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Homesteading

Homesteading in Weld County

by Mike Livengood, Grader Division Foreman for Weld County Public Works

Horse with child plowingAncestors on both my father’s and mother’s sides had homesteaded in Weld County. My great-grandparents James and Malonie Giles’ homestead application was allowed for 320 acres northeast of Stoneham on September 2, 1914. A rock house was built, well drilled, and 40 acres cultivated.  Until the well was drilled, they hauled water from a nearby creek.

Floma Giles married Charles Fritz in 1929, and they lived and farmed south of New Raymer for over 40 years until they retired in the ‘70s. My dad and mom, Ron and Connie (Fritz) Livengood, bought the farm from them in 1974 and are still living, farming and ranching there today.

Fred and Elsie LivengoodMy great-grandparents, Fred and Elsie Livengood, came from Edgar, Nebraska, and homesteaded 320 acres about three miles southwest of Buckingham. Fred Livengood and brother-in-law Charles Littrell, had come to Colorado some time in 1908 to stake out their homesteads.

First, he built a barn, then Fred built a tar-paper covered shack on the land in November of 1912, and in February Elsie and their four children came to join them (picture of  Ray, Leva and Byron in mule-drawn carriage). After they had “proved up,” the deed was drawn up on February 13, 1913. They had shipped their furniture in a box car on the railroad Horse and buggywhich ran between Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Sterling, Colorado. They brought with them a team of mules and two cows. In the early years, they did all their farming using teams of mules until tractors and trucks and more modern equipment was established. When harvest came, all the neighbors pitched in and harvested everybody’s crops. In 1934, Ray Livengood married Elsie Miller, two years later Fred and Elsie (Livengood) moved to Loveland while Ray and Elsie stayed on the homestead.

The blizzard of 1949 hit and was a difficult time for everybody. Having not many maintained county roads, most residents had to try and dig out themselves. Many ended up driving in pastures and fields to get around as the roads were drifted.

House buried in snow

Man shoveling large amount of snow

The county brought our dozers to clear the roads the best they could.

bulldozers plowing

Electricity did not come to the farm until 1951 and telephone service came in 1960. On June 14, 1965, the area was hit by a lot of rain and many areas were flooded and washed out. It washed Washed out railroad tracksout underneath the rail road tracks east of Buckingham (picture). In 1984, I started renting the farm and ranch southwest of Buckingham from Ray and Elsie and in May of 1994 bought the homestead. I married Shanna on October 13, 1995, and our daughter Cassidy is the fifth generation to live and grow up on the family homestead while raising crops and cattle.

In November of 2002, Shanna and I bought another part of Weld County history, not knowing at the time that Weld County once included Sterling. We purchased the Great Western Sugar Factory dormitory on the east side of Sterling. This building was built in 1906 and housed the sugar factory workers. It has a long and important history in Weld County, Sterling and Colorado agriculture. Shanna operates Front Street T’s from this building.

Old Sugar factory