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Bessie Erickson Wenz
Birth: Mar. 12, 1883
Meade County
South Dakota, USA
Death: Aug. 27, 1958
Rock County
Nebraska, USA

I have a picture of Bessie which I will upload as soon as I get it scanned.

Father: John Erickson
Mother: Julia Thompson

Bessie was born in Black River Falls Wisconsin. Her parents moved the family to the edge of the Bad Lands South Dakota where Bessie grew up. Cattle Rustlers (& Indians) kept her father broke. One day he went to town and bought guns for her and her two sisters and told them to learn to shoot --and they did. That ended the rustling problems.

She & Gus were breeders of high grade Angus beef, most in NE were red. She never learned to drive a vehicle and never owned a telephone during her lifetime.

This is a private ranch with no access.

Wonderful stories about Bessie from the owner of Keller Ranch.

I have not been up to see the graves of Bessie yet. But here are a couple of stories about her.
They moved in to the country with a team of horses hitched to a flatbed hay wagon with all there possessions piled on
it. They bought land in Lay precinct south of Bassett where they started a small ranch that grew to the size of about
1000 acres.
As a child I remember Bessie, but not her husband. I don't think that they had children. At least not any that I knew of.

I remember when I was about 7 years old and we had a herd of mustang horses. My grandfather decided to sell them
and it was closer to Bessie place to load them, than it was to our place. My grandfather ask and got permission to use
her corrals and loading shut. We got the horses in the corral, and the truck backed up to the loading shut. When the
trucker got out of his truck he picked up a hot shot (a battery operated shocking device to make cattle move). As he
turned around, Bessie met him face to face and announced in an authoritative voice "We do use that around here." The
trucker looked at my grandfather Claude. Claude said, "It's her place," and the trucker promptly put it back in to the

Another story (before my time) that I have heard from several sources, so I believe it is true.
Bessy was driving cattle down a section line when a man in a model T ford met them. (I have been told who the man
was but don't remember his name, but he was a prominent citizen of Rock County and thought he was a big shot.)
Instead of just parking on the side of the road and letting Bessy drive the cattle bye him, he proceeded right through
the middle of them, honking his horn and scaring the cattle. Bessy road up on her horse and told him to quit it (and
probably what she thought of his actions). The man got out of the car to confront Bessy. She pulled out the revolver
that she was wearing and shot off the heel of his boot. The man had Bessy arrested and hauled in to court. The
Judge asked Bessy if she shot with the intent to do bodily harm to the man. Bessy replied "Judge, you know that I am
a better shot than that." The Judge dismissed the charges. (I remember seeing Bessy wear that revolver when I was
up helping load the horses)
She died in the barn taking care of her animals. I believe that it was a nephew that found her.

NEW INFO: Bessie had a younger sister Eliza.

Bessie Erickson-Wenz
Thank you for posting information on my grandmother's sister, Bessie Erickson, that later married Gus Wenz. I see you have provided info. at her find a grave site which is wonderful. I would like to say she was not born in Wisconsin. Bessie was born in Dakota Territory in 1883 before it became South Dakota in 1889. This was called Meade County, South Dakota.

Her father, John Erickson, had come to Dakota Territory and was on the 1880 census there. The census enumerator had him listed as single but he was not. He was a Swed from Sweden and figure he spoke very little English and so census taker more than likely had a hard time understanding him. Anyways, John Erickson had left his family in Wisconsin and came to Dakota Territory and made a Homestead claim and brought his wife and two oldest children to DT in Spring 1882. Soon, he and and his wife, Julia Thompson-Erickson, had a new baby girl named Bessie Erickson.

Hope this helps you. Thank you again, Ruthi Barth 
Family links: 
  John Erickson (1840 - 1912)
  Julia Thompson- Erickson (1853 - 1899)
  Karl August Wenz (1865 - 1942)
  Albert (Adopted) Wenz (1904 - 1981)*
  August (adopted) Wenz (1912 - 1926)*
  Carolina Erickson King (1877 - 1947)*
  Christ/Christian/Christopher Erickson (1879 - 1950)*
  Bessie Erickson Wenz (1883 - 1958)
  Eliza Erickson Sullivan (1885 - 1973)*
  Birdie Augusta Erickson Madsen (1888 - 1965)*
  Louis Erickson (1890 - 1962)*
  Lewis Erickson (1890 - 1962)*
*Calculated relationship
Keller Ranch Cemetery
Rock County
Nebraska, USA
Created by: Monkey Cat
Record added: Apr 04, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 50630216
Bessie <i>Erickson</i> Wenz
Added by: Ruth Barth
Bessie <i>Erickson</i> Wenz
Added by: Ruth Barth
Bessie <i>Erickson</i> Wenz
Added by: Ruth Barth
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Here is a Sunflower for my Great Aunt Bessie Erickson-Wenz. My grandmother, Eliza Erickson-Sullivan's older sister. Wonder what her favorite flower was...don't know, but feel Sunflowers are good.
- Ruth Barth
 Added: Apr. 20, 2017
A wonderful memorial for a truly amazing lady. Rest peacefully Bessie
- Cheryl
 Added: Jul. 22, 2016

- Rože❈
 Added: Apr. 22, 2015
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