Hull Section Pioneering Experiences Recounted
By Ruth Cross
From Interview with Mrs. Leroy Cross, Gering, Nebraska
From Gering Courier
On the first day of March 1886, my father I. N. Rose, now deceased, Theodore Deutsch, later of Scottsbluff, D. W. Warner, recently deceased, Hull, Elem Rose, Kearney, Jim Edgar, Loveland, Colo., E. L. Sego and Richard Beebe, both deceased, all left Baxter, Iowa, for the golden west. Unloading their immigrant cars at Lodge Pole, Nebraska, they stayed at Frank Rose’s, a brother of my father. After locating and filing their claims they final settled in Pleasant Valley near Hull. The land office, where homesteaders filed was located at North Platte and later moved to Sidney. In Pleasant valley, my father’s one room log house was the first house. Our log house had a small attic, reached with a ladder and used as sleeping quarters when necessary. Our furniture, however, was brought from Iowa. His well was also the first well in that neighborhood. Since this was true, people came from miles around to get water. One family I remember in particular was the Beck family, Walter Beck, a son of this pioneer, later a well-known resident of Gering valley.
The next family to follow this group of men was the Salisbury-Ammerman family. The elder Ammerman lived just two months after arriving here. His body was buried on their homestead. The three Ammerman girls are now Mrs. Theodore Deutsch, Mrs. Al Preston and Mrs. Dan Warner.
On the 11th of September of the same year, my mother Mrs. I. N. Rose, her mother, Sarah Sego, and we four children arrived in Kimball, staying the first night at the home of Steward Caster, another Iowan. From Kimball to our home was a two-day journey. When we arrived, father had half of our floor laid. A floor, in those times, was something that very few of the homes had. Our first visitor after we arrived here was young Jesse Ammerman. The next spring, the late Jim Foreman family move here from Iowa, stopping at my father’s their dugout home was made. Later Foreman built a four-room log home in later years occupied by Len Earley of Hull. Mr. Earley married the oldest Foreman girl.
In May 1887, my uncle A. L. “Link” Sego, was married to Miss May McCoy by Rev. B. H. Tripp. My mother prepared the wedding supper for the young couple, the minister and the witnesses. My uncle’s home was just across the line from ours. Uncle Link was a jury man on the first murder case ever tried in Gering, that of George S. Arnold, charged with the murder of George Burton. This case was transcribed from Cheyenne county. Other weddings during that spring were Laura Ammerman to Theodore Deutsch; also Richard Beebe was married to Gertrude pitcher. She was my first Nebraska schoolteacher.
In 1887, men of that community staked out a cemetery and started building a church. Church services up till this time had been held in the school building. After the cemetery was completed, Mr. Ammerman’s body was removed from his homestead to the cemetery, his body being the first placed there. The first funeral I attended was that of Alf Calderwood’s first wife. Father made her casket of pine boards and mother lined it with white material she had gotten for our new baby. Then she covered it with black sateen. The mourners, Mr. Calderwood, his small son and daughter, sat on the wagon seat which had been placed beside the wagon tongue during the services. Her body was buried on the homestead, later removed to the cemetery. Doing little deeds and helping each other in those times were “labors of love,” each doing his part.
The nearest post office was Kimball, and the mail route from Kimball to Harrisburg (then called Centropolis) on to Hull then to a small town by the name of Mingo. Mingo was made up of just one general store, run by Frank Beers, now of California. Also, the mail ran from Harrisburg to Gering. These routes all going just twice a week, when first started, later, however, they were run daily. One man of the neighborhood would go to town, and get the mail, usually for the whole community. The mail contract was issued to one man, Jones M. Clapp. Jim Laugharn, the present Mrs. Kinnamon’s first husband, drove the mail from Harrisburg to Gering. At this time the present counties of Scotts Bluff, Morrill, Banner and Kimball were all joined into one, Cheyenne county.
As far as the eye could see, was prairie, with cactus, sagebrush and wildflowers. Scattered here and there were prairie dog towns. The Wildcat range, from which logs were hauled for building material and fuel, was east of us. We also saw antelope, as well as deer, and a few buffalo. To have a fresh meat then was a treat at our house. One day when the men had gone to the hills after wood, and mother had seen a rabbit go into our woodpile she thought she would surprise them and serve rabbit for supper. She had never shot a gun before, but we had to have that rabbit, so she attempted to get him. She’d peek in and then go the other side and repeat the act Finally she shot and out came a….skunk! Dad always joked her when he had been to the hills after that about having rabbit for supper. Another time dad shot into a millet stock and killed 50 snow birds, which they made into a bird pie. My father dried most all of the meat especially beef. Mother dried grapes on the stem, pumpkin and green beans and canned plumbs and chokecherries.
In May 1888, Eastern Wyoming and Western Nebraska experienced one of the worst blizzards on record. The three Johnson brother started for the North Platte valley to market at Cheyenne with three wagon loads of hogs. The storm became to bad, they somewhere west of the Eagle Nest mountain. One of the horses got loose and left the wagons. One of the men went to hunt it. When he had ben gone for some time, the other two brothers went to hunt him. They all became wet and chilled so much that all three perished.
In late summer of the same year, we experience a terrible prairie fire, in which John Fairchild’s father-in-law lost his life. I can remember my father coming hurriedly home to plow a fireguard around his house and barn. The men hauled barrel after barrel of water to the scene of the fire. Ten they would dip gunny sacks into the water and beat the fire until it would die down. The women worked too, fixing coffee and food for the men who were fighting the fire. No loss was experienced other than the loss of feed for stock that depended o the range.
The drouths we had were few but severe. We had very little rain and few crops were raised. This compelled my father to leave home to work, making hay in Wyoming, picking potatoes in Colorado and carpentering in Nebraska. He cooked for the railroad between Cheyenne and Denver. He also hauled bones to Sidney to help provide for his family.
An incident happened while we were visiting one day at the Murray home. A great deal of excitement was created when a horse fell into a well. It took several hours to get him out.
The horse was quite badly bruised when they finally succeeded in getting him out. Another time my little brother had placed a saddle on the wagon and playing “horsie.” He fell and broke his arm, and my grandmother, Sarah Sego, set it. He had perfect use of his arm when it healed.
The entertainment consisted mostly of dancing and surprise parties. When someone had a birthday, the neighbors would gather in and surprise him. Uncle Link Sego and Frank Foreman, now of Mitchell were old time fiddlers, and used bass viols as their instruments.
We lived here for five years then we moved to Colorado and stayed for one year before leaving for Iowa in an immigrant car. The families that came here during the five years my father’s family lived here were: Bolin’s, Card’s, John E. Smith’s. George Elliott’s, the families of John Cross, Benn Cross and George Cross, now my father-in-law, Jim and Alf Calderwood, Lamb’s, Kessler’s, Loop’s, Whipple’s, Beck’s, Murray’s, Richie’s, Art and Bert Williams, Merrihew’s, Barkell’s, Harve Beebe, and many more I fail to remember.
On Our trip back to Iowa, mother and the four boys went on the train and we two girls accompanied Dad in the covered wagon. I can remember we three had gone all one day and night and until noon the second day without water, when we sighted a watering hole for stock. Dad wouldn’t let us drink the water, but he made coffee which we were very glad to get. We weren’t as thirsty as the stock, however as Dad had opened a can of tomatoes and let us drink the juice.
In 1897, I returned to Nebraska with my husband, LeRoy J. Cross. While here we made our living by milking and selling milk to Ben Cross Sr., who had a small cheese factory on the Bay State ranch. During this time Newton LeRoy was born but lived only a few months. The following spring, we returned again to Iowa, only to stay for one year, then we came back to Nebraska and have resided here since. We came to Nebraska the second time with a 15 month- old baby, Georgia, who passed away 9 years ago. We lived at Heath, a small place which was made up of a general store and post office, for the next five years. During these five years, another son, Myrl D. Dross of Gering was born. Then in 1905 we moved to Gering, and to the present we’ve lived here 31 years last April. In 1920, I took my brother’s little motherless daughter, Ruth Rose, and have raised her ever since.
Although my father only resided here for five years, Rose precinct was named for him—an honorable and respected man. Our homestead, but not its memories now belongs to the late Jesse Ammerman estate.