Obituary Details

James Henry Krejci

(03/04/1894 - 04/30/1988)
Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 05/04/1988

James Henry Krejci

Services for James Henry Krejci, age 94, were held Tuesday, May 3, 1988 in the Peet Mortuary Chapel. Rev. Mark Lohr officiated.

Mr. Krejci died Saturday, April 30, 1988 at the Niobrara County Memorial Hospital in Lusk. He was born March 4, 1894, near Hemmingford, NE the son of James and Barbara Krejci.

The following is Mr. Krejci's life history, written by himself, using his own words:

"I was born March 4, 1894, in a sod house in Sheridan County, Nebraska, one quarter of a mile east of the Box Butte County line and went to school mostly in sod houses.

When I grew up and went on my own, I worked for $30.00 a month through the summer, but I didn't like that. I wanted a place of my own. So I came to Lusk, Wyoming, and on June 6, 1918, I filed on a 640 acre homestead 15 miles northeast of Lance Creek, Wyoming. I raised beans and wheat and a few head of cattle that I ran with my brother Adolph. I sold off all that, which came to something like 1,300.00. I put it in the Lusk Bank, the bank went broke and I lost it; of course, I wasn't the only one. John Newell was the banker.

It was slow going when I came here. I didn't know anything to learn and still don't . I had everything to learn the hard way. I didn't know how to cook but I did learn how to fry potatoes. I could slice them as thin as cigarette paper. I had a lot of stoppers. They would sit, watch me, and grin. The last small piece, I would eat. I was a champion "tator fryer". Jack Trapagan would come from Lance Creek to eat my fried potatoes. When I fried potatoes, I fried them slow and stirred them often and kept enough lard to keep them from sticking to the pan. I can't do it now; my hands are crippled up some.

I got a permit to get dry wood in from the Buck Creek Timber so I would be hauling posts. A lot of them were real pitch and a lot of them are still in the fence that was built in 1919 and are as good as they ever was.

I had a team of horses that sure wasn't much. One day I was going after some posts. The horses I had, one was slow. The single tree against the wheel and the other about half-a-length ahead. One day I was going after some posts. I was going north and Earl Freeman was coming from the north. He stopped and said "one of your horses is faster than the other." I said, "oh not much, that's all she gained since I started." He took another look at them and kicked his horse in the ribs and went on. But that was all I had and I took good care of them. That was the homestead days. In later years, I had the best horses in the neighborhood. My neighbors were Albert Rankin, Frank and Ben Paschal, Eli Marsh, Alfred Johnson and Lawrence Johnson. We had dry years, grasshoppers, hail and hard winters.

I had a mile of fence to put in. Frank Paschal said you just as well come and stay with us boys, one man can't build fence alone. But I had a different idea and wanted to show him that one man can build a fence. I had it lined up and the holes marked and dug them by moonlight. Some were sand, and some were shale rock gumbo, but I got it done. When it come to unroll the wires, I made a sled and unrolled three wires at once by putting a pipe through them with blocks in between them so they couldn't catch on one another or the sled. Then I hooked it to the wagon and took off. When the spool got small, I would do the rest by hand. Then I would splice the three spools because I had half a mile and spools had 80 rods in them. I stretched wire with the wagon wheels as the ground was hilly and you had to have anchors or "dead men" as it is sometimes called. So when I pulled down on it the wheel would turn and give me slack. I'd stretch the bottom first because it had to be anchored down. I had that fence built in no time at all.

Well, in 1919 I bought six cows from Frank Paschal for $30 a head. That was my start in the cattle business. I bought four head of holstein steers for $20 a head. I had lots of hay and grass. There were people that would come by and stay overnight with cattle to ship to Omaha as there was no salerings like we have now. They would take mine and ship them along with theirs. I got $55 a head for them when all expenses were paid. Well so much for that.

I batched for nine years. In 1927 I married a girl, Edith Johnson from Denver, Colorado. To this union two boys were born. Henry on July 27, 1929, and Charley, August 8, 1931. They each have a place they live on. But we work together in haying, branding calves, or anything else that needed to be done.

Edith was sick a lot, so I had a lot of doctor bills to pay, but every cent of it is paid. It took time but I don't owe nobody a cent and I bought tractors and trucks; in later years, a farmhand which makes work much easier, and I bought land. There is a little over 3,600 acres in this place, all paid for. And I have money on interest. Besides I have helped some that I never will get money back from. I hope it makes them feel good to beat an honest debt.

When my wife was sick, my sister Emma came to help out in 1959. My wife died in 1962 and Emma is still keeping house and cooking for me. So that makes it a lot better as I am a poor cook.

I am still living on the homestead and I aim to stay here. The old saying is, you can't take it with you. Well if I can't take it with me, by God, I am not going.

I'm not a carpenter, but I did build a few over-shot hay stackers which saved a lot of hard work. Two men could put up a lot of hay without a lot of pitching. But in later days they came with the farmhands, and that is still easier."

He was preceded in death by his wife Edith, his parents, one sister, and three brothers.

Survivors include: two sons, Henry and Charley, both of Lance Creek; one sister, Emma Kittleman, of Lance Creek, two brothers, Lewis of Lance Creek and Charley of Alliance, NE; two grandchildren LeRoy and Billie, both of Lance Creek; plus many other relatives and friends.

For those who wish, memorials to the Niobrara Senior Citizen's Center would be appreciated by the family.

Peet Mortuary was in charge of the arrangements.

Images & Attachments

Photo courtesy of the Joshua Brackett Eagle Scout Project

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