Huerfano County, Colorado
Oral Interviews

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Contributed by Karen Mitchell

CC: Well, when did your family first come to Huerfano Country?

EW: Well, my grandparents came in 1868.

CC: And where did they come from?

EW: They came from Denver to Huerfano.

CC: And how long had they been there?

EW: They had been there since 1863.

CC: Before that where did they live?

EW: Well, it's such a long story, and I have it all written out in State Historical Society, in the State magazine that was published last year, and I don't know, do you want that all repeated or?

CC: I can refer to that if you would rather. When they came here, did they homestead?

EW: No, not my grandparents. Grandfather Strange had a store, and they stopped at Butte Valley, which was then a stage station. And he had one room in the house, a three room house, and he had one room that they used for a store. And then he had a wagon equipped with supplies that the settlers would need, and he would take them out. More or less as a peddler would, but it was really a store that he had in his wagon.

CC: And where was Butte Valley?

EW: Just out of Walsenburg where the Huerfano Butte is. Where the Huerfano River is.

CC: What kinds of things would he sell?

EW: Well, I don't actually know exactly what he sold. I suppose he had household supplies and things the farmers would need and ranchers. I don't actually know.

CC: And how long did he do that?

EW: I couldn't say. I know in 1872 they bought land up at Apache and I think he still had his wagon equipped, but they raised cattle and sheep there. He bought the ranch there, they didn't homestead.

CC: So he went into ranching at that point. Has your family been ranching pretty much since then?

EW: Oh, yes. I'd say they have.

CC: Had your parents come out together. Were they married before they came?

EW: No, my mother was just a girl when they came. She was about 14 when they came to Huerfano County.

CC: And where did her family come from?

EW: They were the ones that came from Denver to Huerfano County to Butte Valley. They were my mother's parents. And that was Henry and Susan Strange. And they lived on the Apache until, I'm not sure just exactly when they left the Apache. But they came into Walsenburg, and then they went down to Aguliar, and they had the post office and the plaza in Aguilar, that's called the Strange Post Office and Plaza. Then they came back to Walsenburg, and my grandfather built the first two story building that was there.

CC: Is that right?

EW: And then after that, about 1886, I think they went to Dodge City and started a store there. General Merchandise.

CC: And did they come back here later?

EW: Oh, they visited back and forth but they never came back here to live.

CC: Did your mother stay there?

EW: No, my mother lived in Huerfano County all the rest of her life. because my father had come in 1872. He came to Denver and worked there awhile and then came on down here. I don't know why. I often wondered why he came, but I suppose they heard stories about how, what a good country this is down here. Of course, it was lush then, the grass was plentiful, and he came down here, and that's where he stayed.

CC: So they met here and married1

EW: They were both born in England. My father came from England when he was about 17. My mother was brought over by her parents, she was just a few months old. There's quite an interesting story to all of that but then it is in the Historical Society Magazine, and it will be in the Territorial Daughters story too. I kind of hate to reapeat all of it. Well, I don't want to take away from either one of the stories. It's copyrighted, you see with the Historical Society and I can use it in our book too, there with their information and I don't know what they'd say about using it for other things. Maybe it's all right. I don't know.

CC: Well, did your parents then homestead?

EW: Well, my father homesteaded, bought land on the Santa Clara River which is. ...

CC: Where's that?

EW: Well, the Santa Clara is a tributary to the Huerfano, I guess. And it's at the foot of the East Peak. And it runs from the East Peak down into the Huerfano and I guess into the Arkansas, into the Cucharas probably and then into the Huerfano and then into the Arkansas, and that was the region that was settled to a great extent when these pioneers first came in here. They came to the Santa Clara quite frequently. Some of the wealthiest of the settlers came there, like the Doonies and people of that sort and the Pryors. The Pryors came after the Civil War. They were wealthy Southern people, and they settled what was later called Pryor, which is a coal mine. Of course, there were lots of families on that creek. One thing that does seem rather odd is when you ask where people lived, well, they lived on the Huerfano, or the Cucharas or on the Santa Clara or some of the other creeks. Well, there were no towns or places where they went to. It was just a homestead or a ranch that you went to and they always settled where there was water. So that's the reason they always settled on the creeks.

CC: And how long did they stay there?

EW: Well, that ranch is still in our family. It is operated now by Sam Capps. It's the original homestead in every part of it.

CC: And then did they move eventually over here?

EW: They came over to La Veta. My parents came in about 1907. We spent one winter here before that so that we could be in school, but in 1907 they bought a home in La Veta.

CC: So was that in town or was that here?

EW: No, that was in town. My father was mayor of the town for a number of years from 1907 to 1913 and then he was elected again several times after that. He was on the school board from 1907 until about 1915 when he was County Superintendent of Schools. And then he was on the school board after that, too. So he played quite a part in the building up of La Veta.

CC: So, did you go to school in La Veta?

EW: Yes, I did.

CC: In what ways?

EW: I think that people had, of course we didn't have quite as broad a horizion then as we have now, but the teachers could give more attention, I think, to each pupil. Of course, at home on the ranch, we went to just a one room school where the teacher had all grades. But it was a little different from that in La Veta when we came.

CC: How many students did a teacher have in La Veta?

EW: I imagine 20. I wasn't paying very much attention to how many there were.

CC: And what would you say was different about growing up in those days?

EW: Well, I'll just say this. I'm very thankful because the parents were more concerned with their children. There was work for the children to do, and they did it. They took a part in the family. They felt a responsibility for the family, that they don't today. Every opportunity that we had for betterment was given to us. It just seemed to be a better time all the way around. At least I'm thankful for it.

CC: What were the things that kids did for entertainment and for fun in those days?

EW: Well, of course the ranches were fairly far apart. They weren't very close but there was always school, there was always entertainment. Every special day was remembered. And there were programs and entertainment, and of course, there were dances in the schoolhouse, for the older and young people. And of course, picnics and things of that sort. There was always a rodeo and riding and stunts of one kind or another and playing games just like they do today, only probably a different sort. We always had an organ and music at our home, and I think most of the other farm homes did to.

CC: Did most of the children learn to play the organ?

EW: My older sisters did. We all did as far as that's concerned, but my older sisters did. I was the youngest of the family.

CC: How many brothers and sisters did you have?

EW: Two brothers and five sisters. Six girls and two boys.

CC: Did people generally have larger families in those days?

EW: I-Tell a good many of them had large families, but even the eight that we had wasn't as large as some of the others had. In general I think they had pretty good sized families.

CC: Do you think that was one of the things that contributated to the feel- ing that those were better days?

EW: It could have been, of couse, because we always had entertainment among ourselves. We could entertain ourselves. We didn't have to have anything else and of course, the neighbors were always very friendly, and there were always a good many at our house. My parents kept the post office and people had to come there for their mail, so we nearly always had people in.

CC: How about cooperation between neighbors?

EW: It was really very wonderful in time of need, they were always willing to help in any way they could, I'm sure.

CC: Did people trade work back and forth quite a bit? Particularly on the ranches?

EW: They did to some extent, I know. We always had hired men, but I know if there was sickness or they were needed, they were right there to help.

CC: How has ranching changed over the years?

EW: Well, of course there was more machinery now than people had in those days. It took more men to do the work, because they didn't have the machines. But I don't know that machines make any better quality of work than the men did. Of course, they had an entirely different method of putting up hay. They had to have a machine for every part of it. Our folks always had a mowing machine, a rake, the stackers and the things of that sort that lots of people didn't have. But they could do very well without machinery too. Of course a lot of the young people hunted. My people didn't hunt very much. They would hunt coyotes and some of these kinds of preditors, but they didn't hunt for deer or things of that sort.

CC: Has there been much change in the wild life?

EW: Well, I don't really know because right now the deer and the elk and everything are coming down closer to civilization than they did then. I don't know what makes the change, what makes the differnce?

CC: Of course, there are more people in the mountains.

EW: And the animals are quite protected by the laws now so that may make a difference.

CC: How about bears? Have you always had bears that would come down this far?

EW: Well no, not always. We've very seldom had bears that would come down this far. A time or two. Oh, a few years ago there was a bear that came down to the highway here, that came to the mail box along here, and then I think someone killed it soon after that. Because there were some people that had bees, and bears love honey, and so they would come there. And I think they trapped them and took them back to the mountains. But we've very seldom had bears down here. We have deer, we don't have elk right in here, at least I haven't seen any. We have some antelope.

CC: How about the countryside? Has the look of the countryside changed much over the years?

EW: No, I wouldn't say that it had changed. It is much the same. On the Santa Clara there are fewer, much fewer ranches. It's all in one or two or three big ranches, and they're not the nice neighboring families that there used to be. And I suppose it's about the same over here. There are fewer ranchers and bigger ranches. As far as the countryside's concerned, it's much the same. There's maybe a few more trees in places because they grow up where a place is abandoned. So it's hard to recognize a place.

CC: Now how about the holidays that were celebrated? What were the main holidays?

EW: Well, I think, my father being a very patriotic person, I think we celebrated all of the patriotic holidays. Always there was a school program commomorating everything that came along. And of course there was a 4th of July. It was always the occasion of a big picnic, usually a community picnic. Some rodeoing of course, usually. I think it's about the same as it was in a lot of ways except I think now a lot of the patriotic holidays are skipped over because everybody wants these three day holidays. But I think the real meaning of those holidays is gone. They say they have Columbus Day on the 8th I believe instead of on the l2th. Well, I doubt if they took much time to consider why they had it. It was just an extra day for fun and travel.

CC: Here, I know it was celebrated one day, it was celebrated Monday by the State and Friday by the County so they aren't even on the same day.

EW: No, they're not, and I think that's very foolish myself because I think when you take away the traditions from a country, you've taken away a strong point. That does harm to the country rather than keeping it together. I think you have to have traditions.

CC: What were some of the holiday traditions?

EW: Well, of course on, like on Memorial Day there was always the parade. There was always bands playing, even in La Veta, and in '{Walsenburg there were services at the cemetary so that everyone knew why that was being cele- brated and why they were comemorating these things. The 4th of July was much the same with floats and bands and speakers and firecrackers and all of those things. Now there is very little public speaking, and no one would listen, I'm sure, if they had it. But they used to have it. That was part of it. to have someone speaking.

CC: How do you think that changed? Why did that change?

EW: There were fewer speakers. I don't know. People just got away from that idea.

CC: I wonder if television had something to do with it?

EW: Well, that was beginning to decline before television came in. However, they used to always have these lectures and speakers, and there were always political speakers, of course, just like we have today, but in a different sort of a sense, I think. There were a good many men in the county who were pretty good speakers. My father was one of them. There were others who were very good too, lawyers. And of course there was always Christmas and Thanksgiving. Halloween was one night that wasn't stressed so much in the country because families lived too far apart. I don't remember doing any trick or treating anywhere in the country until we came into La Veta. That was the first time I knew anything about that.

CC: How about the influence of the automobile? Did it seem like it changed life much?

EW: Well, by the time the automobile came along, people were leaving the ranches to a great extent, right along the Santa Clara. Of course, it did make it easier to get from one place to another. Up to that time they just had horses for transportation. There was nothing else used. I don't really know too much about that. By the time the automobile became used very much we were living in La Veta, and I remember that 12 miles per hour was the speed limit for going up the street in La Veta when they first began having cars. So there's a difference that way. Now they go every direction as fast as they want to go.

CC: Now before they had cars, would people go into Walsenburg the way they do now? Would they go in very often?

EW: No, they didn't go too often because they had to drive either a wagon or a buggy or something of that sort. If they needed supplies they had to take a heavy team and a heavy wagon for supplies which took at least a good day. From where we lived it was 20 miles from Walsenburg. Of course, we had lighter rigs for pleasure driving. Everybody used horses. You could ride horseback into town. That wasn't too easy, but everybody rode horseback.

CC: Now, in those days were more services provided in La Veta?

EW: Well, of course, Walsenburg was the county seat, and people from around the ranches nearly always went to Walsenburg. And the stores didn't close on Saturdays. The banks didn't close on Saturdays. Businesses were open, and people went in on Saturdays to do their trading. And nearly everybody went to Walsenburg from the ranches. And I don't know around here. I suppose they came into La Veta.

CC: There was a bank at one time in La Veta?

EW: There was a bank. It went broke in 1923 I think, and we didn't have one afterwards. But they had a bank in Walsenburg, at one time they had two banks, that Guaranty State Bank. They had a National Bank first, I think it was. It was a State bank, Guaranty State Bank I guess it was. There was a good many business houses in Walsenburg that they don't have today.

CC: What sorts of things?

EW: Well, we had dry goods stores for one thing. Several of them. They had hardware stores. They had livery stables for care of horses, and horses and buggys to rent and things of that sort. They carried very nice brands of things too. Nice china, silver, jewelry, they had good brands they carried.

CC: How about the trains, when did the trains run?

EW: Well, the first train came to La Veta in 1876, July 4th, 1876. And it came into Walsenburg a little ahead of that. And that was the D&RG. Of course, we had section houses along the road where the workers stayed. The Colorado and Southern, I can't remember just when they came into Walsenburg. It was sometime after the Denver & Rio Grande. I remember some of the section places they had along the C & S railroad. And of course, they had some on the D&RG road too. The little place down below Walsenburg was called Cuchara. At one time it was a stage station. Also the trains came through there on their way up to La Veta. And then I think it was '78 when the pass was crossed, and it went on into Alamosa. Sometime along in there they had a terrible epidemic of small pox too. A lot of the workers died of small pox.

CC: Were a lot of those workers from other countries, that they brought it into the country?

EW: I imagine a good many of them were these Mexican families, people like that. I don't actually know. I think they were predominent. I don't think the Indians ever worked on anything like that much. They didn't do anything but just hunt.

CC: Do you remember stories that your parents would tell about the Indians?

EW: Well I remember some. Course, the Indians, the Ute Indians were not an unfriendly Indian at all. They were always very friendly. And my mother and father both knew Chipita and Ouray. His name was actually not Ouray at all. It was Ule or something like that Ulay but Changes are made in names by common use. It was changed to Ouray. They were always very friendly. My people never had any trouble with them.

CC: Would they have permanent settlements around or would they just pass through?

EW: Well, they had summer locations and winter locations and they'd go on hunting parties and things of that sort. And so they'd go on down into the plains to hunt for the buffalo and come back into the mountains. At that time there were no reservations or anything and they just roamed around at will. I think some time in the 1870's they left the county.

CC: Well, were they rounded up and taken to reservations?

EW: No, I think not. I think they just went to other places. Course, there was a Ute reservation over around Durango, Ignacio I believe it is. And then there were Comanche and Apache Indians here. I just actually don't know whether they were sent to reservations some place or not. There was no round up of them that I know of. I think they maybe just were told to go to certain places and they went. But as far as anyone rounding them up and taking them, I don't remember hearing of that.

CC: What were the things they wanted of the white man's besides his horse and his gun.

EW: They always wanted biscuts, bisque they called them. They'd come and ask for something to eat. I suppose they were curious about the white people, but they were sort of a mischievious people. They liked to torment. Course, they would steal cattle and horses and run the horses off if they could. But they sort of took a delight in doing those things.

CC: Just a little excitement.

EW: Then they fought among themselves quite often. Comanches and Utes would. Apaches, I suppose Apache Creek was named for them. Lot of the new comers settled on the Apache.

CC: So were the Indians feared?

EW: Well, yes they were, by the early settlers. They didn't know what they'd do. They'd heard about all the things they did, and they didn't know. So naturally they were afraid. But as near as I know there weren't too many killed, too many white people killed by the Indians. One, this Billy Potts was killed by the Indians. Whether that was the only one or not I don't know. Maybe there were others, but they didn't do much killing.

CC: Do you recall stories of outlaws in this area?

EW: Well, yes there were always a good many cattle rustlers. They were the ones that the ranchers were always looking out for. And, of course, I suppose there were other famous outlaws. Let's see, Jesse James, and Bob Ford I think were in Walsenburg at one time. I don't remember any of the others. The Espinoza's were in Huerfano County and different parts of Southern Colorado.

CC: And who were they?

EW: Well they were a group of Mexican outlaws that I think had been around Trinidad. As near as I remember the story, the white people had done them some damage of some kind, and they swore a vengeance on the white people and they they did quite a lot of killing and robbing. Some soldiers killed one or two of them. And then Tom robin, I believe captured the others and cut off their heads and took their heads over to Fort Garland to prove that he had killed them because there was a reward out for them. But some way or another he never got the reward for them, or at least if he got it, it wasn't the amount he had been promised. For some reason or another.

CC: And who was Tom Tobin?

EW: He was one of the early trappers and traders in Taos.

CC: He was kind of a mountain man?

EW: I think every one knew him. And then Uncle Dick Wootten who was the scout and had the toll road over Raton Pass at one time. And Johnny Albert was another one of the scouts or trappers, and he came to Walsenburg after the Taos massacre and he was one of the survivors of the Taos massacre, and he came in to Walsenburg to live. So there was quite a number of early people. Of course Kit Carson was in and around. I don't know if he was in this county as much as he was in Costilla County and Las Animas County.

CC: How about the Spanish Community in this area? Have they always gotten along pretty well with the Anglo Community

EW: I think they always got along very well with them, as near as I know. It's the modern day Chicano like group that they find hard to get along with, I"m sure. Cause the old time Mexican families were most of them very depend- able, very trustworthy, and honest. Of course, a lot of them were Spanish pure Spanish. And there was a difference, I guess, between them. They had a higher standard of living. But I know some of the Spanish people and the Anglos were fast friends, were very close friends.

CC: Would they live in separate areas or the same areas?

EW: Well, they usually did. They had what they called a Mexican town in La Veta, and I suppose they did in Walsenburg. I think they generally sort of lived together just because, not so much that there was any idea of restricting them or anything like that. It's just because they prefered to live with their own people. That would be my idea of it. Some of our best friends in school were the Mexican children. We never, there was no difference as far as we were concerned.

CC: Did some of those families come in early also?

EW: The Spanish people were here very early. Far earlier than the Anglos as far as that's concerned. But Walsenburg was started of course by the Spanish families. They were there first. And I suppose there were a good many around La Veta first too. I know they're named in some of the sketches and historical writings as being there.

CC: Did they intermarry much?

EW: Well, in the early days a good many of the white men had Mexican wives. There weren't any other women much to marry, and a good many of them had Mexican wives and lived with them all their lives. I think today they inter- marry quite a lot too.

CC: Were their eating customs or habits different?

EW: Well, of course they had more their Mexican type food then anything else, but I think everyone in the whole county came up on Mexican beans. I know we still like them.

CC: What kinds of things would people grow in their gardens in the early days? Vegetables or things?

EW: Well, I know that at our home we had all of the vegetables, and we had fruits. We had currants, gooseberries, blackberries when they would grow and all of those things. My father being English was quite a gardener, and we had everything. Fruit trees, I think nearly all the ranchers had fruit trees, apples in particular, but they did have others. Of course, there were the wild plum and wild cherries that everybody used. And the corn, potatoes, squash, and things of that sort just like they do today, turnips, I can't think of anything different really. I think they really raised more of the small fruits in those days than they do now.

CC: How about the role of women? Women's roles and how they've changed.

EW: Well, as for my family, I don't know. We were always, I think, more or less liberated. I don't know. The women took a stand right by the men as far as that's concerned if they had to. My mother never worked in the fields or my sisters, but a good many of the families, the early families, the women worked right along side the men. There was never any question, of course, the man was the head of the house, but as far as him being a dictator or anything of that sort, nothing like that, in most families. I have never understood women's liberation so much because we've never felt we were any- thing but liberated.

CC: How about the changes in modern conveniences? Some of those things? Has that made a change in women's lives?

EW: Well, it certainly has made a change in the women's lives, because in the early days, especially washing and ironing and thing of that sort, were really manual labor. And in our home we had a washing machine as early as one was ever made, I know we had the earliest one, and many people had to just go to the creek and wash, or they had big black boilers that they heated the water in and washed their clothes in outside. And it was maybe a two or three day job to get them all washed, and then it was a two or three day job to iron them with those big heavy irons, sad irons, they really were sad irons. And that was quite a change in women's lives, I'm sure. And then of course the lights. Everyone knows what a wonderful thing light has been for people. I never can understand how anyone ever wrote, or read or did any- thing by candle light. i just can't see how they did it. Because lamps were bad enough even though they were cleaned every day and wicks were trimmed and the lights were bright as they could be, but they still were not suited for reading. Yet my mother did lots of her sewing after night. With a big family that's about the only time she had to do it.

CC: It must have been real hard on people's eyes.

EW: She nearly always cut out things after night when the family was all in bed. She would get things cut out, and then she had a sewing machine, always so she was fortunate in that way.

CC: Now how about the role of women in terms of home? These days a lot of women are working, are not in the home all the time. Was that true of pioneer women in the old days?

EW: No, most of the women in the old days were at home. They had to be really, because they had large families and so much of the work had to be done. They had to do it, the sewing, the cooking. Now everything is pack- aged. You can buy it in the store, whatever you want. You don't have to cook it. Maybe warm it up a little. And they had to prepare everything that was used and most of them worked in the homes. I think they were really satisfied and happy to be working in the homes. I never heard my mother complain about wanting to get away from her family or her home, and she certainly had plenty of work to do because not only did she have her family, she had a lot of neighbors, and she had a lot of travelers going by all the time who stopped and she was happy in her work. I know she never. I've heard modern mothers say, "Oh, go play in the traffic, so I don't have to see you anymore for awhile. Go away': I never heard my mother ever speak in that kind of a tone. I suppose we got on her nerves terribly at times, but I never heard her really, want to get rid of us. By the time I came along, the older ones were getting ready to get married so that made a little bit of difference. There was always somebody else to help look after me. 0f course, they had to buy all their supplies, they had to buy them up at one time to last them for quite a long time because it wasn't always easy to get to town. They didn't go once a week. They didn't go every day two or three times. If they went once a month they were doing pretty well, the ones that lived far out. Of couse, we were a little different because we carried the mail once a week, so if we needed anything we always had an oppoutunity to get it.

CC: Did people get snowed in quite a bit in the winter?

EW: Oh, yes, I should say they were snowed in. Not only by the snow but there was mud later on too. When they had a big load of anything, like a load of wood to take to the camps, the mining towns or something like that, or beef which my folks supplied to the mining towns, you'd have to take may- be 6 mule team or a 6 horse team to pull the wagon, especially after a big snow. It's too convenient now for people to go to the store. That's one reason we spend so much money.

CC: Now what things did people make in the old days that they would normally buy now?

EW: Of, couse they always made their own butter, and some of them made their own cheese. They made their own preserves and jams and jellies. Of course, they do that today, too. But they made their own soap. That was another thing. They made their own lard, and they didn't rely on stores for what they had to have very much. They had to buy sugar and flour and things of that sort. But outside of that they used what they had.

CC: They made their own breads?

EW: Oh yes, breads, cookies and cakes they were all home made. They didn't have any packages to go and buy. And they tasted good too.

CC: How about clothes. Did most of the women sew and make their clothes for the family?

EW: I think nearly everyone sewed. There were no stores to buy things from to any great extent, and they just used what they had usually. And their older children handed down what they had to the younger children. And my mother was a good seamstress because her mother had been apprenticed as a seamstress before she left England, and my grandfather had been apprenticed as a tailor so they had a better chance to have good clothes, nice clothes, better than most people. They always did have them, too.

CC: Did many women weave or spin?

EW: Well, a lot of people did. Especially those who came from the Georgia Colony, from the South. My mother didn't, but I have a spinning wheel that came from my husband's side of the family. It was made in Tennessee. It was the Southern colonies. I think, that did more spinning and weaving than the others did.

CC: Did you ever see the looms?

EW: Oh, yes I saw the looms. The people in La Veta had the looms that they made the rag carpets on. I know we would sew rags in carpet balls sew them together and then wind them up into a ball, and when my mother would gather enough balls of rags, she'd bring them up to La Veta and Mrs. Irwin had a loom, and she would make them into rags so we always had rag carpets. We nearly always had a fresh one every two or three years. They were nice too. Real heavy and comfortable and warm. They were attractive on the floor.

CC: That was another way people recycled things. They didn't have the trash the people have now.

EW: Oh no, things were used to the very last bit of it. Of course, we were always fortunate too, to have magazines and papers and they were read from cover to cover.

CC: Did people do more reading in those days?

EW: I think they did, much more reading. We always had, someone would read out loud at night, and we always had books and papers. Some were sent from England to my folks, some from the people in the East who knew us. So we always had the use of the Home Companion, which was one of the favorite magazines of all times, a weekly. And then as I say, people who had been shipmates of my fathers sent magazines from the East. So we always had a good supply, and everybody read them in the neighborhood, always took the women's magazines.

CC: Would families sing in the evenings, together?

EW: Always, we always sang. Part of the joy of having an organ was the older girls playing and the others singing, and my oldest brother, Harry, played the violin. He taught himself to play so we always had that. He played the mouth harp and of course, they played cards too, in the evening. The older ones always played High Five, and things of that sort. I don't know if they play High Five anymore or not. But they used to play some of the other games that they play now.

CC: Did women do much knitting and crocheting?

EW: Yes, they knitted and crocheted, sewed always. There was a lot of fancy work made in those days. My mother was always busy at something.

CC: And quilting? And tatting probably.

EW: Yes they did a lot of it. I have quite a little of the old lace and the knitted lace. They used to make the satin or silk quilts that were so pretty, and feather stitch all around. I gave my niece in Wyoming one of the nicest ones my mother had made.

CC: Were those a crazy quilt?

EW: Sort of a crazy quilt made with silk pieces. But they had lots of beauty in their homes in those days too. They always had plants blooming. My mother loved plants and we always had them. She liked the fuchias more than anything, and we always had them. And they had hanging baskets then and they didn't even have macrame, like the rest of us do.

CC: Did people use to raise a lot of African Violets?

EW: No, I think that was more recent. We didn't have violets, we had Begonias around the house, things of that sort and the fuchias, but I don't remember African Violets. I'm sure we didn't have them. Those four right there were given to me for my birthday. I'm not much of a hand with them, I like them awfully well, but they say you have to talk to them a lot and I don't talk very much. I just say bloom.

CC: So what relatives do you have living right around here?

EW: I just have neices and nephews now. I'm the last one in my family. I have Sam Capps, lives on the home ranch, and Claudia Capps lives with me. She's a retired teacher. And then I have cousins in Canon City, Colorado Springs, Denver. They're the only relatives. I have one daughter. Right now she's living in Tucson, Arizona.

CC: Does she come up to see you?

EW: Well, we see each other quite often. We made a trip to Europe and England this spring. Got to visit our relatives in England. The relatives that just left yesterday to go back to England have been here two weeks. I've had a lot of pleasure out of finding the relatives in England.

CC: Where are they in England?

EW: They're along the North Sea for the most part because they were engaged in the fishing business. And then I have some down in Cornwall. My mother's people too, were from Norwich Norfolk in England. I haven't found out too much about them, but they are there. I have some people working on it for me because I never have time when I'm over there to really find out anything. I'm too busy, so, I have some people working on it. I hope to get things kinda lined out. My mother's maiden name was Strange and there are some Strange people, by the name of Strange, came into La Veta with the Georgia Colony. But as near as we could find out they were no relation. That's about the only families by that name that I know anything about though, there are others in the states, I know.

CC: Now there was a Garren and Strange store at one time, was that your family?

EW: No, that was this other family. They came with the Georgia Colony. There were a lot of those people came. They settled mostly about the Huerfano and La Veta on the Cucharas. More than in Walsenburg. I don't think very many of them stayed in Walsenburg. Of course, they came because after the Civil War their land was partially destroyed and probably too they were a little fearful of what was happening afterwards. They wanted to get away from it, so a lot of them came.

CC: I don't think they settled in Gardner too much either.

EW: There were a few of them probably, the Quillions and the Wilburns. And I don't remember whether the Sharpes came with them or not. I almost believe they did. But there were some others that came.

CC: I don't think the Sharps did.

EW: No, I don't believe they did. I've never seen their name in the list. But I do know that the Alexanders and the Wilburns, well the Alexanders not so much, but the Quillions and the Wilburns settled there. I think the Rev. Quillion preached in Gardner for awhile. They always had preachers. Of course, they were circuit riders to a great extent. Especially the Methodist Church, but the Baptist Church was founded in La Veta in 1872, and they always had preachers. And there was one, Father Clark, who walked all over the Country and he carried those huge family Bibles with him and sold them to the various families. I suppose he carried other Bibles too with him. I don't know how in the world he did it because he walked all over. I don't know how he could carry those big Bibles. Mrs. Ritter my sister's mother- in-law had one of those, Father Clark Bibles. I think she bought it in 1884 or 1888, something like that. 1888, I guess. Of course there were always saloons, too. I think at one time there were about 6 or 7 saloons on Ryus Street what was called Ryus Avenue in those days, I think they call it Ryus Street now. It was Avenue in the early days. And they nicknamed it Snake Ave. Because there was so many saloons on it. And there was one time when La Veta didn't have any saloons at all.

CC: When was that, during prohibition?

EW: Well, no. They jsut voted to be dry. They didn't have any saloons at all, but there was quite a bit of bootlegging.

CC: Now how about medicine? Did people have a lot of home remedies that they used?

EW: Well, yes I think they did. All of them had. All of them used home remedies because there were not always Doctors you could get to. Of couse, there were early doctors in Walsenburg and the mining camps always had their own doctor. But when you lived from 8 to 20 miles away from the doctor, you had to be able to handle most things yourselves. And, of course, they did. Of course, there were terrible epidemics in those early days when whole families of children would die.

CC: And what were the diseases people feared?

EW: Diptheria, Scarlet Fever, Small Pox, those were the epidemics that really took a toll with people. At one time all of our family had it except my father, eight children and mother had it, and one sister died. That was because the doctor, had a good doctor from Rouse, and they also had doctors from Walsenburg who would come out, drive their buggys out to take care of them. But they didn't diagnose the first case as diptheria until it was too late to get much help for her. And we lost one sister was all, which was really fortunate because most people lost from 3 to 5 children. You would often see them in the cemetaries where there would be a whole line of little graves, lost in the same epidemic. I know I've seen them in the cemetary up at Rosita where there'd be whole families, and it's a tragic thing. Then croup was another thing that was very prevalent in those early days. You don't hear of croup much any more, sort of a resporatory thing. I suppose cold weather and inadequate heating in the house and things of that sort, exposure might bring it on. And of course, there were accidents, and that was always bad.

CC: Would you hear about the heart attacks and strokes and cancer that we hear about today?

EW: No, you heard nothing about them at all. If people died of them they weren't called that. We didn't know anything about it. Strokes, I think, yes. Maybe, they did have strokes to some extent, but not like they have now. Of course, there weren't so many people either, you have to remember that. But of course, they had some heart trouble, but as far as younger people having heart attacks and things like you hear about today, there was nothing like that. I suppose if people had cancer of the stomach or anything, they just thought it was a stomach ailment, and it was never diagnosed as cancer.

CC: Did it seem like people were healthier in those days?

EW: Well, I imagine they were healthier. They were outdoors more, and the work was more of a physical thing and there wasn't the mental strain and stress that there is today. I think that makes a lot of difference.

CC: Have diets changed much?

EW: Yes, I think so because they were hard working people, and they had to eat some of the heartier foods that people today would probably scorn because they wouldn't want to get fat. They didn't have time to worry about getting fat, and they usually had three good meals a day. It wasn't breakfast, dinner, Supper thing or breakfast, lunch, dinner. You had three fairly good meals a day. You might have a lighter meal in the evening. But breakfast was a hearty meal, and so was noon. I don't think we had as much fried food as a lot of the neighbors did because my daddy had lived in England long enough to know that they didn't fry much food. They used to boil and broil, things like that. So we didn't have that but fried potatoes was a very common thing for breakfast. Biscuits and eggs and bacon or ham or something like that. Some people even had steak for breakfast. They didn't put their jelly and things up in jars either, mostly their jelly was put in crocks. Their preserves and the lard was made and put in crocks. I know at our place they would buy cardboard boxes full of prunes. They were crates. They would buy prunes, apricots, peaches, things like that. And. they didn't buy them just in a little package either, big crates. And they, of course, put up their own pork, cured their own hams, butchered beef when they needed it.

CC: How would they keep their beef?

EW: Well our people had usually put up ice. And they had an ice house and, of course, it didn't last as long either, and they could hang it in the trees, cover it and hang it in the trees. Or we had a cellar, a rock cellar we could keep it very well there. I think most of the ranchers or settlers had cellars, that would be about the first thing they would put in was a cellar so they could keep potatoes and things of that sort. And a lot of them did raise potatoes. I believe I read somewhere the other day when I was reading an old paper about somebody in La Veta raised potatoes and they had one that weighed 5 lbs, one potates.

CC: My goodness.

EW: They used to ship out potatoes quite a lot. I don't know whether anybody raises them or not. I know I tried a year or two just for fun, but it wasn't any fun, so I quit.

CC: Well, mine did fairly well last year, and this year they didn't do a thing.

EW: I think it's kind of a win or lose game because sometimes they turn out alright. There's so many beetles and bugs that they didn't used to have, so many pests that they didn't have in the early days, I'm sure. And they have to spray so much now, I don't ever remember hearing anyone spraying for any- thing. Of course, in those days too, a lot of places the farms were on every section, not so much where they were raising cattle but in more of the farming country, the family on each section and they were closer than the ranchers were. It's sort of sad sometimes to go back into the country and see where people lived and where they brought up their families and you always wonder about what kind of people they were and how their children turned out. Whether they succeeded or failed or what they did.

CC: Especially, as you say, where there are such large ranches now. Maybe somebody has the land that a number of families lived on previously.

EW: That is it. One person now will own five or six maybe more of the little ranches that had families on them, and they were self sufficient, too, in those days. But now I don't suppose you could make a living on a small place at all. I doubt if you could unless you had some other means of liveli- hood, work somewhere in a mine or a factory or something of that sort.

CC: How about the depression years? Did the depression have a large effect of the people of this area?

EW: Well, of course, there were depressions long before the '34 depression. I remember my people had and all the people around had. There would be hard winters and maybe it was, not only the lack of money but storms would make it hard. Cattle would starve, because there wasn't enough feed and sometimes they didn't have enough water for them. Sometimes money was scarce, and so there were hard times long before there was a general depression. People just learned to cope with it. When they had hard times, they just drew in their belts as they said, and they just made do with what they had and got along the best way they could. Maybe the next year would be a good year and they could make it back again. But it wasn't an uncommon thing for a cattle man to go broke over a bad storm in the winter, a blizzard of some kind. I think in 1886 there was a blizzard, where thousands of cattle perished on the prairies, and I know the Pryors lost a fortune on that. But they came back to raise more cattle and borrow more money, start over again. I never could understand how they could do it, but they did. When the 1934 depression came along, I remember all about that, but we managed because we had to, I guess. I don't remember we suffered any, except that we didn't always have the sugar and the nice things of life we would have liked to have had. I remember hearing people laugh about, well when they were talking about the old times, laugh about the hard times they'd been through, what they did without and everything. At the time they were probably suffering a little bit but after- wards they remembered it as nothing too bad.

CC: What are the things that you think you'd like to go back to about the times?

EW: Oh, I don't know. The friendliness of all the people for one thing, and the neighborliness and wonderful. As far as I'm concerned, I'm very grateful for my home life, my upbringing, the people I was around. I wouldn't give that up for any fortune in the world. I think the young people grew up with the respect for their parents, and they honored them, and the parents, I think for the most part, respected their children. They made good. I think there's too little family at home life anymore. Too much interest outside the home. I think that shows and takes a toll in the whole life of the nation when the home loses ground.

CC: A pretty basic part of people attitudes and upbringing, isn't it?

EW: You see, so many of the children, the young people who go wrong today is because they didn't have any family or any home life. The mother was out working probably, or they were more interested in what they were doing or having a good time than to take care of the children, and I think that begins right with the babies. You have to give them love and support right from the start or there's something lacking. Well, I don't feel that I've really given you anything that has been helpful to you in any way. I think you could tell, I've been holding back. For one thing it's rather difficult to discuss some things. I could, I suppose, talk for two or three days but I feel a reticence about it.

CC: In what way?

EW: I have about 500 pages written up about my family, and someday I hope maybe if I live long enough and get a little time, to do something with that. Maybe I never will be able to, I don't know. I'd like to be able to. Conse- quently I feel some things ought to be saved for that. Because no one wants to read or hear the same thing over and over. It's just like I told things in our Territorial Daughters story that I didn't tell in one for the State Society. And I didn't tell all then because I would like very much to be able to get story out if I can. Not that it would sell, but just for my own sake. Because we really have lots of history in this county. My own family has. This little evil eye thing my niece brought me from Greece when she came home last week. I said I'll put it on today and wear it so that nothing will happen to me, and so I won't say what I shouldn't say. If there's anything else that you can think of that you want to ask me I'll try to answer some more. I'll help you out as best I can. I know I haven't done a very good job.

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