Von Trotha Brothers
In 1950, Bode and Claude Von Trotha incorporated their business interests by forming Von Trotha Brothers, Inc. This allowed them to broaden their enterprises in cattle feeding, farming and ranching, the grain elevator business, property and water rights acquisition and to issue corporate stock. Farm tenants working the Von Trotha's land received shares of stock. The brothers also had a land company known as Von Trotha Land Company and were involved with the Greeley Elevator Company.
Considered pioneers in livestock feeding in Northern Colorado, the Von Trotha Brothers had one of the largest livestock feeding establishments in the region, as stated in the 1941 newspaper article entitled, "Von Trotha Steers are Market Toppers". They regularly shipped cattle and sheep to the Denver market. Bode was responsible for feeding activities while Claude handled the farming operations and management. Bode bought cattle and sheep out of Wyoming, Utah, and New Mexico. In the early days, both cattle and sheep arrived by train, the railroad unloaded them at the Bracewell siding and Von Trotha workers drove them down County Road 27 to the farm.
Claude, along with his brother, Bode, owned significant land holdings in the Severance area and the Bracewell area, especially along County Road 64. The 1915 map entitled "Irrigated Farms of Northern Colorado" indicated these holdings were irrigated farmland. Bode and Claude purchased the current property in 1916 from Philip Krieger. By 1940, they had purchased additional land in the Bracewell/Farmers Spur area as shown below on the 1940 Rural Landowners Atlas (courtesy of the Greeley History Museum).
The Von Trotha Brothers owned or had an interest in at least six farms, mostly in the Bracewell area, and the tenant farmers for these farms were Peter Firestien and his sons, Conrad, George, John, Henry and Louis. Louis also served as vice president and later as president of Von Trotha Brothers, Inc.
In 1951, the Von Trotha Brothers were instrumental in constructing the Shark's tooth Pipeline which delivered domestic water to 11 families, mostly on farms owned by the Von Trotha Brothers. The pipeline is still used today and each of the customers are stockholders in the Company.
A 1953 article, entitled "Von Trothas Push Machine Thinning" appeared in the Great Western Sugar Publication Through the Leaves. Claude and Bode encouraged local farmers to employ more mechanization, such as machine thinning of sugar beets. The article also states, "The Von Trotha Brothers are a guiding influence in the community and are counseled by many growers in the community."
In 1966, Von Trotha Brothers, Inc. was dissolved. The brothers had married late in life and had no children to whom they could leave the farms. They arranged for the company to dissolve and the farms to be "distributed in liquidation for each of the outstanding shares of capital stock held by the farm tenants". In other words, each of the Firestien brothers who had been working these farms, was able to purchase the farm they had been working. It was at that time, that Conrad and Mabel Firestien purchased the current property.