Telegram Staff Writer
To Barry Shideler, there’s no place like home ” especially since it’s the same place his father, grandfather and even his great-grandfather before him all called home.
Barry and his wife, Marilyn, have raised five children in the same house that Barry’s great-grandfather, Charles Shideler, homesteaded in 1896. It is also the house where Barry, along with his sister, Carol, and brother, Paul, grew up.
Surrounded by spectacular 360-degree views and trademark Colorado blue skies, the Shidelers are living history on their ranch.
The farmhouse is nearly the same as when Charles lived there more than 100 years ago. Besides enclosing their front porch and refinishing some of the paint, the house remains virtually untouched.
The Shideler family landed in America in 1730, and eventually settled in Indiana. Young Charles ran away from home at an early age.
“His parents made him go to church, so he left,” Barry said with a laugh.
Charles eventually returned to Indiana, where he graduated from DePauw University before heading west. He held many different jobs, including running longhorns to Texas, becoming the first sheriff of Rio Blanco County, and running a mail route between Meeker and Rifle. He was also one of the first bankers in Rifle.
“He was quite a colorful character,” said Barry of his great-grandfather. “He was very active in his community.”
Since then, ranching has been the Shideler family business.
Barry remembers herding cows was serious business with his grandfather, Bennet “Poke” Shideler.
“When he asked you to herd a cow, you didn’t dare ask where or how,” Barry said. “You just prayed you did it right, hoped that you didn’t mess up. You just didn’t ask twice. He’d praise you if you did it right, but he would let you know if you didn’t.”
Poke was known as a man who loved his horses, someone who wouldn’t go anywhere his horse couldn’t take him.
“Even in his later years, when he was stricken with leukemia … it might’ve taken him five minutes to get in the saddle, but once he was there, it was as if he’d never left it,” Barry said.
Poke and Barry’s father, Joe, were great partiers, and they were also very honest, said Barry.
“My dad and granddad were the salt of the earth, men who couldn’t imagine telling a lie,” Barry said. “We were often told growing up that if we told someone we’d meet them on the range, then we had better be sure we were there.
“One time, my dad was out in a field in a new shirt, when one of the riders he was with was telling him, ‘Joe, that’s a mighty fine shirt. I’m gonna have to get me one of those nice shirts,’ and my dad literally took the shirt off his back to give to (the other man). They were just good people,” Barry said.
Barry and his brother Paul split the 5,400-acre Shideler ranch in half. Paul died two years ago, so now Paul’s four children are running his half, while Barry’s own children help out with his.
Now, with the sixth generation just coming along (Barry’s grandson, Bennet, was born last summer and lives right down the road), Barry and his family are continuing the Shideler legacy, ranching and working the land that Shidelers have worked for 109 years.
“We’ve been married and living here for 32 years,” Barry’s wife, Marilyn, said, “and with any luck, we’ll be here for another 32.”
Thank you to Barry and Marilyn Shideler for sharing family information for this story.
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