Last updated: August 21, 2018
From the Tom Weigand Genealogy Collection
October 17, 2006
Mrs. Grace Masek Recalls Area Pioneer Experiences
1962 Editor's note: The following article was written by Mrs. Grace C. Ryder Mashek. She died April 3 and funeral services were held Saturday. The article was written several years ago and has been kept in George Peet's files since 1958.
I was six years old when this little incident happened. We lived at Rattle Snake Park. My mother, a younger brother and I were driving to our nearest town, Loveland, Colo. We had to drive over Bald Mountain, which was named after the Bald Eagles that lived on top of this mountain. Near the mountain, Mother noticed two very large eagles swooping down to attack us. She pushed us off the seat, down on the bottom of the wagon in front of her. Luckily, she had an umbrella with her. She opened it quickly and covered us with it. I often think what a few minutes of terror she must have had, watching the eagles, trying to keep us covered, and holding the horses from going over the steep bank as they were getting excited by this time with the eagles flying and screeching over them. What terrible roads for a wagon to travel over! An incident I will always remember.
Fifty-eight years ago my mother and I left Loveland to visit my two grandfathers who lived at Monticello, Iowa. She returned to Colorado and I stayed in Iowa for two years. My grandfather, Captain Chas. J. Ryder took me to my first Congregational Church Sunday School. He was born in the state of New York and came to Monticello after the Civil War. His name was honorably mentioned in the history of the New York Volunteers. He had a life certificate to teach in the state of New York. I have sweet memories of Grandfather Ryder.
I will never forget the year I visited my Grandfather Houie's farm. He was a pioneer in Iowa. He came from Scotland when he was 14 years old and settled on a homestead. Iowa was nothing but prairie - the nearest town was Dubuque. He did his traveling by ox team. There was another pioneer there that helped the newcomers. This man sold groceries and merchandise from a wagon. That man was the father of our present Mayor of Lusk, Earl Peet. In later years, while I was staying with Grandfather Houie. Mr. Peet's father carried the mail with horses and a spring buggy between Monticello and Prairieburg. Many a ride I had with him to school when it was storming. I remember him and the old white sorrel horses. The horses had their tails tied up to keep them out of the mud.
I remember one Sunday, my aunt and I spent a day at Prairieburg at his home. Four years ago, at the Pioneer Association, Mr. Peet saw my grandfather's picture at the church. This is the first that I knew he was the son of that dear old man that I remember so well.
It will be 56 years the 1st of March since I came to Lusk.. My grandfather Houie had retired from the farm. He decided that he would come farther west for a visit and bring me home. I was getting pretty homesick by this time. In the meantime (of the two years that I was in Iowa) my mother and stepfather, Abe Bare, had come to Lusk in a covered wagon. They trailed 500 head of cattle and a number of horses. He bought the I.K. Burnette place several miles south-east of Silver Springs. We had written my folks that we would be in Lusk the first of March from Monticello, but they had not been to town for weeks for their mail due to the awful storm. Consequently, no one was there to meet us. We went into a store owned by John Barron and asked about my folks, and he said "Here is a neighbor of theirs (who was O.J. Demmon)". Mr. Demmon said he would be glad to take us out. We arrived at his home about supper time. After supper Grandfather said "We had better be a going". The good neighbor looked shocked at his remark. How little Grandfather knew what he was suggesting to do, because he knew nothing of the country. Mr. Demmon said, " If you must go, I will get the team ready and take you". It was daylight when we got there. Everything was buried under the snow. I have never seen such a storm in my 55 years in Wyoming. A day I will always remember.
That spring my two brothers and I started to school. The three of us rode one horse and would leave at daylight and not get home until dark. The school house was at the New Hamshire Ranch owned by John Barron. Gill Hobbs was our teacher. There were three other children and their names were Edith, Maud and a boy (I have forgotten his name) Reymers. Gill Hobbs' niece, Miss Alice Fowler lives in Lusk to date.
We lived on the west side of Bear Canyon that year. Next year, the folks filed on a homestead east of the canyon. A schoolhouse was built halfway between the O.J. Demmon home and ours. We had more neighbors here. There were the Demmon children, Tom and Ella Arnold, Eva, Arthur, Eddie and Christie Clifton. The first teacher we had was Mr. Ellison - then Mr. Wood, Mr. Conner and Miss Nell Chalfant, sister of Mrs. Wesley Wolfe, Sr. At this time, the Congregational Sunday school was onganized by Emma Arnold. She went to the Lusk Church and borrowed the Bibles and hymnals. Miss. Chalant was one of our Sunday School teachers. We used to walk 2 1/2 miles to Sunday School and enjoyed it. Those were happy days for us all.
At the age of 12 I rode horseback to the Page home for Miss Emma Page to teach me a piece for a contest she was sponsoring. There were several contestants. Miss Page was a blind lady, but a very brilliant and wonderful woman. She wrote some books but I have forgotten their names. I always stayed overnight with her - we all did when we took part in any kind of activity. Every hour was fun and we enjoyed those times very much. The winner of this certain contest was Maggie Pfister Olinger. She was a contestant from another school.
I was 13 years old when I did my first work in the Congregational Church. I was visiting Mrs. Jack Huff for a few days in town. She asked me if I could cook two hams for the church supper they were having. I said "yes". So she sent over the hams from the building they were having the supper in. I looked for something to cook them in. There was nothing large enough but a washboiler. I can remember thinking to myself, Oh, that would be awful to cook them in that, but there was nothing else, so I scoured it with brick dust and ashes until it looked like a new nickel inside. (We had no such thing as Bon Ami, S.O.S., or Dutch Cleanser at that time). I cooked the hams and helped serve the supper, and wash the dishes. That was my first work in the Congregational Church but not the last.
'Miles and time' meant nothing in those days when someone was sick and needed help. The neighbors would come and take turns sitting up with the sick. My mother went many a time at night to help the sick. Many a time in the night when some one of our family was sick, I would ride horseback for the Doctor (Doc Hall, we called him). It was a lonesome feeling for a girl, 11 and 12 years old, riding 28 miles in the night - 14 miles there and 14 miles back home. Cold weather and storms sometimes, but it had to be done, for there were no telephones.
I met my husband, Mr.Mashek in 1894. He came to Wyoming the year 1888 from Albin, Nebr. When he was 7 years old, he came to America from Austria. His old home in Nebraska was known as Dr. Mashek's Home. His mother was a doctor and had practiced in their home in Austria, as well as in Nebraska. Her time was "horse and buggy" days. Many a blizzard she had to go out in, and would have to get out and feel with her hands to see if she was still on the road. I remember her telling me that she had 25 cases of Diphtheria at one time and lost 3 cases. Pretty good record for those days. Mr. Mashek and I were married at the Congregational Church of Lusk on New Year's Morning at 10 a.m. in the year 1896, by Rev. Nina Pettigrew. Mr. Mashek drove ten miles from his home to mine, then 14 miles to Lusk from my home, and then 14 miles back to my home for the Wedding supper. That same night, we went to the home that he had built for us. We lived there until the older children were high school age. We had a home in town. The children and I would spend the winter there. Our old ranch is known now as the Hunter Hereford Ranch.
This is a good joke: Everyone told me at the time of our marriage that it would not be a very long marriage because a woman married us. I said, "Oh, yes, whatever a woman does, is well done". And it was for me - we were married 45 years at the time of Mr. Mashek's death. Four years ago this month, Mr. Mashek passed away. He loved his church and his Maker. A few months before he passed away he was still able to walk to Church every Sunday by using his cane - then some friend would bring him home in a car. His last months were made as pleasant as possible by Rev. Marshall for he came to see him practically every day. When we lived on the ranch there were very few Sundays we missed going to church, and the children to their Sunday School. We were always on time even when we drove a horse and buggy.
Now the pioneer days are over - only with sweet memories for us - since the trains and buses take the place of the old stage coach - and telephone and daily papers delivered at home boxes is a quick communication for us all.
I give my praise to all Pioneers and God Bless them that struggled over the earthly rugged paths, and to them that have gone above to meet their Maker. May God bless them as they travel the heavenly path to meet their heavenly Father with love.
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