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Scanned by Dick Chenault
Edited by Dick Chenault
Date of Interview - 11-21-1979
Interviewed by Rosalyn McCain
Date of birth - 10-30-1896
Parents - James Butte Dick and Victoria Mandoline Dick
Paternal grandparents - John Dick and Ann Brand Dick
Maternal grandparents - Jake Mondoline and Dorothy Gates Mandoline
Ethnic group - Scotch, Italian, German
Family origin - Frankfort, Germany and Scotland
Date of family arrival in county - Dick's - 1881, Mandoline's - 1880
Location of first family settlement - Dick's- Walsenburg
Kinship ties - three daughters: Betty Ridge, Joan Crump, and Joyce Kramer; 5 grandchildren; sister in law Anna Belle Phipps; Zellar's
Profession - Miner, Store owner
The following information is from Portrait and Bibliographical Record of the State of Colorado Containing Portraits and Biographies of Many Well—Known Citizens of the Past and Present, Chapman Publishing Company, Chicago, 1899,
James B. Dick, Treasurer of Huerfano County, was born in Fifeshire, Scotland in 1859. His early life was passed in his native land where during a few years of his youth he engaged in mining. With his brother William, he crossed the Atlantic in the Spring of 1879 landing in New York on the 15th of May and going from there to Youngstown, Ohio. After a short time devoted to mining there, he went to Pennsylvania where he continued mining until 1881. In that year, he came to his permanent location, Walsenburg, Colorado and for two years engaged in mining in this vicinity. In 1887, he established a retail liquor and cigar store. From 1888 his brother William was in partnership with him under the firm title of Dick Brothers. As a Republican Mr. Dick was active in local and state politics. For four years he served as a member of the City Council of Walsenburg. In 1895 he was elected Treasurer of Huerfano County, and in 1897 was reelected for a second term. In the State conventions in Denver and Colorado Springs, he represented his party as a delegate. All enterprises for the benefit of his town and county as well as matters pertaining to the success of his party received his cordial endorsement. As the owner of real estate interests in the town he did much to assist in the development of Walsenburg. He was one of the principal organizers of the Building and Loan Association of this place and served as the director for some time. Fraternally he was connected with the Foresters of America, Diamond Lodge No. 49 K.P. in which he served as Chancellor and Grand Representative to the State Grand Lodge and Unity Lodge No. 70 I.O.O.F. in which he was Grand Master and Representative to the Grand Lodge. The first wife of Mr. Dick, who was Jeannette Robertson of Scotland, he died in 1894 leaving one
son, James B. Dick, Jr. Later Mr. Dick was united in marriage with Victoria Mandoline, they had one son George. James B. Dick was the son of John and Ann (Brand) Dick, natives of Fifeshire, Scotland, who immigrated to the United States in 1881 and came directly to Walsenburg. For a few years the father was engaged in mining after which he turned his attention to farming and stock raising and owned several ranches in Huerfano County. His death occurred at his home near La Veta March 29, 1899. His wife preceded him in death a few months only, passing away June 25, 1898. They are buried side by side at the Cemetery at La Veta.
RM: So, was that a large homestead on the Huajatollas that they had? Was that a big place?
GD: They didn't live on the Huajatollas. They just owned it. They used to live on another Creek. I don't know what the devil the name of that Creek was. I can't think of it. It'll come to me.
NC: It wasn't the Cucharas.
RM: How much land did they own up there?
GD: I couldn't tell you.
RM: Did they use that for grazing mainly?
GD: Pig farming and they used the rest for alfalfa. The other boys came over here then.
NC: They had seven sons. One was adopted, and Granddaddy's father was about the middle. Right Granddaddy? One of the middle Sons.
GD: Let's see. He was the son of the daughter of one of Scotland's…… Nancy count for me. First there was Huey, Bob, John, Andrew, Bill, Jim and George. The last one's the one I was named after, old Georgie. I remember his chin whiskers. He had chin whiskers, something like your brother's Nancy. Only gray at that time.
NC: They were probably more well trimmed.
GD: Oh, yeah, he had to keep that thing trimmed just like this. Yes sir. He was the one that had the Dick abstract company here with Andrew.
NC: A real estate company.
GD: Dad and Bill, that's William Dick, came over first. And then they came, George, Andrew and the rest of them after that. One sister never did come. One sister stayed in Scotland. Her daughter did come over from Scotland. She's over here now. She's with an aunt, Moffit
NC: I never heard of them.
GD: They had three boys. Let's see. Campbell got killed at Gordon Mine. I believe they went to California, Stroggins. They had a ranch up here at Baldy Mountain.
NC: I never heard of these people.
GD: They came from the Robertson family is where that came from.
NC: You could probably start with your Dad and what he used to do and then go from there.
GD: You read it right there, didn't you?
RM: Yes. Why don't you 'tell me some of the stories connected with all of that? What are some of the stories that you remember your Dad telling about the early days?
GD: Well, the first mine he worked at was the Walsen Mine, Walsen Number One up here. After he worked at the mine, then he opened up a wholesale liquor and cigar house down on Main Street next to the picture show.
NC: Next to the Fox Theater.
GD: And one of his good customers was Bob Ford who killed Jesse James. Bob Ford had him a place they called the Red Onion.
NC: The Green Onion.
GD: The Green Onion, was it? Down on Ninth Street. And Dad was Mayor of this town. But they had an agreement that if you violated the rules of the little city, why you wouldn't get a liquor license again. Well, when it came up the next year, well, he, Bob Ford had violated something. They (City Council)
told Bob Ford he couldn't get a liquor license so he turned everything over to someone else, and left town.
RM: How many years was he here?
GD: He'd come and go. He would generally disappear at the time that Jesse James was holding up someone. Then he'd come back again. You never knew where he went. Then he showed up in Creede. That's where a Pueblo Cop killed him. James B. Dick went from the wholesale liquor to the Pinion Supply Company.
NC: Now you're talking about Granddaddy.
GD: James B. Dick had wholesale groceries with his brother, Bill and formed what they called the Dick Brothers. That was those two. We have the charter from the State Chamber of Commerce for several years. And after they organized that, Dad at one time ran for Senator from this district, State Senator to serve in the Senate. The first two years they wouldn't let him into the Senate. Neither him nor MacDonald. But at that time the state elected their United States Senators by a vote of the state legislature. Of course, it was the Democratic Party which got their Senator elected to the United States Senate. So MacDonald and Dad were Republicans. They throwed them out of the Senate so they wouldn't vote, see. So they elected their Democrat. Well, then, the next year they got in by a Republican Governor being elected. They got in. Then they kicked out the governor of Colorado which was then Adams. They kicked him out as governor. They went in and voted. That way they elected a Republican as Senator. That's the critical end of the state end of it.
NC: There were politics involved. There's a book upstairs talking about the maneuvers on the floor of the Senate on how they were trying to unseat the man that had taken my Grandfather's seat and seat my Grandfather. The vote varied by 2,000 votes. And yet through politics my Grandfather was denied his seat. And then one of the first things they voted on in the 1904 General Assembly was whether or not my Grandfather was going to be granted his seat, and after a bunch of debate and all of these political maneuvers and stuff, he was finally seated, but they had to bodily escort the man that had his seat out of the chamber. And then the second thing they acted on was the second man, MacDonald.
GD: MacDonald was then appointed governor because they had kicked the governor out.
NC: That's politics. And he served one term, and then he didn't seek reelection.
GD: And after the Pinon Supply he organized what was known as the Huerfano Trading Company. Then he branched out into other things.
RM: Didn't that operate up at Gardner, too?
GD: Huerfano Trading Company operated in Las Animas, Huerfano, over in Alamosa, Del Norte, all through that area.
RM: So it was a big outfit.
GD: Oh, yeah. Then on top of that they organized the Walsenburg Mercantile which was then the wholesale end, and the Huerfano Trading was the retail end, the stores.
RM: Did they operate at the different mining camps also?
GD: Oh, yes. They had stores at all the mining camps except the CF&I. The CF&I, of course had Colorado Supply. Walsenburg Mercantile had a wholesale house at Alamosa. They had a store at Alamosa and Del Norte and Monta Vista and one in La Jara, Saguache and up through there. This building down here by the depot, this two story building, that was the warehouse here.
NC: That's where Sporleder's is now.
GD: And then they had a store here and a store at Oakview and a store at Primrose, and a store at Turner, a store at Gordon, a store at Toltec, a store at Tumbler and up at Gardner. During that time, Dad was acting that part. He went into the bank then. He went into the bank with his brother Bill from the Mercantile and Trading. Course, before he went in the bank, the 1911 strike came along. Course, that closed all the liquor, and then later on the country went dry under Wilson. When that happened, Dad never went back in the liquor business.
RM: What year did prohibition come in?
GD: You're asking me dates now. It was during World War I, during Wilson's administration. I couldn't tell you the date. You'll have to look it up. And when that happened, he went into the banking. Then from the banking business, he went into the coal business. That's where he spent the rest of his time. The first camp we had was Camp Shumway.
RM: Where was that?
GD: That was just north of town. And then after Camp Shumway he had Gordon Coal Company. Then from Gordon Coal Company they organized the Turner Coal Company. Then from Turner Coal Company they organized the Jewell Collieries Corporation.
RM: Where was that?
GD: In Aguilar. From there they organized the Dick Coal Company which was down in Burro Canyon which is down where we were, Nancy. That's north of Trinidad. Now that was the operating end of it. They organized what they called the Huerfano Agency Company. Which was a sales organization of coal only. And that organization had offices in Denver, Dallas and Wichita. They had salesmen out of those areas, and they sold coal from here to the government of Mexico. Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska. Some of it went to California. The head office was here.
RM: How was that coal transported?
GD: By rail. They furnished coal to the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, the Colorado Southern Railroad, Missouri Pacific Railroad. They sold a lot of coal to the government. Of course, it was on bids, like Fort Bliss. Oh, they sold a lot of coal. At one time they furnished coal to practically all the post offices in the state on bid. Practically every post office, and in other states also. Then they sold a lot of coal to schools: Pueblo Centennial, Pueblo Central. They sold a lot of coal to Denver Gas and Electric before Natural gas came in. So they operated six mines, but they sold coal from, the agency sold coal from those six mines. They sold coal from Pikeview which was in Colorado Springs. And they sold coal from Summerset over in Utah. They sold coal from Durango. I can't think of the name of the mine. On top of that they had gold mines. They had one up the La Plata and they had one down in Hillsboro down in New Mexico. What's that town they named it from one thing to another down there? There's a dam down there. They changed the name of the town down there by the dam, Manstown or something. But anyway it is down in that area.
NC: I have no idea what you are talking about.
GD: They didn't do much gold mining. That one in La Plata, we worked all summer to get the machinery to the top of the mountain. Then the first snowstorm came and put it all back in the valley again. So we never did use it. At Danboro the mine had already started, and we took it over, and we had two Portals, one up and one down. I think it was about 80 feet between the two Portals. And they had a hole down through from one to the other for water pipes so they could put water back into it. Five men was working that at this time. Along came a cloudburst, and it washed the rock right down over the Portal that they were in which was the bottom portal. They couldn't get out. There weren't no telephones or anything down there. It wasn't too far. They had to crawl up this two inch pipe 80 feet to get out. The only thing that didn't get out was the dog. They had a dog. They finally got out and took the rock out at the face and got him out that way. Now what do you want to know?
RM: Did they operate all of the mines that they owned at the same time?
GD: Yes, that's where I ended up at.
NC: Tell her how you ended up there.
GD: Well, I started out. I graduated from High School. How I got out I don't know, but I graduated in 1916 and decided to be a lawyer. So, I and another kid named Riley decided that we would go to Drake University. We figured that if we took that, we wouldn't have to take any liberal arts. We'd go right into law school. We were pretty smart guys. We were going to get right out. So we got into that. But the World War I had already started by that time. Before the end of the year came by, Mr. Draft came along and says, “You're going to have to go in the Army.” So we men there and came back here, and they came out with a call for three people. So three of us out of this county took that. We weren't drafted. We just took ourselves in. That's how we got into the army. Then we got back out right in the semester, and I couldn't start school again so I worked for Dad. Oh, I did a little work for the Huerfano Trading Company. One day I worked in the Wholesale Department. The next day I'd be in the Baggage Department. Then by the time I got out of the Drake and got into the Army, they were just opening the mines then, two mines. Then about that time they started another mine. They couldn't get anybody to work. Everybody was busy. So Dad asked me to stay and help him out. My brother was in the banking. So I stayed for awhile, and finally I made up my mind that I had to do one of two things. I was broke every month trying to entertain the women and myself too. I wasn't getting any place. So I told my Dad one morning, “I've got to do one of two things. I've either got to go back to college right away or I've got to get married. Because I'm never home.” “Well,” he said, “It suits me all right, but I don't know who would have you!” “Well,” I said, “I know a few girls around here.” He says, “Well, pick out one of them and try and see what you can come out with.” So it happened that the one I thought of first was the one that went to High School with me. We played basketball and traveled all over the state together. So I say, “I'll ask her.” So I did. I went down and she says, “It's okay with me only we have to go ask my mother.” So we went upstairs and that was all settled. So that's how I got to be married. Then I went in the coal game right then.
RM: What was your wife's name?
GD: Pearl Phipps. I started out as a janitor in the office first, swept it out, kept it up and emptied the wastebaskets. And then I got so I could do a little errands running around here and running around there and back and forth to the mines. Then I got on what they called the “bill desk.” Then I got into the bookkeeping department. Then they finally put me on the desk. I billed all, the coal and received all the coal. They were buying coal by phone and phoned the orders out, and then we'd call them back out and write the bill of ladings, invoices and so forth. Then I got that job. Well, after that went on for several years, we had a man eight years did wholesale... mining operations. One morning I was getting ready to make a trip to San Luis Valley. I handled all of the San Luis Valley, North and South Dakota, Nebraska as far east as Omaha, parts of Kansas City. I was sometimes gone six weeks at a time. I was just getting ready then to make a tour over to the San Luis Valley. It took about three days. We didn't use automobiles. We used a buggy and horses. We had a big furry laprobe we called it. It was colder than the dickens so we went with hair slippers and a bottle of whiskey between our legs so we would be able to get there. We nearly froze.
NC: I never heard this story before. Putting whiskey between your legs.
GD: Oh, yeah. And then we'd leave Alamosa and go down to La Jara and down through there and that took all day, and the next day we would go down to Monte Vista and on to Creede. The next day we would go north to Saguache and over that way. See, it would take three days over there. But it was colder than the dickens. Later in years when we did get the automobile and before they had antifreeze, you had to put alcohol in it, and I'd put a blanket over the front of the can and wrap it all up. We'd all stay at the same hotel, us salesmen, and whenever we'd get up and ready to go out, you'd look out the window to see if any sucker got out there first, see. You'd let him get his car started first and then we'd all run out and he'd pull all the rest of us and get us started. That was a cold, cold place over there. Well, anyway this particular morning I was getting ready to over to Alamosa. The General Manager of Operations, a big fellow, he was someplace. He came through that far exit, “Good morning, Mr. Barrett'.' Mr. Barrett was our Sales Manager. He walked away, see. “Good morning, Mr. Barrett'.' He went into Dad's office. It was just across the hall. We were getting ready to leave when this big fellow came back out. “Well, good-by boys, I'm leaving you'.' He says. Mr. Barrett says, “Where are you going?” The guy said, “I just got fired'.' And he looked at me, and I looked at him. I said, “Well, I'm sorry to hear it'.' And he went out the back door. After he went out, Mr. Barrett said, “What the heck? We don't have anybody for his place'! I didn't know anybody. He said, “Well, isn't that something? Well, we'd better get going or we'll never get back'.' So I just got started when he came in the door, Dad that is. He said, “You'd better sit down'! Mr. Barrett says, “Mr. Dick, what happened?” He said, “Did he tell you I'd fired him?” “Yeah'! “That's right. That's what I did. I fired him?” And he told us why and wherefore. Mr. Barrett said, “Well, Mr. Dick, do you have anybody in sight?” “Yeah'! “That's good because somebody had to be in there'! “Oh, yes'! “Well, who is he?” “He's with the company now. He's sitting right here in front of you, looking at you'! I looked around to see who it was. I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “You get home and change those clothes and get on your working clothes and get busy. You got the job'!
NC: Now what was this job?
GD: General Manager of the Operation of the Mines.
NC: General Manager.
GD: See, out of the sales department into General Manager. See, I knew all the fellows at the mine, Superintendents and that because I went around with my dad. But I was so much younger than the Superintendents and Pit Bosses and that. You try and get into something like that where you go over the heads of all of them. Oh, Boy.
RM: How old were you at the time?
GD: Oh, that's another age. I don't know. I wasn't too old. I remember Dad on the day he died, he said to me, “George, I hate to leave. You're pretty young to take the responsibility'.' But I didn't think about nothing because I didn't think he'd die. He said, “You want to be careful'. That was the day before he died. I finally got along with the old fellows. I agreed with them on a lot of things. I had to fire a couple of them after I was there a while. Playing their old tricks, you know. It took me six months to find out what they were doing. Nobody would tell you anything. It was a matter of one miner wouldn't tell on another one. Now one of the big tricks was brushing. I don't know if you know what brushing was. That was taking the rock off the bottom so you had more height in the room. Well, they paid the miner so much a yard naturally. Well, it showed that they paid him yardage for a hundred feet which amounted to quite a lot of money. And I got to check it up with the engineers. I got my own engineers that happened to be friends of mine. I said, “Doggone. These maps. I just don't get them. I go back and go over the monthly report. It says over here that they went two hundred yards, but I don't see that on the map'.' Well he says, “Then they didn't go'.' I said, “What's wrong?” He says, “Well, there's somebody getting... There's some crookedness someplace'.' Up to that time the pit boss would take the measurements or the Superintendent. I said, “Well, we'll change that. You take your own measurements'.' What they had been doing was you probably had actually taken only 50 feet instead of the hundred feet that they had gotten paid for. But that other that you didn't do that you got paid for, you split that with the Superintendent. All right that was one of the first tricks. Now the next place was the timber. They bought a lot, a lot of timber. The company would make a price of 30 cents a foot, different sizes were different a foot. And given time to be on the job a while to get straightened around, I called the timber men and talked to them to see what the price of timber was. I said, “Your timber is too high'.' And one of them said, “Well, George, you know the reason why, don't you?” I said, “No, what's the reason?” He said, “Oh, we bid 30 cents a foot to the company, but 10 cents of that went to the General Manager.” So with his haul on that and his haul on other deals 'he was making three times his salary on the side. At the same time he was causing trouble at the bottom because there would be only a certain group he was working with. There would get to be trouble over here, and trouble over there. They couldn't figure out why we was having troubles. But they wouldn't tell. Until I got on the job and got to going around the mines, go down in the mines and sit in the room and talk with them and eat with then. They wasn't supposed to have any liquor in the mines, but the Italians had wine in there. And I'd drink that with them. No, you can't in the mine, but I'd drink the wine, and I'd get so that I'd go over and stop to see if he was home. I got it personally with the wife and the whole business. Then I begin to find out what was down there. That's why this young superintendent got fired, the same thing. It was a heck of a job, you know to kick these guys out. Some of them had been with the company for several years. Well, you know they tried to get me, too. After I got the job of General Manager, my wife said, “You know we got several turkeys here.” So I said, “Where did they come from?” “Well, so and so from Gordon's Superintendent sent these'.' Pretty soon we had pigeons, we had fish. I said, “We can't eat all that. What the heck?” So I told them, “You guys quit sending stuff out. We don't want it. There's only the wife and I there'.' And that's the way they tried to have something on me, see. So if I'd catch them, I'd go ahead and get them. It was hard. Some of those Superintendents had worked for them for years. They were friends. They knew he was busy and all that, and he was depending on them. They'd take advantage. Then, of course, we had no Unions at that time. The Union wasn't ahead then. Of course, we had that strike. Before that the Union hadn't come in. That made a little difference there. It was 1911 that they had the strike, but the state didn't go Union until several years after that.
RM: Were there people working in your mines that wanted to join the union at the time of the strike?
GD: Oh yeah, at that time, the ones who went out. And the ones that came in were called scabs. That's where the trouble came in. The Union didn't want them in there, so they were shooting at each other. Now this hill, right out here that we call Lighthouse hill, there used to be a big light up there that shone all along this hill. I think the foundation is still up there.
NC: Each of the mines had big towers, observation towers of some kind with lights on them where they observed what was going on in the camp. And that's what he is talking about. Tell her about going to get the mail during the strike. The white armbands and stuff.
GD: At 10:00 they'd stop shooting. They were shooting off this hill out here. Then everybody wore white, oh, a handkerchief or something, and you'd go down to get your mail and back. 11:00 would be the limit. They would start shooting again.
NC: Isn't that bizarre?
GD: Over here we had a corner house over here with Pete living in it. I think he was Superintendent of the mines at that time. Of course, the mines weren't working. He'd come over here and stand on the porch and watch them shoot over here. This camp over here, what they called the Ioff Brim, they burnt the whole camp and they gave the woman in the boarding house, told her to get in her car and get the people and go to Walsen. There were five of them in the Ford car. When they started across, they could shoot at the car. A bullet went right through the steering wheel. One of them got shot in the arm. We could see it from the porch. See, there weren't any houses out there at all. See, that camp of the militia was right down here. The camp
of the Fifth Cavalry of the United States Army was right out here. I have a picture in the basement that shows you, shows the camp and this whole business out here where the Cavalry camped. They had their beer cellar in our cellar. Nobody else could have it but the officers. They had a key to the back door to come in and get their beer.
NC: In this house?
GD: Oh, yeah, down in the basement. The officers only, see.
RM: What was the difference between the militia and the cavalry? Where were the militia from? Were they local?
GD: That was the Colorado National Guard. The State went broke.
RM: They couldn't keep paying them. It just went on and on, didn't it?
GD: Went broke, you see. They had them all the way from Trinidad clear on up here, and then they sent in the Fifth Cavalry. Three companies here, one company in Oakdale, another company at Tioga, and then there was companies at Ludlow and down to Trinidad and Stonewall.
RM: And where did the Cavalry come from?
GD: They came from Lawrence, Kansas, I believe it was. There is a camp there, I think. The fellow in command here was Captain Smith, a full—blooded Indian. Oh, was he powerful. They stopped down here, the first bunch came in and stopped down at the depot. It was down here a little ways. They went down the track and went to the courthouse, and as they was going into the courthouse, there was a bunch of Greeks. One of these big Greeks, he says, “Ha, they give us the same State Militia'.' Smith got mad. This big Indian hauled off and hit and knocked him out in the street, and that was the only trouble they had. The rest just stood and never said a word.
RM: You read about during the time of the strikes that there were a lot of Greeks here, but I don't run into Greeks in Walsenburg now. What happened to all of them? Did they leave after the strike?
GD: Yeah, most of them were paid gunmen. Uncle Bill, he was Dad's brother
that got killed up here. He was killed by one of the Greeks. He shot him right in the head just the same as President Kennedy was shot.
NC: He was delivering a payroll to one of the mines, and he was shot right as you go out of town by the bridge.
GD: They didn't get any money. I took the payroll the next day. I was playing basketball in Raton, New Mexico that day. We had to wait til the train came up from Santa Fe. So the next morning I came up, and they gave me the car and the money, and I took up the payroll. And the thing was that as I was coming through La Veta, from town into La Veta, there are a lot of trees there down in the valley, you couldn't see. Well, I went up in the afternoon with the pay. There were always four or five of the miners that would ride back down to town here to do some shopping. So I had five of them in the car. It was a big Chalmers five-passenger car. I dropped down in there. It was dark down in this place going into La Veta where the trees was, and I had a blowout. In those days, we had 90 pounds of pressure in a tire, and it sounded like a cannon. It went off, and when I stopped and looked, I didn't have any passengers, nobody. I looked around, nobody. What happened? I started to honk and hollar. Pretty soon, one head came out. “You all right George?” Well, I got them all out, and I said, “What was you doing?” “Well, we thought we were getting held up again.” Yeah, a lot of experiences in those days. I used to go out with the payrolls. Of course, there was no bridges on these arroyos. Years back in the summertime we'd have almost every year, we'd have a pretty good rainstorm. One in a while a cloudburst. I got caught several times between Maitland arroyo and Gordon arroyo with the payroll. I couldn't get over to the mine. I couldn't get back. So I had to wait till the water went down. Anybody could have held me up. I never had a gun. I'd be sitting there with $15,000 or $20,000 in cash.
RM: How big a payroll would you have for one mine usually?
GD: Oh, they would run up to $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000 depending on the size of the mine, all in cash too.
RM: How many men would work at a mine? What would be the size of the work crew?
GD: Well, it all depends. Some of the mines had 125 men, some had 90 men, some 40 men. At Oakview, up that way, I'd pick my payroll up at La Veta. There was a bank in La Veta. I'd stop there and pick up the payroll to go up to Oakview so I didn't have to carry the money from here. And that bank went broke. Then I'd take it out of here, and that was when my uncle got killed when they were taking it out of here, see.
RM: Did you own the Oakview Mine?
GD: No, we had the store up there, Walsenburg Trading.
RM: So you would take the payroll up because of the store?
GD: Pueblo Bank and Savings, they'd make up the payroll. My Dad was going up with his brother that day, but something came up, and he didn't go or they would have got both of them. But he had it just in a little suitcase, you know, sitting on that little Ford Roadster. He had it sitting on the back of the seat. He had told one fellow, “All they had to do was ask for it, and I would have given it to them.”
NC: But they never took the money.
GD: A car came up behind them, and they ran.
NC: There were three trials.
GD: The first trial the two was convicted. The second trial was a hung jury. The third trial not guilty. They got off scott free.
RM: Were there three people involved in the shooting?
GD: Two Greeks together. And they stayed in a boarding house up at Walsen Camp, you see, and the boarding man, he testified that they came home with blood on their hands and that, see. They tapped the mail. They skadooed up to Wyoming, and they tapped the mail, and they got the letters going back and forth. They said, “Are the bulldogs still looking for US?” They took those as evidence. After the third trial was over, they went loose, you know. A lot of the people that had testified in the first trial were dead. The man from the boarding house left and went to Dallas. This fellow went to Dallas and shot him on the street there and then got away. They never did get him. A lot of them Greeks were just little folks about that high. I saw the two fellows standing here on the sidewalk watching the funeral. Course, I didn't know it was them at the time. I didn't know until I saw them in the courtroom.
RM: What were the things that the miners were striking for?
GD: It was recognition of the union.
RM: They wanted the union to be recognized.
GD: That's right. After that strike, why Rockefeller built club houses in all the mines, the CF&I mines. Later on in the years I sat in on the first meetings between the miners and the operators when the union was recognized. We were there six weeks in Denver on that there setting the first wage scale. I have pictures of all that around here, of the meeting and so forth. I don't know how many books of pictures I've got in there.
RM: A lot, I bet.
GD: I'm going to give you this to read from here (a scrapbook.) Old Judge Chenowith of Trinidad, he retired, army judge for twenty—three years. This here tells about my Dad, and then goes into mine in there.
RM: This is your family genealogy then, isn't it? On your father's side.
“First Generation: Jake Mandoline was born in Rome, Italy in the middle of the nineteenth century. He was orphaned at an early age and became a Swiss Guard in Garibaldi Army. Later he moved to Germany where he met and married Dorothy Gates. Dorothy Gates was born and reared in Germany. They reared three children all of whom were born in Frank—fur t—on—the—Rhine, one of whom was Victoria Barbara Mandoline. Second Generation: Victoria Barbara Mandoline came to America and settled in Pictou, Colorado. Her parents resided there until death. She married James B. Dick, Sr. at Walsenburg, Colorado. They had one son, George B. Dick. She died December 26, 1971. James B. Dick, Sr. was born in Cowenbeath, Scotland October 4, 1859 to Ann (Brand) Dick and John Dick. He had seven brothers and two sisters. He worked in the coal mines of his native country as soon as he was old enough to do so. He came to America in 1879. He worked in the coal mines of Ohio and Pennsylvania before coming to Walsenburg, Colorado in 1881. He married Janet Robertson at Walsenburg, Colorado. They had three children, one of whom was James B. Dick, Jr. After the death of his first wife, he married Victoria Mandoline in 1890 in Walsenburg. They had one son George B. Dick. After working several years in the coal mines of Walsenburg, he went into trade and was connected with his brother William Dick, in the Dick Brothers Mercantile Company. They had stores at Rugby in Las Animas County, one in Huerfano, the head office being in Walsenburg. Later he owned and ran four coal mines. Dicks, Jewell, Gordon and Butte Valley which was named after him. He was active in politics having been elected six times city councilman, twice mayor, three terms county treasurer and was U.S. Senator from Colorado.”
GD: Right there is an error. He was State Senator.
RM: So he was State Senator from Walsenburg, (Fourth District) to the Colorado Senate. “He was an Elk, Odd Fellow and Mason. He died October 20, 1939. Third Generation: George B. Dick was born in Walsenburg, Colorado on October 30, 1899 attending public school and graduated from Huerfano County High School in 1916. He attended Drake University where he was affiliated with Alpha Omega Fraternity. He entered the army in 1918 and served with the 429th Telegraph Battalion, Company D. He married Pearl May Phipps in Denver August 16, 1919. In 1920 he entered the Walsenburg, Colorado Coal Company. After the mines closed, he formed the Castle Texaco Company. He belonged to A.F. and A.M. Consistory, B.P.O.E. and Past Patron of the Order of Eastern Stars. His hobbies are fishing, baseball and basketball. He had four daughters, Dorothy, Betty, Joyce and Joan (twins). He had fourteen grandchildren and five great—grandchildren. Shrine Club Member in Pueblo, President of Chamber of Commerce, President Walsenburg Rotary, was on school board for two terms, was the President of Gordon Coal Company, President of Dick Coal Company, President of Jewell Colliers Company, President of Butte Valley, President of Legion Home Board, member of Manpower Board, World War II, Chairman of the Huerfano County U.S.O. during World War II, appointed by the city on the County Water Conservative Board, Director on Highway 87, President of Walsenburg Water Association, Vice Command of Department of Colorado American Legion, Director of Frying Pan Arkansas, President of Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico Coal Association, Director of Employer's Mutual Insurance Company, and chairman of Republican party for the county of Huerfano.”
RM: Well, you have been a busy man, haven't you?
GD: It looks like it.
RM: That's really interesting. So when did the mines go out of business? When did they stop mining the coal here?
GD: Oh, I'd say about ten years ago.
RM: So it was in the late 1960's or early 1970's?
GD: And just overnight, they just went like that.
RM: What was the reason for that?
RM: Natural gas?
GD: And the raise in freight rates.
RM: So it was too expensive to mine and there wasn't the demand for it?
GD: No, it wasn't expensive to mine. There just wasn't anybody to buy it. Everybody went to gas.
RM: But it was expensive to ship it? And you lost your customers?
GD: Well, the rates did go up then. But we lost our customers. Right down here we had bins for 19 carloads of coal. That was down here, and we had four trucks that hauled coal in town here. Just overnight. Butane came in first, and then natural gas.
RM: Do you still own those mines?
GD: Only one mine, we own 2,200 acres of land, that is the royalty, the mineral rights.
RM: Which mine is that?
GD: Butte Valley, that's the one right out here. Now the one we had down in Trinidad, the Dick Mine, that was government land that we had leased. So we handed our lease back. Niggerhead up here, why that was leased land. And down in Jewell was leased from the Utah Fuel Company.
RM: Do you think the coal mining is going to start up here pretty soon? What does it look like to you?
GD: Well, they got a lot of coal going through here. It's Wyoming Coal. It's cheap coal because they don't have to mine it underground. Here this coal is all deep.
RM: How deep were the mines when you were operating them?
GD: Well, we started right off the crop. As you went towards those peaks it was a six percent pitch.
RM: So it goes deeper as you go west.
GD: And the thing made circles like a saucer. And you went around going north and west, this pitch began to get more. When you got around up to Tioga and Butte Valley, you had a 47% pitch instead of a 6% pitch. That's the way it went. But the coal was eight to ten feet coal there. But it's down there several hundred feet. I forget just what our drill holes showed, but they were way down there. I think one of them was 1900 feet to the bottom thru sandrock. But you see, before butane and that, where the coal went. They'd take it to Denver. The natural gas was made from coal, like Trinidad Coal, same way with Pueblo. So that took coal, but when they went off and went to natural gas, that stopped. All right, then the railroads used an awful lot of coal. When they went off and went to natural gas, then that stopped. All right, then the railroads used an awful lot of coal. When they went off and went to oil, you can see what happened. We used to ship Rio Grande Coal over to Minturn. That's over on the Divide. The big engines, we'd ship them twenty cars a day, and then we shipped the Missouri Pacific and the other lines 30 or 40 cars a day. Then they were going to oil. And the houses. Even the miners in the coal camps had butane there instead of coal. Then they wondered why the mines wasn't working very well. We'd say, “Well, if you don't burn it, what do you expect the other fellow to do? The man in Rocky Ford pays $7.00 for coal and $14.00 for freight rate. You can buy it out here at $7.00. If you don't use it, what do you expect him to do?” He went to oil, too. You can't blame him.
NC: And that was the end of coal industry. It was over.
GD: You couldn't give it away. We sold mines that cost $100,000, $150,000 $200,000 to start for $20,000 because it was costing $2,000 a month to keep them.
RM: In taxes?
CD: Taxes and power. You had to keep pumps running to pump water out and keep men in there to inspect for gas and so forth. At $2,000 a month, it didn't take very many months to run into a lot of money. We had six of them drawing it. So we just broke up, signed on the line, here's the deed, and get the money.
RM: So who bought it?
GD: Just sold to the junkers.
NC: Just for scrap, the machinery and even the wood on the tipples.
GD: We had one hoist at Butte Valley. It cost $19,000, just that one hoist. didn't include the motors. They were 600 horse power motors. We had 80 pound steel, the same as they got on the railroad out here. We had electric separators on the tipples, to separate the iron from coal. We sprayed the coal. We washed the coal with washers and everything. Automatic dumps. We sold that mine for $20,000. There was one hoist that was worth more than that.
If you had kept it, you would have had to hire watchmen and all that, paid taxes and insurance. They would have robbed you to death anyway. So it was better to get the heck out of there. We sold the surface of the land and kept the mineral rights.
RM: Have you been contacted recently for that land that you still have the mineral rights?
GD: It's leased now by one of the largest coal companies in the United States.
RM: Which coal company is that?
GD: They are out of Chicago.
NC: I don't know.
GD: I'd have to take a look. There were so many leases. We had coal leases, oil leases, gas leases.
RM: All on that same land?
GD: Yeah. Then what makes it so bad is that if you accept it, you get a lease. Before we know, they have sold the lease to someone else, see. Then they sell it to somebody else. It keeps changing hands and going up in price. We don't get any more, but they do.
RM: Is there any uranium on any of that land of yours?
GD: Heck if I know. They have found natural gas. I know there at Gordon, they had a pipe there that just kept burning to keep the gas out of the mine. Now you take the water in most of these mines, you can't use it for agriculture because of the minerals. It kills everything on the land. You can't drink it. You can't do anything with it. We are still paying taxes on the land. Now with the laws that you've got, you can't put that water in the creek. What are you going to do with it? Now we have a chance to get rid of that water in that slurry that they are talking about to go to Texas. The laws say that if you send out one gallon of water, you have to bring it back.
RM: How are they going to manage that?
GD: That's what I want to know. We got too much sitting up here. There's six foot of coal that we can't mine because the mines are full of water. You can't put the water anyplace.
RM: How much water is in those? How far down is the water? How much water is in those mines?
GD: It's hard to tell how much water. This one up here. They ran a pump there for thirty days. I forget how many hundred gallons of water an hour it pumped. I think they ran it 60 days. The first 30 days it went down about 10 inches. It only went down about 10 inches. The next thirty days it never went down any further. It just kept pumping, and the water level stayed the same the whole time.
NC: It's starting to snow, Granddad.
RM: I'd better get on my way, too. I have to get back to Gardner.
GD: You're Out at Gardner?
RM: Yes, I live on Pass Creek Road out near Redwing.
GD: Do you?
RM: Do you know where the old Sam Lutz house is?
GD: Yes, Sam Lutz was a great friend of ours. I knew old Sam Lutz. His wife was quite a woman.
RM: We saw her in Evans three years ago, and I got a call from her last spring, and she's just as spry and chipper as can be.
GD: Oh, she was quite a woman. I didn't know she was living yet. Old Sam Lutz. She was a smart one. He was the biggest hot air person in the country. He was just hot air.
RM: They sound like they were quite a pair.
GD: Oh, they were. She could tell you anything they ever did know.
RM: We were trying to find out about the orchard. She'd say, “Well, I didn't take care of that.”
GD: That's the first time I've heard that word for a long time. Old Sam Lutz.
RM: I believe that he did quite a little prospecting himself, didn't he?
CD: Oh, yeah.
NC: Where? Out by Gardner?
RM: I think it was up on Black Mountain.
GD: He did anything except work.
NC: Now you be kind.
CD: Well, that's the way he was. She knows it.
RM: Everybody you talk to says they were real characters.
GD: She was a smart one. She was educated. She was okay. Give him a bottle of whiskey and that's the end of him. You didn't see him anymore.
RM: He was quite a bit older than she was, wasn't he?
CD: Oh, yeah.
RM: But I think he knew his apple trees. It is amazing. The more people I talk to that have little orchards around, they all say, old Sam Lutz planted my orchard, or Sam Lutz told me what trees to buy.
NC: He probably missed his calling.
RM: I think his father was an orchardist back east someplace.
GD: He was an educated fellow himself. It was just that liquor got the best of him. He didn't have to work. He'd go out and dig a little rock. Then he'd get drunk and stay in the hole all day. Mrs. Lutz, she'd say, “Well, Sam, I don't know if he's drunk or if he got hurt.”
NC: That's a heck of a thing to say about your husband.
CD: Those were the hay days up in that country.
NC: Do you ranch or farm?
RM: We have a honey business. We bought Young's Honey Farm from Avis Young, over in La Veta.
GD: Oh, did you buy that stuff in La Veta? He worked for me for twenty years. Yeah, the old man. He was the best mechanic there was. He could take any kind of a motor or anything, and he'd fix it.
RM: I'll get this typed up, and I'll come back and see you, and maybe we can talk some more another day. We'll see where we've gotten.
NC: I'll try to straighten out some of these dates for you. I'll get those together for you.
GD: She'll straighten me out.
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