William Thomas and Sarah Gibson Haney

by Helen Trumbull

Sarah Gibson (daughter of Alexander Gibson’s) and William Thomas Haney (son of Isaac Haney’s) were married November 3, 1895, east of Ringgold by the Rev. G.W. Brooks.

This young couple lived on Sarah’s homestead.  This was near the Lena Post Office in what is now Arthur County.  Tom and Sarah acquired quite a few acres of land while living here.  This young couple, like all pioneers of those days, suffered many hardships.  It was while they were living here that their first three children were born, Violet, Lulu (my mother), and Nancy.  Tom always called Lulu Lulee.  A lady by the name of Grandma Stoddard was mid-wife when these three children were born.

After this Sarah and Tom moved with their three children on a tree claim which was located 23 miles south of Mullen.  Their building were located west of where Don Mussers live today.  It was here that William Isaac was born on September 23, 1904.  Fern and Roy were also born while the Haneys lived here.

At the time they moved to the Hooker County ranch, there was no mail other than that at Mullen.  There were no roads, only sand trails, so they didn’t get mail very often.  Later, they were able to get their mail at Eclipse Post Office which was eight miles to the west.  Finally the Haneys were able to get a post office in their home.  Sarah was postmistress for this post office called Moore, Nebraska, for almost 21 years.  Some of the name of people who got mail here were Larsen, Ragland, Vina, Wilcox, Downing, Harris, Summers, McClure, Harmon and Hatch.

On January 22, 1931, Grandma Haney was down on her knees lighting a Coleman gas heater when it exploded.  Sarah’s clothing caught fire.  She was saved only through the action of her son, Bill, who came with covers from the bed and carried her out.  There was no time to save any of the furniture and clothing as the flames spread rapidly and within half an hour, the house was a smoldering ruin.  No one else was burnt, as the rest of the family escaped by going out the windows.  Sarah was rushed to a hospital in North Platte where she wasn’t expected to live for several days.

The Dismal River was two miles from the ranch home.  The cattle had to depend on the water from the “Creek” or Dismal River for their drinking water.  The cattle had to be checked frequently so they didn’t get into swamps or quicksand.

The river furnished these early settlers with fruit, such as chokecherries, plums, currants and raspberries.  Sarah always cooked and canned all the fruit she could use for her family.  They also raised a large garden always trying to have at least forty bushels of potatoes in the cellar for winter.  The fall work wasn’t done until there was a huge stack of cow chips picked up and stacked and wood or trees piled up for fuel for the winter.

Bad storms during the winter was always a great hardship for these early settlers.  One winter they had a bad storm with bad weather lasting for two months so that they were unable to get out with a team and wagon.

Grandad Haney had one of the first cars that was found in the Sandhills.  When he went to put it in the shed for the first time, he hollered, “Whoa! Whoa!”  Luckily, he got it stopped before it went through the side of the shed.

Am and Adeline Hatch lived in the valley to the east of Haneys.  When the children were old enough for school and there were enough pupils, a school was started.  Edna Hatch was the first teacher.

While the children were still at home, a Sunday School missionary came to the schoolhouse and organized a Sunday School and church services were held whenever a traveling preacher came along.  The Haneys were always at these services.

In the early thirties, during the drought and depression some of the place was sold.

Violet married Edgar Deidel.  They lived for a while northeast of Tryon.  Violet is a widow now and lives on Walker Road southwest of North Platte.  Her four children live close by.

Lulu married Clyde Wilson.  Their story is located in another part of this book.

Nancy taught school in the Winters District northeast of Tryon.  She married Ed Frost and now she has retired from teaching.  She and Ed lived in Chadron for several years after they both retired.  Nancy is widowed now and lives at Grand Junction, Colorado, near her two sons.  William is deceased.  Mary, his wife, lives on the home place northwest of Tryon.  Their son, Bill, and his family live on the same ranch.  Their daughter, Patty Jennings, and her family live in Denver, Colorado.

Fern attended high school and graduated from the McPherson County High School.  She attended nurses training and graduated as a registered nurse.  Her husband, Ray Agnor, is deceased.  She lives in San Pablo, California, near Virginia, her only child, and family.  This winter Fern is going back to school to renew her nurse’s license.

Roy, the youngest of the family, married Florence Fox.  They live southwest of Mullen on a ranch.  They have two children.  Bonnie, who married Gaylord Porath, lives southeast of Mullen on a ranch.  Harold lives on a racnh near Oconto.  He married Theresa Applegarth of Hyannis.

Thomas suffered several strokes and was invalid for many years.  He passed away May 25, 1939, at the age of 77 years, eight months and 22 days.  Services were held at the Episcopal Church at Eclipse.  Burial in the Eclipse Cemetery.

After Tom’s death, Sarah moved to North Platte, where she resided until she passed away at her home on July 10, 1955.  Services were held at the Eclipse Episcopal Church.  Burial in the Eclipse Cemetery.

McPherson County: Facts, Families, Fiction
Published 1986
Pages 520-522

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