson at Bassett, Neb. My sister, Fern Estelle, was born Jan. 12, 1897.

I was born May 14, 1901 at Perch, Nebr. My mother Martha Lenora Dyson was born at LaPlatte, Sarpee County, Nebraska. Her parents were Annie Rowles and Thomas Mayberry Dyson. They were of Scot, Irish, Welsh, and English descent. They came from Maryland and settled near Bellevue, Nebr.

Mother's grandparents came to Nebraska in the early 1800's and settled near Bellevue. The grandfathers, Sgt.William Donaldson Rowles and Sgt. Joseph T. Dyson were in the Co.D, 2nd Army of  Nebraska.

Mother was born at LaPlatte, Nebraska. Joseph Dyson was scalped by Sioux Indians in an uprising June 22, 1863 and was buried at "Lone Tree", Genoa, Nebr.

I have a copy of the report of the adjutant general of Nebraska dated Jan. 1, 1871. They noted his extreme bravery!

These families were some of the first to settle at the river crossing where the Mormons crossed. I have a picture of one of their old stone houses.

My father had 12 brothers and sisters. They were Reinhardt, Johannes, Daniel, Benjamin, Edward, Wilhelm, Jakeb, Anna, Maria, Martha, Maria and Rosina. Mother had 10 brothers and sisters. They were: Donald, Laura, Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, William, Nellie, Elsie, Thomas and Mabel Pearl.

Grandfather and Grandmother Dyson immigrated to Rock Co. Nebr. and homesteaded about 20 miles southeast of Bassett in the late 1800's; then moved to Canada in 1902. Mother's parents names were Thomas Mayberry Dyson and Annie "Rowles" Dyson, born Sarpy County, Nebraska.

One year after I was born, father sold his homestead to Ed Mowery and bought a place five miles southeast of Bassett. There I lived until I was nearly five. Then my parents were divorced. From then on I spent most of my vacations on the farm with father and my school years with mother and step-father, William Leach, in Bassett.

My father married Elizabeth "Miller" Rodgers, a widow with five children, in the summer of 1907.

We had a six-room house on the farm and among some of my first memories was 
mother making a "hit and miss" rag rug to cover the whole floor of our front room, and white cotton ruffled curtains of bleached muslin. She dyed and sewed the rags and hired a friend to weave the strips when she later sewed them together. Papa helped her put a deep layer of new straw on the floor and stretch the rug over it.   This was her "rug pad".

In 1903 or 1904, Papa built the first fireproof building in Bassett, an "Opry House." The name Bussinger was across the front in foot-high letters. The building was of cement block and still stands, although the front has been covered with stucco. I remember the names of all the "big wigs" and other information was sealed in a corner block. Oh, how proud we were when they gave the house-warming with a big free dance. And I was very insulted when the floor manager put me and my cousins off the floor to keep us from being trampled.

The big occasions were the 4th of July, Christmas, etc. For these main events we always had new dresses and shoes, even though we went barefoot the rest of the year.

We never missed a show or musical, as Papa always demanded and got free passes for his children when he rented the building. We often had extra "brothers and sisters", as our cousins and friends soon learned to tag along with us when a show was in town. Papa, in his hurry, never caught on about these ex­tra passes. I'm sure I saw Al Jolson and Fanny Bryce, as all of the traveling shows traveled by train in those days and "made" most of the county seats.

William Leach, my step-father, died in 1915 and my step-mother died in 1913.

Mother bought a confectionary store in O'Neill, Nebr. in the summer of 1915. Father would never buy a car -- said it was O.K. for younger people but he was too old to learn to drive, so we had horses, buggy and spring wagon and farm wagon for transportation.

When I was past four, I went with Papa to get a load of corn from a piece of land he owned eight miles southeast of our home place. It was in the fall and the ground was frozen but no snow on the ground.

On our way home, I said I was hungry.Papa took a nail out of his pocket to open the syrup pail lid.

He either dropped a match or lost some spark when he lit his corn cob pipe, I looked back and not over a half mile in the rear was a prairie fire. In that tall grass country that was a terrible thing.

Papa drove the last mile and a half home with his horses at a dead run pulling a double box of shucked corn. He threw mother the lines with instructions to hitch the horses to a spring wagon while he loaded up a walking plow, barrels of water and sacks. He had plowed a half mile strip when the first help arrived. That night I went to sleep sitting at the south upstairs window. As far as my eyes could see, southeast and southwest, the sky was red. All available men, wagons and teams came from town. Mother and neighbor women made coffee and lunch for the men who came in to change teams and rest before return­ing to fight fire. In the early morning the wind changed, driving it back over burned area and finally the fire was out.

When I was five, mother cooked for a large wedding at Hartington, Neb. An only daughter of 16, the father of the bride wanted a big wedding. We rode out to his  farm on a wagon-load of groceries. Mother cooked for a week.  The guests were bankers from New York and all the big wigs from miles around.

We either walked to school (over three miles) when with our step-father, or rode horseback. When in town, we only had two blocks to go. But when I was six I got wet going to school the last of May and then came down with the measles. The doctor said I had lung fever. I did not leave the house until the 4th of July. My eyes were damaged and many times my step-brother, Ellis Leach, tied a scarf over my eyes and led me to school. I'm afraid I was very "stupid" on bright days, as my eyes bothered me so much. We had many narrow escapes and experiences. My sister frosted her feet when we rode with the mailman to town one Christmas vacation. We were placed in back of a spring wagon and covered with robes, but the lack of exercise was too much.

I had a ladder fall over backwards with me and a rung hit me across the bridge of the nose. Fortunately for me, it first hit my sister on her shoulder, knocking her to the ground.

When I was quite small there was a terrible siege of fleas. Mother did everything possible, but our barn was full, the hogs, dogs and cats covered and even the coyotes papa killed were in­fested.

Papa raised 60 or 65 head of hogs and about 100 head of cattle. Mother helped milk 14 to 16 cows. The milk was put into cooling pails placed in a box that was sunk into the ground on the north side of the house. The box was partially filled with cold water and the 
pails were covered with wet burlap sacks. This caused evaporation to keep the milk cool. The next milking time the milk was skimmed and fed to the calves and chickens. The cream was saved for churning. We had no separator. Early Friday morning the butter was churned and made into pats or put into stone butter jars. Early Saturday morning, mother left to take her produce to town -- cream, butter, cottage cheese, eggs and any other produce on hand. She traded these either at the store for needed supplies, or sold to friends in town.    Each buttermaker had a special butter mold "round" with a leaf, flower or other figure carved in the handle. That way the purchaser knew whose butter she bought and was assured of good butter.

We never saw a rattlesnake at that time and we children roamed at will between our house and the home of an aunt and uncle a half mile away. We spend many happy hours playing with our cousins, John, Mick, Jinks and Lizzie Bairs. We picked wildflowers, sand cherries, mulberries, etc.

Once my cousin, John, wishing to scare me, picked up a small garter snake and swung it at my legs, but it went too high and wrapped around my neck. My sister and Mick were standing near and quickly pulled it away. Mother said she thought for awhile that I would never outgrow the terrible shuddering spells I had. It was nearly a year before I did and many years later I still had terrible dreams. Poor Johnny! He really caught it from Fern and Mick.

My aunt became very ill and mother took care of John, Mick and Lizzie. Our little cousin, Rosie, died the spring of 1904 and Aunt Laura was sent to Tilden for surgery and medical care. The children were with us eight weeks. During that time we all had whooping cough. Poor mother, she nearly ran herself to death going up and down stairs and from bed to bed! At last she began falling into faints and we soon learned she would "come to" if we bathed her face and rubbed her arms.

Mother was a very good practical nurse and was often in demand to help bring a new baby into the world or care for an injured or sick person. Dr. Root often laughed and said, "There's no need for me if Mattie is already on the job". (Mattie was mother's nickname).

Boy, oh boy, do I remember the tur­ pentine drops on sugar when I gritted my teeth, the coal oil on sugar for croup, turpentine and lard chest rubs, but worst of all -- skunk oil taken internally or rubbed on chest for croup. Our druggist paid $1 per pint for skunk oil. My brother would render out the fat outdoors (no one could stand the cooking inside). Then he made quite an income with the trapping of furs and sale of oil!

At haying season everyone went to  the field at sunrise!  We had a hired man, mother, her 16-year-old cousins Bess and Ed Bailey, and Papa. Papa. Made his own repairs. Papa was very frugile and often the machinery was a little old. Once, after just starting a new stack, having only a couple of sweep loads of hay be­low the stacker, the stacker rope pulled off the giant pulleys. The long arms at the top of the stacker must have been about 20 feet off the ground. Deciding the only way to fix it was to climb up those long plank arms and ad­just the rope, Papa proceeded to do so. Some way he lost his balance and his 
foot caught under the big rope. Papa hung head down by one leg, only a scant padding between himself and mother earth. Papa started yelling, "My pipe, get my pipe"; yes he had lost his pipe! Mother, vexed retorted, "Save your neck, you may break your neck, what do you care about your old pipe?"  Papa's answer was, "Well, she cost me moneys". The group below howled with laughter and Papa climbed up and over the "arm" and descended to the ground. He joined good naturedly in the laughter. I forgot to mention that he had been an Alpine climber in Switzerland in his youth. He was also called a husband-man and a road builder in his home land.

Papa died in July 19, 1929 at Savannah, Mo. and was buried in the Pioneer Cemetery at Thurmond, Neb.

Mother sold her store at O'Neill and in November 1915 she bought a relinquish­ment to a homestead in the Hat Creek Valley two miles northwest of the old Hat Creek Stage Station and post office. She at once was sought after to cook for the numerous large ranches, the Lusk Bakery, restaurants and for the Ohio Camp in the Lance Creek oil field.

I spent the winter of 1915 batching with Papa on the farm and riding over three miles to Thurmond School.

April 1st, 1916, I arrived at Van Tassell in a howling blizzard with spring hat and clothes on. Luckily I was met by a family friend with a team and buggy full of furs and robes. I returned to Bassett after spending three months with mother, and stayed with my sister's family until I married Lue Osborn, Dec. 9, 1916 at Ainsworth, Nebr. We rented Lue's father's place at Spring View, Nebr. and lived there until Jan. 12, 1921.

In 1928 the sky fell! I had cancer surgery.  We moved back to the homestead from Lance Creek where Lue had been employed. In 1934 we had a plague of grasshoppers that took our crops. Lue worked for the government and poisoned them. That spring we bought lovely milk cows paying $50 each. That fall the government gave us $19 each and we were very happy to get it as we had no feed. Lue worked in the mountains getting out poles. The two oldest girls were in school at Lusk. Wyoma and I broke five cows to milk, slopped and cared for ten hogs, five calves, 250 chickens and 250 turkeys. We hauled water to do laundry, the household and livestock, pulling a stone boat with a barrel behind a Chevrolet car.

The children had a siege of measles, flu and I a bad abscess on my leg. That spring I bought  my mother's homestead at Hat Creek and she took my eight room house at Bassett, Nebr. in trade. The following year I was asked to supervise the making of cotton mattresses at the Armory in Lusk. Wilbur Brettell was county agent and I helped until the pro­ject was finished.

Several years after my step-father, William Leach died, mother remarried Lue's father, William Leonard Osborn.

Grandpa Osborn died with cancer of the lip and face June 17, 1930. Little Donna Kay came to fill the vacant spot he left.

Grandpa came home from Washington where he had gone for medical help in January. Lue and I cared for him and did all the nursing alone, as he wanted no one else in his sick room. He was buried June 20, 1930 at Lusk. 

Mother, suffering from an enlarged heart, moved to Elmire, Ore. She married Howard Lyman. She passed away at the age of 88 at a nursing home in Eugene, Ore., March 30, 1968. She was buried April 2, 1968 at the Pioneer Cemetary at Elmira.

In November, I accepted a job as acting Hat Creek Postmaster, as Dudley Fields, the encumbent postmaster was retiring. This post office was established Feb. 2, 1877. I got my appointment March 17, 1950. During this time I ran my own home and the post office in Dudley's store. Two years later I moved it to my own home. In 1947, I received a 20 year certificate for Home Extension work and 4-H Club leader. I taught 4-H for several years and have belonged to the Hat Creek Valley Club since 1924, except for the two years we resided in Oregon, two years in Lance Creek and the war years when we could not get tires or gasoline for our car. I belong to Rebekah Lodge No. 12 of Lusk, the First Baptist Church of Lusk, was a Deaconess and active worker until arthritis and numerous surgeries made the trips to town impossible.

I retired from the post office May 29, 1971 at the age of 70. The postmasters and letter carriers gave me a retirement party May 22 at the Fireside Inn and pre­sented me with a beautiful silver snack platter.

We still live on mother's old homestead but haven't been able to enlarge our small farm as we are encircled by several large ranches. Lue still raises a few sheep. We crop share, rent our farm ground and lease our pasture.

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Obituary Osborn, Mabel (05/14/1901 - 03/17/2000) View Record