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The Frederick Koch Family of Custer County, CO

Updated December 4, 2003

About Our Family Research

The following Koch biographical information has been excerpted from "Reflections: Bicentennial-Centennial 1976, Custer County," published by the Custer County Women's Club.

Members of the German Colony
Frederick and Elizabeth [Noll]Koch and 4 sons [Conrad (10), Peter (9), Fred (6), and August (10 months] left [Breitenborn]Germany in 1867 and came to Chicago. They arrived in the Wet Mountain Valley in April 1870, and purchased land near Hillside in 1871. All four sons were left tracts of land at the time of their father's death [p. 172]

The Conrad Koch Family
Conrad Koch [1857-1940]. . . arrived in the United States when he was 10 years old. The family moved west with the [German] Colony, settling in Canon City for a short time. Many times he spoke of hauling water from the Arkansas River to his parent's corn crop, which grew where the Canon City banks are now located....In Canon, Conrad ("Cooney") met and married his wife, Mary Hanna Topliss, from Lancaster, Wisconsin. They came to Hillside where Cooney had a homestead. They had 7 children [Matilda ("Tilly"), Alice, Mary Elizabeth, Charles, Mabil, Florence, and Ora]. . .Conrad and Mary lived in the Hillside area until their deaths: Mary's in 1936 and Cooney's in 1940 [pp. 218-219].

The Peter Koch Family
Peter Koch [1859-1941]. . . married Lena Knuth at Hillside in 1880. He was 21 and she was 13 at the time. As newlyweds, they milked cows and raised chickens and vegetables. He walked several miles each day to work in a sawmill. Their children were William, Louis, Fred, Lucy, Lena, Mollie, Anna, Hattie, and Helmuth and John who were twins. Peter's father owned a grocery store in Silver Cliff, so young Peter drove a freight wagon from Silver Cliff to Canon City to pick up supplies. He also worked with a threshing machine crew and did custom work as well as operating a farm. They acquired several ranch holdings in the Hillside area.[pp. 211-212]

The Fred Koch Family
... Fred Koch Jr.[1861-1933]married Ida Fellows and they homesteaded a place in Hillside. They also inherited 40 acres from his parents. They had 13 children: Lizzie Rosenstraugh, Emma Higgins, Oscar, Vella Stacy, Stella Caughman, Harry, Freida Strainer, Callie Weeks, Jessie Bell, Bert, Beulah Houle, and Elton and Hattie who died in infancy. The family lived and worked on the Balman ranch. Fred served as water commissioner for years. Fred died at the age of 72 and Ida at age 90 [pp. 212-213]

The August Koch Family
The youngest son, August, received the original tract. August married Marie Knoll [Noll] in 1889, and together they built their own home, sawing and processing the logs from their own sawmill. Twelve children were born of this marriage [Fred, Annie, Cathrin ("Katie"), Gustav, Ernest, Otto, Henry, Elda, Christian, Frank, Teddy, and George]. It took many endeavors to keep a family of this size going. Several sawmills were purchased and these furnished the mines in Silver Cliff with wedges and timbers. Marie had egg and butter customers in Westcliffe. Summers were devoted to haying and raising cattle. Hay was delivered by team and wagon, sometimes as far as Leadville. In the fall, August and his wife would load up their well-stocked cook shack and thresh grain throughout the valley. The children were kept at home, and there were always 4 or 5 attending school at Brush Creek....August initiated the first ice business. Ice was harvested from Balman Lake, loaded onto wagons and shipped to Florence by railroad car. Later 2 more lakes were constructed, and the 2 ice houses on the ranch and the one in Westcliffe held thousands of tons of ice....[In 1986 the Koch ranch in Hillside was designated a "Centennial Farm"][pp. 172-173].

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