Frank X. Flierl and Frank Hagg were neighboring homesteaders on the southern portion of the land that would become Founders Village in the late 20th century. They, like many other residents of the Ridge Road-Lower Lake Gulch Road area, emigrated from Bavaria, Germany, in the 1880s.
Flierl, his wife, Anna Ehmann, and their five children "proved up" on 160 Homestead Act acres by 1899 to add to the 120 acres they purchased in 1892. They raised dairy cattle and worked hard to farm the thin layer of topsoil that overlaid the rocky terrain.
In addition to farming, Flierl joined stone mason John Ehmann to build the first Catholic church in Douglas County. St. Francis of Assisi was dedicated in 1889. Flierl also worked for $1 a day, building Castlewood Dam on Cherry Creek. His eldest son, John Frank Flierl, continued the tradition of farming, ranching and working as a part-time mason, helping to build Charlford Castle, now known as Cherokee Castle and Ranch, outside Sedalia.
Cherry Valley/Upper Lake Gulch Road area
In contrast to the West Plum Creek section of Douglas County, which was settled by Protestant emigrants from the British Isles, this area was predominantly Catholic, with marriages, funerals and church services conducted
in both German and English. The Methodist preachers who rode circuit through the area also were bilingual.
The Castle Rock Rainforest and petrified wood
5.5 million years ago, a subtropical rainforest covered the land now occupied by Founders Village. One of the most common fossils left from this time is petrified wood. Petrified wood forms underground, when wood becomes buried under sediment. Over time, the organic materials are replaced with minerals while retaining the original structure of the wood in detail. Features such as tree rings and the various tissues often are observed. Today, fragments of petrified wood can be found in the Founders area. This stone remains as a colorful reminder of the Castle Rock Rainforest and its 100-foot-tall trees that were 4 feet in diameter.
The development of Founders Village
John Frank Flierl, Hagg and Guy Anderson sold their properties to Albert Mikelson about 1945. Mikelson and his four children continued to farm until they sold the land to Park Funding for development. Park Funding defaulted on payment, and the Mikelson family developed a small part of Founders Village themselves before the company regained ownership.
The early Founders Village consisted of only 85 houses. There were no public services, parks or schools or even snow removal - the first winter of 1985. Rock Ridge Elementary School and Founders Park both opened in the late 1980s.
Top left: The former Hagg homestead in what today is Founders Village. Note the decorative fish scale detailing on the house.
Middle bottom: An aerial photo of the area of Castle Rock that now is Founders Village as it looked in 1975.
Middle top: Nothing remains today of the 1½ story stone house, milk house and barn the Flierl family built in the 1880s and 1890s.
Middle right: Frank X. Flierl, who once owned the land that became Founders Village, helped build the old St. Francis of Assisi Church, which today is The Old Stone Church restaurant.
Top right: By 2000, little was left to commemorate the hard work of Founders' founders. Local historians Clyde Jones and Kent Brandebery photographed what was left of the homesteads just before they were bulldozed.
Bottom right: After John Frank Flierl sold his ranch, he and his wife, Henrietta, moved into Town and built their house at 711 Sixth St. of petrified wood they'd collected over the years in Douglas County.