by Dean Terrill
Southeast Nebraska Bureau
Inavale – The one thing C.M. Wilson never learned about animal doctoring was when to quit. He is 94.
“Never had a toothache or headache, never saw a day I couldn’t work, yet I never felt better than I do right now,” chuckled the colorful Webster Countian. “I’ve got 15 cattle to dehorn even tomorrow.”
Mostly, however, Con is at leisure that he splits between his ranch north of town and the Inavale grocery of his son Francis. Customers never tire of his recollections of the early prairie life.
Indians still camped along the Republican when Wilson’s parents broke their first sod within arrow shot of his present home. Their Virginia-born son, four when they came west, recalls his bewilderment when first seeing “a woman with a blanket that wiggled on her back.”
“All there was around here then were grasshoppers and rattlesnakes, and deer and antelope and now and then a buffalo,” the oldster continued.
A boyhood love of animals brought an apprenticeship under a “school-trained veterinarian,” and what Con didn’t learn there he picked up in 73 years of practice. Lack of a degree made no difference to farmer he called by name for 20 miles around.
“The state offered me a permit a couple of times, but I always told them I’d soon be quitting,” the widower reflected. “I did sort of quit after I got my holding up to 21 quarter-sections – but there still is livestock to vaccinate and all.”
Buying a Model T from “the first load that came to Campbell,” Wilson added even more to his clientele. The days were as long as ever, but at least the rides were warmer.
‘$5 Too High’
“One time I walked a mile when it was 42 below, hitched up a team and then drove 14 miles in a buggy,” he recalled. “I hated the cold, and the only real complaint I ever got was when I went out in zero weather for a cow that was calving. The owner said $5 was too high, but in that weather I wouldn’t have taken off my coat for any less.”
Butchering (“only 35 minutes to skin a hog”) and his own cattle raising added to his responsibilities. Hunting and fishing in the game-rich valley were principal diversions.
“I bet I’ve killed more ducks and geese than anyone in this part of the country,” he continued, “and I know I’ve cut more colts – up to 250 a year.”
Treats for Friends
His “sport” these days derives from frequent visits to the Inavale Care Home, armed with treats for his many old friends. Young admirers identify him also with handouts of ice cream bars and skating rink tickets.
Deliberately deeding land to his children “so they have to stay,” Wilson is practically a neighbor to all six. Francis, John, Bus and Mrs. Raymond Meyer all have Inavale addresses, while Mrs. Ardner Hanson and Mrs. Milton Lutz live in Campbell and Bladen, respectively.
There are 15 grandchildren – one of them within months of being a “school-trained vet like I always wanted to be.” Byron Wilson is to graduate this spring from Kansas State.
“He went with me a lot and I remember one night we made three trips and got home at sunup,” remarked the proud grandfather. “If that didn’t scare him out of the business, nothing will.”
The Lincoln Star
Tuesday, Feb. 7, 1967
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