ABOUT OPEN A RANCH.
Gerhard and Christine (Meine) Albers
One of the wealthiest and most highly respected citizens in the Beaverhead Valley in the late 1800's and early 1900's was Gerhard Albers.
Born in Oldenberg, Germany, January 8, 1844, Gerhard's father was A.M. Albers and his mother was Angle Hendrick. In 1851 he came to the U.S. with is parents and lived at West Union, W. Va., until 1864, when he went to Leavenworth, Kan.
After making his home at Leavenworth for two years, he was attracted west by the stories of the great opportunities that this country held. Gerhard crossed the plains in a prairie schooner drawn by two yoke of oxen, via the Oregon Trail. The trip required 12 months and the train encountered several chilling experiences with Indians and outlaws.
Upon arriving in this valley, Mr. Albers secured the job of stock tender for the Wells-Fargo station at the company's stage station on the old Thorpe place, then owned by Henry Burfiend. He did his work well, saved his money, and after three years went to Kansas and bought 30 head of good grade Durham cattle and a team of horses and brought them to this valley. He ran his cattle on the range, and for two years was employed by Henry Burfiend on his ranch.
The Gerhard Albers homestead, patented July 15, 1872, was located 12 miles north of Dillon along the Beaverhead River. These beginning operations were financed by the "tin can" as expressed by his daughter, Dora. Later, the tin can was abandoned in favor of the First National Bank, in which Mr. Albers became a large stockholder.
On February 7, 1884, Gerhard married Christine Louisa Meine. Born May 7, 1867, to Conrad Meine and Wilhelmina Fricke at schulenburg, Germany, Christine came to the U.S. with her parents in 1882 when she was 15 years old. She was about 23 years younger than Gerhard, who was 40 when they were married. Christina was only 17.
Gerhard and Christina had three children, two girls and one boy. Dora Lucina Albers was born December 18, 1884. John Albers was born July 18, 1887, and Leona Montana (Babe) Albers was born November 1, 1990. The Albers children attended school first at the Nelson School District No. 2, later the Drummy School District No. 29.
After increasing his home ranch to 1200 acres, Mr. Albers acquired other ranches on the Rattlesnake and in the Big Hole Basin. With these holdings, totalling around 3,000 acres, he became one of the largest stockmen of the Beaverhead, running 9,000 sheep, 500 head of cattle and 150 fine horses. These peak operations were reached in 1887, and the year of greatest profit was 1889, according to Gerhards daughter Dora. She says they were troubled some by cattle rustlers but not to any serious extent, although their brand, the Open A, was one easily altered. The 1909-10 Dillon City and Beaverhead County Directory lists Gerhard Albers as owning 5,297 acres of ground, valued at $65,474.
Mr. Albers was a tall, well conditioned man of the hardy pioneer type. Of unquestioned integrity, he never indulged in the popular sport of "long looping," with the possible exception of eating nothing but the neighbor's beef.
Gerhard Albers died June 20, 1909, at the Murray Hospital in Butte, Montana. He was sick only a few days and death came suddenly. Mr. Albers was assisting at his sheep camp up on the Rattlesnake Creek on a Tuesday and received a small cut on one of the fingers of his left hand. Not thinking it would prove serious, he continued helping around the camp, and the small wound became seriously poisoned from the sheep dip. Inflammation set in, and within a few days, Mr. Albers became so ill that he had his son John take him to his home 12 miles north of Dillon. He grew rapidly worse and was brought to his home in Dillon Sunday and Dr. Bond summoned. The physician at once pronounced his affliction a case of blood poisoning and ordered him taken to a hospital in Butte for treatment, which was done. However, it was too late and Mr. Albers passed away within a few hours.
The funeral was held at the Masonic Temple and was conducted by Rev. F.E. Dodds of the Methodist Church. The large Masonic Hall was filled to overflowing. He was buried at Mountain View Cemetery.
Christine lived on at the ranch until about 1932, when she moved to a house in town at 115 South Pacific. September 27, 1937, she married Jean B. Odell, a childhood friend. Christine died January 18, 1939, at her home in Dillon. Christine's obituary told she had a host of friends throughout the country who were deeply grieved by her passing. She had considerable city real estate at the time of her death.
After Gerhard's death in 1909, his son John lived at the home ranch on the Beaverhead. He married Carlillis Selway Chapman in 1929. Dora married Franklin P. Bell April 21, 1910, and they lived on the Rattlesnake Ranch. Leona Montana, only nine years old at the time of her father's death, lived with her mother at the ranch and later in town. She married John Gloss September 12, 1921.
Information for this story was taken from an article written by Gerhard Alber's daughter, Dora Albers Bell, for a piece entitled "Livestock History," dated March 28, 1940, and from the obituary of Gerhard Albers in the Dillon Tribune, Friday, June 25, 1909.
--Bette Meine Hull, with help from Gerhard's grand-daughter, Virginia Gloss Olson.
ALBERS FAMILY PHOTOS