Soapweed's Ranch Ramblings
The writings of a Nebraska Sandhills cattle rancher!

Old-time Homestead Stories
April 15, 2003

Sam McKelvie was the governor of Nebraska from 1919-1923. He was an early-day settler and rancher of the Sandhills. This little tale was told about him.

It seems that a neighbor rode into Sam's place one day. Sam and his cat were playing checkers on the porch of the ranch home. The neighbor said, "That is a pretty smart cat you have there, Sam, to be able to play checkers like that." Sam retorted, "He is not very smart. I can beat him two times out of three."

Another early day story went something like this: A rider was passing through ranch country. A blizzard was coming on, and he was a long ways from his destination. The storm was getting worse all the time, and as he rode along a trail all at once he spotted a house with the glow of lantern light coming through the windows. He stopped and knocked on the door hoping to seek haven from the howling wind and snow. The man of the house graciously offered hospitality, and donned a coat to help the traveler unsaddle and feed the horse for the night.

The two walked back to the house, and the lady said that supper was ready. The house was tiny, and the ranch couple had about six children. It was just a one-room shack (with a path out back) and the traveler could only see one bed in the room. He mentioned that he would crowd the folks, and maybe should just ride on. They said "no way, the storm is too bad. We'll make room."

After supper, the men sat around visiting. The lady put the three youngest kids on the bed. After they drifted off to sleep, she carefully picked them up and placed them on the floor. This process was repeated with the three older kids. After they went to sleep on the bed, they were put on the floor. The three grown-ups visited awhile longer, then the man of the house told his visitor, "Go ahead and take the bed. You are company." The passing rider said, "Oh no, I can't do that." But the ranch couple insisted. He hated to do this, but finally fell asleep on the bed, not knowing where the other folks would spend the night. But alas, when morning came, he awoke to find himself laying on the floor, and the other couple were sleeping on the bed.

This same traveler rode into a homestead one day to find a rather small lady carrying over her shoulder a thousand pound two-year old crippled steer taking it to the water tank. He said, "Lady, I've never seen anything like this before. How can a person as small as you are carry such a large animal so easily?" She said, "I picked him up and carried him the first day he was born, and I've been doing it every day since."






Copyright © 2005 Steve Moreland
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