Huerfano County, Colorado
Oral Interviews

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Escolastica Martinez

Scanned by Dick Chenault
Edited by Dick Chenault
Interviewed by Frances Cruz
Date of Interview - 7-11-1979

Escolastica Martinez
Born at Crestones
Parents - Antonio Salazar and Sofia Gallegos
Paternal grandparents - Braulio Salazar and Ramoncita Archuleta
Maternal grandparents - Castulo Gallegos and Donaciana Baca
Family origin - New MExico
Date of family arrival in County - 1885
Location of first family settlement - Pass Creek
Kinship ties - Cisneros's are first cousins; Elfedo Salazar; Rafaelita Archuleta; Porfirio Aguirre Jr.; Clovis Salazar
Photos and artifacts - Photo of Anastacio Valdez, 1st pioneer of Farisita; info about Mr. Ulibarri from daughter

My name is Escolastica Martinez born in Pass Creek-known by the name of Los Crestones in those days. I was born in the same house where my mother was horn. Antonio Salazar, my father and Sofia Gallegos my mother. My father's parents were Braulio Salazar and Ramonsita Archulets. My mother's parents were Castulo Gallegos and Donaciana Baca.

Both families came to Colorado from New Mexico. They came through Costilla and San Luis, crossed the Pass Creek Mountain and the Chama area. There they built their houses and homesteaded some land. They farmed and raised some stock for their pork and beef. Also some chickens.

They planted vegetable gardens and raised plenty of everything. To buy vegetables at the grocery store was unknown in those days, I mean for the farmers. Most of the gardens vegetables were dried and preserved for winter use. The pumpkins were peeled and dried to bake pies. These pumpkins were called tasajos. They dried chile, meat and apples. There were plenty of wild cherries and wild plumbs too. People had to dry vegetables and fruit because no one had freezers in those days.

My father was the oldest child of his family and started to work out to help his father with the family needs. He worked in Chama for the first pioneer that settled in Chama, his name was Ramon Valdes. My father helped him with the farm work and also herded sheep for him. My father told us the story of Mr. Ramon Valdes, how he came to Chama, with only him and his wife, with one horse and a pack of clothes.

My father and mother got married rather young, he was nineteen and she was seventeen. They homesteaded some land about five miles south of Malachite and there I was reared. My older sister died at the age of four. There were ten children in the family and only five living today.

I started school when I was seven years old and attended Malachite School. The reason I started at seven years old was because of the distance to go to school. I had to walk to school. I remember on one occasion I stepped on a snow drift and sank into it. It must have been about five to six feet high; I couldn't have been able to get out with out help. But a neighbor saw my red bandana sticking out of the drift and came to help me out. He insisted for me to go back home, but I thanked him and continued walking to school. Missing school was a bad word for me in those days. I attended Malachite school from the first to the eighth grade and I attended Gardner High School for three years, and Saint Mary High School for the last year.

After I graduated from high school I went to college in the summer and taught school in the winter year after year until I received my bachelors' degree. I taught school in Pass Creek, Chama, Rahn School, Maes Creek, Farisita and Gardner for the last twenty-six years of my career.

I loved children and if I had to live my life again, I will do the same work.

About my early life on the farm was not easy. My parents were very strict in discipline. They meant work and no waste of time. In those days the hired work had to be served the three meals where they worked. I had to help my mother with some of the cooking and the carrying of the water from the creek, the dish washing and other chores. This was almost all summer, and also grain threshing in the fall. I also help father milk the cows and care for little lambs in the spring. Yes, I had brothers but they were busy taking care of the sheep.

Farm work was very hard in those days. Most everything was done by hand and horses, no tractors no bailers and no other machinery like that of today. About three years, I really think we had more snowy winters and more rainy summers.

Many people only made a living on their dry land farming. They raised plenty of beans, corn, wheat and barley, of course most every fanner on that area has changed into the cattle industry and hay is the main crop for their cattle feed.

Therefore the population has decreased, because the land has been taken into large ranches owned by one owner instead of small ranches owned by many more people, as before. The young people have grown and gone away to other places in search of jobs. Because it had gotten too hard to make a living out of a small farm.

The many dry years have driven the people away from the Pass Creek and Chama lands. I also think the same thing goes with Gardner and Farisita area. I still say it is a nice peaceful country to live in if one had the money to make a living. The Pass Creek and Chama area is very cool in summer. I still miss the good summers we spent there before moving to Walsenburg.

About the Indians: My grandmother Donaciana used to tell me about her experience with the tribes of Indians when they first moved to Colorado. She said there were tribes of Indians that passed through this area where they lived in the spring and then in the fall. When the Indians made their rest stops. They could get mean if they were not helped with feed for their horses and some food for then. That was mostly in the spring. In the fall they used to return and if the people had helped them in the spring they didn't forget to come back on there way back and gave these people some dry meat and blankets. Grandmother use to says “The Indians can be some of your good friends if you treat them right. My grandmother also said that the Indians got pretty crossed with the white or Anglo people because the Indians would be dareful in not killing all the buffalos because that was some of their main meat. And the Anglo cattle and they started to kill the buffalos by great numbers. And that hurt the Indian population very much. They also use buffalo skins for tents moccasins and wraps. The Indians at first when they saw the first Anglos they thought that they were angels from the sky, but when the whites began to destroy their means of life then the Indians rebelled against the white people. These Indians that were the hunters were the Ute. The Navajo Indians were the planters.

Grandmother also said that the Indians didn't believe in furniture just a fireplace and some skins and blankets on the floor to rest. Also that they didn't like to be burned in coffins, just to be wrapped in a blanked with some food and to be thrown in some ridge on a cliff.

I retired in 1975 at the end of the school year. I taught forty three years in Huerfano County. I taught in the rural schools in Pass Creek, Chama, Rahn, lower Maes, Farisita, and Gardner for twenty six years of my career.

At the end of the school term the Gardner school gave a Fandango Chiquito by the grades one, two, and three which were under my supervision. After the program, a surprise party was given in honor “That is your Life.” It was the surprise of my life. It was well planned by the teachers the cooks, the janitors and bus drivers. Also other members of the community. It was very well planned in advance without me knowing about. God Bless them for all their effort. During the event, a bouquet of roses were presented to me by Frances Nelson, a former County Superintendent of schools read the book “That is your Life.” Some of the students sang and play the guitar. A two layer cake was presented with red roses. Also a beautiful gift from the teachers and many other gifts from the first students I had when I first started teaching and many more gifts from all my friends. I will never forget their thoughtfulness and kindness as long as I live. Over a hundred persons signed my book. John Mall, the County Supt. was the first to sign my book and William Duran the school principal the second.

I like to say a word or two about the school administrators I worked with. Frances Nelson was a County Supt. of Huerfano County for twenty-seven years. A wonderful person to work with.

During her administration as County Supt. the rural schools belong to the Young Citizens League, this League chief medium was for character and citizenship training. Through this organization the children learned and elect their own officers, to determine their duties and execute their plans.

The pupils acquired a practical knowledge of parliamentary usage. Every year in April they had a County Convention in which they elected delegates for the state convention to go to Denver. The students looked forward for this convention. They all tried their best to be good speakers, so to be elected for office. At one time, I had a young pupil six and a half years old who said her speech at the County Convention and did so well, a member of the State Dept. of Education heard her speech and asked her to go to the State Convention to give it there. She went with the other delegates and said it at the State Convention and did just as well. Her name was Lolita Archuleta from Farisita, Colorado.

Other school administrators I worked with were John Mall, County Supt. of schools, Larry Crosson as School Principal and William Duran, School Principal. All very nice educators and wonderful to work for.

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