Huerfano County, Colorado

Contributed by: Louise Adams
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Apache was, and is, more an area than a town. It encompassed the fertile lands north and south of Apache Creek east of Greenhorn Mountain to its confluence with the Huerfano River. It included a school and post office (1894-1925) and, for a few years at its height, a high school.

The community takes its name from the creek which was once in the hunting grounds of the Apache Indians. According to Ralph C. Taylor, longtime chronicler of local history, the creek earned its name in 1840. At that time a small party traveling south to New Mexico was attacked by Apaches who attempted to capture the sole woman traveler who was riding with her infant son. To elude the hostiles and rejoin her menfolk, she was forced to jump her horse across an arroyo without losing her grip on the baby. Her successful leap to freedom was commemorated not by naming the creek after her, but after her pursuers.

Much of Apache's history is associated with Greenhorn, a very old community north of Apache in Pueblo County. Greenhorn was named for Indian Chief Cuerno Verde, which translates to Green Horn, who was killed in battle with New Mexican troops in 1779. Green Horn was, however, a Comanche. Oh well.

Many of the first settlers were members of the Georgia Colony. This "colony" comprised many emigrants from Georgia and North Carolina who headed west for a new start after the Civil War. They arrived by wagons and railroad cars from the late 1860s well into the 1890s as relatives, friends and neighbors joined the westerners.

Apache was the home of one of the colony's first leaders, Green Russell, whose party found gold in Russell Gulch above Denver in 1859 and founded Auraria, now Aurora

Russell had a farm on the Apache but spent much of his time prospecting for gold in the mountains. The little ghost town of Russell on Highway 160, just west of the summit of North Veta Pass, is named for Green, who mined there for many years.

Apache shares its name with a settlement of a later date situated on the Denver and Rio Grande line. The original Apache was strictly an agricultural community.

It is located on the plain north of Huerfano Butte, along the interstate.

12-20-1877 Colorado Chieftain Weekly The Apache Valley - Something of the Location and Its Residents - Apache, December 5 - It is the custom of the Chieftain from time to time to publish descriptive articles of various localities in Southern Colorado setting forth their especial attractions, their facilities for business of different kinds, and particularizing the enterprises engaged in by the inhabitants. It is doubtless an excellent plan. It makes the different settlements of our somewhat scattered population better acquainted with each other; it furnishes a guide to strangers who have come among us for the purpose of enlarging the various associations suitable to the country, and it advertises the resources and capabilities of the state to persons at a distance, thus promoting and encouraging the influx of population and capital. When other localities are thus having their horns blown, why should the Apache be uncelebrated.

The Apache is a little creek, scarcely a dozen miles in length, yet I question if any other exclusive pastoral and agricultural settlements in Colorado can show as much substantial progression the last five years, or as much evidence of enterprise and industry on the part of inhabitants. For the direction of any new comer who may not know the location of our beautiful valley, let me request him to turn his eyes to the peak of the Greenhorn, then imagine a stream meandering during its rapid course from the base of the peak some dozen miles eastward, where it joins its limpid waters with the coffee-colored liquid which composes the Huerfano river, and he will have a very good idea of the situation of the Apache.

"The higher up you go, the worse they are, and I'm at the head of it," said the "Man from Bitter Creek," but the Apache affords no comparison in this respect to that illustrious stream.

"At the very Head" of our creek have lived some of our best and most esteemed citizens. Formerly the highest up ranch at the foot of the mountain was owned by Rev. Mr. Quillian, superintendent of schools for Huerfano county, but a few months ago it was purchased (with several ranches adjoining) by Dr. Cogswell. The doctor is making extensive improvements on the place, and if I am not misinformed, intends to fit it up as a sort of boarding house or infirmary for invalids.

The location is a beautiful one, and for pure air and water and fine scenery cannot be surpassed. Since the railroads have rendered access to Southern Colorado so easy, the number seeking relief and cure from this climate has greatly increased, and a home such as Dr. Goggswell's could supply would be a great boon to many of them, and would doubtless be largely patronized. The herding together of numbers of consumptive and asthmatic invalids, the class which most largely resorts hither, is not by any means to be recommended, yet anything would be better for them than have them hanging around the city hotels and boarding houses, where they fret themselves to death, even while the malady may be quiescent. A well qualified physician has been badly needed for a long time in this vicinity, and the coming of Dr. Coggswell has supplied a felt went.

The doctor is a man of goodly proportions, and although not long from the east, is well fitted for this country, being a person whom long rides will not fatigue nor night journeys terrify. Of his ability as a surgeon, this deponent can speak from experience, he having performed on me the difficult and dangerous operation of vaccination with entire success, and in an expert and skillful manner. When our cowpunchers break their collar bones or their arms, while attempting to break their bronchos, as is the custom of that fraternity, they will know hereafter where to go to have them put right.

Some distance below Dr. Coggswell's at the crossing of the Del Norte road, is the ranch of Mr. Patterson. This gentleman is the patriarch of the Apache. A numerous family of sons, sons-in-law and grand-children respectably settled in different parts of the country recognize him as the head of their clan. To Mr. Patterson Colorado is indebted for a considerable accession to its population, many of our citizens who hail from northern Georgia having come here at his persuasion. Our Georgia friends are good fellows and good citizens, if they do swell the democratic vote, and as they are almost without exception remarkably prolific in the production of children, they deserve well of their country. Mr. Patterson's place being convenient to the road, is a favorite stopping place for travelers, who are almost always welcome by the venerable host with true Georgia hospitality.

Another Georgia gentleman is Mr. Graham, who has lived for several years near the head of the creek, and who is well known for his industrious habits and business integrity. For some time Mr. Graham has suffered from ill health, and an affection of the eyes has rendered him almost sightless for nearly a year past. The hearty sympathy of our entire community is with Mr. Graham in his affliction.

A little to the east of the Del Norte road we come to the sheep ranch of Mr. D. W. Child. Mr. Child settled on the Apache some six or seven years ago, and was one of the first to introduce the business of sheep raising on the creek. He brought with him to Colorado a number of thoroughbred Merino bucks and ewes and has since been engaged in breeding fine sheep. About six years ago Mr. Child suffered a heavy loss from one of those disgraceful raids, which are now happily, let us hope, a thing of the past, but undismayed he continued persevering at his work, and he is now reaping his reward, his having, I believe, the only one herd of thoroughbred Merinos in Colorado. This herd composes some three hundred ewes, which being served by the choicest bucks, produces annually the finest stock in the country. Mr. Child comes from the sheep-raising district of Vermont, and has been familiar with the business from childhood. What he don't know about sheep, it is safe to say is not worth knowing. An important branch of his business is the raising of thoroughbred bucks. It has been found by experience that bucks bred in Colorado are of stronger constitution and more serviceable as stock-getters than imported ones, even when acclimated. Each year Mr. Child raises one hundred and fifty of these bucks and finds ready sale for them among the intelligent sheep and wool growers of Southern Colorado. As these bucks are undoubtedly superior to imported ones, especially of the latter have not been acclimated by one year or more residence in the country, and are held at figures no higher, it is not to be wondered that Mr. Child finds ready sale for them.

Among numerous other sales affected by Mr. Child this season was one of thirty-five head to Messrs. Smith & Tappan, of Santa Clara, well known as among the most enterprising and successful sheep men in the country. Besides the Merinos Mr. Child has a considerable quantity of Mexican and grade sheep.

Next neighbor to Mr. Child is Mrs. Briggs N. Whitman, one of the most popular sheep men in Colorado. Mrs. Whitman is also a Vermonter and has been on the Apache about five years. He has a large and well-fenced ranch, with numerous and convenient corrals and sheds for his sheep. No one can visit Mr. Whitman's place without being convinced that the hand of diligence and industry has been at work. A dipping tank, with facilities for the dipping of sheep, as a preventative of scab, is found on the premises and is patronized by nearly all the sheep owners in the neighborhood. Mr. Whitman takes much pride in the quality of his sheep, and I doubt if any mixed herd in the country can surpass his in the average quantity and quality of wool produced. He has also been a considerable importer of thoroughbred bucks, both for his own use and for speculative purposes.

As we descend the creek next in order comes the ranch of Mr. Eugene Morse. This gentleman has a large herd of sheep and has been remarkably successful since engaging in the business. He is now absent on a visit to Ohio, and his ranch and herd are in charge of Mr. Herburt Gunn, who is a considerable sheep owner.

Mr. Gunn as well as Mr. Morse, comes from northern Ohio. The old "Western Reserve" we must admit, turns out a few good men, and the Apache has its share of them.

Below Mr. Morse's is the old post road to Trinidad. The old road has fallen sadly into disuse since the building of the railway. Not one wagon passes along to a hundred in days gone by. The track, which used to be four teams wide in many places, is now hardly one, and grass grown at that.

At the crossing of the road, stands the comfortable homestead of the Caveniss family. The old gentleman, Mr. Caveniss, is noted on the creek for his success in raising corn; he never failing to make a crop - not only of corn, but of oats and a great variety of vegetables as well. A large number of cattle bear the Caveniss brands, and are well looked after by the boys, who are known as expert cattlemen.

The next ranch is occupied by Mr. Thomas H. Bagnell, who purchased it about a year ago from Mr. James Patterson. Mr. Bagnell is from St. Louis and was formerly an extensive railway contractor. This ranch has the "boss" hay meadow of Southern Colorado. I will not tell the number of acres it comprises nor the quantity of hay produced, lest Mr. Bagnell should be besieged by the offers of buyers, and the Apache should lose so good a citizen. Mr. Bagnell is also engaged in the sheep business, being owner of a large and well graded herd. Yet it is not because of his hay meadow or his flock of sheep that the bachelors of the Apache are inclined to envy Mr. Bagnell his good luck, but rather on account of the young and handsome bride he brought home form Illinois a few weeks ago, and who now gracefully presides at his board. I understand the bachelors aforesaid have entered into a solemn league and covenant to go and do likewise within one year, under the severest pains and penalties to comply.

Another sheep man to be remembered here is Mr. Irving Cole who, although not holding his sheep on the Apache now, is in its immediate vicinity, and we still claim him as an Apache man. He is well known to many of my readers, he having for a considerable time occupied the important and responsible position of messenger on Barlow & Sanderson's stage line, from Pueblo to Santa Fe. Although Mr. Cole lost a good right arm some thirteen or fourteen years ago, in Virginia, in the cause of patriotism, he is still one of the best rustlers in the business. About three years ago he started in with about three hundred and fifty head, he has now twelve hundred well-graded, heavy wooled sheep. The "Western Reserve" is responsible for Mr. Cole, as well as for Mr. Morse and Mr. Gunn and no discredit to that favored spot.

Mr. Loyd Shealey has lately come into possession of the old "Strange ranch". Mr. Shealey has been a resident of this locality for a number of years, and is well and favorably known as a genial and obliging gentleman.

One of the most comfortable homesteads on the creek is that owned by Mr. Davis, an English gentleman who has been among us for several years. Mr. Davis has a fine herd of cattle and also devotes considerable attention to the breeding of horses, of which he can show excellent specimens.

The last ranch on the creek is that of Mr. John Palmer. This gentleman has a fine pinon range, with good shelter and sufficient water. It is perhaps the best adapted ranch on the creek for the keeping of sheep, of which Mr. Palmer has a large herd. The late occupant of the place was Mr. J. Bond, who disposed of it a few months ago to the present owner.

Mr. Bond has purchased Stearns' "Summit House", on the Sangre de Cristo, and removed thither. If I am correctly informed, it is his intention during the summer season to keep the house open for the reception of tourists, pleasure seekers, sportsmen, and others. The location is an admirable one for a summer resort, being convenient to the railroad and in the midst of some of the finest mountain scenery the state affords. As Mr. Bond is one of the jolliest of jolly Englishmen, and his wife the most amiable and estimable of ladies, their success as host and hostess is assured.

Another well known Apache man is Mr. Hamilton Pope. This gentleman is largely interested in the cattle business, and takes no little pride in the quality of his stock. He has occupied for two years the important office of justice of the peace, and was this year the democratic candidate for county commissioner. Although unsuccessful in securing the election, our Mexican brethren having bolted him unanimously in favor of a "compathery", Mr. Pope has the satisfaction of knowing that he received almost the entire American vote. In his capacity as justice Mr. Pope on several occasions performed the marriage ceremony for others in a dignified and impressive manner, but has so far escaped the matrimonial noose himself. He is still a young man, however, and there is hope for him yet.

One of the most popular and gentlemanly of our sheep men is Mr. McPherson. "Mac" is well known as an Apache man and is esteemed by all for his geniality and kindliness of disposition. He is associated with Mr. Child in the sheep business. While Dan looks after the fine sheep, Mac takes care of the grades.

Among other residents of the Apache I may mention Mr. Paul Reed, a young English gentleman of considerable means, who is looking around with a view of investing in stock, and Henry Noyes, of St. Louis, who also contemplates engaging in the sheep or cattle business.

About two miles south of the Apache is the sheep ranch of Gen. Adams, U.S. post office agent for Colorado. The Adams herd is one of the largest in the vicinity, and is under the charge of Mr. Pennington, a gentleman who, although very young in years, has had large experience in the management of sheep.

On the Huerfano, between the Apache and the mountains, are kept a large number of sheep, among them the herds of Mr. McLean, C.L. Stanley, Robert Newell and others.

Mr. Stanley, who is well known in Pueblo has lately purchased the old John Brown ranch, about two miles above the Huerfano Butte, where he is now keeping his sheep.

Mr. Newell has also lately purchased a ranch, that formerly owned by Mr. Howard, near the St. Mary's crossing.

In the triangle whose boundaries, the Apache, the Huerfano and the Greenhorn range, are from twelve to fifteen miles in length, it is estimated there are kept about 22,000 sheep, besides perhaps even a greater value of cattle. I doubt if any other locality in the country of equal extent contributes more to the general wealth than this. I also reiterate the opinion that for well improved ranches, for comfortable homesteads and well to do ranchmen, no other locality in Colorado can surpass the Apache Valley, which, as some will have it, has been "ruined by sheep".

At present stock of all kinds in this vicinity are looking well. Although the range is heavily stocked, the grass is good, and unless the winter is unusually severe losses will probably be small. The season so far has been very stormy, with a good deal of snow. It may be that this bad beginning may make a good ending, in the shape of an early spring. At any rate, when the stock are in good condition and the range good to start with, the prospects are hopeful.

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