Woman recalls long-awaited visit to homestead and Westmore

      For years I have wanted to go back to where as a child I grew up on a farm two miles west of Westmore.

     My grandfather Jacob Freier and his family homesteaded there in 1909. In 1920 his son E.J. married and lived there until 1936 when the depression forced the sale of it to the U.S. government. He and four of his siblings went to Westmore to school. Of course in that space of time I and my four siblings also went to school there until 1936. The memories of those times were so precious to me I always wanted to go back and relive them again.

     The Bickle family owned land all around us so when Art Bickle married, he brought his beautiful, charming wife, Ursella from the east and put their home within a half mile from us. It was so nice to have close neighbors. Ursella was so gracious and did so many nice things for us kids.    

     When I got word that my cousin, who I hadn’t seen in over thirty years, said her husband and she were coming to visit I was excited. Knowing that her mother had also gone to Westmore School. I called Bill Bickle, son of Art, who now owns the homestead. Although I had never met him, as he was born after we moved from the farm, Bill was very congenial and said he would be more than happy to drive us around. 

     We arranged the date for Saturday, June 14, 2014 at 10 a.m. My three cousins, Gini and John Huber and Harvey Meidinger drove into the beautiful Bickle ranch — meeting for the first time Bill and Ann Bickle. What a congenial welcome we received. They had their double seat pickup ready and waiting. We all six got comfortable and first drove to the homestead site and amazingly to the remains of the two room house that grandpa built in 1909. That house housed first and second generations of Freier’s. It still looked very familiar. After riding through miles of beautiful pasture and cattle we ended up in Westmore. And there stood grandma Deitz’s house. Still as tall and stately as ever. She and her son Frank lived there. It bordered the school yard. In my mind I can still see her in her long dress and white bonnet tied under her chin, coming out of the kitchen with chicken scraps for her chickens.

     The school house foundation is still there. So the two cousins, whose mothers and myself and father also went to school there, along with Bill Bickle, had our picture taken standing near the foundation. Then we toured the ghost town of Westmore all the way to the cemetery. Then back to the ranch where we were welcomed into their beautiful home for refreshments. That brought the end to a wonderful day and our good byes to the Bickles.


                         —Submitted by Edna (Freier) Atkinson

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