The Schmidt Farm dates back over a hundred years in 1908. Today, Ray Schmidt owns the farm like his father, William, before him. When the farm began, the Schmidts farmed winter wheat, pinto beans, corn, millet, and cane. Today winter wheat, millet, and corn are still grown, along with sunflowers, sheep and cattle. The farm has many historic structures still on the property including the 1912 house (which is still lived in), the 1912 barn, 1940 garage, and 1920s bunkhouse. Eight other historic structures reside on the property but are not currently in use.
Spring Creek Ranch, Chromo, Founded 1905
The Crowley family acquired Spring Creek Ranch in 1905. Pet Crowley and his wife, Sara, used the land for pasture and hay and raised cattle. Crowley later sold the ranch to his son, Olen “Dutch” Crowley, who began crossbreeding beef cattle and continued to do so until the early 1960s. He primarily bred Hereford cows during his career. Today, Olen’s nephew, Donald Shahan, and his wife, Fern, own the property. The ranch is 2,561 acres and is still used as pasture land for the Shahan’s cattle.
Kirkendall Farm and Ranch near Pritchett, Founded 1915
When the Kirkendall Family moved to Colorado from Emporia, Kansas, to live on the land they bought, they had to start from scratch. George and his son, Floyd, bought adjoining 320-acre homesteads for their families. The family went from living in a nice home in Kansas to living in a dugout with no barn for their animals. They had to haul all their water in wooden barrels from a well three miles away. Despite the hardships of life on the plains, the family was tough and survived. In fact, the family lived there in 1929 when the town of Pritchett was founded. The Kirkendall children attended a schoolhouse one mile southwest of their home and graduated from Pritchett High School. Despite years of drought, blizzards, illnesses, and dust storms, the family endured. As other farmers left in response to these hardships, the Kirkendall Farm expanded and additional acres were rented and farmed. Today the family produces mainly wheat, sorghum, corn, and beef on the same land as their ancestors.
Houseweart Ranch near Hotchkiss, Founded 1915
In 1898 doctors told Oran Houseweart to move to Colorado to help with his asthma. He left his family’s farm in Kansas and headed for Hotchkiss to work for several ranchers. In 1910 Oran sent for his sweetheart, Mable Grove, and together they bought 20 acres of land in Colorado. They pulled out the existing fruit trees and planted a grazing pasture. On the new pasture, they owned a herd of milk cows and five hundred chickens. The eggs and cream from their animals were shipped to Telluride and Grand Junction respectively. After a few years they acquired 60 more acres and a forest permit in order to graze their ever-growing herd of cattle. In 1967 Bill Houseweart, Oran’s grandson, received a doctorate in Veterinary Medicine. He opened a clinic half a mile from the ranch, which continues to serve the community. In 2002 Jim’s son, Ira, opened a blacksmith shop on the original 20-acre property. Currently the fifth generation of the family is growing up on the farm. The family still raise their herd, which has cows descending from the original Houseweart herd in 1913.
Allen Family Homestead in Dove Creek, Founded 1915
In 1915 Leslie V. Allen filed a homestead in Dove Creek with the Department of the Interior. At the time, the farm was just 160 acres. Three years later, Allen applied for an additional 80 acres of land. Allen farmed his land with the help of horses. He grew wheat, cane, corn and pinto beans. Other than horses, the Allen family also raised chickens, hogs and cows. As a way of making an income, Allen sold eggs, wheat, cane, beans and wood to the local store. Today the farm has two historic structures no longer in use; one is the log cabin built in 1915, and the other is the granary built in 1935.
Spool Ranch was founded in 1896 by John Sakala. He applied for a 160-acre homestead, and as soon as he received the land, Sakala dug a well that was 17 feet deep and lined with stones from the fields. This well is still used today. Sakala cultivated 45 acres for growing corn, beans, oats, wheat and hay. The family found sandstone rocks on their farm and hauled these rocks off the field to build a house, summer kitchen and barn. In 1945 the barn was taken by a tornado. Sakala and his family also raised rabbits, chickens, turkeys, pigs, and dairy cows on the property. Today the family still raises sheep and produces beef, grass, hay, Alfalfa hay, and feed. They even use the same brand from 1900!
Ross Ranch was homesteaded in 1908 by Francis and Virginia Cooper. Currently the farm is run by their great-grandson, Rusty Ross, and his wife, Glennda. Two of the oldest structures on the property are the old barn and corral from 1920 and the old cabin from 1914, both of which are currently not in use, but the ranch house, built in 1941, is still used today. Throughout the years, the Ross Ranch has produced beef and hay. Today the major product is still beef.
Jose Antonio Lujan Homestead, Gardner, Founded 1884
Jose Antonio Lujan was born in Capilla, New Mexico, in 1833. As an adult, Lujan traveled north to Oglala Lakota territory, and there, he met an Oglala girl, Makigle, who he married. The newlyweds lived among the tribe and had their first of five children in 1856. Lujan did business at the local post trader’s store at Fort Laramie. He soon began to worry for the safety of his wife and children when tension grew between the Lakota and the US soldiers. In 1870, he moved his family to a homestead in Maes Creek, Colorado. On their ranch, they had a sheep herd which Lujan used to provide livestock breeding services to other ranchers in the area. In 1884 Lujan received a land patent from the government for his 160-acre homestead. The first buildings on the property included a tepee, corrals, and a log cabin. When Lujan passed away in 1902, the family continued to reside on the homestead. Today four descendent families live and work on the homestead. Although the farm no longer has sheep, its crops and animals have grown to include, cows, goats, pigs, alfalfa, oats, vegetables, and herbs.
Vallejos Ranch near Walsenburg, Founded 1886
Founded by Pedro J. Gomez in 1886, the ranch later passed to Pedro’s brother, Juan C. Vallejos in 1908. Today Gomez’s great nephew, John B. Vallejos III, owns the ranch. Since the beginning, the ranch has produced grass and alfalfa hay. The two oldest structures on the ranch, which are still in use today, were both built in the 1930s; an adobe garage is still used as a garage, while the white house, as it is commonly referred, is used as a rental property. A log house built in 1973 and a stucco house built in 1997 are used as homes for the family.
Born in Austria in 1875, Anton Brekel moved to America with his family when he was just a year old. His family arrived in New York City with the intention of walking to Minnesota to meet relatives. When the Brekels realized how far the walk would be, they took a train to Lake Heron. Upon arriving in Minnesota to limited homestead land, the family packed up again and moved to Texas, where Anton met his future wife, Stefanie Teply. Anton and two of his brothers moved to the area around Fleming, Colorado, to start their own farms in July of 1914. Anton Brekel purchased the original 160-acre plot in 1913. In 1917, Brekel purchased another 160 acres located across the road. Brekel’s great granddaughters, Dona Scott Willmeth and Julie Kay Scott McGrath, currently own the farmstead. Until recently the farm produced wheat, but as a result of drought, the farm has been converted to the Conservation Reserve Program.
The Johnson Family Farm near Sterling, Founded 1914
In 1914 Benjamin and Claudia Johnson traveled from Arkansas to Washington County, Colorado, in a railroad boxcar with their son, Orville. There they purchased a 160-acre homestead, which they would later expand to 320 acres, on which they built a sod home. In 1946, Orville and his wife Catherine expanded the farm even more, buying a ranch in Logan County where they began to raise cattle. The current owners, Orville’s son, Matt, and his wife, Cynthia, have added hay production and 250 cows to the farm. Today the fifth generation of the Johnson Family Farm is growing up on the 9,500-acre historic farm.
Eldon Gerber Family Ranch near Craig, Founded 1915
Eldon Gerber Ranch was homesteaded by Ernest and Mary Gerber in 1915. During their first year, the Gerbers cultivated and planted 160 acres of wheat, hay and potatoes. While the family still cultivates hay and wheat, they also raise registered Angus cattle on the property. Several historic structures from 1915 still stand on the property, none of which are currently in use. These include the house, the barn, several sheds, and a blacksmith shop.
Westesen Farm began with the birth of Carl Westesen in Denmark in 1867. When he was 21 years old, he moved to America and made his way to Colorado Springs. In 1901 he married Maude Viola Bishop and settled in Denver. For almost two years he owned and operated a feed store in Denver. Westesen traded his feed store in 1903, along with a payment of $1600, for a 160-acre lot near Olathe, Colorado. Since its inception, the farm has grown to 242 acres, though that no longer includes the original 160 acres. The farm originally had several types of livestock, which included sheep, horses, dairy cows, pigs, and chickens. Today the farm is home to 15 hives of Italian bees and grows “Olathe Sweet” sweet corn, alfalfa, onions, squash, and other crops.
Arla and Herman Cook Ranch near Brush, Founded 1915
The Peterson family moved from Denmark to Morocco, Indiana, in 1873. In 1902 the four Peterson sons, Lewis, Arthur, Pete and Max, purchased a farm along Beaver Creek in Gary, Colorado. The Peterson’s only daughter, Marie, helped her parents make the move to the new land. Marie became a professional stenographer and joined her family when they traveled west. In 1915, she purchased 320 acres of grassland for the purposes of raising Hereford Cattle. Lewis Peterson and his wife, Mary, raised 7 children on the family farm, which was later split into two estates by his daughters, Dorothy and Arla. Arla and her husband, Herman Cook, are currently leasing their 2,280 acres to their sons Jeff and Mike, who use it as pasture for 120 Red Angus cow calf pairs from May to October.
Mortensen Family Farm in Brush, Founded 1915
Milo and Clara Mortensen purchased what would become the Mortensen Farm in 1915 from Sam Jensen. The Mortensens soon built a house with modern amenities, such as running water provided by a windmill-pumped cistern and electric lights powered by a generator in the basement. The Mortensens have grown hay, corn, sugar beets, wheat, and pinto beans on their 160-acre farm over the years. The farm has also been home to sheep, hogs, horses, and cattle. Today the third generation, Phil Mortensen, owns the farm. Phil and his wife Judy’s children and grandchildren often come to help them on the farm.
Hansen Farm in Brush, Founded 1900
In 1887 the Hansen family immigrated to America from Denmark and settled in Colorado. In 1900 Mads Hansen purchased what is now the Hansen Farm. After moving onto the property, the family built a new brick home, which is still lived in today. Hansen sold the farm to his brother, Hans Hansen, in 1911. Hans’s four sons, Chris, Walter, Henry, and Albert began farming corn, alfalfa, beans, beets, oats, and barley and had their own orchards. The Hansens also had sheep and cattle on the farm. Two of Albert’s sons, Harold and Lawrence, eventually took over the farm and ran it together for 60 years. When Harold died, his brother, Lawrence, and his wife, June, bought Harold’s half from his widow, Judy. Lawrence and June currently own the property, which is farmed by their son, Kevin, and his wife, Jessica, who also live on the farm with their two children.
Frank E. Carnes and Evelyn C. Bricker Carnes Farm, Founded 1915
In 1915 with all his belongings and livestock, Frank E. Carnes traveled by train from Nebraska to Haxtun, Colorado, where he purchased a 160-acre farm for $4,800. He soon met Evelyn Bricker, and the two were married in 1918. The couple built a two-story, five-bedroom home on the property, raised cattle, and farmed wheat, oats, millet, and alfalfa. The Carnes farmed for 50 years before their daughter, Lois Kipp, and her husband, Wilbur Kipp, took over. In 1985 Lois’s two sons, Brian and Darin, began to farm the land. The original buildings built by Frank Carnes in the early 20th century, including the two-story house, no longer exist on the property. Today the land has been set aside in the USDA Conservation Reserve Program.
Rio Blanco County
Villa Ranch near Meeker, Founded 1915
Mathias and Sigrid Villa homesteaded on Strawberry Creek near Meeker, Colorado in 1915. The couple built a cabin that still stands today. The Villas and their five children grew wheat, oats, barley, and hay and raised cows, pigs and chickens. Sigrid sold butter and eggs produced by the farm animals. Matt was a carpenter in the local area. The Villas built a frame house on the property in 1928 which is also still in use today. Over the next 30 years, the Villas acquired five adjoining properties which brought the acreage to 1,500 acres. The Villa children attended the Lower Strawberry Country School and moved to town for high school where each worked with a local family in Meeker to earn room and board. The Villa’s only son, Martin served in World War II and upon his return, married Mary Wear. Martin and Mary purchased the property from his parents along with a neighboring property. Their daughter, Mary, and her husband, Albert Krueger, operate the ranch today. Villa Ranch is still a working farm, but it also hosts hunters in the original ranch house.
Conrad & Hazel Schmidt Family Trust near Akron, Founded 1909
The Schmidt Farm is a collaboration of properties owned by three brothers: Jake, George, and Conrad. Jake Schmidt bought the first plot of land in 1909 from a man named Whittney. George Schmidt bought the next portion in 1914, and Conrad Schmidt united the whole property when he bought both lots from his brothers in 1917. Conrad’s son, Dale, and his wife, Ethel, bought the farm in 1976. Currently the Schmidts produce corn and wheat and raise cattle on their property. The family still lives in the 1918 house and use the old barn, chicken coop, and storage shed.
John Lee Peters immigrated to Colorado from northern Germany in 1910 with his wife and four children. The Peters family began homesteading what would become Peters 313 Ranch, which was founded in 1914. They grew wheat, oats and hay and raised cattle, and by 1939 the family was able to purchase the property. Four historic structures still stand on the property today: the house, built in 1948; the Kohler/Well House, built in 1941; the calving shed, built in 1938; and the windmills, built in 1940. All these structures but the Kohler/Well House are still in use.
Chicago Ranch near Briggsdale, Founded 1909
William Soloman Freeman bought a 320-acre homestead in 1909. Originally, he raised feed and cattle. He custom plowed the ranch with a steam engine. The bunkhouse was pulled on skids for the steam engine driver and family to live in. Today the fourth generation resides on the ranch and still raises cattle and horses. Five historic buildings are still in use on the ranch: the 1909 barn, the 1910 house and shop, the 1920 garage and bunkhouse, and the 1922 smoke house.
Andras and Francis Herman moved from Kansas to Yuma County in the fall of 1914. A year later, the couple was able to buy a lot of 640 acres. The Hermans raised cattle, hogs, horses, mules, corn and hay. They steadily added more acres over the years, but after the Hermans were killed in a tragic butane explosion in 1942, their daughter, Francisco, and her husband took over the farm. In the early 1950s Francisco began a partnership with her daughter, Hazel, and her husband, Merle Gardner. For 16 years they operated a dairy and grew alfalfa, corn, beans, and hay. Later the dairy was sold, and Larry, Hazel’s son, began buying yearling heifers. Now the farm produces corn, beans, hay and rye for cattle. Today Hazel runs the farm in partnership with Larry and his wife, Cindy.