From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Troubles with Horses

Life in a cow town


Valentine, Nebraska in 1911

The following news items are from the Sept. 3, 1903, "Talk of the Town" section of the Valentine Democrat (published in Valentine, Nebraska). It was a bad week for horses and their owners and riders.

  • Miss Anna Ashburn was bucked off a horse at the ranch last week and hurt her head and shoulders. She was brought to town and is getting along all right.

  • Frank Frush has had a streak of luck lately. Frank thinks it was bad. He was roping a heifer Tuesday of last week when his horse's feet slipped out from under him and fell across Frank's leg smashing his ankle and while yet using a crutch was out Saturday helping cut out some cattle to ship when his horse fell again and dislocated his right shoulder. Dr. Dwyer set it a half hour later and he's doing first rate now.

  • Obe Church had his team hitched to a spring wagon and standing in front of his store last Friday when it became scared at the sunshade flopping in the wind and started to run. The horses ran across the street in front of the meat market of Henry Stetter and came near running into the building but whirled down the side walk and out in front of the postoffice taking out a couple of porch posts, then across to the corner of the Palace saloon where they were caught. Obe went around with his hammer and fixed things up.

And in the public notices on page 5:

  • Lost, strayed, or stolen. One bay pony mare, white face, five years old, weighs about 750 pounds, broke to ride, has saddle marks, small sore right cheek from blind tooth, branded 2 2 on left hip. Raised on Rosebud agency by an Indian named Ben Hungry. Liberal reward will be paid for recovery. M. Webber, Ft. Niobrara, Nebr.

Valentine is located in the northeast corner of Cherry County, Nebraska. On the northern edge of the Sandhills, Valentine was an important shipping center for livestock -- in other words, it was a "cow town". There were probably as many horses in town as there were people -- maybe more.

The Rosebud Agency was (is) an Indian reservation, just across the state line in South Dakota. The soldiers at Ft. Niobrara, a few miles east of Valentine, were there to discourage any uprisings.

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We sometimes shopped in Valentine when I was little. We lived south of Johnstown, Nebraska then, roughly 35 miles southeast of Valentine. I've written about my memories of going to the Valentine post office with my mother.

7 comments:

ptg said...

Remember the social notices in small town papers? They reported on who had visitors from out of town and sewing circle activities. Maybe the internet, which is killing the AP parroting newspaper-as-we-know-it will bring back real local reporting in rural towns.

I'm still chuckling over the name "Ben Hungry".

RunAwayImagination said...

My middle name "Arnold" derives from a 1909 horse accident. On August 3 of that year, a good friend of my grandparents named Arnold Lee was accompanying a wagon load from Iowa with a man for whom he worked. Just after they crossed a bridge, a passing train spooked the horses. Arnold fell, caught his leg in the wagon and was dragged to death. My dad was given Arnold as a middle name when he was born in 1913, and that name passed down to me. That incident occured 100 years and one month from today.

RunAwayImagination said...

Another sandhills-related story: I was 14 in the summer of 1960 when I took a passenger train from Washington, DC to Valentine to spend the summer in Gordon with my granddad and his wife. Valentine was the closest passenger rail station to Gordon at that time. The train trip took about three days and required a taxi trip across Chicago from one train station to the other. It was the biggest adventure of my young life.

Genevieve said...

PT, one of my main complaints about our local daily newspaper is that they have so little local news. In this little turn-of-the-century Valentine paper, the "Talk of the Town" section was at the top of the front page!

Genevieve said...

Runaway, your train trip to Nebraska does sound like a big adventure for a young teen. That must have been very near the end of passenger service to Valentine.

I was about 7 or 8 the last time that I rode on the C&NW. Our school (maybe 9 or 10 kids plus the teacher) rode to Valentine and back for our end-of-year trip/picnic. As I recall, our parents drove their cars and met us in Valentine, and we went to see the buffalo.

When I was younger, I rode the train from Gordon to Johnstown several times. Gramp and Grandma put me on the train in Gordon with a sack lunch, and the conductor handed me out the door to my parents at Johnstown. There was no station in Johnstown -- when the train stopped there, people stepped down from the cars to the ground.

The most exciting part of the trip was when the train crossed the Niobrara River just east of Valentine!

Collagemama said...

Just wondering if Obe is short for Obadiah. I've never heard that name before.

Genevieve said...

I think you're probably right, Collagemama. I've heard of Obie as an old time name, and that was probably a nickname for Obadiah, too.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

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