Interview of Minor Hinman

Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, WPA Federal Writers' Project Collection.

Interview of Minor Hinman by Ruby E. Wilson.
The interview was done on Nov. 5 and 6, 1938

INFORMANT:Minor Hinman, North Platte
Ancestry:Declined to give personal story as too much "tooting his own horn"
Place and date of birth:
Places lived:
Education:Very good, including university
Occupations and accomplishments: Operates service station, real estate rentals [taxi?], etc.
Special interests: Is a lover of horses and used to operate a riding academy
Description of informant: Small friendly and refined, and scholarly
Other points gained in interview: A reticent conservative man of whom we hear about in the business world but see little. Talked in a well organized and well syntexed way in a low voice but interestedly and eagerly.

Text of Interview

My father came in ['69?] and located on a homestead the S.E. corner of which is today Oak and A Street he built a home there. He was a lawyer, his practice extended from Omaha to Cheyenne and due to his profession was widely known. He himself was a member of the 1st Constitution of the State of Nebraska.

My father had a ranch on the Birdwood Creek and his brand was made from his initials and was called the forked H, and was like this [ ]. His younger brother brought in cattle from the South. At that time of course the country was not policed and it was always a temptation to the Indians to stampede a herd of cattle and steal they and their depredations were quite serious [in?] some instances. The cowboys [undertook?] to run the Indians out and sometimes only succeeded in having their cattle run off. But the Indian was a poor shot and the Indians were eventually stripped of all their belongings. According to the white man's story his [warfare?] was a battle and the Indians a massacre.

I was aquainted with the Cody family. We were in the same neighborhood and were back and forth together much as neighbors and children do now, as I recollect Emma Cody was 2 weeks younger [then?] I.

My first recollection of North Platte was of wooden awnings over the stores fronts of hitching racks along the streets where the horses stood and stamped flys and splattered mud from the holes their hoofs made in the ground along the racks. The side walks were [wooden?] and well elevated especially along where the King [Fong?] cafe [now?] is. Where the [McCabe?] Hotel was a very beautiful yard and lawn belonging to Gillman's.

The 1st school was a log structure that stood where Higby Keyes Hardware store [now?] stands. It was later converted into a kind of delivery horse stable. Where the Golden Rule Store now is was the old [Beesby'?] church.

School was ordered as always, when I was in the 8th grade I went to the Unitarian church Hill to school and Ida Von Goetz was teaching. The Lutheran church stood about where the [Redbeck?] meat market now is and where the little building is back of the Building and [Loan?] was the first fire station and hose carts and hook and ladder. That was seldom taken out except in very severe fires. That fire fighting equipment would lock [look] obselite [obsolete] compared to our present motor equipment.

I have a [picture?] above my desk of a strange car, called the Thomas car all hand made for the New York to Paris race in [1908?]. It was driven across country to Los Angeles then to San Franciso and on to Seattle, then by boat to Alaska and from Alaska across [to] Siberia and down to Paris 13,000 miles.

We as a family had few privations and were always considered an [?] family but I can remember when one winter thro a depression when grown men walked the streets with burlap bags tied on their feet. Cowboys wanted good hats and good boots whether he had any clothes or not, its a fact.

When we wanted to go to the old Fort (McPherson) we angled on out S. E. to where we forded the South Platte and kept on angling along the south side of the river till we reached the Fort.

On 6th Street and Willow up on a lawn is a square slab of stone upon a stone pedestal of some kind. The slab doesn't run directly parallel with the street because the town doesn't run exactly due to [?] direction but the rock is 10% off of true N. and S. and E. and W. It was a surveyors [makr?][mark?], put there when the barracks were built for [?] Fort N. Platte we had a Fort here but there were no Indian raids after the Fort was established.

But the buffalo still came into town. The last one I think came in and was running back and forth under some pine trees and shrubbery in a yard. The buffalo gnats used to be so bad and would mass on the animals in balls. He was probably trying to rid himself of them. I think he was shot.

In a notorious [blizzard?], and we had a number of bad storms, the cattle had drifted into town and died and were so many on the court house lawn that it took all the teams in town to get them off.

There was a great track across this country from Independence Mo. throug [through] here and on west and theere [there] was lots of travel and friighting [freighting] both east and west and the Indians got up in arms and burnt and killed people and the soldiers took out after them and caught up with them and at Ash Hollow my Uncle on my mothers side took part in a siege that was about the last bad one around here.

People used to be one big family but the feeling has changed and I can prove it. There is a different feeling now toward each other.

The old Washington school was a 3 room [?] and log building. Josie Goodman taught there. She was Buffalo Bill's niece. Goodman, her father managed the ranch for Buffalo Bill and he had quite a family of children. We had a large house [home] and entertained lots of long times time guests, friends from the east here for various reasons, and others. Josie Goodman stayed at our house [home] for two years rather than make the trip out to the ranch, and there was never any money changed hands. It was the western spirit of true hospitality which prevailed and that is entirely missing now.

It used to be that if a man was going through the country and when night came needed a place to stay and came to a house, he expected to stay and it didn't make any difference where the people were there or not, if they were gone he opened the door and walked in, it was never locked, he cooked up and ate and fed his horse and in the morning he washed up the dishes and if he had a piece of chang [change] he left it and if not he left a note saying "I was here, Than [Thank] you", and shut the door behind him and left and didn't expect the sheriff after him either. Things were seldom stolen but you [couldn't?] leave your house unlocked now.

One time my brother and I had a ranch S. of town, that was before the advent off the automobile. I always was a great lover of horses 2 and I [kept?] good horses to drive. We had one neighbor that used to watch us, for us to leave and come ovr [over] and [steal?] our supply of canned goods and our clothes and underwear, but usually in a case of that kind people would kind of get together and screen or excuse the [weak?] man, "Poor fellow, its too bad" rather than to expose him.

I thot [thought] I wouldn't have an automobile, I liked horses too well but I had a friend Lem Mathews that went into the automobile business and the pressure got too great, I bett [bet] my first automobile of him and sold most of my horses, since then I've always had an automobile, but we sometimes [?] been without a horse.

A story on the life of Minor Hinman's father, is available, as well as a story on the life of his uncle Washington Hinman, early pioneer in Lincoln County.

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