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Scanned by Dick Chenault
Edited by Dick Chenault
Date of Interview - 5-30-1979
Interviewed by Lucia Rivera Martinez
My mother's name was Rose Pacheco.
My father was an orphan and he was raised by Frank Wyatt. He worked in a place called the stacked desert. There in Amarillo, Texas my father was born and there his people died. The Wyatts had many sheep in Montrose and so they want my dad to work the sheep in Montrose. There my dad made the acquaintance of a pastor and since my dad was sixteen years old the pastor invited him to go with him to Cripple Creak to work in the mines.
My father worked in the mines of Cripple and also on a tunnel that they were building for the railroad. They were blasting the tunnel and using burros for labor. He worked there for a while, I don't remember how long but in 1900 he helped build the Pikes Peak railroad. He helped build that road that is above the mountains.
Then in 1900 they went to work in Greeley. They went to fill in the swamps. Greeley in those days was nothing but swamps. They were the first Mexicans to work in Greeley. I don't remember the names of the other people that were with my father, but there were a whole bunch of them. From Greeley they went to Rocky Ford and that was the first time my father worked in the beet fields. He raised up a crop of beets in Rocky Ford. From there they went back to Wyoming. They were three or four companions. They didn't like it in Wyoming, they had stayed for a while shearing sheep. He came back and got a job working for the railroad, he worked on the railroad for a whi1e and then he went to work at the mines.
He stayed there working in the mines for twenty—five years. In that first mine where he worked, the Primerosa mine, that is where I was born. The Primerosa mine closed and we moved to Rugby and from Rugby to Black Diamond. My father didn't like it there, he only worked there for about a year and then we came to the Ideal mine where my dad stayed until 1913. Until the strike of 1913, all the miners left and we came to arrive in Walsenburg, there we stayed all winter, all fall, and winter until about May. This was during the strike. Then in May they gave work to all the miners who had families at the Jackson mine, The Jackson mine is a small mine around Turner. My father worked there, then in l915 he bought a ranch hare in the Muddy. My dad made a house where we lived and he continued to go work at the mines. Then in 1917 I thought I was a man and I told my dad I wanted to work in the mines, be said okay if that's what you want to do, I went to work in the mines with my father. They put me to work shoveling coal. When I was in the mine would hear all sorts of noises and gravel and rocks failing. All we had was a little light of carbide and little light each, my father said, “One care for you and one care for me”, that way we will accompany each other. They gave us brass check for each car and in that way they knew who each car belonged to, who had filled each car. We will go together “One on one”, my father said, but we will have to check well that each car carried at least two or three tons of coal. They would pay by the ton. Well we filled one car and I was very afraid. My father asked me “What's wrong, are you afraid?” “Yes,” I said, “I am very afraid.” Well, my father said, “If you are afraid, you are going to hurt yourself and you are going to hurt me come on let's go,” so he took me out of the mines. I said to myself, I will never go down into one of those tunnels again in my whole life. I never went back again.
I came to the farm and I planted potatoes, corn, beans and squash. My father bought a few lambs and a few milking cows. Then my father got very sick with black lung and he came home to stay. Then we would plant a lot of potatoes and haul them with horses to Pueblo to sell. There wasn't much money in those days.
We hauled ties for the mines that were used to shore up the mine shafts. We also took pigs to sell in Pueblo, they gave us more money in Pueblo, and we would buy care supplies in Pueblo. Supplies in Pueblo were much cheaper than they were in Walsenburg. The people in those days would take loads of wheat, pigs, and we would buy provisions for the whole year in Pueblo. Everything was cheaper in Pueblo. It would take Us about three days to make the journey, there sometimes would be a group of about ten men going together. Some taking his own load of potatoes, another of wheat, and so on. Some would take calves, whatever they had, everything was hauled by horses. There were automobiles but very, very few. You could count the people that had them. I remember a cousin Sandoval, related to my mother who lived by a tavern that was by Sunnyside. They were the only ones who had an automobile. There by Sunnyside there was a Post Office, a school and some houses, now there are just the foundations left.
Very few people had cars; even the doctor used a horse and buggy. I don't remember that doctor's name, but the doctor that attended most of us was the doctor named Chapman. Dr. Chapman was the doctor that brought me into the world. He came from Primerosa all the way over here, he was a pretty old man, when be finally died.
There were pretty few model T's, they had skinny wheels. It wasn't until about 1922 when more cars were seen. I remember when Trinidad Trujillo was Commissioner; they gave him a Dodge to drive around. The roads were made by horses.
The stopping point to rest between here (Gardner) and Walsen was Badito It was the only place to get water. They hauled cargo with horses. They hauled very heavy loads with horses; sometimes they had to use two teams, four horses to haul the loads. It took them a day to get to Badito, and a day to get to Walsen. It was the same with those who hauled ties from the mountains. They used to start out very early in the morning and only go as far as Badito, since the mines closed at four in the afternoon and there was no place else to water their horses. They would stop and get up early the next morning and complete the trip. They would take the ties to Turner, Tioga and Big Four. Others would take them to the mines on the other side of Walsen. I don' remember their names, but the hauls were long. It would take them three days, four days to make the trip. The Rodriguez's were involved in that operation. A lot of them would get together and haul ties, that's the only way they had to make a living. When the mines closed, the hauling of the ties stopped. Then all of these people around Redwing and Pass Creek began working, many of them for the Dietz, and many of them for the Meyers. In those days they didn't pay much, only about a dollar or a dollar and a half a day. The J.M. Ranch would employ about thirty—five to forty men, and now they only employ two men. They used to raise twenty-six hundred tons of hay on that ranch, that was aside from the grain. They raised about ten to fifteen thousand bushels of grain the last time they harvested grain on that ranch, old man Evans raised thirty-four thousand bushels of grain.
About the time that the ranch was owned by Harry Capps, an uncle of mine got the contract to harvest the hay. Harry Capps was the aguasil (Sheriff); he had bought the ranch from Harry Meyers.
The ranch had been sold to Tommy Tompkins and Ed Sherlock who were bankers in Pueblo. They ran many cattle, and they used to hire many men. Tommy Tompkins and Ed Sherlock got in a fight and they didn't finish paying off the ranch, so they returned it to old man Meyers, John Meyers. John Meyers then left it to a son—in—law and a son, Harry Meyer. They couldn't run it; it was too much for them, so they sold it to Harry Capps. Harry Capps kept it until he made a lot of money, he went broke, but he had his pockets full of money. From here he took all the best animals. He bad us take them over these deserts and hills through Pryor. He snook the animals when the bank was unaware. The bank was only left with the land. I worked for Harry Capps and I worked for the Meyers. I worked eighteen years, one month and twelve days for the Meyers.
I got sick then and I went and bought a little ranch on the Mosco and there are all my livestock got sick. My sheep died, my cattle died, my horses died, I don't know what happened, all the animals died. They never knew what happened; we would find my animals dead. Only my animals were found dead. Even horses that people would lend me would die.
It was a middle sized ranch, kind of small, eighty acres, but I had lands rented from the Hornback and Langash and from Fritpatrick. Fritzpatrick couldn't make it so he had moved to California and I rented his ranch. Then I rented some sheep and they died too so I was burdened with that loss, very few of sheep I rented lived. My father had given me fifty head of sheep and most of them died. The hail killed many of them and many of them just died. Of the sheep that my father gave me only twenty—three lived and with those sheep I paid the rent. After that I had to sell out, I had to sell everything and come and work to pay off my debt of twenty-four hundred dollars. Twenty-four hundred dollars in those days sister was a lot of money to pay because there was no money. Most jobs only paid two dollars a day. The County paid the most; it paid three dollars a day. I got a job with the Soil Conservation, I think they paid fifty cents an hour, I thought I was going to make a lot of money then, but the farmers were afraid, they didn't want the soil conservation to do any work for them, and in those days they would do the work for them practically free, the farmers would only have to pay one third of the work. I worked on the Meyer Ranch, that is on the other side of the river. It was mainly a lot of hills. I leveled out that ranch. The section of the Overfelt farm where the school is, it was big arroyos and I leveled it out. I did that work in l945. On that job I wasn't even making enough money to pay the rent on the house. I went to the district and I asked them to give me a release so that I could find another job even for the winter. They said no, that I would have to sign up for the Army, I said that's fine at least the government will give my wife enough money to pay the rent. The board would not give me a release they said for me to return to my home and they would call me when they needed me. I told them, but I don't have a job, I don't have any money to pay my rent. At that time my daughter, Viola was in high school and I needed money for her, you know, so they could eat at school. I came home and began taking odd jobs here and there, chopping wood, they would pay me fifty cents, a dollar a day sometimes. Then Jackson bought this garage that now belongs to______________. When he bought it, all the windows were broken and the roof was full of holes, everything leaked. He said he would hire me for eighty dollars to fix the roof and the windows. At that time those eighty dollars seemed to me the whole of Gardner. I told him fine, and I fixed it. I paid the house a little rent in advance and I gave Viola something to eat with. They had to every day at least a little. I kept working at odd jobs and one morning I told my wife Mena, I am going to California, “They say they are paying good money in California.” She said to me, “How are you going to get there, you don't have any money to go?” I told her I will see and I went to talk to my brother Julian, he had a little money saved. I asked him to loan me one hundred dollars, he asked me what for, I said to go to California. He said, “Don't go, if you need money I will lend it to you.” I said no, if you lend me money and I don't have a job how will I pay you back. He said, “Well how much do you need?” I said, “Oh, about fifty dollars, anyway there is a lot of work up there.” There was a lot of work up there but you had to buy it. You had to buy the jobs. My brothers said “Oh, with fifty dollars you won't make it out there.” I had already inquired and knew the fare was thirty—seven dollars. My brother said I am going to lend you one hundred dollars, if you want more I will lend you more. “No, no, no”, I said, “Wait until I can pay you this back.” I went home and gave my wife fifty dollars so she could live on while I found work in California. Well, I left and I started working the third day in November. When I first got there they told me I had to go to the Union before I could get a job. They told me to try and get a painters job that it paid pretty good. At the Union they said you had to have a hundred and seventy-five dollars to join the Union and then pay the dues every week. I didn't have the money. I stayed thinking about what to do for the next three days when one morning
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My mother was born here in the Chavez, what year I don't remember. My father was 'born in 1877 in Ammarillo, Texas. My mother was born and raised here. My grandmother and my grandfather went to work in the mines and that's where my father met my mother in Primerosa, that is where they got married.
My uncles, Juan Pacheco and Frank Pacheco on my mother's side did have land. Frank Pacheco had land; I don't remember how much but possibly two sections about twelve hundred acres. My uncle Juan, I don't knew, be had the whole Mosco. It took him a long time to go from one end of his ranch to the other. From south of the J.M. to Mosco was all his territory. He sold a lot of his territory to a man named Fowler and Fowler sold it to J.M. Ranch. The J.M. Ranch has been sold many times to Baines, Overfelt, Evans, Hugo Rutherford, Hugo Rutherford sold it to the Cuerno Verde outfit. That outfit really enlarged the ranch; they enlarged it up to West Cliff.
There was much discrimination against the Mexican in those days. If a Mexican would go to a dance they would throw him out. They would kick him out. Only a Mexican that they really liked could stay at the dances and then they wouldn't let him dance. The raza had our own dances. To their dances they wou1dn't let us come but they would come to our dances and nobody would say anything. Our race loves everybody, it makes no difference if he is white, Black or whatever Italians, it made no difference to us, but it made a difference to them. Now some of them have changed a little because of the laws that protect us, if it wouldn't be for the laws, we would be like the slaves of the Mississippi. We were like the slaves.
In those days among the Mexicans who had money and among the Whites for example, Mrs. Dietz and ??? Montez. The Dietz was always watching out for Montez taking every advantage t0 do him out of anything and gradually that is how it happened. Little by little everything was lost. They hired us not because they wanted to, nor because they liked us but because they needed somebody to do the work.
The Dietz ranch, the Dietz ranch was purchased for a team of horses and an automobile. I don't remember the names of all the people involved, but Adolfo Archuleta knew the whole story and he talked about it often. I didn't see it happen but I heard about it many times. Maybe Sabino knows more about it.
Tab Schulers were very nice; they had a better way to treat people. Their land consisted of much mountain land. They raised hay and cattle and a few other animals. They had about a hundred and twenty—five head, enough to hire a man or two, but I think mainly they worked the ranch for Income tax purposes. They have a lot of money.
I worked for the Dietz sometimes, usually when I did work with them it was in the summer. For eighteen years I worked with them on the roundups, rounding up animals from the Divide up on Rite Puerto and all over the deserts around West Cliff. There weren't any fences in those days, everything was open except for the gardens, the gardens were fenced, only gardens were fenced.
It used to take from a month to forty-five days to complete a roundup and it would finish here. In Gardner. The camp would be made for the last time at the ranch of Joe Dietz. We wou1d stay two or three days at the divide. We would make about twenty miles a day, sometimes less. Each man would take five horses with him because there was no time to care for the horses well, so as when one would tire, he would switch to another and so forth. In some parts of the territory, it would be so rough that it would take a while to round up the animals. That's how we would work until we came to Gardner. The Dietz and the Meyers also had catt1e on the Trinchera grant, but not too much. They would send about fifteen men to roundup the cattle there. It would take them about three weeks to roundup those cattle. In the winter they would send me back up there to roundup the cattle that were missing. They had me up there until about February, then they would bring me home and put me to work irrigating the grass and I would work irrigating the grass all summer until it was time to cut it.
The Dietz had ranches in the West Cliff area, all of that area was nothing but Germans. Then they began to notice these lands over here. They Meyers homesteaded their property here in the valley, but the Dietz bought the land on this side. This Rite de La Gallina, all this was land that belonged to them, but before it belonged to Mexicans. The Dietz would lend money to the Mexicans and when they couldn't pay, they would take over the ranches. When I worked on the roundups, I became aware of this. When they couldn't pay there debt they would go turn over their lands to the Dietz.
Many Mexicans worked for them and some would turn over one hundred, two hundred acres, 80 acres and so on to the Dietz. All that the Dietz have up above, all that belonged to the Mexicans, and, that's how it was. Now someday, all this will belong to the Texans.
I really don't remember who put up the first fences, but I do know that when my father homesteaded there were many animals that belonged to everyone. I remember that they did not like the homesteaders. The Gabachos did not want us around. They wanted to run us off. They were meaner in those days. My father had a few horses, he would let them loose to graze on the land of, but it was not Wolf's land, it was government land. Then they started to fight and my father went and got an arbitrator. They had already run my dad off. They made him go to higher lands. They had already started to fence and they were fencing government lands. My father had looked at the maps and he didn't think he could see that his lands were not up on the hills. He went and got an argumentor and he took from them about eight to one hundred acres of meadow that was down below from them. Then my father fenced it all in. My uncles already had fenced their lands, that is they had all their lands fenced that were cultivated for gardens, later they fenced all their lands. My father was the first of the Mexican homesteaders to fence his land in order to protect himself. He fenced only what belonged to him, 160 acres, later on he bought a little more land.
Meyers homesteaded his land as did all the Mexican people from here, all this land was homesteaded. All the old people had their ranches. Later on the people lost their lands, some to the banks, some didn't pay their taxes, and some people just left the lands, you know they couldn't make a living on the land, so they just left it.
Here for three years there was perhaps one of the best rodeos that you ever saw, better even than those in Monte Vista. The rodeo was held where the Community Center is now. They had a big dance hall and good corrals. The rodeos would last about three or four days, I'm not too sure how long. Then the men on the board started to fight among each other and they broke up. On the board was Gus Meyers, Bruce Tirey, Tim Hudson, and mainly those guys that had money. They were the ones that put on the rodeo. They brought rodeo stock. They brought race horses to run here sister. They used cattle from here, but the horses, the horses, they used rodeo stock.
Fidel Aguirre was killed in the dance ball. After they started having all the dances there, I didn't use to come to them, I was afraid of the trouble, but I did hear about it when he was killed.
For the feast of Santiago and Santa Anna, the raza would get together and celebrate. They would have stands and sell all kinds of things. They would run the gallo race with their horses; have a dance and celebrations more beautiful than they are today. Our parents would give us a quarter and with that quarter I would have more fun then than what I could have now with one hundred dollars.
The raza in those days all loved each other and together we had good times except for those who would go crazy and start fighting and getting drunk. It. was a good time of dancing, music and horse racing. It was from there that the White man began making the rodeo. From the celebrations that the Mexicans had the White man began making his rodeo. They brought in race horses. The horses that we had were not race horses, but they were good horses. We made bets and we laughed a lot, they were really good times. Our people would bet what they had even though it wasn't much. These celebrations were in July, two days in July, the day of Santa Anna and the day of Santiago.
I don't remember too much about the day of the Manuels, but I do remember the people were blessed. I remember a day they called the day of St. Isidro; I think it was in May. They would carry a saint in procession. They would have a valerio, then they would go bring the saint to all the gardens. In years past these lands were very rich for anything that was planted. Many times I think that the reason that everything is so dry and doesn't yield anything is because we have lost the faith that the old ones of yesterday had.
I remember one time my Uncle Juan, well, they had a valerio and they were carrying the saint in procession and praying to all the fields. I don't remember what my Uncle Juan did or said perhaps he put the saint to task, but anyway, a hail hit and destroyed everything and to the rest of the ranches it didn't do anything. I believe, I really believe that a parson has to say their prayers. If a person says their prayers, God will help them. Like my uncle Juan, a big hail destroyed everything he had planted and it didn't do anything to the rest, and he had large, very large fields planted.
When peopled died the people themselves would pray for them. They wouldn't have bought coffins, the coffins they used were made, and they were as good as those you pay a thousand dollars for today. There were good carpenters among the Mexican people. In one day the people would bring the wood and they would make them the coffin and they used to fix them very, nice inside too, just like they do now. Sometimes they would take the people to Chama or to the church but usually in their own homes were where they held the services. They were born at home and they were buried from their homes as far as I can remember.
The schools had us discriminated. I don't know how to tell you, but I remember how it happened to me, and I remember very well how it happened to others. You play over here and you play over there. This side is for you. They used to hit us hard at school, and if we went home and said that they hit us, they would hit us harder. So we wouldn't say anything, and because we were tattle tails. So rather than do anything we would go up to the hills and hide until school was out and then we would go home. Our parents would not believe that the teacher was mean to us. We didn't learn anything. Our parents, I think, believed what the school board told them, but they never went to see what was happening in the schools. They never went to see if we were being taught the lessons or anything. There were no Mexican teachers in those schools ti1 they put a Mexican person there on the school board. And that is when I began to learn to read, I was already in the second grade. The man they put in was Carlos De Herrera. That man went to visit the schools and that is when they started dividing us up into grades, sister. You know each row was a grade, like fifth grade, and all that.
Before this everything was messed up. They had us very silenced, sister, and nobody knew anything, not even the ones in fifth grade.
This man Carlos De Herrera was a rancher. He knew that they were discriminating against us. He had little children that went to school here. Then there was the other one named Jim Langborn. He worked many Mexican people. After Jim Langborn and Carlos De Herrera were on the school board, things began to change. We were able to play ball together. They put merry—go—rounds. Before this we couldn't play together.
Carlos De Herrera had a homestead, his homestead was right next to my father's, he was our closest neighbor. He lived on the other side of our fence.
When Jim Langborn and Carlos De Herrera were elected to the school board, it was because Jim Langborn had many Mexicans working for him, he only had two blondies, his son working for him. They all got together and did not re-elect Billy Garitson, nor Jim Martin and they elected Jim Langborn and Carlos De Herrera.
Carlos and his wife are dead now. I don't know too much about his family. I only know that be has a son Cornelio De Herrera that lives in Pueblo. He must be about fifty—five or sixty years old now, probably more like sixty years old.
I don't know too much about the water rights especially on that side, but on this side there wasn't too much fighting over them. The man that was the best about water was Harry Capps. He gave the raza water on Saturday. He would tell all of his help to shut the water off. His water was private water. After twelve on Saturday all his neighbors who had wells were able to get water. All the men that worked for him, Emilio Garcia, Juan Manuel Garcia, the Manzanares, the old Bravo, they all worked there. All of the people on Pass Creek worked there.
Marcos Manzanares and Jose Espico lived where the bridge crosses to Chama, they might have been related to those of Manzanares Creek — it is possible. They only worked for salary, they didn't have any sheep, they had a ranch that belonged to their father. They were only about twenty—five years old then. They soon got married and moved away and that's how many people have moved away.
But here I don't remember about too many fights over water. There were Albert Smith, Bill Getson, Charlie Smith, they had no water rights, but the neighbors got along well and they would let them have the water they needed to irrigate.
I'm going to tell you how the water rights worked sister. They would irrigate first up at the J.M. ranch and they would irrigate a lot of fields, but we would only irrigate one and it was from twelve to twenty-four hours (la mudada) that we would let the water run and it would soak up into the land and come up in the river. More water could come up in the river even than what we would use and it would come up and flow year round. I remember that Tim Hudson and another rancher whose name I don't remember, had the land over by Gaspar, all that was alfalfa, they never called up the water rights.
Where they did get into fights about the water rights and did have to call the Commissioner was on the Rito. The one I said was called Greaser Creek. There, there were three or four greedies who wanted to take all the water and everyone had water rights to the creek; but one would hog the water and not let his neighbor get any. Then the commissioner would get called in. But over there on the Rito Puerco, on the J.M. there more water would flow from under the ground than what was in the creek. That's why I say that they let all the people water. I remember when all the people of Pass Creek, Redwing and Chama would irrigate with that water; Mr. Rodriguez knows about that, he can tell you. When they irrigated up above, the amount of water flowing in Redwing would be about equal to that flowing in the river.
I don't know too much about the bad guys, I used to hear about them but I really didn't know them, The time I did hang around bad men was the time I thought I was a bad man too. It was the time I worked for Ulus Herard. He was a deaf man. You had to write everything down so he could understand you. Now that man, Ulus he was a bad man, he made himself with his gun, he was a catt1er man, but everything he got, he got with the gun. The people were very much afraid of him. If anybody monkeyed around with him, he would use his gun. If he invited you into his place you could enter but if he told you to stay out, you better stay out. Well I too thought I was a bad guy because there was this Ted Branlin, he was really a bad man, he killed his wife and he killed his mother-in-law over there in Gardner. He was always going around shooting. If we would have a cigarette in our mouth, he would shoot it out of our mouth. There was another one who was named Frank Jackson, he was half black and half Indian, he was a bad man too. Wel1 anyway they too were working on the same ranch as I was and they had pistols so, I thought that I would also buy me a pistol too and I was starting to get bad to, I was a cowboy. One day I came home with my pistol and my dad said, “What are you doing with that pistol?” I said, “Here let me show you how to use, that pistol” and he took the pistol away from me and, wham, he gave me a good kick in the seat of my pants. He took the pistol away from me and said, “With that junk you are going to get yourself in trouble and maybe even me in trouble.” and he took the gun away from me and gave me a few more good kicks and said, “I don't ever want to see you with a piece of junk like this again.” I never again had a gun, my dad sure took the bad out of me but those men they were bad, they would shoot at the sheriff and at the game wardens.
One day when I was with Frank, the old man told me to go for the mail and then go to your house. I was very happy because I hadn't been home for a while. Well, I was with Frank, and Frank said let's stop and get some fish, since at that time there were a lot of fish in the stream. He said, “Let's get some fish so that you can take some home to your family, you go by the bridge and I'll go over here by the house.” I started fishing and there was a game warden there that I didn't see, and I didn't have a license. By that time I had a little basket almost full of fish. The game warden came up, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Where is your license?” “I don't got none,” I said. He emptied out my basked and counted the fish then he said, “Where's your partner?” “I ain't got no partner,” I said, “Yes you do.” he said, let's go, and he led me over there where Frank Jackson was. The game warden then told Frank, “I want to see your license,” Frank said, “You want to see my license?” “Yes, I want to see them.” said the game warden. Alright said Frank and he used to use one of those under arm holsters and he took out his gun and said, “Here's my hunting license and my fishing license and everything is here.” Then he told the game warden, “You see that road?” the game warden didn't respond, so he said, “You see that road?” “You better start taking that road.” The game warden said, “I'm taking you into San Luis with me.” Well, Frank started shooting at him and the game warden was jumping up and down and Frank kept shooting at him. The game warden took off down the road on foot; he even left his horse there. I guess he came back for it later, because the horse wasn't around. Frank then said come on, pick up the fish and let's go. I picked up the fish from the grass and took off for home. I was afraid to return because I knew that the sheriff would be out to investigate, but no they never came out there and that game warden never returned. Anyway that Black man had told him that he never wanted to see him around there again. He was bad that Frank Jackson, he was born in Fort Garland.
They had deputies out here sister, but the Sheriffs from Walsen hardly ever came out here. They only came out here to arrest people when bad crimes had taken place. I don't remember a lot of bad crimes taking place. Sometimes there were robberies and shooting of cattle.
During the time of the moonshine, that's when there were crimes. Then there were crimes here and everywhere. Well sister, some had copper stiles and others used those milk cans for stiles. The biggest stile that I remember was the ones made by Ausencio Medina. They called him gold tooth, when he opened his mouth, it looked like the sun. He sold a lot of moonshine, but he paid the sheriffs. That's why Harry Capps got rich; he got rich on the bootleggers. They would pay him, and when a government man would come around he would send a man to tell all of the bootleggers and they would hide the moonshine so that the government man wouldn't find anything.
My father made moonshine once, but only once, when he heard that the sheriff was coming he threw away all his mash in the field and then he went and threw away his can, and they didn't find anything. After that, he was afraid and he didn't make anymore. He only sold a little bit. My father sold a little whiskey too, but only once.
There was a man named Juan Savala who sold a lot of moonshine. The deceased Juan had a ranch here in Pass Creek. They were always trying to catch him selling moonshine. Well this Juan killed a goat to take the meat up to the men who were cutting ties in Russell and he stuffed the guts and stomach of the goat, and when they stopped him they didn't find anything. He continued up to Russell with his goat but be didn't sell the goat meat, he sold the whiskey to the people in Russell.
There was a detective in Fort Garland who asked Juan if he knew where he could buy some whiskey, but be really wanted to catch him. Well Juan was carrying a shoe box tied with a string under his arm and in the shoe box, along with the shoes; he had a quart of whiskey. The detectives asked him about getting whiskey and Juan said sure I think I can get you some, but I need some money; “Gimme twenty dollars and I can get you a quart right away.” so the detective gave him a twenty dollar bill and Juan said hold this box for me a minute while I come right back. Well the detective stayed there waiting with the shoe box until he got tired and Juan never did come back.
Everybody took their bottles to dances and celebrations and when they couldn't find more, they took the moonshine in pop bottles, beer bottles, in Mason jars.
When my father went out on strike, he went out with the other miners from the Ideal Mine and we spent the winter in Walsenburg. We spent the winter in some very little rooms. There wasn't any money to pay high rents and the Union in those days wasn't like the Union is today. They would give us tents in which to live in on Tenth Street and over there by Washington School. That is where all the miners lived. There was a war there. I remember that day, after twelve o'clock, I had started school there at Washington, there in Walsen. There the teacher told us to go home and not to stop anywhere. On our way home I heard shots coming from Seventh Street, right there from Seventh Street. We could see cars being pulled by mules and by horses. The guards were around and a man was killed, an Italian man. The war started and they began fighting. The militia came and ran off the miners up the hog back. I remember they used to wear hats hanging down-tied with rope. The Militia went and took over Hill School, and from there they were firing many shots.
Jeff Farr and Montez were protecting the companies. In those days the miners wouldn't make any money. The miners were paid in scripts, which were little books with stamps in them. They were paid ten or fifteen dollars. They took out for the rent, the light, the water. Not much was left and you had to trade at the company store. They didn't have the money to go trade in town.
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© Karen Mitchell