Obituary Details

Thomas Pfister

(09/14/1883 - 01/14/1954)
Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 01/21/1954

Thomas Pfister Dies Here Jan. 14

Thomas Pfister, 70, pioneer of the early 1900's in Niobrara County and widely known as a breeder of outstanding sheep, died Thursday, Jan. 14 at the Spencer Hospital.

He had been ill for several years with arthritis that had made it increasingly difficult for him to get around. More recently he suffered complications that brought on his death that night. However, up through last summer he had continued to find enjoyment in his garden.

Funeral services were held Monday morning when a Solemn Requiem High Mass was celebrated at 10 o'clock in St. Leo's Catholic Church of Lusk. The Rev. Father M.J. McBrien officiated with the Rev. Father Miles of Chadron, and the Rev. Father McGovern of Newcastle assisting. Johnny Bruch and Garry McFarlane served as altar boys, Mrs. Harry Seares of Harrison as organist, and Herman Hitz as usher. Rosary services were held at the Peet Mortuary Sunday evening at 7:30.

Pallbearers were Wilford Wasserburger, Judson P. Watson, Carl Bruch, James E. Barrett of Lusk, Jim Shane and Ray Walters of Node, Andrew McMaster of Van Tassell, and Leonard Schaefer of Harrison.

A loud speaker had been installed in the basement of the church for the overflow crowd. Interment was made in the family lot at the Lusk Cemetery. Dinner was served to the family relatives and friends in the basement of the church by the Altar and Rosary Society.

BORN IN GERMANY
Mr. Pfister was born September 14, 1883 in Herlikofen, Wittenberg, Germany, the son of Anton and Josephine Pfister. After his schooling he spent two years in a baker's school and after completing this training worked at this trade until the spring of 1903. He then entered the army to serve his two years of compulsory training which he completed in 1905.

In 1907 after writing to an uncle in New York he decided to come to the United States, and he and a friend left home in November of that year. He landed December 23 and got a job as a baker continuing this work until March of 1910.

After corresponding with Valentine Pfister, his father's uncle at Lusk, he, in his own words, "decided to see the West." Tom Pfister always maintained the practice of keeping a rather careful record of his activities, and in later years wrote out his life story quite completely.

COMES WEST IN 1910
He arrived in Lusk April 25, 1910 and was greatly disappointed with the barren prairie after a severe blizzard. Knowing very little English and with no livestock experience, he started on a new venture.

That same month, with the advice of Valentine, he filed on the homestead south of Node which was his home until his death. After building a shack, fence and well, he went to work that fall for R. V. Pfister, riding roundup with Coffee and Tinnen on the 010 Ranch located on Rawhide Creek. Later he went to the Box X Ranch for the Tom Bell round up and there spent his first Christmas and New Years in Wyoming.

That fall Mr. Pfister bought his first stock, six heifer calves. The following spring of 1911 he plowed ground for farming and later rode in the roundup for John Pfister, Sr. with the 010 Bar Ranch. In 1912 he helped John and R. V. Pfister move their cattle to Horse Creek 12 miles south of Torrington where they were wintered. That spring he helped Henry Gray do his calving on the lower place which is now the Ella Dean Ranch. Mr. Pfister's notes further record that the spring of 1912, from April 18 to 21, the community experienced a severe blizzard.

That fall, with good crops, Mr. Pfister had S. W. Sabin thresh oats with a horsepower threshing machine and they yielded 30 bushels to the acre.

RECALLS NODE BOOM
It was in the fall of 1913 that Mr. Pfister received his citizenship papers. By the fall of 1915 there were 56 homesteaders in the Node township and that community began to boom. A year later there were in Node two churches, two grocery stores, the post office, two lumber yards, restaurant, barber shop, saloon, pool hall, blacksmith shop, a general store and a co-op.

In 1915 Mr. Pfister visited an aunt in Henry, Ill., where he met Frances Seichter whom he married the following spring, May 9, 1916 at St. Mary's Catholic Church. They then returned to his Wyoming home.

It was in 1926 that Mr. Pfister entered the sheep business and in 1934 he purchased the first of his registered Rambouillets. Since then he has become one of the most prominent sheep breeders of Wyoming, winning countless awards. In addition he has always been very active in community and church activities.

Surviving besides his wife are four sons, Paul and Joseph of Node, George and Leo of Whitney, Neb.; and one daughter, Tresa, now Sister Mary Caleta of the Poor Clares' of Omaha; one daughter-in-law, Mrs. Joseph Pfister and one grandson, Charles. One son, Louis, previously died in July, 1929. All the children but Tresa were with him at his passing.

Also surviving are two sisters, Sister Ewalda of a German Catholic convent, and Mrs. Mary Miller, now living in Germany. Three sisters had previously died.

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Gravestone photo courtesy Joshua Brackett's Eagle Scout Project
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