Huerfano County, Colorado
Oral Interviews

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Theresa Armijo

Contributed by: Taylor Hayes
NO. 12
DATE OF INTERVIEW: JULY 16TH AND 27TH (Year not available on my copy)

DATE OF BIRTH: JAN. 29, 1907
DANIEL MARTINEZ-Born 3/11/1874 Died 19(Rest of year not on my copy)
GRANDPARENTS: Agapito Ribali/Victorita Gallegos de Ribali (Maternal) Juanito Martinez/Katerinita Valdez de Martinez (Paternal)
LOCATION OF FIRST FAMILY SETTLEMENT: Agapito Ribali first settler in Aguilar
KINSHIP TIES: Ribalis, Martinez, Valdez
PROFESSIONAL: Housewife (Subject), 2 sons and 2 daughters (Family)
Total pages in packet 21, condensed for space. Typed into computer directly from transcript, included are misspellings and typos.
(PAGE 1)
July 16, 1979

My name is Theresa (Teresina) Armijo, I am 72 years old. I was born in Walsenburg, January 29, 1907. My parents are Jose Daniel Martinez and Francisquita M. Ribali de Martinez. My grandparents-father Juanito Martinez and Katarinita (Kate) Valdez de Martinez mothers parents Agapito Ribali and Victorita (Victoria) Gallegos de Ribali.

When I lived on the ranch I remember my grandparents Ribali also lived at el ojito canyon and we would go visit them every Sunday;

My father would plant beans, corn, prmpkins etc. We would help my father. We would hoe, gather the corn, make huge piles of it, take it to a clean place where we would have to clean it. My father Daniel Martinez had a big farm and also had sheep about 1,000 sheep. He had sheep herders to help him shear. They would fill sacks and sacks of wool during sheep shearing time, bring it to the depot that was in Walsenburg, then a small community. Me and my sister Eva would come from el ojito with the wagon & horses & a cart on back with chickens and a cow for milk tied on back of the cart, we would come to assist the workers that were helping my father with the alfalfa fields, they would pile and press it with two horse with a machine. There was no machinery. I must have been about eight or nine years old. I don't remember to well. Everything was done by hand then. While we were at the farm at Cucharas my mother, my sister Irene and younger sister Emily would make ovens of bread to feed the help. These were ovens made of mud outdoors.

We would have to sweep and keep them clean. The fire was made inside until the ashes would turn red, then my sister and I would have to take turns in cleaning them out. We would sometimes fire up two ovens. This required sweeping out the ashes and dousing with water.

While we were doing this one of my older sisters Eva or Irene would help my mother in making the bread. I remember such good pies, pumpkin bread and cookies, that my mother would also make, they would be a beautiful, golden brown & would crumble in your hands.

At the farm in El Ojito we had horses, cows, pigs, chickens and all that make up a farm. The reason they called it "ojito" was because there was an arroyo where the water would spout out of an ojito and this water run off is the water that gathered at the Canyon, now Cucharas Dam. My father had tanks where he would gather this water for drinking and for his sheep a big tank. I remember when we were at the farm my father bought a car, I guess a Model T, they were the first cars then. The car was black, before that it was horse and buggy. Later on my brothers learned to drive the car. I remember it being shiny.

Storie's my father would tell my children were when he was a little boy the stage coach used to pass through their property. The Indians would attack but would never hurt the Spanish only the Americano. My fathers parents were the Early Settlers there in Chucharas, Juanito Martinez, this is how my father had a farm at el ojito and later in Cucharas, which to this day is owned by my brother Isador Martinez where he grows alfalfa and has cattle.

My mother would talk about her marriage only now & then. She would say that my father Daniel went with his folks to visit her parents, Agapito Ribali and that her father told her well "daughter" here came that Daniel Martinez, son of Don Juanito Martinez he came to see us, he is a good boy and I like him, he is the one you will marry. I remember her saying that she had never seen my father and didn't even know him all she knew was that the Martinez had a son, but yet my mother and father made a good life and raised a family of four boys and four girls. Here at the Ojito, We were raised and worked there and then at Cucharas in the Alfalfa fields.

In later years we moved to Cucharas where we had many neighbors, who each owned a farm there. I remember Felix Vigil, The Ribalis, Carmel Bustos, Juan Bustos, Jose Esteban Vigil in the little town of Cucharas. Down farther were more farms all Spanish, they were Melaquias Valdez, Leonides Valdez, Juan Trujillo, Manuel Gonzales, the Castro family all were down east from Cucharas, all were farmers, all the way down.

The little town was run by (now dead) Nestor Guerrero, he ran a little Store and Post office. Later my father Daniel Martinez got the Store & he ran it. He sold food and gas at this time. This is to what I can remember was 1924.

Our farms were all close and got along good. Some of the people still have ancestors here. The Gonzalez family were grandparents to you (daughter-in-law).

My cousin Antonio Cordova too was down east, Solomon Pino was another rancher, Theodore Sandoval too. All were good neighbors.

There was a one room school-house, I only went to it about two weeks, but my older brothers and sisters did and some of my cousins. There was a passenger train that would come from Trinidad in 1924 & would stop at the depot of Cucharas, drop off people and head north, but first stopping in the small town of Walsen or Plaza de los Leones I don't remember. But I still remember in 1924 it passed through Cucharas. I believe that was the last year.

The law as far as I can remember is there was no law, I can't remember there having need for it.

My grandparent Juanito Martinez had a maid, an Indian which we later called her tia Lupe. He had her at his home as a worker & helper. He had another one we called Lupita, whom is still alive today and lives at Toas New Mexico. She too was a worker in the house and would help with the harvest as it was very big we had a lot of land.

In later years my grandparents moved to Walsenburg, (Juanito & Katarinita) leaving the farm to my father at Cucharas. Later on, my parents moved to Walsenburg, where my father continued making big gardens & my mother would plant herbs, where she supplied a good portion of people living in Walsenburg with herbs & remedies. The Indian ladies continued living around us. In later years when my grandparent died there was only one left, She had gone to Alamosa. In years later tia Lupe also went to Alamosa to to live coming back to live with my younger sister Emily & Tony Gomez & here she finished her last days. My younger sister was her God child. They lived in the home now occupied by my son & daughter-in-law, Ross & Frances Cruz, She was very old I don't know exactly how old she was.

While she lived around us she would wash, clean, cook and run the house for my grandmother, as she never did anything but boss. She also helped my mother a little, but she was pretty old & then moved to Alamosa.

I want to remember a little more of my life at Cucharas, my father would sell kerosene for lamps at his store as that is all we had for light. The cars then were Model T's with their battery boxes. Our homes were heated with wood.

The Guerreros, Luceros, were our neighbors also the Bustos. The other ones were Sabas Duran all of us good neighbors.

Another thing on Sundays my father would get the horses and buggy to go to church. Then we would return home to work on the farm. We would only go to church. The thing I remember one pair of shoes & a nice dress for church and we would change when we came home. My father even had a shoe stand to fix our shoes.

Politicians, the only one I can remember is Primo Juan Trujillo and Mr. Gallegos, in those days talk wasn't to big on politics. If you were Democrat you were Democrat, if Republican, Republican, and that's all.

All I can remember is assisting the help and cooking large pans of food. Our homes were of adobe sometimes two rooms, sometimes more, but mostly two rooms. There was always a cellar and a shed to score what was needed including water.

During the time we lived in Cucharas the rest of the family was married, just me, Comadre (now) Emily and Isadore were home when my father owned the store in Cucharas. We lived in Cucharas, that I can remember till I got married in 1924. I also remember going on the passenger train into Walsenburg, because of a large snow storm. During this time only the passenger train would move. I got married in December 27, 1924. We lived at Cucharas at that time.

In Cucharas me, my sister and brother attended school about two weeks & sometimes my father would bring us to Walsenburg to school, the school was a one room school where all the older children went. I remember it had only table nothing like today. My older nephew & neices, family of my brother Pat went to that school, as they were the older grandchildren of my parents. For recreation or recess there was nothing, we would sit around and talk. The boys would play ball. No kind of games, playing and fighting all we would do is watch sheep. My father would ride his horse and send me & my sister to watch one bunch of sheep so they wouldn't get mixed up with the others and off we would go with our straw hats, and I remember my long braids tied with cords on the end to check on the sheep. We would climb the hill, sit under a tree for shade and take a little empty syrup bucket with water to drink, which was always so hot we could not drink it. Me & my sister Eva would watch the sheep.

After we married we all went our separate ways. My sister Eva married Herbert Harms, they moved to Gardner, Irene down to Cucharas. My brothers stood there. By this time only my younger sister & brother were home so my parents moved to Walsen, to the property where you live and is still in the family, on South Main St.

On Saturdays we would visit my parents to get together, all the sisters & brothers

My father would still plant a big garden, he always had a lot in it. My mother, she had herbs, enojo, dill, lavender flowers, alumema, puche poleo, posote, yerba buena, etc. My mother used to make a lot of money, she would sell herbs and give remedies for different sickness. I remember people from all over coming and buying something or other from our garden also. My mother was also correcting us for one thing or another. She would punish us severly when she wasn't told the truth or we did something she thought was wrong.

About my marriage, I met Phillip at a dance at Santas Claras. He asked me if I wanted to marry him, a little after I knew him. He went to ask for me. This was the first time. I was only a (mocosa) only fifteen years old. Then I thought I was old enough. It was here, I met him when Gasper my oldest brother took me & my sister Irene to the dance, that was where Phillip asked me if I wanted to marry him and I said yes. I was fifteen years old then I remember so well. I was only fifteen and he said he was going to ask for me, that was the first time but my mother & father did not let me marry him because he was a widower, then at 16 he asked again & they still didn't let me marry him and I told them, if he asks me again I will run away, I dared tell them this, my mother then told me what you will do will bring scandal, so when I was 17 he asked again and my mother said well what are we going to do this small one insist and my father yelled "I don't want him, I don't like him for her" but I said I don't care if you don't like him I do, (he was so against it as he was a widower) I will run away. During this time my (compadre) Fred, my mother, brother, was there. God rest his soul, he told my mother, look sister in this you should not interfere if, Theresa likes him let her get married it will be more of a discredit if she runs away. So then my dad told my uncle Fred will you go with me to give our permission. Phillip lived away from ojito they used to call it apache its now the Huerfano hills. He lived with relations of his there, where he worked. So there my father told them that he had talked to the priest & he had told them to let us get married better that something happen to me.

From elojito to Cucharas we would go there to cut alfalfa or water & help him and to Walsen, only to mass and to visit my grandparents, my grandmother Katie, as by then she lived in Walsen, the few people that lived in Cucharas was slowly coming to Walsenburg. It was still a small town. My grandmother lived right around there where you live and we lived. That property was theirs, by this time my grandfather had died, so just my grandmother lived there. We would visit and then return to the farm.

In Cucharas there was a depot homes that people lived their and the railroad section houses. The store was the one was of the deceased Guerrero, he used to run a store & post office. After he died my father purchased the store in 1924 and this is when we moved their. During this time they were taking the depot down. This was in 1924 when I married. This was called the "pasajerito" because it had only 4 cars, and it would pass by deceased Librado Martinez's place. A flat oil car, and 3 others.

Politician as far as I can remember is you were a strong Democrat and that was it, I don't remember to much about that.

Music my father played the violin & guitar. That was the only kind of music there was then. I remember when my Aunt Pablita, at my Grandpa Agapito's, married that they would go meet them away from the house with violin & guitar music and I was just a little girl & I marched with an old man. In those days they had engagements & wedding two days of cellebration. I remember Mr. Cardenas playing the march. In those day's they had (prendorios) engagements which were the brides, she would make the party and the wedding day would be the grooms. During this time food & music would be had. The engagement was primarily to introduce both sides of the family. The wedding would be feasting and dancing to violin & guitar music at the house followed by a dance, usually at the school house, this was done mostly by the groom.

During the epidemic of diptheria, I remember them saying that it would leave homes vacant and people dead. The only remedy to cure as far as I remember is lard & oil & I don't know how much more & for diptheria that purple flower they call maravilla. They would mash up the roots my mother would say and make a foam & rub it on their throats, so the swelling would go down. Mexican oil was used for just about everything. Now you can't find it but volcanic oil was also used. They used more herbs than anything. Pasote, enojo & all of that, it would be boiled like a tea, Punche was used for coughs, they would grind it up & put olive oil in it, for headaches, I remember my mother would use the pinks paper from the sacks of tabacco, my mother would save them and put them right here (pointing to the temples) for our headaches, she would stick them here & on the back of our ears & the headache would go away, for toothaches I don't remember really having a tooth ache, but I do remember them saying a little dab of perfume would work applied with a little bit of cotton, but headaches, I do remember because my mother would say have you got a headache yes, well come here & she would put that paper on us.

My mother liked music & would always listen to my father play his violin. In the evening you could hear the coyotes howl, they would say that there were lions in the canyon & also wolves. My brother in law and sister Emily would say that in the canyon in later years they used to see lions, when they watched sheep for Mr. George Neiber.

The children in those days were brought up by the laws of the parents and in those days you would have to cross your arms while you gave them a glass of water or whatever. There was nothing of being disobedient it was always yes sir when visitors would come over we had to leave the room & this was to show respect for our elders.

My work on the farm was always done with my oldest sister Eva. She always bossed me & I had to obey her, I would say no I don't want to go but she would make me go. We would usually take turns in different things to do, but most of all she would make me cook & she would work in the alfalfa field.

I remember when my father bought his car with the worn out tires, he would sole our shoes, as we only had one pair for mass & one for work, our work shoes had a thick sole.

We were always sunburned & me I always had (resecos) dry spots on my face & my mother would get shue de puerco, that's a green leaf and she would wash it & mash it up and put it on my face, I still remember that green leaf used on my face.

Camotes we would eat that were grown wild, we would get the root, just think I don't know how we didn't poison ourselves, not even a stomach ache, I guess because it was an herb.

Palmia, or green pointing plant was used to wash our hair, my mother would gather this after it was a little brown & from the root she would cut it & mash it up & make tubs of sudsy water to wash our hair & my how our hair would shine. My mother would gather piles of this & store it in a shed to use for this purpose.

My mother worked very hard on the farm, she helped my father do everything.

One thing I do remember is my sisters never wore jeans my brothers wore, my father always had them new ones. I asked why they never washed them? She replied my father had a lot of money, of course we never saw any, but was always selling sheep and wool, & being as we washed by hand it was to hard to wash the heavy material of jeans. So there were always new ones. My father would sell his wool in the little town of Walsenburg.. He would bring wagon after wagon of sacks of wool. He had big horses to pull the wagons. My brother Gasper, Pat & Julian would go with my father to see it & it would be shipped to Denver.

In later years after most of the family had married except for my sister Emily & brother Isador my parents decided to move to Walsenburg. Most of the people that lived at Cucharas were beginning to move to Walsen. My parents lived on South Main St. On Saturdays we would all gather there together. I remember when my sister Emily bought some new high heels and a pretty dress, white with points on the bottom, and she asked to go see a friend and that night she eloped to get married.

Now people don't work hard like we did everything is by machines. Before the woman worked as hard as the men. Watering was done by shovel making irrigation ditches. My father owned a lot of property at the ojito & at Cucharas. When we lived at elojito he owned four houses, plus the property, then he moved to the farm at Cucharas which now my brother Isadore has, another Martinez. There my brother, continues to grow alfalfa & raise cattle. He has machinery to help him cut his alfalfa. The farm is still running & sometimes he sells alfalfa, but like he has animals he feeds them from there. He is still running the farm that was my fathers, which was my grandfather Juanito's so you see that farm was the Martinez's.

The property where I live now surrounds my father's. He gave each of the family a lot or lots to build on.

My grandmother lived there also, she was a short, fat, very light complexted woman, all I can remember is she was bossy but stories I can't remember. Soon after she told my mother she was going to Las Arboles Colorado. She had her money & also took sheep, horses, cows, and went there. Later on returning to die near her son, my father, I can remember we had an old Indian man living with us, he was sort of a medic. They say he was running away from South Dakota. I don't remember his name he came from Aguilar, before coming to our place. He would get the Freight train and go to Aguilar & then come back. He would use roots, cherries & a brown powder. He later brought his Indian wife Mary & she lived with us. She helped us and also worked for the store owners Katz. During this time I remember we used to give shows with Lucifer and she watched my family. This was a program by Felix Lucero.

Our food was, my father would kill sheep or lambs for meat, we had a cellar to keep it in. He would sell wool & sheep & buy groceries. He would use a wagon, as he would buy large boxes of food, such as macaronis in wooden boxes syrup in barrels, buckets of other food. Coffee we would have to grind our own. My mother had two grinders. Our coffee had 4x on it, that was the brand. We also had a garden to help out beans, chile, pumpkins, cucumbers, onions, avas.

Money I remember my father making us help gather every last bit of cotton, he would say that was money but we never saw any. The money went in his pocket. Clothing was usually hand made. My mother would make loose dresses. Sometimes we would get bought clothes but that would last the whole year. We would use our good clothes for church & then change. The same with shoes, under garments, they were bloomers, sometimes made out of empty sacks.

About old stories not too much. I had a tio Vicente an old Indian who had two black horses & would go from Cucharas wherever the other Indians were Tia Lupe & Lupita who would help my father & mother.

I remember Walsen as a small community, it wasn't Walsenburg like today, walks were of wood, dirt no pavement. I remember that most of the town was made up of people from Cucharas. A Montoya family that I recall was here. The people that lived here before are all dead. One of my uncles, Manuel Martinez, had a store there of food. Lucia Martinez owned a home right on Main Street, I remember one drug store. It was Wycofft that I can remember.

Now that I can remember to my father has a little store in Santas Claras. It was on the land that belonged to Antonio Valdez. Santas Claras was also called El Pavley it is South of Cucharas. He would sell food, can stuff, the train would also pass through there, around then Carmel Medina also lived and Marina Medina. The farm my brother now has was also called La Tuna & the train passed through there.

All I can remember is that all the farms were owned by Spanish people, all Spanish that's all. Another place is El Palomar where they pray the station's during holy week. Holy week on good Friday the people gather at the morada and say the stations until they reach the cross on a hill called Calvario, then they return carrying the saints. They make an encounter where they received the blessed mother, & God. The penitentes, what I heard is on good Friday the brothers get together and receive their punishments & ask forgiveness, pray their rosaries & pray for the dead together, there they get together & they give them a meal. Teneblas are making a lot of noise, it is dark and this is to signify the dead. They also pray. It was said that one penitente Simon was seen marching along side the brothers during this time at the Palomar. It has been said that time after time he was seen marching and he is dead. His soul I guess.

Superstitions, I don't know the people always believed in just being good, praying their rosaries. When I was little I remember my mother would make all the family pray the rosary every night, this was a Catholic habit, even my grandmother Katrinita would make us pray all the time she was a very strong Catholic. During lent we would fast, this was a form of not eating until noon time and even then very little during the evening meal. We would offer our (desoyunofast) to God. During holy week there is no music at all, no wood chopping, nothing heavy, this is all done the week before to make sure you had enough for holy week, to keep from doing anything but pray. Not raise an ax at this time. (I asked what did this signify), this chore was abstained from because it was believed that doing this was haring & making God suffer.

Food during this time was no meat on Wednesday or Friday at all, dried squash, spinach, peas, panocha, lentils, chile, made with egg no meat. I don't know why they had these kinds of food, I guess these beliefs were old beliefs they would save during the winter just for lent and this has been beliefs handed down from generation to generation, now you don't see too much of this.

My marriage I want to remember, my padrino's were my sister Eva & brother-in-law Herbert Harmes married me. I remember so well, we were going to have a double wedding Augustine Vigil and Margarita Vigil, but during this time they killed his brother Simon Vigil. They were our good friends, we were going to make the dance together there in Cucharas. He was killed there but we all married in Walsenburg, but still lived in Cucharas, so instead our parents came to see about rosaries for Simon and also there was no dance. I still remember Usebio Abeyta is the man that killed him.

I had four children, Ernestine Trujillo, Ross & Dan Cruz. My other daughter Josephine, died in 1962. When I married we lived in Cucharas but it was farther North and they called it Apache. We lived with Manuel Vigil. I lived with my husband there because he had sheep, after he sold his sheep for a time we moved to Walsenburg, to work for the county. Later on we moved & returned to Cucharas & he worked as a ranch hand, at Ray Hills, near El Palomar. My family was all born in Walsenburg at my mothers home. Later on my husband returned to work for the county.

About the wars, I can remember World War I in 1918, when my oldest brother went to war, my mother would live at Church almost praying to God that nothing happen to my brother, and the day he was going to fight, there was peace & he didn't go fight, so he didn't see war. I can't remember how long he stood, my brother would say how happy they all were when they shouted out the peace. My mother suffered a lot when he went she was always fasting & praying.

About our ancestors my mother had a cousin, who lives with the Indians, and lives in Taos, New Mexico and his name is Liberato Montoya, and as far as I know he still is alive. He is married to an Indian Lady, was from Aguilar but now from Taos, New Mexico. He is not Indian, but speaks Indian and looks like one, like he has lived with them. They changed his name from Castillo to Montoya, which I guess is an Indian name. They made him change, so because of the Indians he goes by Montoya. I even have his picture & his Indian.

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