What’s facing Windsor: Jacoby Farm’s history and future
For WINDSOR NOW
The Windsor-Severance Historical Society has recorded videos of many long-time Windsor residents, as they recount their memories of the town and their families. To view the videos, visit the Clearview Library, 720 3rd St. For more information about the historical society, search Windsor-Severance Historical Society on Facebook, or call Sandy Brug at (970) 978-6580.
The Windsor-Severance Historical Society is holding a Brick and a Book membership campaign. With the purchase of a membership, residents can have a brick engraved and placed in Boardwalk Park around the bronze statue commissioned by the society. The $300 one-year membership includes the following:
» An engraved brick with the member’s choice of words.
» A copy of the historical society book “Windsor.”
» A premier membership in the society for 2017-18.
For more information, contact Sandy Brug at (970) 686-2122 or Sue Buxmann at (970) 686-2513, or go to thewshs.org.
Larry Jacoby spent most of his life working and living on Jacoby Farm near Windsor, Colo.
Recently, Jacoby, now in his 70s, recounted some of those memories into a camera brought by Windsor-Severance Historical Society members.
The society has compiled videos of life-long Windsor residents, available for viewing at the Clearview Library, to preserve their memories of the small, agricultural community that later became a town of more than 24,000 residents.
A Windsor resident since his birth, Jacoby watched the town transform from the barber shop, general stores and small theater to the bustling town it is now.
He’s seen the land his family farmed turned into housing developments, and in the coming years the last piece of the Jacoby Farm, on 15th Street north of the Greeley No. 2 Ditch, will also transform to a town park and history site.
Jacoby’s family came to the U.S. from Denhof, Russia, and settled in Windsor in 1910.
His grandfather and parents, Jake and Pauline Jacoby, were German and started working what is now known as Jacoby Farm. They raised a variety of crops and animals, from beets and pickles to chickens and cattle.
The farm was 200 acres, Jacoby said, although his family farmed about 700 acres around Windsor, and his earliest memories center on the daily life on the farm. His family often spoke in German, and Jacoby mostly remembers short phrases like “What are you doing?” and some more colorful language Jacoby said he probably shouldn’t translate.
Many Germans were discouraged from speaking German at school, he said. They would often receive a slap on their hands with a ruler if they didn’t speak English.
His family liked to work together. He remembers everyone, including cousins and in-laws, getting together for harvests.
Jacoby married Sharon Hinkle whose family also were Germans from Russia, and they had two children. Sharon owned and ran His and Her Hair Care, a salon, for many years in Windsor. When asked how they met, he chuckled. They didn’t have to meet: Everyone knew everyone back then, and most people went to school together, he said.
He lived on the Jacoby Farm until he was married. They moved into one of the farm houses on the land his family worked. He remembers one house they lived in was heated by a coal stove. That one was cold.
One night, they felt like they were going to freeze, so Jacoby braved the cold to stoke the coal stove. A couple hours later, they awoke to find the house warmer than 100 degrees, he said, so warm that the walls of the house were starting to crack from the heat inside and the cold out.
One of his clearest memories was when his whole family gathered to make sugar beet syrup. They all had to peel and slice the beets, then boil them for days before they reached a syrupy consistency: The syrup looked like molasses.
His favorite way to eat the syrup, he said, was by dunking his bread in it with some cream.
Life on the farm
Jacoby mainly lived on the Jacoby Farm and other farms until 2001, when he and his wife moved to a house in Water Valley.
Cleaning the chicken coops was his worst chore, Jacoby said, but the chickens helped provide food for his family.
He also wasn’t a fan of cleaning out the irrigation ditches that provided water for the farm, which had to be done by hand, with a shovel.
“I wore out a shovel once a year,” he said.
Those ditches were important to the farm, he said, although one time could have been dangerous to his family. He was standing on one side of a ditch, he said, and his wife Sharon and his son were on the other. His son wanted to go with his dad.
“I told her to toss him over,” Jacoby said.
But Jacoby missed when he tried to catch him and had to leap in the ditch to fetch him.
It wasn’t an easy life, but Jacoby said he always wanted to be a farmer like his father and grandfather.
Jacoby Farm future
Jacoby said it still feels strange to see houses in place of farmland, but he’s glad the town still has its small-town feel.
His dad died in 1988, Jacoby said, and his mom in 2006. When asked what they would think of the land they farmed now, Jacoby said they would probably be shocked to see so much of it gone.
“If they saw all the houses out there…” he said, trailing off and shaking his head.
Jacoby Farm is set to be transferred to the town in the future, something Jacoby said a developer decided after purchasing the land from his family.
Although he’s sad to see so much of the farmland gone, Jacoby said he’s glad many people in town still appreciate Windsor’s agricultural background.
If he could choose, Jacoby said, he would make sure there was a nod to the farm’s agricultural history, like a garden, and a place for children to play.
The town plans to do some of that, as a design created from a variety of community input sessions show plans to have gardens, an education pavilion, demonstration space and an orchard on the site. The town also hopes to preserve the 1873 halfway house, which, according to the town of Windsor website, was likely used as a resting place for travelers moving from Greeley to Fort Collins and back. The Windsor Town Board approved the plans at a January town board meeting.
Wade Willis, the parks and open space manager for the town of Windsor, said the town hopes to preserve a piece of Windsor’s history through the site, honoring the agricultural legacy of the farm and Jacoby’s family. ❖