Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sunday Stories: J. Ray and Margaret King

J. Ray, birth name John Ray, but known to all of his associates and friends as J. Ray; was born November 10, 1915, and was the son of Clarence E. and Grace Ella (Eickmeier) King. He was born and raised south of Sutherland. When J. Ray was three years old, his mother passed away in the 1917 flu epidemic. Clarence E. later was remarried to Grace Anna Shaw Hughes.
J. Ray and Margaret King
J. Ray met and later married Margaret Wherry, daughter of Henry and Anna Wherry on December 24, 1934. Margaret was born May 20, 1915, at Beatrice, Nebraska and came to Sutherland to live with a sister when she was 15 years old. Upon their marriage, J. Ray and Margaret immediately moved to the farm two miles west of the Riverview Cemetery, and lived there until Ray’s death.
Margaret remained on the farm for three more years, and then retired, moved to North Platte.

J. Ray and Margaret are the parents of three children, two daughters, Beverly (Mrs. Jim) Colburn of Sutherland, and Norma (Mrs. Robert) Wright of Chappell, Nebraska. One son, Wayne “Butch” of Sutherland, Nebraska. J. Ray and Margaret are the grandparents of 12 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

J. Ray was on the School Board for 21 years. He became a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows; became Grand Master of the Lodge on State level in 1961. In 1972, he was elecgted Sovereign Grand Master of the World of the I.O.O.F. In this capacity, they were able to travel all of Canada, five Scandinavian countries, Mexico, Chile, Uruguay, Iceland, and all of the United States.

The Nebraska Farmer magazine had nominated J. Ray for the honor of being the best Nebraska farmer in 1941.

J. Ray was active in all service works in the community, and served on the Co-Op Board for 20 years. He was an active member of the Sutherland Methodist Church.

Margaret helped start 4-H in Sutherland in 1945, and was a Club Leader for 18 years. She was active in church and community work that kept her very busy.

J. Ray’s father, Clarence E. King, built the house now (in 1991) located at the outlet of the Sutherland Reservoir, in 1916. All the “King Kids” grew up in this home. It was later purchased by Nebraska Public Power District and moved to the present location.

Irrigation became a very important item on the King farm. Pipe irrigation appeared first in the community on the King farm, and by 1982, the farm had five circle or pivot irrigation systems on it.

Many different men worked for the Kings. Margaret regrets not having kept a diary of all the many events, changes and local happenings.

J. Ray passed away January 6, 1984 and is buried at the Sutherland Cemetery. Margaret passed away on August 16, 1994.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday Stories: Clarence E. King, Sr. 1878-1954

Excerpted from the Sutherland Centennial 1891 – 1991, published in 1991.

Clarence E. King, Sr. was born at Kearney, Buffalo County, Nebraska on July 4, 1878. He was the son of Joshua R. and Alice May King, who were born in the eastern states and journeyed west to Buffalo County, Nebraska, as a young married couple. Clarence was the fifth child of seven children born to Joshua and Alice, and was only five years of age when his father died.

On November 6, 1901, Clarence King married Grace Eickmeier, daughter of August and Ella Eickmeier. Clarence famed in Buffalo County until March 1, 1908. Three children, Lavon Ella, Byron Eugene and Edgar Augusta, were born in Wood River Valley, and then in 1908 the family moved to Lincoln County, southwest of Sutherland, Nebraska. The ranch house still stands, even though the cattle barn and outbuildings were torn down long ago. Clarence bought the SW ¼ of Lots 3 and 4, as well as the SE ¼ of the NW ¼ of Section 1, Township 13 north of Range 34. Some of this land was later sold to Peter H. Smith but eventually this land reverted back to the King family in 1940 and is still owned by Clarence E. King. Jr. Three more children were born to Clarence and Grace Ella at the old ranch house. They were Clarence Eugene, John Ray and Ruth May.

In the spring of 1918, the family moved two and a half miles east of the old ranch house. This family of eight moved into a new twelve room home which Clarence, himself, built. His initial land purchase was 270 acres, but by 1918 he owned 640 acres of land on which he specialized in raising purebred Hereford cattle and Poland-China hogs. This farm was known as Pleasant Hill Farm and was known for two outstanding features, a uniquely built barn with a grade joined to it so loads of hay and grain could be hauled into the hayloft, and the kindly hospitality of the King family. This residence was one of the best in the county and many came to share in the King’s hospitality. Many church parties were held in the hayloft as it was large.

Mrs. King, who was much beloved by friends and family, died October 17, 1918, leaving behind six small children. As time passed, Grace A. Shaw came to work for Mr. King to care for the six children. Then in 1919, Clarence E. King, Sr. and Grace Anna Shaw were married.

Clarence King believed that survival depended on raising everything for the table yourself. Many kinds of fruit trees were planted and always a huge garden from which 300 or 400 quarts of vegetables were canned so there would be food to last ‘till spring. In the Smoke House, would be hams and bacon being cured. The beef and chickens would be canned and soap made from the lard from the hogs. From the wheat harvest in the late summer, Mr. King would take a load of wheat and exchange it for a load of sacked flour which was stored in the basement on a metal table so the mice could not reach it.

An ice house was built, and every winter blocks of ice from the river would be cut and stored with them harvesting enough to last until the next year’s freeze. Every Sunday was the day for homemade ice cream and cake, with neighbors coming for a song fest. Clarence King played the mouth harp and the accordion and Grace King the piano. Late August when the watermelons were ripe, a King and Eickmeier reunion would be held at the farm for a watermelon feast. A tent would be pitched and beds all over the floor, but fun was had by all.

In 1935, Clarence King again moved his place of residence. At that time, the Sutherland Reservoir was being built and this event forced Mr. King to sell his farm since the proposed reservoir was to cover the area of land on which the farmstead was built. The house itself was moved to the reservoir outlet and still stands on that site today (1991).

In 2004, the house was slated for demolition and, as an alternative, auctioned to be moved. It was purchased by my sister and moved approximately six miles west where it is now her home. The three photos below are of that move.

The barn was moved to the State Farm at North Platte, Nebraska.
The barn at the West Central Research and Education Center in North Platte, known as the State Farm. I don't know if this is Clarence King's barn, but it seems like it might be a possibility.
Following the sale of the farm, Mr. King moved into Sutherland, Nebraska and started a Gamble’s Store, which one of his sons, Edgar King, ran until he was inducted into the Army during World War II. The store was then sold and Clarence King passed away May 25, 1954, leaving a younger son, J. Ray King, to carry on the farming tradition of the King family. Grace A. King passed away June 17, 1978.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Know Nebraska: Maureen's Kitchen in Brady

Recently to prepare for an upcoming travel writer tour, we did a whirlwind windshield tour of the route to better get a grasp on the timing. We had the amazing good fortune to be in Brady, Nebraska at lunch time and stopped at Maureen's Kitchen.

Wow! You have GOT to try this place - EVERYTHING is homemade, including the bread for the sandwiches!
This is a bacon cheese meatloaf sandwich on homemade white bread, which was the lunch special on March 26th.
As you can see, the menu isn't very expansive, but it is all made with care and is delicious! Not a mass-produced, frozen, deep fried item to be found.
The restaurant is at 118 N. Market Street, and is open 6am to 2pm Tuesday through Saturday, and 9am to 2pm on Sunday serving their breakfast menu and one lunch special.
As an added bonus, also in the same building is the Third Season Boutique, which offers flowers, inspirational and local author/interest books, boots, and bling for yourself and your home! They donate 10% of their sales back to their community.
Maureen's is definitely one of those treasures you hope to find when sampling a small town diner.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sunday Stories: William H. “Bill” and Leela Jane (Hunter) Lawyer

William “Bill” Lawyer was born January 11, 1876 on a farm near Perry, Green County, Iowa. When he was about 11 years of age, his family moved to near Concordia, Kansas.

Leela Jane (Hunter) Lawyer was born February 13, 1885 in Henderson County, Illinois. When about three years of age the family moved to what is now Goodland, Kansas.
William H. “Bill” and Leela Jane (Hunter) Lawyer
Bill and Leela were married at Agenda, Kansas in 1901. They lived at Horton, Brown County, Kansas, where he worked in the railroad shops. In 1907 or 1908 he fell from a high scaffold, receiving a severe hip injury and injured one hand severely which left him quite incapacitated the remainder of his life.

He had a brother that had taken a homestead near Somerset, Nebraska. This brother encouraged him to come west to seek land. He did and found land near a lake, a short distance from the head of Little Birdwood Creek in McPherson County, Nebraska. He went to Tryon which was the county seat and filed on three-quarter section of land. This was located approximately 28 miles north of Sutherland, Nebraska.

In 1909 he built a 16 x 20 foot sod house. Down the slope of the hill a short distance from the house he dug down sinking a bottomless barrel. The ground water level was such that the seepage water soon came up to fill the barrel. This method was used for the household as well as for livestock, for quite some time.

He then sent for his wife and family who had remained in Kansas until he was settled. The family, grandfather Lawyer and the family dog (Old Ring) came by train to Sutherland. He met them with the team and wagon which was loaded with groceries, supplies, furniture and they started toward the homestead. They forded the North Platte River, camped for breakfast, hen went on their journey north. The first night they camped at “Tin Camp” on the Little Birdwood Creek.
Tin Camp in the Little Birdwood Valley
Dad, as other homesteaders, must have had the faith of Abraham, “When he went from his homeland in a northerly direction, unto a place where his tent was, which he had placed there at first; there was poverty among them that lived in this land.” Genesis.

The second day of travel the family arrived at their homestead and the new sod house.

Dad helped neighbors as they came to the area to build their sod homes. William “Bill” Haines, a homesteader, bought an acre of land from Rufus D. Howard. On this ground, Dad helped William “Bill” Hossack build a two room sod building. One end was used for living quarters and the other end was used as a General Store and Post Office. This was named Flats. Bill Haines was the instigator and the first Postmaster in 1914.

Sutherland became the main source for supplies, news, mail and medical supplies. Dad hauled freight from Sutherland and the river area. He took cuttings from trees and planted them for shelter and shade. In the fall he would haul winter supplies, apples and fruits from the Hunter Orchard for our family and neighbors.

About 1912 when the Kinkaid Telephone Company was organized, Dad was instrumental in building lines and installing telephones north from Sutherland to the farms and ranches and later a line into Tryon. A switch board was installed in our home and was operated there for a number of years.
Bill and Leela were the parents of 10 children: Claude, Roy, Mabel, Jessie, Walter, Leonard, Davie, Mae and Joseph. Most of them remained in Sutherland, North Platte, and Paxton area with the exception of Roy who went into the Merchant Marines after his graduation from high school and Jessie who lives in Denver, Colorado.

Bill departed his life at the Sutherland Hospital on March 6, 1946 at the age of 70 years, following a lingering illness. Leela passed away on November 4, 1988 after having resided in the Bethesda Nursing Home in Sutherland for 17 years at the age of 103. They are both buried in the Sutherland Cemetery.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

March River Walk

After a pretty mild January, then a frigid February, this week in March is shaping up nicely. Predicted to be in the 60's and 70's for about eight days straight! These were from a walk along the North River.
Cars used to be used as "riprap" along the edge of river banks to keep them from eroding. I don't know if the practice is still in use, but it was very effective in this instance.

Farther away from the river, more picturesque views.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sunday Stories: Letha's Beauty Salon

Excerpted from the Sutherland Centennial 1891 – 1991, published in 1991.

Submitted by Claudia Eberly

Letha Jane Heskett Kennedy, after her graduation from the Sutherland High School, journeyed to Omaha, Nebraska, to attend the Moller Beauty College in 1928. After a year’s training, she returned to Sutherland and opened up a shop. Her business was located above the former Post Office, a two story building on Walnut Street.

Letha’s shop was located on the second floor in the northeast corner of the building. Also on the second floor was the Telephone Company owned by George White. Nina Wilcot Humphrey had lost her husband, and worked as the night telephone operator. She and her daughter Arlene had an apartment next to the street. Downstairs on the first floor was where Mr. McKinley was located and Dr. Shambaugh’s office. Mr. McKinley was on the south, and Dr. Shambaugh was on the north side.
Later, Mrs. Nation came from Wallace, Nebraska, and she and Letha moved the shop downstairs into the location former occupied by Mr. McKinley. Dr. Shambaugh at that time moved into the Cox Hospital Building.

In 1941, Mr. Nation bought a nightclub in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and he and Mrs. Nation moved to Cheyenne. Letha could not afford to buy Mrs. Nation’s share of the business, so she moved the shop into her home. This has been the location of Letha’s shop since that time.

At about that time, Verona Moore and Mrs. McCall had a shop in the Emery Drug Store. Also, Lorna Hillard and Doris Dunn had a shop together. They both got married, and closed up business.
Finger waves were most popular in the middle 20’s. Permanents were given with a big electric “Croquonel” machine, and the spiral method was used. The style that Letha came home from Omaha with was called the “Marcel”, and everyone had that style in the early 1930’s.

Example of a permanent wave machine
Permanents at that time cost $1.75 to $3.50, and haircuts were $1.00. Letha did not do barbering, as a special license was needed for that.

Letha started her shop in 1930, and a copy of the original license is shown. She has the honor of being the oldest licensed cosmetologist in the State of Nebraska.

Letha’s only comment regarding the many years she has been at work is that “it seems like I never have enough time to visit and to keep up with all my old friendships.”

What a wonderful lady! Letha raised her family, kept her home neat as a pin, and was a working cosmetologist for 60 years. Sutherland can be proud of her for being the oldest original business in the village of Sutherland.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


After the early morning fire reports, we wanted to go to the hills to check on my Grandparents' homesteading cabin we are restoring. Decided not to drive in and risk being caught there. We didn't go closer - no sense in adding to the worries of the firefighters.
This is looking directly west. The small white dot in the center foreground is the District 60 school. The small white dot in the left middle, surrounded by trees is the homestead.

Here is a zoom into the cabin, blurred by smoke. This was about 8:30 in the morning on March 29.

We got a call shortly before noon that the fire was threatening the home place, so loaded up to head north to make a stand - thankfully, dedicated firefighters had already made a stand.
The drive way into the home place. You can see where the fire skirted to the east.
North on the Paxton Road. At the bottom of the hill is where you would turn left to Bucktail (Arthur), or right to Sutherland. This would be the furthest north-west of the "Horseshoe".
Looking north from the home place driveway. Everything north of the road is burned, even if it is not black. The wind has already blown the soot away.
he pivot just north of the home place. You can see the pivot corner windbreak has burned, and the fire skirting the pivot on the east.
Burned ditches.
Drifting sand from the fire.
The pivot corner that has burned. Not a total loss, however, we received a call on Monday that the fire had reignited in this windbreak and we lost much more of it.
South on the Birdwood, you can see firefighters mopping up hot spots in the background.

Our neighbor (in the hills) lost about 2500 acres of grass, but it could have been much worse. He and his family went out about midnight to fight the fire where it started, near Bucktail. At that time it was heading straight south. Then the wind changed and it made a run to the east before turning south again. By the time he made it back to his house, other firefighters had made a stand there and saved his home (the fire got as close as across the road) and his bale pile. So many lost so much, but the firefighters also saved so much.