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Earl L and Lillian Mae Nelson Kipp - The Sundance Years

Sixth American Generation
With Photos

Earl L. and Lillian M. Kipp

The Sundance Years

Earl Lloyd Kipp was born in Lester, Iowa on August 3, 1896, the youngest of six children. In 1913 Earl moved to the Flandreau, South Dakota area with his parents, John Wilbert and Susan (Bauman) Kipp. When President Woodrow Wilson outlined his case to declare war on Germany on April 2, 1917 and declared war on April 6, 1917, Earl like many young men at that time enlisted in the U S Army. His enlistment was short lived however as he had lied about his age and was discharged on July 31, 1917.

While Earl lived in Flandreau he met Lillian Mae Nelson. Lily was born in Flandreau, South Dakota on July 6, 1899. She was the oldest of three children. They married on Saturday,Earl and Lily Mae Nelson KippDecember 1, 1917, in Sioux Falls, SD. Soon afterward they relocated to McAllen, Texas, with Earl’s parents, where they lived for about four years. Lily’s parents, Anton Nickolai and Margaret May (Wilcox) Nelson, and her sister Laura, relocated to Bay, Texas about the same time. Bay, Texas is about 150 miles from McAllen. The 1920 census records indicate that Earl was a farmer. The occupation of John Wilbert Kipp was listed as “none”. Anton’s occupation was listed in the 1920 census as a car repairman for the BM Railroad. The Kipp family returned to South Dakota in the early 1920s as did Laura. It is believed that Lily’s parents relocated to South Dakota briefly before moving to Sundance, Wyoming. While living in Texas, Earl and Lily became new parents with the birth of Clinton, and Adrian.

While living in Sioux Falls, SD Earl worked in a meat packing plant and later worked for the Chicago, Milwaukee & St Paul Railroad as a coach cleaner and car repairman. During this time there were four new additions to the family with the birth of Colleen, Wayne, Margaret, and Eugene. Earl, Lily and the kids visited Lily’s folks in Sundance in late August 1926. The Sundance Times noted that Earl returned to Sioux Falls and that Lily stayed a few more days to visit. Shortly thereafter, in the fall of 1926 they relocated to Sundance, Wyoming as did Laura. Since Earl worked for the railroad they received free passage from Sioux Falls to Spearfish, SD. They then caught a ride with the mail carrier to Sundance. The mail route was at that time operated by Fred Schloredt. The family did not all come at once, but in at least two separate groups. The Kipp children have different memories, on who came to Sundance first and who came with who.

Laura started a Gift Shop soon after arrival in Sundance. There are ads in the October and November 1926 issues of the Sundance Times saying she will “remodel your hat up to comply with current styles”. In 1926 Laura became known as Mrs. Bill Schloredt. The Schloredt family was among the earlier settlers of Sundance.

Home in Sundance, WYWhen they initially moved to Sundance the family stayed in the home currently owned by Evelyn Sisson (2008). However, they soon moved into the second floor of the Sundance Shoe and Harness Shop. The shop was owned by Lily’s parents Anton and Margaret Nelson and was located on the north side of Main Street between 2nd and 3rd Street. In 1934 they purchased a house on the north end of 4th Street for $200. By this time the family had grown by two more children, Iris and Sandy, for a total of eight. Four more children were born at their new home bringing the total to twelve. They were Patricia, Tobylea, Earlene, and Michael. The house is estimated to be about 788 square feet when purchased. Soon after purchase of the home, two bedrooms were added to the back of the house to bring the square footage to about 1,160. An old photo of house shows how it appeared in the early 1890s. A 20 X 28 warehouse was added to the property in the spring of 1946. It included a small bedroom to provide additional sleeping quarters. The house on 4th Street remained under the ownership of the Kipp family until 1973. All twelve children attended and graduated from Sundance Schools.

While Lily was raising a rapidly growing family, Earl worked in Sundance as a carpenter, painter, and on construction of the road from Sundance to Eugene KippBeulah. The 1930 census lists his occupation as a carpenter in the housing industry. In 1932 he started to drive the Star Mail Route between Sundance and Spearfish. The mail route still remains within the Kipp family. With the mail route, Earl started to deliver cream from the local ranchers to the creamery in Spearfish. Several ads appeared in the Sundance Times at that time telling people to drop off their cream at the Shoe Shop for the best price. He later added the delivery of bread to local grocery stores. In 1934 he started a freight line, Kipp’s Transfer, between Sundance and Deadwood, South Dakota. The photo shows Gene on the hood of a 1934 Chevrolet truck. He applied for a Certificate of Public Conveyance from the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1938. The certificate was awarded on July 23, 1941. The freight line expanded over the years to serve communities in Crook County including Hulett, Moorcroft, Oshoto, Devils Tower, and Carlile. Kipp’s Transfer was the major means for transporting items to the communities: groceries to meat, tires to toys, clothes to liquor, and many other staples and necessities. Kipp’s Transfer was sold to Gene and Vivian Kipp in 1968 and they continued to operate it until 1972 when it was sold to Salt Creek Freightways.

Earl also leased the Commercial Theatre building and purchased the equipment from the Commercial Club in 1943. He operated the theatre on a continual basis until he closed it in 1963, just months before his death. Earl also contracted with the school district to transport students that lived on Highway 585 to and from school. The first school bus was a 1942 Chevrolet Sedan. In later years a Chevrolet Suburban was used. The seats in the suburban were removed and replaced with two wooden benches that ran along the sides. A Sept. 21, 1944 Sundance Times note said “Earl Kipp, bus driver for District #27 had six passengers this year”. Transporting of students started in the early 1940s and continued into the 1950s.

With twelve children, Earl and Lily had a ready labor pool. All of the family worked in the theatre selling tickets, running the projectors, janitorial duties, shoveling snow, or whatever needed done. All the sons worked on the freight line with Wayne driving truck in the early years. Gene drove for over 30 years beginning in about 1946. Many of the Kipp kids carried the mail. Lily also carried the mail and handled the paperwork associated with the businesses. Adrian, Wayne, and Eugene, also drove the school bus. Earl served on the Sundance City Council from 1939-47. He was elected by a landslide margin in the 1939 election for city council by winning 67% of the vote. Through an entrepreneur spirit and hard work Earl and Lily managed to survive the depression, create several businesses, raise a large family and become an integral and respected part of the community.

Information for this article was provided by family members. Other sources include The Sundance Times, Sundance, Wyoming, Rock Rapids Review, Rock Rapids, Iowa, Crook County, Wyoming property records, Wyoming and South Dakota vital records, Sundance City Council minutes, and National Archives and Records Administration.


April 9, 2009

Linked toKipp Earl Lloyd; Nelson Lillian Mae

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