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Jose Brigedo Rodriguez
Scanned by Dick Chenault
Edited by Carol Lombard
Date of Interview - 3-15-1979
Interviewed by Gloria Rodriguez Campbell
Translated by Lorraine Vargas
Jose Brigido Rodriguez
Date of birth - 8-28-1915
Parents - Fidelio Rodriguez and Maria Usia Elvira Maestas
Paternal grandparents - Tomas Rodriguez and Magdalena Chacon
Maternal grandparents - Jose Brigedo Maestas and Juanita Archuleta
Ethnic group - Spanish American
Family origin - Northern New Mexico
Date of family arrival in County - 1905
First family settlement - Tomas and Magdalena first settled in El Arenoso in Pass Creek in 1905
I was born the 28th of August 1915. I can remember many things since I was two years old. I can remember when my younger sister Sylvia was born. She is two years younger than me. I can remember that when she was born, my brother Tomas and I went to Chama with my padrino and madrina Juan and Pablita Cardenas until my mother felt better.
My father's name was Fidelio Rodriquez. My mother's name was Maria Usia Elvira Maestas. My father's father was Tomas Rodriquez. His mother was Magdalena Chacon. My mother's father was Brigedo Maestas and her mother was Juanita Archuleta.
My great-grandparents: Tomas Rodriquez' parents were Juan Antonio Rodriquez and Manualita. My great-grandparents on my mother's side were Antonio Archuleta and Maria Inez Sanchez.
The father of my grandfather Brigedo was Francisco Antonio Maestas. His mother was Antonia Salazar.
My great-grandmother Maria Inez' father was Benito Sanchez. My great-grandfather Antonio Cleto Archuleta's father was Benito – from there on I do not know.
Q: From where did you great-grandparents come?
A: They all came from the south. They came from Santa Fe, New Mexico and then Conejos, but most of them came from New Mexico. I did get to know some of my great-grandparents. I did not know my grandparents, Brigedo and Juanita. But I did know my great-grandparents, Tomas Rodriquez and Magdalena and Francisco Maestas and Tonita.
Q: Where did they live?
A: They lived here on the river. They all lived on the river from Red Wing to Gardner to Badito. My grandfather Tomas and my father Fidelio originally came from Conejos. They first settled in North Veta. My father Fidelio worked in this area and then met my mother here. There were married in the church at Chama. They were Catholics. They had a grand fiesta in the old Chama school in 1905. The dance was held at Bihams Hall here on the river where the McCains now live.
Q: What kind of work did your grandfather and your father do in North Veta?
A: They were running sheep on non-irrigated land. When my father bought these ranches here, he raised cows and sheep. My father died May 28, 1927. My mother was left with eight children but within six months the baby Nemesino died also.
Here we worked with Mama, very young but very united. We had sheep and we all had to take care of them. I worked with Mama until I was thirty years old. My mother was very faithful to her family. She never remarried. After we were grown, we divided the ranches and each one got his share, there were seven of us and we divided the places into seven equal parts.
Q: What can you tell me about your grandparents' time on the Rodriquez side?
A: Well, I can tell you that it was a big family. My grandfather lived close to us. All the sons and daughters would come with him to visit us. It was a big family. Some had up to six, seven children and some even up to ten and twelve. At that time, there were many people in this part of the county. The people lived well. They were poor, but they knew how to make a living. They were not educated people but they made their living by having faith. Everyone planted their crops. They had horses. They raised beans, corn and wheat. They made their flour – they would go grind it in LaVeta. The neighbors would get together and take the wheat to grind. Then when they butchered pigs, lard was rendered. They also harvested potatoes and beans. The corn was also ground. They would make pinks flour in order to make atole and chaqueue. So people had what they needed to live on. Then came the depression in 1932. They people became very poor, times were bad, and the land became dry. Nothing could be harvested- they couldn't harvest on dry land and on irrigated land very little. There were even grasshoppers in those years. Times were bad.
Then government relief came into being at this time. Soon after programs such as the W.P.A. began. Then that is when people started to work some. Then along came another program that they called Rehabilitation. From this program people began to take out loans to buy seed, to buy horses, to begin anew. With this help many people started to get back on their feet again. During that time Delano Roosevelt became President. We had begun the depression during President Herbert Hoover's administration. Then President Roosevelt implemented the W.P.A. – C.W.A. first and then W.P.A. Some people could then work and better themselves. The relief continued. Most of the people received this relief. Then matters began to get better. Then people were able to get work in the mines. There were jobs everywhere, even ranching started getting better.
Q: Can you please now tell me about your maternal grandparents?
A: My grandparents were Jose Brigedo Maestas y Juanita N. Posmosena Archuleta. She was the daughter of Antonio Cleto Archuleta. This was a man of some wealth. He had many sheep in this part of the country.
Q: Which place was his?
A: The land Sergio Abila has now and the place over by the river that is owned by Teodoro Gomez. Also land in the mountains now owned by White. He also had forestland and ran many sheep. He had two sons and one daughter. His daughter was my mother Elvira's mother. His sons' names were Benino Archuleta and Jose Guadalupe Archuleta. Jose Guadalupe was County Clerk and Recorder for a few terms, then he became a County Commissioner. My Uncle Benino moved to Apache north of Walsenburg, then he left. He also went into the sheep business. He was a good businessman. He married a woman named Tonita Armijo Borsum. A man named Borsum raised her. This man owned a lot of property there in Apache. He also owned property in Walsenburg. He owned a ranch which was located in what is now central Walsenburg. Benini Archuleta got all his businesses from paying Borsum's delinquent taxes. He owned a cantina and sold property. He was well off.
Q: What about your great-grandparents on the Maestas' side?
A: My great-grandparents Francisco Maestas and Tonita Salazar were ranchers. They had milk cows. They homesteaded here at the river. They also had a large family. Their sons' names were: Jose Cumbino Maestas, Quirino Maestas and Juan Blas. The daughters' names were: Francisca Genia and the other was Josefa. It was a very large family. They all lived in Walsenburg and from there on. They worked in the mines. They also did different work on the ranches.
Q: Were they people of wealth?
A: No, they weren't, but they lived very comfortably. They were working people. They had a ranch. They didn't have much luck in becoming wealthy, but they were good people.
Q: Where did they live?
A: Their ranch was located near the river which was the Rahn's place. They ran milk cows there. My great-grandfather Francisco used to say, when he was ranching there, that the place where we live now there was no such thing as a house. It was all like mountain and forest. They'd use this land for grazing cattle and they'd graze their mile cows near the river up the foot of Sheep Mountain. Several of the children would watch the milk cows. There was my cousin Claudio. He was also Don Francisco's and Juan Blas' nephew. They tell me that they and Luis Vigil would graze milk cows and return in the evening with them.
Q: And what about your great-grandparents on your father's side?
A: They were married in Conejos. They were Juan Francisco Antonio and Manuelita. I don't know too much about them. But I do know about my grandfather Tomas Rodriquez. He used to haul freight from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Denver in the days when oxen were used. He traveled through Highway 160 and they would go down Badito and up Yellowstone and cross Badito again. They'd end up at Apache and continue north towards Pueblo until they reached Denver. It would take three months to make this trip.
Q: Did he do this when he was very young?
A: He was young. He was in his prime, when his children were very small.
Q: And your grandmother?
A: My grandmother was Espanola. She came from the Spanish reservations. When the Anglos took their land in the United States and gave them reservation. Here is where my grandmother was from.
Q: Do you mean to say land grants?
A: No, this was when the Spanish first settled here. At first all this land was governed by the Spanish. Then there was a revolution, and the Anglos took power. And the Spanish had to go to these reservations. They re-established themselves and then continued. My grandmother was from one of these reservations of Spanish people. Her father's name was Juan Gabriel Chacon and her mother's name was Maria De La Luz. They used to call her Chata.
Q: Where did they live?
A: They came from Santa Fe.
Q: Tomas and Magdalena?
A: Yes, to Conejos.
Q: Had they married when they came?
A: Yes, they came as far as Conejos and raised part of their family. Then they moved to Dulce, New Mexico. Some of his children were born there. One was named Tito. From there they came to North Veta to a place called Arenoso.
Q: How is it that they came here?
A: Well, my grandmother had a first cousin named Teodora Maes. This woman was a widow. Her husband was Pelegrino Nieto. And this woman was left well off financially. And in some way they called my father to come and help her run her business. That is how my father and grandfather began in sheep business working with Teodora Maes. She was my grandfather's first cousin. And then when my father started, he was dealing with Damasio Vigil, he was another well-to-do man. My father cared for his sheep on shares for many years.
Q: This place that you are living on now, did your father homestead it?
A: No, my father bought this ranch in 1905. He bought 160 acres for seven hundred dollars. The following year he bought the other place where Esequiel Rodriquez lives for nine hundred dollars – eighty acres. He homesteaded near the Manzanares Creek, a place consisting of three hundred and twenty acres. Then, he got additional land and it came to be about five hundred acres-five hundred twenty-five acres. That was the land that was divided among the family, and also the land where Esequiel and I live.
Q: In the days of your grandparents, did you hear tell how people got along?
A: Yes, my grandfather Tomas Rodriquez would tell many stories and the Archuletas' also. For instance, there were Indians here and there was a lot of Indian trouble. There were good and bad Indians. The Indians would come…they'd call them Comanches. The Indians would come and camp in the summer and hunt deer and fish. Then they would continue westward. I imagine they would come from the San Luis Valley. They Indians would rob many families. My grandfather talked about an incident that happened to one of his people. A group of Indians came at him, but he had a wrench. And with that he kept pointing at the Indians and getting further away. And they didn't follow him, so the wrench saved his life. The Indians thought it was a firearm. But, I guess they didn't have as much trouble with Indians as the Anglos did, they were the ones they would fight with the most. Because I've heard the story of when the Indians had a battle on Greenhorn. The creek was where they fought with the Anglos was called Greenhorn. All the Indians had to fight with were bows and arrows, axes and sticks. The Americans had firearms and massacred many of the Indians. That is where the chief Indian Cuerno Verde died. That is why they named it Cuerno Verde which extends as far as Mountain. They named the mountains, creek and the battle Greenhorn, because this Indian chief died there.
Q: What tribe of Indians were they?
A: Well, I think they were…I don't know what tribe of Indians they were. But, there was a division between the Indians from the east and Indians from the west. They would come down, but because the Indians would fight for territories with other tribes, there weren't may Indians. Many had their territories divided. There were many buffaloes and many deer. When the Anglos arrives they would kill buffalo, even poison the water. They wanted only the buffalo hides. The Indians felt very bad about this. But there was nothing they could do about it, since the Anglo forces were overpowering. They drove the Indians from here west, and the others toward the east, and put them in reservations. With time the Anglos made an agreement to help the Indians, but they still put them on reservations. And the Indians lost all their rights. To this day, the Indians are under the Indian government.
Q: How was it that the Spanish intermarried with the Indians?
A: Well, with time everything settled down. There had always been intermarriages. People became mixed. In fact there are many, many people here that have Indian blood. Especially in the Spanish people in these parts. Nowadays they are so mixed that Anglos marry Indians and Mexicans marry Indians and Negros marry Anglos. It is very mixed. Maybe it is because they got together in the schools and were kind of raised together in schools. The discrimination is not as strong as it used to be. Before, discrimination was very great. Especially toward the north - from Walsenburg to the north. Until recently the discrimination has been very great. In the 30's, around 1932, there was no place the Spanish people could go to get a haircut or go to eat in restaurants because they weren't allowed. Restaurants and barbershops had signs reading: White Trade Only.
Q: Did that happen in this county also?
A: No, the discrimination wasn't too bad in this county, because the Courthouse officials have almost always been intermixed. It was never like to the north towards Pueblo and those places. In Trinidad and San Luis the Spanish officials, but here in Walsenburg, it has been intermixed.
Q: Was there much discrimination in school?
A: Not in our school. No, they were almost all Spanish except for about three Anglos that went to school with us. They were the Addingtons: Lowell and Mary, Burchard: Dorothy, and Merrill. And the rest were Spanish. We had Spanish teachers, but mostly Anglo-Saxon teachers. Toward the end of my school years, the teachers were Spanish, but there was not much discrimination. But the teachers weren't that good either…like they are now.
Q: Like how?
A: Well, they weren't educated as well, but never the less they were teachers.
Q: Can you tell me more about your father and your mother?
A: Well my father and mother got married in 1905. The living in Arenoso for one year, then in 1906, they moved here and settled here.
Q: Did they own land in Arenoso?
A: No, they rented the place they had. He didn't own his own land there, but my grandfather, Tomas Rodriquez did. But he sold it. My father started here when he bought these ranches.
Q: What did he start with?
A: Well, he brought Damasio Vigil's sheep with him when he came, which were 900 sheep. When he first came here, he had a great loss with Pinque. Then in the mountain he had another great loss because of the blackleg. He lost many sheep. He lost many sheep because of the difference in climate. Here the winters were long and the summers short. Arenoso was a much better place for sheep. By 1920, he was out of the sheep business, and started raising sheep. I was already six years old, Tomas was eight and Gaspar was about twelve. So we started to herd sheep and start anew. We were getting along fine. We had about 390 sheep when my father became ill. In 1927 he died. From then on the family continued working with the sheep with my mother until the family was raised.
Q: Since your mother had these cows, can you say that she was somewhat wealthy?
A: Her grandparents were well off…Antonio Cleto and Maria Inez. My mother, Elvira was an orphan. When she was two years old, her mother Juanita died. She was the sister of Lupe and Benino, sons of Antonio Cleto and Maria Inez Sanchez raised them. She inherited from the Archuleta's. Antonio Cleto was a wealthy man and she inherited about 40 cows. In the 1920's, my father quit the sheep business and times were hard. It was close to the depression. He sold the cows…well, he traded them for sheep. And those were the sheep my mother and the family continued with.
Q: What kind of person was your mother?
A: My mother Elvira? She was about 5-1/2 feet tall. She was a big woman because the Maestas were all big men, so she inherited this from them. My father was also a big man.
Q: And to be able to raise she had to be a strong woman, right?
A: My mother was very strong. She used to work with us pitching hay. She'd work especially with me lambing in the sheds come spring. In the summer she'd irrigate. She was a very hard worker.
Q: Did she make all the decisions?
A: Yes. When my father died, Damasio Vigil was the administrator of his estate for ten years. The, I can remember, we'd go to the county judge for advice. The county judge would speak to the administrator when decisions had to be made. The lambs were sold and we'd pay the bank some because it seemed like we'd never get out of the $530 debt. In October we'd pay our bill at the store. We had credit year round with the Hudson's. When we sold the lambs, we'd pay our bill and start anew. That's how we made our living. We did business with the Guaranty State Bank in Walsenburg during the time my mother was still raising her family.
Q: Did she continue living here after her husband died?
A: Yes, she lived here until 1945. They she sold the property equally to the family and she bought herself a house in Walsenburg. Then she received her pension. She lived there but was very sick. She was a diabetic and was always under a doctor's care. She died the 29th of June 1971.
Q: When she was ranching, how did she manage it?
A: With the neighbors…we had some difficulties with the neighbors, but not many. My mother was a woman that wasn't fooled. She was always ready to defend her rights and of course the family was very united. We stayed working with her until we were grown up. The older ones married until eventually she old the land to us.
Q: How did the sheep and cattlemen get along?
A: By the time I cam remember everyone had their own property and the fences were up. Long before there were many difficulties between the sheep men and the cattlemen fighting over pastures. But those days were before my time.
Q: Did you go to school here in Pass Creek?
A: Yes, only in Pass Creek.
Q: Who were your teachers?
A: I began school with a teacher names C.M. Coon. This teacher came from New Mexico and bought books for the district. The books were in both Spanish and English. We'd read the left side of the book in English and the right side was in Spanish. He was my teacher for two years. He would do many physical exercises and he would teach us how. Another teacher was Proodle. I can't remember for how many years. Then there was Elsa Sweet. Then Shirley Woods, niece of the Cadwell's. Another teacher was Fedelina Trujillo. Then Martha King, and the last one was Escolastica Salazar.
Q: What did they change teachers so often?
A: That's the way it was before. It was very difficult to get a teacher because it was so far from the city. The Board of Directors had a difficult time finding teachers for this area because everything was so inconvenient. It was too far. And the schools were too far from populated area. We'd have to walk about a mile, and the rest of the students lived very far from school in those days.
Q: Did the Anglo teachers teach differently from the Spanish teachers?
A: Only the first teacher I had taught us in Spanish. All the rest taught strictly in English until they restricted us from speaking Spanish. We had to read in English – there wasn't a single lesson in Spanish.
Q: Didn't anyone try to change that?
A: No, there was no changing this until recently that the bilingual program has helped the Spanish and Mexican to talk and learn Spanish. But before they wouldn't teach Spanish at all.
Q: Do you remember who you went to school with?
A: Yes, many people went to school there. I remember that I counted in all the years I went to school about 30 students my age have already died. All the Valdez family, the Maes', the Vigil's, the Bravo's, the Rivera's, the Addington's, the Vasquez', the Cisneros', and the Garcia's all attended school here. The teachers would teach everyone from first grade to the eighth grade but they all went to school here. I knew them all. They are all family, men and women.
Q: What games or sports were popular?
A: We'd play Indy-Over. We'd throw the ball over the schoolhouse and catch it on the other side. We played baseball. Other games we played at school were Ring around the Roses, and Pie in the Snow. We'd make a big circle. We'd have one person in the middle – the fox. And the rest would be the chickens. We'd have races and we'd play Panito (drop the hankie). The students would get in a circle and someone would drop the hankie behind one. The one with the hankie would chase her and if caught, she was out. The person caught would then be put in the circle. This person was called the cat and if he caught the other one, the other one in turn would be the cat.
Q: Did you ever hear of a game called Canute?
A: No, but I heard my parents talk about it and about Solidad.
Q: How was this played?
A: I don't know how, I just heard them about it. These were games that they would play: The Button Game and the Ring Game where they'd throw knives around. The one that tossed the ring around a knife would get to keep it. Everyone would stick their knives in a table. I saw that played during a fiesta. The one that didn't want to have his knife taken would place a dollar next to his knife and if the ring tossed would encircle the knife, they'd win the dollar, not the knife.
Q: Did they have many horse races?
A: During the Saint James and Saint Ana's Day they'd have horse races in Gardner. They'd have a carnival and dance, and many people would get together. I'd hear my grandparents speak about the…
Right where these haystacks are located, that's where people would climb to watch the horse races held. In those days they'd have the rooster race also. The people from Chama would come and compete with the people from Pass Creek in the rooster race. If the rooster was won by the people from Chama, the following Sunday the race would be held there. From they they'd continued similarly towards the river and down to Gardner. One of the champions of the rooster game was Juan Sanatos Abila. My father said that this man Martinez, brother of Shorty Martinez, had really hit him hard with one of the roosters while on horseback fighting for the rooster. Another game they used to tell me about was called “Chueco.” It consisted of some sticks and a ball. They'd hit the ball with the sticks. They would again play one district against the other. In those days each school was one district. There were a lot of schools and a lot of districts in those days. The people would also get into it in this game called “Chueco” and hit each other with the sticks. They were dangerous games. I guess that's why the government prohibited both games, and they were never played again.
Q: Did it look like they were trying to kill each other?
A: Yes, some did kill each other with the sticks.
Q: What other things did the people do for entertainment?
A: During St. James Day (Santiago) they'd have dances, fiestas, and have horse races, also bronc riding and steer riding, also calf roping, but not like now. Now everything is so modern.
Q: Was there ever a church in Pass Creek?
A: No, there was never a church here in Pass Creek,
Q: Did the people go to Chama or Gardner?
A: The people divided themselves; some would go to Chama, some to Gardner. When the mission was held in Gardner, everyone would, all the people, would go to Gardner. The following year the mission was held in Chama.
Q: What kind of mission?
A: The Bishop would come for 2 or 3 days to preach to the people. The first day he would call down the men, the second day the women and the third day, the family.
Q: He'd come to call them down?
A: Well, to explain to them the right and the wrong. The first day to the men, second day to the women. Sometimes it would last as long as a week.
Q: And all the people would come?
A: Yes, the people would come.
Q: Only the Catholic people came?
A: Yes, only the Catholic.
Q: And where did this take place?
A: In the church in Chama then the next year in Gardner, then in two, three years it would come to Chama again. In those days there was much penitente. The penitentes were strong Catholics and would always attend the missions. During lent they would always get together and have the stations in each house of dwelling (Morada.) There was a place of dwelling in almost every district. There was a place of dwelling here in Pass Creek, another in Chama. The people would get together to pray the stations then at night they'd have the tenieblas. They'd make a lot of racket with matracas and with chains. One person would get the chain from one end and one from the other and they'd drag it on the ground or floor.
Q: Why would they do that?
A: I don't know. It was something the penitentes did. The sounds were something that they did, and then they'd pray a lot. They'd pray the rosary. They'd also sing a lot of hymns during Holy Week. The people could go visit them during these Holy Days and take them food. People would volunteer to give them dinner then they'd take it to them. They'd pass the day with the penitentes then they'd go home.
Q: The women would never participate?
A: I understand that they didn't. They'd take them food if they had offered too, cakes, pies, whatever they prepared.
Q: Did you know any of the penitentes from here?
A: Oh, yes, many. My wife's grandfather, his name was Rosario Maes, Luis Vigil, Alberto Vigil, and Santiago Vigil were all very important men. There were also Diego Garcia, Tony Maes, Isaque Baca, Eladio Valdes, Andres Valdez, Solomon Cordova, Solomon Cardenas, Jose de Jesus Cardenas, Alfonso Atencio, Sabino Valdez and Guadalupe Valdez. Also Jose Leon Martinez and Manuel Valdez. I heard that years ago there used to be a place of dwelling (Morada) here at John Mullen's place. Then they moved it there above the caves, but they have their concilios. They were all organized. They'd call the main one concilario. They'd have meetings as far as New Mexico. My padrino, Juan Cardenas was one of the main concilios. It was called La Socidad De Nuestro Padre Jesus – the Society of our Father Jesus. The concilarios would travel to distant places for these meetings. I believe they had organization and were well protected. These were a place of dwelling – Morada at the Colonies, one in Badito, in Farisita, even in Walsenburg. There in Chico they still have one. In Turkey Creek there is two places in fact they're still in operation. Here in Redwing and Malachite they no longer exist.
Q: Why do you think they quit?
A: Because people changed, they no longer believed in this the same as with the Catholic Church, many of the people. The penitentes no longer continued. I guess they didn't believe any longer. The modern generation didn't believe and the majority just discontinued.
Q: During your parents' generation how would people meet in order to marry?
A: In the time of my mother and father, they knew each other so they would ask for their hand in marriage, but during the time of my great grandparents' friends would offer each other their daughter or son and they would marry. Benino Archuleta was my great-grandfather's friend and Benino offered him his daughters. If he didn't want the oldest he could have the youngest for my great-grandfather's son. They wanted them to marry but the son argued and argued till he went and married another girl named Borsi from San Luis. Ever since I can remember the custom of forcing people to marry didn't exist, but before that's the way it was.
Q: Who were the political people in the days of your parents?
A: From when I can remember they were: the first was Juan De Dios Montez, he was mentioned often. This man was well to do, he was a republican. He used to be a Senator.
A: Yes, he was a Senator. He had his nephews as interpreters in all his business affairs. He assisted-attended in the Legislature but he always had his secretary with him to be able to understand everything. He was always a well-to-do man here in the county. He had many sheep, more sheep than anything else. He had many apartment or house for rent. He had ranches in Redwing, a big ranch at the Colonies, another in Turkey Creek. He had a house in Walsenburg. Later on he became commissioner.
Jeff Farr and Robert Smith from Malachite were Republican commissioners. In those days people would complain a lot about the elections. They'd say that even the mules from the mines would vote, because they could never get the republican parties out. Finally a man named Conder came to talk to the people here in Malachite and Redwing and all these small districts and encourage them to make a change. It used to be that there were only seven Democrats in Redwing, the rest were Republicans. The republicans might not have been so mean to the people, but they had the power and being that even the mules were voting, they couldn't be beat. From then on things began to change. There was such a great change that not one republican remained in office. Then a Tomas Martinez from Turkey Creek became commissioner from what I heard. Then from When I remember Lupe Archuleta was elected commissioner for a few years before he was the Secretary then the commissioner. He was still commissioner when he died. Trinidad Trujillo was then commissioner then this other man. Oh, I believe that Lupe was the last commissioner then Sabino Archuleta for District #1 here in Gardner. Then from what I can remember another commissioner named Johnson was elected. He was a very well known man. They were all democrats now. A man named Niebur was commissioner with Lupe then continued with Sabino Archuleta. When Lupe died, Sabino entered as commissioner in his place in this district and was commissioner for twenty-eight years.
Q: Why did he remain in office for so long? Was it because he was wealthy?
A: Well, I believe that when he was commissioner he was no longer well to do, but I believe he was a good commissioner with the poor people because he was in office during the depression and after. And being that he helped the Spanish people so much he remained as commissioner.
Q: What changes did Sabino's father bring about?
A: Well, the best thing he did was pave the road from Walsenburg as far as Badito. Then, many people told me he used to help the poor people, and that's why remained in office so long. But later on the management of his supervisors and his works is what made him lose. But he was a good commissioner. He is still alive; Sabino Archuleta is eighty-four years old.
Q: Were there other men or women in politics?
A: Well, a woman named Martha Thorn was superintendent of the school for many years. I believe it was for twenty-five years or more. After her a man named Green was superintendent for a short time, then after that Miss Nelson, and she also remained for many years. She was a very elegant and she treated the Anglo-Saxon and the Spanish equally. She remained superintendent till she wanted to, then she resigned when they organized the schools and moved the districts to Walsenburg and Gardner only. LaVeta was separate, but from here they started to bus the students to the school in Gardner. The ones that went to high school were bussed to Walsenburg. It was said that they consolidated the schools. When they came with the plan, they said that the school costs would be cheaper because they wouldn't have to have as many teachers, and the buildings would be better for the students and there would be better benefits. And when the state official would come and talk with the superintendent, then they would find all the students in one big school and not in all the small schools the way it was. Before the consolidation we had some inspectors come and see the schools. They didn't find any school that qualified except that one in Pass Creek. At that time I was the director of the school and Josephine Vasquez and Manuel Gallegos. We had the school very well organized…the district. We had it very well fixed and painted. It was the only place in the whole county that they gave credit to.
Q: When did they change the schools and what were the family's reactions? Each district, community had their own way to live.
A: Well, at first one teacher would teach from the first to the eight grades. And when they changed I believe it was to a great advantage, because they had one teacher for each class. It was an advantage for the teachers as well as the students, because the teacher would teach that same class all day long. It was very difficult here because the teacher had to teach eight classes during the day. While she was teaching some, the others were abandoned. Over there it was different, all day the teacher would be with the same grade, same class, and I believe it was a great advantage. But what has become very costly is the bussing of the students because they have to buy busses. Everything is so expensive more with inflation. They have to pay a lot for repairs and for teachers' salaries. There is some advantage but costly, yes. There for awhile the neighbors here would say that before the school directors had a small piece of government because they could make warrants, employ some to haul wood, others to fix and repair the school, and the like. I believe that in many places there was much…with that money.
I think the advantage was great because the students are taught about everything. The teachers now have workshops and teach different types of teaching that is much better.
Also the children know each other better. Before, when we were in the small schools we didn't know the people from Turkey Creek, or the ones from Gardner. Now they do know each other. Now there is more communication between the students.
Q: Were children raised much differently than now?
A: Oh yes, the young had a little more respect than today. What is so terrible today is that marijuana that they sell to the students. They start them so young. They're doped and most of the time they don't know what they're doing, and that's what has them so far behind. There have even been deaths in the schools from dope.
Well not every one of them but some. There used to be more respect. Now a days city boys aren't afraid to end up in jail or do wrong. Before they were afraid and the parents would discipline them. With the laws being enforced today they really can't do much to a young juvenile. They really can't put them in jail unless they have committed some bad crime. And they can't put them in jail if they're too young.
Q: Do you think it would be better if people raised the young like they did before?
A: I believe that the way things are now are much better because everything is so modern now a days. Even though most of the people left here and went to the cities because they couldn't make a living here, they went where there were factories and many jobs, to California, to Denver, wherever they had jobs like the ordinance, the constructions, and the mill. They all left but I believe that they're living better than before either way you look at it. Before, people were living comfortable but very poor. They worked very hard because they didn't have these modern machineries of today. Now a few men can handle the same job that took many men then. Putting up hay and cultivating was a slow job with horses. Pitching the hay during harvest was a hard job where now it's easy. Before the people managed the ranch with only the help of horses. Some with transportations, and now we have cars, by next morning you may find yourself in distant parts. People would travel only twenty miles with horses, then they'd have to stop and sleep and feed their horses. The men would always work even though it was cold or snowy. Not now. Everything is so modern.
Q: What do you think will people of our people, our culture, our race, with all the changes that have taken place?
A: I think that this bilingual which they have now has proved to be an advantage to our race. For example now, the Anglos mingle even though the conversation is in Spanish. The same with the Mexicans or Spanish even though they didn't understand English. It is to the advantage of the Hispanic because now they can learn both Spanish and English. They can carry a discussion in both languages. I know some young Spanish people that before this bilingual existed they didn't know how to speak Spanish at all, only English. But they were also taught they could defend their right and speak English as well as the rest. But this bilingual is much better because they can learn both languages and it is very necessary in many parts (places).
Q: Can you tell me more about your grandmother Magdalena?
A: My grandmother Magdalena, Tomas Rodriquez' wife, the one they called the Spaniard, when she lived in this country, she was a mid-wife. She assisted many women in this parts. She even assisted my mother when I was born, and my wife's mother when my wife was born. My grandfather, well he was very intelligent. He was always planting. He wasn't a well-to-do man but would plant the necessary crops. Then she would make some money, not only from midwifing but from doctoring sick people. She hardly ever stayed home because people would come for her to doctor people in LaVeta, in Walsenburg, and in all the districts around here.
Q: Did she use Mexican remedies?
A: Mexican remedies, she knew every remedy that existed. She'd gather many herbs in the summertime, for instance: spearmint, mariola and all kinds of prairie herbs. She'd use them to doctor. She had a brother named Manuel Chacon. He came to visit her here when he was already very old. He was a horse doctor. He would tend to sick horses all the time.
Q: Was he a doctor or….
A: He's practice only… nurse. Her also. But the people were always going for her. She'd work a lot.
Q: Where did she live when she did this?
A: She lived here where Esequiel Rodriquez lives. That's where they moved when they came from Arenoso. They lived here for about fifteen years then they moved to Chama, near the church, where Tina Martinez lives now. They lived there for about another ten to fifteen years, then he got sick and they moved to Walsenburg. That's where he died in about 1935. Soon after she died also.
Q: What about your aunt Pablita?
A: Well, my aunt Pablita was also my Godmother. She was Maestas and Cardenas. She married my Godfather Jesus Jose Cardenas. These people were ranchers here in Chama. That's where they married, then in about 1935 he sold his place and bought some property in Bernalillo, New Mexico. They stayed there for about five years then he sold his property there and his sheep and moved to Walsenburg and bought the house that belonged to Juan De Dios Montez. They both died there. The family they had, well, she had a son, Juan Gallegos, then they had three daughters. One was Fedelina (Montez), the other Esperanza (Bellah), and the youngest Julia (Roybal). Esperanza and Julia are still living but Fedelina and Juan are deceased.
Q: Had she been married before?
A: Yes, with a Juan Gallegos. He died about eight months after marriage. Juan Gallegos Jr. was born and raised with the Cardenas family. This Juan Gallegos died at the age of twenty-eight. He went off to Utah to shear sheep and came back with typhoid fever. He died in 1928.
Q: What kind of man was Juan Cardenas?
A: He was an organized penitente. He was very business-like, very republican. He ran for representative with Judge Baron from Walsenburg. He lost, but was always a true republican, a penitente and a trader. He was very sociable with people and very well known.
Q: And your Uncle Esequiel Maestas?
A: Oh yes, this Uncle Esequiel Maestas was of much help. He was a very independent man, never indebted to anyone. He used to raise cattle. He never married. He was always very helpful to our family, the Rodriquez family. He was my mother's brother and he'd always help us with helpful advice with money, and in every way. He would always check on us. When he retired he sold his ranch and his cows.
Q: Did he have many ranches?
A: Not too big of a ranch but he could run his fifty to sixty cows there. He's the one that stayed with my grandmother till (she) Marie Inez Sanchez de Archuleta passed away. When he sold everything he moved to Walsenburg. He lived there near his sister Pablita till he passed away in 1970.
Q: Did you go to war?
A: No, when the war started I got a deferment because I was tending to my mother's ranch and her animals.
Q: Did any of your brothers go?
A: Yes, the only one that went was Guillermo.
Q: What effect did the World War have on the people here?
A: Few young men from here died in the Second World War. The ones can remember were: Jose Medina, Esequiel Pacheco and Romy Trujillo. From this county here about four or five men died.
Q: Were members of your family miners?
A: My fathers mined for a time there in Walsenburg. That was when he recently came here. None of us ever worked in the mines. We all farmed – ranched.
Q: Did your father work there during the strike?
A: Yes, he was even the guard there during the strike. My brother Gaspar had a picture of my father when he was a guard there in Walsenburg.
Q: During the strike?
A: During the strike. I believe it was around 1901 or 1902, the beginning of the century. My grandfather Tomas Rodriquez was also a guard during that same period of time, when the miners were on strike.
Q: Did he talk about the way the men got along during the strike?
A: No, he never said anything about having any trouble, only that they were there as guards.
My grandfather was assessor in the county of Conejos. I don't know in what year, this was when my father was very young. This was after 1877.
Q: Do you remember the story in a newspaper about your father or grandfather?
A: Oh, I think I do remember. My great-grandfather Antonio Cleto Archuleta carried the mail for several terms from Malachite to Alamosa, by government contract. He'd go on horseback one day and return the next. There was a trail and at the pass they had a man collecting toll. My great-grandfather took some men and work a trail through, he didn't go by the pass so he didn't have to pay toll. The mail carriers were also Juan Santos Abila, Brigedo Maestas, my grandfather, and Lupe Cordova. Several men from there also carried the mail. One time they were coming with the mail-bags. A man named Pantaleon Gonzales found them and brought them to Antonio Cleto, in the same form that he found them.
Q: Why did they have the toll?
A: I guess to get the mail faster to Malachite, Gardner and the Huerfano. The other route took longer because it was further. There was a post office here in Malachite and from there the mail was distributed. The man that maintained the pass collected the toll but this Archuleta cut a trail on the lower side that was passable on horseback and avoided the pass so didn't have to pay toll.
Q: Can you tell me about the water rights?
A: Where we get the water is from the Epifanio Ditch. There are four rights. One twenty-four hour right is for this ranch where I live, another right for the ranch that belongs to Esequiel. The other right goes to the ranch that belonged to Gallegos, that is Garcia's now. The other right belongs to the John Mullen ranch. But there have been sales for the water rights and the twenty-four hours is no longer correct. Water has been sold to different parts…The ditch has three and seventy hundreds feet of water, in the quillen. There was trouble at one time in the ranch that belongs to John Mullen. A man named Elojio Cordova ran that place. The next ranch which was part of the Gallegos ranch was owned by a man named Garzenda Vasquez, these men had difficulties during one October when the water was cut down some. Elojio turned in the water and when it reached Vasquez' well he cut it off. Elojio and his sons went and got in a fight which resulted in the death of Garzedan. They had a hearing and Elojio was sentenced to ten years in prison. He was released soon than that because he defended a guard that had been attacked by another prisoner. They gave him his liberty. He didn't return to Walsenburg but went to where they call Laguna and raised animals there. We have never had troubles like that again, never trouble that bad.
Q: Who is the ditch foreman?
A: I have been the foreman for several years, about twenty-eight years. We've been having it pretty good this year of '79, we had a lot of water. We had very good crops. There have been years that weren't so good because of the little water in the creek.
Q: And what about the belief in witches?
A: Well the witches and the wizards…my grandmother Archuleta used to tell me lots of stories, and I've heard many stories about witches. That lights would fly about. One time some companions met up with this witch, with a very pretty woman, they said she told them, “All you have to do is shave your beard and whenever you want to leave you just paste it back on and that's all you have to do.” When they got to where they were going his companions told him don't put it back on put it on that hide. So he put the beard on the hide. In a while a gust of wind came and picked up the hide and took it. So if he would have put the beard on himself the gust of wind would have taken him instead. He never went back there again he returned with fright.
Q: Do you believe in that?
A: Oh, I do believe, in the Bible is says that there are sorcerers. It says that witches and sorcerers will not be forgiven. So I do believe that they exist. Nothing has ever happened to me, but I do believe. I think the ones that are now are very secretive, because the law is against such ones.
Q: If you could give helpful advice to the young people today, what would you tell them?
A: I'd tell them to live their lives well. To live with past examples in mind. To try and make a good life and most of all to obey the commandments because that's where salvation is at. I always tell the boys to do right not wrong. I believe that the one that is going to be bad is, even if they've been told not to, and if they're going to be good… and I believe this is true in all nationalities. There's good people and bad people in all and the one that should be good is good and the one that is bad…I don't know if it's his fault or not, but there had to be good and bad. That's what I believe and advice I give it to do right.
Well, to say a little more about my family: my wife Arabella and I got married in 1946. My in-laws are Estevan Maes and Maria Salome Gallegos y Maes. We moved to Pass Creek in '47 where they call Rincon. In the fall we moved to Pueblo. We lived there for two years. We retuned in '50 here to the ranches. Larry which is our oldest boy was born in Pueblo. He was a year old when we came. We then had a daughter and named her Maria Luisa Rodriquez in 1953. In 1958 we had another daughter and named her Salome Rodriquez. Larry went to college in Boulder for seven years and is now practicing law in Colorado Springs. He had practiced law for the past four years. He first worked in Legal Air and is now a resident of Colorado Springs. His wife's name is Joan (Ernst). They have two daughters. One's name is Melissa, she's four years old. The other Andrea is a year and a half. My second child Maria Luisa attended college in Illinois for four years then at Colorado State University Medical Center for four years. This past spring in June she graduated as to be a Doctor. She's doing her internship in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In another four years she will be a doctor. My second daughter, Salome graduated high school in Walsenburg and has attended three years college at New Haven, Connecticut at Yale University. She lacks one year to graduate. They all left so my wife and I remain at home by ourselves. We hope to live a few years more. We live at the ranch where we raise sheep and cows.
In 1964 I was elected commissioner for the county of Huerfano, District 1 in Gardner. I am in my fourth term. I have fifteen years as commissioner. I'm lacking a year and a half to complete my fourth term.
I have been interviewed tonight by Mrs. Gloria Campbell who is my niece.
Campbell, Rodriquez, and with this I conclude.
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