Last updated: August 20, 2004
Niobrara Historical Brevity
July 1, 1986
From "Niobrara Historical Brevity" published by the
Niobrara Historical Society, in observance of the Lusk Centennial 1886-1986
Jake and Ida ZumBrunnen built the first house in the settlement of Pleasant Ridge about 1889. Mary Elizabeth Steers (affectionately known as Aunt Lib) came to Wyoming in 1894. It was she who named the settlement Pleasant Ridge. It was known by that name until a post office was established in 1895. The U. S. Post Office Department chose the name Kirtley as the name for the post office. Kirtley was the name of the first postmistress. Before the post office was established people got their mail at Voorhees post office and at the old LZ Ranch. Jake ZumBrunnen carried the mail by team or horseback for eight years without missing a trip.
A Sunday school was organized with Andrew Christian as Superintendent. Many ministers served the community over the years, the first being Reverend Wallace.
Harrison, Nebr. was their main trading post, however land and school business had to be attended to in Lusk. The wagon road to Harrison was marked with pine boughs until a road was worn. It was also marked in this manner when snow covered the ground.
The settlers hauled their water in barrels placed in lumber wagons from the head of Van Tassell Creek known as "The Springs." It was about seven or eight miles south of Andy Christian's place. When Christian's drilled a well and erected a windmill, water was hauled from there until they could get their own wells drilled.
Several families lived below the hill in the valley but got their mail in Kirtley and attended church and other social functions there but their children went to the "Pine Knot School."
From 1889 to 1892 school was held alternately in the homes. A new school was built in 1892. School was divided into winter and summer terms. In 1899 school teacher's wages were raised from $35.00 to $37.50 and in 1900 they were raised to $40.00 per month. About this time, the school started furnishing school books. Previously pupils brought their own. Two new schools were built in 1897 and 1898. They were known as the West and East schools.
Clara Nell ZumBrunnen was the first baby born in the settlement.
Nellie Christian remembered that when someone rode for a doctor that it meant taking the fastest horse available and riding as fast as possible, day or night, good weather or bad, until you reached him. Then the Doctor returned with his horse and buggy.
Andy Christian donated a tract of land for a cemetery and many friends and loved ones rest peacefully there.
A Woodman of the World Lodge was organized in 1902 and their hall was used for all community events - dances, church, Sunday school, Christmas trees and programs, literary and debating societies, Epworth League, box suppers, ice cream socials and political meetings were held in the hall. Quilting bees and carpet rag sewing bees were held in the homes.
Thousands of bushels of grain were hauled to Lusk and traded for groceries and clothing. The surplus grain was bought by the Lusk merchants and sold to local ranches or shipped on the train.
Telephones arrived in 1907. Several ladies in the community gave piano lessons. Two ladies were dressmakers.
Kirtley reached its peak between 1903-1910. Most of the land has gone back to pasture land and many places have been passed on to children and grandchildren of the original settlers.
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