Mary Ann & David Northrup
Mary Ann’s father, Rueben W. Berg came with his family in 1927 and was the second family to homestead on the Willwood division. They came from Sydney, Nebraska but hail and drought damaged their wheat crops, and the chance to start anew and utilize irrigation brought them to Wyoming. Joseph and Mary Northrup, the grandparents of Mary Ann’s late husband Laness, came from Missouri in 1917 by immigrant car, and raised sheep and farmed around the Powell area until 1929 when they homesteaded on the Willwood district. Joseph and Mary’s son, Donald Northrup, homesteaded in Willwood around the same time. Both the Berg and Northrup homesteads are still farmed by the family.
Mary Ann vividly remembers growing up on the farm. Daily chores involved weeding beans and driving beet truck. When her father-in-law, Donald, got his first tractor he plowed everything in site. An only child, she entertained herself by hunting and collecting rocks from the field. This instilled a life-long love for geology. For ten years she’s served as the secretary for the Wyoming State Gem and Mineral Society, and 40 years as the Superintendent for Fine Art at the Park County Fair. For 35 years, she led numerous 4-H trips and rock and fossil hunting field trips. She has an abundant rock collection, creates agate paintings, makes woodcarvings, still drives beet truck and lives on Donald Northrup’s homestead.
She and Laness raised three boys; David currently runs the farm. As a child, rock hunting with mom formed a shared loved for geology. After he graduated from PHS, he went to Northwest for a year, UW for two and graduated from the Montana School of Mines with a geology degree in 1986. He worked for a gold exploration company that found anomalies in stream sediment samples. In 1989, he moved to Denver with his wife, Astrid, a petroleum engineer. One day Laness called, “Mary Ann’s getting her irrigation boots on!” They always intended to come back, and in the spring of 1990, settled back in Powell. David started as a hired man and worked his way up. When his father passed away in 2005, he assumed full responsibility and presently farms around 1100 acres: beets, beans, corn for silage, grain and alfalfa seed and maintains a cattle herd of 202.
David served on the Northwest College Advisory board for fourteen years and was the chairman of the Park County Republican Party for 2007 and 2008. From 1999 to present, he’s served on the Park County School District Education Cooperation and since 2003 has served on the Willwood Irrigation District board. David is the fourth generation to farm the Berg and Northrup homesteads.