Huerfano County, Colorado
Oral Interviews

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Contributed by Karen Mitchell

Q: Where were you born?

Jose: I don't remember where, if I was born at Nigger Head or at El Puerto.

Stella: The birth certificate says at La Laguna.

Q: When they came here did they come to work in the mines first, do you remember what they used to say how they came here?

Jose: They came with sheep.

Q: Where did they come from?

Jose: From Taos.

Q: Who were the ones that came?

Jose: That's what I can't understand, who, that's what I want to know. Who were the ones that came. Some how they came together see, the Pachecos and her family (pointing to Estella) the Vigils.

Q. But who of the Pachecos?

Jose: I don't which of them. My Uncle Quirino, my Uncle Manuel, my Uncle Ramon. They were older than my father and my Uncle Abran see.

Q: Were they their uncles or brothers?

Jose: Their uncles.

Q: What was my grandfather's name?

Jose: Francisco.

Q: And his mother?

Jose: Inacita.

Q: Do you know from who's family? What was her last name?

Jose: She was a Duran. I remember she was a Duran.

Q: Did they come here to North Veta right away do you know?

Jose: No, that's what I can't understand, why or through where they came. I want to know through where they came, that they came. Why they came through there see. They went down below Trinidad to Hohne. Hohne is below Trinidad see. Why did all of them go there? The Pachecos and the Vigils, they all went to the same place. I don't know if they came together or how but they all ended up in Hohne. They stayed in Hohne for awhile. I don't know how long but then from there they came through La Vivoras and El Graneros you know where they call it El Granero? They came through there. My father used to tell me they came homesteading places here.

Q: Do you know who they bought their land from? Do you know how big their land was?

Jose: That land they bought several years after. They bought the land in North Veta from Benito Maes.

Q: Those were your farms?

Jose: Yes.

Q: Can you more or less tell me where the Pacheco's land was?

Jose: From, do you know where my compadre Ufredo lives? From there on up all the way up to our farm.

Q: And this other land?

Jose: They purchased them later.

Q: Were they my grandfather's?

Jose: Yes

Q: Where did your grandparents live?

Jose: There by the school, by my compadre Ufredo on the other side of the river.

Q: Do you remember the names of my grandfather's family?

Jose: Yes.

Q: Who were they?

Jose: I have a list with their names and ages, when they were born and all that.

Q: How many brothers did he have?

Jose: There were four.

Q: And sisters?

Jose: Four. It was my Uncle Abran, my father, then my Uncle Onesimo.
Stella; They were three.

Q: When they came here did they bring sheep?

Jose: I understand they came with a small flock of sheep and a small flock of goats.

Q: What do you remember about the kind of work you did at the farm?

Jose: We owned sheep.

Q: Is that all?

Jose: Yes

Q: Didn't you have any goats?

Jose: A few but their occupation was the sheep business.

Q: Did all the Pacheco's, your relatives, come more or less to the same place or were they in other parts of Colorado?

Jose: There were other Pacheco's here but I don't know where they came from.

Q: Were they relatives?

Jose: No.

Q: In an interview taken at Gardner they mention Juan and Franque Pacheco that had sheep up there, did you know them?

Jose: Yes, they were brothers. Frank was my father's father. They did not live in Gardner.

Q: Did Juan have a family?

Jose: Yes.

Estella: He didn't have any. Rose was a step-child.

Jose: That's right he didn't have children. Rose Valdez and Amarante were step children.

Q: Do you remember if they had sheep in Gardner?

Jose: No, not in Gardner.

Q: Where was their land?

Jose: Here, this land that was my father's.

Q: At Alamo?

Jose: Yes from Alamo down.

Estella: I told you all that river land was theirs.

Q: What river?

Jose: There where Raquel, Frank, and Ufredo live, up above Mutual all the way to our farm in North Veta.

Estella: Do you remember where we lived, where my Uncle Onesimo lived, all of that.

Q: Are those the farms that the Maldonado's have now? How did they end up with them?

Jose: When they married the girls and became family members my grandfather gave them all a piece of land.

Q: Then the Pacheco's stayed with the farms further up?

Jose: Yes.

Q: Did my Uncle Onesimo have a farm?

Jose: Yes, my Uncle Onesimo had land here with my grandfather.

Q: This other land, whio did it belong to, my grandfather's?

Jose: No, my Uncle Frailan did too see. When my grandfather made his will giving the Pacheco's that land he gave this to them. My Aunt Sidelia got this land here on the other side, from Toltec up and my compadre Ufredo had land there.

Q: Then the land that belongs to Faris was theirs too?

Jose: Yes.

Q: You had a lot of land?

Jose: Yes, a lot of land. From here up above Gordon, all the way to the mountains.

Q: Are the Maldonado's the only ones with land now? The Pacheco's sold all of theirs?

Jose: Well the Maldonado's kept the land that was willed to them see. Major ended up with the land that belonged to the Pacheco's.

Q: What did you do when you had sheep, did you keep them in the same place all the time?

Jose: No we would change camp from one place to another. When we moved camp we had burros which we packed to move from one place to another. We had a place in the mountains for the summer months. We stayed in the mountains during the summer months and in the winter when it was cold we would bring them down here to the hills.

Q: In what lands did you pasture them the most?

Jose: Here, up above Gordon.

Q: About how many sheep did you have?

Jose: I don't know how many they had when they came here but they kept increasing the flock. When we sold out we had five thousand sheep.

Q: Why did you sell the land?

Jose: Because they owed a debt and when we went out of business we had to sell out.

Q: Do you remember how much they gave you for the acre?

Jose: No.

Q: What can you tell me about the schools?

Jose: The teachers were Spanish.

Q: Were they from here?

Jose: From New Mexico.

Q: Were they bringing them from New Mexico?

Jose: From Garcia. They brought the teachers from Garcia. They were Spanish teachers. We had to read in English and Spanish.

Q: How did you read in English if you didn't know how?

Jose: We had to read in English then translate it in Spanish. Not interpreted, translated.

Q: What time did you go to school? How many hours?

Jose: From nine to four.

Q: How many months?

Jose: Nine.

Q: Where did the teachers live?

Jose: At the farms where they were teaching.

Q: Do you remember the families that were in North Veta?

Jose: There were a lot, something like twelve. Ruben Romero was one of the family.

Q: Who's son was he?

Jose: She was my grandfather Francisco's daughter.

Q: His wife? What was her name?

Jose: Genuveva.

Q: Did they have children, how many?

Jose: My cousin Delfino, Raymundo, Onofre, Luis, Soilo, Fedelina, Milia, Rose and their granddaughter.

Q: What was the granddaughter's name?

Jose: Flora.

Q: What was his occupation?

Estella: He was a rancher. He would plant and grow alfalfa.

Q: Where was his ranch?

Estella: Do you remember where Don Milio lived? Those were his lands. Right in North Veta. Where your Aunt Tere and your Uncle Raymundo lived. Don Albino lived in North Veta too. I don't know what his occupation was. He just lived there where Chacon, the house following his was Don Albino's and Benjamin's. Juan Trujillo had land there. He and Don Cresencio would go north to work the beet fields.

Q: Did they have families?

Estella: Don Albino had Benjamin. I guess just Benjamin and Josie. They raised her up.

Q: And Cresencio?
Estella; He had boys.

Q: Do you remember their names?

Estella: Ben, Frank, Piedad, Rafelita, Anne and Adelina. Juan Trujillo had Gilbert, no not Gilbert, Flor and Soilo. They're the only ones I remember. Don Tomas Gallegos was Martha's father. Do you know Martha? Tenorio's Martha? Tomas was her father. That family, the ones I remember were Martha, Loisa. Martha and Loisa I remember.

Q: Is Martha Andy's wife?

Estella: Yes, and a Tomas. He had a son named Tomas. He's the one that lives with Dorothy, Mucio's daughter. Tomas Sr. was married to a Tenorio too.

Q: Where were the Tenorio's from?

Estella: From Mutual.

Q: Were they ranchers?

Estella: No they were from Lucky View. They worked the mines.

Q: Where is Lucky View?

Estella: There below Ojo. Facundo was their father. The old man, the sheepherder that would come over.

Q: What was Facundo's last name?

Estella: Facundo Tenorio.

Q: Was he the sheepherder you had?

Estella: Yes. He was Andy's father.

Q: Then if the Tenorio's were not farmers, what were they?

Estella: They were miners. They would work at odd jobs and in the mines at Lucky View. Andrew was there for awhile then he left to Grand Junction. He and David. He raised Domitilia. Then he married Dona Medina. Isaias Castro worked for us. He was a sheep shearer. Florencio Valdez just lived there. I don't know his occupation. He was your Uncle Nick Valdez's father and my compadre Silvano's, Juanita and Cordilia. My Uncle Abran was a rancher and in the sheep business. My father Armenio and my Uncle Abran were business partners in the sheep business.

Q: Did you have sheep only? Did you plant?

Estella: No they would raise alfalfa and plant grain and corn only for their own sheep.

Q: Do you remember the names of his family?

Estella: Jacobo, Frank, Nacor, Gilbert, Elvira, the oldest and Margarita.

Q: Do you remember what year you sold the sheep?

Jose: 1940.

Estella: Videlia Aragon was a widow. I don't know her occupation. She was Nastacio Duran's and Stella's mother. Viola's mother. Elfido Aragon was Dona Videlia's son. Oh yes, Dona Elena was her daughter, now I remember. Dona Elena was her daughter and Stella and Nastacio were grandchildren. Juan Chavez lived in the monte where Frutoso lived. They would plant and work the mines at Alamo.

Q: Do you remember the names of the people who had sheep in North Veta and El Arroyo?

Estella: We were the only ones there at El Arroyo, my father, my Uncle Frailan and Max Vigil. Max lived in North Veta. Do you know where Dona Natividad lived? Right around there. The Maldonado's lived there close by. He was the richest in the sheep business in the County of Huerfano. He would allow other people to raise sheep. He would let them have some of his own. Maybe he used to rent them I don't know. But they claim he was the richest in the county. Martina Nieta was an old widowed lady. I don't know her occupation. She was then with a grandson. Then there was my Uncle Amarante. He was a cowboy. He had a dairy farm. He had a big family. Yes, he used to milk cows.

Q: The rest of the Maldonado's were in the sheep business?

Estella: My Uncle Tobias.

Q: Do you remember the names of my Uncle Amarante's children?

Estella: The oldest was Adam, Ubaldo, Frank, Bernabe, Andronico, Angelita, Salome, and Bertha.

Q: Did you support yourselves with just the sheep?

Estella: Yes.

Q: Did you sell the sheep or how?

Estella: No, we would sell the lambs and the wool.

Q: What month did you shear the sheep?

Estella: In June.

Q: The lambs, when would you sell them?

Estella: In October.

Q: Did you sell them here?

Jose: We would load them and ship them into Denver.

Q: From where did you ship them?

Jose: From here at the entrance of seventh street.

Q: Where the power plant is?

Jose: No, a few yards below it. There where the Conoco station is at.

Estella: It was a beautiful sight to see them ship them but it was also sad.

Q: Did all the men who had sheep meet there?

Jose: All of them.

Q: Where did you send them? Did you have to go with them?

Jose: Some of them would go with the shipment to Denver.

Q: Were the men that went responsible for all the flock?

Jose: No the buyer would come down from there, see.

Estella: He would buy them here and all we had to do is ship them. It was the same thing with the wool, see. They would come and buy the wool here and then ship it. Then they would send them their checks.

Q: They would buy the wool at the farms?

Jose: We would bring the wool here to the Mercantile for storage. When a buyer would come we would take him there to see it.

Q: Were the shearers from here or did they come from other places?

Jose: At first they were local people. Later they were coming in from Texas.
Estella; With machinery.

Q: Do you remember the names of the shearers?

Jose: The old man Chavez that I told you about, Albino Martinez, Casimiro Cruz, my Uncle Ruben was a shearer.

Q: Did they come to shear then leave or what did they do?

Estella: They would provide room and board for them. The boss would provide room and board until the sheering was done.

Q: Did they bring their families or did they come alone?

Jose: Just the men.

Q: Did you send for them or did they come on their own?

Jose: They would come on their own looking for work. Like now, they arrived in Walsen they would ask where the sheep owners were and were sent to us.

Estella: They would come with their own camps.

Q: Their own equipment too?

Jose: Yes.

Estella: They would provide everything for themselves.

Q: Then who did you provide room and board for?

Estella: The local men.

Q: Did you hire sheepherders or did you do all the work yourself?

Jose: We would hire.

Q: Who were the sheepherders?

Jose: Juan de Dios Sanchez, Benito Cruz, Manuel, Lucas Lopez, Elfido Gabaldon, Juan Gabaldon, Elias Vigil and Manuel Ruiz.

Q: Were they local men?

Jose: Yes they were local.

Q: When you went to town what was the means of transportation?

Jose: Wagons pulled by horses.

Q: How long did the day take?

Jose: One full day.

Q: Do you remember if my grandfather or any relative ever was a school board member?

Estella: Don Albino was for many years. I don't know how the districts were divided but somehow La Arroyo and North Veta was one district. The board member for North Veta was the board member for La Arroyo also. For awhile, then they were divided. In La Arroyo the board members were my Uncle Fermin, Uncle Antonio, Eliseo Vigil, and Abran. Eliseo and Abran are both deaad. In North Veta they were Don Albino, my Uncle Ruben, Don Castulo and Miliano. When I went to school I would take two grades in one year.

Q: Why would you take two grades in one year?

Estella: Because my father would not allow me to go to school. I would enroll in school in December after the crop was harvested and he would pull me out in April. How much schooling did I get? He would pull me out in April to go plant. I was the planter.

Q: Then besides the sheep you would harvest to sell?

Estella: Yes, my father, he had a few sheep. He used to herd them himself.

Q: He had a field?

Estella: Yes.

Q: What did he harvest?

Estella: Corn, beans, lentils, peas, and lima beans (abas). He sold everything.

Q: Did the family work the fields or did you hire help?

Estella: When it was harvest time all the neighbors would get together. Do you know how? We would get together and harvest my Uncle Antonio's crop and so on.

Q: The Vigil's were all farmers?

Estella: Uncle Fermin worked in the mines sometimes and I think Uncle Antonio did too. And, during the summer we would get mad at my father because he would not allow us to go…during the lettuce season they would go to Westcliff to work the fields. My Uncle Antonio would take all his family to work in the lettuce and pea fields. Then they would come and harvest their crop.

Q: You never went?

Estella: My father never allowed us to go but they would go.

Q: Were the teachers in La Arroyo Spanish?

Estella: Sometimes they would bring in Spanish teachers.

Q: How did you learn to speak English?

Estella: In the schools. That's what they taught us, English. But the Spanish teachers came, see. I remember the teachers I had. That Anglo lady, I don't remember her name, Falk's wife. She was the first teacher that I can remember. She was a devil, she was mean. Then they brought another Anglo. I don't remember his name. After that they brought a Spanish teacher. He's the one that I told you defended me. Eliseo Lucero, he came from Taos. That teacher and I corresponded for a long time after he left. He was the one who started us reading in Spanish. Like now if the lesson read..he (pointing to Mr. Pacheco) laughed at Nastacio Cruz because the lesson read "I'm making sand pies" and Nastacio Crus would say "Yo quiero sampar". We were supposed to say "Estoy hacienda pastelas de arina." He would read it first then we would sort of memorize it. And he (pointing to Mr. Pacheco) would not say "log" in Spanish. He kept him sitting.

Jose: I could not say log in Spanish. I would say "cuarton" instead of "cuarton". I could not say "cuarton"

Estella: It was very funny. I stop to remember the fun we had. Once we had a story in our book, I don't know if you had that story but it was in our book. The Little Red Hen Who Planted the Corn. And we would read, "The little red hen that planted the corn", "La gallinita colorada que siembro el grano de maiz". My Aunt Senaida she didn't know that was one thing about the teacher, he lived in my grandfather Vigil's house by my Aunt Senaida and during the night he would take us over and teach us, and my Aunt Senaida learned very fast and she would say "Who wants to plant the grain, again?" She would say "not I said the dog, not I said the pig, not I said…and she learned it very well. After making the cake, who wants to eat the cake, the corn bread that the little red hen made? I do said the cat, I do said the dog, I do said the pig. No, no, no said the little red hen, I will eat it all. She had memorized it all.

Q: She never went to school?

Estella: No she was an older woman.

Q: Did you know English when you started school?

Estella: No, we spoke only in Spanish. That's why the Anglo teacher would hit us. She thought we were talking about her.

Q: Is that why she was so mean?

Estella: She thought we were talking about her. Like we used to speak in Spanish and laugh. She thought we were talking about her.

Q: How did you learn English?

Estella: We were forced to. The teachers would get real mad. But you didn't learn it in school. You learned it…we learned it when we moved into town. No, I learned it in school. Sure, how was I able to read? You were able to read but you didn't know how to speak. We hardly ever spoke English but I knew it. I was the interpreter in La Arroyo. As soon as they saw an Anglo coming they would run and hide and I would have to interpret. They would bring me from all over to interpret, to see what the Anglo wanted.

Q: Did my grandparents know English?

Estella: My father knew a little. My mother knew nothing. He knew but my mother was like Sarita. Your grandmother (father's' mother) and my Aunt Modesta learned it when they moved here. They did not speak in English over there. That was a problem. The teachers wanted us to speak in English but they would find us playing in a group everytime, speaking in Spanish.

Q: Do you remember some of the games?

Estella: The one I remember the most is "Pam Pam Pull Away". I don't know the name of it now.

Q: That was an English game, do you remember any Spanish ones?

Estella: I guess not. The other game was baseball.

Q: I don't remember much about a Christmas celebration in school, do you?

Estella: The programs were beautiful then. As I told you, I don't know how the schools were but North Veta and La Arroyo would get together to put on a program. At the beginning see. They would give us dialogues. They were like a play. They would give us those plays to get us to speak more. They would give English dialogues to the ones that did not know the English. Like in a dialogue your Uncle Reynaldo entered the restaurant and sat at a table. Rosa the waitress asked him what do you want? Can I help you? And he answered "Si, quiero que me traigas arros". Rose did not speak Spanish, she left and returned with a flower. He told her she was dumb. He had not asked for a flower, he wanted "arros". She said well to me this is "a rose". I'm telling you the dialogue was in Spanish and English. He would ask for things in Spanish and she would bring the English things. They would rhyme. It was funny how they rhymed. I'm telling you, the programs were beautiful. Then we used to get together for math. Not him (pointing to Mr. Pacheco) because he was very seldom in school. He had the same things happen to him, like me. We would get together and form arithmetic and spelling teams. I would win them, in spelling and in arithmetic. One time Mr. Gallegos said now we are going to have Miss Vigil. Estella work out the problem and prove the answer". The rest will just work the problem see. I would win them. I guess that's why I have a good head for arithmetic in adding and multiplying. They would make me multiply the problem and then divide it to prove the answer. I would still win. I would always win in Arithmetic. Anne Trujillo, Flora, Adelina Martinez, and all the students from North Veta would compete with ours out there.

Q: Then you seldom went to school?

Estella: No they would not let him. He would attend at the most one month and then they would pull him out. He would not attend a full month. If they needed a sheepherder and they couldn't find one they would pull him out of school and take him.

Q: How old were you when you started herding sheep?

Estella: Eight years old. At the age of eight and Claudie did too. They would leave them all alone.

Q: They left you alone at that age in the mountains?

Jose: Yes.

Q: Then you didn't have much schooling.

Jose: No.

Estella: I'm telling you, what we learned, we learned by God's mercy who helped us. This teacher that I told you about, we had two Spanish male teachers, Eliseo and Bernal in La Arroyo and the female teachers were Tina Lucero and Dorothy. I don't know what happened to her. I don't know if she's dead or alive or if she just left, but her name was Dorothy Martinez. She's the one that helped me. She told my father, look Don Juan de Dios, you will not be supporting this girl all the days of your life. If something should happen one of these days and you leave, if she's still small, how is she going to support herself? She has no education. Not even enough to be an interpreter, to become something, she said. You must let her. This year you must give her. She is behind four years and this year you must let me have her completely for the whole semester, go find you a peon. Yes, but the peon costs, my father said. Yes he costs but one of these days it's going to cost her also. She knows nothing.

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