Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunday Stories: Nellie Snyder Yost

The McPherson County History Book didn't contain any information about one of the most famous of the children of Bert and Grace Snyder, Nellie Snyder Yost, noted Nebraska author. I was able to find more information online and in her obituary. The photos are scanned from The PictorIal Atlas of Lincoln County, Nebraska, compiled and published by Title Atlas Co., Inc. of Minneapolis, Minn. in 1969.

Nellie Irene Snyder Yost (June 20, 1905 – January 16, 1992) was a historian and writer. She was an active member of the Nebraska State Historical Society, serving for many years as its president, and wrote 13 books (primarily biographies) and many articles on Nebraska history, including biographies of her father, her mother, and Buffalo Bill Cody.

Nellie Snyder Yost photo from the Western Fictioneers blog.
Nellie Irene Snyder was born on June 20, 1905 to Albert Benton Snyder and Grace Bell McCance Snyder in a sod house in northwest Lincoln County Nebraska. At the age of two weeks she was carried on horseback to a ranch in McPherson County Nebraska. She suffered a childhood illness that permanently damaged her spine and slowed her growth resulting in her diminutive height of 4 feet,8 inches. She lived with her family in McPherson County until 1919 when the family moved to Maxwell, Nebraska where she graduated as class valedictorian in 1923. She taught one year in a rural McPherson County school, riding horseback to her school six miles a day. After that she moved to Salem, Oregon for two years, where she worked in the office of Miller Department Store.

After moving back to Nebraska, she married David Harrison "Harry" Yost on July 6, 1929 and the couple lived on a ranch in the Box Elder Canyon, south of North Platte, Nebraska, for 30 years. They had one son Thomas Snyder Yost. Harry fell ill and spent his last five years at the Grand Island Veterans Hospital. During those years, as Nellie spent about 10 days out of each month at the hospital, she would sit by his bed side, writing manuscripts in long hand. He died in 1968.

She moved to North Platte, Nebraska, where she was active in the Lincoln County Historical Society. She was very active, but in the Historical Society as they worked to open the Lincoln County Museum in 1976, and in Nebraska Writers Guild. She was active in Riverside Baptist Church where she married Frank A. Lydic on August 30, 1984. He was a long time friend and fellow writer. Frank died on November 9, 1991. Soon after, while finishing a trip to promote her last book, she developed pneumonia and was hospitalized. She was transferred to a hospital in Lincoln where she died on January 16, 1992. She was buried next to her first husband at Fort McPherson National Cemetery. Her information was carved on the back of his gravestone with the epitaph, "She Loved Life."

Her first book, Pinnacle Jake, was a recounting of her fathers stories about the west and ranching. Nellie was 46 when it was published. No Time on My Hands was based on a diary her mother had kept. One of her most noted books, Buffalo Bill: His Family, Friends, Fame, Failures and Fortunes, was published in 1979. It received excellent reviews, garnered awards, and resulted in a trip to New York to appear on Good Morning America on February 22, 1980. Her last book, Evil Obsession, was published in October 1991, just a few months before she died. During her 40 years as a published author, she traveled extensively.

Publications and Accomplishments



  • Yost, Nellie Snyder, Pinnacle Jake, Caxton Printers, Ltd., Caldwell, Idaho, 1951
  • Yost, Nellie Snyder, The West That Was, Southern Methodist University Press, Dallas, Texas, 1958
  • Yost, Nellie Snyder, No Time on My Hands, Caxton Printers, Ltd., Caldwell, Idaho, 1963
  • Yost, Nellie Snyder, The Call of the Range, Ohio University Press, Athens, Ohio, 1966
  • Yost, Nellie Snyder, Medicine Lodge, Ohio University Press, Athens, Ohio, 1966
  • Yost, Nellie Snyder, Boss Cowman, Nebraska University Press, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1969
  • Yost, Nellie Snyder, Before Today, Holt County Historical Society, O'Neill, Nebraska, 1976
  • Yost, Nellie Snyder, Buffalo Bill: His Family, Friends, Fame, Failures and Fortunes, Ohio University Press, Athens, Ohio, 1979
  • Yost, Nellie Snyder, A Man as Big as the West, Pruett Publishing Co., Boulder, Colorado, 1979
  • Yost, Nellie Snyder, Back Trail of an Old Cowboy, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1983
  • Yost, Nellie Snyder, Keep On Keeping On, Self Published, 1983
  • Yost, Nellie Snyder, Pinnacle Jake & Pinnacle Jake Roundup, J. L. Lee Publishers, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1991
  • Yost, Nellie Snyder, Evil Obsession: The Annie Cook Story, Westport Publishers, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1991
  • Wrote the Fort McPherson Centennial Pageant, produced in North Platte in 1963, and was Grand Marshal of the Old Glory Blowout that same fall, the only woman to date to be chosen for that honor.
  • Appointed a Colonel in the Cody Scouts of North Platte in 1965. Has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Nebraska State Historical Society since 1966 and served as president of the Board from October, 1974, to October, 1976. She is also a trustee of the State Historical Society Foundation.
  • She is a past president and life member of the Nebraska Writers Guild and was Secretary-Treasurer of the western writers of America, Inc., from 1972 to 1979.
  • Is a charter member of the North Platte Buffalo Bill Corral of Westerners (Secretary 1969-1970) and an honorary member of the Omaha Westerners Corral. She is a member of Chapter GO, P.E.O. of North Platte and a State and National Cow Belle.
  • She was appointed to the Fort Robinson Centennial Commission by Governor Exon in 1973, and was a member of the Nebraska Hall of Fame Commission from 1974 to 1981;
  • Was appointed by the Nebraska Legislature to the Poet Laureate Commission in March of that same year (commission now expired),
  • Was first listed in WHO'S WHO IN AMERICA in 1972 and was the recipient of the Nebraska Optometric Society's "Eyes on Nebraska" award in 1970.
  • In 1972 was selected Beta Sigma Phi's first "First Lady of the Year" in North Platte and made an Honorary International Member of that organization that same year.
  • She received the Golden Saddleman in June, 1975, highest award given by the Western Writers of America for bringing Dignity and Honor to the History and Legends of the West.
  • Was made an honorary member of the Buffalo Bill Stamp Club of North Platte in 1976.
  • Appointed to the board of directors of Westerners International of Tucson in 1977 and awarded the WRANGLER trophy by the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City for BUFFALO BILL, the best non-fiction book published in 1979. Re the same book was interviewed by the CHICAGO TRIBUNE and UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL and invited to New York to appear on GOOD-MORNING AMERICA with David Hartman.
  • Edited Bartlett Richards' book, NEBRASKA SANDHILLS CATTLEMAN, published by the State Historical Society in 1960. Also edited WOMAN WHO MADE THE WEST, and wrote one chapter for it. The book was published by Doubleday in 1980. Wrote foreword for TRAILS OF YESTERDAY, reprint of 1920 book published in 1980 by Nebraska University Press. Edited BACKTRAILING AN OLD COWBOY, to be published in 1982 by Nebraska University Press.
  • Have read papers at the Madison, South Dakota History Conference in 1980 and 1982.
  • Won the 1979 Society of Midland Authors award for the best biography (BUFFALO BILL) published in 1979. Accept the award at the awards program held in the Drake Hotel, Chicago, in June, 1980.
  • Travel extensively giving lectures and programs in many states, as well as Nebraska.
  • Was appointed an Honorary Colonel in the Nebraska National Guards in 1980 and have been a member of the Little Big Horn Association since 1978.


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