Historical Details

Parmely, Claude Isaac and Family

Courtesy of Our Heritage: Niobrarans and Neighbors, 02/22/2021


by Erma Parmely Tschacher

Claude Isaac Parmely was born Dec. 25, 1886 at Miller, S.D. in Hand County, the son of Fremont and Alice Parmely. He was raised in and around Miller and Wessington Springs, S.D. He has told many times of visiting with the Indians, picking up cow chips for fuel, herding cows, etc. He studied by candlelight and did get a very good education, even though it was not all from books. He finished the 8th grade. He could figure problems in his head quicker than most with a pencil. He became a brick layer and carpenter by trade in later years. Claude never served in the military service.

He was called for the next draft and luckily the war ended in 1918 and he never had to go.

Claude Parmely married Sylvia May Green on Feb. 23, 1908 at Jerauld County, S.D. They made their home in and around Wessington Springs until 1913 when they moved to Iowa where Claude attended Bible College at Spencer, Iowa. Claude practiced ministry of the Quaker faith until 1925.

To this union six children were born:  Harriett Alice, Feb. 3, 1909, who married Avery Smith on Sept. 1, 1929 at the ranch home of her parents near Chalk Buttes, Wyo. Well was remembered the 3 inches of snow that fell that day.  We had many friends and relatives who had come from South Dakota for the wedding. Were they surprised. Avery was a pipefitter by trade and recently retired. They have two sons -- Leonard Avon Smith born in 1931, married Claire Ferguson in 1953. To this union five children were born: David - married Patricia Carey in 1975, Sharon K - married Robert Cover in 1972 and Robert Cover Jr. is the only Great-Great grand- child.

In July, 1933, Harriett and Avery lost  a premature infant son.

Eldyn Lyle Smith born June 1935 - married Clara Ausdenmore in 1963 and he has   two stepdaughters - Vicki and Cheri. They have one daughter Kim Tracey. Eldyn was in the Air Force four years.

Everett Lynn born Nov. 22, 1910 - married Margaret Wright on July 4, 1932 at Lusk. They have three sons - Alvin LeRoy married Verona Arlene Hourt in 1954 at Harrison, Neb. They have four children - Veronica Ann, Everett Willie, Charles Allen and Ronald Dean.

Bobby Floyd born Aug. 9, 1934 - married Judy Pullen of Harrison, Neb. They had a daughter Merry Beth and a son Douglas.

This union was severed many years ago and Bobby Floyd married Joyce Purdue in 1962. They have four children - Robin, Bobby Floyd Jr., Everett LeRoy and Shannon.

Franklin Parmely born Jan. 27, 1937 - married Tamera Zimmerman in 1963 at Harrison, Neb. He had two stepsons Harry Scott and Bobby McKelvey. This union was severed and in 1967 Franklin married Betty Barfield.  In April 1973 they had a chance to adopt 3 children (brothers and a sister). However, they were really only looking for one or two children, but decided to take all three of them. They seem to be very happy. Franklin served 14 years in the Army.

Della Pearl was born March 21, 1913 - married James L. McAllister on July 3, 1937 at Lusk. Jim worked as a cowboy many years for the Joss ranch, a trucker, ranched and is presently semi-retired. Della worked for Mantei, Henry Petz and the Lusk Hospital for many years. To this union was born one daughter Janice Elaine - married Neal Dobson in 1963, divorced - married Clayton Fuller in 1968 and has two children Tonya Rae and James LeRoy who reside with the mother. Janice married Johnny Krein in Feb. 1975.

Janice is a Beautician by trade and also an experienced waitress.

Erma Irene born March 20, 1917 - married Lewis Tschacher July 25, 1936 at Hot Springs, S.D. They lived in Idaho for 13 years and then moved back to Lusk in 1948, in time for the blizzard of 1949. There was no siding on their house and water pipes in their house in Manville froze and broke and had to be replaced before moving to the Old Milburn Homestead where they still reside.  Lewis drove school buses for 25 years and operated the small ranch; however, due to ill health and seven major surgeries he leased the place and was forced to retire in 1971.  They have two sons - Floyd Arnold who married Donna K. Sides, April 14, 1956 and they have two children - Randall Allen and Tamera K.  Floyd has served in the U.S. Army since Dec. 12, 1955. Donna and the children lived in Lusk during 1967 and 1968 when Floyd was in Vietnam.

Darell Ray married Judith Allyn Evers Dec. 30, 1966, at Big Bear Calif.  Darell at that time was serving in the Air Force and stationed at George Air Force Base at Victorville, Calif. They lived at Apple Valley, Calif. where Darell ran an airport after leaving the service. The Roy Rogers museum was across the street from the airport and Darell became personally ac­quainted with Roy Rogers. Darell served in and out of Vietnam and on several secret missions. Darell helped develop the Marinaville which overlooks Lake Meade in Nevada. The land development sales became very slow when the economy started to slide and Darell decided he should be changing positions and started to work for Chism Homes which is based in Las Vegas, Nev. and
has sub offices in Boise, Idaho and Cheyenne, Wyo. I believe his title is Director of Marketing. They have two children - Kendall Ray and Kristin Allyn.

Clifford Franklin, born Sept. 14, 1920 married Annie Matilda Myrup, Sept. 4, 1942. Clifford served 2 years in the U.S. Army.

While in the Army, Clifford had to have a kidney removed.  Luckily Frank Boardman was in the same camp and kept the family informed as to his condition. They have two children - Paul Eugene - married Pamela Graham in 1962 at Lusk. Paul served four years in the U.S. Navy. They have one son Perry Alan.

Carol Jean - married James Smith on April 4, 1965 at Lusk. Jim served in the U.S. Army and also became a real estate salesman.

Glen Eugene born Sept. 12, 1928 - married Donna Penfield, Jan 2, 1954. Glen served 8-1/2 years in the National Guards, has done much ranch work in and near Lusk and has worked at the Port of Entry at Lusk for many years. Donna and Jim have three children - Trenda, Debra and Neil.

Claude Parmely had only two sisters, one died when very small. Mattie Hanson, the surviving sister lived at Wessington Springs, S.D. at the time of her death.

She raised two families - Donald, Burl, Kenneth and Alice and a son Clifford pre­ceded her in death. The Hanson family was Russell, Robert and Beverly.

Sylvia had two sisters - Ida Titus (Mrs. Kenneth) of Lander, Wyo.; and Opal (Mrs. Glen) Cundall still reside at Glendo, Wyo. Harold and Fay are both deceased and Melvin and Earl are in Oregon and Harriett (Midge) lives in New Jersy. Fay, Melvin and Earl all served in the armed forces.

Pearl Linn the other sister raised six children; Kenneth, Edwin, Mable, Wayne, Donald and Velma. They most all reside in 
South Dakota except Velma who lives in Arizona. Paul Linn the father resides at Wessington Springs. Wayne and Edwin and Donald served in the armed forces.


It was after much forethought, prayer and consideration for his family that Claude and Sylvia decided it might be a better life to try and raise their family if they moved to Wyoming.  Harriett, then a senior in high school, chose to finish high school at Wessington Springs, S.D. and stayed with his grandfather W.F. Green. After the graduation, grandfather Green brought Harriett to Wyoming and visited the family.

Claud and Arther S. Parmely, a second cousin, loaded the machinery, horses (Dick and Deck), team of mules, hogs and furniture into box cars on the train and set out for Wyoming with their cargo.

Sylvia and Edwin S. Parmely, another second cousin, and the Claude Parmely children came later in a Model T. Ford. This car was open and there was cloth curtains that could be snapped into position should a sudden shower appear. After many flat tires (which had to be fixed on the spot and pumped up with a hand pump as there were no service stations available) and five hundred miles behind us we arrived safely at Keeline on April 1, 1926. Our father already had the furniture at the ranch home which was 10 miles north of Keeline, Wyo. and was formerly known as the Poales Place.

We got our mail on a star route at Lost Springs. The postmaster was Ben and Iris Thurston. The mailman for many years was Guy Condray. Bill Davies had the general store, Clyde Bowel had the hotel and Mills ran the bank. Our mail on the route was delivered a mile from our home. We either rode a horse or walked after it.

But was considerably better than having to go the 10 miles to Keeline, or Lost Springs. We also became acquainted with the William Kant family at this time.

Keeline businessmen were John Hill who had the post office and a connecting service station. General store and hotel was Pete's and a daughter Dora Olsen. Frank Demmer had the telephone office. We appreciated this as most people had rural phones, operated with batteries. A general ring would get everyone on the line in case of serious illness, severe storms or prairie fires. Coming from South Dakota where we had experienced a cyclone in recent years, we were very jumpy. We made many a trip to the cave and sat many hours waiting for storms to pass. We had a cot down there and also a kerosene lamp. We found something to amuse ourselves until the storm passed.

Frank Carey was the local barber and Del Shoopman had a hardware store and also bought and sold grain. Carl Spacht was in the bank. Doctor Murphy was the local doctor. He later moved and practiced at Lusk.

The furniture my father had at the ranch home awaiting our arrival was not the plush furniture we enjoy today. It was hard­ wood rockers, straight chairs, iron bed­ steads (which made it handy for the bedbugs to multiply in the wooden slats that held the springs, mattresses and straw ticks). These pests - along with pack rats.  The long table which would seat 16 and was used very often as we had much company and also threshing crews were fed in the home at that time. No one ever carried a lunch when they came to work for you. Mother had a superstition about seating 13 at a meal. If there were going to be 13 she would find some excuse to wait on the table.   Our stove was a Majestic, as I can remember it quite well. Our heating stoves were also wood and coal fired.

Our house was an eight room structure, however, the upstairs was not finished and again part of the reason for fighting bedbugs constantly.  There was no  plumbing, no electricity or the likes we have today. Of course the coat and overshoes had to be donned if nature called.  If after dark, you would light a kerosene lantern or depend on the good Lord to furnish the necessary moonlight. We were fortunate enough to have a facility that did not leak and of course brought our catalogues with us. Later we had gas lanterns for lighting purposes and some of the neighbors got carbide lights later.

Some of the close neighbors were Clayton Eddys, Hardy Lees, Joe Bartos, Chester Wright, Lee Wright, Enos Lee, LeGrand Lee, Joe Stallman, Harold and Pat Thrasher, Oliver Hitshew, and Joss, Jim and Ethel Edwards (colored people) and the Burbridge Hughes family.  They were all good neighbors and would help with harvest or whatever was needed. Claude worked for Charlie Henderson as a carpenter when he was building his new house. Alice Garrett and son Dale were doing the housekeeping for him.  We were permitted to listen to one of the first radios in the area at Charlie Henderson's. I can remember using the earphones to hear the programs and the music.

The first year we were in Wyoming the family killed 137 rattlesnakes. Later we learned there was a den nearby.  Claude and Everett and Edwin Parmely farmed and raised a few hogs and only a few cattle, mostly milk cows. The cream helped to set the table and buy a few of the necessities. We did have a separator. Another chore a.m. and p.m. which we hated was to wash that separator and those milk pails. Sylvia raised most all of her turkeys and chickens. Set the hens and later we had incubators which was kept heated with a kerosene flame. Eggs always had to be candled to see if fertile and discard those that were not. It was a treat to watch the little chickens and turkeys hatch. Sometimes if feed was very high we would kill the young turkeys and fry them as we would have a chicken. They were very tasty and quite filling.

We recall the days being too hot to shock the grain after it had been cut with the binder and tied into bundles. We would wait until after school and in the cool of the evening we would all go out and shock the grain, being ever mindful of the lurking rattler. The neighbors would then all get together to thresh the grain and haul it to storage, either in buildings on the premises or to the elevator at Keeline.

These bundle wagons and grain wagons were not the rubber-tired ones of today and they were all horse or mule powered. There were many to cook for when harvest rolled around. How­ ever, all pitched in and I don't think anyone ever went away hungry.

Our washing was all done by hand with a small washboard. Clothes were boiled on the top of the wood or coal burning stove. Very hot day and lots of hard work. Ironing was done by heating what was called sad irons. They were small and we had a detachable handle which was taken off while warming them and put back on to use them to smooth the clothing. There was a family of eight and sometimes we did washing for others who were living in. It was many hours of hard and hot work.  However, we did not have that 
many clothes and washing could not be left to be done later.  Our underclothes were most all made from flour sacks. Later when they started putting flour in printed bags we even had dresses and aprons made from them. Of course they were always our dishtowels. They sometimes became material from which our comforters were made. This making of comforters might be an individual project or might even become a neighborhood get-together. Even the men sometimes helped tie off the quilt. My father made many a frame for this purpose and in later years he made each child a quilt. Later we had a wooden tub washing machine which we could put the hot water into. This had a stick for a handle which rotated the dasher in­ side the tub to clean the clothes. However, it took lots of water and sometimes had to be pumped by hand if the wind did not blow.

On Saturday night the boiler had another use. It was filled and heated for the round of weekly baths. Really quite different from today.  We were lucky we had a good well close to the house. We pumped water into a barrel which gave us about 50 gallon supply of water. This would hold us for cooking and drinking purposes for about a day if wind did not blow and then of course many a time we pumped it full by hand. We also had about a 15 gallon tank in the kitchen. This always had to be filled with buckets and became a very small punishment in the event we girls had company and too much giggling went on and if we did not quiet down after about the third warning we were made to get up, dress, and go fill that tank.  By then we would be ready to go to bed and at least be quiet enough we did not keep the rest awake. The bedrooms in those days were not too private; maybe had two or three beds in a room and maybe two or three people and maybe a kid or two
at the foot. We did have a pipe which we could irrigate the garden if there was any overflow from the windmill pumping.

The Warren Kintighs came to visit us. They had two daughters who will be remembered as the late Isabel Coleman and Vera Cox who still resides in Lusk. They spent five weeks with us before they found a location. They moved to Shawnee and later lived at Keeline and Lusk.  Warren died early in life. And also a son James Lyle died in infancy. Mae worked at the local hospitals and at home nursing for many years. Archie Parmelys also came to Wyoming and settled at Lost Springs.  They had seven sons, Donald, Laverne, Harold, Leo, Merlin and Julian and Arvey Archie died when very small.

Seemed as though we always had room for one more. In 1921 Frank Boardman came to live at our place in South Dakota. He was 17 and his family had kicked him out. My folks     took him in. When we came to Wyoming he did not move with us, but came later. He also served in the U.S. Army, worked on the farm and later was a cook at the XL Cafe in Lusk. He died in 1948 at the age of 43.

Edwin S. Parmely stayed for quite a long time at our place also. Harold Titus a crippled nephew also stayed there many times. Those that could helped with the work for board and a place to stay. By this time we had a bunk house and were not quite so crowded as had been in the past.

Our house was a home even though it was not fancy and did not have the best of every­ thing. It holds many pleasant memories. We were fortunate enough to always have a roof over our heads and we never ever had dirt floors as some of the early homesteaders did. Our floors did not have coverings for many years. In winter there was always ice on the water bucket every morning, as the wood did not keep a fire all night. There was frost on the comforters and we would heat the sad irons or rocks to take to bed with us to try and get the beds warm so that we would go to sleep. Also used the hot rocks if we went visiting in the lumber wagon.

Later Frank Boardman, Claude and Everett mined coal at the Harney mine, which was northwest of our place, with the coal we could now bank the fires at night and took quite a bit of the chill off, shake down the grate and soon a fire would be going. We also gathered the wood in the hills. It would be an all day affair, taking our lunch and dragging out the dead trees with a saddle horse, load the wagons and make the return trip.  Then came the sawing and splitting and chopping for the stoves.

We did have one piece of furniture which will always be remembered, the old organ. It had a very good tone. Most everyone of the family learned to chord or to play a few religious songs at some time or another. What would it be worth today? I am sure it would bring a goodly some, but do not know whatever became of it.

An excerpt from a letter written by Sylvia to the Independent Newspaper at Wessington Springs, South Dakota on April 20, 1926, states:

“Lusk has some beautiful streets, land is tillable and no rocks like where we lived in South Dakota. Chalk buttes are about 50 feet high and about two miles from our house, hills, valleys and lots of trees and creeks. Our Sunday School is called Sunshine Valley Union and we had 35 in attendance today. The land can be purchased from $4 per acre to $20 per acre. Groceries are reasonable and taxes in Wyoming are cheaper. Our place is 320 acres and we have two sections leased. Five or six trains go through Keeline each day. We can hear them on a still day. We can see the town from our door, the country is rolling.

"Mack Erving at the AYP formerly from South Dakota is Justice of the peace in Lusk."

We had only been in Wyoming from April 26, 1926 until our grandfather Frank Green passed away in 1928.  We remember taking the Model T and going back to South Dakota to the services. Our finances were in low standing and I can remember it was very hard to make the decision as to whether or not folks could afford to make the trip.

Most all of the kids when we were 14 years of age were able to get jobs.  Yes, at $4 per week for milking cows, washing clothes on the board (no disposable diapers in those days), all had to be washed, baby sitting, ironing or anything around the house that needed to be done. In 1935 Erma worked as a bookkeeper for Highway Super Service Station; Jake Lorenzen was the manager, later John Lorenzen also worked there. Others were Jennings Ruffing, and Harold Shoopman. This job paid $8.35 per week. How does that compare 40 years later when bookkeepers get half that much for one hour's work. Babysitting was paid at 35¢ per evening. Today I believe they are paid 50¢ per hour. In those days a dollar did buy a few things.

At Christmas time we did not have a lot of luxuries. If we got a new coat or a new pair of shoes (which we would be needing anyway) we were happy.  Perhaps our shoes had had an insole or two put in them already to help make them last. We would get candy, oranges or apples and always had plenty of food for which we were thankful. Our mother was a good cook and did bake delicious bread. We walked two miles to and from school and as we got closer we could smell the aroma
of the bread being baked and we would run perhaps the last 25 yards. Hot bread, butter and sugar was a treat. We churned all of our butter, made our own cottage cheese. Our butter was first churned in glass fruit jars, then in a crock churn with a dasher. Later we got a glass churn that had a crank handle.  We would then work the butter and extract the buttermilk from it. The buttermilk was then used to drink or make pancakes. We kept the butter and cream immersed in the barrel of cold water. There was not refrigeration, only the cave for cooling purposes.

We had pleasant times. We were nearly always permitted to attend the barn dances which were in the haymow of the Lee Wright family barn.  These dances drew a good crowd and the music was a guitar, mouth organ and sometimes a fiddle or a jews harp. There were also dances at Keeline and Lost Springs and we would quite likely go with one of the close neighbors as we did not have a Ford car until 1929. The dances were square dances which were usually called by Shug McGowan. Round dances, two step, Charleston came later.  If boys would not ask girls to dance, the girls would dance with each other. Some of the musicians were Roy and Grace Elkins, Doc Smith, Cogdils, Wilkisons, Shorty Cowan.

Many a celebration - always the 4th of July, neighbors got together for lots of feasting on fried chicken, usually potatoes and peas, home made ice-cream, fresh bread and pies. The men pitched horseshoes, ladies visited, watched the kids and in the evening would have a fireworks display. Lots of card parties, sometimes lasted all night and then break­ fast and would return home in early fore­ noon or maybe go from there to a local baseball game.

Mentioning breakfast, always a huge one   on the ranch - meat, potatoes, hot biscuits or pancakes or hot cereal, bacon and eggs.

But of course, we got up in the morning, wrangled cows and horses, milked the cows, slopped the hogs, harnessed horses and then perhaps came to breakfast. We were hungry and did eat hearty meals. No getting up, washing hands, and be at the table in those days. Of course there were lots of dishes that had to be done before school. The beds were upstairs and they only got a lick and a promise, until they were changed once a week. Of course noon meal was not a lunch either. Lots of preparation and time in­volved.

The ways in which we preserved food were different from today. We did not have any refrigerators or freezers. We cold­ packed the meat four hours in boiling water after the meat had been packed into clean sterilized jars. Vegetables were also cold-packed, but did not take quite so much time. Other items we dried. My father made many a corn drier which was a hinged frame covered with screen.  This also could be hung on the clothesline and the air got to the whole area. Other ways we preserved our meat was by frying the meat, placing it in crocks and then pouring the hot lard over it and let the lard harden. This would keep in the cave quite well. We also used brine for the ham. We cannot remember using much wild meat only an occasional cottontail or a sage chicken.

Another item we used to make was our own rope. We had a small hand operated machine on which we strung binding twine on three or four prongs for the distance of the length of rope we needed. This fastened to the three prong hand tool which braided the rope together. Depending on how long the strands were, we might have to have
three or four kids holding their fingers between strands to keep them from tangling. When braided together it made very good rope. My father sold some of this and he also made halters from it. Our brand C/C is still in the family. It belongs to Clifford Parmely of Manville.

My father used to repair our shoes when we could not afford another pair at that particular time. He purchased the soles and heel caps and would do this many a night after he had done a day's work.

Our days were from sun up to sun down. Milk the cows and separate the milk; gather the eggs or whatever else needed to be done.

We were usually tired and ready for bed, no tranquilizers needed in those days, just a lot of good hard work.

We left the ranch in 1932.  Times just got too rough to make a go of it. The drought, jack rabbits, hail storms, losing 60 head of fat hogs to cholera that had to be killed and burned (what a fire when that fat started to burn). Another item was losing our present leases to one of the neighbors who we thought was a friend.

Our main treatment for bad colds and other ailments was the mustard plaster, castor oil, turpentine and lard, sulfur and molasses, and sassafras tea. Our beauty treatment for our hair was lotion made by boiling flax seed and straining the liquid, cooling it and placing in a jar until needed. This was used for finger waving.

Mentioning jack rabbits, they became so numerous that the whole community would go on these drives which would cover about five miles and include perhaps 50 to 100 people. The men had shotguns and they would all work toward the center killing the jack rabbits as they saw them. Then they would load them up and sometimes would have almost a pickup load o the rabbits.

We attended Chalk Butte and Eddy Schools, our teachers were Isabel Schramel who later married Harold Thrasher and they had one son, Paul.  Margaret  Ball, Marguerite Hoyt Skillings and Lela Pickering.

All children of the Claude Parmely's had 8th grade educations. Harriett and Erma graduated from high school. Everett and Della did not have the opportunity due to sickness and hard times. Clifford and Glen had the opportunity but did not avail themselves of it.

Our first home in Lusk was directly across the street from the old Niobrara County Hospital (now county building). Later we moved to the Frank Boardman house which was over the hill west from this one. The family lived there until the late forties when the house was sold as part of the estate of Frank Boardman.

Our father worked at the carpentry business and when times were tough he worked at ranch jobs. I can remember when my dad walked to Charlie Schroefels each day, worked and walked home, about four miles. He also worked on the WPA program, but some of the younger generation would not do same as they were too proud, but my dad still set the table and some did partake of the food provided during that time from that employment.

In Lusk we had rabbits and chicken and always a good garden. My father had some prize pullets he was wanting to keep for laying hens (of course we did not know this). He was gone for a few days and we girls were home alone and decided we were chicken hungry. We killed three of them thinking he would never miss them. There only being 14 he knew immediately they were gone and of course we confessed as to what 

we had done. Guess what? Yes, we got to pay for them, even though it did not re­ place them.

Sylvia had a heart attack on May 22, 1960 and she passed away at the Niobrara County Hospital on May 25, 1960 at the age of 70 years. She left many a pleasant memory with all who knew her. We feel we were well blessed to have had a family of eight all these years and never a death until our mother at the age of 70.

I mentioned earlier that we brought a team of horses to Wyoming named Dick and Deck. This was our faithful team and in later years my father carved a very good likeness of each of them out of wood. These were used with the little harnesses which he also made for a parade at Lusk, hitched to a covered wagon which he had also made and Glen the young child at that time had them on his little wagon. They won the first prize and rightfully so. It was an accomplishment.

Claude lived for many years alone in the west part of town in a house which he built. I believe there were five lots, a garage and several other small buildings. He busied himself with a very good garden, raspberries, plums and a nice yard.  He made many a quilt.  He made a frame on which he made numerous rag rugs, preparing all the rags, sewing them together and then putting on the frame and tying them off, finishing the edges. Some of these rugs are still in use today and he did this rug weaving after he was eighty years old.

He still kept his own house until he was stricken on April 4, 1968 with a stroke during a very bad blizzard. He was found unconscious by Glen and was rushed to the hospital. He did not regain consciousness for over two weeks, then he had a partial paralyzed left side and remained in the
hospital for over five weeks.

We perhaps did not have everything that some of the other people had or that we wanted, but we were never hungry or with­ out shelter, had lots of love and for the times we were living in we had a good life and we feel we grew up to be responsible citizens and honest people

Claude Parmely died May 26, 1977.

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