Huerfano County, Colorado
Oral Interviews
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Jewell Krier Geiger

Scanned and edited by Dick Chenault
Interviewed by Rosalyn McCain
Date of interview - May 21, 1980

Jewell Krier Geiger
Date of birth - 11-2-1920
Parents - Paul Krier and Lucille Schafer Kreier
Paternal grandparents - Peter Krier and Marguerite Cornelius Krier
Maternal grandparents - Andrew Charles Schafer and Julia Wagner Schafer
Ethnic group - Schafer's, Germany; Krier's, French side of Belgium
Family origin - Schafer's near Stutgardt, Germany; Krier's, Sterpinich, Belgium
Date of family arrival in county - Krier's 1884
Location of first family settlement - Krier's, La Veta
Kinship ties - uncle William Schafer Sr.; sister Pauline Santi; cousins Bill Schafer Jr. and Ronnie Schafer; cousins Jacqueline Krier, Virginia Dissler, Margaret Kelmes; distant cousin Chuck Agnes.
Profession - Music teacher
Language spoken - English

This is Rosalyn McCain, and I am at Jewell Geiger's home in Walsenburg. This is May 21, 1980. Jewell is going to be reading from some notes that she and her sister have written up about the family history.

Jewell: The first one of our family to come to Walsenburg was William Krier, and he was my great-uncle. In my notes it mentions that he went to St. Louis, and then comes on to Denver, and then from there went to La Veta. While he was in St. Louis, he met Aunt Celia Strebble, and she was later to become his wife. He urged his brother, Peter Krier, who was my grandfather, to come on over to America. Peter and Margarite Krier came from Sterpanisch, Belgium, and Grandpa was a shoemaker there, and Grandma worked out on the farms as her family were poor. Her maiden name was Margarite Cornelius. In Europe the houses in the village were named, and Grandma's house was Guttenkolf, and Grandpa's was Raison. They came to America with Earnest, the oldest boy, and Lucien, the next in age, and Lucy, who later died in infancy. Grandpa first went into the shoemaking business with Uncle Bill. I think that was in La Veta. And later, be homesteaded in Antonito, and one of his sons, Uncle Joe, was born there. He finally came to Walsenburg, and I believe the date was 1884. They lived next door to Bob Ford. Now I don't know where this was. But I know that Grandma sometimes used his old clothes to make over clothes for their children, and my father, Paul, was born in this house. Their first house, which was the one next to Bob Ford, was on Main Street. Then they moved to a house up on West Sixth Street, and there was a Chinese laundry next to this house, and my father Paul, used to speak a little bit in Chinese to us. Really, we thought he was great. Grandpa built a house then that is at 22p East Sixth. And that is the house that Linda and Tom Simpleman lives in now. The house next door belonged to my Uncle Earnest, the oldest boy, and his wife, Aunt Myrtie. They built that house that is next to the post office, and they lived, before they built that house, what we call the Benine house on Seventh, and I think that is at 226 East Seventh. I'm not sure about that. The house that they built next to the post office is at 210 East Sixth. Grandpa had a shoe store, in his home on Sixth Street, and he later went into the building that is now occupied by Caywoods at 5o6 Main. A man by the name of Blikkon had a harness shop right near there somewhere, and a man by the name of J. B. Johnson had a jewelry store. After having his merchandise in his house, he later moved into a building that is now occupied by the Western Cafe, and that is 535 Main. He expanded his shoes, shoemaking, and went into men's clothing and furnishing ties, socks, underwear, and garters, and then he bought a bankrupt business from Burnsteins's and moved into the present Walsenburg Auto Supply House at 527 Main Street. When be moved into this, he acquired Ladies' ready—to—wear piece goods, groceries, rugs, and various other dry goods. His boys went into the business with him, his sons, Earnest and Joe and Paul. The groceries were delivered by horse and wagon. I have a date of about l905 on that. Uncle Lucien was in the grocery department, and Earnest was in the men's department. Then a man by the name of Howard Danford was in charge of the Ladies' department and the desk, and Allen Stevens was the head of the grocery department. This last personnel came from Burnstein's store. My grandfather was a student of political science, and he remained active in all political and business affairs until his death in 1937, and he and Margarite, who died in 1938, had 9 children, three of who remained In Walsenburg, Earnest and Paul and Edward. All three sons went into the business with their father until approximately 1920 when Paul, who was my father, built and opened a theater business.

This is about the trips that they took back to Europe. Grandpa and Grandma and their two daughters, Aunt Tillie and Aunt Margaret or Greta, went to Europe in 1909, and they went on the Lapland…..then I have another note here about Grandma and Greta and Tillie and Eddie and Aunt Mary who would have been the sister of Paul and William and Mrs. Dissler, Virginia Dissler, and Margaret Kelmes went to Europe 3rd class when my Uncle Eddie was about three or four. I have hear they carried blankets and ginger snaps. They traveled in Europe for five months. They went to Italy and France and Belgium and Luxemburg. Then they left my two aunts in Brussels in a convent that was operated by the Sisters of Notre Dame, and they stayed there for two years. I can remember them telling us how terribly homesick they were. My grandmother and grandfather and Uncle Eddie returned by way of England another time. Then there is a little note about my Grandmother's brother who was a taxidermist and lived in Belgium, and this Uncle took my two aunts to the 0beramergau Passion Play in 1910, and this Uncle Nicholas had a handlebar mustache which embarrassed on the the aunts very much. When they were on vacation they went to Rheims, France, and they visited there two of their dad's sisters. One was Ketchen Wagner and Catherine Bernard. Nicholas, my grandfather's father lived with his daughter Wagner, and who worked as a maid in a 21-room house, and when the owners died, they willed her the house which she later made into apartments. Her daughter was Theresa. I can remember my Aunt Tillie receiving letters corresponding with this Theresa. Her brothers fought for France after two years, William Krier and a priest by the name of Father Bertran went over to Europe for three months, and when they returned, they brought the two aunts back with them. There is a little note here about my Uncle Bill. His wife, Celia, died. I don't know when. He later met another lady that he had met at St. Louis. Then I have some notes here about when Grandpa returned. He and Grandma and the Aunts, Greta, Tilli, and Uncle Eddie, went to California, and they stayed a year in Long Beach. When they returned to Walsenburg, they sold the house to Crumps, and that is still the house that Tom Crump lives in, and they moved to Denver, and they bought a house on Milwaukee. I have a little bit more about Paul. In 1920 he built and opened a theater business. He along with Frank Ricketson, who is a very prominent Denver man, and three others opened a small chain of theaters in Colorado. After the “talkies” came in, Mr. Ricketson went to work for Fox Theaters and my father, Paul, kept the ownership of the theater down here.

Roz: What was the name of that theater?

Jewell: The Valencia.

Roz: I have heard people talk about that theater.

Jewell: I can remember when they had a contest to name it that, so it wasn't always the Valencia. I probably could look that up for you if you need a date on that. In l934 my father went out of the theater business and into the Insurance business, and he also acquired several Gambles Stores in different parts of Colorado, but he kept the one in Las Animas for almost 50 years. He was a director of the First State Bank which was called the Guarantee Bank before it was the First State Bank and he was a charter member of Rotary and its president in 1928 and 1929. He was the Huerfano County Democratic Chairman for some l5 to 20 years, and in 1976, which was the last event which he really could participate in, he was honored for his 50 years of service to Rotary.

I remember when my grandmother and grandfather celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary at the parish at St. Mary's in Walsenburg. I can remember playing the piano afterwards and making a mistake and I cried because I made a mistake. I can remember going to the top of La Veta Pass, the old road. I think that they paid or donated the money for the little church that is up there. I need to find out more about that. I know I went to that dedication.

Roz: When would you say that was?

Jewell: I don't know, but there should be something about it in some of your notes.

Roz: We talked with Ben Trujillo about it.

Jewell: Does he own that property now?

Roz: No, he sold it to Limon Brigham.

Jewell: Did he own it before that for a long time? I wonder how long. How old a man is he?

Roz: He is quite elderly.

Jewell: Well, then be probably would remember that dedication. If I can remember it, I am sure he can. I know there was a priest here by the name of McCarthy at that time, and he later moved to Alamosa, but he was here at that time, and I am pretty sure he was the one that said the mass up the first time. And I know my grandparents had something to do with it, but I'm not real sure. This summer my sisters and I are going to go through things more than we have. And maybe we will find some pictures or something.

Roz: That would be wonderful!

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