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August and Mina Chatin
Scanned and edited by Dick Chenault
Interviewed Rosalyn McCain and Sandra Cason
Date of interview - 10-29-1979
Date of birth - 9-13-1894
Parents - Hubert August Chatin and Catherine Dick
Paternal grandparents - Hubert Chatin and Marie Henry Chatin
Maternal grandparents - George Dick and Janet Stewart Dick
Ethnic group - Father, French; Mother, Scotch
Date of family arrival in county - 1822 to Denver, 1870"to Huerfano County when land opened up.
Location of first family settlement - Walsenburg
Kinship ties - son, Hubert, Crestone, retired at 55 from Lockhead; sister Janet Chatin at Trinidad Nursing Home; daughter Lelia McDonald in California.
Profession - Mining Engineer, antique shop
Sandra Cason and Roz McCain. We are at the home of Mr. August Chatin
on Maple Street in Walsenburg. This is October 29, 1979.
AC: I was born in a brick house at 8th and Russell Street. It is still
there. And right straight in front of us was a corn field, and east of us
where the school is down there was an alfalfa field. There is a ditch runs
through town, a number four ditch. Well, there used to he a ditch from there
right down Russell Street that irrigated the alfalfa field and corn field,
and my dad also irrigated his garden right behind that brick house. And
then right south of us starting on that side of the corn field a street was
in there, a drive, and us kids used to pick currents in those cottonwood
trees down there where the ball field is, where the baseball field is. We
had trees. We had wild grapes along the creek, chokecherries, plums, wild
plums and things like that. Of course, we had to pick those because people
didn't have a lot of money in those days, and you had to live more or less
off the country. And the rabbits used to run around in the yard there at
times, and us kids used to swim down in the creek, of course, like kids do
down in the mud and water. But the creek used to have lots of water in it
all the time. Course, it's all taken out up above now. We used to wander
wild, of course, like wild .... It was really old times. You know, there
wasn't people here like there are now, and we used to get birds' eggs and
stuff like that, you know. We used to have what you call a bean shooter.
We could kill turtle doves with a bean shooter, believe it or not and bring
them home to eat. Of course, in those days money was very scarce, but we
did finally, a little later, I got a single barreled shotgun. I saved up
for about four months to get about $4.00 or something like that to buy this
from Sears and Roebuck, and we used to hunt rabbit, and we used to make our
own shells. I'll show you the machine. And, of course, we used to hunt
ducks and rabbits. We used to buy little cans of powder put out by DuPont.
They were about that high, and they were flat, and then we'd buy shots. A
can of powder would cost 15 cents, and enough shots to load eight shells, you
could make eight shells with it. And, of course, we'd cut lawns around here
and stuff to get a quarter. Anyway, we had a hole dug out here by Corner
Lake. It is right over the hill here, and we had a hole dug there, and we'd
lay in that hole and watch the ducks. There used to be a lot more ducks
around here than there are now. We'd wait until three of them got in a line,
see, and then we'd shoot. We'd never shoot at one duck. Usually we'd bring
home some ducks and we'd usually get a jack rabbit on the way home from the
lake. It's not too far, about a mile or so. Of course, we lived partly off
the country. It wasn't like it is now, and we would go barefooted, you know.
Just as soon as school got out, we usually took off our shoes. We took them
off. I guess it was a case of taking them off and saving them. I don't know.
I don't remember. Come Christmas, you hung your sock up. You got an orange
in the bottom and an apple, some of this wavy candy, ribbon candy. As far
as Christmas presents was concerned, you probably got a shirt or something
like that. And we used to make all our own toys. We used to watch the women
when somebody had a baby. We'd watch that baby carriage till the kid got
grown, and they'd put it out in the yard, and we'd go get that. And we'd
have four wheels, and we used to make a wagon out of that. And practically
all of our toys we used to make. We made a sled out of barrel staves. You
know, they used to have those big whiskey barrels. We'd take two of those
barrel staves, and they were the runners, and then put hoards across them for
a seat. But it used to snow here. What I mean is the snow used to stay on
the ground. We'd have snow all winter long. We'd always sleigh ride over
there on Chico Hill. You know where Main Street goes right down this way
(south) and then it goes up there where the railroad track is. Well, that
hill that slopes down, right there on Main Street, we used to sleigh ride
down there. We really were scavengers, too. You know, we'd go up and down
the alleys, and whatever we'd find.., bottles. Once in a while we'd steal
bottles from in back of the saloon and we'd turn around and sell then to
another saloon. We'd make a dime or fifteen cents. There was a Bob Moore,
he had a candy store. He had bananas. You know how they used to have a
bunch in the store. Well, sometimes there'd be a couple of black bananas on
there he couldn't sell. He'd put that on the outside back there where you'd
leave the trash. We used to get those bananas and eat then. I'll tell you
all the mean things we used to do. There was a fellow by the name of Cline
had a bakers shop. He used to deliver in his wagon, kind of an enclosed
wagon, and he'd drive home, and sometimes he'd leave his crate sitting there
with cookies in them back behind, and he didn't lock it. And us kids used
to go there and get these cookies out of his wagon. Of course, it wasn't
strictly honest or anything like that. I don't know. We did it anyway. But
as far as having fun, why we really had it. But we did one crazy thing. I
don't know how we ever knew, but we knew pretty near everything, You learned
the hard way as far as nature is concerned and all that. Anyway, out here,
they had blasted rock out for the courthouse they built. Anyway, we found a
half a box of dynamite and caps and so forth. We brought them into town. We
had a, I'll tell you about our bunk later on. We had them in there, and we'd
take a couple of sticks of dynamite and put in the fork of a tree because we
was going to shoot it. We had about half a box left, and we got the crazy
idea we were going to shoot that whole box. It was down between Eighth Street
and Ninth Street in the field over there in the bottom part of that cornfield
they hadn't planted. Of course, that was where our bunk was. But anyway, we
stuck that fuse in there and lit it and went down into our bunk, and the
thing went off. You know it shook the town. Everybody come running down
there.. But us kids was hiding down in this.... we had a hole dug, and we
put boards over the top of it, and we had a long trail going to it under-
ground, and we had a stove down there, I'll tell you about that, too. Anyway,
they never did find out what happened But, boy, they come down there. They
thought it was an earthquake or something. I'll tell you some more about our
bunk. But anyway, we had it there. Some people by the name of Evans were
living on Ninth Street. They had a house on Ninth and Main. Anyway, they
had chickens, see, and our bunk was out in the middle of that field, maybe
about three or four hundred feet out in there, and us kids used to put corn.
We'd put it like that down to the bunk, one after another in a line. But the last one, we'd hook onto a
fish hook. And we had a string down into the hole. Then the chickens would
come along and the last one that got it, well we had a chicken. Anyway, we'd
steal corn, of course, out of the fields, and make that corn, and we'd roast
our chicken down there. Years afterwards. . . . she taught school, Mrs. Evans
. . . and we was talking about things. I said, 'Did you ever miss a lot of
chickens?' She said, “Yeah we used to wonder where they'd go to'.' And I
told her. Of course, she laughed at that time. This was maybe twenty years
afterwards. I had already grown up.
Then there was an Atencio sub-division that's east of here, of Walsenburg.
A man by the name of Atencio split his land in strips and gave each one to
his relations. They went from the track clear down to the creek. You know
where the ball field is, all that was split up into strips. And they all
had a ranch, and they all, used to grow Mexican cantaloupes. They were about
this big, and they had yellow inside. Anyway, Mr. Atencio was an old man,
and he used to follow the sun around the house. We'd watch him, and when-
ever he'd get to the opposite side where we were, we'd run and grab some of
these mush melons. That was also what we used to eat in the bunk because we
never went home for dinner in the summertime. Anyway that was about the
life of a boy in those days.
RM: How many of you had this bunk?
AC: There was four of us. We had a fireplace down there. We cooked on it.
We had a tin pipe. Everything we had, we made. There was no such thing as
a bunch of toys like children have now. We made all kinds of things.
RM: Tell us some more of the things you used to make.
AC: Well, we used to make shinny clubs. I'll tell you about shinny. It's
like a field hockey. You play it with a stick and a thing. Anyway, out
there on Chico Hill, the Mexicans, and some of them are Indians, they used
to, for a quarter of a mile, every Sunday, they used to play this game. They
called it Shinny. Anyway, they had a tin can, and they had clubs. Well, you
take a willow, you know. You cut a willow and cut it off and steam it and
bend it up this way and make it into a shape like this, just like a hockey
stick. They used to play Shinny there, and us kids used to play Shinny, too.
Pretty near every Mexican in town would be up there. There must have been
20 or so on each side, and they would play practically a regular hockey
game. You'd have to get it down across this line here, and up and across
the other line. The line used to be just east of Main Street there up on
the hill there, and the other line was down where the two creeks go together.
Anyway, that was one of the games we played. We used to go up there and
watch them. We used to play the same game. We had all kinds of games. We
had a game they called Souey. You never see a kid play that anymore. Well,
each kid, they'd have a ring, and we'd dig holes out there, maybe four was
playing, there'd be four holes out there where you put the can. And each
side, up here was about a hundred feet. They had one guy more than they had
holes, see. Everybody put their stick in a hole, and the guy that had the
can, he'd come and try to get this can down, and just as soon as this guy
got the can in the middle hole, he'd holler, “Souey” And everybody would
run up to there. See, the guy that was it, he'd grab one of the holes, be-
cause one guy was out. Then he'd have to bring the can down. Because at
school we didn't have it like they do today. There was a certain time when
they'd play marbles. The girls played jacks. Then after the marble games,
we'd play for keeps, you know, for marbles. It was a gambling game. The
kids would take a cigar box and drill a hole in it and make a line here,
they'd shoot for this hole, and if you missed a hole, I'd get the marble.
If it went in there, then you'd get two. That was another little game we
Had. Then came top games. We didn't have any money to buy tops. We used
to go out and get a piece of pinon and make tops, and then we'd put the tops
in the ring, and you would throw the top at the other tops. If you hit that
top, why you got that top, but if you didn't, why he got your top. Those
were gambling games. Then came “Foot and a Half” You know, one kid gets
down and the other kid jumps over, like leapfrog, but we used to call it
Foot and a Half. I don't know why. That was another one of our games. So
during recesses we always had something to do. And after school we always
had another thing they used to pull. They always pulled it on me all the time.
I was pretty husky then, and when a new kid came to school, why they'd sic
him on me. After school we'd get out there and have a fight. In one case
there, Jesse Steele, she was black, one kid used to talk to her, “Take that
white out of your eyes”, or something like that. He'd keep teasing her and
she got him out there one day after school. You know I thought she was going
to kill that kid. We had to pull her off. Boy. he didn't say, “Take that
white out of your eyes” anymore.
So, as kids we really enjoyed life. It wasn't just thinking about
girls all the time. I never even thought about a girl. We had other things
to do. Not like they are now. When they're ten years old they're grown up.
But as far as really enjoying life and really getting an education, we knew
every tree. We knew the name of every tree. We knew the name of every
bird, and we ate squirrels. We ate.... well, anything that ran on four
legs practically. We'd get rabbits when we was kids. I think we got most
of them with a beanie.
RM: What about herbal medicines? Did you know of the little plants and
things that people would use for medical cures?
AC: Well, they didn't used for medical cures but we would ... a weed grows,
I couldn't tell you the name of it, but that was a spinach and it's still
around here. And there's a thing here, we used to call ... I think it grows here yet ... It's a little weed. What do you call those things we used to
eat that grows here? Well, anyway, we used to eat that and cactus. Wait
a minute, I'll show you some.
RM: That's real good.
AC: You got to spit those out.
SC: What cactus is this? Do you know the name of it?
AC: Leaf Cactus, I think it is.
RM: With the big flat. . .
AC: Indians make jelly and stuff out of that.
RM: In Mexico in the market place you can buy that. I think they call it
“Nopale” don't they?
AC: We used to just call it cactus. Well, that was our life, up until the time we got to be 17 or 15 years old.
RM: What kind of chores did kids have? Did they have chores?
AC: Oh, yeah. I'll tell you the routine. When we came home from school,
First thing we had to do was carry the kindlin' wood in, get a bucket of
coal, and we would bring a bucket of water in. You know, Eleanor was sitting
down on the corner. You didn't have it in the house. Then we got a slice
of bread. Everybody baked bread in those days, and boy, the jelly they
made from these wild currents and the plums and everything. That was all
put up. Then we could go play. That was the routine. Even Mina, she had
the same deal.
MC: I didn't go on dates till I had my coal and wood in when I was in high
school. We lived at one of the camps. My dad had the store at Pictou.
Toltec was the first camp. When they came to take me, the boys, they did
most of my chores for me.
AC: We used to go swimming in the crick, you know, and the girls used to go
swimming in the crick
MC: No bathing suits.
AC: No bathing suits, you know.
AC: Old dresses. And all played together. There was none of the stuff you
hear about now. Let's see, what else can I tell you.
RM: What holidays did people celebrate?
AC: Well, of course, “Gallo day.” The Spanish, they had their celebration
when Mexico got their independence. Anyway, they used to play Gallo, down
at the ball field. They took a chicken and buried it and left its head stick
out, and they'd get on horseback and ride at that chicken, see, and the first
guy got there would grab it by the neck then they had a goal off there, oh,
I don't know, quite a ways, and they would ride on a horse with that, and
the one that took the biggest part of chicken across that line won the game.
They do that yet in Mexico, but of course they stopped.
RM: Sounds like a pretty bloody process.
AC: They used to have chicken fights, cockfights here but then, of course,
the law stopped all that. Then there were the penitentes. You know what a penitente is?
AC: Well, on Good Friday of course they whipped themselves, and we used to
always go down and see the penitentes. I'll tell you what they do. They
cut six stripes down their backs, deep enough to bleed and then they march
from the Penitente house, which was a church, up to where they had a cross.
Of course in those days they didn't chase you away. We used to stand with
the rest of the Mexicans on the sidelines, and watch 'em. They'd take a few
steps and of course, they'd whip themselves and open up these things on
their backs and they'd whip it, and of course it bled. They didn't actually
. . . the whip didn't actually have needles on it and stuff like that.
One little guy called Sack. He used to go swimming with us, and he
was pretty good sized, and he'd always put a sack over him, see, and we
wondered what was the matter with him and why he did that, and so we nick-
named him Sacks. He used to go swimming by himself, too, and we sneaked
down there and we saw him, and he had these scars on his hack, and we knew
he was a Penitente.
RM: Where was the house?
AC: Right down here at Chico. You know where the dump is? The cross was
on that hill there and the house was down there, you know where that old
adobe is falling down there.
MC: Was that where Corsintino is?
AC: That was another one, that was down the Cucharas. But anyways...
RM: So there was more than one?
AC: Oh, they were all over. There was over there at north Veta. Anyway,
us crazy kids. We knew a Mexican kid. They'd come down to the house after
church and they thought we were a couple of Mexican kids, and we got in there,
and it was just jammed. And they turned out all the lights in there, and
they'd rattle chains in there and raise the devil and gosh, we were scared
to death. We couldn't get out because they had the door shut. We never
tried that deal again. But we were always where the going was.
Another thing we saw ... You know, everybody had guns. They put on
their clothes, and they put on their gun. They closed the saloons on Sunday.
Mazzone ran a saloon there. We was outside there and they was in there but
they was not supposed to be in there. The doors were all closed. All at
once we heard a bang in there and here come a guy out and he got shot right
there, and the blood was running out of his head. The fire house was right
behind there up the street, and they had a watering trough. We followed him
because we thought he was going to fall over, see. At any rate, he didn't
. . . long time you know and we followed him. He had hit him, and the bullet
had just bounced off his head, it didn't even go into his skull. It didn't
have enough force behind it. But every once in a while somebody got killed
here because everybody had guns, and most of our laws were settled with a
gun. But the Mexicans used to ride out of the Silver Club Saloon on Seventh
on the corner where the drug store is now. They'd run out and jump on their
horse and they'd go down the street. They'd pull out their gun and go “boom,
boom, boom” and you could always hear 'em go across the bridge down the creek
there. You'd hear the horse go. They were all funny. In those days there
wasn't many fences. I don't believe there were any fences around here much.
But anyway, the cowboys stayed right with the cows and just herded 'em from
place to place because the grass was all free for anybody.
RM: It was open range than.
AC: But of course they'd come to town and get drunk and that was one of
those, raise a fight. But very few people got killed.
RM: Were there many outlaws?
AC: Oh, that outlaw stuff . .. well, there was some mean ones. A lot of
these guys come up to this country ... I won't tell you their names... but
they come up from Texas because they were cattle rustlers, and they home—
steaded around here, took up ranches. But of course they wasn't outlaws
here. They was just
MC: Tell about John Albert.
AC: Oh, John Albert, well he lived... There was the Taos Massacre. You
know, when Mexico owned this country, well the white man crawled all over
them just like they did the Indians. Well, they had a massacre down there
and they were in the corral, down at Taos, and the Indians were on the outside
shooting at 'em and finally they made a run for it and they had a gate, a
gate like this, and they went out and John Albert got hit with one of these
things they took out, see, and then they went out and knocked him out and
they killed everybody there, and they thought be was dead, and they took
off all his clothes and left him naked there and it was winter. He came to
and he knew they were gone. They took everything they had around there, the
saddles and horses. Anyway, he started out at Taos, naked in the snow and
he came up the old trail, here to Walsenburg, and he lived down on Main
Street and he used to tell us about it. He traveled out at night. He was
scared of Indians. He lived to be a hundred years old and he had an adobe
house. Main Street had Cottonwood Trees, up to the track, and he had a bench
between there on both sides, and we'd sit in there and us kids used to roll
his cigarettes and he'd tell us about it, about his trip up. He was a pioneer. There are some pictures around here.
RM: From Taos he came here?
SC: He was the only survivor?
AC: The only survivor.
RM: How old was he then?
AC: Oh, he was an old man then.
RM: At the Taos massacre?
AC: Oh, I don't know just how old he was then. Oh, he lived off the land
coming up too, you know. He had to get himself a rattler with a club, cause
they took everything he had.
But I was down in New Mexico working there on a copper mine and an
Indian used to go by there sometimes on Sunday. I'd be down there doing some
work and he'd go out to hunt jack rabbits. He'd have a little stick about
that long. There was a lot of jack rabbits around there, and he come back
with three or four rabbits, and I asked him, you know, “How'd you get those
rabbits?” He said, “Next time I go out, you come out with me, I'll show you.”
And you know, jack rabbits 'll jump up, see, run a little bit and stop. So he
says, “You stay there and watch me. And you know that Indian would sneak up
behind that rabbit and hit it on the head with a club, stick. That's no
fairy tale. I saw lots of that. You know, there wasn't any noises, and the
Indians did a lot of things that way. We've got Indian stuff all over.
Anyway, we've hunted arrowheads and stuff like that. If you go up to the
museum we've got a collection in the La Veta museum in that glass case.
SC: Where did you find most of those?
AC: Right around here. I'll show you some of them after awhile. The Indians,
I read in some of the books where the Indians would get out and they'd get
out in the swamps and edges of lakes where there were cat tails and stuff
they'd get in there and sit in there with something over their heads and
they'd just reach out and get the ducks.
RM: That's amazing. Were there a lot of Indians here when you were a kid?
AC: Well, in 1879, I think, they took and put the Indians on reservations.
They herded them all up. The Indians lived down east of here in the wintertime in the canyons and stuff, and then they'd go into the mountains in the
summer. They herded them all up and put them in reservations. But the half
Indians, there were some of those around. There was one here they used to
call the old squaw. She worked for a fellow that had a milk deal down there
and there were just a few of them around. Because if they had any other
blood in them at all they didn't take them, and put them on reservations.
RM: Do you remember stories people told, when the Indians were here?
AC: Not particularly, no.
MC: Did your mother say she saw...
AC: Those were Mexicans, you know, they lived on Chico hill. They were kids,
half grown, without a stitch of clothes on, because my dad and ... they
bought homesteads right there, right side of Walsenburg. He was a blacksmith
and he come up to the blacksmith shop every day. And of course when she
come to town she'd come up there too, and see him.
SC: Where did your father come here from?
AC: My dad was horn in 1849, so he'd he about 136 years old. He came in
here pretty early. He was a blacksmith over there and he was in the Franco—
Prussian War. He was in Alscaice. Germany took that away from France, and
they changed the language to German. He didn't want to live under German
rule, so he hightailed it for this country.
SC: He was French?
AC: Can you read French? There is a lot of French in here.
SC: Are these your family papers?
AC: My sister, Janet, she's down in Trinidad. She's 91 years old. This
was her deal. She's got some of the history in here.
SC: Do you know what year he came here, your father?
AC: No, but it was pretty early.
SC: Do you think he came here directly, to Colorado?
SC: Why don't you come over and sit here at the table and this will pick
you up. We have a man who works with us who is a photographer, so maybe when
he is ready to do that, he can get some copies of these.
MC: We haven't seen these too much.
AC: Here's a picture of my great grandfather.
Here's a picture of my dad when he was in the war, in the Franco—Prussian
SC: He's a very beautiful young man.
AC: Here's the date, 1870 to 1874. He was just a young kid.
This Alfonse was my uncle. Says: “Worked his way to Denver by helping
lay rails of track from Fort Wayne to Denver.” See how early they was in
there. That's at the old American Hotel in Denver. He had to learn the
English language. An he left when land was opened in Huerfano County. Bought
homesteads on both sides of Cuchara River, what was commonly called Chico
Site. That's where the land was.
MC: That was 1887.
SC: So he had a blacksmith shop. Which one was he?
AC: This is my dad on the right and my uncle on the left.
SC: That's Alfonse.
AC: He used to make wagons. He made 'em from scratch. I got all the tools
that they made the wheels with. This is the whole history, all the relations
SC: You had a sister.
AC: I got two sisters. My sister down in Trinidad, she's perfectly well
physically, but she can't hear and she can't remember nothing. She taught
school here for 50 years.
MC: This is a cousin they didn't know about in France, but they'd heard of
her maybe ten years ago. So the Sisters were going to visit her, but they
never did go to France.
AC: Most of this is in French.
MC: This is the old butcher shop my dad had when he first came.
AC: This is when I had curls.
MC: You were a cutie.
AC: I remember the last day that I had curls, my mother was combing my hair,
and it was hurting, and I picked up the brush and threw it away, and I got
This would take months to look at.
SC: You were going to tell us before about this photograph. Is that the Elks
MC: I think my dad was in the Elks, I'm not sure.
SC: What was your maiden name?
SC: And what's your first name.
RM: That's an unusual name.
MC: Mimi. And I've got the Chatin to go with it.
AC: That's Ed Tomsic. He was the postmaster. Somebodv else could probably
tell you a Lot of the rest. I think that's Jeff Parr. He was the sheriff.
RM: He was sheriff a long time.
AC: He was king of Walsenburg.
RM: So did you know him?
RM: Tell us about him.
MC: He was an interesting man.
AC: He enforced the law, I'll guarantee that. There was no messin'
around. And that's what they don't do now.
MC: This was Walsen's store up at the camp. And this was my Daddy. He came
here from Denver and he was born about 1899.
SC: This was the general store at Walsen Camp? And your father had the
MC: He was a meat cutter.
SC: So you grew up there?
MC: Later we went to Toltec. We lived there for 25 years and I grew up
there. There's old Polly Neilson, the old gal that had the Dry goods.
AC: That's where Lenzinis garage is now.
Oh, that was the old store.
This is how the hauled the coal.
RM: That was an old steam engine wasn't it?
AC: This is Spanish Peaks from Rouse, Colorado. That's Rouse. That was
a big mine here at one time.
RM: Where was Rouse?
AC: It's down there about 12 miles, right straight South. This was the
old school house down there and that's the Catholic church. And this was
the militia we had there. There's Ernest Krier. There's Andrew Dick, an
uncle of mine.
MC: This was the militia group here, not the one they brought in.
SC: The local mi1itia.
MC: This is the one in the Battle of the Hogback.
AC: This was the old courthouse.
RM: Where was that?
AC: Right where the new one was.
MC: This was the high school in the old armory. That's the year before they
built the one down here.
AC: Here's Walsenburg about the tine I was talking about, when we were kids.
You can see the cornfields. Our house is right in here. 1883. I was born
in '84. That's the year before I was born.
AC: There's the militia. They were on horses. That's in front of the
SC: This is the local militia?
AC: Yes, these are all natives.
SC: What was the function of militia? What did they do? Were they like
AC: That's right.
RM: So this is like a fort.
MC: This is the hotel, my grandfather owned that. Right by the depot.
SC: The old Twin Lake Hotel.
MC: Yes, so I'm having some made for my kids and their kids because they're
all interested. I always heard my folks talk about they were married in the
SC: This must have been a convention.
MC: My dad's in here, too.
AC: There's Ernest Cragan, he was always in them.
MC: There's my father, Grant Wallace.
SC: What is this a picture of?
MC: It was the Elks.
SC: So the Elks were a large fraternal order?
MC: Oh, yes.
AC: So what else do you want to know?
SC: What was your line of work?
AC: I was a mining engineer.
SC: And what does a mining engineer do?
AC: All the engineering. You got to keep off other people's property when
you're finding gold. You're all underground. You survey the mines and set
'em up, the whole works, electricity, everything about it.
MC: You went to Butte, Montana, didn't you, when you got out of school, to
the mines? That was a rough place. We've been back there.
AC: In Butte, Montana, they built a fence right down the middle of the town.
They first built as the mines underground then open pits. They got a mine
there about a quarter of a mile long and I don't know maybe 1,000 feet deep
and they've taken the whole works out of there, right down one of the streets.
We went up to see that. I worked at a mine right close right back by the
RM: What kind of mines did you mostly work in, coal or...
AC: Yes, and copper.
RM: Would you be under the ground?
RM: So would you inspect the mines to make sure things were running safely
once they operated?
AC: Well, you had to do that, too.
RM: It wasn't just setting it up in the beginning?
AC: You had to figure how to get the ore out, the cheapest way ... and all
that sort of thing.
RM: What mines did you work at here?
AC: Well, I worked at Butte Valley and at Gordon and at Dicks.
All the Dicks mines. Moncarbo.
RM: Where was Moncarbo?
AC: Down near Trinidad.
I worked up at Rocky Flats.
RM: What kind of mine was that?
Right north of where they have a whatcha-call-it plant now that they're
fighting about. Right north of that.
RM: What about during the strike, were you here?
AC: I was in school. I came home Christmas and everybody, all the kids I
knew had a gun. They were shooting at this Hogback right here.
SC: Were you still at home then?
MC: Yes, because we came back from California in 1913 and when we came
through Ludlow all the militia went through the train. We weren't too old
They were riding two big white horses. But instead of coming right down
here over the hogback, they'd go down and come in on the big highway. The
road wasn't right where it is now. It wasn't a highway much then, but any-
way they'd go that way.
AC: They were all scattered along here and they were shooting where the
mines were at down here, see.
SC: You were living at Toltec, and the mines were at Toltec, too?
The Walsen mine and the Toltec mine.
MC: Yes, there were those and Pictou. Most of the store managers, there
were about 5, how many camps, 5 or 6?
MC: Almost all the store managers left. They took their families and left.
They went somewhere else. They weren't going to stay. But my dad wouldn' t
go. He was from Denver, and his folks still lived in Denver. And they wanted
us to come there, so he wanted my mother and us three girls to go, but we
stuck it out.
MC: Yes. But they'd break into the stores and take what they wanted.
Couldn't do anything about it, we were just so afraid.
SC: That must have been pretty frightening there in Toltec at the camp.
MC: It was hectic.
Oh, yes, I remember we was sitting out in the back yard one day...
I still can see that lap robe we sat on, that animal that had the glass eyes,
a tiger or something ... we was just sitting there and a bullet went right
over our heads. It was from the union hall. So we didn't get outside anymore. It was scary.
SC: Were you in school then?
MC: Yes. We went to Pictou the next camp. All the other camps had schools,
but Toltec wasn't so large.
SC: So you were further away from Walsenburg? You couldn't quite come in and out, over this road here.
MC: No, no. You didn't come over the Hogback at all. Course I walked to
high school and a couple of years in grade school.., over this....
AC: No way. They shot all……….
MC: Used to go over this at dark almost every night. It was a little different, wasnt' it, Augie? It went down by the cemetery. There were no houses here at all. I'd stay maybe for play practice or basketball practice.. believe
it or not I played basketball... You didn't have to be so tall then. But
I'd walk home. We didn't have school buses at that time. And folks weren't
afraid to let little girls or little boys either be out walking around.
There wasn't crime then, not like now. I'd hate to do that now, get out and
walk over that Hogback after dark.
AC: Life has changed since then. People used to obey the law. They don't
do it anymore.
RM: Did it seem people were closer to each other? Was there more cooperation
AC: Yes, much more. Now everybody is grabbing the dollar. It was a lot
nicer to live then. Course you didn't have anything, but nobody had anything
so you were all even. Everybody was workin'. If you didn't work, you didn't
eat. Now, why, you can live off the few that make it, they feed the whole
bunch now, the free loaders.
SC: So where did you two meet?
MC: We were both married. We both had unfortunate first marriages.
AC: We each got two kids.
MC: Yeah, we each got a daughter and a son. We've only been married 34
years. I knew him before.
AC: One thing about marriage, you know .. of course, in those days it was
a lot worse than it is now. You know, when you're green, like I was with
the first marriage, why, you're just a sitting duck. The women are way ahead of you. That's a fact. Cause we never ... We learned a lot.
RM: You knew what you were doing a little more the second time, right?
AC: We have a good marriage. Better than anybody I know. And we run an
antique shop down there, when the mines closed. We have the house full of
MC: We built that little place where Leonard's is now. It wasn't quite so
large then. He built that. We decided to retire and open up a shop. We
liked it, we did well. We got tired though.
AC: I figured when I got 65 I was going to have enough to carry us through
life. And we have so we don't have to worry about anything. At 65 we quit
and that was how many years ago?
MC: That was in '61.
AC: In '60.
First we had a covered wagon. We started out in a covered wagon.
MC: Before campers. We had a pickup with a canvas on the back. We were
hippies, weren't we Auggie? We had fun, though. We enjoyed it. We worked
so hard for so long.
AC: We went all over the West. Played around. We got kids on the coast,
up there Washington, Oregon, Los Angeles.
MC: We had a lovely trip out there not long ago. We fly now.
AC: Yeah, we're getting soft.
SC: Is that when you did your collecting, during that time?
MC: We did it all the time. Even when we were working. Whenever we could
SC: Would you find places where there'd be a lot of arrow heads, and work
AC: We'd find camps.
MC: We looked in the Valley, in the San Luis Valley. And we looked in New
Mexico a lot, He looked a long time ago with his sister before we were
RM: Where have you found the most arrow heads?
AC: They are pretty well scattered. There is a Mexican we know down in
New Mexico who's bought a part of an old Mexican grant. There's about four
square miles there that are just covered with flint. You could find all
kinds of stuff. You can hardly see an arrowhead. You thought you were
picking tip pretty pieces of flint and first thing you know, you've got an
arrow head. You'd see arrowheads among that flint.
MC: We've been going down there for 6, 7, 8, years. We didn't get down
this year. We went down last fall. It's such a nice place, and he locks
the gate at night and we're right on his land. We're so safe.
AC: You want to see a museum? Come on.
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