Sandhills ranch celebrates milestone

PURDUM - - Many area communities and counties are celebrating major anniversaries in 2012, be they Centennial or Quasicentennial (125 years) due in large part to the railroad coming through, but also to the perseverance and courage of those following their dreams of a better life here. Such were Levi and Elenora Cox, who came from Ohio in 1887, arriving in Blaine County, three miles west of what is now Purdum. Saturday, Sept. 1, the Cox family celebrated their own Quasicentennial, treating family and friends to a great day of food, fun, socializing and reminiscing. Seven generations of the family have lived, loved and prospered in these hills. Mother Nature has put them to test several times, such as this year’s drought, but their faith in God and this country - which started with Levi and Elenora - continues. The second generation was Hollie G. whose son Kyle Sr. begat Kyle Jr. He and his wife Edith had LeLaMae, Eleanor and Bob. “The girls were 12 and 14 years older than Bob”, claimed Yvonne. Eleanor, at 90, and husband Gene Horst of Halsey, were on hand to help her brother and family celebrate this most auspicious occasion. Earlier this summer, she and the State 4-H Camp celebrated joint birthdays, as she turned 90 and the Camp was 50. The fifth generation on the ranch, Bob and wife Yvonne, have passed the reins of the hard work to sons Bryon (wife Connie) and Kim (wife Jean) and moved into town (Purdum). They are semi-retired. (The only time ranchers fully retire are when they are carried off with their boots on). One change of the times from the beginning when all hands stayed and worked on the land, is the fact it now takes outside jobs to keep the land in the family and help make a profit. Kim supplements their family income by being a certified electrician, helping on the ranch when needed. His wife Jean is a Para-aide at the local school. The ranch is Bryon’s full time job while Connie helps pay the bills by being the State 4-H Camp Director in the Nebraska National Forest near Halsey. (Pretty amazing that the directorship of the Camp has returned to the family). The ranch has expanded over the years, diversifying into raising some of the feed that is used for their own cattle and the backgrounding of others. Bryon and Connie raised three children on the ranch, Tyson, Trevor, and Bobbi Lee. All graduated from Sandhills High School at Dunning. Trevor and wife Cacee live in Scott City, Kan., where he is a loan officer at the local Farm Credit Service Agency. Bobbi married Trent Zimmerman. They live at Mullen where she is a teacher. Bob and Yvonne have eight grand kids, and by the end of the month, Bobbi and Trent will present them with their fifth great-grandchild. Tyson and wife Racheal live and work on the Cox ranch. Calling Rachel a stay at home mom does not do her justice, as she helps with the cattle, is a “gofer” (go for parts, go for this,etc.) as well as mother and all that requires of two young children. Six years ago Tyson and Racheal extended the lineage when generation number seven, son Kyle was born. The celebratory festivities began mid-afternoon when those braving the heat enjoyed tanking or tubing on the North Loup River. Mother Nature finally relented when the food was served by providing a great evening of cooler temperature and a picturesque full moon rising over one of the cornfields on the ranch. Horseshoes were enjoyed in one of the corrals, while the youth either played on the big Sandhill made specifically for them or tried their archery skills out on decoys set in front of hay bales. The immediate family had on display pictures and albums along with antique tools used by their ancestors, including a “gopher gun, which used live ammo,” Bob stated. “I never was allowed near it.” Also on display, Bob had his Dad, Kyle’s, baseball uniform. “He loved to play ball. Purdum had a pretty good ball club, as did most of the small Sandhills communities back then.” The evening concluded with dancing under the clear night sky to the music of Dan Carson and the Goose Creek Banditos while the flags of Old Glory and the Husker nation flapped overhead. Congratulations to the Blaine County Coxes on 125 years and seven generations of living the Nebraska Good Life!