Last updated: February 26, 2008
The Lusk Herald
"The 1890's and Hat Creek Stage Station As Told to Me"
by Marge Marchant
(Mrs. Marchant is a former Herald correspondent for the Cheyenne River Community in northern Niobrara County where she lives on a ranch. Though she no longer writes news of the now sparsely settled community she still keeps in touch with us here. Ed.)
Having been asked by some of the very old timers to write a few sketches about the 1890's and the Hat Creek stage – as I had heard it – I here endeavor to write a few lines of that bygone era.
In the late 1890's when my late husband's mother, a member of the Hogg family came here from West Virginia and homesteaded on Lance Creek, the Indians were still not at peace with the white man. The Indians came to their place in wagons many times to trade or barter for food, clothing or other things. After the battle of Lightning Creek they came in wagons in quest of their fallen comrades, asking the way to the battle ground.
Sometime during the late 1890's Will Hogg and his sisters, Mrs. James (Sylvie Hogg) Marchant and Mrs. Elmer (Elvira Hogg) Brown, mother of Mrs. Bernice Bird of Cheyenne, formerly of the Red Bird community, drove a team and buggy up the stage line to Deadwood to visit their sister, Mrs. Logan (Julia Inez Hogg) Brewster. They said the road was in good repair and they followed it all the way. Houses were very, very scarce, but they encountered no Indians and arrived safely. If memory serves me correctly they made the journey in a day.
At some later date Mrs. John Hogg and son Billie and Sylvie Hogg took the old stage line to Lusk. Having gotten a late start they stayed overnight at the Jacob Mill ranch close by. The Mill family was very hospitable and after a good night's rest and a substantial breakfast they continued on their journey to Lusk. Lusk was a small spot on the road at that particular time, and the stage line was a well worn trail. Scouts still rode ahead of wagon trains with rifles slung across the saddle front. They wore mostly buckskin attire and featured a ram horn mustache for good looks.
Several times I have personally viewed the deep ruts cut through solid rock at the Hat Creek breaks and as I paused there I noticed deep lines about a foot upon the rocks' worn sides. I asked Billie Smyth what could the deep straight lines be, and was told that was where the singletree clips rubbed as the tugs pulled the wagons along.
I found many pieces of small purple glass – what appeared to be bottles. In conclusion I decided the Cheyenne whiskey must have played out about there, and it was a comfortable place to have that last drink before they reached the old stage station. There they could rest a bit, change horses, perhaps have a good meal.
It is very interesting to visit the old post office at the station. While I was there last summer, I encountered some tourists from the east. Their questions were varied and many – such as: What did they do when the horses gave out? Where did they eat? What did they do when they became ill? How did they keep warm in severe cold? They were especially happy for answers and much interested for ways of western life on the prairies.
Among the very few really old-timers still here are Albert DeGering, Nate Cooksey, Mose Cooksey and Sam Thomas Sr. The late Roy ZumBrunnen could point with pride and tell you exactly where the Texas Trail crossed the Breaks, and I have authentic information from the late Mert Jones (the grandfather of Jim Meng) that the Texas dogies raised a dust 2 ½ miles long from the drags to the pointers.
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