Excerpted from McPherson County: Facts, Families, Fiction; Established in 1890
Taken from “Stuckey and Huffman Cousins” By Opal Streiff
Store at Brown Lake
When Edmund and Willie Huffman came through the Sandhills in 1887, there was a store on the southeast corner of Brown Lake. The man who owned it was later found to be a payroll robber. He thought he was way out where no one would find him. The Logan County Sheriff and another man came up nosing around and the storekeeper shot some holes in the top of their buggy and they left; the storekeeper left soon afterward.
The government payroll men stopped for dinner at a ranch east of Lexington, on their way to a Fort further west. While they were eating, a ranch hand saddled up the best horse, took the money and left.
Ox Team Run Away
The men were at Swan Lake building the sod house. Mrs. Huffman and the children were tot ake lunch to them. Edna Windhurst, later Mrs. Harry Pinkerton, was visiting them and went along. They tried to drive the ox team with only the yoke and a rope, but they ran away and returned to the barn. So they put the harness on the oxen and started out again.
Edna tied her horse on the back of the hayrack and rode with the family. Her horse wouldn’t lead fast enough so Edna jumped off the hayrack, which startled the oxen into a run. Mrs. Huffman jumped off with Marion in her arms, caught her chin on the rack and skinned it badly. Mabel jumped too, but Ira and Bird stayed with the team which circled the valley and headed for the barn which stopped them, one in the door and one out.
Bird loved to hear the violin music. He made his first violin out of a cigar box and screen wire for strings. It was not too successful, but for a small boy he would try to play the tunes he had learned, listening at dances. He longed for a real one until the fall of 1904 when his parents and Marion and Mabel went to North Platte to get an order of goods bought from a peddler who had gone through during the summer. The Buffalo Bill Show was in town and they wanted to see it. They paid a dollar fifty cents for a small violin and brought it home to Bird. He sent away for lessons and later bought a three quarter size real violin.
In 1907 Bird took a notion to take pictures. He sent to the Montgomery Ward catalog for a camera and developing outfit. At that time you developed the film and lay the negatives in the sun to make the prints. He has had a 35MM camera and two polaroids since.
In 1904 Huffmans built a plunge type dipping vat but it wasted too much dip as the cattle splashed into it. In 1907 they moved the corrals and built a new vat, waist high above the ground, built a cage to hold two cows, with a trip floor. After it was loaded, it rolled on wheels over the dip and the floor was tripped. While the two cows soaked, the cage was reloaded. The cows walked up a ramp out of the dip. In 1935 they built one out of cement.
Dipping cattle for lice and scabies was hard hot work. On June 8, 1909, the Ranch settled the dipping job with neighbors. The cost was prorated per head to each man. Charley Daly dipped 76 head; Bert Snyder 165; Trego and Schick 500; Placer Tucker 525; Huffman Bros. 1850. It cost about 12 ½ cents.
Cattle dipping supplies: Sulphur $47.5o at Omaha; part for heating furnace $3.60; Tobacco dip $180; 4900 pounds coal $17.60; hauling coal $17.50; freight on sulphur $11.20; hauling dip and sulphur $15.75; lumber and cement, Sutherland $43.75 and hauling $12.60; extra cement and hauling tank $2.80; rope for hauling dipping car $4.25; pulleys 35 cents and Gum boots $8.00.
After it was all done and figured up Ed thought it cost the ranch about $27.00 to dip their own cattle besides the six family members’ work. They dipped again in April 1910.
New names on the pay roll in 1910 were: Dana Lombard, Charles Palmer, Archie Stoddard feeding cattle at baldy, C.A. Wills, Nellie Cash, Will Lovall, Charley Wilk, Glenn Lovall, Mrs. Gvoer cooking, Fred Gibson cutting Ridlen land, Clyde Lovall, Charles Harris, W.J. Quinn (Will), John Echoff, Ed Pierce, Steve Clifford, Jim Guffey, B.C. Huffman, Ira E., Marion and Wife, Will Grover were old hands. Rob and Edith Chambers helped hay that summer too, they were from Knoxville, Iowa. Fred Stoddard put up the Baldy hay.
Pranks and Fun
The people on the ranch made lots of their own fun. These young folks were only normal, pulling pranks on the others just to see them jump and holler. Mabel and Sadie were cooking for the dipping crew. Ira and Tom Quinn had their bed rolls on the living room floor, sleeping. They slipped in and put a bottle in the foot of the girls’ bed. The girls went in to bed and pretty soon Sadie says, “Gee, Mabel, your foot is cold”. Mabel answered, “You’re not touching my foot”. About that time Sadie flew out of bed, out the door with Mabel right after, across those boys on the living room floor and stepped right in their stomachs.
Another time B.C. thought he would be funny and crawled under the girls’ bed. They came in and when they got into bed, the bed sagged down until he couldn’t move out. So he began to push up, trying to get some room and Mable yelled, “Oh, My God, there’s spooks in here,” and out they went.
The boys always said the girls were “Scaredy Cats,” but that’s only their opinion; they had good cause from the stories.