Obituary Details

Jennie May Gautschi

(04/06/1882 - 09/07/1962)
Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 09/13/1962

Mrs. Hans Gautschi, Resident for 52 Years, Dies in Hospital Friday

Mrs. Hans Gautschi, 80, and resident of Lusk for over 50 years, died Friday morning at the Niobrara Memorial Hospital about 11:30 after a lingering illness that had confined her to the hospital since June 12. She had been in failing health for more than a year.

Funeral services were held Sunday afternoon at the Peet Chapel, conducted by the Rev. James Davis, minister of the Congregational Church. Eastern Star services were also conducted at the Chapel with Mrs. Leslie ZumBrunnen, matron presiding. Assisting were Alfred Taylor, patron, Mrs. Carrie Brown, Mrs. C. E. Hollon, Mrs. Nellie Christian, Mrs. J. P. Costlow, Mrs. Wm. Owsley, and Mrs. Francis Rose. Music was provided by Mrs. Gerald Bardo, organist, and a quartet of James Wilson, Dale M. Bardo, L. E. Johnsonbaugh and Gerald Bardo.

Burial was in the Lusk cemetery. Pallbearers were Earl M. Criss, C. E. Marvin, Charles Lee, Mike Cork, Don C. Taylor and O. M. Rasmussen.


Jennie May Gautschi was born in Chicago April 6, 1882, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William M. Gager. She was educated in Irving Park Schools and was employed by A. C. McClurg Publishing Company.

She was married New Year's Eve, Dec. 31, 1909, to Hans Gautschi, a neighbor friend since childhood days. He had first come to Lusk in August 1906, to work for Copper Belt Mining Co. and returned to Chicago for Christmas. When he asked if she would come West with him, she said, "Yes".

They left for Lusk by train on New Year's Day but were stopped in Omaha a day because of a severe snow storm. They left for Lusk the following day on the last train to reach the town for two weeks.

It was necessary to stay at the Northwestern Hotel until the roads were passable to the mines. Carrie Brown and Anna Alter, who worked at the Hotel for Mrs. Henry, helped make the bride's stay pleasant, and during the storm they had dances in the dining room almost every night.

The trip to the mines was made in a spring wagon as were many other trips until a 1906 Cadillac, the first car in this area, was put into use. Even then most of the winter trips had to be made in the spring wagon or lumber wagon, and it was often so cold that they would walk for miles behind the wagon to keep warm.

On one winter trip they left by car before a storm against the advise of Harry Snyder and Martin Agnew. The blizzard struck just before the top of the Divide. The road was blocked with drifts and they tried to climb the hill at a place where the snow was not so deep After several tries and backing down again Mrs. Gautschi carried the children to lighten the load and left them at the bottom while she helped push over the top. The family arrived at camp just before the furor of the storm hit.

There were eight men employed at the mines in the early days, and the nearest woman was at the Agnew and Hobbs ranches four miles away.


In the winter of 1912-13 considerable snow fell during December and the crew at the Michigan Mine shoveled out the drifts to Muskrat Canyon day after day in the hope of getting through with a team in time for Christmas, but the cuts always filled up again.
Bunt Alter was one of those who made snow shoes with barrel staves or anything else that could be used to walk to town. The Gautschi family however, was left without much food and subsisted mostly on rabbits. It was not until Valentines Day that they received their Christmas mail.

About1915 the family moved to Manville and started the Economy Store which grew into a large and profitable business until 1920 when the oil fields closed down and banks closed. The store was kept open until 1930 and during these years Mrs. Gautschi worked continuously in the store as a clerk.

Life was full of thrills during these early days. As Mrs. Gautschi used to recount, whenever the family and friends went on a long trip from the mines or to visit relatives in Salt Creek with trails instead of roads, they always sang from 35 to 40 gospel hymns to pass away the time. Two of the songs sung at the funeral service, "Nearer, My God to Thee" and "Saved by Grace," were among these songs.

In 1930 the family moved to Lusk where Mr. Gautschi opened the Standard Service Station which he and their son, Harold, still operate. During World War II Mrs. Gautschi helped in the station.

She was active in many community endeavors and as a member of the Congregational Church served the Circle as president and helped in its many programs. She was a member and past matron of the Order of Eastern Star, guardian of Job's Daughters. She was one of the organizers of the Lusk Womans Club in 1941, later served as president and was a vigorous member until her health began to fail.

She is survived by her husband, a daughter, Mrs. Millard Merritt of Tacoma, Wash.; a son, Harold L. of Lusk; a sister, Mrs. Grace Proudfoot of Chicago; and two grandchildren, Larraine and Charles Gautschi. One son, Charles, died in 1931.

Here for the services were Mrs. Merritt, and two nieces, Mrs. Jerry Norris and husband of Riverton, and Mrs. John Bangs and husband of Sinclair, Wyo.

Images & Attachments

Jennie May and Hans Gautschi, 1909
Jennie May and Hans Gautschi, 1960

Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Gautschi, Charles (02/29/1940 - 01/19/1988) View Record
Obituary Gautschi, Hans (05/14/1883 - 04/26/1966) View Record
Obituary Gautschi, Harold (09/24/1912 - 12/25/1996) View Record
Obituary Embree, Frances (05/11/1911 - 05/31/1983) View Record
Obituary Szekula, Adeline (12/27/1890 - 03/03/1949) View Record
Historical Gautschi Family View Record