Since 2010, the Montana Historical Society’s Centennial Farm and Ranch program has recognized our state’s agricultural traditions by celebrating the perseverance and stewardship of Montana families on their farms and ranches.
Barrick Ranch, 1910
Hobson, Judith Basin County
Louis E. Barrick migrated from a farming town in central Illinois, arriving in the Judith Basin country in 1909, just after the stage stop at Philbrook ceased operating and the new town of Hobson emerged along the Great Northern Railway tracks. In January 1910, he purchased a 320-acre homestead from Clarence Goodell about five miles west of Hobson. The property was close to the Judith River, and already had a sod-roof cabin and a ten-acre grove planted with cottonwoods and silver poplars.
In March 1910, Louis’s sons Orlo, Glen, and Rollin arrived in Hobson on the Great Northern, bringing with them the family’s machinery, household goods, and livestock. Initially, Louis’s wife Carrie stayed behind in Illinois to care for Louis’s sick mother and daughter Edna and son Louis Jr., who were still in school. Louis and the three older boys went to work right away on the cabin, adding a gable roof, wood shingles, and a concrete chimney. They planted feed crops, raised cattle, and had a large vegetable garden, milk cows, pigs, and chickens. Following the death of Louis’s mother in 1915, Carrie, Louis Jr., and Edna joined the Barrick men in Montana.
In 1916, Louis and Carrie ordered a new house from the Sears Roebuck catalog. All the lumber, hardware, fixtures, and finishes for their new “Hawthorne” model kit home arrived on the train at the Hobson depot. The new house boasted a basement with a coal furnace, three bedrooms, a bathroom and kitchen with gravity-fed water from the windmill, a beamed ceiling in the living and dining rooms, and a gracious front porch. Over the years, Louis also added outbuildings, including a double granary, smokehouse, and garage.
Before the Barrick Ranch house was completed, daughter Edna married Vernon Watson in 1917, and they moved to Vernon’s ranch seven miles east of Hobson. When it was time to deliver their first child Maxine, Edna insisted on making the twelve-mile buggy ride to the Barrick Ranch through snow and twenty-below temperatures so she could give birth at her parents’ home.
All of Edna’s brothers served in World War I and returned to the Judith Basin to take up ranches of their own. Louis Barrick died in 1926, and Edna and Vernon and the Barrick boys helped their mother run the home place. Edna and Vernon purchased the ranch in 1928, and throughout the 1930s, with careful saving and planning, bought other ranches in the area, eventually amassing more than twelve thousand acres. They operated the ranch together well into their retirement years before hiring work out to others in the 1970s.
The ranch passed to the third and fourth generations in the 1990s. After Edna died in 1991 at age ninety-five and Vernon in 1996 at age ninety-nine, their daughter Maxine bought out her siblings, nieces, and nephews. In 2002, she sold the original 320-acre Barrick Ranch to her son Donald Otis, who carried the family’s stewardship of the ranch past the one-hundred-year mark.
Since 2010, the Montana Historical Society’s Centennial Farm and Ranch program has recognized our state’s agricultural traditions by celebrating the perseverance and stewardship of Montana families on their farms and ranches. The MHS accepts applications for the Centennial Farm and Ranch register all year. Requirements for induction include:
- Must be a working farm or ranch with a minimum of 160 acres or, if fewer than 160 acres, must have gross yearly income of at least $1,000.
- One current owner must be a Montana resident.
- Proof of founding date and continuous ownership by members of the same family beginning with the founder and concluding with the present owner, spanning minimally 100 years. Line of ownership may be through spouses, children, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, or adopted children. For homesteaded properties, ownership begins with claim filing date (not patent date).
- $100 fee
To download all requirements and the application, or for more information, visit https://bit.ly/mtcentennialfarms; email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a copy by mail; or call Christine Brown at 406-444-1687.