The Schick-Ostolasa Farmstead (sometimes known as the Dry Creek Ranch)* sat within the rolling expanse of the foothills surrounding Boise, Idaho. Dr. Bob Gudmundsen, a Boise native who rode his horses around the area, described the setting, with its luscious trees, as a “little green oasis” in the middle of the dry and brown Boise foothills.
According to a brochure published by the Dry Creek Historical Society, a New Yorker named Phillip L. Schick found the Dry Creek Valley in the mid-19th Century when his team of oxen escaped into it. Schick went into the valley to retrieve his animals and found that it was waist-high in perfect grazing grass. In 1864, Schick and his partner, George Banker, started to work 160 acres along Dry Creek with five horses, a wagon, a plow, and a harrow. Four years later, he built a house and applied to be a homestead.
After Schick’s death, the family sold the ranch to banker and cattleman, Frank H. Parsons. Instead of managing the homestead himself, Parsons hired the Ostolasa family. Born in Spain in 1890, Costantino (Costan) Ostolasa moved to the United States at the age of 17. He married Lucia (Lucy) Amias ten years later and together they had one son, Anastasio, and three daughters, Aurora, Felisa, and Valentine. The family moved into the Schick farmhouse, where members of the family lived until 2005. The family rarely left the area.
The main farmhouse, now called the Schick-Ostolasa Farmhouse, was built with a gable and wing architectural style. It was constructed during the peak time of popularity for this housing style in agricultural communities and has many distinct elements of this housing style, including the unique house shape and characteristic trim. The architectural style of the farmhouse set a precedent for the architectural styles used in the local Boise area.
In 1942, two Idaho brothers, John and Earl DeChambeau, bought the ranch from the Parsons and ran it for 37 years. They grew hay and alfalfa as well as raised cattle. Their brand was “7L.” The DeChambeau family claims that the brothers chose this brand because it was the cheapest option. The same brand could be used to make the “7” and the “L”. The cowboy just had to turn the brand upside down.
Along with the 500 acres of Dry Creek land, the DeChambeaus owned a feedlot in Eagle, Idaho. The feedlot stretched from where the Hilton Garden Inn on Eagle Road sits today back to where the Eagle River Pavilion host summer concerts off of State Street. Earl ran the feedlot in Eagle while John ran the ranch at Dry Creek. During the summer, the cattle grazed at the ranch, and in the winter they were moved to the feedlot. There, they would eat the hay and alfalfa grown at the ranch. Eventually, the cows would be sent to Van’s Packing Plant (which was owned by Earl and John’s nephews) to be slaughtered.
Jane DeChambeau, Earl’s granddaughter, remembers helping her family move cattle from the feedlot to the ranch one spring in the early 1960s. She was on a horse in the back of the herd making sure none of the cattle would be left behind. She remembers that a calf went off the road, but she did not immediately turn her horse to stop it. Behind her, she heard a car horn honking. Confused, she turned around to see her grandmother, Kathleen DeChambeau, driving behind the herd stopping the runaway cows just like Jane was doing. Instead of riding a horse, however, Kathleen was driving her pink Cadillac.
The DeChambeaus also leased grazing land from BLM that stretched up Dry Creek towards Stack Rock. The Bogus Basin Road runs along the edge of the property. Earl’s son, Jim DeChambeau, bragged that he built the first barbed wire fence that ran along the road.
Earl and John never lived on the ranch, but they kept the Ostolasa family as managers. In 1956, Costan was killed in a tractor accident and his son, Anastasio, took over the management. The DeChambeau family called him Stasio (later owners would call him Andy). He had an overwhelmingly, kind personality and was very knowledgeable about ranch life. Jim DeChambeau once commented that he trusted and respected Stasio’s judgment and decisions concerning running the ranch.
Stasio married Connie Smith, who grew up in Eugene, Oregon. Together, they lived at Dry Creek with their three sons, David, Robert, and Jon running the ranch for the DeChambeau family. Connie worked in Boise, driving to town during the week for many years.
Jane DeChambeau remembers that going to the Ranch as a child was “a real special treat.” Though her father and grandfather were there frequently, her visits were short and few. Even so, she remembers them vividly. The Ostolasa family always greeted her with much hospitality, treating her like a princess. Instead of working, she said that Jon Ostolasa “would always have to take care of me.” Jane was six or seven years old at the time, and Jon was two years older.
She also remembers that there was always food on the table. One afternoon, Jane drove to the Ranch with her father, Jim. She was starving and when they got there, they went into the Ostolasa’s house to eat lunch. Lucia made hamburger patties. Jane said the meat was delicious, especially to her starving belly. The beef was fresh because it came directly from the cows grazing outside. After taking a few bites, someone mentioned it was Friday. Being Catholic, Lucia announced in her thick Basque accent, “No meat on Friday.” She picked up all the plates and quickly removed the hamburger.
The most significant change the DeChambeau family brought to the homestead was mechanized farming equipment. They got rid of the old-fashioned system of draft horses, replacing it with motorized harvesters, tractors, and combines. On top of this, the DeChambeaus added a new kitchen and bathroom to the Civil War-era Schick farmhouse. In addition, they built a new house near the farmhouse for Stasio, his wife, and children.
By 1979, Earl and John were approaching 80-years-old. None of their children were interested in continuing the business, so the best decision was to sell the land. The family sold the ranch to cattleman, Roger Crandlemire. According to Dr. Bob Gudmundsen, Crandlemire then sold the land to another group of investors.
One of the investors, Mr. Grossman*, owned developments in Arizona. Under his vision, the Hidden Springs subdivision was developed. In the mid-1990s houses started being built. Today, Hidden Springs includes 840 homes and a small town center including a school, library, and multiple businesses.
The two acre Schick-Ostolasa farmstead has been preserved as a part of the Dry Creek Historical Society. This land holds the house Philip Schick built in 1864 as well as the barn, root cellar, woodshed, saddle shed, and granary. In 2006, the house was marked in the National Register of Historic Places. It is now a local historical museum education center. Tours of the house are open Saturdays from May through September from 12:30 to 4:30pm*. For more information, please visit the Dry Creek Historical Society’s website at www.drycreekhistory.org.
*Edited 10/28/2014 by Courtney King as requested by the Dry Creek Historical Society, caretakers of the Schick-Ostolasa Farmstead