I have wanted to go back for years to the farm I grew up on two miles west of Westmore, Montana.
Posted Friday, July 11, 2014
By Edna (Freier) Atkinson
I have wanted to go back for years to the farm I grew up on two miles west of Westmore, Montana. My grandfather, Jacob Freier, and his family homesteaded there in 1909. His son, E.J., married in 1920 and lived there until the Great Depression forced him to sell it to the government in 1936. He and four of his siblings went to the Westmore school as did I and my four siblings until 1936. The memories of those times have been so precious to me. I have always wanted to go back and relive them again.
The Bickle family owned land all around us, so when Art Bickle married his beautiful charming wife, Ursella, from the East, they built their home a half mile from us. It was nice to have close neighbors. Ursella was so gracious and did so many nice things for us children.
I received word from my cousin, who I hadn’t seen in over 30 years, that she and her husband were going to visit. I knew her mother had also gone to the Westmore school, so I called Bill Bickle, son of Art and who owns the homestead, to ask if we could visit. Bill said he would be more than happy to drive us around and to let him know when we were coming.
I, my three cousins – John and Gini Huber, and Harvey Meidinger – arranged to visit the homestead June 14. We drove into the beautiful Bickle ranch and met Bill and Ann for the first time. We received a congenial welcome and a double seated pickup was ready and waiting to take us around. We all got comfortable with the homestead site and amazingly to the remains of the two room house grandpa built in 1909, which housed the first and second generations of Freiers. It still looked familiar!
After riding through miles of beautiful pasture and cattle, we ended up in Westmore and there stood grandma Dietz’s house still as tall and stately as ever. She and her son Frank lived there and 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 scraps for her chickens.
The schoolhouse foundation is still there, so we all had our picture taken standing near it. We toured the Westmore ghost town all the way to the cemetery and back to the ranch. The Bickles welcomed us into their beautiful home for refreshments, which brought an end to a wonderful day and our goodbyes to them.
My sincere thanks to Bill and Ann for their hospitality which made it possible for us to pay tribute on this Father’s Day weekend to our grandfather and my father who each supported their families on 320 acres. To God be the Glory!