Murdo Girl…90 years ago

When the M.E. Sanderson family lived on Horse Creek, which is about ten miles south of Murdo, SD, the kids all went to a country school. Mom, who was one of six children often talked about the Osborn kids. They were a family of thirteen offspring, and the kids all attended the same country school.

Mom was only eleven when her family moved closer to town which meant the kids would all go to town school. Mom, of course, made it sound like she was really moving up in the world. She always told the story that one of the Osborn girls said they would miss Helen and Ella, (Mom’s older sisters), but they wouldn’t miss her.


My friend, Dianna, found this picture of the Osborn family in later years. Her Aunt was an Osborn…one of the thirteen kids. It really is a small world.

I haven’t heard a lot of Horse Creek stories, but Aunt Elna, Mom’s younger sister, once told me of a Christmas memory she had. The family had returned from visiting relatives in Iowa just in time for Christmas. Little Elna was given a box and when she opened it, a puppy jumped out and scared her to death. She wanted nothing to do with her new pet, which wasn’t the expected reaction. She was only five when they moved, but she had that one vivid memory of life on Horse Creek.

Mom was never interested in housework or cooking. She left helping Grandma up to the other girls. She preferred the outdoor chores and helping with the livestock. One day she was off by herself riding one of the horses. The horse was startled by something and shied which caused Mom to fall off. Wanting some sympathy for her frightening fall, she tried her best to cry until she got home. It turned out, she wasn’t injured that severely and couldn’t keep the tears flowing, therefore, no one felt sorry for her when she told them of her harrowing experience.


This photo is of the Sanderson and the Thomas families. Mom is the one with the short dark hair. Her sister, Ella is the taller girl standing next to her and Helen is next to Ella. Jeff is in front with his hand over his heart. Grandpa is second from the left in the back row. Grandma is next to him, (big hat), and Wayne is behind Ella and Helen.

Wayne was the oldest of the Sanderson kids. When he was bitten by a rattlesnake and Grandpa cut a slit with his knife and sucked the venom out, I’m sure Mom was impressed. I know I would have been. Now they say that type of emergency treatment isn’t the right thing to do. I bet Wayne would argue that point, as he had no serious after effects.

I’ve been to Horse Creek a few times over the years. I remember the picnic we had there with the Haverberg cousins, from Michigan,and Mark and Jeff H. Sanderson. I was probably about the age Mom was when the family moved. Part of the old log cabin was still standing.


The land is now owned by Dan Height. When my cousin, Greg, told told him Mom had requested she be cremated and her ashes spread around Horse Creek, he graciously allowed us to drive a caravan of 4-wheel drives, off-road, to the site of the old log house. The day was beautiful as was the landscape. I looked at all the relatives spreading Mom’s ashes around, and I could almost hear Mom saying, “So there, Osborn kids!”


12 thoughts on “Murdo Girl…90 years ago

  1. sanjuan831 April 19, 2018 / 10:59 pm

    MG…Your Sanderson family stories are my favorite of all. How fortunate I count myself to be part of this legacy and family. This was beautiful, MG. The picture on the prairie of Grandma holding my mother, Ella, is so lovely but the little boy in picture clutching Grandpa’s leg would be Wayne, not Jeff. Love what you wrote, Bill. My Mom sad Wayne had to be a man even when just a boy.

    The 13 Osborns sometimes just had bread and “cocoa junk” to eat. Was that what they called it?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mary Francis McNinch April 19, 2018 / 11:11 pm

      That’s right…it was Wayne, Ella, Jeff, Helen, Loretta, and Elna? I had a pic of the kids standing in front of the Horse Creek cabin, but I can’t find it. Do you have a copy, Lav? I think one or two of the Osborns were in it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • sanjuan831 April 20, 2018 / 8:34 am

        Yes.I will search for that photo. Bill sure has some great memories as do you. My mom said she remembers our Grandma when she had dark hair. She was adored by her six children and all grandchildren.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. lifelessons April 19, 2018 / 9:40 pm

    Boy… a hearty bunch back then. How far from the road was their place?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Bill Francis April 19, 2018 / 1:10 pm

    After we finished spreading the ashes, I was sitting in a car with Aunt Elna and Aunt Irma (uncle Jeff’s wife). From out of blue, Elna said “if it wasn’t for Wayne (the oldest child) we would of died.” It seems that Grandpa would leave Wayne in charge while he was off buying and selling horses. When Grandma was pregnant with Elna, Grandma walked to the road and hitchhiked a ride to town to have her. I believe she was 40 or 41 when Elna was born.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Patti Arnieri April 19, 2018 / 10:37 am

    I agree–I really enjoy your family stories.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. lifelessons April 19, 2018 / 9:01 am

    I love these old stories of your family. Your grandma’s mother looked exactly like my grandmother!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mary Francis McNinch April 19, 2018 / 9:19 pm

      Do you have a picture in one of your blogs? Grandma’s family was supposedly wealthy when she was young, but I think they lost their money somehow.

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.