Sunday Stories: John Q.A. Harshfield and Susan Etta Harshfield

John Q.A. Harshfield was born May 4, 1875 and died April 7, 1948. He was born at Osage Mission (now St. Paul) Kansas. He came to Nebraska with his parents John Thomas and Susan C. (Elkins) Harshfield in 1887 and his brothers, Sidney Clyde and Lorenzo Thomas. The family was accompanied by John Thomas’ brother, David Washington, on the move to Nebraska from Coffeeville, Kansas. The trip was made by covered wagon.

The boys’ mother, Susan Caroline (Shoptaw) Harshfield, died when Sidney was ten, John was seven and Lorenzo was six months old.
John Q. A. Harshfield
After moving to Nebraska, young John left home when he was 13 years old and signed on as a wrangler with a cattle drive. He worked as a “cow puncher” for several years, returning home each fall. From 1892 to 1894 was employed as a “horse wrangler” for Western Union Beef Company out of Cheyenne, Wyoming; and in 1898 was a cow puncher with Fiddle Back Ranch in Wyoming, in 1897 as a cow puncher with the Standard Cattle Company and Bar FS & T7 Ranch, both in Wyoming.
Susan Etta Carrico Harshfield
John homesteaded land 18 miles north of Sutherland on the Birdwood Creek in 1898 when he was 23 years old. He was married April 11, 1898, and lived and toiled on his “Hillsdale Ranch” exactly 50 years. He was buried on his “Golden Wedding Day.”

John Q.A. Harshfield and Susan Etta Carrico were married April 11, 1898 in a double wedding ceremony with her sister, May Estella Carrico and Leonard Laubner. The Laubner’s made their home on a farm in the O’Fallons Community. The two families remained close through the years and spent many Sundays together. Stella’s and Etta’s children, and even their grandchildren know each other well and feel like “family.”

Susan Etta Carrico was born March 29, 1897 and died April 4, 1956. She was born in Parsons, Kansas and came to Nebraska when she was around 16 years old. Her parents were Pius Matthias and Julie Etta (Neill) Carrico. They came to Nebraska by covered wagon and Susan Etta remembered waving at the trains as they went along their way. The Carrico family settled near Hershey, Nebraska on a place owned in 1991 by Gene and Kay Kramer. Pius and Julia Carrico moved to Wyoming in their later years to be near their youngest daughter, Bertha.

Susan Etta (Carrico) Harshfield lived in the Sutherland area all her married life.

During the 1920’s, several Wild West Shows were held at the Harshfield Ranch. These lasted for three or four days, and included such events as rodeos, dances, races of various kinds, an Indian attack on an emigrant wagon train, food booths galore, and various games to test one’s ability to win money as prizes. Indians from the Rosebud Reservation were there to take part in the show. They staged dances and performances of their own to entertain the spectators. People came and camped near the showgrounds at Roundup Canyon. 

John and Etta with hard work and perseverance and the help of their three sons, developed their Hillsdale Ranch on the Birdwood and built it into a showplace. They struggled through droughts, hard times, blizzards; raised five children and two grandchildren. They worked hard but felt they had a goof life. Both were “stayers”.

Their first child was a little girl, however, due to reasons beyond their control, she was born before she was full term and she is buried on the hill behind the house, but no one today in the family knows the exact spot of her burial. She was never given a name.

Next to be born was Olive May; born May 13, 1900; and she died November 4, 1935. Walter Theodore (Ted) was born July 2, 1902 and died April 19, 1976. Alva Perry was born July 18, 1905 and died April 17, 1952. Wilbert Edward, born January 24, 1909, and died July 17, 1961. Gladys Velma, born June 9, 1912.

John Q.A., not only was interested in his family, but the cattle business, and how State and National affairs affected it, and the well-being of his town – Sutherland. At one time he was the owner and operator of 30,000 acres and running 2,500 head of cattle under the Diamond X brand. In 1937, they discovered and tapped an underground stream on the ranch, and with an unlimited supply of water, worked with the government to try and use the water for irrigation in Nebraska. In 1908 he was on the board of directors for the school district. He backed the construction of the Birdwood bridge over the North Platte river north of Sutherland. He was a member of the Nebraska Stockgrowers Association and IOOF Lodge. Hobbies were historical reading and writing. 

Etta’s life was her home, her work and her family.

Double Wedding in 1898

Taken from the Sutherland Free Lance Thursday April 14, 1898.
Married: April 11th, at the residence of Pius Carrico: John A. Harshfield and Susan Etta Carrico, and Leonard Laubner and Stella Carrico.

The Sutherland Justice put on his most dignified air of legal wisdom, and a Mackintosh coat, coupled with dignified gravity of clerical mission, and went forth, Monday to solemnize, or at least legalize, the marriage of the afore-mentioned couples and escaped in time to get out a paper this week after performing a feat in legal-clerical practice that is well adapted to the versatile character of an editor Justice. The harsh corners of the legal phraseology was ground down with the smooth and natural rhetoric of the editor of the “Free Lance” and it was a thoroughly unique affair even to the final words that completed the ceremony.

The innate modesty of the Editor asserted itself and the Justice was smitten with a nervous shock when he faced the quadruples situation but the knot was tied in a truly artistic manner.

Dinner was provided for the guests and the newly married couples, and the tables fairly groaned, “if aught inanimate e’er groan” with the good things that go to make up a feast and the guests done ample justice to the viands. The brides – Misses Carrico’s, were residents of the Ritner Precinct and are well and favorably known through the community in which they lived, and it is the judicial opinion of the Court that the gentlemen who filled the capacity of Grooms in the ceremony have procured estimable ladies as life companions.

Messrs. Harshfield and Laubner are well known in Sutherland, and Mr. Laubner was just stepping into the shadows of old bachelorhood and his neighbors thought he was wedded to the idol of single blessedness when he took this seemingly surprising matrimonial step.

The Free Lance wishes the couples all the happiness that can possibly come from married life and tender the best wishes of their many friends.


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