Hayes County news in the 1880s
Mother Nature always wins and she’s not always a fair fighter! Since I have taken on the mantle of “Thistle Queen” as far as keeping the “noxious weeds” off our land, I have determined there is no such thing as elimination when it comes to weeds.
It’s not that I don’t try and because I don’t blanket spray our pastures, I have graduated from a 3-gallon hand held sprayer to a 5 gallon back pack sprayer to a 25-gallon sprayer that sits on my golf cart and has a 15’ hose. I don’t blanket spray because I want the natural wild flowers to return to their past glory and the results have been stunning. Flowers and weeds share a common existence which makes them susceptible to the spray I use on the thistles. So, I drive around seeking the elusive thistle hiding in the brome grass, behind the cedars, between the cactus, etc. This year I was quite proud of myself having kept a good handle on new growth. That is until I realized that the grass stickers had taken their place. But as always, there is next year as my grandfather used to say when the same quarter of wheat was once again hailed out.
Thistles apparently have held the attention of the Nebraska authorities since 1895 when the McCook Tribune published a notice on June 28 that the marshal would be eradicating any thistles found in McCook after August 15th by authority of the Nebraska Legislature, and would bill back to the property owner the costs of doing so. Here I am 123 years later because quite obviously no one told the thistles they weren’t welcomed to Nebraska.
Now to Hayes County. “Last Friday, the news was received from the Post Office department in Washington that the contract had been let for the carrying of a daily mail route between this city (Hayes Center) and Culbertson to Messrs. Kisseberth & Tilton- they being the lowest bidders. The contract is to take effect next Monday. The new proprietors have fitted up fine rigs and teams for the accommodation of the traveling public. They have also established a half-way point at Highland P.O. where they will change steeds and thus be enabled to make the round trip- 10 miles- in four hours. The schedule for arrival and departure of the stage is as follows: Leaves Hayes Centre at 7 a.m.; arrives at Culbertson at 2 p.m. Leaves Culbertson at 2 p.m. and arrives at Hayes Centre at 8 p.m. every day except Sunday.” McCook Tribune from the Hays Centre Times, January 18, 1889.
Now if you’re like me, that doesn’t equate to four hours, more like eleven hours but a wagon rig was doing good to make 5 miles an hour. When you add in stopping for lunch and dinner, changing horses, etc., it makes sense.
In 1894 through 1895 southwest Nebraska was suffering from a severe drought which sent many settlers back east giving up their land. Sensing a disaster ahead for the state, a relief bill was passed in the Nebraska legislature setting aside $200,000 to provide seed grain to the western part of the state. Doing their part, the B & M railroad donated shipping costs, first of goods to get the settlers through the winter and then of seed: “While in Omaha last week we were informed by General Manager Holdrege of the B & M that any donations of coal or goods of any kind for Hayes county would be shipped free of freight. We were also informed that there is a car or two of goods ready to be shipped in just as soon as Hayes county citizens appoint a relief commission to receive and distribute the goods properly.” Hayes Center Republican in the McCook Tribune, October 26, 1894.
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