NEGenWeb Project - Hayes County



The first family to settle in the area called Estelle was John Daniels and his wife Mary. They came to Hayes County in 1876 and fell in love with the little valley with the Stinking water river running through it and decided to establish a home there. John had big dreams. His dream was of a prosperous town that would be the county seat as soon as Hayes county was organized. The railroad would be building their tracks through the area soon. A thriving town would draw them to build Estelle's direction.

John started building his home just up hill a short ways from the river. The home he built would be one that would last as well as be protection for his family. He used native lime stone as the main product used to build this grand home. When finished in 1881 John was the proud owner of a large two story stone house. The main floor to be used for a trading post in which the Estelle post office was established in 1881 the year the house was finished. (John has the date written above one of the doors of the house) Estelle was to be well know for many years as the only trading post between Ogallala and McCook.

In 1878 John's brother Samuel R. and wife Emmeline (Collins) with their son Orin traveled to Estelle and also made their home just north of the river a short ways. Samuel took out his homestead there.

Shortly after finishing the two story Stone house John started building a one room school house. It was said to be the best school house in Hayes county. Mary W. Daniels was the first county superintendent in the county and from newspaper accounts, did the job well.

John being the leader he was, became the first county commissioner for the area and his dreams grew. At this time he built a dam across the stinking water to flood a 20 acre area for a lake. He ordered a small sail boat as well as other recreational items with thoughts of having a resort town along the small lake that was to have stocked fish.

1884 brought John's father, Samuel and wife, sisters, Mrs. (John) Mary Orilla Beigh and family, and Mrs. Cynthia Rowland and family plus a brother Saul. The all homesteaded in the Palisade area.

In 1887 John helped his father build a stone smokehouse complete with S. Daniel, 1887 on the front above the door. The plan was to continue with other buildings around his father's beautiful frame home to improve the homestead.

Trouble began with vote on the county seat. Estelle lost to Hayes Center by 2 votes. The Railroad decided to run their tracks through the valley south over the hill from Estelle near the now known town of Hamlet and a flood came through and wiped out the dam for the lake.

Mary W. Daniels died in 1888. The family story was that it was the result of childbirth. Samuel R. Daniels wife died around Thanksgiving of what was said to be a lung ailment, possibly TB. Then Samuel R. passed away. According to the notice in the Hayes county paper, "a part of his body , it is said, had died some time before previous to his death" so I feel that it could of been the result of an injury that gangrene had set into or possibly a stroke but considering he was only 40 at the time of death the injury seemed more likely. (view 2 gravestones)

The post office was shut down in 1892 and John remarried a women named Minerva (according to land deeds). They sold the land to Doc Irvine and moved to Whitehall, Montana with the two children of Samuel R. and Emmeline Daniels to whom he became guardian. John's brother Saul we think may of been the first to move to the Whitehall area.

Many of the relative of the Daniels family stayed in Palisade and are buried in the cemetery there. Orin Daniel (s) (the family dropped the "S") married Maud Lantz and settled in Hamlet where he and his wife are both buried as well as Orin's brother Earnest Vern Daniel and wife Kittie O.(Lantz).

The two story stone house still stands a short distance from the school house. About a quarter mile west there is a tall grave stone with the names of Samuel R. and Emmeline Daniels on it. Also buried there are their two children Charley and Jettie. A few steps south of this stone is another for Mary W. Daniels. The original stone almost unreadable but has another newer beside it with her name.

Although the town of Estelle was never to survive. The mark that the Daniels family left in this pioneer day has survived for over 100 years and will be there for years to come.

Brenda Lawless Daniel


© 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 by Brenda Lawless Daniel