Fremont County

   

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Friends From Many States Join Lysite Couple
 in Golden Wedding Celebration.

Mr. and Mrs. Sid Willoughby Are Feted with Dinner Feast and Program

By Mrs. J. W. Patterson. Casper Tribune 1931

Lysite, Wyo.----(Special)---Tuesday was a golden day, the kind of day you read about in story books. It is a day moreover that will never be forgotten by the people of Lysite for on that day over 400 people gathered in Lysite at the Willoughby hotel to pay respects to Mr. Mrs. Sid Willoughby on their golden wedding anniversary; for fifty years ago Tuesday, June 23, 1931, petite and lovely Nannie Irvin Benton of the starry eyes and dusky wavy hair, a Kentucky belle of just nineteen summers, placed her hand and heart in the keeping of a stalwart, young Kentuckian, by name, Sid Willoughby, then a youth of twenty-two years.

The Willoughby's were married at the bride's home in the early evening of June 1881. After the wedding supper the bride and groom crossed the Kentucky river by ferry to their new home at College Hill near Richmond, Kentucky; where the happy young couple became part of the household of Mr. Willoughby's parents..

At the golden wedding celebration at the Willoughby hotel, Tuesday, there were guests from Montana, Idaho, California, Nebraska, Louisiana, Texas, Colorado, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, and of course scores of towns in Wyoming. The great number present showed how highly Mr. and Mrs. are esteemed by not only the community of Lysite but by everybody in whatever community they have lived. To many in this community Mr. and Mrs. Willoughby have been almost parents. In fact, they are called Mother and Father Willoughby by many, to whom they are not related. All the children of Mr. and Mrs. Willoughby, all their children by marriage, except one daughter in-law and one son-in-law  and all their grandchildren except two were present. Four generations were represented as the Willoughby's now have one great grandchild.

Dinner was served cafeteria style, a little after noon. The menu consisted of baked beans, boiled ham, rolls, chicken salad, sliced tomatoes, coffee, ice cream, and many, many lovely cakes. The biggest cake---made of six separate cakes in pyramid formation all snowy white and decorated with a lovely rose design---was made by the women of Lysite.

The crowd was so large that it found necessary to hold the program of the afternoon in the hall. The program opened with a few well chosen words by Percy Shallenberger. Mr. Shallenberger then played the piano while Dr. Jewell, son-in-law of the Willoughby's played the violin. Dr. E. L. Jewell and Mr. Shallenberger very appropriately played "Long, Long Ago, "The Banks of the Wabash," (the Willoughby's lived in Indiana for awhile) and "My Old Kentucky Home," Kentucky being the state where Mr. and Mrs. Willoughby were married a half century ago. Mrs. John Day, of Lysite then sang two very much appreciated selections, one of which was the Rosary. Mrs. Casill, who was formerly taught school in Lysite, Mrs. Glenn Lewis and Mrs. Lovina Johnson, local pastor and postmistress then sang some delightful old melodies, including "When You and I Were Young Maggie," and "Mother Machree." Mrs. Frank Jackson accompanying them on piano. Domingo LaRaury next entertained the audience with some gay little pieces on the guitar. Miss Frances Rate then entertained those present with a whimsical playologue, accompanied by Mrs. Van G. Okie. After this, Mrs. Okie who has sung professionally in Hollywood, Los Angeles and New York, charmed the audience with several selections from grand opera. Mrs. Okie seemed to be able to do anything she wished with her voice and her singing Tuesday showed that she was an artist of note. Mrs. Okie appeared to be very versatile for she played the piano, sang and then read a number of delightful negro dialect selections, which were humorous and harmonized with the holiday mood of those present. Mrs. Okie and Miss Frances Rate, artist pupil and a girl of great personal charm and talent next rendered some delightful old medleys in a duet.

Mabel Jean Willoughby, granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Willoughby followed with a selection on the piano. Mabel Jean is just a little girl and she played a difficult piece very well indeed.

Henry M. Jensen came next with some selections that are dear to those a generation ago. Mr. Jensen, accompanied by Mrs. Frank Jackson sang, "O Promise Me," and "Silver  Threads Among the Gold."

The mock wedding, which was the surprise for the day, followed. The mock wedding seemed to be the climax of the day and kept the audience in merry gales of laughter. Van G. Okie was best man, Frances Rate was the groom, John Hayden (a Denver boy) was the flower girl; John was dressed as no flower girl ever was or since dressed, his flowers consisted of gaily tied bunches of lettuce, onions and cabbage; Mrs. Van G. Okie was the bride, Frank Rate represented the bride's father and Livia Cunningham, a granddaughter of the Willoughby's was the bride's maid, while Mrs. Johnson officiated as the one who tied the blushing bride and groom together for better or worse.

Mrs. John Day in a few well chosen words expressed to the Willoughby's on behalf -of the people of Lysite the community's appreciation for their fine helpful lives in this community and then presented them with about $100 in gold. Mrs. Willoughby replied very sweetly in her genteel voice after which Mrs. Casill gave an interesting talk on the Willoughby's. Mrs. Casill also quoted some very lovely appropriate poetry.

A number of friends of the Willoughby's talked and gave reminiscences after which Martin Basket, wool buyer of Casper, introduced the Willoughby's and all their children to the audience. It was an inspiring sight to see Mr. and Mrs. Willoughby and all their children, now grown to manhood and womanhood standing before the audience. It reminded one of the good woman in the Bible where it states that her children shall rise up to call her blessed.

Each of the children said a few words. Some spoke humorously and some seriously, but all spoke appropriately and a bystander could see that they were all cognizant of the sterling, fine couple who stood before them, their father and mother. The children seemed to feel the truth of those words of Robert Browning when he said: "Youth shows but half: trust God: see all, nor be afraid!"

An account of a golden wedding would be incomplete without a brief resume of the bride and groom's life.

After Mr. and Mrs. Willoughby were married in 1881, they lived at College Hill near Richmond, Kentucky for about eight years. There Harris (Loveland, Colo.); Hattie (Mrs. Dave Laing of Pasadena, Cal.); Eliza (Mrs. Johnson of Pasadena, Cal.); and Livia (Mrs. E. L. Jewell of Shoshoni) were born. The Willoughby's moved to Illinois and lived for a time near Bloomington. There Jessie (Mrs. B.F. Cunningham of Lysite) and Martin (deceased) were born.

In 1896 the little growing family moved to Indiana where Walker (Saratoga, Wyo.) was born in 1899, the family accompanied by the family of Charlie Swaim took the train for Casper, Wyo. Casper was at that time the end of the railroad, a "cow town." Mr. Swaim  met the Willoughby family and his own in Casper from where the two families started their long trip by spring wagon to Lost Cabin. The first night the little company spent at the Henry Johnson ranch near Casper; the next night they spent at Powder River, a stage station, at which place the stage driver let them sleep in his tent, and the following night, which was the first of May, they spread out a big tarpaulin and slept out in the open, fifteen in one bed.'    The little party from Indiana were dressed light and they were severely chilled that night for it snowed about four inches; but thanks to the climate and air of Wyoming no one took cold.

The following day the adventurers reached Lost Cabin where they felt the true hospitality of the west in general and Wyoming in particular. They stopped to fix their lunch at a sheep camp and a herder courteously added his supplies to their lunch and did all he could to make the newcomers feel at home.

When the new arrivals entered the Lost Cabin store, everybody for some distance started to come into the store on pretext of bread or something in order that they might see the new settlers, as so many of the men in this part of the country had not seen women and children for many years. The party got rooms at J.B. Oakie's place. Mr. Willoughby and Harris, then a man of 17, went to the dining room to eat, however, it was in the days of the wild and wooly west where the west was the west we now read of in western story magazines and Mrs. Willoughby and the rest of the party had their meals brought to them as they did not care to enter the public dining room.

Shortly afterward the Willoughbys bought a two room cottage at Lost Cabin from Ed Knap and the following year they added about fifteen rooms and started a hotel. This was in 1900. Here at Lost Cabin, Robert (now a rising young doctor in New Orleans, Louisiana) was born.

In 1914, the Willoughbys, tore down their Lost Cabin hotel and had it moved to Lysite where they rebuilt it. This is now the pretty white Willoughby hotel, known for its hospitality for miles around as it stands today.

The Willoughbys have been in Wyoming continuously since then, except for a short trip back to Kentucky and another to California, until they have become a part and parcel of this country, loved and respected by all who have had this privilege of calling them friends.

Many beautiful and appropriate gifts were received by the Willoughbys on their golden wedding anniversary, so many that if they should be named, a column would be necessary. They also received many telegrams of congratulations from friends who could not be present.

A list of the guests would also be out of the question, because of the space that would be required, however, among prominent Casperites were noted Mr. J.A. Leary, division freight passenger agent for the C. B. & Q. railroad at Casper who represented the Burlington. Mr. J.C. Grisinger, superintendent, could not attend. The Burlington was also represented by the presence of Mr. Waygood, roadmaster, Mr. Peterson, lineman and local agent. The Willoughbys were known and loved by many Burlington employees for during the washout in 1923 the Willoughby hotel was home to most of the workers.

Mr. and Mrs. A.J. Crossley and three children of Hyannis, Neb., were also present at this happy occasion. Mrs. Crossley, it might be remembered, was one of the girls of the Swaim family who made the trip from Casper to Lost Cabin via a spring wagon. Two romances blossomed out of this trip for it was in Lost Cabin that Mrs. Crossley and Mrs.  Laing (Hattie Willoughby) met two dashing young cowpunchers from Montana, but thereby hang another tale.    

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