Over the last 100 years, Gekeler Farms has seen Southeast Boise change and evolve from a pastoral landscape into a bustling family friendly community . When David Gekeler first arrived on this land, he also felt it was a good place to raise a family. David and his family began their journey westward in the late 1800s to begin a new life. David wanted to own a dairy farm and have his family run it. He bought eighty acres to begin this new life. The only problem was once he cleared all the trees off of the land he had purchased, he realized he needed more if he wanted to have a successful dairy farm. David applied for Timber stand, which allows him to clear all the trees on another piece of land, which he did and gained eighty more acres. The funny thing is, that extra eighty acres he gained, he didn’t really own until thirteen years later.
During this time period, David built his family a home on his new land. He built it himself out of mud and brick from the near by Ridenbaugh canal. The house is two stories, with three bedrooms, a kitchen, one bath, and a family room. He built this house in the late 1880s, and it is still standing today. David didn’t just build a house, he also built a very large barn to house all of his cattle. He used the timber from all of the trees he cut down to build it, and the barn is also still standing.
David had a daughter named Emma, who ended up marrying a man named David Tate. Once David Gekeler was too old to run the dairy, he handed it off to Emma and her new husband David Tate. David Tate named the farm Triangle Dairy and put the farm on the map. Mr. Tate bought more cattle and began to be the sole dairy man of Boise, as it grew. He and Emma began their own family and built a new house for themselves. The old farm house became a break from all of the employs of the farm and was added on to sometime after, but no one knows when. The barn was left the way it was but housed more and more cows each year.
Triangle Dairy was passed down to David and Emma Tate’s three sons. One of the sons, Paul Tate, ran the dairy initially with his father David and his brother John. Eventually, Bill and Pat Tate ran the dairy and kept it running for as long as they could but in the end, had to close the farm down because it wasn’t bringing in the money they needed.
The Tate family donated the majority of the 160 acres to the city of Boise. They gave the land to build the first Presbyterian Church in Boise and also to build the first Baptist church and some land to the Boise School District too. The Tate family also built the Alaska building in downtown Boise and owns the local company Tate’s Rents as well. In the 1990s, the Gekeler-Tate family decided to take the land that the main part of the dairy sat on, and make it an apartment complex. When asked if they wanted to tear down the old farm house and barn, they choose not to because of the history they had. The house and barn has blood, sweat, and tears from many, many generations of their family and they just couldn’t see them being taken down. David Tate’s granddaughter Elizabeth comments “I actually lived in the Gekeler Farms house with my mother Frances (David G. Tate and Signe Tate’s daughter) and my father until I was 3 when we moved because I fell down the stairs of the root cellar and broke my nose. (Or so the story goes…)” She goes on to say that “The house was flooded when the Ridenbaugh canal broke, gosh I think that was in the 70’s..and my Uncle Bill had it cleaned and partially restored.”
The old farm house was used as the manager’s housing for a few years but now is vacant. Part of the old barn was taken down to create more space for the apartments but about three fourths of the barn is still standing. It is now the head quarters of M&W Food Supply, which is owned by David Gekeler’s great, great grandson, Doug Tate. Doug and his Father, Ron Tate, own the land that the Gekeler Farm apartments sit on, which was passed down to them through the generations. The Gekeler-Tate family is one of Boise’s first families. They created a family business that has continued to thrive since the late 1800s and are still part owners of Associated Dairies which has a local ice cream plant.
All of the families living in Southeast Boise should thank this family for donating the land that we live on today. They have really made a huge impact on the way Southeast Boise was shaped. Even though Triangle Dairy is no longer up and running, we can still the foot-prints that it has left for us to learn from.
All of this information was given to us through the records that Paul Tate wrote through the years. Sadly he passed away recently. He was in his nineties. We were also given information from Doug and Ron Tate and Elizabeth Clark.
Historical photos courtesy of Gekeler Farms