Lessee Spotlight

Five Generations with the McCoy Wieser Family

In 1903 Claude McCoy (1878-1956) boldly boarded a one-way train from Illinois and took it as far west as it would go—Nebraska.

McCoy kept moving west. He did three things when he arrived at the Centennial state: he acquired a horse, purchased a pistol, and found a job as a ranch hand at the Bar T Ranch in eastern Colorado. It was a smart plan because at the ranch he met his future wife Rosette Gerber (1884 – 1988), a Swiss immigrant who worked as the ranch cook.

The newlyweds signed a lease with the State Land Board in 1906* for a 640-acre parcel of land in Idalia, Colorado. Together they successfully worked the eastern Colorado land for decades.  They endured the dust bowl, the Arickaree River floods, the Great Depression, and two world wars. And they celebrated the births of four more generations of children. 

Today, their young great-great grandchildren still live on the property. The McCoy’s 111-year-old grazing lease is now managed by their great grandson Dennis Weiser.

During the family’s tenure on the property, the land has become included in the Sandy Bluffs Wildlife Area and the Colorado Natural Areas Program.  The Arickaree River runs through the property and is flanked by dozens of cottonwood trees: the land is a prime sportsmen recreation area, and the State Land Board has layered private recreation leases with the family’s grazing leases.  Mr. Weiser recently added a wildlife-friendly crossing over the Arickaree.

The McCoy Weiser family has been recognized at the state Capitol as great land stewards.  In 2009 Governor Ritter honored the family with a Centennial Farms Award, which is the first awards program in America to honor families who have owned their farms and ranches for more than 100 years.

“Dennis is one of the best lessees on trust land and it’s really special to know that he and his family have been good stewards of the land for such a long time. The history of their family and the history of the property are woven together,” said Wilbur Strickert, northeast district manager.

Agriculture leases typically expire every 10 years.  Per Colorado statute 36-1-118(c), lessees who are in good standing have a competitive advantage to renew their lease when it comes up for public bid. 118 rights foster continuity in land stewardship and help provide financial stability for families.

*Approximation based on available records.