Huerfano County, Colorado
Oral Interviews

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Interviewed by Rosalyn McCain 6-22-1979
Contributed by Karen Mitchell

Frank Arnold, born 8-9-1895
Parents were Asa G. Arnold and Lou Fain
Paternal Grandparents were Adam Arnold and Mary Catherine (she later married Robert Roberts)
Maternal Grandparents were Fountain Mayfield Fain
Family Orogin Illinois, Kansas
Date of arrival in County 8 or 9 years after Lincoln was elected
Location of first family settlement North Veta
June 25, 1979

Rosalyn: When did you teach?
Mary: I started in 1916, and then we were married in 1917. There was a gap there. I taught at Wooton before we were married. I taught at Cuchara and then I got married and didn't teach any more until 1926. I started again because my husband had poor health, so it was necessary.

Rosalyn: How many students did you have in a class?
Mary: Oh, just one to a class mostly, and they were lucky if they had two .

Rosalyn: How large a student population did you have in the whole school?
Mary: I didn't have very many. It was a small community. I had about fourteen. And at Wooten, altogether I had about twenty I would say. There was a camp near there. It was a coal camp school.
Frank: There was an old ranch there. Wooton was the man that started that cattle ranch there. They named the town Wooten after the man that started that cattle ranch.

Rosalyn: It was originally a cattle ranch and then became a coal camp?
Frank & Mary: Yes.
Frank: My brother later, he was a cattle foreman on the Wooten ranch, a bronc rider.

Rosalyn: How large a ranch was that?
Frank: It was pretty good size. I suppose it just went to the New Mexico border and in that whole valley. I think Wooten was a colonel and then he came out there and started the ranch.
Mary: And then, these people were very ritzy and I boarded, there for about three weeks until my mother came to keep house for me. They served meals and courses and all that kind of thing. I had a boy make my fires in the evening.

Rosalyn: Was he one of your students?
Mary: No. I really had it nice there. I really lived it up. I

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wasn't used to that kind of thing.
Frank: She was a Missourian that didn't live close enough to a high school to go to school. She didn't have any way other than to walk. She had an uncle named Charlie Morris and he lived in Trinidad and he was a brother to her mother and he invited them out to live there. He had two houses on his place. They lived there, and she walked over to the high school so that's where she got her high school. That's the way she got her teacher's certificate. I didn't get much education so I married a school teacher. I married an education and I still got it.

Rosalyn: So did you go to college?
Mary: No, not then. I started teaching. Then in the summers when I started again to teach I went to school in Trinidad and took college subjects. They were actually in a college. I got several credits in 1926 and 1927.

Rosalyn: So earlier than that you didn't need a college education to get a teaching certificate?
Mary: No, you could teach right out of high school.
Frank: She started teaching before she graduated. She was poor and she studied while other kids played.
Mary: My superintendent told me that I could start teaching in April for the summer school up there. I would teach in April and come back to Trinidad and graduate with my class in June so I took a leave of absence for a week to go down and graduate. Well, that was the first eight months of schooling they ever had in that district. We went from the first of April to the last of November.

Rosalyn: So you didn't have school in the hard part of winter?
Mary: No.
Frank: I had gone to school up there and they started with a three month school, I think up there. The summer homes weren't there then.

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There were just ranches. They had a three month school the first year and then a four month school. I was born up there by the Blue Lakes. I was born just this side, just over the first bridge on the west fork of the Cuchara. They called it Baker Creek. There was a school section in there, and my dad had a homestead above that up on the west fork of the Cuchara. It comes in to the Cuchara this side of Boyd Mountain. Boyd Mountain is where the Boyd places were and that's where they're building a summer resort up there, up there where that restaurant is and that hotel. Gilbert had the contract to build that. He was a building contractor. When he came back from the war he started in as a building contractor up 'there where the summer resorts are.

Rosalyn: When did your family come to this area?
Frank: Oh, I don't remember what date, we can figure it out. My dad was about four years old I guess.
Mary: He was born in 1869.
Frank: And I think they came out there when he was about three years old they came out to the Bijou Basin, and that's right this side of Denver.

Rosalyn: So where did his family come from?
Mary: Kansas.
Frank: Eastern Kansas or Southern Missouri, down there some place about the Missouri line. His father got sick and that Boyd ranch up there, that's where the summer resorts are, that's where that Cuchara Creek comes down around the mountain from the Blue Lakes and this old man Boyd had fast horses and he hooked up a wagon and took my grandmother and grandfather back there to where their folks lived and then my grandfather died and my dad was only three years old. After they buried him he brought the folks back out there south of Denver and all that bunch they found work at the saw mills and one thing and another. I guess, it was the next spring when they loaded up and came south, came through LA Veta, I guess, at that time it was

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a fort here which is the museum. That was the fort where the museum is. That was the beginning of La Veta. Well, Francisco was an old Army officer. He's the one that started the fort. Well, Kit Carson helped him. Carson lived over in the San Luis Valley. Of course, Kit Carson he was helping the pioneers west from St. Louis and back in that country. So my grandfather, that was my mother's father, his name was Fain, and he had a farm that joined Abraham Lincoln's farm that was in Illinois. When Lincoln wanted to run for president he came over to my grandfather Fain's place and told him, "I know you, you have a good education, and you can run for the Senate',' so they both ran and they both got elected. So he was Senator. And Abraham Lincoln was President eight years and so my grandfather was United States Senator for eight years. He was there and saw Abraham Lincoln shot. After he was through with his eight year senate he went back to Illinois and picked up what he had left there and came out here to La Veta. He filed on a homestead just out here north of La Veta. Then he had been a bridge builder. He had helped make bridges, railroad bridges, railroad bridges and stuff. They had a narrow gauge railroad that ran up, and just this side of La Veta Pass, it made a mule shoe there and it came around the road that goes around the back point of the mountain and went over. That's where the narrow gauge railroad crossed. It crossed La Veta Pass. When they put the broad railroad up La Veta Pass, my grandfather built the railroad bridges up La Veta Pass. There was a bunch of canyons coming down off of the mountain, the railroad ran around there and they had to build a bridge going across every one of those canyons. After the timbers got to rotting out, they blasted down the mountains and filled those canyons full of rocks so now the railroad crosses over those rocks instead of going on the bridges. They cut ties for this broad gauge railroad up in the canyons off of the Chaparral Canyon and those places. They had to have red spruce to make those railroad ties, they'd go in there and cut a

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tree about this big through and then hue it on both sides, and this was a new railroad tie. There was a road up Chapparal. They cut lots of red spruce up there. That's where they got lots of the railroad ties to build the broad gauge railroad. My mother filed on a timber claim up there. I guess, they let them file on those timber claims before the National forests were established. Teddy Roosevelt was called the daddy of Forestry. I guess, he came from back east, like the rest of the Roosevelts. He was a cattle man west of the Continental Divide and he knew timber and he knew saw mills. He started Forestry. He had that homestead up there. There were three of us children. My mother had a heart attack up there and almost died. It was pretty high up there. So my grandfather sold the homestead when he built those railroad bridges. It seems that was quite a time because this Baptist Church here was built in 1877, and he helped build that. That was a hundred years ago. He built that old white house up there on Main Street next to the church and moved up here to the end of Main Street on the way up to Cuchara. People started goat ranches around La Veta, and around Gardner and other places they had some pretty milk goats; We had moved off of that homestead up there after I had proved it up. So I took out the 640 acre homestead right south of Devil's Stairstep Wall. You know you go round that rock wall that has steps on it. They call that the Devil's Stairsteps. There south I took up 640 acres of grazing Lands. I was farming and raising cattle and horses and stuff. So they had homesteading in there, and they had a minimum of three years to prove it up. So I moved in there and raised my family, cutting mine props off of it, lots of timber in there. Then I worked over on this sawmill. There were some folks by the name of Vories up in Cuchara there. They had moved to town. This old man Benton Vories had the mail route up to Oak View and Ojo. There used to be mines up there and farmers and everybody. He was running that. He went out here

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to the connection on to the road you know, and he was in a blizzard, a snowstorm, he started up the highway to go up there to those mines with his mail route, and then in that blizzard somebody had run off that road over there and was stuck off the road in the dirt. So he saw him, he stopped on the right hand side, (he was going up) and started to walk across the road. He had on lots of clothes, and caps and stuff like that, and there was a car coming down the road that didn't see him. The snow was coming fast and he didn't see the car, and the car ran into him and killed him. And then his son was working up the Cucharas. Anyway, he took the mail route that his dad was running, and he didn't run it very long. Anyway he was working over on that Excelsior mill. I had sold that mill. They had cut all the government timber they could buy up here, and they wanted more saw logs, so I had lots of saw timber on my homestead up there, and I sold it to that man, an Italian who owned the sawmill over here, and I sold him a half a million feet of timber, saw logs. They gave me a pretty good price for them, and they vent up there and cut them, and hauled them out, had the Mexicans haul them out. So I always worked in the sawmill. There was a government trapper in here, his name was Roy Sponglor. His daughter Inez Prator, is a beauty operator. He had bought the houses in La Veta for awful cheap. We had got a chance. When he was up on the homestead, I needed to get to work down here someplace, and this old government trapper. No, No, the fellow that was trapping, his name was Jack Stone, he sold us that house right across the Creek, and then I bought. Well, I was working at that sawmill, and selling that. I was giving $4 per thousand for that timber--strange for us, but we was getting some money in our pockets, and so I bought several houses around the valley. People wanted to sell pretty cheap. And this Roy Spanger, he was buying houses and fixing them up to rent. He was wanting more. He said, "You've got quite a few houses here". Our son lives up there on the hill, do you know where he Lives? Well,

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he had about 45 acres of pasture land there, a nice barn, cows, and this government trapper wanted to sell me that place up there, and he'd take these houses as part payment on it. So I bought it, and I put in a goat dairy up there. And we were milking goats. Anyway, this boy who took this mail route up there, he didn't want it, but he took it until someone else would take it, so he let us have the mail route. And Mary ran the mail route, and I milked goats, took care of the goats, and we were selling $400 worth of goat milk a day.
Mary: No, not a day, honey, a month.
Frank: And anyway these folks came in from Pueblo and they wanted to buy our goat dairy. They had goats in Pueblo, and they didn't have a market for the milk. So, they knew about the cheese factory up here, so they came up here and bought our place where the Gilbert lives. Paid us cash for our goats, and we got a pretty good price for that. Those goats would give 8, 9 quarts a day, so they gave us a pretty good price for the goats, and paid us a little down on the place. They had two grown boys, so they did pretty good. Until this fellow that had the sawmill, and had the farm in Arizona, and he got the people in Trinidad to put him a cheese factory, and make goat cheese. He was making fancy goat cheese here. He'd go over there and pick up a load of fruit, and come through here and pick up the goat cheese here and in Trinidad, and go to New York with it. There was lots of Italians in the city of New York, and they would pay a good price for that goat cheese, they liked that. So the government found out he wasn't -- he was mixing some cow milk with it, and he wasn't paying his tax on using the highways from here to New York. All those years, he hadn't paid any interstate commerce, so when the Government got through with every thing else. So, those fellows who had bought our place up here, the youngest boy loaded all those goats they'd bought from us, they had a lot of kids that had got old enough to produce milk, he had a railroad carload of them.

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He took them out to California. He lived in Modesto, and thirteen miles down the line was Turlock, and he rented a place down there and started milking goats. And because he had that market for goat milk, in California. So, he went out there and he started doing pretty good there. That boy, the old man and the other boy, they went to other things. And this old man he went out to California, and he bought a house. The son-in-law, he came over here and he talked to me, and he said, 'We just can't pay for the place. You'll have to take the land back.' So, we asked Gilbert about it, cause he had five boys and a girl who just loved horses, so they put in horses there, and his boys were just kids there, and they started in being rodeo riders, and they had a rodeo there every year. They were just crazy about that. So, our son has that place up there.

Rosalyn: It sounds like everyone, all the generations in your family have been interested in horses.
Frank: Yep.

Rosalyn: Except you.
Frank: No. Her and her mother didn't like it when I, you know, when you train horses you get some tough ones. Also, they didn't even like to get in there when I was driving a bronco to a hay wagon. Didn't want me to go visit someone.
Mary: They never got too tough for him. The wilder the better.
Frank: Had a nice unbroke colt, a runaway horse, had to put a W on his feet, so when he started to run he'd pull his front feet up and it'd throw him.
Mary: His wife and his mother-in-law didn't want to ride like that.
Frank: So, we went to California when we sold our place here. I asked her where she wanted to go, and she said, "Let's go to California where the wages are high. We've got to get into social security, that's all there is to it. One of these days we're going to be too old to work". So we went out

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there, and as soon as we got there, we had our youngest daughter with us, the other three of them were married, so she went with us. We got there and we saw an ad in the paper. It's a fruit country, you know, and this fellow was running a dehydrator. He'd run a whole carload of grapes, or peaches, or anything in there, dry them under the furnace. So, our youngest daughter and I went out there, and she started cutting peaches and I started running, straightening the trays and changing the fruit, after they dried take the stuff off them, and it was ready for market, dried peaches and dried grapes. They raise an awful lot of those, white Thompson Seedless Grapes, and they dry them, and just make loads of raisins, they sell awful good. So we went out there and we worked there till they finished in the fall, and they said, guess we're through with you folks for this year. So I went home. I said, look it up in the paper ads. I looked in there, there was an ad for people to work at, building a new golf course north of Modesto, over there by the Tuolumne River. Building a millionaire's golf course, an 18 hole golf course. So, I went out there the next morning. This old guy who owned the dehydrator, he told me about that job out there, and he was one of those millionaires that was one of their directors on building that golf course. And he went out there and talked to the boss that was building the golf course, and he said, well, how old are you? I think I was about 51 or something. He said, I don't like to hire a man over 50, at all. That other fellow, that I'd been working for, had the dehydrator, he's standing there, sad he told him, he said, "Ed Silva, I think you better hire this man." He's the best man I ever had work for me. He's been a farmer, a cattle rancher, and everything else." So, he says, "You can't get a better one." So, he had to hire me, cause one of the millionaire's told him. It took about 2-1/2 years to finish that golf course, and so I went down to Modesto, went into the city office, asked them if they was hiring any help, said, "Well, we just got one job open, that we had a

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fellow working for us, but he was about 18, 19 years old and wasn't much good. Didn't like to work very well." He said, "He left, went someplace else, took another job I guess, we only paid him a dollar an hour." I said, "Well, if you'll give me $2-1/2 an hour I'll start working on that golf course. I hate to go to work for a dollar an hour." But one of the city employees that I had got acquainted with told me, said, "Our high climbing tree-surgeon quit, and went someplace else, cause a high climbing tree surgeon don't take a city examination, he takes a state examination. He can go to work for any job in the state that wants to hire on, if he's got a state examination, and he's passed the state examination." He wanted to know what I know about trees and stuff, and I told him that I had, here in La Veta, been installing telephones in 1913, and I had been a telephone lineman climbing telephone poles, repairing telephone lines and such stuff. I told him what I knew about trees, and I told that fellow that I had been a telephone lineman, hut this fellow told me, said, "I was a high-climbing tree surgeon. Now since I've got up to 200 pounds my legs played out climbing trees. There are about three or four of us that have got too heavy, we can't do it. You're not very heavy, (I weighed about 125, 130 pounds), so if you just hold yourself down you'll make a good tree climber." Told him what I'd done, I've done telephone lines, so he said, good enough. I said I'd cut lots of timber, and my daddy was a forest ranger, and knew a lot about trees and stuff, so, I went to work for $1 an hour, and they said there was an examination for a high climbing tree surgeon, so I went down there and took that examination, and there was one other fellow who had helped climb quite a bit, he was pretty good at it, but he couldn't pass the examination, he was smart but he had never gone to school, so he couldn't pass an examination. So he took the examination at the time I did, and another fellow took it, he wasn't from that town, he was from some other town, so I passed that examination, so I started climbing trees.

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I climbed trees about 20 odd years, 25 years, and I never did allow myself to weigh over 130 pounds. Because my legs, I can still walk five miles a day. And that's all that's left of me that's any good, is my legs. You had to quit before you were 70, because the state couldn't hire a man after he was 70 years old, or the town couldn't. So, we came back here, when we got back here, all the pioneers had apple orchards and all kinds of things and they needed help topping and pruning, and the town's trees here needed topping, and there was all kinds of things. So, altogether I've climbed trees for close to 25 years. And I was five years old the first time I helped drive cattle into New Mexico.
Mary: Now, see why I waited so long?
Frank: My grandfather brought me back a saddle horse to ride. And then, we took a 2 year old heifer over there to the lakes, and she had a calf. There was some man and his boys was digging a prospect hole up on the range, and they looked down one morning when they were getting breakfast, and the father saw that bear kill a cow. And they lived down there, just over the ridge, and they walked down there and told me that a bear killed that 2 year old heifer that had that small calf. She had two cubs and so dad saddled up his horse. He had a 50 pound steel bear trap, took it up there, and set it. The next morning we came down, saw the bear got the trap, took that trap down into the lake and of course, the trap sunk, and we could see a ring, a six inch ring on that bear trap he'd put one of those aspen poles through. With a noose on it he can't go clear through, so he went down with that 50 pound trap, took it to the bottom and drowned her. So my dad took his saddle horse up there again, he got up there picked up some aspen poles, there's always dry aspen up there that's fallen, tied them together with some wire. He walked out there on those two poles, he took a couple of slim ones, slim enough to hold in his hands, so they could he on the bottom and keep him from tipping over. Got out

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there and put a lariat rope on that pole that was stuck up out of the water, and my dad hooked that on his saddle horn, pulled that bear out of the water. And he said, veil, we've got to catch those cubs or they'll kill these calves. The mother killed the cow and they'll kill the calves. So they left the cow laying dead for bait. That country had a fire all over, and there was all those dead trees, that the fire killed. When I was a boy there wasn't anything standing up there out around those lakes, except dead, fire-killed trees. Never could see. Now since, people have hauled them all out or burned them up for wood or one thing or another, why the birds and the chipmunks and one thing or another are carrying seed in there till the evergreen trees were so thick that the grass won't grow. And it isn't cow country anymore. You can't graze your cattle in there anymore. Evergreen timber is so thick the cattle can't find any grass. It has changed.

Rosalyn: There are a lot of aspen up in there, too, aren't there?
Frank: Yes, there are aspen. With all that shade up there, grass won't grow, do any good at all. No, it's not a cow country anymore. The Boyd outfit and my dad used to run our cattle up in there and the people down along the creek had more cattle than they had summer pasture for, they were looking for summer pasture, so my dad and this Mr. Boyd, the second forest ranger, they would take people's cattle up there and help the people drive them up there, and then they'd, they're the folks who would furnish salt in there and look after those cattle. They had to ride after their own cattle anyway. And all the people over there would pay them a dollar a head so they wouldn't have to look at them. So they ran lots of cattle up there, a couple hundred head of cattle around those lakes. Not any more. My son and my wife went up on the Chapparral Canyon, I remember we used to. We had some timberland up there. They'd pay five dollars for timberland years ago, so we went up there on horseback the other day. My son's breaking in these broncs that he got from Wyoming. I'm riding with him. And

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my dad had a cabin up there, about a half mile below the Chaparral falls, (there are some falls in that Creek), and we got up there and looked at Dad's old cabin. There's some fellow that's bought that land in there, and he's figuring on making a hunting camp up there. And he's built up the old buildings that my dad had in there. And my dad's younger brother had a sawmill in there, cutting sawlogs that I had on the place. So, his cabin was built out of logs about this big around. 10, 11, up to 12inches I guess. Those logs are just as solid as they were when he left. This fellow has put a big cable roof up over it, out of metal, sheet iron roof, and he's fixing that cabin up.
Mary: Well, besides Colorado history, you got some California, too.

Rosalyn: That's right.
Frank: Well, in California, why we had left relatives out there that went up in the mountains. They had a summer camp up there, a nice place to camp, a pretty nice place. We went up to our old homestead the other day, Gilbert and I, and we rode, tried to ride, we went clear up to Wade Canyon that we lived in on our homestead. Tried to go up on one of those timber roads, where we sold all that timber out of there, and the oak brush is taller than the ceiling and just so thick you can't get a horse through. We used to ride all around there. My youngest daughter had a little saddle horse, and when she was a small girl she used to get on that horse and get The milk cows. She'd go out and ride all over there. But you can't ride all over it now. The timber has grown too thick.
Mary: Are the bridges all gone?
Frank: Yes? All the bridges on the creek are out.

Rosalyn: Do you still own that land?
Frank: No.

Rosalyn: You sold it?
Mary: Before we went to California.

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Frank: Yes, we sold it before. There were some folks that lived up there, name was Herbin, They'd come in here, she was of English descent, I don't know what her husband was, she had a son and a daughter. He was a funny old guy. Talked kind of queer. They'd come up in there, back of those ranches, making a homestead in there. Then they bought a ranch that comes clear down to the creek. And they lived about like wild Indians. They built houses but they weren't very nice. They'd raise a lot of cattle. They didn't have enough pasture land to feed all them. And I saw them up there in this place that they bought. They bought it from the Goemmer outfit, Goemmer Cattle Company. So they were up behind Eunice Goemmers, up in those hills there. They bought this ranch down on the creek, a really big place. They had a little alfalfa field. And I walked up there, and there was this girl. She was dressed in old-fashioned clothes, her skirts dragged the ground. She wore men's boots. I talked to them a little bit, asked them how they's fixed for pasture for their cows. He said, "We don't have enough. And the cattle are so cheap, they won't hardly pay the freight to Denver. I had one year when I couldn't rent a ranch, I had to ship my cattle to Denver. I had a carload of cattle to ship to Denver, and it wouldn't much more than pay the freight. And I said I'd heard. (See, their mother had died, the one that had the interests in England. And they had known that she was dead when they offered me ... Neither one of them had ever married. So they offered them a pretty good price for her holdings in England. I heard they got $4000 or something for their outfit in England). So, I asked them, I said, "How'd you like to buy my homestead? To pasture. That's 640 acres, that would give you more pasture. He says, "Whoa That would just be about right, because that would give us enough pasture. Then we could raise some hay on it! He says, "Boy, cause we don't want an acre for?" And I says, "Oh, about three dollars, I guess." And so he says, "Well, that's just a little more than we would want to pay, I think." And I said, "Well, how much can you give for it, lots of crop timber; we'd been living off the crop

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timber while we was living there for three years). So, I guess maybe I'll take that." So he said, Well, Sara, how much money you got with you." And she says, "Well, I got a little." And she turned her back on us, walked off a little ways, and then I could tell the way she was doing she was opening up her clothes, so from someplace she took that money out of her clothes. Fastened up her clothes again, came back over there, handed him $800 cash, And well, they said, "At 2.75, that's 640 acres, that's about $1600 dollars. We can give you half of it right now." And he handed me that $800 dollars.
Mary: Can you imagine?
Frank: And then he says, We've got some more money. We've been saving it, afraid we might get into a pinch or something. So, I'11 get it to you." So when we sold our place up there, sold the goat dairy, and decided to go to California, we telephoned him. (They had a telephone in their house up there.) I said, "Well, we sold our goat dairy and we're going to California And we need that money to get out there. How about getting the rest of that money for the homestead." He said, "Woa! I'll be right over!" He came over and he had $800 more. So we were happy to get that and go to California. So that's the way we got rid of our land.

Rozlyn: So when did you move back to La Veta? From California?
Mary: 1963. That was the year of our fiftieth wedding anniversary.

Rozlyn: So you moved to this house then?
Mary: Uh-huh. We rented it for a while, and then we bought it. Now we've had our sixty-second. Well, we will have in August.
Frank: I've been married since the day I was 22 years old.

Rozlyn: It sounds like you've had an interesting life together.
Mary: Yes, we have. Our rough spots, but made it through alright Sometimes thats good for you.
Frank: But then, I don't know how long it was before Abraham Lincoln's

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first or second four years was up and then he got killed. But anyway, my Grandfather came out here when his second four years was up as a U. S. Senator. And then my ... Course, when that man moved up here, he was 4 or 7 years old I guess. I guess, maybe he was four years old when his father died. But then my grandmother was raising potatoes over there. It rained enough here in the summertime to make potatoes, up in the mountains. He planted his potatoes, took good care of their yard, and later on, they were getting up maybe 15,000 pounds to the acre. Some of them wouldn't go near as high as that. In some places you couldn't get over l,0OO pounds to the acre. She had two wagons with wagon boxes, as big as this table, in fact they were longer than this table, 12 feet long, and they were about three feet deep and three feet wide. Could put a lot of sacks of potatoes in it, probably about 50. She had two wagons, and had a tongue about this long on one wagon, and a hitch on back of the other wagon to hitch it behind. She'd put two yoke of oxen to pull it, with four head of oxen. And it took them two days, it was forty miles, down to Trinidad. Trinidad was a pretty good sized town then, and they used lots of potatoes cause they couldn't raise any. Had to buy all of them. So she'd load those two.


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