Obituary Details

John H. Pendray

(04/04/1872 - 02/13/1953)
Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 02/19/1953

John Pendray, Well Known Niobraran Dies at 80 in Memorial Hospital Friday

John H. Pendray, one of the well-known pioneers of homestead days in western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming, died in Niobrara Memorial Hospital at Lusk, Friday night, Feb. 13. He was nearly 81 years old.

Mr. Pendray was born at West Side, Iowa, April 4, 1872, and passed his boyhood in Iowa and Jamestown, N. Dak. As a young man he was a newspaper compositor on the Oskaloosa, Iowa Herald, the Council Bluffs Nonpareil and the Omaha World-Herald, and for a time was part owner of the Douglas Printing Co., in Omaha.

Attracted by the possibilities of farming in the homestead country of western Nebraska, he moved in 1908 to a homestead in Sioux County, about 18 miles southwest of Harrison, Nebr., and about 26 miles southeast of Lusk. He was living on the original homestead land, now the property of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Magoon, his son-in-law and daughter, at the time of his final illness.

During his entire life in this area Mr. Pendray was a leader in the development of the country. He early began studying scientific methods of dry farming. He helped others to learn about better farming methods, through speaking at meetings, organizing farm groups and carrying on experiments in better cultivation methods, seed selection and development of early maturing grain and feed crops.

He was also a pioneer and leader in many early improvements in community life. He helped organize schools, aided in the organization of one of the first Sunday Schools in the Van Tassell area, was one of the organizers and for a time manager of a Pioneer Cooperattive Creamery at Van Tassell. He was a constant promoter for better roads and for neighborhood telephone systems, which in the early days used the top wire of the cattle fences instead of poles and highlines. He also led movements for better livestock, and was one of the early breeders of polled Herefords in this part of the country.

He was also widely known for his work as editor, writer and newspaperman. In 1911 he took on, as a part-time occupation in addition to farming, the task of managing and editing the weekly Van Tassell Progress, later known as the Van Tassell Pioneer. The Homestead population of the county was growing with almost explosive rapidity at that time, as a result of the liberalization of the Wyoming homestead laws, and there was great need for news and up-to-date information.

In 1912 he moved with his family to Van Tassell to carry on the management and editing of the paper on a full-time basis. This work continued for three years, and Mr. Pendray and his newspaper became known through Niobrara and Sioux counties for the excellence of its news coverage and the freshness and vigor of its editorial material. During much of this period he not only edited the paper, but with the help of his family, set the type, handled the advertising, ran the press, addressed the mailing wrappers and managed the whole enterprise.

In 1914 he returned to the homestead, which by this time had grown into a ranch. He remained there the rest of his life, and had the satisfaction of seeing his family grow up and become established, the country prosper, and many of the activities he had helped to start become important parts of the life of the community.

On July 25, 1900, he married Louise Wolfe, at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, Omaha, Neb. Four children were born to them: Edward, now living in New York City; Arthur, of Lincoln, Nebr.; June, now Mrs. Charles Ettleman, of Tecumseh, Nebr.; and May, now Mrs. Jack Magoon who is well known in Lusk and throughout this part of the country.

Mrs. Pendray and all four children survive. There are also 10 grandchildren.

Funeral services were held at 2:00 p.m. Monday, Feb. 16 at the Methodist Church in Harrison. The Rev. Mr. Raymond P. Hoffman, Jr., rector of St. George's Episcopal Chruch of Lusk conducted the service, which was followed by masonic services. Interment was in the Harrison cemetery.

Music was furnished by Mrs. Samuel M. Thomas, Mrs. H.J. Templeton and Rex Yocum, accompanied by Mrs. Gerald Bardo.

Honorary casket bearers were Carl Dallam, Don Ellicott, John Tangen, Vic West, Ed Lewis and Albert Adams.

The active bearers were E..E. Whitaker, Elmer Pullen, Charles Lee, John Wilson, Fred Hamaker and Arthur From.

Brief Masonic funeral services were held by members of Sioux Lodge No. 277 of Harrison for their departed brother. All of the children were here for the services.

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