Lime Kiln’s long history: Part 3

A 1934 photo of students at the Lime Kiln Hill School included (back row) Milton Sykes, Armettia Toembly, Muriel Sterry, Earl Sterry, Elsie Sykes, Dorothy Sykes, Rex Sterry and teacher Eleanor Service. (Front row) Dick Moyer, Howard Sterry, George Sterry, Walter Moyer, Louise Sterry, Leonard Sykes, Marilyn Sykes, Iris Sykes and Alma Mae Sykes. The photo is from the third volume of the “This Is What I Remember” series of books available for purchase at the White River Museum.

A 1934 photo of students at the Lime Kiln Hill School included (back row) Milton Sykes, Armettia Toembly, Muriel Sterry, Earl Sterry, Elsie Sykes, Dorothy Sykes, Rex Sterry and teacher Eleanor Service. (Front row) Dick Moyer, Howard Sterry, George Sterry, Walter Moyer, Louise Sterry, Leonard Sykes, Marilyn Sykes, Iris Sykes and Alma Mae Sykes. The photo is from the third volume of the “This Is What I Remember” series of books available for purchase at the White River Museum.
A 1934 photo of students at the Lime Kiln Hill School included (back row) Milton Sykes, Armettia Toembly, Muriel Sterry, Earl Sterry, Elsie Sykes, Dorothy Sykes, Rex Sterry and teacher Eleanor Service. (Front row) Dick Moyer, Howard Sterry, George Sterry, Walter Moyer, Louise Sterry, Leonard Sykes, Marilyn Sykes, Iris Sykes and Alma Mae Sykes. The photo is from the third volume of the “This Is What I Remember” series of books available for purchase at the White River Museum.
MEEKER I The tremendous history of Meeker’s Lime Kiln region has been the subject of various features, however, there is still so much to tell and so many areas to focus on, from the Sunday gatherings at different homes to the amazing co-op of the threshing machine, the entire area was like a family and people stuck together.
From the original homesteads, people on Lime Kiln learned early on the importance of neighbors. From creating a school together to investing in something so significant as a threshing machine. The risks these pioneers took is incredible, and the way they worked together to continue to prove on their investments is inspiring.
The threshing machine itself and the cooperation to get it was impressive, but the horsepower behind it was equally as impressive. It took 12 horses, which meant six teams, to thresh the grain, not to mention the 20 men necessary to accomplish the task. Lon Moyer was known for handling the teams, as he was in the middle as the horses went around him. Sometimes the work only took one day but other farmers had more grain and so the job took longer. The upside was definitely that the women cooked big meals for the workers.
The very large threshing machine was housed in the corner of the Peaslee, Service, Cose and Slifka places. The people that went in together to purchase the machine were the Moyers, Coses, Slifkas, Services, Andersons, Wolcotts, Fritz Carstens, Warrens and possibly more. People truly did work together and do their very best to ensure the best outcome for everyone on Lime Kiln.
The climate was tough and in Spring 1920, the snow was so deep it was impossible to make it into town. There was no feed and no hay and ranchers were forced to feed straw. There was still so much snow that a trip to Rifle required a change from a hay rack on sleds to wheels. The trip took five days in that weather and the elements led to the departure of some homesteaders. When the snow cleared, Lime Kiln was known for its success in raising barley, potatoes, cabbage and the hard-working women grew exceptional gardens. The land and time required tough people and the people delivered. They not only survived but enjoyed their time as they celebrated birthdays, holidays and special events together.
The Slifka family was one of the original families on Lime Kiln. Martin Slifka was born in Austria-Hungary in 1853 and came to America in 1892, forging on to Colorado in 1893. The trip from Hamburg, Germany, to New York City took 21 days. Slifka was a shoemaker, determined to make a living for his family. The Slifkas began their time in Colorado in Leadville, but as the mines began to fail, they, as so many others, searched for other options. When the family decided to come to Meeker, the trip took 29 days in a covered wagon from Leadville.
Slifka chose the Lime Kiln area and set up a tent on the original 160 acres. He continued his work in his shoe shop but loved time on the ranch. He built the family home in town in 1911 using logs brought down from Lime Kiln Hill with the help of Fritz Kracht. Martin passed away in 1928 after the death of his wife in 1924. The family home was left to their daughter Anna Peaslee. She raised five boys and called Meeker home for more then 60 years.
There are few of the original families of Lime Kiln left, but the lessons of neighborliness and appreciation of friends remain. Lime Kiln is a rare treasure as its condition is very much the same as it was years ago. The history and landmarks will be treasured because of a handed-down appreciation for hard work and perseverance. Lime Kiln will continuously provide information about its history to those who seek it.