Historical Details

Pfister, William

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


by Ellen Pfister

William (Bill) Pfister was born Dec. 4, 1888 to John and Ella Arnold Pfister in the Manville, Wyo. area.  His mother set his birthdate one year later. He was the seventh of that family's 13 children, 11 of whom lived to adulthood.

Bill Pfister recalled that when he was small his father took the family to Fort Fetterman for a railroad job and that when Indians would come to the door there, his mother would take the small children and hide under the bed with them, because she was scared of the Indians.

John and Ella Pfister migrated from Junction City, Kan., in 1884, arriving in Cheyenne by train and then driving their livestock from Cheyenne to the Lusk area. There was a good deal of privation during the early years, dirt floors, a diet of bread, butter and tea with few fruits and vegetables. The first fruit that Bill re­membered eating was a lug of fresh peaches brought from Omaha by his father when Bill was three or four. The peaches were the most delectable things he had ever tasted. When very young he saw a Negro for the first time and wanted to know when he was going to wash off the chocolate.

Another recollection was of a time when the parents were gone and a skunk got in their water well.  The older sister Jane aimed the gun, and brother Valentine pulled the trigger - the end of the skunk and further use of that particular water supply.

He attended about four years of the three months schools that were held in the Node area during the summers in early days.

At 15 he went on the roundup down in Nebraska. He was wearing a new pair of boots. It rained heavily, soaking the new boots; when they dried out the leather shrunk so that he could not get the boots off. He wore them for the duration of the roundup.

Around 1910 he went to Gillette and taking a homestead west of there, went into the cattle business in partnership with his brother, John Pfister. In 1915, while still at Gillette, he contracted tick fever and nearly died. The winter of 1919-1920 virtually wiped out their cattle business.

Bill sold what was left of hid share to John, and went home at his mother's request to help run the John Pfister place at Node.

In the mid-1930's he built the landmark big white barn still standing on the Node Divide and presently owned by Jack Pfister, Sr.  The barn has a capacity to hold 500 head of cattle or 2500 head of sheep.

In 1937 he married Serena Louise Huey of Ogden, Kan. and a sister of Mrs. Edwin (Martha) Pfister. He and his sister, Ella Pfister Dean, dissolved their business partnership in 1939. In December 1939, he bought the old T. A. Snidow Ranch on Pryor Creek, lying on the western portion of the Crow Indian Reservation near Billings, Mont. He also bought a ranch in the Bull Mountains north of Billings in October 1942. He sold the ranch on Pryor Creek in 1947, but his widow and his daughter, Ellen, still own and operate the Bull Mountain ranch.

He retired from active ranching in 1954 and spent the next 10 years seeing the United States and educating his daughter in Christian schools. He lived in Greenville, S. C. from 1954-1957, in Everett, Wash. from 1957-1959, in Eugene, Ore. from 1959- 1962, in Oxford, Miss .from 1962-1963. He returned to Billings in 1963.   He  died quietly in his sleep at at the ranch Nov.  13,  1966 and is buried in the Lusk Cemetery.

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Record Type Name
Obituary Pfister, William (12/04/1888 - 11/13/1966) View Record