My Story About Weld County
Text and photos submitted by Jim Park, Kersey
I was interested in seeing the display about the history of Weld County at the Colorado Farm Show a few days ago, and in particular, all the various towns throughout the county.
My family has lived about one mile southwest of Hardin since 1888. My great grandfather, Fritz Niemeyer, homesteaded our family farm at that time. His daughter was Rose, and she married Archie Park, my grandparents, and they began farming the place in the early 1900’s after the Latham Ditch was extended to the area and irrigation water became available.
Our farm was designated a Colorado Centennial Farm in 1988. My father, James Park, was born on the place in 1907, and that house is still here today. He attended grade school at Hardin School from the first through eighth grades and finished
high school at the old Greeley High School located next to today’s Union Colony Civic Center.
I arrived on the scene in 1944, the third child of James and Wilma (Moore) Park.
My grandfather and father farmed with horses and mules, had a small dairy and fed sheep in the winter months. Hardin was the center of activity as early as I can remember. There was a small general store and post office, a one room school and the train depot since the Union Pacific Railroad line from LaSalle to Julesburg ran through Hardin.
Because of the railroad, there was also a stockyard area in Hardin where many cattle and sheep were shipped and a sugar beet dump which allowed the beets to be hauled by the railroad to the various processing plants around at that time. My father would ship fat lambs to the Chicago Stockyards to sell. I remember several times helping to drive the sheep the one mile to the loadout in Hardin and onto the livestock cars for shipment. My dad would ride the train to Chicago in the caboose and after the sheep were sold, Union Pacific would give him a ticket on the passenger train to get back to Hardin.
The owners of the general store were Ralph and Elsie Macallum, and Mr. Mac, as he was called, had a big pot-bellied stove in the middle of the store where all the neighbors would gather in the late afternoon to get their mail. The mail was delivered and picked up by the UP trains. Mr. Mac kept a good supply of everything from food to hardware and was always willing to extend credit to anyone needing his wares.
My two older sisters (Joan and Pat) and I attended the Hardin School for grades one through seven. The teacher was Laura Beers, and she taught school in Hardin from about 1920 to 1965. Her husband, George, drove the school bus and kept the two coal stoves in the school in operation during the cold winter months. I consider myself very fortunate to have experienced the old, one-room school education and have very fond memories of reciting our lessons in front of the whole student body of twenty to twenty-five kids, Christmas plays, flash cards to memorize arithmetic, reading “Dick & Jane” and later on in life realizing the dedication and love Mrs. Beers had for educating kids. Hardin was certainly the center of our universe growing up. Today, the old town is home to several families but the school, store, depot, stockyards and railroad are all gone. The memories, however, will live with me forever.
This story was provided to
the Weld County 150th Anniversary web site by
Mr. Jim Park, of Kersey, through the “Submit Your Story” section of the web site. The Weld County 150th Anniversary Committee would like to thank Mr. Park for sharing this wonderful story with county!