“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Ellsworth in Sheridan County, Nebraska — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)

Spade Ranch

Spade Ranch Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, August 2, 2021
1. Spade Ranch Marker
Twenty miles northeast of here is Spade Ranch headquarters, a National Register of Historic Places site. In Ellsworth are the business offices (built c. 1890) and home (built 1902) of cattleman Bartlett Richards (1862-1911), a Vermont native. Richards, brothers DeForest and Jarvis, Will Comstock, Charles Jameson, and others began assembling the Spade about 1888. By 1900 its range comprised some 500,000 acres, principally in the most rugged Sandhill areas of Sheridan and Cherry counties. Much of the land was in public domain subject to homesteading. Farmers who tried to cultivate Sandhill homesteads usually failed, and in the 1890s the Spade illegally fenced the almost uninhabited land, drilled wells, introduced Hereford cattle, constructed trails, and built telephone lines to ranches and towns.

Spade acreage shrank after 1905, when Richards pleaded guilty to fencing government land. After unsuccessful federal court appeals from a 1906 land-conspiracy conviction, Richards was imprisoned for one year at Hastings, where he died, aged 49. Today the core of the Spade is owned by the Bixbys, associates of Richards since 1908. That the
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ranges remain cattle country today attests to the vision of early Sandhill ranchers.
Erected by Sandhills Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution; and Nebraska State Historical Society. (Marker Number 283.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: AgricultureLaw EnforcementSettlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), and the Nebraska State Historical Society series lists. A significant historical year for this entry is 1888.
Location. 42° 3.59′ N, 102° 16.849′ W. Marker is in Ellsworth, Nebraska, in Sheridan County. Marker is on Mari Sandoz Sandhills Trail (State Highway 27) just north of State Highway 2, on the left when traveling north. Marker is located at a small rest stop on the west side of the highway. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1358 Nebraska Highway 27, Ellsworth NE 69340, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 1 other marker is within 14 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Japanese Balloon Bombs (approx. 13˝ miles away).
Also see . . .
1. Spade Ranch (Wikipedia). The Spade Ranch continues to operate as a beef cattle ranch. Richards and Comstock's legacy was carried on by
Spade Ranch Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, August 2, 2021
2. Spade Ranch Marker
(looking west from Nebraska Highway 27)
Lawrence Bixby, whose legacy is carried on by his descendants. Most of the original buildings in the Home Valley of the Spade are extant and functioning in their original capacity. Although ranching operations have changed considerably since the early days, cowboys and ranch hands are still employed by the Bixby's. Historically, the Spade Ranch is an important feature of the landscape of Sheridan County, and it continues to be one today. (Submitted on September 3, 2021, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. Spade Rance (Facebook). (Submitted on September 3, 2021, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
Credits. This page was last revised on September 3, 2021. It was originally submitted on September 2, 2021, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 292 times since then and 177 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on September 3, 2021, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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Dec. 5, 2023