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Vice President Ingwerson’s roots run deep in Gering community
July 07, 2016 Frank Marquez   

Read more by Frank Marquez

Courtesy Photo Bonny, left, and her twin sister Betty Ewing dressed up for the Oregon Trail Days Parade.

Bonny Ingwerson, 84, is the 2016 Vice President of the Old Settlers Club.

One of Bonny’s responsibilities includes riding in the Oregon Trail Days main parade, which is old hat to her. She has years of experience.

This year, she believes she’ll be riding in “some sort of convertible” along with Old Settler President Don Gentry (see separate feature by Jerry Purvis). Ingwerson will also attend the Oregon Trail Art Show at the Gering Civic Center, and she’ll give speeches at Friday and Saturday’s luncheons, July 8 and 9.

How long has she been a member? “Since I was born,” Bonny said. To qualify as a member of the Old Settlers, you’ll need have lived here for at least 50 years. You’re also required to vote a certain number of times for natives who qualify for the Half Century Club, which by the way, is the group that does all of the work, while the Old Settlers do much of the deciding.

The Old Settlers Club was formed out of an informal tradition of settlers and their families traveling into town once a year to account for one another, by signing in at a central location, likely the court house. It was a time to gather supplies, conduct business and socialize. The first festive occasion was held not too long after Gering was founded in 1887, and it only lasted a day.

Bonny’s parents Marvin and Beulah Ewing were among the early settlers. Eventually, they were the only couple to serve as president and vice president of the Old Settlers, concurrently. Her father also served as the President of the Half Century Club. To her knowledge, there has never been a female president for either group. Ingwerson also had a twin sister Betty, an uncanny look alike probably because they also wore the same fashions, and older brother five years the girls’ senior named Edson.

Bonny’s ancestors, the Thomas H. Ewing family arrived in Gering in 1887 and lived in a dugout on Robidoux Road. One of the five Ewing children was Emerson Ewing, Bonny’s grandfather. He married Daisy Scott, whose sister Pansy married into the Gering family, thus proving a small world, at least here in Gering.

The eldest of Emerson’s four children, Marvin Ewing built a log cabin on Carter Canyon Road, where Bonny grew up, just west of Bonny’s present home. “It had three rooms and a lean-to kitchen,” she said.

She was born in 1932 at a time when there only about three to four businesses on 10th Street, and because of the nature of travel, thus grew her fondness for horses. “We had everything we needed, and were essentially a very happy family. We rode a horse that was too big to saddle, so we put him up next to fence and climbed up on him to ride over to visit grandpa and grandma (Emerson and Daisy).” Bonny’s favorite memory of Christmas was when her father harnessed one of their horses for a sleigh ride.

Gering served as meeting place for area farmers and residents. “All the children would meet up at Legion Park to play hide-and-seek, and baseball,” she said. “There weren’t any buildings around.” And if you were without a horse), “all of it was within walking distance, and we could all get together.”

Bonny’s love of horses led her to ride in the Oregon Trail Days main parade. She said she was about 5, in 1937 when that happened. “Dad made a mini covered wagon, and mom made a long dress with a bonnet,” she said. She attended Carter Canyon schools until the third grade. The family moved to town and lived in a house where B&C Steel now stands, until she graduated from Gering High School in 1950. Then she met Darrell Ingwerson and married him that same year. “He had a motorcycle,” Bonny said. “He saw us in our car in Scottsbluff and came over and talked to us.”

Darrell said, “It was a 1948 Indian.” He later sold it and bought a vehicle more amenable to family functions. He bought the motorcycle for $800 brand new. Today it is worth about $16,000. Darrell joked that he dated whatever twin came to the door first. In truth, “on double dates, Betty would be matched up with whatever guy was tagging along,” he said.

The couple moved to Denver, while Darrell served in the Air Force for four years, then, in Lincoln while he worked on his bachelors in Mechanical Engineering. After that, they moved to Los Alamos, New Mexico, in 1956, until Darrell retired from the Air Force in 1984, when they moved back to Gering. They lived in a motor home until their house was built a year later. They lived there to raise three daughters. Valerie Wilson, of New Mexico; Sheryl McLean, who resides in Mitchell; and Diana Deeds, of Scottsbluff. Bonny also has five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

While living away from Gering, the couple didn’t miss many Oregon Trail Day parades, maybe a few years. Bonny even rode her horse Old Queen to lead the 1975-77 parades, carrying the American and state flags, with a contingent that included her sister Betty, who passed away four years ago.

Darrell and Bonny have remained active in the Gering community. For a time, they drove their 1928 Model A in the Sugar Valley Rally, which is a roundtrip timed rally to Cheyenne on back country roads. Classic cars of all ages finish at the maintenance depot across the street from the football field on 7th Street. She’s also a quilter, and “fixer-upper” who helped with valley displays at the North Platte Valley Museum in Oregon Trail Park before it merged with the Farm And Ranch Museum to become Legacy of the Plains Museum on the Old Oregon Trail heading toward the Scotts Bluff Monument. They attend Central Church of Christ, and remain avid volunteers.

They also enjoy square dancing. Bonny said they did a lot of that when they were dating, gathering at a club called Odd Fellows in Scottsbluff.

The town, its people, and the Oregon Trail Parade has changed quite a bit since 1937. With a mind for traditions, and her vice president ways, Bonny pondered for a moment about some of those changes and said, “I’d like to see more horses and old cars.”

Frank Marquez/Gering Citizen Bonny and Darrell Ingwerson pose on their property along Carter Canyon Road, where they have lived since 1984. This year, Bonny will serve as the Honorary Vice President for the Old Settlers during Oregon Trail Days.
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