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 Cheyenne County, Colorado




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Family Histories are submitted by Cheyenne County Researchers

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  The Oswald Story written by Joe Oswald (1899 - 1998)

Many interesting and exciting books with much romance and color could be written about the Oswald family of the last one hundred years of which I am a part. Lots of stories could be told about the ranch on the Cheyenne-Kiowa County line where I have been living for the past sixty nine years.

In 1883, my father married Emily Electa Fowlston.

In 1896, Father moved to Jasper County, Missouri where he acquired about eight hundred acres of land near Asbury, Missouri. There he farmed.

In 1907, when I was seven years old, Father traded his Missouri property for the Corder ranch, a part of which I still occupy. The Corder ranch, as I understand, was started by George Weisbrod, probably before the turn of the century. This was the Weisbrod man for whom the Weisbrod Memorial Hospital was named.

The ranch then consisted of eight odd-numbered railroad sections and the west one-half of section six on which the ranch headquarters were located.

We arrived in Eads on the thirteenth day of May in 1907 and received a cold welcome as it had frozen ice that night. Although I was only seven, I can still remember helping drive the livestock out to the ranch, part way on foot and part way in the lumber wagon. There were eight of us children at the time. Brother Ted, and sister Margaret were born later. Father had two big carloads of household goods, farm equipment and forty four head of livestock; which included some horses, mules, cattle and probably a few coops of chickens.

Father immediately filed on a homestead on Section four, Township seventeen, Range forty seven, where the present headquarters of the ranch now are. My oldest sister, Sophia, who later married Leon Grojean, also filed on a homestead. My two older brothers, Casper and Frank, and my grandmother, Nancy Burgaan got homesteads before they were all gone.

Father raised cattle, sheep and hogs and did considerable farming. We milked cows. Mother raised lots of chicken and sometimes ducks and turkeys. They put everything made back into the ranch in the way of improvements. They built bigger and better barns and chicken houses and bought more land. In 1912 they built the first tall silo that I know of around here.

In 1915, Father bought his first Model T car, which was also the first pick- up I know of in the country. It was a Ford roadster and before Father brought it home from Sunday's garage, he took the turtle-back box off from it and put on an open box about three and one-half by six feet. We then took one of the back seats from the old buckboard wagon and put it on the pickup when more seat were needed, and used it for a passenger car. Later on, when we had bought another Model T touring car, a tractor attachment was bought for the first Model T in 1917 or 1918. It became the first tractor we ever had on the ranch. It was not too successful, however.

The first new tractor which Dad bought was in 1919 for $7000 turned out to be a lemon in place of the sweet orange it was supposed to be.

In the early twenties we had about twenty five draft horses and mules. We worked two or three to six to eight-horse teams most of the summer. In 1922 we traded a bunch of horses and mules to Bert Abrams for a Rumley wooden frame threshing machine. The remains of the old machine is still sitting in our junk yard as evidence of by-gone days.

In 1925, my brother Casper, and I bought the first John Deere tractor to come into Cheyenne County from Elden Platner in Kit Carson. We equipped it with presto-gas lights from some old automobile and ran it day and night from spring through fall. We plowed several thousand acres with it and wore it out in two years. We produced some big corn crops--sometimes over twenty thousand bushels a year.

At that time we were struck by a recession and corn and everything we had to sell was not worth anything. Things were not going well at all on this ranch or most other ranches at that time for that matter. Most people on ranches thought they were really making money during World War One, but in reality, they were going into debt more every year.

The depression came; low prices for everything, coupled with bad storms. My brother, Frank, went broke in the cattle business. He left in 1919 and went into the oil business where he was quite successful from the start. My brother, Nick, stayed on the ranch and drove the big six and eight-horse teams until 1927-1928, when he left and went into the oil business with Frank. My youngest brother, Ted, was around here, helping most of the time, until 1929 when he went to Nebraska. My other brother, Martin, was here and helped on the ranch until he married in 1938.

In 1931 and 1932, Frank was selling a lot of aviation fuel in St. Louis, Missouri and had a seven-cylinder, four-place airplane about like the on which Charles Linberg flew across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927. Frank flew it out here several times. With Frank's financial assistance and my father and brother, Martin, they bought three hundred and fifty head of yearlings that fall and kept them a year. Father and Frank paid off more that $20,000 on the $20,000 loan, and yet they owed the bank more that $20,000 on it when the bank foreclosed on it in 1937.

Father died in March of 1938. Considerable land was selling for taxes at the time. Some of the best land was only bringing two or three dollars per acre.

Frank, my brother, Martin, and I negotiated with the Joint Stock Land Bank about the time they were foreclosing and got a loan from the Federal Land Bank and were able to buy the ranch back for about three dollars per acre. Frank again brought out some more money and got the Joint Stock Land Bank out of it.

Martin got married in 1938. His wife wanted to go to Gunnison, Colorado, where her parents lived. Frank bought Martin's interest in the ranch. I then ended up with about one-third interest in he ranch and continued to pay off some government-seed loans which I had gotten in the dry years of the thirties.

My brother, Casper, died of heart trouble in March 1946, and Frank and I bought his ranch which joined our property. We bought this from his widow, Olive. We then had an operation of nearly twenty sections of land and we ran about three hundred cows and calves. We were back in debt again.

My mother died in 1947 and at that time cattle were selling at an all-time high. The price of land was also up. My brother, Frank, decide it was a good time for him to get out of the ranching business, so we dissolved the partnership. Frank sold his part of the ranch to Eugene Cleaves. We divided the cattle up in the fall of 1948.

My wife, Sadie, whom I had married in 1944, and our two girls, Emily and Carolyn Jo, ended up with about one hundred cows and calves and about seven sections of land and pretty much out of debt, after selling about on and one- half sections of land to George Berry.

I joined the Colorado Cattlemen's Association when it was reorganized in 1951 in Cheyenne County. I was on the board of directors at first and was elected president of the Cheyenne County Livestock Association in 1955, and served two years as president again in 1969 to 1971.

We started going to the annual C.C.A. conventions in the early 1950's and most of the years that was the only two or three day trips we took away from the ranch.

In 1963, we spent at $10,000 rebuilding and fixing up the old ranch house which my father and mother had built in 1908. We added two additions, later, and then it burned to the ground on March 23, 1965. We did get a few things out of the front of the house. All our clothes and everything upstairs were destroyed, including all our old pictures and a lot of our relics. We were fortunate, however, to have a fire-proof safe in which the account books and a few other things were kept. It got very hot and was damaged considerably, but the contents inside were charred only a little. I must give credit to our many friends and neighbors who so generously came to our aid and helped us so much.

My daughter, Emily, graduated from Eads High School in 1963 and from Central Business College in 1964. Carolyn, my youngest daughter, graduated in the spring of 1965.

After graduation from Eads High School, Carolyn worked in the office of St. Joseph Hospital in Cheyenne Wells for a year. She then took a course at the Colorado Medical Institute, graduating in 1967. She moved to Broken Bow, Nebraska and did office work there until her husband, Randy Rohde, whom she married in April, 1974, was moved to Columbus, Nebraska to take charge of the Farm Bureau Office in December of 1975.

Emily Ann married Mike Coffey in 1966. Mike works for the United Bank of Denver.

I remarried April 30, 1966 to Sophia E. Oswald. Sophia had three children which she raised in Missouri. She and I have never missed a C.C.A. convention since we've been married. We also went to the American National Cattlemen's Association in Las Vegas in 1975. We enjoy bi-annual business trips to Missouri. We recently traveled through Louisiana, Florida, Nebraska, and neighboring state to these three mentioned.

My brother, Ted, died recently from cancer. Dirt was blowing badly at the time of his death--days before and days afterward--it makes one wonder why we should stay here, try to fight this losing battle against dry weather, high taxes, government regulations and so on. It seems hopeless.

The pastures begin to turn green. We take new hope and again, as in the past, we try once more. This ranch, on which I live and which my father homesteaded, has nine and one-half sections. My wife and I, along with her son, Edward Eugene, from Urich, Missouri, are operating the ranch. When I am unable to continue work, I am hoping that Edward and his son will continue the family operation.

Note: The author of this story, Joseph Anthony OSWALD, was born on 17 OCT 1899 in Ashbury, MO. He passed away on 10 MAY 1998 at the age of 98.

This article was submitted by Ginnie Flanders, GiMiFlan@aol.com. It is from the book, "Kiowa County", a 1976 Centennial-Bicentennial project. Permission was granted by Betty Lee Jacobs to use the following story on the COGenWeb Cheyenne County, CO site. Betty Lee Jacobs was a member of the Kiowa County Centennial-Bicentennial Committee which published the book, "Kiowa County". This book is available for $10 for the hardback edition or $5 for the paperback from the Kiowa County Museum. Profits from the book go to the Kiowa County Historical Society and the Kiowa County Museum. To obtain a copy of "Kiowa County" write to: Kiowa County Museum, P.O. Box 787, Eads, CO 81036.
The Kiowa County Museum is in no way connected with the USGenWeb Project. This information is included purely for the convenience of anyone who is interested.

"Kiowa County", Copyright, 1976. Compiled by Roleta D. Teal and Betty Lee Jacobs. Assisted by Doris Anderson and Liz Rehfeld. Published by the Kiowa County Bicentennial Committee, 1976

Arthur G. SMART, Cheyenne County Homesteader,

I am taking the liberty of attaching a copy of a deed to my Father, Arthur G. SMART, for a Homestead (Smart_homestead.pdf) in Cheyenne County, signed by President Woodrow Wilson (Secretary) on May 28th 1920. Unfortunately, my Father failed to have my Mother's name, Lenna M. SMART, also on the deed. She outlived him by 39 years. We still hold a Deed, inTrust, for a one half Mineral interest in this property. As I understand it, one had to live five years on the property before they were eligible for a Homestead Deed. Apparently their domicile then began in 1915. They were married in 1914 in Erie, Kansas prior to coming to Colorado to Homestead.

Since you also have a Geneology page, it may be of passing interest to you to know that my Mother, Lenna SMART died in 1995 in Independence, Missouri at the age of 102, and that she had met the Wright Brothers father in her lifetime. When Mom was about 8 or 9 years old, living near Forsythe, Missouri, Bishop WRIGHT stayed at their house for two weeks and preached at the Lone Star Church. My Mother said he shared with them that his Sons were working on building an airplane. Their Sister was a teacher, and was giving them such money as she could; but he ended up saying "I don't think it will ever fly". He probably was a better Preacher than a Prophet, Huh?


Cheyenne County COGenWeb. FAMILY HISTORY
Background graphic by Karla Mahlberg, ©1998-2008
Karla Mahlberg, Copyright, 1998-2008

URL: http://www.cogenweb.com/cheyenne/fam_history.htm