Sam Rennard and coyote
Tom Rennard with mail wagon
Tom Rennard's journal 1935
Tom, Mary, Robert, Sam and Tom Rennard
Last updated: May 14, 2020
November 13, 2018
As told by Stan Rennard, (2006) and used with permission.
Tom Rennard, Sr. came to the United States from England in 1905. He worked for ranchers for several years and in 1907 came to Niobrara County (which was part of Converse County at that time) and applied for a homestead of 160 acres close to the Cheyenne River. Tom became a citizen of the United States on January 3, 1911.
On April 15, he went back to England and got Mary and their son, Robert, and brought them back to their new home in Wyoming. Gradually, Tom filed on two more homesteads and eventually bought other land from people that had given up and moved.
Tom, Jr. was born in 1912 and Sam in 1919. Tom and Mary ran sheep to start out with and eventually as they got more land they ran cattle also. In the spring, Tom would take off and go shearing sheep, which lasted several weeks, while Mary stayed home and took care of the ranch.
Tom also carried mail from Edgemont, South Dakota to Spencer, Wyoming with a team and wagon. When he carried the mail the patrons could depend upon the time he would be at their boxes. He would also take their cream and eggs to town and would bring the supplies they needed back out for them.
In October 1914 they bought 160 acres east of Cheyenne River and along Mule Creek. As the years passed, Tom and Mary bought more land up Mule Creek as other homesteads gave up. Some of that land now is where the main ranch is located. Sometimes they would move from one place to another, depending on the time of the year and the work to be done.
On December 4, 1951 Tom died as a result of a vehicle accident caused by black ice. After Tom died, they sold close to ninety head of horses. Mary suffered a stroke in 1957 and spent several years in a home before passing away on July 6, 1964. After Mary died, Sam managed the ranch for many years until his health failed and Stan took over managing the ranch.
Samuel Rennard and Vivian Griffith were married in 1944. They have three children, Cheryll, Stanley, and Carol. Both girls went to college. Stanley worked at various jobs until 1969 when he came back to the ranch. He bought some land next to what was the Rennard Ranch, bought some cattle, worked for a neighbor lady during calving and winter, and for his parents until 1998, when he bought more cattle. Sam and Vivian had retired.
Stanley Rennard and Marlene Black were married in 1970. They had two children, Jennifer and Tye. Tye is now deceased.
Stanley and Marlene’s daughter Jennifer and her family live about five miles south and Jennifer’s husband, Boe Kottowitz, works for another rancher. Jennifer and Boe have two little girls, Peyton and Abby.
Our Heritage: Niobrarans and Neighbors
By Mrs. Sam Rennard (1987), and used with permission
The Rennard Ranch, 47 miles north of Lusk was homesteaded by Tom Rennard in 1908. He came to the United States in 1905 and worked on a sheep ranch for John Wilkinson of Pine Bluffs, Wyoming for awhile. He became a citizen of this country in 1911.
Tom Rennard was born in Yorkshire, England, September 3, 1883. He married Mary Jane Ernshaw, also a native of England and together they started the ranch in Niobrara County. They were parents of three sons; Robert of Cheyenne, Tom (deceased) of Casper and Sam of the home ranch.
Mr. Rennard was the mail carrier from Edgemont to the Spencer post office in the years when most travel was by wagon and team. At one time the round trip was mad twice a week and in addition to the mail service he also delivered groceries and other necessities to the patrons and hauled cans of cream back to Edgemont. At this time there were approximately 70 families living along the route.
In early days he had shorn sheep and could shear a good number with hand shears in a day. He was a member of the community school board for 16 years when it was still District #3 and was treasurer of the Cheyenne River Telephone Company for a long time.
Mr. Rennard lost his life as a result of an automobile accident December 4, 1951. Reverend Sietsma, who was pastor of the Congregational Church in Edgemont, S.D. at that time, officiating at the funeral service and used Ecclesiastes 7:1 for his text. “A good name is better than precious ointment.” I’m sure Mr. Rennard never purposely wronged anyone.
Mrs. Rennard passed away July 16, 1964 after many years of poor health. She had taken an active part in the ranching business, often keeping the work up while her husband was away shearing or carrying mail and lending a helping hand during times of heavy workloads.
The ranch is now owned by Robert and Sam and operated by Sam and his son Stan. Sam and Vivian are also the parents of Cheryl (Mrs. Carl Christianson) and Carol, both of Lusk.
Water has always been a problem for northern Niobrara County, but pipelines now furnish water to most of the pastures. There was a time when cattle were either trailed to the Cheyenne River for water or it was hauled to them from the river. Then came the days of the earthen dams or dikes across a deep draw and that seemed the solution to the problem but in more recent times the rainfall has not been sufficient so that even those could not furnish enough water.
The ranch is not large by acreage but by careful management it has supported two families most of the time since 1944.
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