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The Savage Family
submitted by Leah Savage

The information I have on this family comes from many different sources, but most of the "interesting" information comes from letters written to me by Marguerite Clark Wobig, granddaughter of Robert and Mary Ann Savage. Robert and Mary Ann (Sharp) Savage came to America from England around 1887. They brought with them four young sons: Albert, Robert, Charles, and Edward. The Savage family had lived in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, England for nearly 200 years. They were listed quite often in the parish records as children were born, married, and eventually died.

Robert's parents were Robert and Maria (Bayless) Savage. The older Robert was a copper and tin smith as was his father, William, before him. The younger Robert worked in Bliss Tweed Mill as a woolsorter. His wife, Mary Ann, also worked in the mill as a tweed burler finishing off the ends of the material. It is unknown exactly why the Savage family came to America although we have some clues. About that time, American railroad companies were advertising in Europe to entice settlers to come take advantage of free land and opportunities to get rich in western Nebraska. Through stories passed down is seems that one of the young boys had health problems that might have benefited from a drier climate. Probably most important was that Robert's older brother, Edward, had already come to America and settled in Omaha. Little is known of Edward's family except that his family stayed in Omaha and one of them became quite prominent as a member of the staff of the Omaha World Herald. This branch of the family has not been researched yet.

Robert and family went first to Canada where they stayed for a short while and then on to Omaha were Gertrude was born on December 25, 1889. In order to provide for his family, Robert had converted his money into diamonds and sewed them into his clothing.

Robert had a confectionery and fruit store in Rushville.  In the Rushville Standard, he was referred to as the Fruit Man.  In December of 1897, Robert put a homestead filling on a quarter section know as the Tom Preston timber claim located about five miles east of Rushville.

According to the standards of the day, Robert dressed rather formally, usually wearing a black derby hat.  In addition to this, his rather reserved manner seemed to classify him as a "dude" and indirectly led to the accident that cost him his life.  Robert loved horses and always had a fine, spirited team. It seems that one evening, around 1901, he was having trouble hitching up his horses.  A couple of "jokers" offered to help.  Somehow, they managed do something to the team that caused them to run away just after Robert climbed into the buggy.  Robert was thrown out and onto a fire hydrant and was seriously injured.  He was ill for quite some time before his death.  The expenses of illness and death were such that Mary Ann had to find work as a maid and "farm out" the older boys.

All of the boys found good homes except for the younger Robert, or Bob as he was called.  His foster family was situated north of Rushville on the Cheyenne Indian Reservation.  There were no schools he could go to and he was overworked and underfed.  One day while tending the cattle, Bob decided to runaway back to his family.  He became lost and was rescued and adopted by a childless Indian couple.

Mary Ann had almost given him up for dead.  When she finally located him, he had become quite attached to his adopted Indian family.  He was very fluent in the Sioux language and later became a freighter who hauled supplies between the reservation and Rushville.  Mary Ann had by then remarried and was able to establish Bob on some acreage.  He later married Alma Lena Osterman who was born in Kilgore, Cherry County, and raised a family there.

Robert and Mary Ann have many descendants, but many branches of the family have lost touch with one another.  Here is what is known about the original family members.  Albert married Nira Jacobs, and farmed in the Rushvile area until his death.  Charles married Nira's sister, Carrie, and raised a family in or near Sheridan's County Seat.  At one time he operated an eating place on North Main Street; later they moved to Arizona where he passed away.  Ted married Sara Jacobs (of another family).  They operated a dry cleaning and sewing shop in Rushville for many years.  He is also deceased.  Robert married Alma Lena Osterman and ranched near Kilgore, later retired in Valentine and is buried there. Ernest, who remained a bachelor, became a well-known farmer and businessman; he lived in the old Stockman Hotel until his death.  William (Bill) married Mildred Went and left her a widow with a young son when he died of the flu contracted in a California army camp during WW I.  Rose married Seward Wilson and lived in Washington state.  Her twin Lily (Mahaffey) passed away recently in that state.  Laura (Leighton) died in Casper, Wyoming of pneumonia while yet a young woman.

I do not think we can imagine the hardships our pioneer ancestors went through.  How hard it must have been for Robert and Mary Ann to leave England.  They not only left their homeland, but also family, friends, and also their daughter, Maria, who died at 18 months of age and is buried in Chipping Norton.  How hard it must have been to leave and know that you would never go back.

A granddaughter of Robert and Mary Ann, Margurite Wobig, wrote of Mary Ann, "I recall being much impressed by her vitality and charm.  I greatly admired her and wished I know more about this woman who, as a baby in her native England had survived being wrapped in a feather tick and tossed from the window of her burning, thatched-roofed home; then had grown up to cross the Atlantic and the Nebraska prairie to establish a family in the United States."  This is quite a legacy for the descents of Robert and Mary Ann Savage to live up to.


This page was last updated on
Tuesday, 10-Mar-2009 20:10:54 MDT