In 1913 Fred Scidmore left Kansas for the San Luis Valley where he bought 640 acres and started the Scidmore Farm, first operated by other local families. The original house to the land was built in 1889, and in 1924 Fred added an adobe house to the property. After Fred’s son Walter and daughter-in-law Fern moved off the farm in 1933, Fred’s other children Keith and Lois Helen moved into in the adobe house. Keith married Irene Entz in 1938, shortly after which son Harold and daughter Mary Dee were born. Harold married Franses Woolley in 1961. With the passing of Fred, Walter, Keith, and the retirement of Harold, son Scott is carrying on with the family tradition. Here he raises potatoes, Coors barley, and alfalfa. Five generations of the Scidmore family have lived in various dwellings on the property, which has grown to 2080 acres, and it is hoped that the sixth generation will someday continue the farm’s legacy.
Hice Ranch in Austin, 1910
On July 14, 1910, William Weyrauch and his wife Inez purchased 87 acres near Austin, Colorado, from Austin Miller, the town’s namesake. They raised a daughter, Genevieve, and an adopted son Kenneth. The property had several small houses and a thriving apple orchard, which grew to include lots of peaches in the next few years. Produce from the orchards was shipped east by train from the Weyrauch Packing House in Austin to markets in Kansas City and Chicago. After WWII, Genevieve married William O. Hice from Paonia, Colorado, and they took over the orchards and raised three children—Carolyn, Ed, and Marilee. They grew apples, peaches, pears, cherries, prunes, and a hybrid pear-apple developed by William Hice. In the mid-1970s Ed Hice took over the operations of the farm. Today the ranch produces nursery stock and still has 200 60-year-old producing apple trees. The original 1920s house, barn, chicken house, granary, and garage are still being used today.
Valley Homestead in Hotchkiss, 1899
In 1899 Amos and Fanny Morell traveled by wagon from Illinois to Delta County, Colorado, and acquired 160 acres to farm. The family brought a teacher James Parks with them from Illinois who married one of the four Morrell daughters, Cora, so it’s no surprise Amos Morell gave land for and helped build the Midway school. The family’s farm was passed down to James and Cora Parks and then to Ken and Ida Parks. Today the farm is owned by Parks and Raffaghello siblings, who grow corn, hay and alfalfa. Forty two acres of the farm has been placed into a Conservation Easement that includes 15 acres of wetlands developed in cooperation with the Partners in Wildlife program. Several historic structures are still in place including the Shepard-Wilnot ditch, a domestic pipeline and cistern, a 1908 smoke house, and 1899 log cabin homestead home, now considered by the family as the husband’s dog house.
George Sr. and Anna Eurich were born in Czechoslovakia and came to the United States in the early 1900s. George lived briefly in Pennsylvania before moving to Pueblo where he worked in the steel mills. When Anna arrived in Colorado, they tried to homestead west of Ramah in El Paso County but found the adobe-like soil hard to cultivate. The future Fairplay School site near Calhan was available, so George Sr. and Anna moved to the school section in 1905, where they homesteaded the land and eventually bought it. In 1911 they built the farmhouse along with several outbuildings including a barn, wash house, and granary. The planted oats, corn, hay, and barley, and they milked cows and raised chickens, selling the cream and eggs for money. George Sr. and Anna raised eight children, all of whom eventually left except for George Jr. who stayed to help his father farm the land after George Sr. injured his back and lost his horse when it ran away. In 1942 George Jr. married Mildred Trojanovich but then was soon drafted for World War II. While he was gone, Mildred gave birth to their only child, Georgianna. After George Sr. passed away in 1947, the climate became increasingly drier, and George Jr. switched to the dairy business to stay competitive. In 1987 George Jr., his daughter Georgianna, and her husband Gary made the switch to a cow-calf operation, which is still the farm’s function today. Several historic buildings are on the land, including a WPA outhouse.
In the early 1910s John Weirich homesteaded 160 acres in Kiowa County. By 1913 Jacob F. and Emma Weirich had added more acreage, both by homesteading, and the family continued to expand the land through homesteading by Jacob’s son Wayne and his brothers Jack and Bob. In 2004 Michael Weirich bought the land from his uncle Jack, and in 2011 siblings Barbara, Mark, and Michael purchased the remaining land, building the holdings to 16,280 acres owned and additional acres being leased. Over the past century, the main products of the ranch have been cattle, wheat, and milo. Today several historic buildings are still in use, including the 1914 original house and 1920s barn.
Comprising 320 acres in Kit Carson County near Flagler, the original Gering Farm was homesteaded by Edward Gering and patented on July 22, 1913. Edward and wife Edith raised four children on the farm and expanded their acreage through the years. Other than a few years in the service, sons Paul and Lewis farmed the land with their dad until the passing of Ed and Edith after which they began to work the land themselves. They were partners and best friends, raising cattle, corn, wheat, and barley. When Lewis passed away in 2009, Paul was forced to sell the remaining cows, but he continued to farm the land, raising wheat with the help of a hired hand. In 2011 at 90 years old, Paul was still driving the tractor and working his summer fallow, but after a stroke later that year, he moved to Flagler. Today Paul employs workers to operate the farm, which still produces crops.
In 1913 Gustaf Miller acquired 240 acres near Ignacio in La Plata County. Around 1916, he built a cabin and cleared the land to plant crops and grain once he received his patent in 1918. The land passed through the family, first to daughter Martha Semler and later to her son William and wife Lydia. William and Lydia, along with their sons Wayne and Jack, made major improvements to the ground including clearing additional groun and removing rocks as well as adding stock ponds that catch runoff and provide water for cattle and wildlife. William and Lydia’s family grew wheat, barley, corn, and pinto beans, among other crops. In 1990 the land was deeded to Wayne and Jack, who continue to grow wheat and barley on the land with their families.
In early 1910 Theodore Congdon Lippitt moved to Colorado from Iowa with his wife and three sons. By March he had begun cultivating land he bought northwest of Fleming, where he built farm buildings and a house. Following his wife Laura’s death in 1919, the farmland was gradually distributed among his sons Crit, Burwell, and Irvil. For the next three decades, Burwell and his wife Lillian lived on the farm, where they raised their four children, including Carol who was born in the farmhouse in 1929, as well as horses, wheat corn oats, and Lippitt potatoes. During the 1950s, the family raised hogs, milk cows, and cattle. After Burwell’s death in 1951, his daughter Carol Lippitt Kinzie and her husband Bud Kinzie moved to the land, where they farmed and raised their family, too. Soon Bud switched to tractors and larger implements and the major crops have been dry land wheat and corn. In 2006 Carol died in the same farmhouse in which she was born. Bud has spent most of his life on the farm and though he is no longer actively farming today, at age 90 he continues to take care of the farm and supervises operations.
Thomas-McDonald Farms in Fleming, 1895
In the late 1880s, at the age of 50, John McDonald and wife Sarah moved from Nebraska to the Fleming area. Under the Homestead Act he received 160 acres, which he augmented with a ¼ section from the railroad. He built a stone house and proved up the land in 1895. After traveling constantly to Sterling one a week to fetch the mail for himself and area residents, he applied for a post office to be established in Fleming, which at that time had 50 residents. He farmed and raised draft horses and was a county commissioner. Upon his death the land went to son George McDonald who turned it over to his sister Elsie Thomas.
Elsie moved from Nebraska in 1907 after her husband passed away at an early age. At age 32 she bought a ¼ section near Fleming where she built a barn and frame kit house, living first in a shed. After her father’s death, she worked both sections, mostly by herself. She became known as a tough, hard lady who could shoot and kick up the dirt in front of trespassers from a quarter mile away using the sight on her gun. She also was known, however, as a generous neighbor and a great cook. She farmed the land and raised draft horses until her death in 1954 when the land was turned over to son Leroy Thomas. Leroy and family lived in the 1918 house until his death in 1996. Both properties are still owned and farmed by his children.
In 1900 John Harris purchased 160 acres near Collbran in Mesa County from the original homesteader who first worked the land in 1892. Harris produced alfalfa, corn, wheat, and pinto beans and raised livestock including milk cows, pigs, horses, sheep, chickens, turkeys, honey bees, and a few beef cattle. In 1904 he built a house and cellar that are still in use today along with the 1940s machine shed, outhouse, chicken house, and sheep shed. Harris Farm has always had a large garden, berries, and fruit trees; some of the apple trees are over 100 years old. The land was passed down from Howard and Eleanor to Adelbert Harris. Today the farm is owned by Barbara Harris Sanchez and Manuel Sanchez, who make cider and preserves from the fruits and vegetables grown on the farm and rent the rest of the land for hay and livestock ranching.
Hill Family Ranches in Collbran, 1913
After the tragic loss of his wife Emma and daughter Ida, William Hill and sons Kenneth and Norman left their home in Kansas City in the late 1880s and headed for Colorado. The Hills planned to move again, but when Norman contracted polio, he stayed behind with a local family in the Collbran area while just William and Kenneth moved to Idaho. (They returned to Collbran in 1923 and remained there for the rest of their lives.) Norman purchased his first property in 1913 and continued to buy adjoining tracts of land, where he eventually raised cattle. Following his death in 1961, the land was transferred to his widow and two daughters, and his nephew, John Hill, purchased the property shortly thereafter. John and Josephine Hill raised cattle before selling the land to their son Allen in 1996. Since then, Allen and his wife Lita have owned and expanded the property, raising cattle and enjoying 50 years of marriage.
In 1911 Charles and Nancy Wilson homesteaded 160 acres in Montezuma County where they first burned sagebrush to clear the land. Their son Arthur was born in 1921 and can remember the first farm team as a mule and a crippled mare as well as one of the first crops, which was corn for the livestock. Until the family bought a tractor in 1937, clearing the land was always a lengthy task. Each year Nancy raised a huge garden full of crops such as pinto beans, and she and Charley planted an orchard that has many trees still flourishing today. The land eventually passed down to Virginia and Diana Wilson and Mark and Timothy Wilson worked the land. Several historic structures are still in use including a 1920 milk house, 1940s granary, chicken house and windmill, and 1950s steel granary, shop, and smokehouse.
In 1910 Ruth and William Bennett came from Kansas to Colorado, where they homesteaded near Rocky Ford in Otero County. Two years later, they were granted their homestead patent. William Sr. was a doctor who raised on the land three children -- Gertrude, William Patrick Jr., and Seth Edward. The farm had one of the first telephones in the area. Over the next decade, the family augmented the property with nearby land that contained the current 1922 adobe and frame farmhouse. By the 1930s, the property had a barn, chicken house, milk house, and corrals. William Jr. and Seth began growing corn and alfalfa and raising cattle under the name the “Bennett Brothers.” Seth and his wife Edna had four children -- Louise, Daniel, Edward, and Freda -- but after Seth’s death in 1962, William Jr., nephews Edward and Daniel, and niece Louise took over farming under the new name of “Bennett and Boling.” Since 1999, Daniel and his wife Patricia have owned and farmed the 1,000 acres with their son Michael, who unfortunately died recently at the age of 51. Many of the original horse-drawn machinery still survives along with the 1920s farmhouse, garage, chicken house, and barn and 1930s granaries.
In 1891 just six years after Peter and Sarah Ferguson acquired property in Ouray County, Thomas Middleton bought it and began cultivating the now-named Middleton Ranch. Over time the property was passed down through the generations, first to Thomas’ son James, then to James’ son Robert. As the Middletons bought more parcels, including some from the Bureau of Land Management, the property grew to to its current 1400 acres. Over the last century, the Middleton Ranch has raised small grains, alfalfa, and grass hay, cattle, horses, sheep, hogs, chickens, and geese. Today the cattle ranch is operated by Robert’s daughter Catharine Loss. The original farmhouse, barn, and sheds from 1930 are still in use.
Born in Germany in 1884, Max Reiche emigrated to America in 1907 and worked on a Long Island dairy farm while he learned English. He spent the next several years traveling around the country riding freight trains and working in blacksmith shops before eventually settling in Haxtun where he started a shop in 1910 dealing farm implements. On a trip to St. Louis, he married Alma Draeger and returned to Colorado to settle on his homestead where he and Alma raised six children. For better access to school and work, the family lived in town during the early years but moved back to the homestead in the late 1920s, living in a basement while the rest of the house was built. The girls did the work of men, milking 14 cows and performing other chores. The family survived the Depression and the Dust Bowl, ever thankful for their chickens, eggs, cattle, milk, homemade sausage, and beer. In 1965 Max died in Denver. Today the property is owned by Marie Reiche Osborn and Norma Bailey’s daughters Janice Tubbiola, Brenda Girardi, and Kathy Higgins of Arvada.
In 1907, after immigrating from Kutter, Russia, an 18-year-old John Schenk found himself in Galveston, Texas. He traveled around for work, first laboring on his uncle's’ farm in Timken, Kansas, then on the railroad in Coffeeville, and finally at a sugar plant in Swink, Colorado. In 1912 when John heard about homesteading in Colorado, he took claim of 240 acres south of Akron where he built a house, drilled a well, planted trees, and broke sod with a walking plow. While visiting family in Red Oak, Iowa, in 1915, he met Katherine Schmidt. The two married and had five children: Mable, Esther, John Jr., George and Robert. Following the death of his father in 1949, Robert took over the farm and continued to work and expand the operation. In 1950 he married Dorothy Reimenschneider and together raised four children: Kenneth, Rosalie, John, and Roger. Robert and Dorothy worked side by side every day to tend the farm; they cared for the livestock, raised their family, and expanded the farm to 4000 acres. After Robert died in 2011 and Dorothy moved to Wiggins, son Roger took over management of the Schenk Family Farm, where he grows wheat and millet on the dryland acres and wheat, corn, and soybean in rotation on the irrigated circles.
In 1909 Swedish immigrants Edward and Hannah Bolin homesteaded 477 acres near Briggsdale in Weld County. Here they raised four children -- Edward, Reul, Edgar, and Joyce -- who went on to collectively raise seven more. The original homestead house is now in Centennial Village in Greeley but the 1927 farmhouse and 1950s barn and garage are still in use. Grandson Rodney Willis owns the land and contracts out part of it for wheat and millet farming while another part of the land is under the Conservation Reserve Program.
Kunzman Family Farm LLC in Fort Lupton, 1912
When John McClave bought the house and barn in 1885 on the now-Kunzman Family Farm near Platteville, part of the land belonged to a Civil War veteran who was granted the plot for his military service. Twenty-five years later, William Stuefer, a banker from Nebraska, bought the land as an investment, and in 1917, his daughter Lydia and her husband Charles Kunzmann began farming the property, where they raised sugar beets, hay, and grain along with their three children: Ruth, William and John. Charles was one of the founding incorporators of the Union Rural Electric Association and received an award for his long service to the organization. In 1936 John Kunzman took over farming and spent the following years raising livestock, green beans, tomatoes, sugar beets, hay, barley, wheat, and pickles for canning companies. Nine years later, he and wife Sylva moved into the large farmhouse, where they raised four children. In 1997 the farm and water rights were put into the Kunzman Family LLC. Over the past century, the farm has grown to 492 acres. Today a neighbor rents and works the land, but the main 1885 home, 1900 barn, three other homes, and a variety of outbuildings are still in use.
Brnak Farms in Keenesburg, 1906
Vaclav Brnak received a homestead patent in 1906 for his land near Keenesburg which has since grown to 1400 acres. Originally the farm produced wheat and barley and raised cattle, hogs, and chickens. Several historic building are still in use including the 1914 house, 1920s barn and chicken house and 1950s shop, Quonset hut, and granary. Today grandson James Joseph owns the land, and his son Jeffery farms wheat and spring crops and raises cattle. The original 1400-acre farm is augmented by 3,000+ acres of nearby farmland, both owned and leased.
Jillson Farm in the Longmont area, 1878
In 1878, the Jillson Family homesteaded Section 22 in the Rinn area of Weld County before purchasing the land eight years later. Bryon Jillson was one of the first in the area to raise Hereford cattle. Byron and Jennie’s children all attended the Idaho Creek schoolhouse. In 1923 Byron gave his land to son Charles, who had already bought a ¼ of Section 21 in 1913. This land holding became the Jillson Farm. After Charles’ death in 1953, the farm was bequeathed to the family of his late son Harvey, whose wife Edith ran the operation until 1976 when her daughter Charla started running cattle. Charla Jillson Richardson has lived all but 12 years of her life on the property, working side jobs at times, including driving an RTD bus. Today, Charla rents the land to a farmer who raises sugar beets, barley corn, and alfalfa. Although life on the Jillson Farm has been anything but easy, and was often marked by tragedy, it is still in operation and has retained its integrity through the remaining historic buildings on the property.
Ashbaugh Farm in New Raymer, 1912
In 1912 Harry and Clara Ashbaugh purchased land south of Buckingham, Colorado, as a homestead relinquishment. Harry spent the spring of 1913 moving household goods, stock, and implements from Nebraska to the land in northeast Weld County. Clara and their two sons had joined him in 1913 and lived in the barn for 6 months. In October Harry and friend Jim Young built a two-room dugout house and fruit cellar. The Ashbaugh family lived there until 1919 when they purchased from Sears and Roebuck a prefabricated house that still stands today along with the barn. The family originally bought 480 acres and then purchased an additional 160 acres from Harry’s sister, Ethel. Harry and his sons grew wheat, corn, oats, barley, and potatoes for the family as well as cows, pigs, and chickens for eating. Eventually the family grew to include seven children, of whom Kenneth, Keith, and Nola survive. Today, Keith and his wife Shirley own the land, but live primarily in Denver, while the great granddaughter of Harry and Clara Ashbaugh and her family live on part of the land in Weld County where the farm produces wheat and millet.
Ernest Knoll Farm in New Raymer, 1913
Ernest and Pearl Knoll purchased a 160-acre homestead relinquishment near New Raymer in 1913 and quickly built a homestead shack on the west side of the property. The following spring, they moved the shack to the north side as grandma wanted to be farther from the neighbors. Shortly thereafter, they dug a well and built a windmill, where they stored perishables and chilled drinking water in an earth-insulated barrel. Later they added a dugout, chicken house, drive-through granary, and a bank barn. For the first few years, Ernest traveled three days by horse to Berthoud to plant crops on his father’s farm while Pearl and the neighbors took care of the farm. They produced wheat, barley, oats, corn, hog millet, and sorghum and milled their flour in New Raymer where they sold their eggs and cream. Ernest and Pearl had seven children, one of whom, Orville, purchased the farm in the early 1960s after Ernest’s passing. In 1981 Ellis and Patricia bought the farm and are still living in the old home place.
Stanley’s Hightower Homestead in New Raymer, 1910
When the Enlarged Homestead Act of 1909 was passed, it inspired Daniel Voorhees Stanley to move his family from the coal mining strife of Lafayette to a 313-acre homestead next to Hightower Spring in northeastern Weld County. In 1910 Daniel’s children Clyde, Ezma, and Denza all purchased adjoining plots of 320 acres, respectively. The combined 1273 acres was a family farm enterprise. Each owner helped the other to prove up their land. During these years, the farms grew wheat, corn, rye, and sorghum grains. While the children worked the crop fields, he took to planting wind breaks, fruit trees, and large gardens. He defied the dry land by successfully growing tobacco in his garden, and the orchards bore cherry, apricot, and apple trees as well as mulberry, plum, choke cherry, and lilac shrubs, pollinated by his own bees. His other sons, Brooks and Verne, raised premium potatoes for sale. Horses helped to work the land while cattle, hogs, sheep and chickens were livestock. Once it became apparent that the land was better suited to raising livestock, the property transformed into a full-fledged cattle ranch, which is known today as the Stanley Ranch. Today the ranch is owned by descendants of the Stanley family and is maintained by Daniel Ralph Stanley, grandson of homesteading patriarch Daniel. His granddaughter Carolyn Hughes, and husband David, currently live on the land and continue to use various structures that date to 1918, 1929, and the 1930s.
Frank and Iona Lett married in 1926 and soon began constructing buildings on the rented land that they would purchase two years later. Even as more parcels augmented the property in later years-—Frank bought a nearby plot in 1942, for one-—the land was always home to cattle. Rick and Jennie Lett purchased the land in 1981, which is used today as their business headquarters as well as a fun center for their grandchildren.