Monday, March 25, 2013

Scherlie Homestead

The Enlarged Homestead Act of 1909 lured many homesteaders to Montana and to an area in Blaine County called the Big Flat. One of these was thirty-two-year-old Anna Scherlie, who arrived in 1913 to file a claim near her brother’s place. Anna was one of many women homesteaders in Montana. In fact, in the four surrounding townships, women made up about one-fourth of the total homestead applicants. By 1916, Anna had forty acres planted in wheat, oats, and flax. Isolation on the Big Flat led many settlers to winter elsewhere, and Anna followed suit. Legend has it that she went to St. Paul to work for the family of railroad magnate James J. Hill. Over the decades, Anna made few changes to her small wood-frame shack, adding only a vestibule to use as a summer kitchen and laundry.

Photo by Nellie Cederberg, May 6, 1996. On file at Montana State Historic Preservation Office, Helena.
Droughts, depression, and two world wars passed. Anna’s neighbors built modern homes, but she insisted that she was too old for modern conveniences. Anna died in 1973, leaving an estate of more than one hundred thousand dollars to eighteen nieces and nephews. Her ashes were scattered beneath a lilac bush on the property. Leon and Nellie Cederburg purchased the homestead, but rather than return it to cropland, the Cederbergs maintain Anna’s home exactly as she left it.

P.S. Anna's neighbor Lois Imler Warren kept a detailed diary.

No comments:

Post a Comment