Catching Gold Fever in 1859, W.B. Osborn came west from Ohio with several of his friends. His wife, Margaret, and their children would soon join him. In Gold Dirt, near Central City, W.B. didn’t strike it rich but was appointed a judge. While visiting the Front Range with a friend in 1860, he fell in love with the Big Thompson Valley and purchased 160 acres from a squatter on the south side of the Big Thompson River. W.B. brought his family down to the farm on New Year’s Eve of 1861. Going up into the foothills, they gathered logs to build a log cabin and settled in to begin farming the land.
The area was home to nomadic Native Americans and very few settlers. The family traded with the Arapaho and remained on good terms with them. Many firsts in Larimer County happened on the farm, including the first wheat crop being harvested and the first wedding and funeral being performed by Judge Osborn.
Judge Osborn was appointed County Commissioner when Colorado was still a territory, and eventually held many positions in the area and state, including County Treasurer, Assessor, and State Secretary of Horticulture. It was during his time as Larimer County Treasurer and Assessor that W.B. and his wife moved to Fort Collins. When the term was finished, they purchased land in Loveland and built a brick residence at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Fifth Street, where the Loveland Museum and Gallery is today.
While W.B. was carrying out his duties of Treasurer and Assessor, his son, Milo Yates Osborn, assumed the responsibility for the operation of the family farm. He and his wife, Maria Louisa Frazer Osborn, lived in the log cabin and had two sons, Clarence and Walter. In 1882, they moved into the large brick home that they had constructed, where they completed their family with two more sons, Milo Kenneth and Llewellyn.
The farm continued to grow as more land was added. At one point, nine quarter sections made up what became known as Timberlane Farm. Milo followed in his father’s footsteps by being elected Larimer County Assessor in 1899. During his time in office, his oldest sons farmed under his direction, while he and Louisa lived in Fort Collins with the two youngest boys.
Milo continued to farm until his death in 1930. His wife had passed away in 1915. Their third son, Milo Kenneth, assumed the farming for his brothers and himself, who had together formed the Osborn Farms Incorporated. Kenneth, as he was called, loved farming but also enjoyed many other endeavors. Around 1908, before he was twenty-one, he created a waterwheel on a spring that furnished electricity to the brick home. Kenneth generated several unique ways to make life easier on the farm, many of which are still on display today.
In 1918, Kenneth married Leila Hook and moved into a cottage-style frame home on the farm that he designed and built for his bride. There they raised two children, Louise and John. The farming operation continued until Kenneth’s death in 1973.
Louise Gardels Osborn, the great-granddaughter of Judge WB Osborn, conceived and nurtured the idea of turning the farm into a historic museum. Under her direction, the homes and outbuildings were restored to their original grandeur. Both are furnished with family heirlooms and period pieces. The outbuildings and yard house artifacts, historic machinery, and animals demonstrate a working farm from the 1860’s forward.