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.

Contributed by Karen Mitchell
Interviewed by Fred George
Ed Padilla, born 4-1-1913
Parents - Dabris Padilla and Rose Padilla
Grandparents - Anastacio Aragon and Bedulia Aragon
Ethnic group - Indian
Location of first family settlement - North Veta

May 1979

Fred: When did you come to this area? In what year?

Ed: In 1913.

Fred: You're an old guy, eh?

Ed: Yeah - sixty-three.

Fred: Where at, Ed?

Ed: About two miles north of La Veta on a ranch.

Fred: How big was La Veta then?

Ed: It was a small town, a cow town.

Fred: Do you remember your folks pretty well?

Ed: Oh yeah, my Dad a little, but my Mother no. She died when I was little.

Fred: You were young when she died. You told me once that either your Mother or Dad was Indian.

Ed: Both.

Fred: So you're full blooded Indian.

Ed: My Dad was a full blooded Navajo Indian. My Mother was a Ute.

Fred: How neat. What did your folks do for a living?

Ed: Nothing.

Fred: Did they use a little horse and buggy and a saddle horse? "

Ed: That's right.

Fred: No automobile at the time?

Ed: Well no, not until the 1920's when Dad and Mom bought a Model T but to me horses were the best thing in the world.

Fred: Hey Ed, tell me about your life out on the ranch like that in La Veta. How did you grow up, what were some of the games you played, where did you go to school, and who were some of the teachers?

Ed: At the ranch, Fred, we didn't have much to do but take care of milk cows, pigs and the ranch. The first three years of school I went down here to Saint Mary's.

Fred: In Walsenburg?

Ed: Yes. We had two places close to where your Mother lived.

Fred: In North La Veta?

Ed: Yes, one ranch two miles from your Mother's place in North La Veta, and another up in the hills. So, Mother moved down here and we went to school here at Saint Mary's. I was a cowboy all the way.

Fred: All the way, yeah. You had a good time, didn't you?

Ed: I'm still a cowboy, Still an Indian all the way. You know, I'm proud to be an Indian American.

Fred: You bet.

Ed: I'm an Indian American. I belong to the Denver American Indian Organization. (cannot remember the correct title)

Fred: Good; that's neat. So, you're one of the people we can actually say: "Hey, you are a true American all the way".

Ed: I knew Spanish and I knew English.

Fred: Do you know any Indian language?

Ed: No.

Fred: Do you remember any of your grandparents? N

Ed: No, because I didn't have any -I mean from my Mother's side - yes. Anastachio used to speak English and Spanish and he knew the language because he was from the Ignacio Reservation.

Fred: What was his name?

Ed: Anastachio.

Fred: How old was he when he passed away?

Ed: Well, I don't know. He was registered as Aragon in town.

Fred: Here in town?

Ed: Yeah.

Fred: Hey, tell me how big was Walsenburg in well, uh, you know. Did you have movies at that time - silent or something like this?

Ed: The first time I came down here to a movie, I was about thirteen years old. The Sisters from Saint Mary's brought me over. There were all Sisters then at the school. There were no private teachers like there are now. There were all Sisters and Fathers at Saint Mary's School. And the first show I saw in my life a train was coming my way. It frightened the hell out of me. I thought it was gonna run over me. (laughter) I was out on the ranch. I didn't know anything.

Fred: You were a character. What were the Sisters like in those days? Were they pretty mean in school?

Ed: You better believe it.

Fred: Did they tell you what to do and show you what you were supposed to do?

Ed: Everybody respected them. Everybody. The Sisters were all Catholic at that time, and they were pretty mean.

Fred: Why were they mean? How were they mean? Wouldn't they let you get into trouble?

Ed: You couldn't get into trouble.(laughter)

Fred: Ed, do you still have some relations in Walsenburg or La Veta? Any Aunts, Uncles, etc?

Ed: I do have an Aunt. Actually an Indian Aunt in La Veta. Outside of that, I do not. In Las Quideros there's supposed to be relations. Fred, I'm going to tell you something. It's the idea this: I'm an Indian. My ancestors were Indians and the people that raised them. Actually my name is Padilla. It's a Spanish name, but it's not right. Fred? What is it?

Ed: None

Fred: You don't know, really?

Ed: No, no, the Indians don't have last names and the people that raised them, my ancestors, gave them their name Padilla.

Fred: Do they have first names'?

Ed: Oh yeah, Eddie.

Fred: Of course, that's more Americanized that the Indians.

Ed: Oh yeah, we're all Americans you know, and as far as Spanish is concerned I'm pretty poor at that, but all I learned is English.

Fred: This is neat. I feel lucky to be able to work with an Indian; but I know you and I have been friends all our lives too, Ed.

Ed: We are, Fred, but I don't mean for you to work.

Fred: Tell me something; I can remember myself as just a little kid back in some part of the late thirties and still in a depression type stage there. Do you remember how you lived on the farm?

Ed: I'm gonna tell you something, Fred. My Father had a ranch above North La Veta and we had a ranch in the hills. We had lots of cattle.

Fred: So the depression didn't hurt you at all then?

Ed: No. I remember the day- election day. Your Mom and Dad. Your Dad was a couple of years younger than your Mother, right?

Fred: Right. He is.

Ed: Did I know anything about it?

Fred: Yeah, that's before I knew aboutit. (laughter).

Ed: So it's Election Day and your Mom came down to vote and your Dad to vote; she's too young. Your grandpa, I knew him well, my Dad knew him well too. He comes up the ranch and stops by. Your grandpa's in the car and your Mom.

Fred: Yeah, I heard about that.

Ed: So he comes in the barn.(mumble)That's the way it went on and God damn it's a story. sorry I haven't (mumble) and now and help you.

Fred: Hey Ed, what kind of games did you playas a little fellow? Did you have ranch neighbor boys that played with you and visited?

Ed: No, we lived too far away from each other. My only hobby was riding God damn horses and laying bucks. I was a good rider.

Fred: You broke horses?

Ed: Oh shucks. On the ranch? What do you expect?

Fred: Okay (laughter). I know, Ed. That's pretty neat. Did you celebrate the different holidays like Christmas?

Ed: Oh yeah. I'm gonna tell you something. During the 4th of July I used to take care of calves when I was little. He said that's your calf, and I would milk cows. At seven years old I would go out there and I had to do that. Okay. He said, that's yours. I had to come down here. - what you call the villas, to sell some cows or turkeys or whatever. She gave me money and I had it to spend, but I had to work for it. See, the mama was a clean person, a clean Indian. She was a smart person. She taught me to respect people and anything else. That's why I respect people today.

Fred: Ed, were there more Indians at the time as a little boy around Huerfano County?

Ed: No because they'd run em off all to New Mexico.

Fred: How long ago?

Ed: Before my time.

Fred: During your parents time?

Ed: That's right.

Fred: They were able to stay then?

Ed: Yes. That at the Huajatolla. That's where my ancestors were born. What they call the Spanish Peaks. You know that.

Fred: Yeah. That's where they tell me there were a great number of Indians.

Ed: That's where my people came from.

Fred: Tell me what your parents used to tell you about them?

Ed: Just Indians. You know the sulpher spring area? I mean my great grandfather's ranch and where are Goemmers today - the dude ranch. That's where he lived.

Fred: Did they own the property?

Ed: Well

Fred: Course, they took it away from him.

Ed: Yeah. They just lived there, see?

Fred: Oh I see.

Ed: They lived there.

Fred: Yeah, because they were Indians and the didn't actually - the government just pushed them out. I'll be darn, they pushed them into New Mexico then.

Ed: Well, some yes, but my Dad and them took off down here, see?

Fred: Did your Dad have to buy that property in North La Veta?

Ed: No, the government just gave it to him.

Fred: It was just open? The government gave it to him? That's neat. Did your Mother ever talk about the avocado was produced in this country, or the soap coming from a yucca plant or anything like that?

Ed: No, she never did. She didn't live long enough.

Fred: How old were you when your Dad passed on?

Ed: I was about forty. My Mother passed on when I was ten or eleven years old.

Fred: Are they buried here or in North La Veta?

Ed: North ~a Veta my Mother is, and my Dad at La Veta.

Fred: Hey Ed, when did you get married?

Ed: In 1935.

Fred: 1935? I was only four or five years old then. You knew me when I was born then, didn't you? (laughter)

Ed: You know Milt? Your Dad and your Morn was up there at North La Veta at the store. They were the god-damned best people I've ever met. I was a kid and had a bunch of sheep on the ranch up there and I'd come down and your Mom would let me have candy and put it on my bill. I'd come down here and sell the sheep. I'd come down here and your Mom and Dad would forget the bill. (Laughter)

Fred: That's nice, Ed. Did you cut the wool by yourself, or did you have help?

Ed: I had a man named Castro help me. He's a full blooded Indian too.

Fred: Hey, wait a minute. There's a man here in Walsenburg named Lee Castro - is he any relation?

Ed: No ,no, no, no. Yah. He's related. That's his grandpa, a full blooded Indian. Lee's Indian too. I don't know how they were liv- ing. His grandfather was a smart son-of-a-gun. He got there from those other Indians- the Ignacios. He had money to throwaway.

Fred: How did he get his money?

Ed: They boot-legged too easy. (laughter)

Fred: Good for them. I'd have helped them.

Ed: Sure. Grandma tells you. Grandma you don't need Spanish or French to help them, like my sister in Guava. Grandma used to say when they were in Durango. He was just a young boy when he got out of the reservation and then he got busted for busting an officer's car and he got caught for he was an Indian and taking a booze in the Indian Reservation. Well, he's one of them. You know Ed, he said, we had little sacks like sugar sacks we used to use before- full of gold. They all vanished. They took them. God-damn whites, you know. They gonna drain you.

Fred: Oh sure, what'd they do with the gold? Keep it? Put it in their pocket?

Ed: Sure, they put it in their pocket.

Fred: That's pretty neat. I didn't know the Indians boot-legged.

Fred: What did you do when you grew up, Ed?

Ed: After I grew up I went into business. I was trucking. I was a C.F.&I supplier- their props and all that.

Fred: Lumber?

Ed: Yeah, you know. C.F.&I. I was a great guy then. I had the equip- ment and everything. I used to have Cameron, Valdez and Crest de Butte.

Fred: How long ago was that Ed?

Ed: I quit in 1954 when the mines went down.

Fred: When did you first start?

Ed: 1930 when I got out of school -sixteen years old. ,

Fred: And you started in business? Had your own saw mill?

Ed: No, no saw mill, just props.

Fred: Would other people own the land and contract the lumber?

Ed: No, I owned my own land and I brought props from the forest land.

Fred: Would other people own the land and you contract the lumber?

Ed: No, I owned the land and.

Fred: How many people work for you?

Ed: Maybe 15, 20, 5, maybe none, so you never know.

Fred: Depends on the contract of the orders.

Ed: Well, depends on the people that want to work. It's just like it is today.

Fred: Same thing; work for a while then take the money and cut out.

Ed: Come in there and work for a week and then you'd pay them off and they dont't show up for a week.

Fred: What'd they do?

Ed: Go drink. That' s normal though. You know, Fred, whether you're recording this or now, it's the truth.

Fred: That's what we want-

Ed: I was one of the greatest guys in this county as far as hiring people. I hired alot of them.

Fred: You're still one of my best friends. Oh, how did you get to La Veta from North La Veta and then move to La Veta? You lived there for several years.

Ed: We had a ranch about five miles north of La Veta. When I got married I bought two houses in Ojo. I lived there. You know we are fighting over that God damn house today. They're trying to take away my sister's house away from her. I bought those two houses.

Fred: You mean you still have a house in OjO?

Ed: Oh yeah. No I don't. I tore them down and brought them to La Veta and gave them away.

Fred: To who- your sister?

Ed: No, the Galvans here.

Fred: The same Galvans that live next door here? That's Albert's parents?

Ed: Yes.

Fred: What was Ojo like at the time?

Ed: It was a little mining camp.

Fred: I heard it was. How many mines did they have there?

Ed: Just one. Well, at the time I really don't know. I was too young It was before my time. I came after. They had truck mines here and truck mines there and Peachy.

Fred: Yeah, Peachy was at Ojo wasn't he?

Ed: Yeah, that's who I bought the houses from.

Fred: Was Peachy the owner of the mine or just a businessman?

Ed: No, he was just business.

Fred: I can remember when I was a little kid that peachy had a little cafe there at Ojo.

Ed: Yeah and he had a store.

Fred: And he supplied the food.

Ed: And he had the mines running. It was all truck mining then.

Fred: At that time Ed, were the roads dirt or were they paved?

Ed: Dirt. You mean the main alley?

Fred: Yeah, the main highway, 160.

Ed: No, no, no, that was paved already.

Fred: You don't remember it being gravel?

Ed: The county roads, yes, but not the alley.

Fred: My Dad said he worked on a construction company when they were paving La Veta Pass.

Ed: Oh, he could have worked for Popos.

Fred: Who, Popos?

Ed: Yes.

Fred: Are they the ones who black topped?

Ed: Well there's Popos and Lioni.

Fred: Lioni too was still in business then?

Ed: Yeah, they all worked then.

Fred: But La Veta pass was all gravel then.

Ed: Yeah, it was.

Fred: Did you work on it?

Ed: No. I was on the ranch then -just a kid.

Fred: Did you ever go with my Dad to Mexico when he was hauling hay or beans in that old Model T trailer he had in North La Veta?

Ed: No, I saw it. I used the hay anyway. (Laugh). Your Dad could tackle anything. I saw him build a trailer down here once.

Fred: I remember that. I was a kid myself. Did you know Chester Bartlett? or the Bartlett family, the cattle king people?

Ed: I can recall the name, but -

Fred: Towards Gardner or Farisita.

Ed: No, I don't think so.

Fred: Can you remember any of the people that were pretty big at the time, the cattle ranchers, cattle king people?

Ed: There was us - we were pretty big ourselves.

Fred: Ed, I want to ask you a question. This one I have to know the answer to it. You were pretty big people at one time. You had alot of land, timber land, cattle, animals and so on. What happened to all this land change. Did the gringo people come in and buy?

Ed: The gringo people came in and bought lot of this stuff and the old timers, especially like my ranch up there in North La Veta. My Dad was an Indian and he didn't give a God damn and that's when Mother died. They were good. I don't know what he did with it all. I asked him. But he had eighty head of cattle, a very good spread. During that time he got to drinking, as an Indian does. Mother was gone and couldn't tell him what to do , so finally he sold the cattle and everything, and he thought I was pretty young then and went to the ranch in the mountains. We had two ranches.

Fred: Where about Ed?

Ed: Middle Creek, so he comes up there and gives me the place. One hundred sixty acres. So we came down here about time I quit school, and bought me a truck and I was a big shot with C.F.&I. They'd send me anywhere. So I was single, I married my wife and bought this house in La Veta. A guy wanted to sell it It was five hundred dollars. House right in town. Remember Mazzone?

Fred: Yes, Victor?

Ed: Yes and they made the deal. So I went and gave the guy five hundred dollars. We had just been married three or four months. I bought the house because it was cheap. It was a big house.

Fred: What happened to the house?

Ed: I sold them.

Fred: To whom?

Ed: I sold it to Tomas* - Eloy.

Fred: What'd he do with it? Live in it?

Ed: No, he turned around and traded it to Willard North. I didn't want to sell my house to those SOB's down there. I sold it for eleven hundred, but six hundred dollars don't mean nothing to me. I should have the place now. That's the place I loved, not this place here.

Fred: Are you buying or renting this?

Ed: No, I paid cash for it. It's mine.

Fred: Hey, Ed, you were telling me before we started talking a while ago that was real interesting. We have some new neighbors here across the street at Mutual and they're from Kansas. This young fellow his wife and their six little children. They bought the house here supposedly. They asked you about the graves across the river up on the hill somewhere.

Ed: Yeah, that's where we went yesterday.. I showed them where they were at.

Fred: How many are there?

Ed: I wouldn't say. Whatever they are, whites or Indians. I just don't know.

Fred: What do the graves look like? Do they have cross pieces or what?

Ed: Just ordinary.

Fred: Stones piled up above the ground?

Ed: Well, no. Just stones andposts, along the walks longways. There are twenty graves, maybe more.

Fred: How far from here?

Ed: J Just up there about a mile, mile and a half, two miles.

Fred: You have to walk it? That's interesting.

Ed: Yeah, there's nothing to show where to come in.

Fred: Whose land is it? It's just a forgotten graveyard. Do you remember the war we had here over the coal mining? Were you around here then? - between Ludlow, Trinidad and Walsenburg?

Ed: I was born afterward.

Fred: You were born after that? What'd your folks tell you about that?

Ed: Dad was recruited as a soldier through the CF&I and I was a CF&I boy all the way.

Fred: Tell me about this recruiting now. Did your Dad tell you if CF&I were for or against the union.

Ed: Against the union. These guys that went for soldiers were for the company. They were Rednecks. They were like the Unions today.

Fred: I've heard that expression "Rednecks".

Ed: The United Mine Workers was what the Rednecks were and CF&I picked night companies to recruit as soldiers and they also had the State Militia.

Fred: What'd your Dad do when he was recruited? Was he a guard?

Ed: Yeah, guard in Oakview and down here and Lascar and Ludlow.

Fred: He was guard during the massacre at Ludlow?

Ed: Yeah; they took him on the train; it's an open car, and he never got out of the car. Bullits flying everywhere, so they, went up there and all they did was hide in the cars and every- body's shooting them so they came back, but they all got paid. Dad was a farmer anyway, but they were trying to pick up some fast money.

Fred: So they were paying them fairly well to do this?

Ed: Right.

Fred: What happened when your Dad came here. Did he go back home?

Ed: He went back to the ranch.

Fred: And they didn't bother him anymore? What else do you remember about the good old days?

Ed: Riding horses. Talk about horses - You take the Marlboro. They used to call it Gia Day or something. After that they called it Black Diamond Jubilee.

Fred: Where is Gia Day?

Ed: Gia Day - they brought it back from New Mexico somewhere and it's a Rodeo celebration for two days. Santana and Gia Day. They come down here and we were just kids. They'd come down here where the Marlboro is and we'd ride horses and were bucking off cowboys. We'd get on those horses. I was a good cowboy. Hell, I'm an Indian.

Fred: I didn't know they called it Guia Day. What does that mean?

Ed: I don't know.

Back to the Oral Interviews Main Page

Return to the Huerfano County Home Page
© Karen Mitchell