My version of “The Day on Lime Kiln”

The Moyer family, including Don, Larry, Beverly, Merle Dean, Dick and niece Jewell Kindler, shared their family’s amazing history of homesteading 160 acres on Lime Kiln.

The Moyer family, including Don, Larry, Beverly, Merle Dean, Dick and niece Jewell Kindler, shared their family’s amazing history of homesteading 160 acres on Lime Kiln.
MEEKER I At the risk of making my “Old School” beliefs completely transparent, I am going to write my version of the day On Lime Kiln, where I was so fortunate to learn that the value of a neighbor and the strength of an entire community still exists. In a world of political chaos, world tribulation and a rat race so many seem to find themselves in, the kindness and interest in the purest history by those that lived it, and/or learned it, was fascinating. More than 20 people gathered to take a tour of the Lime Kiln area where in the 1920s nearly 30 families lived, doing their best to “prove up” on their homesteads, show improvements, live five months out of the year in an environment that was unimaginably difficult and make a life for their families.
Dick Moyer, his wife Merle Dean, and three of their children, Larry, Don and Beverly, as well as niece Jewell Kindler, were all there sharing their amazing history of when Lon Moyer first set foot on this land, homesteading 160 acres with Martin Slifka on a neighboring 160 acre plot. They found work burning the area limestone to make mortar later used in building the grade school, the courthouse and other buildings in the community. They worked extremely hard growing grain to be sent to town to sale and even raised pigs and trailed them 27 miles to Rifle via the small pass at the head of both West Miller and West Rifle Creeks. Moyer had to cut a trail through the aspen trees to keep the pigs from getting in the oak brush and start weeks earlier with trails of grain to get the pigs to follow. Grain would be sprinkled all the way to Rifle.
The stories continued as well as remarkable facts presented by both Don and Larry who have received both the memories and passion for area history. Don even has the original paperwork for the deed, or proof of homestead, completed by his great-grandfather. Ada Mints (Sykes) and her daughter were there with information about Ada’s parents homesteading the land that would later be part of the Jacobs’ ranch. Stories of attending school when Mrs. Service, the mother of Phyllis Service (Schoenhal), was the teacher. Phyllis unfortunately passed away a day before the trip. She was always such an inspirational part of the Lime Kiln tour, having extensive knowledge of the time and area. She would take a metal detector up to her parents’ old homestead and found a locket that belonged to her mother. A stop at the old school house location found former teachers Marge Rogers, Sally Etherton, Janet Clark, Martha Cole and Artie Parr excited about the knowledge they have gathered on all of the original school houses in the county. They sat listening, examples of exemplary students, taking in the information.
Lowell and LoAnn Klinglesmith, along with Lowell’s sisters, Sherry and Carol (Miller), and her husband Bill, came along as Lowell and LoAnn are the current owners of so much of the Lime Kiln land. They wanted to learn the history and their knowledge of the land was imperative. Mike and Mary Grady served as the most generous hostesses of the event, allowing everyone to visit in their cabin and tour the area. They not only provided unmatched hospitality with their root beer floats, Mike’s knowledge of the historical landmarks was invaluable. Truly a gift to all that want to understand the beginning of life on Lime Kiln, as well as the greatest sign of respect for the people of that endured the early days on the land.
My family attended with me, and even my young son Cade and his friend Finnley had an outstanding afternoon, enjoying the homemade cookies and atmosphere of the day with his friend
The idea that when the community needed a school, they simply worked together to build one and sent for a great teacher was astounding. The concept that to keep your land you had to make a living on it, improve it and work together with your neighbors to help their dreams become a reality was something that stuck with me. It was not about money beyond survival, or wants, but rather needs and kindness towards others. There is so much history in the area, so many stories that need to be told and preserved. People from this time, beginning in 1910, were strong beyond our imagination, and unselfish in a way so many have no concept of. They handed down a sense of duty. With no sense of entitlement, their children learned to work, not expect that someone else would. The hospitality shown was an example of everyday life back then, when dances and gatherings were how people communicated. If something needed to be done, they just did it. No phones, no running water, no convenience stores, no paperwork or chain-of-command; just neighbors, willing to help. It seems so obvious and simple that there is a lesson so valuable in a day like this that if everyday people could learn to simply slow down and take note of the success of this type of community, so many problems would be obsolete. In each story of a homesteading family, there is so much pride: pride in their work, pride in their accomplishments, never a mention of monetary gains. This was a time we need to repeat. Even in the years leading up to the Great Depression these pioneers managed to survive. The lessons may have been different for everyone there, perhaps, work ethic, friendship or loyalty, but all are profound, all needed and all should be copied. This little community on Lime Kiln was a foundation on which so many incredible citizens were raised, it should be a blueprint for us now.
Local retired teachers Marge Rogers, Sally Etherton, Artie Parr, Janet Clarke and Martha Cole, who have been researching rural schools in the area, enjoyed the day listening and sharing stories.
Thank you to the former Meeker teachers for putting the tour together, Gradys for the generosity, and everyone that attended. In next week’s edition I will include a timeline, additional history and more great stories of Lime Kiln.