Huerfano County, Colorado
Summary of the 1920 Census for the Oakview Precinct

There were 583 [1] residents in the Oakview precinct in the 1920 U.S. census of Huerfano County, Colorado. Most of them would have lived in the Coal Camp, but an unknown number lived in the outlying areas, most likely the farmers.

Because of the labor demands of the coal mines, the males outnumbered the females (333 or 57% to 230 or 43%). This also meant that the adults outnumbered the children (up to age 17) at the same percentage rates of the total gender differences (255 children to 327 adults). It was a 50/50 split between the girls and boys. But the adult gender differences were dramatically different: only 122 (21%) of the adults were female, whereas 205 (79%) were male. There were several boarding houses where many of the men lived who worked in the coal mines. In addition, many family homes had a boarder or two to help ends meet.

The census listing of the occupations of the adults (18 and over) brings to realization that the little valley held real people who lived and worked day in and day out to earn a living.

Eighty-three percent of the women (101) were stay-at-home moms and wives, sisters and daughters) who worked hard to take care of their families, even if their occupation was listed as none.

Only twenty-one women (17.5%) held some type of occupation outside of the home. Mildred Erwin worked as a clerk in the Post Office. At the grocery store, Mary McCoy was the manager and Emma Price worked as the clerk. There were no doctors in Oakview, but Laura Alexander was a nurse. Three women were school teachers (there were no males): Mary Crawley and Frida Firm at the public school and Helda Thompson at the coal camp. Three women ran boarding houses: Lucille Supanis, Antonoinetta Masari, and Elizabeth Andrews, with Placita Gallegos working as a servant at the Andrews boarding house.

Some ladies ran businesses in their homes. Emory Shull was a music teacher. Genovova Martinez and Maria Maes, who was also the head of her household, did laundry. Edna Elliott and Anna Lane were dressmakers and Edith Porter a draper (made curtains). Two ladies, Mattia Martinolish and Jennie Prise were domestics. Jennie worked out and Mattia considered herself working as a domestic at home, being listed as a sister to the head. Maybe she earned her keep that way. Agnes Owens owned horses on her husband's farm and Mrs. Clark was the owner of something, but the census didn't say.

A listing of only twenty-one women with official occupations outside the home is in stark contrast to the men (18 and over) where 201 men had occupations and only four men had none. But of those four, two were eighty years old, one of them, Juan Martinez, being a retired soldier on government support, very possibly a Civil War veteran. The census never listed whether the other four were temporarily between jobs, handicapped, habitually drunk or just plain lazy. But it clearly indicates that the unemployment rate in 1920 was very low (around two percent).

As would be expected, the majority of the men (78 %) were employed in some manner or another by the coal mine. Out of those 155, one hundred nineteen (77 %) were simply listed as miners or laborers in the mine. They're the ones who did the hard grunt work. That left 36 (23%) who were more or less, skilled laborers or white collar workers.

There were three foremen, presumably over the 120 grunts: B. Marinolish, James Hamilton and John Bostman. George Duzenack was a boss driver, which I guess he got to drive the boss around when in was in camp. William Crondy only did driving. Two men, Steve Wukovik and Claude Philputt listed their occupation as motorman, which I assume wasn't driving someone around, but operated the various motors around the mines.

Pedro Fronzi was the carpenter and Frankovich Milas the timberman. There was only one electrician on board: John Ditteform. Felex and Sotelo Martinez were the two blacksmiths. Patrick Nalton was the fire boss and Homer Potts the fireman in the mine. Things always needed fixing as there were six mechanics: Steve Molnar, Thomas Rovich, Trinio Chavez, George Sniddon, C. Richards and Frank Elliott. There was one more mechanic, Daniel Driscoll, but he was a motor mechanic. Marcus Martinolish was a vulcanizer, I presume having something to do with rubber in the mine.

The coal mine had three engineers: William Berry, Norman Rack and Charles Stevens, but only one clerk: Gary Shull, the supply man who probably made sure the supplies were ordered and delivered. The local boss or Superintendent was Edward McCleary. He was from Pennsylvania, a significant coal state, so I assume he gained a lot of experience back east before coming west and applying his skills in Oakview.

Last but not least were those who took care of the mules, the animals who would have pulled the coal cars in and out of the mines. Adolofo Panira, Thomas Elliot, Archibald Bell and William Price were all mule drivers. Jose Gabran (actually Galvan) was the stable boss. This is ironic as I have done research on the Galvan family and an elderly member tells that his grandfather Jose used to steal mules from one mine and sell them to another. What a convenient occupation.

Thirty-four men (13 %) lived/worked on farms either as farmers (30) or laborers on a farm (4). No doubt most were small family farms, but some may have been large farms, as one farmer indicated a partnership. Of those farmers, five were naturalized European born, and one was Japanese.

The remaining occupations were varied. Edward Wise and John Nalton were the manager and butcher, respectively at the grocery store. Charles Asano (from Japan) was the manager of the club house. But Iím sure it wasn't what we envision as a club house in the 21st century. Three men worked on the railroad: the senior foreman was George Clark, section foreman was Victor Argon, and Frank Chavez the section man. I believe J.E. Parks worked on the railroad, but the census is very difficult to read. Paul Jamison owned his own business in real estate and Benjamin Ownes was a typist for a lawyer. Jack Boarte worked out as a plasterer. Doug Camonitzer, a widow, ran a boardinghouse, but the census taker listed him as a landlady. The last two gentlemen worked out of their home: Valentine Madrid as a shoemaker and John Andrew as a janitor. But then he worked for his wife who owned the boarding house they ran.

Children and Occupations
Fifteen children, ages 15-17, had an occupation given for them and of those 15 children who worked, three of them still attended school: one boy was a farm laborer (George Phillips), presumably on the family farm, and the other (Anton Kranis) was a motorman in the mines, whereas the one girl (Mary Houser) worked as a clerk in the grocery store. They must have been determined young people to be able to hold down a job and go to school in an age when it was unusual and probably very difficult. The remaining thirteen, all drop-outs, worked in the mines; one a mechanic and the rest laborer/miner.

Forty-three percent (253) of the residents were under the age of 18.

Pre School Children
A little over a third of the children (89) were pre-school age one to five (43 girls and 46 boys). However, 4 five year olds were in already school, according to the census taker. All but three were American born.

School Age Children
Two-thirds (164) of the children were of school age - between the ages of 6 and 17 (none age 18 was attending school). But thirty-eight children were not attending school at the time, and of those, twenty-one were between the ages of 6 and 15, an age when the law today requires that they be in attendance in some school. Only 16 of the drop-outs could read and write. That left 21 illiterate children.

A note on the drop-outs. Two-thirds had Hispanic names. Whereas a little over 1/3 of the children attending school were of Hispanic descent. However only 11 of the 25 Hispanic dropouts could speak English whereas all of the children still in school could speak English. And all of those 11 were age fifteen and over. Being a young child and unable to speak English was clearly a barrier to a Hispanic child to go to school.

USA Born
The majority (83%) were born in the United States. Of those born in the States (296), most were natives of Colorado (67%).

Foreign Born
Of the residents in Oakview in the 1920 census, one quarter of them were foreign born, mostly of European extraction. The breakdown was:

Austria, 22, 2 females (speaking various languages)
Bulgaria, 7, all males
Canada, 1, male
England, 8, 3 females
France, 1, male
Germany, 4, male
Greece, 5, male
Hungary, 2, 1 female
Ireland, 2, male
Italy, 19, 7 female
Japan, 7, 1 female
Mexico, 42, 14 female
Norway, 1, male
Poland, 1, male
Scotland, 2, male
Serbia, 1, male
Wales, 9, 2 females (one a toddler born to an English mother)

Forty had become naturalized citizens but ninety-six were still alien status. The earliest date an Oakview person arrived in the United States was 1869 (a 63 year old man who came as a 12 year boy from Wales). The latest were six who arrived in 1919, the decade in which most arrived.
1870ís , 3
1880ís , 9
1890ís , 10
1900ís , 32
1910ís , 60

Seventy-eight percent had enough education to read and write, 16 percent were illiterate and 6 percent gave no response. Most of the illiterate were from Mexico. They would have been poor peasants, who had been unable to pay for education in their native land, who came to the United States for a better life.

Only 25 percent could not speak English. Three Italians and one Greek. The rest were Hispanic.

The 583 residents of Oakview Precinct lived in 111 households (at least 111 people indicated they were heads of households). Of those, 37% owned their homes. Of those forty-one, a whopping 76% (31) said they owned their homes free and clear, 9 (22%) said their homes were mortgaged and one was left blank. Three of the homeowners were females and their homes were free. The rest of heads of households, all but two rented their homes, most likely most from the Coal Camp (the two were unknown).

Conclusion These numbers help to bring alive the little precinct of Oakview in 1920. However, there are thousands of stories that will never be known. The pain, the joy, the loves, the disappointments, the achievements of the people of the ghost town of Oakview, Colorado.

[1]Itís unclear whether there were 582 or 583 residents. Page 9B is a mixture of Precincts 20, 43 and 44, with Precinct 20 being only lines 97-99, and line 100 being in Precinct 44. However, line 99 has head of household J.E. Parks and line 100 is his boarder, Steve Karmish. It doesnít make sense that a boarder in a house was in one precinct and the head of the household in another (unless, of course, the line went through the house). But the numbers reflect what the census enumerator stated: Steve Karmish left alone in Precinct 44.

Town Coordinator: Shalane Sheley-Cruz

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