Historical Details

Howell, Maggie and Ira and William Nelson

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


by Zella Howell Zimmerman

Nelson Howell was born in Perthamboy, N.J. Oct. 12, 1874. Ira Nelson was born in Iowa on January 1881. William Nelson was born in Iowa in September 1882.

Their parents had come from Denmark in 1872. In Nov. 21, 1898 Maggie Nelson married George A. Howell. March 5, 1910 George Howell died leaving Maggie Nelson Howell with a baby girl, Archie, five days old and two other girls, Zella 10 and Sylvania eight years old. She and her brother Ira decided to go to Wyoming and homestead. They filed on their claims in April or May 1911.

In June Ira Nelson came to Lusk with an emigrant railroad car which was loaded at Bristow, Nebr. with all the household things including a sewing machine, four horses, one colt, two cows and a dozen hens and some farm machines, wagon and a spring-wagon or two-seated buggy that made a light rig for trips to town or with both seats, a buggy for the family, and two milk cows.

Ira and the emigrant car which he traveled with got to Lusk in June. He took all the things out to the homesteads, which were five miles east of the Hat Creek Store. Mrs. Howell and girls came to Lusk by train on July 4, 1911. Ira was there to meet them and take them out to the homestead.

Sylvania and Zella did not go back to town until the summer of 1915, when there was a Chautauqua in town which we went in to see and hear.

The first winter we just had a one-room shack. We needed the rest of the time that summer to get up shelter for the horses and cows.

The next summer Ira built one large log room onto what we did have and he also built his claim shack which was used to repair shoes, harness or anything else he could repair.

The first year we heated and cooked with a small cook stove, after that we got a heater and burned wood for several years.

We had a very hard winter the first year - the winter of 1911-1912. The snow came early and didn't all go off until March. Then in April we had two blizzards. We had to haul all the feed for the cows and horses from Lusk. The big ranchers had large cattle and sheep losses that year.

During the spring of 1912 when Mrs. Howell was getting ready to do the washing, Sylvania kept saying she could hear a funny hissing noise.  Mrs. Howell kept saying it was the tea kettle on the stove. When Mrs. Howell went outside, she heard the hissing much louder, so she grabbed the hoe and started toward the sound when she froze for a second: for here was Archie, then just two years old, the cat and dog forming a triangle and a rattlesnake
in the middle, not knowing which way to strike.

Mrs.Howell killed the snake. The same day we found another nearby. We saw several others but none of us or our animals were ever bitten by a snake.

The first summer was all very interesting to us, as it was the year of the last big roundup in that area. They didn't bring cattle down where we lived but we had good spring water where they liked to bring their chuck wagons and horses that they held in a rope corral. The cook would come in with his wagon, start a fire and let down the tailgate of the wagon which was a table for him to work on. The cowboys would come in three or four at a time--eat, change horses and ride off-then another bunch would come 
in until they all had eaten. Then they would move on to the next camp. One day Sylvania was running with our dog on a string when a cowboy rode up and shot the dog.

The winter of 1911 and 1912 we had no school, as the nearest school was in Lusk,

25 miles away.  During the fall of 1912 Mrs. Al Bryant had the homesteader children in that area come to her home. She taught us until Christmas time when the weather got too bad.    There was five of us - two Jensen girls, Anna and Verna, who drove a horse hitched to a one-horse buggy and Wilbur Bryant who was close enough to walk and Sylvania and Zella Howell. They rode horseback double.  The Jensen and Howell girls had three miles to go. The next spring the people in the area got a petition up demanding a school. Mrs. Howell gave land to have a school built. The fall of 1913 we had our first school. Alsey Jewett was the teacher - it was a seven-month term.

About this time the people in the  com­munity organized a Sunday School. Mrs. Howell, Alsey Jewett and Mrs. Cameron were the ones that got the Sunday School going. In the summer we had Sunday School on Sunday but after school started in the fall we had Sunday School on Friday afternoon, as it was too hard for the people to get to the school so often.

The school was here, I think until about 1921 or 1922, when several country schools were consolidated and they built a two-room school near the intersection of the old highway that went north and south past the Hat Creek Post Office and the road that comes from the east. It is now being used as a club house for the community. The old school was moved to this location for the teachers to live in and they had nine months of school and two teachers. The first bus driver was Bob Himes for the east route.

Our post office was the old Hat Creek Store. The postmaster was Andrew Falconer. He had a good supply of groceries and a supply of mens work clothes for the cowboys. The building is still standing. It is a large log building on Sage Creek about a mile east of the Hat Creek store building.

William Nelson came to visit in January of 1913 and stayed to homestead just south of Mrs. Howell's homestead.

When Mrs. Howell and Ira Nelson proved up on their homesteads in 1914, Ira used to work in the oil field around Casper. He was a riveter on the big storage tanks. In 1917 he joined the army and was sent to the Mexican border where he served until 1919, when he was discharged. He stayed a few years on the homestead, then he went to Martin, S.D. where he went to drilling water wells.  He died on the job Dec. 21, 1927.

William Nelson, after the homesteads were sold, went to McMinville, Ore. with his niece, Archie Howell East and Zella Zimmerman. He died there in May 1952.

When Fred Bryant returned home from World War I, Sylvania Howell married him June 28, 1919. They were married at home by Rev. Clark.   She died just after they celebrated their 40th Anniversary in 1959. They made their home on the homestead of Fred Bryant. They had seven children, one dying as an infant. Their oldest Iris Bryant Cline lives in Oklahoma. She has two sons. Her husband died in 1972.

Evelyn Bryant had three children - two dying as small children. She lives in California.

Howell (Burr) Bryant, his wife and daughter live on the old Fred Bryant ranch just east of Hat Creek. Burr served in World War II, and was in the D-Day Invasion of France.

George Bryant was a soldier in World War II. He was killed by a sniper's bullet Jan. 30, 1945.

John Bryant and wife live at Riverton. They have one son.

Verva (Tiny) Bryant Crofutt and her husband live in Lusk. They have two sons.

Zella Howell married Charlie Zimmerman on March 12, 1926.  Charlie died Jan. 11, 1973. They had lived for over 20 years in Reedsport, Ore. They had six children. One died as a small child.

The oldest son, Charles I. Zimmerman and his wife live in Reedsport. They have four children - three girls and one boy.

Charles served in World War II and was in Japan for one year.

Ruth Zimmerman Ddange has six children, three girls and three boys.

Robert N. Zimmerman and his wife live in Denver, Colo. They have three children, two boys and one girl. Robert served in the Korean War. He was in Korea for a year.

Ira  Zimmerman and his wife have 10 children and live in Colfax, Wash. Ira served in the Navy and was on the Commutian Ship that was in the Dew Fleet - the first ships to the North Pole.

Kenneth A. Zimmerman and his wife have three boys and live in Portland, Ore.

Archie Howell East married John East on Feb. 22, 1930. They had three girls. They had lived on Mrs. Howell's homestead. In 1942 they went to McMinnville, Ore. where they lived until Archie died in March 1964. John still lives there.

The oldest daughter, Peggy Ann East Baulk lives in Beaverton, Ore. and has three children.

Arlene East is a school teacher - for 

the last several years she has taught in military bases all over the world. She is now in Germany, teaching.

Linda East Staples lives in Portland. They have two children.

Mrs. Maggie Howell died in August 1941 - is buried in Lusk where William Nelson and two of her grandchildren are buried, too.

Our entertainment was parties in the homes. If there was room enough and some­ one to play a violin or any other thing that would make music, we would dance. We had some very good fiddlers - Fred Bryant and others and some good squaredance cal­lers - Roy Eastburn and Melvin Miller and others I do not remember.

If there weren't enough to dance or someone to make music, we played cards. These parties we often went to as soon as the chores could be done in the evening. We often went as far as 10 miles or more in a wagon, and we could stay until day­ light and get home to do the chores. The women always took sandwiches, cake, cookies and the hostess furnished coffee, which was served about midnight.

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Howell, Margaret (10/12/1874 - 08/25/1941) View Record
Obituary Nelson, William (09/16/1882 - 05/30/1952) View Record