From a Pioneer Album - Bill Brooks

Last updated: August 31, 2012

The Lusk Herald
September 6, 1951

by June Willson

In 1888, Shortly after the railroad was built to Lusk, a family arrived on a passenger train to Lusk. The 9-year-old boy was Bill Brooks. With him was his mother, his brothers George and Frank, and their father had come earlier in an immigrant car.

An immigrant car was a stock car in which, for reduced rates, a family could move its household goods, family, stock, and anything else they chose to take. It proved very valuable to the ear1y settlers.

Bill and his family settled near Manville, where the children attended school, taught by a cousin, Cassie Stowitts. Jessie Shippen (Mrs. Carl Baughn) was one of his classmates.

There weren't many Indians when he was small. Nevertheless, he remembers the stockade built at Manville, during the "Indian scares."

When Bill was 16, the family moved to LaPrele Creek west of Douglas. The next year he herded sheep for George Blaine at Keeline. The range was on the Muddy Creek. Their closest neighbors were the L. D. Wilsons (father of the late Ira Wilson).

When he married, he and his wife moved onto the Burkett place and Bill went to work for Lou Sims at the Woods ranch for a year. Later he moved to his homestead about seven miles southwest of Manville.

The roundup is something everyone remembers, especially if he is a rider. It extended clear to Douglas and across the Platte River. There were about 30 cowboys participating. All the ranches sent "reps" (representatives) to cut their cattle out and the reps would drive the cows and calves to the home ranches after the branding.

When the cowboys were on the trail, they often lacked water. It seemed that one man was kept busy just riding after water.

Bill recalls many stampedes, some of which he was in and some he only saw. On the night guards, the men were warned not to light matches, as the light would startle the cattle. During one stampede, one cow-puncher's horse fell and his watch flew out of his pocket. No harm came to the man, but the watch was ruined.

These are just a few of the colorful incidents in the life of Bill Brooks, early cowboy and rancher.




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