Work ethic, good sense, class define Wilbur family

Dressed in their Sunday finest are Mary Ann, Sally and Pauline Wilbur. All three girls have fond and vivid memories of family life growing up and the hard work that was involved in getting by without a lot of money to spend.

Dressed in their Sunday finest are Mary Ann, Sally and Pauline Wilbur. All three girls have fond and vivid memories of family life growing up and the hard work that was involved in getting by without a lot of money to spend.
Dressed in their Sunday finest are Mary Ann, Sally and Pauline Wilbur. All three girls have fond and vivid memories of family life growing up and the hard work that was involved in getting by without a lot of money to spend.
MEEKER I Many people in Meeker are fortunate to have homesteaded land passed down through generations. The work it took to turn those homesteads into real homes is difficult to comprehend, but many of those homesteading families have maintained that work ethic and history for generations.
These families have held fast to the foundational beliefs that built our little town and provide stories that remain with us as we appreciate and honor those who literally paved the road for us.
The Wilburs are one such family with a tremendous tradition of survival and of proud, strong women who have helped keep the ranch history alive through what is now the fourth generation.
Three daughters of Robert (Bob) Wilbur and his wife, Margie Pauline Laird Wilbur, help tell and live the story that is the Wilbur family. Mary Ann, Sarah Ellen (Sally) and Pauline Ruth Wilbur are the fourth generation of Wilburs. They remember well their grandparents, George Wilber and Anna May Kracht, and even recall their great-grandmother, Mary Effie (Molly) Watson.
Molly was the daughter of John A. Watson and Pauline Allen Watson of Garyville, Ohio. The Watsons decided to leave Ohio and head west when Molly was 15. The family joined the Allen party and packed their belongings for the trip. They shipped two milk cows, a bull, two well-bred mares and a highly bred black stallion by train to Rawlins, Wyo.
From Rawlins, the family traveled by covered wagon and slept in tents at night. Molly told stories about being terrified of the Indians, who invaded the camp and took the black stallion. The family arrived in Meeker in July 1885.
The work was intense, but during the winter of 1888 the settlers had a Valentine’s Mask Ball. Molly was dressed as a gypsy with beads the Indians had distributed. A young man wearing a black mask and derby hat danced his way into Molly’s heart.
Edwin Phillip Wilber proposed and the two were married at noon on Christmas Day in 1888. H.S. Harp sent a coach drawn by four horses to take the two to the dance that followed and the marriage lasted 66 years. The two had four children, Pauline (Tot), Arthur, George and Mary.
Molly was an original hard-working Wilbur woman, raising children, helping on the ranch and always supporting St. James Episcopal Church. Ed and Mary lived in Meeker in the first eight years, working to build the house and barn on the ranch they called home.
Their son, George, and his wife, Anna May Kracht, homesteaded land on Oak Ridge. Logs for their home were cut on Sawmill Mountain and skidded to the site on the snow. They lived in the cabin they built in the summer to improve the homestead.
George passed away when their two children were young, leaving Anna May to raise the two boys and keep the homestead. She did just that, managing to get the decree for 320 acres. She not only worked on the ranch, but she taught school at Coal Creek and Miller Creek at different times.
They got a house in town so the children could attend school and Anna would room and board girls from Rangely during the school year as Meeker had the only high school at that time.
She raised her boys to understand the importance of work as well as education. The boys also learned to dance and it was a trait that paid off. Bob met his wife, Margie Laird, in October 1944 at a dance at the IOOF Hall, and they were married the first day of the year in 1945. The two lived on the Wilbur ranch and worked extremely hard to keep the original homestead.
In 1947, they bought the Powell Park Ranch. They could run cattle on Oak Ridge in the summer and raise hay and winter their cattle on the Powell Park Ranch. Bob worked for the Baer Creamery and for Tom Watt after he bought the creamery, then for the Oldland’s store for a time. Margie worked for Sue Wooley at the county clerk and recorder’s office when their children were beginning college.
All three of the Wilbur girls graduated from college. They grew up working on the ranch: fixing fences, feeding cattle and doing whatever work was necessary. They were involved in 4-H and other community activities.
All three women understand the work it took to maintain the ranch and an appreciation for the history handed down with the property.
Pauline said, “It isn’t so much what a person could make but what they didn’t spend,” that made a difference. She has spent time studying land dispersal and history and has a firm grasp on how rare it was for people to actually prove up on their homestead, let alone keep it for the next generation.
Sally has a great memory of her grandparents and her great-grandmother.
“My grandmother was a big part of our lives growing up,” she said, adding that gives them a unique perspective that is imperative to maintaining the authenticity of the family history.
Mary Ann continues to ranch in Meeker with a combination of her father’s work ethic and livestock sense and her mother’s class. She is there to help or participate in community functions, and always looks and speaks impeccably.
It is clear that with the Wilbur name a sense of pride, intelligence and appreciation for the efforts of maintaining the ranch has been passed down.