Huerfano County, Colorado
Oral Interviews

NOTICE All data and photos on this website are Copyrighted by Karen Mitchell. Duplication of this data or photos is strictly forbidden without legal written permission by the Copyright holder.
Paul Valdez

Scanned by Dick Chenault
Edited by Dick Chenault
Date of Interview - May 31, 1979

My father was Manuel de Jesus Valdez. He was horn in San Luis, on May 23, 1882. He came here when he was seven years old, on horseback by himself. His father sent him here to stay with his Godparent, Mrs. Ramon Martinez Valdez, in Redwing. His uncle was farming here. He homesteaded land and inherited some land from his uncle

In 1915 my father homesteaded 160 acres on Manzanares Creek. There were 6 boys and 8 girls, in my family. I have one brother and six sisters living. Two of us went to high school, my sister and myself.

My grandfather came from Espanola. He was descended from the Spaniards. My grandmother was born in Cucharas. Her name was Manuelita Medina Valdez. They arranged marriages in those days. My mother's father was Jose Pablo Medina. My mother was Casimira Romero Medina.

My mother was married in 1900. She was 15 years old then. When she was 18 or 19, my grandfather and great grandfather captured an Indian girl who was probably the same age as my mother. Her name was Trinidad. This captive Indian woman, lived with the family and helped with the work of the household.

I started school in 1925 or 1926, when I was 5 or 6. There were 2 rooms with two teachers, for the grades 1 through 8. There were 30 or 40 students in each room. We spoke only English at school. The teachers usually spoke a little Spanish, but English was the only language that was allowed in school. We spoke Spanish in our homes. I had 4 or 5 teachers at Chama. I remember Miss King, now Mrs. Spock, and Josephine Aragon. Most of the students here were Spanish. The Martins went to school here, but before me. I went to Gardner to High School. We drove to Redwing, get a ride with a pickup truck that took the High School students in to Gardner, School was 4 to 6 months.

There was one church in Chama. The priest came out from Gardner, to conduct services. There were more celebrations of Holy Days, when I was a boy I think.

The school term was only 4 to 6 months each year. There was a school at Malachite, one at the upper corner of Pass Creek, and one at Sharpsdale. Students carried their lunches, if they didn't live quite close to the school. I went home for lunch because we lived so close to the school. People got married younger in those days. My mother was 15 and my father was 18, when they got married.

Water rights are the same as when I was young. People used to plow and bale with horses. They raised the same crops as we do now. They grew grains and alfalfa. They used the grains for the chickens and animals, and for their own use as flour. They took the grain to the flour mill at Malachite, or to the one in Walsenburg. They used to raise almost everything they needed, but the sugar and salt. They raised most of their own food. That's how come they made it. Now people get meat from Argentina, rice from China, etc. We grew our own pinto beans and our own coffee beans, on a small scale, just for our own use, and we would grind it ourselves. We grew all kinds of vegetables, peas, tomatoes, corn, and lettuce. There was more water before. There was more rain, and more growing season. There was more snow in the winter. It seems like it has changed in the last 10 or 15 years,

There are fewer people here now. Things used to be less available. When there was a store in Redwing, we went to the store more than we do now. They carried mostly everything, clothing, food, hardware. It was a general store.

I would rather live in the old days. People were closer, neighbors were closer, and there were more of them. People helped each other out more. It seemed like there was more time in those days.

There was a doctor in Gardner, and one in Walsenburg. People used home remedies. There weren't so many pil1s and operations, and people were healthier in those days.

There were most1y Spanish families, and they got along with the Anglos pretty well. A1vin Martin spoke Spanish, and Vernon Martin understands Spanish, but he doesn't speak it.

My family had more land then, than they do now. They sold the old homestead to Juan Cardenas. That is part of the land that AAA has now, My dad sold the land we owned in Colonias, when I was 6 or so,

I don't remember the depression. It didn't have much affect here. I was drafted during World War II. I was in California one year and came back after I got sick, and was discharged. Some men from here died in the service. Most of them came back here, if they survived.

I have one brother and one sister living here, Mary Archuleta and Andy Valdez.

We raised sheep and cattle. There weren't many fences. It was open range, and we grazed our animals in the mountains. We lived up Manzanares Creek, in the summer and came down here in the winter, with our animals

My father is 97 years old, and lives in Olathe, near Delta.

Back to the Oral Interviews Main Page

Return to the Huerfano County Home Page
© Karen Mitchell