Cheney resident had family ties to 19th century building


August 23, 2012


Staff Reporter

Nancy Rueppel's great grandfather lived on for her in the buildings he built that still remained around Cheney.

There's the old barn right outside of town that used to be his ranch land. And until recently she had a physical reminder of him every time she drove downtown Cheney.

James Elmer Burbank had the long warehouse building built around 1890 to store and ship grain from his ranch. Today, the building located at the end of G Street downtown is owned by CO-AG, and it's being partially torn down.

Rueppel gets emotional when she talks about the building being lost.

“It just seems like a waste,” she said. “All the old buildings in Cheney are being lost…I knew I couldn't save it, but it's just sad.”

Rueppel's family has been in Cheney from the start. They moved here a year after Cheney get started, she said, in the 1870s or so.

James Elmer Burbank farmed and ranched around the city, and as his business grew, he built the warehouse to store his crop and ship it out on the railroad.

He was prominent in Cheney, Rueppel said, a member of the Odd Fellows who died young. He and wife Effie had one daughter, Zella, Rueppel's grandmother.

Though Rueppel never knew her great grandfather, she saw the old warehouse as a reminder of her family's history in Cheney, and the history of the community as a whole.

She continues Burbank's legacy in her own life, running a cattle ranch west of town.

The building itself was in good shape, she said.

“I got to look inside and the cross beams were so neat. Everything fit together, no nails,” she said. “Back then, they built well. They built to last.”

Margaret James, scale operator for CO-AG's Cheney office, said the company is working to clean up its properties “to give it a better image,” she said.

A portion of the building that was used for office space will remain, she said, while most of the structure was not in use for years.

“It's really just a cleanup effort,” she said.

Rueppel said her family told her how the building was constructed, with a handful of carpenters using wood from the area sawmill and square nails to erect the structure.

While the building won't remain, Rueppel said she would add old photos to the collection at the Cheney Historical Museum so that future generations could learn what it was like in the early days of the community.

Becky Thomas can be reached at


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