Interview with Nannie Hogan

(Having had the privilege of a very interesting interview with Mrs. Nannie Hogan, daughter of the late Mrs. Nannie Osborn, during her last visit to Ainsworth in July, 1935, a few facts of general interest, as well as some of her own pioneer experiences were recorded, chiefly for the benefit of the school children who often have need to seek information regarding the early history of the town.)-Lila McAndrew.

Mrs. Osborn and her daughter, Nammie lived at old Fort Hartsuff near the town of Ord. They became acquainted with Mr. and Mrs. Tower, the latter being a sister of Mr. Ed Cook, who was foreman of the famous Cook ranch. The buildings which were erected in 1873, all built of logs, were located on the bank of Bone Creek and were the first to be erected on the site which was later to be known as the town of Ainsworth.

Many bones of mastadons and other prehistoric animals were found in and along the banks of the stream, hence the name Bone Creek.

Mr. Cook had come in 1877 and “squatted” on the claim. The cattle were owned by a syndicate but Cook was manager of the ranch. In 1879, through the influence of Dr. and Mrs. Tower, Mrs. Osborn and Nannie were persuaded to come up from Fort Hartsuff and serve meals to the cow boys on this ranch. Mr. Cook was to take care of their stock and pay-them a monthly salary. Coming across country with all their worldly possessions, they were given living quarters in the north end of the log building. Mr. Cook’s home, including the Post Office, was in the south end with a long hall-like room between. Mrs. Osborn was made assistant postmaster. Among the people who got mail at that time were: Gus Sissons, Stanleys, Swetts, Stockwells, Carpenders, and Fanchers.

A lantern was raised to the top of a high pole at the Cook ranch every night, which served as a signal of habitation to those in the vicinity. One night word was received at the ranch that “Doe” Middleton and his gang of men were coming. Cook told two cowboys to sleep one on each side of the fireplace, which was done with much apprehension, and extreme tenseness prevailed in the cabin that night.

When the outlaws arrived, Cook allowed them to come in. They had blankets and slept peaceably on the floor, but the two cowboys stayed on guard. In the morning the host invited them to have breakfast but the band refused the invitation and went on to the Bassett ranch near Pine creek. (This was later known as the Kyner place.) Here they demanded breakfast.

Mrs. Osborn filed on a homestead, a part of which is now in the west part of Ainsworth. The original house of logs still stands on the corner of 2nd and Os born streets, but it is now covered with cement. Nannie took a homestead farther west. Both women also filed on tree claims and preemptions.

Mrs. Osborn had business to transact in Ord the next spring after locating at Ainsworth, so she and Nannie hoisted the side saddles on their ponies and set out to make the trip on horseback. By dark the first night they had arrived at Dick Ray’s ranch, on Gracie creek, about seventy-five miles from Ainsworth. They found no one home but in those days the latch string was always out. So they went in, made tea, prepared lunch and retired for the night. About midnight they were Awakened by the clattering of horses hoofs and were not sure just who might be coming. But it proved to be Dick Ray himself and his men who were equally surprised to find horses in their barn. But when Cook’s brand was discovered on the horses and the side saddles were seen on the porch, they knew who was there. On entering the house Mrs. Osborn called and made themselves known. On their way back from Ord they had to stay at this ranch again and although Nannie much preferred to take care of her pony herself the men insisted on feeding it for her. But Little Charlie was not accustomed to, an over indulgence of food and before the travellers had gone very far on the homeward trail the pony was sick. However they managed to get to the head, of Pine Creek about dark that night but the trail could not be seen. The faithful pony had always led the way home but Little Charlie was not himself so seemed unable to pick up the trail and the two brave hearted women realized they were lost.

They saw two camp fires off to the northwest but were uncertain which one they should try to reach so decided to make for Bassett’s ranch. But as several attempts to find the trail which would take them there were unsuccessful, they decided to go back to a cave in the bank of a cliff of Pine creek, which had been passed some time before, and there they spent the night. Each one had a blanket so they rolled up in these and Nannie held the reins of the horses standing outside. A cold drizzling rain set in which turned to snow. Cute, the dog was left outside as guard but was later brought in to keep his mistress’ feet warm. At daybreak they started out again. The only land mark visible was a lone pine tree about fifteen miles away.

After traveling some distance they saw men coming who proved to be Mr. Cook and two cowboys coming to find them and who piloted them safely home.
Mrs. Osborn donated the lots for the Court House, also for the Congregational and Methodist churches and Mr. Cook’s sisters gave $300.00 for the bell used on the Methodist church.

Leroy Hall owned the east part of town and donated the schoolhouse block.
His home was the place which is better known as the Scattergood residence.

John Sullivan located south of the tracks. Woodward’s log store was built in 1880. The Orcutt hotel about where the Ford garage and Royal Theatre are now located.



Brown County NE,

Jones, Lillian L. Days of Yore: Early History of Brown County, Nebraska. Ainsworth, Nebraska. November, 1937.

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