Yuma County, Colorado

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Yuma County Pioneer Photographs:

Jacob and Elizabeth Schlegel, children Anton, Joseph, Jacob, Mary, Lena , 3 North 47 West.

In 1884, arriving at New York are Moritz Schlegel, 30, Joseph 39, and Anton 26, all laborers born in Switzerland, destination Texas. With them is Martin Kunz, 32, also bound for Texas. (John Kunz claimed land in Yuma County, and his daughter Mary married a Nickolous.)

The next household is Justel Schliegel 60 and Jacob ?, both laborers bound for New York.
Jacob 1823-1893 # 74261718 and Elizabeth 1828-1898 are buried in Yuma.
In 1900 Yuma County, Anton Schlegel born Nov 1857 is with brother Joseph May 1856 and Jacob Jan 1853, all born in Switzerland. Jacob said he had been married twelve years.
Pauline was in Denver in 1900, born Jun 186 in Switzerland, with John Sept 1887 and Lena Dec 1896.In 1910 Yuma County, Antone is 51, brother Jacob 55 - married to Pauline 43. and thier son John 22 and daughter Lena 13 Colorado. Joseph 52 and Mary 47 are also with them, and they have two "boarders" Eddie 4 Curry (Conrey?) and Mable Curr 2, both born in Iowa.

In 1930 Yuma County, Joseph is 74 farming, Anton 72 no occupation, and Mary 66.

March 19, 1931
1933 "Any person who desires woodbine, elderberry or currant bushes, and small elm can secure them free of cost by calling at the Anton and Joe Schlegel farm, northeast of Yuma."

Moritz Schlegel proved up a quarter in 31, 3N 47W in 1891.
The Denver library has a "Standing portrait of Moritz Schlegel, a gold miner in Empire (Clear Creek County), Colorado. He wears a dark uniform, with a jacket and vest with brass buttons and a light colored tie. He has a badge and button on his jacket, and holds his hat. His hair is parted on the side and he has a mustache. He stands in front of a brick wall. "
1902 Idaho Springs, Colorado "Locations made by Moritz Schlegel several years ago have been developed until the present good showing of smelting and milling ores attracted needed capital."
1903 "Moritz Schlegel, of Empire, has started work upon the Surprise group of seven claims, situated at the head of Lyons gulch."
1910 Empire, Colorado
Moritz is in the 1920 census of Empire, Clear Creek County, born 1860 in Switzerland, immigrating 1880, living alone. He's still there in 1930, living alone.

Anton proved up a quarter in 29, 3N 47W in 1893.
November 8, 1934
Anton's will gave brother Jacob $5, and the rest of his estate to brother Joseph and Mary. Barta Tschirgi, a non-resident of Colorado, was an heir at law.
Anton is buried in Yuma 1858-1934 # 74261640.

Marie proved up a quarter in section 29, 3N 47W in 1898.


Jacob proved up a quarter in 20, 3N 47W in 1895.
In 1940 Yuma County, Jacob, 86, Pauline 73, and John 53 are living iwth Joseph 84 in Yuma County.
They have a hired hand Ira Northuup and his wife Vesta, both born in Kansas.

Pauline 1867-1941 # 74261978 is buried in Yuma, with Jacob 1855-1942.
In 1942 Jacob's heirs are Ada Nichlous, now Mrs. Ada Hull, Iria Nichlous now Mrs. Irene Bennett, Francis Nichlous, Andrew Nichlous, John Schlegel, and the guardian Bulkeley of Francis Nichlous a minor, and Johs Schlegel, insane.
John 1887-1972 is also buried in Yuma, on the same stone.
March 2, 1972

In 1936 Jacob filed a petition, listing Jacob Schlegel Sr., Elizabeth Tschirti, Katie Kunz, John Kunz, Mary Schlegel, Anton Schlegel, and Morris Schlegel, all deceased. The sole heir of Elizabeth Tschirgi was Bertha Tschirgi also known as Barta, and Mary Kunz Nickolaus heir of Katie and John Kunz.
Joseph proved up a quarter in 19, 3N 47W in 1894.
In 1920 Jos. Schlegel, 3 miles east and 5 north of Yuma, advertised that he had two stray colts.
In 1923 Joe Schlegel advertised a fourteen-disk grain seeder - and he had a phone.
February 9, 1939

May 2, 1940. His will provided $600 to the St. John's Catholic Church of Yuma for masses for grandparents, parents, brothers Morris and Tony, sisters Mary Schlegel and Elizabeth Tschirgi and John Kunz and Katherine Kunz. The rest went to the Nickolous family members.

In December 1917 Mary Schlegel advertised "For Sale or Trade - Good Brown Leghorn roosters."
September 10, 1936
In 1940 her will bequeathed $5 to brother Jacob, the rest to brothers Joseph and Anton. Barta Tschirgi was still an heir-at-law.
In 1942, in accordance with Mary's will, the land in section 29 was to be auctioned.


Andrew Nickolous married Lena Schlegel January 10, 1913, recorded in Yuma County. "Andrew Necklous and Miss Lena Schlegel were united in marraige last Friday by County Judge Jennings. Both of them live in Yuma, at which place they will make their home."

In 1920 "east and west road Twp 3 North" Andrew is 29, born in Russia, married to Lena M., 24, Colorado, with Irene 7, and Ada 6.

The households preceding are Anton Schlegel 62, single, his brother Joe V. 64, sister Mary 56, nephew John 33 - all born in Switzerland.  Then Jake Schlagel 64, his wife Mary P, 52, both immigrating in 1890, naturalized in 1910.

Nickolaus, Andrew, Farmer, PO Yuma, came to Yuma County 1906, Born Russia 1898, married Lena Schlegel, three children.

One Ancestry tree said Lena died Dec 22, 1927 in Haxtun, and Andrew died Dec 30, 1977 in Thurston County, Washington.

In 1930 Mason County Washington, Andrew is 32, widowed.  His father John 81 and mother Francis 79 are with him.  So is Irene 16, Ada 15, Andrew 8, and Francis 2.

The Andrew Nicklaus that # 32455947 has in Saint Paul cemetery dying January 4, 1978 does not have a birth date.

Irene Lena Nickolaus married John Clarence Bennett.  Washington death index has her death in Olympia, residence Lacey,  Feb 4, 1996.

In 1940 Pierce County, Washington, John Bennett is a tool checker,  34, with Irene 27, Colorado.  They have Rodger 7 and Delores 5.  Also with them is Frank Nickolaus (Irene's cousin), 26, born in Colorado, Andrew 19, Irene's brother, born in Colorado, and her sister Frances, 12, Colorado.

41413212 John C. Bennett 1905-1990 is buried in Lacey, Thurston County, Washington.

Antone Schlegel.

Billings, Montana Gazette October 20, 1963
Matt Tschirgi's story is the typical American success tale. He was born on the reservation Feb. 12, 1886, a son of George and Maria Theresa Tschirgi, pioneer settlers of Swiss ancestry. He got his first taste of the cattle business at 13, working for an uncle, Frank Heinrich. He continued to ride for Heinrich through his teens and when his uncle died, the nephew went into the cattle business for himself. Young Tschirgi was prospering when he married Bertha Weidman in 1915. About that time the first buildings were erected on the site 10 miles south of Wyola, Mont., which became the Antler ranch, or simply "the Tschirgi spread." In time, the capital of the Tschirgi empire looked like a small village, with dwellings for Matt and Bertha, for Frank and Margaret Tschirgi and their two daughters and for Clara and Robert Thomas and their son and daughter. There are homes for a few permanent employes, a big log bunkhouse, a mess hall, a shop for machinery repair and other structures needed on a ranch. Matt Tschirgi and son, Frank, during days of great prosperity about 1945.
Immaculate gravel drives form the streets and beautifully kept lawns, shrubs and flower beds surround the relatively simple white frame houses. The Little Big Horn river, swift and clear, is a part of the scene. The Big Horn mountains form the backdrop. Matt Tschirgi was already a prosperous stockman just before World War II, when the big ranch suddenly became much larger. There were a few growing pains. Another large operator had been leasing some 300,000 acres of Indian lands—but he earned the disfavor of the Indian Department. Matt Tschirgi learned he might be able to lease this tremendous tract. He made arrangements of various sorts with neighboring ranchers, principally for livestock to use the immense acreage. Then negotiations came to a standstill. Several months later the Indian Department, without warning, told Tschirgi the leases were his if he wanted them. He did. 'Empire' headquarters with Matt's house at left, Frank's at right and WINTE
It took quick work and a good deal of financing to take the offer, and more important, to get enough stock on the range to make the venture pay. Friends are not sure exactly how he managed it, but somehow Matt Tschirgi met the challenge. That was when the Tschirgi empire really came into being. There were good years for stockgrowers after that—and some bad ones. Matt Tschirgi apparently weathered all financial storms without difficulty. How much livestock did he own? That may never be answered. One of his associates put it this way: "The banks usually owned Matt's stock, until it was marketed."
But then Matt virtually owned one small bank. He and Bertha and Frank formed a majority of the board of directors of Wyola's Little Horn State Bank for many years. Neighboring ranchers in the Wyola and Lodge Grass areas ran stock on the Tschirgi ranges. Matt got a share of the summer's gain when the cattle were sold. Stockgrowers, small and large, often speak of being "partners with Matt," especially in the sheep business.
During those prosperous years, one tragedy marred the sunny picture. This was the suicide, in October 1952, of Frank's wife, Margaret. There were a few rumors of family quarrels over money, but in the close - mouthed ranching community they went unrepeated and were soon nearly forgotten. Things happened fast after the Scott sale. In January 1959, Matt and Bertha Tschirgi set up trusts with a Helena bank. The Scott sale contract was the sole asset. Beneficiaries, after the deaths of the elder Tschirgis, were to be Clara Thomas and her two children. But the trust was revokable — and before his death Matt revoked it. Little more than four months after her grandfather was buried, Twylla Thomas, the attractive brunette daughter of the Robert Thomases was stricken with a cerebral hemorrhage. A student at the University of Colorado, she was spending Christmas vacation at the Tschirgi ranch. She died Dec. 29, 1961. Next to go was Bertha Tschirgi. Her death occurred Nov. 18, 1962. Less than three weeks later, the Japanese gardener, Harry Mikami, who had shared Mrs. Tschirgi's love of flowers, died too. His body was found near the charred ruins of his small home on the ranch. The house and garage were destroyed by a fire of undetermined origin. Mikami's death was attributed to a heart attack.
The final tragedy was the shooting of Frank Tschirgi. His body was found the morning of March 11, 1963 in the living room of the house once occupied by x his parents. There were two bullet holes in his chest. Clara Thomas, taken to a hospital in Sheridan, Wyo., with what doctors said was an overdose of sleeping pills, had recovered enough by March 13 to make a statement to Robert H. Wilson, county attorney, and Roy G. Riley, sheriff, of Big Horn County. Her statement was read by Riley at an inquest in Hardin April 5. In it was an admission that she shot her brother in self defense. A 30-06 rifle was in his hands when his body was found, authorities said. When the members of the Thomas family were questioned at the inquest, they were all silent. Mrs. Thomas refused to confirm or deny that she had made the statement. All three took the Fifth Amendment as their reason for remaining mute. A coroner's jury recommended further investigation.
On May 10, Clara and David Thomas filed two claims in the district court. One was against the estate of Bertha Tschirgi, the other against the estate of Frank M. Tschirgi. Each was for $1 million. The revoked trust and alleged verbal agreements were cited in the claims, whose wording is nearly identical.
Attorneys for the Tschirgi estate asked for more detailed evidence, and the two claims are still pending. On Tuesday, June 25, all three of the Thomases were arrested on a warrant charging first degree murder. Three Hardin businessmen furnished property bonds of $10,000 for each defendant and they were released, pending trial. They returned to the ranch, where they have lived for 10 years. Monday they will be back In the Big Horn County courtroom once more, this time for trial before District Judgt Guy C. Derry.
The decline of the Tschirgl empire has been marked by tragedy, and finally by violence. The question of the claims remains, but it has been pushed into the background

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