Homesteader fools family, hides money

By Don McAlvy: Columnist

The name Liebelt came to mean something in this new, undeveloped country after Clovis was established.

The first Liebelt was Alfred who was a medical student in San Francisco when his health failed and he was forced to seek a higher altitude. He went to Las Vegas, N.M., in 1903 and became acquainted there with Tom Staats. Tom had already filed here on a quarter-section that eventually became the North Park addition in Clovis, and he talked Alfred into taking up adjoining land.

They made an arduous trip to what is now Clovis, in 1903, and the next spring Alfred brought his younger brother, Fritz, who homesteaded, and in 1905, other Liebelt brothers, Arthur, Curt and Otto filed. Arthur returned to San Francisco and was there when the April 18, 1906, earthquake shook the big city and he heeded the government’s plea for everybody to stay and help rebuild the city. He was there a year, then back to Clovis.

Back in the spring of 1904 George E. McLean, and an Indian named Ben Brooksher, first encountered two of the Dutchmen.

“We were running sheep near what was later known at Dutchman’s Lake (now Greene Acres Lake), only Clovis hadn’t been thought of yet and only a few settlers were on the unbroken plains. Travelers were few and far between,” said McLean. “Me and my Indian helper were more than mildly interested in a wagon that stopped at the lake one day. We first noticed that the horses were just about gone.”

Then they learned that the two immigrant Dutchmen brothers who owned the wagon and horses had come from San Francisco to Las Vegas, where they bought their wagon and team and headed for the new territory.

McLean gave this story to the Clovis Evening News-Journal in May 1937. (McLean had settled on the Frio Draw near the Texas line).“I recalled that the two Dutchmen had a goat and six chickens with them. They lifted the bed off their wagon and for a time slept in it, right out in the open, with the goat and chickens crowding around. I noticed they had started planting beans and other things and pretty soon they filed on land and built an adobe home,” the newspaper accounts McLean as saying.

The quarter-section Alfred filed on is now bounded on the east and south by Main and Seventh streets in Clovis and was subdivided and sold as the Liebelt Addition.

All the Liebelts eventually drifted back to the West Coast except Arthur and he lived on his homestead west of what is now Thornton and 21st streets. That address later was 1100 W. 21st. He was a bachelor, never had a wife, and when he died on Dec. 2, 1967, at age 84, he owned a pickup valued at $50 and a tractor valued at $150. The other four Liebelts selling lots in their Liebelt Addition made money, but Arthur outdid them. He conveyed the appearance of a poor farmer, but over the years he made many wise investments. His worth was $374,939.32, according to the records.