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Niobrara County Biographies




Among the prominent and well-known men of Wyoming, is the mayor of the thriving city of Lusk, Hon. Nat. Baker, who comes of old Southern stock, a native of Plantersville, Texas, where he was born on June 17, 1859, the son of Isaac B. and Jane Pinxton Baker, both natives of Alabama, his paternal grandfather being Isaac Baker, and his maternal grandfather. Lucien Pinxton. both well-known and prominent citizens of Alabama. His grandfather Baker removed from Alabama to Texas many years ago. where he became the owner of an extensive plantation and a large slave-holder, and permanently resided. The father of our subject continued to reside in Texas, following the occupation of planter and merchandising, being the father of five sons, of whom Hon. Nat, Baker, the third one, grew to manhood in his native state and received his early education from private tutors and the neighboring schools. Subsequently he matriculated at the Bailey University, at Waco, Texas, and pursued a course of study at that institution. Having had the misfortune to lose his mother when he was but two years old, and his father when he was but ten, after he had completed his education he removed to the city of Sherman, Texas, where he was employed as the deputy clerk of the district court for a short time, then joining the stampede to the new mining camp at Leadville, Colo., which was attracting adventurous spirits from all sections of the country. He remained at Leadville but a few days and returned to Denver, where he became the ticket agent of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. He continued in these positions for about three years, and then engaged in contracting for tin, slate and galvanized-iron roofing. In this business he met with success for about two years, when he sold out to good advantage and, in January, 1886, came to Lusk, Wyoming, and engaged in merchandising and stock raising. He continued in these pursuits with marked success up to 1895, when his stock interests had grown to such proportions as to require his entire time and attention, and he disposed of his mercantile holdings and has since devoted his energies to the care and management of his live stock business. In February, 1884, Mayor Baker was united in marriage with Miss Eliza Dunnica, a native of Missouri, and to their union had come two children. Nat. Jr., and Leona J., and their home life was a notably happy one until death called for Mrs. Baker on January 9, 1899. Fraternally. Mr. Baker is affiliated with the Masonic order, is a member of the lodge at Denver, Colo., being also a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He takes an active interest in promoting the fraternal and social life of the community and is always foremost in acts of charity and public spirit. For many years Mayor Baker has been considered one of the leading public men of Wyoming. In 1890, after the admission of the territory as a state, he was elected a member of the first legislative assembly of the state, discharging the important duties of that position with such ability and distinction that he was reelected in 1892. He was one of the leaders of the House during his entire term of service, trusted by his party associates and respected by the opposition. In 1892, he was prominently mentioned as a candidate for the governorship of the state, and his following among the people is second to that of no man in Wyoming. Many measures of useful legislation now on the statute books of the state witness to his industry and devotion to the public interest. His enterprise and public spirit have done much to build up and develop the state's resources and few have contributed more to its settlement. The people owe him a debt of gratitude which they are more than willing to pay and they will not fail in the future to confer upon him suitable distinction. He is now serving his second term as mayor of the city of Lusk, and his administration has been marked by success, substantial growth and improvement to the city. He is one of those rare public officials whose services to the welfare of the general public can be dispensed with.

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A native of Iowa, born in Dallas county, on November 9, 1868, M. R. Collins is the son of Albert and Mary (Ravlin) Collins, the former a native of Madison county, N. Y., and the latter a native of Chautauqua county in the same state. His paternal grandfather Emery Collins, was a native of the Green Mountain state, who removed in early life to New York, where he engaged in farming, in which he continued up to the time of his death. The father of Mr. Collins removed his residence from New York to Aurora, Ill., in 1858. Here he resided until the breaking out of the Civil War, when he enlisted in the Chicago Dragoons, commanded by Captain Barker, and for a time was a member of the body-guard of Gen. George B. McClellan. Subsequently he enlisted in Co. A, Thirty-sixth Illinois Regiment, one of the two companies of cavalry connected with this infantry regiment. He saw much active service, participating in the battles of Rich Mountain, Pea Ridge, Iuka, Corinth, Siege of Vicksburg, Pleasant Hill, and was engaged in many skirmishes. At the battle of Pleasant Hill his horse was killed under him and he had numerous other narrow escapes from death. He was often promoted for gallantry in action and honorably discharged at the end of the war with the rank of captain. He then returned to his former home in Illinois, soon after removing to Dallas county, Iowa, when he engaged in merchandising, in which he continued until 1874, when he sold out to good advantage and returned to Illinois. He subsequently moved to Kansas, where he made his home until 1882, when he established himself in Nebraska and resided there until 1890, when upon the death of his wife, he joined his son, the subject of this review, at Lusk, Wyo., where he has since made his home. There were three sons and three daughters in the family. Mr. M. R. Collins being the eldest son. His early education was received in the public schools of Illinois, completing his education in the city of Aurora. He remained in Illinois until 1886, when he removed to Wyoming, locating at Lusk, and became a clerk in a mercantile establishment, continuing in this position until 1893, when he formed a partnership with Mr. Nat. Baker, the present mayor of Lusk, and carried on a large merchandising business until 1898, when he purchased the interest of his partner and organized the Collins & Snyder Mercantile Co., which operated successfully while it was in existence. In July, 1902, he purchased the interest of Mr. Snyder and incorporated the Collins Commercial Co., which now occupies a large store-room and extensive warehouses in Lusk, and is one of the most successful mercantile houses in that section of Wyoming. He is also associated with his brother, E. A. Collins, in the firm of E. A. Collins & Co., which carries on an extensive lumber business in the same place. In addition to his other business interests, Mr. Collins is the cashier of the Bank of Lusk, giving the greater portion of his time to the active management of that solid financial institution. This bank is among the safest and most conservative banking establishments of the state. Politically. Mr. Collins is affiliated with the Democratic party and his popularity in his county is attested by his election on two occasions as a member of the board of county commissioners in spite of the fact that the county is largely Republican. Fraternally, he is a member of the Masonic order, having attained the Thirty-second degree of the Scottish Rite, also belonging to the Woodmen of the World, ever taking an active and leading interest in all matters calculated to advance the social and fraternal life of the community. On November 6, 1895, Mr. Collins was united in marriage with Miss Florence Jenks, a daughter of W. S. Jenks, who formerly had business interests in both Wyomingand Utah, and to this marriage one child, Florence, was born. Mrs. Collins passed away from earth on May 31, 1898. Mr. Collins is one of the most successful of the young business men of Wyoming and will be a prominent factor in the up-building of the commercial and industrial future of the state.

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It has been well said that all human achievements, all human weal and woe, all things within the mental ken, are but mirrored back from the composite individuality of those who have lived and that the accomplishments of the men of the present generation had their germ and origin in the character of their ancestors. In entering up a record of the career of one who has played well his part in the great drama of life, and who has left the impress of a strong character upon the communities wherein his lot has been cast, it is always pleasant to note that he can trace his lineage to people of good parts, intelligent mentality and superior ability, so in writing of Mr. Daniel E. Goddard, who is holding important office at Lusk, Wyoming, we gladly make record that his ancestry was of a superior order, being an old and cultured family of the great metropolis of England, where representatives of each generation have held honored positions in some branch of the world's great activities. Daniel Everett Goddard was born in London, England<, on June 28, 1858, the son of Daniel E. and Elizabeth (Cockins) Goddard. the father being a native of Ipswich and the mother of Christ Church, Hampshire, where her father, Thomas Cockins, was also born, the paternal grandfather, Daniel Hale Goddard, also having had his nativity in Ipswich. He was employed in the Bank of England as a young man in a clerical capacity, and, after some years of service, he was transferred to Bristol and was then the subagent of its branch bank, thereafter being promoted to be agent at their branch bank at Newcastle, which exacting and responsible financial position he held with distinguished honor for twenty-five years and up to the time of his death. His son. Daniel E. Goddard, the father of our Wyoming postmaster, also entered the service of the Bank of England as a junior clerk, and after successive promotions and forty-five years of most acceptable service, he was retired on a pension in February, 1901, and is now living a retired life in his pleasant rural home at Wallington, in Surrey<. His early intention was to become an analytical chemist, for which he thoroughly qualified himself by attendance and graduation from the celebrated Kings College University, thereafter entering the Farrow Chemical Works, where he was in receipt of a fair salary, when at the request of his father he took the position offered him in the bank. He always maintained his interest in science, being a Fellow of the Royal Microscopic Society and a Fellow of the Royal Society, both highly distinguished bodies of England. Daniel Everett Goddard was the eldest of the seven children of his father's family, and received a liberal education at Trinity College, Wallington, graduating there from in the class of 1874, thereafter passing the civil service examination and going out in the service of the British government to the Fiji Islands, where he remained for thirty months in pleasant employment in the custom-house department, enjoying to the fullest extent the very beautiful country and learning the Fijian language. After his return home he concluded to emigrate to America, and six months thereafter was on his way to Kansas, where he located in Osborne county and engaged in the stock industry, continuing his residence there until 1884 and meeting with success. Removing to Alton, Kansas, he there formed an association with C. C. Dale in the practice of law which continued for four years with satisfactory results. In 1888 he came to Lusk and here established himself in the real-estate and insurance business. In 1890 he was appointed U. S. land commissioner as a Republican and still continues in the incumbency of that office. In 1890 he was commissioned postmaster, and, with the exception of four years under Grover Cleveland's administration, he has held the office until the present time, and is also city clerk. Mr. Goddard was united in marriage with Miss Matilda Spain, a daughter of Bartholomew and Charlotte (Kebble) Spain, of Kent, England, on March 12, 1879. She descends from an old and influential family long resident in the beautiful, garden-like county of Kent, owning large estates there and also at Seven Oaks, England. The children of this union are Elizabeth W., wife of James S. Bonsvelle, a rancher of Lusk; Daniel E., a prominent stockman of Lusk; Edith M., assistant postmaster. The Goddard family have many friends, being intimately connected with all the affairs of the community, in which they occupy a high place in the regard of the people. Mr. Goddard is slightly interested in the stock business in company with his son and also transacts a large amount of real-estate business, being now the administrator of several large estates, and is the local representative of numerous leading fire and life insurance companies, having transactions of scope and importance in this line. Fraternally, Mr. Goddard is an Odd Fellow, his religious affiliations being with the Episcopal church, in which he has taken great interest from childhood, being then a chorister, while for the past two years he has had charge of the St. George's Episcopal church at Lusk as a lay reader, and here he has organized a full choral service, a vested choir of twenty-two voices.

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One of the leading citizens of Wyoming, after whom was named the thriving city of Lusk in Converse county, is the subject of this review. He is a native of the state of New York, born in the city of Buffalo, on April 27, 1857, the son of James W. and Cornelia Marion (Stillman) Lusk, the former a native of New York and the latter of Ohio. His father, when a young man, removed from his native state to Ohio, where he established his residence, and where he became a member of the well-known firm of Bryant, Lusk & Stratton. He was an unusually fine penman, and during the latter years of his life was connected with the publishing house of Ivison & Phinney, of New York city. During a visit to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1863, he was taken suddenly ill, and passed away from earth. Two children survived him. The maternal grandparents of Mr. Lusk were John and Sarah M. (Doty) Stillman, the former a native of Connecticut, and the latter of New York. The latter is still living at over ninety years of age, and in the enjoyment of perfect health. After the death of his father, the mother of Mr. Lusk removed with her family to Cleveland Ohio, where his education was obtained in the public schools. Upon leaving school, he entered the employ of the firm of Hanna & Co., where he continued until 1876, when he resigned this position, and in the company of a friend came to the new state of Colorado. In the spring of 1877 he embarked in the business of raising cattle, and in 1880 he removed his operations to the territory of Wyoming. Here he became the manager of the Western Live Stock Co., which carried on an extensive and success ful cattle business with its headquarters at the present site of the city of Lusk. In 1886, the Wyoming Central Railroad, a branch of the Chicago and Northwestern Railway, was extended to this locality and a town site was laid out, and in honor of the subject of this memoir, the city was given the name of Lusk. In 1887 Mr. Lusk was here joined by his mother, who has since made her home with him, and is the owner of extensive property interests in her own name. Mr. Lusk continued in the cattle business up to the later nineties, when he disposed of the greater portion of his holdings, although he is still largely interested in real estate. During recent years, in partnership with Mr. D. D. Streeter, he has engaged extensively in railroad contracting in various sections of the West, and has met with great success. In 1894 he was united in marriage to Miss Louise B. Findley, a native of San Francisco, California, and the daughter of Thomas Findley, a prominent citizen and former treasurer of that state, and their home is one of the finest in the city of Lusk. Mr. Lusk is one of the foremost men of his section of the West, and his business energy and enterprise have contributed much to the development and up building, not only of Wyoming, but of the adjoining states.

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A prominent figure in the business life of Converse (Niobrara) county, being the general manager of the large mercantile establishment of Barron Brothers, at Lusk, Wyoming, Mr. A. L. Miller, a native of Jackson county, Mo., was born on June 25, 1861. the son of William H. and Mary Frances (Adams) Miller, the former a native of Virginia and the latter of Maryland. His paternal grandfather, Nathaniel Miller, was also a native of Virginia, where the family for many generations was prominent in its business and social life. The father of our subject was a graduate of the U. S. military academy at West Point, but did not enter the army, preferring law as a profession. In the early fifties he left Virginia, and removed to Missouri, where he maintained his residence until 1862, when of course his sympathies were with the Confederacy, and he took steps to raise a company for active service in the army of the South. Yielding, however, to the earnest entreaties of his friends and of his relatives, he relinquished this idea, and sought fame and fortune in the far West, where wonderful discoveries of gold had just been made and, going overland to Alder Gulch, Montana, he established himself for a time at Virginia City, and later, upon the placer discoveries in Last Chance Gulch, on the present site of the city of Helena, he removed thither and resided for some time. In the early days of the settlement of Wyoming however, he removed to that territory, made headquarters at Cheyenne continuing there in the practice of law for many years and taking from the first a leading part in the professional and public affairs of the territory and state. From 1876 to 1878 he was prosecuting attorney of his county, and largely aided in establishing the capital of the territory at Cheyenne. In 1881 he removed to Buena Vista, Colo., and was active in the legal and mining affairs of that state up to the time of his death, December 28, 1893. He was a man of ability and prominence, reckoned among the leading men of the pioneer life of Montana, Wyoming and Colorado. He was the father of five children, the subject of this review being the third. After his leaving for the West in 1862 the residence of the family was still maintained in the city of St. Joseph, Mo., and here A. L. Miller passed his boyhood and received his early education. In June, 1878, he came to Wyoming and for seven years made his headquarters at Cheyenne, being occupied during most of that time in riding the range, there acquiring a practical knowledge of the cattle business, in which it was his ambition to engage as soon as circumstances would permit. He then came to the vicinity of Lusk, and in 1890 engaged in merchandising at that place. For a time he was in the employ of the Eaker Brothers, and then was the cashier of the bank of the Barron Brothers. He remained in this position about twelve months, until the bank changed hands, then removed to his ranch on Old Woman's Creek, about ten miles north of Lusk, and followed the cattle business for about five years. In 1895 he became the general manager of the large mercantile house of the Barron Mercantile Co.. located at Lusk, Wyo., and he has since continued in that position, although still owning his ranch property and there carrying on an extensive sheep and wool growing business. On September 15, 1890, Mr. Miller was united in marriage to Miss Lizzie C. Daley, a native of Iowa and a daughter of the late Daniel Daley, formerly a prominent stockman of Converse county. To their union have been born seven children, William Daniel, Florence Leon, Edward Nathaniel, Kenneth Gregory, Thomas Ollie, Lee Gerald and Donald. The family home is a center of genial and refined hospitality, with many appointments of luxury and comfort. Fraternally, Mr. Miller is affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and with the Woodmen of the World, and takes an active interest in the social life of the community. He is one of the most progressive and capable business men of his section of the state, and is held in high esteem.

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