Ranch history

Our Heritage Guest Ranch owner Jean Norman and her husband, Rick, enjoy sharing the ranch and all its offerings with you. Our land management philosophy is that we cannot work against Mother Nature, but must work with her. Working with and understanding nature, the elements, wildlife, cattle and horses is what has kept us in business over the generations.

We welcome you to come stay and enjoy your experience, leaving you with joyous memories to carry for a lifetime.

Our ranch has a history rich in pioneer tradition. In 1874, the Rosenburg brothers — Andrew, Nels and Pete — rode through the prairie about 18 miles north of the newly established Fort Robinson. After crossing Cottonwood Creek, they decided to camp to the east side of the unusual landscape stretching across the west horizon. The grass was waist high, providing plush forage for their horses, and the sunset was so spectacular it appeared nearly magical. To further the feeling of mystery, they found themselves camped over the hill from a Native American camp site. It was too late to leave, since they too had also been noticed, so they decided to have faith and remain there. The evening was one of camaraderie and not to be forgotten.

Norman family of Our Heritage Ranch
The Norman Family

Our ranch was homesteaded in 1887 by Andrew and Johanna Rosenburg, along with his brothers Nels and Pete, Swedish immigrants. Together they acquired 7,000 acres and settled where they knew the railroad soon would be built. They provided food and lodging to the railroad workers, and contributed their labor and blacksmith skills. Born to Andrew and Johanna was their daughter, Hilda. Hilda married Ben Norman. To this union eight children were born.

The following is taken from Sioux County: Memoirs of Its Pioneers written by Mrs. Ruth Norman, Mrs. Clarence Raben, and Mrs. Ben Norman.

Andrew P. Rosenberg was born July 20, 1849 at Linderod, Sweden and in 1881 came with his brothers Nels and Pete to settle in Burt County, Neb. Andrew spent one summer in Oregon, and was married at Tekamah, Neb., Nov 21, 1885 to Johanna Nilson. Johanna was born May 6, 1846 at Christianstodalean, Sweden and came in 1884 to work in Chicago, later moving to Tekamah. Their daughter Hilda was born there Dec. 5, 1886.

Nels and Pete Rosenberg came in 1887 to homestead north of Crawford just past and below the wall of the Roundtop landmark. In 1888 Andrew and Johanna and little Hilda came by immigrant car to Crawford, and the three brothers had adjoining claims. Andrew’s family moved into Pete’s house, which had been built quickly of sod and any other available material. One cold, windy, sleeting night the side of the house caved in, so they built a house of their own as soon as they could get the logs hauled. Their hand-dug well had two buckets rising and descending on a pulley, the top boarded to keep animals from falling in. Their next well was walled a foot thick with stones from the bottom up, and still has water in it, though it was abandoned for one nearer the house.

A depot, section house and water tank were built on the new railroad about a mile north of Rosenbergs, and a store and residence followed to make the Adelia village. It was about midway between Crawford and Ardmore. The town was named for the experience the Rosenburg brothers had with the Native Americans in 1874. Adelia is roughly translated to “brotherhood.”

M.D. Jordan built the store, owned jointly with Jake Foster, who later sold his share to Mike O’Connell, from whom Jordan bought it. He lived above the store in a large room, hanging his bed in a corner, and the room was used for dances and other public gatherings. One night a fire started from an unattended wood stove and caught the building on fire. The fire consumed other buildings in the village.

Rosenburg family

Rosenburg family
Rosenburg family

About 1907, the railroad moved the depot and section house about 3 miles farther north, and other buildings were moved or torn down. This area was on a higher grade, helping the trains to move after stopping to fill with water and coal. The water tank and switch were then called Joder Siding and it became a train-loading place for livestock.

Nels Rosenberg ran a store in the newly located Orella until he died. When the railroad began carrying mail, Orella got a post office, and some years later a gas station. Robert Harrisons, John Arners, Jess Arners, John Edward Pelrens, and John B. Jolly all homesteaded in the same area in 1886-87, and were close friends. Social gatherings were held in the schoolhouse built just east of the tracks, not far from Rosenbergs. Hilda, age 5, was one of the first students, and Mrs. Sarah Wisdom was the first teacher. There were many pioneers settling in the area. Forty-plus children attended the school. A Lutheran minister came from Hemingford for services at regular times, and families hosted the services, included Rings, Petersons, Rabens, Mengs, Hansens, Rosenbergs, and Friels.

In 1907 Ben Norman came to work for Andrew, and on Feb. 15, 1909, he and Hilda were married. Hilda has lived on the ranch all but the first five years there. Ben and Hilda lived on the ranch all their married life, and they lived in her home built just yards from the original log home. They had 8 children born to this union. Seven of them lived to become adults.

Norman family

Ben and Hilda Norman
Ben & Hilda Norman

Bernard, Ben and Hilda’s middle son, married Evaline Johnson on July 14, 1954. They had three children: Gary, Ben and Jean. Sheep were a hardy animal suited for the prairie, with coyotes being their mortal enemy. The Rosenburgs and Normans gathered a band of 2,000 sheep in their flock.

The ranch has been added to at various times, and is now divided into two parts. Due to everyone’s hard labor we, the following generation, remain. Bernard and Earl, two of the eight children, bought the ranch from the rest, and divided it into two parts. Bernard owned and operated the south portion, where you will come to visit. Here Bernard, Ben and Jean ran cattle, which were less susceptible to predators than sheep.

Bernard and family acquired another property at Horn 6 miles north of Crawford, where Bernard’s son Ben and family lived. To diversify, Bernard became involved in Thoroughbred race horses. In 1995 this part of the business was terminated when he died. After Bernard’s death, his children Ben and Jean inherited the south land. Ben and family and Jean and family operated the ranches as one business.

Ben married Diane Kunz on May 23, 1981 and they have four sons: Shane, Clint, Luke and Brett. Jean married Mark Kolling on August 16, 1980. They have two boys and a girl. Twenty-five years after their union, Mark and Jean would divorce.

Ben passed away in 1999. Ben’s wife Diane and sons have taken over the total ownership of the Horn property. Bernard’s daughter Jean now owns and operates her great-grandparents’ original homestead, now known as Our Heritage Guest Ranch. Jean’s children have grown and moved into their adult careers. One day they will own their great-great-grandparents’ ranch. In a few years, when Jean retires, Clayton will return to own and operate it.

 

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