Gibbons family farm and ranch recognized by Ak-Sar-Ben
CHADRON, Neb. – The Gibbons family farm and ranch was recognized by Ak-Sar-Ben for 100 years of continuous ownership at the Dawes County Fairgrounds on Aug. 1, 2010. A presentation and reception afterwards inside the 4-H building by 4-H members was well attended.
Honey production has been a family tradition beginning before the Gibbons moved from Florence, Neb., to the Panhandle evidenced by the bee hives in an old family picture. Great grandson, Wayne Gibbons, carries on the honey tradition. Cattle continue to graze on the green grass as they have for over 100 years.
Harold Gibbons’ grandparents, William Henry and Fannie Elizabeth Gibbons, traveled on the train from Florence, Neb., in 1910 and signed the papers on Oct. 26, 1910, agreeing to purchase the land from Sarah DeGroff. W.H. moved in, traveling by train. The rest of the family came later because the children – William Roy, Harry Arthur and Clara Belle – came down with measles.
The DeGraff family descendants traveled from Idaho to visit the Crawford area and to find the home place of their ancestors. They had a general direction and an old photograph of the house with their great grandfather DeGraff sitting in a horse-drawn buggy beside the house. The DeGraff families still keep in contact with the Gibbons families. DeGraffs have been back since with plans to return again. They shared copies of the picture which is the oldest picture taken of the house. They were thrilled when given some square nails from the original house. An elderly neighbor across the road said she remembered the house being in place when she came to Dawes County in early 1880s.
The family managed to keep making payments through the Depression years and after Harold’s grandmother’s stroke and death. Harold’s parents, Harry and Gertrude, moved in to care for Grandpa W.H. and finish paying for the land. Harold helped make final payments while he was in high school and after.
After the death of both parents, Harry purchased the shares of his brother, Roy, and sister, Clara Soester. Harold lived and worked on the place from 1941 until his death in May of 1992. Harold and Beth have three children – Jerry and Kathy, Wayne and Julie, Kristi and John Snyder and 12 grandchildren, (Andy, Will, Joe, Marina, Mindy, Ana, Ivan, Ben, Jade, Cody and Ashley Gibbons and Alyssa Snyder) plus three great grandchildren, (Carson, Joey and Addie Gibbons). John Snyder, Kristi’s husband passed away three years ago in an accident and grandson, Joe Gibbons, died at age 11 of cancer.
Contact with the former owners, descendants of the DeGraff family, is still made as are phone calls with the descendants of best friends of Harry and Roy back along the Missouri River. Irma Graves, daughter of Joe Hipp who spent much time with Harry and Roy Gibbons in their younger days, is past 90 but she is sharp and remembers the Gibbons friendship. The family cherishes the past as they look toward the future.
Values and taxes change, but the grass still grows and cattle still graze on land that helped provide a living for five generations of Gibbons. We expect future generations will live and maintain the land belonging to the Gibbons family.