Barrick, Colorado, Craig, Depue, Dust Bowl, emigrant, Family, family history, Frances Barrick, genealogy, Great Depression, John Wesley Depue, Kiser, Lucy Elizabeth Spicer, Mervin E. Barrick, Moffat, Moffat County, Vernon Kiser
The birth of Moffat County occurred in 1911, and it came with a wave of settlers who had been encouraged to claim homesteads in the county. Most travelled by train with their possessions in an emigrant car. The settlers would then hire wagons to deliver the household goods from the train station to the homestead. Both the Barrick and the Kiser families used emigrant cars to haul their possessions to northwestern Colorado.
1913-Barrick Family Emigration
The Barrick family came to Moffat County in April of 1913. 41 year-old Mervin E. Barrick filed for a homestead ten miles southwest of Craig. He, his wife, Lucy Elizabeth Spicer, and three boys, Buford (18), George Dean (12), and Floyd (8) rode the train from Boulder to the end of the line at Steamboat Springs. By that Fall, the track would extend to Craig, but now the family had to take the stage to Craig.
The family found life an adventure in the new country. In Craig they stayed in the Webb Hotel until the wagons with their belongings arrived. Once the wagons had caught up with them they were taken to their new homestead. The family written history gives a bleak description of arriving at their new home:
“We arrived about the middle of the afternoon and unloaded in the sage brush (sic) and grubbed out a place to pitch a tent and a place to cook and sleep until we could build a tent house. We carried our water for a mile for a couple of weeks until we could dig out a spring closer to home.”
The family worked on the track extension near Hayden that summer, with Mervin and Buford working on the grade while Lucy and the two boys prepared and fed a work gang of up to 20 men. The next few years were a mix of working at the Mt. Harris coal mine and continuing to work on the homestead.
1918-Kiser Family Emigration
Earl Kiser was 24, when he brought his wife, Mabel Warner and two year-old daughter, Velma June to Craig on April 24, 1918. They traveled by car for a week to get to Craig from Selden, Kansas.
Later Velma June, the eldest daughter recounted the events:
“April 17, Dad, Mother, June, Cecil, and Joe Sulzman started from Selden to Craig in an open Ford. We went to Aunt Orpha’s for dinner, took pictures and started on. We stayed with Uncle Dan Warner that night. We got to Uncle Ted Warner’s for late dinner Thursday and went to Uncle Art Warner’s that night. We left Art’s in a storm which lasted all day….”
The family travelled through northeast Colorado to Ingleside, located northwest of Fort Collins. From there they headed north, probably on a road that was a predecessor of U.S. Highway 287. The narrative continues:
“…That night we stayed at Ingleside, Colorado. We did our own cooking, and an Indian made our coffee. Monday night we stayed at Hanna, Wyoming; Tuesday night, at Dad, Wyoming, and Wednesday night in Craig at the Armstrong Hotel.”
Their homestead was northwest of Craig, but shortly after arriving they decided to take land at High Mesa. The next year Vernon Kiser was born at High Mesa making him the first Kiser child to be born in the County.
The family written narrative lists the highlights of 1919:
“1919. We bought Bess and Bell, a gray team, from Mr. Ledford in the spring. Vernon Warner Kiser was born October 17, with Dr. Davenport in attendance and Mrs. Strailey as nurse. Nina Kinley was the first teacher at High Mesa. Raymond Warren Comstock died of diabeted (sic) September 18. We spent Christmas at home. June got a doll and Vernon a rattle (from) grandpa and Grandma Lizzie Kiser.”
1920’s-Barrick and Kiser Families Grow
In July of 1920, now 19 year-old George Dean Barrick married 16 year-old Leona Elizabeth Depue in Craig, Colorado. The Depue family had moved to the Moffat County from Weld County, north of Denver, sometime around or just before 1917. Leona was the youngest daughter of seven Depue children, two of which had died before she was born. Leona’s father, John Wesley Depue, died in Craig in 1917, at the age of 55.
George Dean and Leona Barrick had their first child in 1921, George Dean, Jr. In 1924, Frances Elizabeth was born, followed by three more daughters, Virginia Dale (1928), Lucy Mildred (1934), and Gladys Faye (1939). All the children were born in Craig.
Earl and Mabel Kiser would have two more sons, Loren Dale (1922) and Hubert Leroy (1925). They were both born in Craig. Vernon attended the High Mesa School until 1933, when he graduated from grade school. The next Fall he began attending High School in Craig; however, transportation to and from school was enough of an issue to warrant mentioning in the family history:
“Vernon drove our Ford part of the time and part time went with Byrl. Vernon played football, was right guard, No. 27.”
193o’s – End of Homesteading
By the 1930’s Moffat County was changing. In the 1920’s the cattlemen had literally fought battles against sheepherders and settlers under the belief that the land they had used for grazing belonged to them. At one point the Colorado State Militia had to be called in to restore the peace between the cattlemen and sheepherders. By 1920, they had lost the battle over ownership of the land and the cattle ranching industry faded dramatically.
Homesteading peaked and was fading in the 1920’s. By 1934, the government had shut down programs encouraging settlers to come the area. Many of those who had homesteaded gave up their land and either left or moved into Craig. In 1920, 25% of county citizens lived in Craig. By 1930, that percentage had increased to almost 30%, and by 1940, almost 42% of Moffat County’s population lived in Craig.
This trend of living in town might not have surprised early explorers who expressed doubts that people could live off the land in the high desert of northwestern Colorado. It is also possible the Great Depression and Dust Bowl played a role in moving into town where work of jobs and opportunities were more likely.
NEXT: Part III – Another Radiator Springs
BACK: Part I – Pre-Homesteading