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Scanned by Dick Chenault
Edited by Louise Adams
Date of Interview - June 21, 1979
Interviewed by - Rosalyn McCain
Location of Interview: 120 E. Ryus, La Veta, Colorado
Language Spoken: English
Date of Birth: 1901
Parents - Edward Worth Chastain and Mildred Martin
Maternal grandparents - Henry Martin, Parsy McMickle
Paternal grandparents - Rev. Abner Worth Chastain, Susan O'Kelley
Ethnic group – French
Family Origin: Georgia and North Carolina
Date of Family arrival in County – Father, 1870; Mother, 1885
Location of first family settlement – Father, Huerfano – Kimbrel Place; Mother: La Veta
Profession: Ranching, farming; Grandfather Abner Worth Chastain, Baptist Minister; Grandfather Henry Martin, Doctor
Rosalyn: When did your family first come to Huerfano County?
Grace: Well, my father and grandfather came with other members of the family in l870, by covered wagon with a group called “The Georgia Colony.”
Rosalyn: So they came from Georgia?
Grace: Well, Georgia and North Carolina, different places, but it was named the Georgia Colony, and their headquarters were on the Huerfano at a homestead I suppose it had been, of Nate Patterson's. And he was instrumental in helping this group organize. And they were coming seeking homesteads, homes, here after that devastating Civil War in the South. Many of them had lost their homes either through destruction or confiscation. An awful lot of them after the war was ended and in the wipe-up. Then the soldiers went through and destroyed everything as they went in the range that they covered. So it was very destructive and heartbreaking for a lot of citizens. And, in a way they were innocent. They, in fact, that destruction wasn't necessary because they needed it. So much, they had lost so much during the war that they needed this to recuperate and start with again. But at any rate, they still came here, and I don't know how many was with the wagon train. It was called a covered wagon train. I guess 150 or 250 families probably.
Rosalyn: That's a lot of people, isn't it?
Grace: Yes, and their headquarters were there, and from there, why they dispersed to other localities seeking their homes, and finally through homesteading they established homes, a great many of them right around in this vicinity, a number from this same group.
Rosalyn: Do you remember stories that they told of the trip here?
Grace: No, I don't. I don't remember the hardships or how long it took them to make the trip or what not, but they brought with them what necessities they could. A great many of them brought a cow or two, I imagine, and other things that helped them along their journey to their destination here. But as to the length of their trip and all, I don't remember. I suppose my father probably told me, but I was, I guess, too young to let it soak in just right to remember it.
Rosalyn: Now where was the Patterson place over on the Huerfano?
Grace: It was on the Huerfano River at the, now it is the Kimbrel place. It's owned by the Kimbrels, John Kimbrel, I believe, is the name of the person, but Nate Patterson was the original owner, and there was other settlements, a few in that vicinity. I believe there was a man by the name of Brown that was here at another date. Probably further up the Huerfano he had holdings. And my grandfather was a minister, Baptist preacher, and he organized a little church among this group and started preaching. But he only lived a year after they came in. He came up here in this vicinity and staked a claim east of town here. But this territory at that time was claimed under the, oh, the grant that the Francisco's and Daigre controlled, and his rights was challenged. And I don't know whether there was other parties or not, but he contested their rights, and it was in litigation before the land board, and before this matter was settled, why he passed away. My father at this time didn't come into this locality. He gained work with a large cattle company and rode out the cattle for a number of years. Well, out from Pueblo mostly. He had a brother living near Pueblo, he had secured a home there, and my father rode for this company for, I guess eight or ten years.
Rosalyn: How old was he at the time?
Grace: He was only about 17 when his father died, just a young lad, but he gained work with this cattle company, and he rode for a number of years, and he told us that the range boss allowed him to take out a brand in his own name and take part of his salary in cattle and also run his cattle with the main herd. And in this way he built up quite a substantial herd for himself. He got his start with this cattle company. I can't remember the cattle company's name. I heard him speak of the Goodnight, and there was another one out from Pueblo, but I can't recall the name right now. I don't think it was Goodnight. It was this other party, I believe, that he rode for. But at any rate, in the early 1880's, I don't know whether it was 1880 or a little later, they were wintering the cattle near Pueblo, and there was a very hard blizzard, and he lost quite a number of his holdings along with the other parties. And then later he homesteaded a place east of town here, La Veta, in about 1882, 1883, somewhere around in there. I don't know just exactly. And then he went back to North Carolina and married Mildred Martin, and then he established a home east of town, east of La Veta here, where they lived for as long as they, well, for the remainder of their lifetime. But they raised a family of seven girls and two boys. They maintained their home there during their lifetimes. Father passed away in 1930, and mother in 1937, I believe it was. But the children, little holdings passed on to the family and still remains in the hands of some members today. Father, his occupation was raising hay and cattle, and he raised some horses. But this was mostly for his own use, and all his work was done by horse power. He cut his hay and raised and baled it with horse power. He sold hay to the mining companies then. They were operating very good, and they used mules in their mines to bring out the coal, and they used lots of feed. So he had a good market for his hay. But they only paid in script, and that way you could take groceries or dry goods or whatever they might have in stock or script money, but then you had to trade it out with this company. And he had a friend here in La Veta by the name of Dave Ryus that ran the general merchandise store, and he would assist him and let him bring in, oh, sugar, flour, rice and coffee, he got in exchange for his hay, and bring it to him, and he would give him cash. And in that way he could raise a little cash to pay taxes and things that demanded cash to satisfy their needs then. And I believe that is about all that I can tell you in a sketchy way of their early life.
Rosalyn: What would you say were the things that a family did need to have cash for? What were the things they couldn't raise for themselves?
Grace: Well, these mines, the company supplied most of the, you could get your dry goods and such things. Of course, your clothing was all homemade then. They had to use their old-fashioned treadle machine, sewing machines, to make clothes for their children and their selves. But otherwise, for cash purposes, taxes was the main thing that they had to have cash for because they raised a lot of their eating on the farm. They had their milk, their butter, their eggs, their garden, and then what they would buy from the store, they had their coffee, rice, and other things they needed to supplement their daily needs.
Rosalyn: What kind of crops would people grow in their gardens?
Grace: At that time, they could raise potatoes, in the early days. They raised potatoes and then all their staples, cabbages and squash.
Rosalyn: What things did people raise that they had enough surplus of that they could sell for a cash crop?
Grace: Well, their stock, their cattle. They could dispose of even just an animal at a time, either a hog or a beef at the local meat market. At that time there was no restrictions, and butter and eggs, if they had a surplus, they could dispose of with their local merchants. And other foods that they had, I suppose there was a market for it, as a rule. But they pretty near all grew their vegetables. There was not much sale for that. But earlier when I was a child growing up here in La Veta there was several.
Rosalyn: Your family raised hay. Did they raise other grains also?
Grace: Well, small amounts, a small amount of wheat and corn for feed at home, what they could dispose of. They would keep a few hogs and raise corn to feed them and wheat to feed their chickens. I think that was about all that they produced on the farm. I mentioned our garden, lots of squashes, sweet corn, and everything that is kind of hardy and was used at that time for family use.
Rosalyn: Did people grow tomatoes in those days?
Grace: Well, it was a little later on. My mother grew quite a few tomatoes, not for sale, just for home use. She had good luck. She planted her own seed and put out her plants, and she had nice tomatoes. But our seasons seemed to be a little different from what it is now. I believe our springs opened up a little sooner. It seemed to me that we had a longer growing season than we have today.
Rosalyn: How about water. Was there more water in those days, did it seem like?
Grace: Well, it seemed that there was plenty of water. There wasn't so many to consume it, and with the ranches along this little stream where we lived, it furnished just plenty for irrigation. There was a very good spring on the place where we lived. That furnished drinking water. Then later we had a well.
Rosalyn: How about cooperation between neighbors? Did they cooperate and help each other out in those days?
Grace: Well, they seemed to be very neighborly, but they were all so busy with their own families and their own affairs, but in time of need, they were very good. That was my understanding.
Rosalyn: How far away were your nearest neighbors?
Grace: About a quarter of a mile.
Rosalyn: Who was that?
Grace: At one time there was a family by the name of Bakers, I believe, at an early date. Bakers were about the closest neighbor, and then up the creek was a man by the name of Willis. I don't remember his given name, but he wasn't any relation to Harry Willis that I know of. But he owned the property adjoining ours on the south, and this other family, I guess, owned this land adjoining on the north and east. But there was quite a few Mexicans around in the vicinity at that time. They owned little holdings of land. A man by the name of Bruno Martinez, he farmed there for quite a little while. That was, I guess, a half a mile up from our home.
Rosalyn: Did the Mexican people live in the same area or was that a different area from where you lived?
Grace: Well, they lived in the same area. They used to have people, pioneers, these Mexicans that farmed. There were several families. At an earlier date I understood that there was quite a Mexican settlement they called La Plaza. It was a place that my father later obtained. They grouped together just like the white people do today in little towns, I guess you would call it. There was a group of them on his land, and later there was a group of them that moved into La Veta. They clustered or gathered on the eastern part of the town.
Rosalyn: In the early days, that was probably for protection from the Indians?
Grace: Yes, I have an idea it was. They grouped together that way to protect themselves from the Indians. My family had homesteaded here. That was in 1885. The Indians had been more or less subdued, and I think, only now and then a band of them would come through. I never saw any in my growing up days at all. They were taken to other places and on reservations, I suppose.
Rosalyn: Did you hear stories that your parents told about the Indians?
Grace: Well, the Indians never molested them at the day they were in. They had more or less settled down. In the early days I think, there was trouble between the settlers and the Indians. They were afraid of the bands of Indians that would come through. But they never, at our time, at that late date, why they never bothered.
Rosalyn: Did your parents have many dealing with the Indians?
Grace: No. None at all. As I say, the Indians had more or less disappeared at the time they were here.
Rosalyn: Do you think there were many quarrels between people? Or if they had disputes or quarrels, how would they settle those?
Grace: Well, honey, I just don't know. I never heard of a great lot of troubles between the neighbors and all. I suppose that it was like a little word battle between them. I don't remember any trouble between the neighbors. To my knowledge of personal affairs. There might have been others that had misunderstandings or had trouble, but none that I know of.
Rosalyn: How about the law? What kind of law was there in those days?
Grace: Well, as far as I know, there wasn't a great lot of unlawful behavior. I think there was, in the early days, some horse thieving as they called it. There was some wild horses around in the community, and probably they would get a few mixed in that would belong to local residents, and they were called horse thieves, and probably they really stole them. But never anything like that happened after I was old enough to remember. But that was at an earlier date.
Rosalyn: Do you remember any outlaws?
Grace: No, honey, there was no outlaws that I know of in our vicinity at that time. I didn't know of any.
Rosalyn: What sorts of transportation were used?
Grace: Well, all was horse and buggy except for the railroads in through here. In my day they had the railroad. Course, for a number of years there wasn't any railroads through. But when they came through, they had two passengers a day, one going east and one going vest. And that was usually midnight transportation through here. But you could go to other vicinities. There was also the local trains, what they called the water train between Walsenburg and La Veta that run for a few years, and they transported water to a place down below to fill their engines, I Suppose, or their locomotives with water, and they would haul it from here to the Cuchara Junction or somewhere below Walsenburg. And that made four trips a day I believe. It went down in the morning with a load, came back with its water tanks at noon, and went back at noon, that three trips, and then back to La Veta, and then there wasn't any more until the next morning, but they also pulled a passenger train so there was transportation from La Veta to Walsenburg by way of this little train.
Rosalyn: How wonderful.
Grace: So that helped the locality quite a little. And I can remember being board walks here in La Veta when I was six or seven years old. We still had board walks in from the business buildings and everywhere, where there were walks laid at all. And there was quite a lot of, well, several merchants. I don't remember just all their names. There was a undertaker. There was a hardware man and then one in general merchandise that sold both groceries and dried goods, and then there was several just dry goods stores, and there was dentists, one dentist at this time, and two or three doctors resided in La Veta. And at a later date there was a doctor, Dr. Lamme that came into our locality here in La Veta, he and his brother. And they erected a little hospital and operated for several years and finally moved to Walsenburg, erected a hospital or a private hospital there for a number of years.
Rosalyn: In the early days what would people do for medical facilities? Were there doctors around then?
Grace: There were doctors here in La Veta as long as I remember. That is my parents, said, there was a doctor available in La Veta, but he had to go horse and buggy to his patients. They never came to the office to consult with the doctor like they do today. But by horse or buggy or horseback or someway they would contact the doctor, and he would go to his patients in the locality and take care of them in their homes because there was no other facility at that time, in the early days, to take care of them.
Rosalyn: Did people use a lot of home remedies?
Grace: Well, yes, in a way there was quite a number of home remedies they used. My family, my mother would make up a cough syrup of honey and vinegar and sage. It seems to me there was a little borics was used in this cough remedy. And they also used liniments for rubbing purposes, both kerosene and turpentine, I believe. And also they could make a good liniment of turpentine, and vinegar and the yolk of an egg that they used as a liniment. And sage teas and ginger teas and such things as that for colds were all that I knew of that they used for home remedies.
Rosalyn: Did they have midwives?
Grace: Their babies, of course, were born in the homes, and most of them had midwives, I imagine. When they was doctors, I imagine they sometimes had a doctor. But midwives, neighbor women that could perform those duties, why, they would help other women in this time of need.
Rosalyn: And how would you say the role of women has changed? Or can you describe what the roles of women were in those days?
Grace: Well, the women in the early days, their home duties was to take care of their home and their family, and I suppose some even assisted with outdoor work, especially in their gardens and, I suppose they usually had the care of their chickens. And as far as the milking and things of that sort, I think they helped with that. And all their washing and their ironing was done by hand. Washing over a washboard as they called it, the tubs and the board. And the irons was side irons and was heat on the ranges, coal ranges, and they ironed with that. There was no electricity in those days. They used kerosene for lighting purposes.
Rosalyn: How do you see that the role of women has changed today?
Grace: Well, it has changed drastically because they don't devote their time in their homes that they did. And they have all of these modern conveniences that eases their labor, and they have much more leisure time to my way of thinking that they did in days gone by because their work is not so hard and long, and naturally they would have more time, and then they would devote more of their time of schooling, education, and things of that sort. They are more advanced, I suppose, than they were in days gone by in an educational way.
Rosalyn: How often would people go to town?
Grace: They would buy their supplies. In the good weather, they would probably go once a week, especially if they had their produce to dispose of. But in severe winter weather they would usually lay in their staple goods, and sometimes they couldn't get into a town for probably four to six weeks.
Rosalyn: Would people go into Walsenburg much?
Grace: Not too much as to my understanding. It was by horse and buggy, and they did go occasionally, no doubt, but as I spoke before, my father delivered his hay crop by team to the mines. And that during the season was just about an every day's trip. It was usually extended over every other day to give his team or teams, I believe there were two wagons, he had two wagons on the road, he would rest his team up one day and then go the next with his load of hay, I don't remember just how much, what tonnage, he took at a time, but anyhow, it was delivered at the mines during the haying season. Of course, in bad weather, all this. No doubt the mines tried to lay in their supply of hay at a time when the weather was good, and the farmers, no doubt tried to get rid of it at that time when the weather was good so they could get over the highways. The highways were very poor, nothing like it is today, just a little road, dirt roads, and sometimes they'd have washouts and lots of trouble to get through.
Rosalyn: How about holidays? What holidays did people celebrate?
Grace: Well, Christmas and New Years, the Fourth of July was the main holidays. Christmas time there was usually family gatherings, or the churches would give little programs, had a Christmas tree. At one time they had a public Christmas tree. It was out in the main street, a Community Christmas tree, I believe they called it, and all the surrounding country could attend that. But an awful lot of the entertainment was the Fourth of July. They would have their horse racing, their short horse racing and foot racing and different entertainments of that kind. They also had a local band that would play in the park. They had a small park. And I suppose in the evenings the young people had dances, but, of course, the older people and the children went home after the things, the picnic and everything of that kind. But the Fourth of July was quite a community gathering around the surrounding country here. We'd gather in La Veta and have their fire works and their picnics in the park and certain number of them would get together and enjoy their picnic lunches out that way.
Rosalyn: How about the role of the church in the life of the community?
Grace: Most of them were pretty faithful in attending churches. There were three churches, I believe in my day. We had the Presbyterian, the Methodist and the Baptist, were the leading ones at that time, and most of them, the citizens took part in church affairs for their faith they followed.
Rosalyn: Did the churches have a lot of activities in those days?
Grace: Well, not so much. They'd have their little, they'd occasionally have their picnic lunch, and then they gave their Christmas programs, but otherwise I don't think there was very much activity to my knowledge.
Rosalyn: How about the foods people ate. Were there differences between what people eat now and what people use to eat?
Grace: Well, they usually just had staple foods, the gardens, the vegetables from their gardens, their meats and potatoes and bread. Of course, the bread was all homemade, either biscuit or raised bread. That's another thing the women had to do was to do their own bread baking plus their general cooking. There was quite a little bit of wild fruit grew in that time. In the fall season when the fruit was ripe they were quite busy gathering and putting up jams and jellies for winter.
Rosalyn: Has there been much of a change in terms of processed foods?
Grace: Well, very much because I don't think there was very much processed food used in those days. As I say, it was mostly, there wasn't too much canned foods and nothing like there is today of packaged foods on the market. So it is very different in that respect. Most of it was just plain food. As I say, from their own production, either from the garden or, they did have the food because they had their eggs, butter, chickens, meats of different kinds, and their vegetables. So they could prepare a pretty fair good meal. And cakes and pies and puddings and different things. But it was all homemade. There was nothing that you could go out and buy. And if they served ice cream, it was homemade. Ice was put up by the blocks. There wasn't any refrigerators. So they had to depend on manufacture of the ice. It was cut from the ponds and lakes. There was a lake up above La Veta where they made their ice or got their ice in great big blocks of ice. It would give men work during the winter cutting the ice and then ship it out to other parts. And most every family had a little place where they could store some ice and had it for their family. And that was the way they made their cooling drinks and foods in the time they could keep their ice. It wasn't through the full season. At one time my father had a little ice house, I guess you would call it, a lot of sawdust and such like for insulation, and he'd store ice, or they had ice a portion of the hot weather.
Rosalyn: Were they able to preserve their meats in some way?
Grace: There was no way of keeping their fresh meat, and they didn't can meats in those days. It was usually preserved with either salt or brine. I think they would submerge it in so long and then we'd move it and wrap it. In that way it was more or less a salt cure that they used to preserve their meat. And I guess there was some that could dry their meat, but we never did.
Rosalyn: Would they use their root cellars for some of their vegetables?
Grace: Very, very much so. Everyone, I suppose, had a root cellar where their vegetables were placed for the winter, turnips and carrots, beets and everything that could store that way. And cabbages, were always a trench dug and the cabbages put heads down, roots up and all the soil placed around them, and they'd just keep wonderful all winter through. They was like fresh cabbage. And they'd put up a great deal of sauerkraut, a great number of them like that, and they'd store that. And everything was stored in open stone jars. In those days they used jars, and they kept to perfection, and I don't know how because it doesn't do so now. Maybe something has changed in the atmosphere.
Rosalyn: What school did you go to?
Grace: Well, the little La Veta School here. It's the old same little school, but the older members of the family attended a school, a country school, called the Ritter School House in the Ritter District, oh, I guess, a couple of miles anyway from our place. The children would have to walk to go to this school before the La Veta was established. But later on there was this district, and then they erected a school house and the children all attended school here in La Veta as they do today.
Rosalyn: Would you walk in?
Grace: We walked. The children all walked to and from school, brought their lunch and the teachers as a rule, there was one that would remain at the school during lunch hour, take her lunch, or his, and supervise the children, and all of the country children that brought lunches. I suppose those in town would go to their homes for their lunch hour. The children from the country had to bring in their lunches, remain all day, and it was always from, school took up at 9:00 and closed at 4:00.
Rosalyn: Was the La Veta School a one-room school to begin with?
Grace: No, to the best of my knowledge. It was a brick school house during my day, it was a brick school house, and I think it was several rooms. It was a two story building, and I don't remember how many rooms downstairs, three anyway, and probably three above. But it was a nice little school house made of bricks, and they used it for a number of years. I think I attended there a couple of years, and then they became afraid that it was damaged in rainstorms and such like, and it was condemned, and they only used the lower portion and later on the top was removed, and they built the stone house, but I don't remember what year it was built.
Rosalyn: How many students would you say there were when you were going to school?
Grace: Oh, I don't know, but there was quite a number of youngsters. I don't know how many would be in the entire school, but we, a room would have twenty students, and one teacher would take care of two grades. It was a pretty good sized school, but I don't think there was a lot of graduate students, not more than five or six at a time. And then their high school was established. It has changed quite a lot, their school system and their recreation in the school has changed. At our time we had fifteen minute recess, and that was it, and then there wasn't supervised ballgames and other athletic affairs like there is today.
Rosalyn: What sports and games and Contest were popular in those days?
Grace: Well, I suppose that baseball was one of them, and they had that outside the school. Most generally the school didn't supervise it. It was outside interests. And skating and such things as that. They had their contests, the youngsters. But that was just local recreation among the residents. They had their dances and skatings and baseball. I don't think they played football in those days.
Rosalyn: How about the games the kids would play during their fifteen minute recess?
Grace: Recess hours, there was such a short time. The boys would play what is called, I think, “Nigger Up” and they'd choose sides, and they'd contest which side could, one would run from one side to the other, and whoever could catch that one, why, then they became a member of the other side. And the girls would just play little games like “Drop the Handkerchief” and just little simple games. There was nothing supervised to play. I guess they would maybe join in some of that, but the boys would play “Crack the whip” and a little rougher games and “Banter” and “Leap Frog” and quite a few games that they played, but I think the girls usually just strolled around and played little, if they had time, they'd play “House” and maybe some of them would play “Ring-a-round the Rosy” and such things.
Rosalyn: Do you think children were brought up much differently then?
Grace: Well, yes, the parents weren't as permissive with children in those days as they are today. They had more restrictions, and I think each and every family had more that their children were required to do. Pretty near all of them used coal and wood for heating and cooking purposes, and the children had to bring in the fuel, or I imagine a majority of them did. It was provided, but they had to bring it into the house, and that was a daily chore. In our family we had that to do, and it was required of us and no “yes” or “no” about it. We understood we were required to do that and did it just as a regular job.
Rosalyn: How about dating customs? Would you say they have changed much?
Grace: Well, yes, I would say they have because they lived at a slower gait in those days. The young men would call with their little two-seated buggy, and take their little girl for a ride over the countryside, and then they had their dances and parties, but other wise they were just around in the locality. They didn't travel for miles like they do today to shows and other recreational interests.
Rosalyn Were parents a lot stricter with their daughters?
Grace: Well, yes, I would say they were very, they were required to be in at a certain hour, and they were very particular, or tried to be, as to the company they kept. And some of them even insisted on a chaperone going with them on their little outings, so I would say they were very much restricted from what they are today.
Rosalyn: How did people choose their marriage partners?
Grace: Well, I wouldn't know. I suppose it was just from interest in each other in those days just as it is today. They'd become acquainted, become interested in one another, and would decide they wanted to get married.
Rosalyn: What about the chores that children did?
Grace: On the farms the children had to help with the feeding of hogs. They were usually kept in pens and never ran at large. And I guess, the majority of families kept six or eight head, and those had to be fed of the – morning and night, and the milking had to be done, and no doubt most of them milked from four to six cows anyway. And the children were usually required to do that. And in gardening and field work boys when they were old enough and when that was to be done, why they were required to help with what they could do like feeding, stack the horses, riding the dump rake or hay fields. And I would imagine that the girls did in-the-house work. They all had to share dish washing, washing and ironing and everything of the kind. Also assisted with the cooking when they were old enough.
Rosalyn: Who would be responsible for getting in the fire wood?
Grace: Usually in our family, Father always laid in the fuel, a supply of both wood and coal, but the children were required to bring it in. Mother, she used to fire the ranges and the fireplaces. Of course, she kept the home fires burning because Father usually had to be outside to work. But they still had to be brought in so that it would be available to her, and the coal was brought in what they called the coal scuttle or bucket, and the wood cut in stove lengths and brought in and put in a wood box.
Rosalyn: What effect did the Depression have on people's lives here?
Grace: Well, it was very depressing for a time. They weren't able to have any work, and I guess, a lot of them was really in need. Until that government work started up and helped a lot of them to obtain a little work, before that, a lot of them were on Severance. I don't imagine they had the money to buy their groceries. Of course, people on farms, they, I guess, had it a little bit better where they could still have some food at home, but prices dropped drastically. It was awfully hard to raise any money for anything. So I would say it was hard times all the way through for everybody.
Rosalyn: Did some people lose their land through not being able to pay taxes?
Grace: Oh, yes, undoubtedly. Many of them lost their bank accounts due to the closure of banks, and those that had savings. So it was hard times for all.
Rosalyn: Would you say that World War II had much of an effect here?
Grace: Well, I suppose wars affect one all the way through in a way. Of course, it was on their restrictions of gasoline, sugar rationing, and things of that kind that hampered people some. But outside of their boys being sent overseas and losing them that way, I don't know that life was so much different than it was before. But that was a bad thing for a lot of families because their young men was sent to war, and quite a few of them never came back.
Rosalyn: How would you say farming was different in the early days? You've covered that a little bit already.
Grace: Well, it was very different because it was done by horse and drawn machinery of all kinds until, later years when they began with their gasoline and other powered machine which would take over and do double the work or maybe more than that with machines. And that farming, one man could afford to buy this machinery to do the work of two or three men that were hired to help. Because their baling was done by machinery today by power. In those days they had pitched hay back, and it took a man to pitch and a man to feed into the baler and one to tie the bales and one or two to stack the bales away from the baler, and so that required a lot of help and lots of hard work. Today it is done by machinery. The baling is done with a machine, and the stacking is done with a machine, and everything of the kind is much easier. But it does throw an awful lot of men out of work, but they probably wouldn't want to follow that type of work today anyhow. Times have changed so. They have depended on machines to take over hard labor so much that they wouldn't want to do it by physical labor.
Rosalyn: How much land would you say it took to support a family?
Grace: Oh, to have a real farm income of much sort in those days, they raised hay and cattle and things, they would have to have something around 160 acres anyhow.
Rosalyn: And that was the size of a homestead?
Grace: That was the size of a homestead, yes.
Rosalyn: Was that the size that your parents, did get with their homestead?
Grace: Oh, yes, they got the standard that was allowed under the homestead law, 160 acres. And a little later on my father accumulated a few other acres through purchase.
Rosalyn: What amount of money would you say a family would need to survive during the year?
Grace: Well, they couldn't have very much money, the early days. I don't suppose they ever, any of them their produce they could sell had an income of more that $500 per year. And some much less than that I would think.
Rosalyn: And that would come through selling different things?
Grace: Selling produce, their hay, their stock and whatever they might raise on the farm. And of course, these laborers that labored around the railroads and on different things, I don't know what their wage was, what their income was, but that was the farm incomes.
Rosalyn: What about the practice of water rights? How did that get started?
Grace: Well, it was established at an early day, and I think that the earliest settlers that come in, they took out their ditches from these streams and, I don't know just what the law was, but they had to prove up on these ditch rights and had it recorded through the process of law, and they were allotted so much water too, so much land from the stream wherever they were deriving their water from.
Rosalyn: And that really hasn't changed?
Grace: Well, I think it has changed to some extent. I think they have changed the law, and there is a little different system. It seems to me that there were two rights in a way in the early day. There was two decrees, the Killion Decree that was a very early date, and then I don't know how it was kind of throwed out as obsolete and the Reed Decree was taken over, and I suppose that it holds still today, those rights, as far as I know.
Rosalyn: Do you think it was a good system?
Grace: Well, it was a very fair system, I should think. Because that was all they could do to get water to certain arid and that lay off away from the streams was to take little canals or ditches as they called them to supply water for raising the hay, grazing, and all such. And the earlier settler, of course, he got the earlier right, and his rights was supposed to come over from the supply of water obtainable, he was supposed to get the first over the later rights. And at one time it was distributed very equally. The first water rights had to run a certain amount of time. A certain, whatever they were allotted for the number of acres. They irrigated that way. It was passed on to the next. The water down the stream there was given to the next or earlier right and so on. So I suppose it was fair. Anyway, I don't see anything wrong with it. They divided it as equally as it could be.
Rosalyn: When your parents got older, who stayed on the farm?
Grace: Well, there were four of us children who remained with them during their lifetime, my sister and I and my two brothers. The boys worked with my father. He was quite alert all the time up until his death. He assisted with the farm work. He depended on his sons mostly to do the harder work. But, of course, times changed after his death. The machine age came in, and most all of the farms began the machine work. One man could do a lot of what they could in days gone by.
Rosalyn: Do you still have relatives in this area?
Grace: No, I don't have any close relatives in this area at all. At the beginning when my father first homesteaded he had two, three sisters and their families that lived in this vicinity, and they all had large families, and some of their children, I think, raised families here, but they have all moved on to other localities. There's none in this vicinity closely related to me.
Rosalyn: Where do your relatives live?
Grace: Well, there's some nieces and nephews that live over around Durango, and there are some in Washington, D.C. and some in California and some in New Mexico. They are all scattered all over. I say nieces and nephews and their families. My brothers and sisters have all passed on.
Rosalyn: What do most of the nieces and nephews do?
Grace: Well, they are employed in different ways. One boy in Washington, D.C. works for the government. A girl is a nurse and there's some of them that followed farming, but most of them are employed at general labors of different kinds.
Rosalyn: How many years did you live at the homestead?
Grace: I lived there for 60 years. I was born there and remained there until I was about 62 years old, and then my brother's health failed and we moved to town, bought this residence where I now live. That was the end of our farm life.
Rosalyn: What is the origin of the two houses that are so close to each other right there on the homestead?
Grace: The one, the little adobe house was formerly a Mexican residence. The Mexicans owned that place. I don't remember their names, but there is a three room house, and after my father and mother left the little old log house, they moved into this adobe house which was warmer, and it was not so windy and all on the little hill when snow would drift around. And they lived there for a number of years until my father was able to erect this other little stone house, and he erected it, but instead of joining them, they built them separately. He felt adobe wouldn't hold up properly with the other, and they didn't join them. Which was a mistake, I think. They should have been joined together. But that is how they erected by some Spanish family in days gone by. But it was a good adobe house, and it is quite substantial even until today.
Rosalyn: So the kitchen was in the adobe house?
Grace: Yes, the kitchen was in the adobe house, and there was two bedrooms and a storage room there, and the other was a living room and used for bedrooms mostly in the stone house.
Rosalyn: And then there is a little spring house, isn't there?
Grace: Oh, yes, that was erected over the spring to protect it from trash and everything filling it up. That was a very good spring. It doesn't afford the water today that it one time did. No doubt there have been so many wells drilled that it has lost the water supply. But it afforded lots of water at one time and was a very substantial spring.
Rosalyn: Do you own all the land that your parents originally owned?
Grace: Yes, it is still in the family, all of it.
Rosalyn: And then the land surrounding that is land that Harry Willis owns?
Grace: Well, to my knowledge, Harry Willis owns most of it that surrounds it. But he has obtained that in the last few years. It was originally separate homesteads or separate farms. It was all used as good individual farmland until these later years. There was a family that lived above us by the name of Kincaid, well two families of Kincaid's in there, and they farmed, and they had separate houses. They were brothers. And then on to the east where Harry Willis' holding is today was a family by the name of Hamilton. Walter Hamilton lived there for years, farmed it individually. And then down by the turn of the lane was a family by the name of Kreutzer lived there over the years and farmed it individually. So it was what you would call family farms in days done by. Since it has gone into the hands of , well Mr. Willis controls the bigger share of it, the surrounding farms nowadays, as far as I know. He has gained control of that farm land and is turning it into a home development. Now up here east of my place on those hills north I told you the Mexican families lived there and farmed that bottom in there where there is homes now being erected. And all of that out through there was farm land and individual farms. I couldn't name all the number of people that owned them, but they were not more than 160 acres to a farm, I imagine. It was owned by individuals.
Rosalyn: What would you say are the good things about the old days and the bad things about the old days?
Grace: Well, the old days, in a way they had a lot of freedom, and there was a lot of hardship went with it. But I believe there was less crime in those days. One thing, because there wasn't the transportation there is today. The communities wasn't mingling as much as it is today. There was more just a simple community. But in the new way there is so many modern conveniences that the majority of us people now living would not think we could live as our ancestors did and their hard way of kerosene lamps, hauling their water in the house. It all had to be carried in, no warming system except fuel brought in from the outside. So they endured lots of hardships. Today they have all those modern conveniences that make life much easier for them. But to say they are much happier, I don't know.
Rosalyn: Which time would you rather live in?
Grace: Well, as far as happiness and contentment, I'd like the old time in a way, but in another way, you have to look at the modern convenience, the warmth and the water in the house and everything. That's an advantage over the old life. But the freedom of the outdoors, and the stock and the wildlife and everything was very enjoyable; but I don't think the majority of people nowadays want to go back to those days.
Rosalyn: When people first came here, how did they do their building?
Grace: Well, they, the early ones, were all log houses. They cut down, in the mountains there was free land there, and they obtained their timber free. I suppose different members, men would get together and cut these logs and hue them, and they called it and laid them up and built beautiful little log homes. But they were usually small, not more than two or three rooms, and they also made their own shingles, just chopped out. I don't know just exactly how they were done, broad axes or something. Which was lots of work, but then they erected their homes of logs. Homemade. There was nothing of the manufactured stuff in those days. And then they would chink those logs between then plaster them which made them fairly warm to the elements. But that was all in the early days. Homes were all of logs as far as I know.
Rosalyn: So what about a house like this house and the stone house out there? Where did those stones come from in the later days?
Grace: Well, they were cut from these little sand hills around, and the stone house on our place was made from the sand rock that's up on the place, on the hillside, where those housing projects, a lot of them, are going up east of there. And this and the other stone houses in La Veta, I think were quarried from rock over north of La Veta here. And there is still lots of other rock there. But it was hand quarried.
Rosalyn: Who did that?
Grace: A family by the name of Coleman's did the work, and it was all hand work.
Rosalyn: That was a big undertaking, wasn't it?
Grace: It was a lot of work, but it was beautifully done. They were good masons, as they called them. And I think all the stone houses in La Veta was erected by them. They, the elder ones, and their sons. In fact, I'm sure. I was told. At least this one, and ours were. I think the adjoining one here and the masons' hall, well, all the stone houses in town, I believe, were erected by them as far as I know.
Rosalyn: That is work that people just don't do in these days.
Grace: No. Well, if it was done, it would be done by machinery. They wouldn't have to do that hand cutting. They do cut stone, no doubt, but it is done by machinery, just like the lumber and everything.
Rosalyn: Do you have handy advice you would give to young people?
Grace: Well, I don't know, honey. I don't think so. I don't. The young people today have a difficult road to follow. I believe they live under more difficult times than we did. There is more vice and everything to entice them from their raising, and so I don't know in what way I could advise them what to do to better their condition except to stay away from drugs and all those things that they can because it is quite a detriment to them.
Rosalyn: Well, do you think of any things that I haven't covered, Grace?
Grace: Well, honey, I don't think so. I don't know of anything that I can think of. There are probably other things if I could think of them, more interesting probably than what I have discussed, but I can't think of it now. And, as I say, I'm not qualified. If I'd taken down notes as a child when I was a child. But none of us do that. We're not interested in those things. But if I had my father and mother's knowledge now, why I could give you some information. I'm unable to do it under the circumstances.
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