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Delta County, Colorado
by Mrs. Cleaola Livesay-Clark-Ernst  

Memories of Colorado was a paper written by my husbands great-grandmother, Cleaola Livesay-Clark- Ernst. It is used here with the permission of Cleola Joyce Clark-Widner. The copy I have is handwritten and photocopied. Some of the names are difficult to make out, as are some references. It is my feeling that the paper was for a speech, as she refers to a poem and some photographs. I have tried to copy her document without correction or addition. I did not make any effort to clear up grammatical errors or to correct slang terminology. Her title page stated that the paper was for the Historical Society of Paonia. I know she was interested in preserving her heritage, and I believe she would want this paper to be returned to Paonia for future generations to enjoy. Any errors or omissions are accidental. I give her my heartfelt apology for mistakes I may have made, and heartfelt thanks for her memories.  An Index of this article is included.

Now if you folks won’t go to sleep or get bored I’ll now unfold my memories of the past.

First- Why did we come to Colorado? Living in Webb City, Missouri was a Mr. And Mrs. Chinn, who owned a nice ranch house, barns and all equipped on Stewart Mesa Colorado, and my fathers oldest sister and husband and family (Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Crain) also lived in Webb City and they came out in 1894 to manage the Chinn ranch. Mostly fruit. They liked the country so well they obtained some land on Bone Mesa. By the time we arrived here they had built a house, barn, cellar, well and their crops all planted.

First of July 1897 we left McCune, Kansas. Mother, Aunt Etta Livesay, one of fathers younger sisters, my 3 brothers Lyman 10 years, Richard 7, myself 5, and Waldo 9 months came up thru Kansas on the passenger train.

Father and his youngest brother George Livesay came in a freight car with all our possessions and our milk cow. When we passed thru Canyon City and Salida, they were celebrating the 4th of July on Saturday, as the 4th 1897 came on Sunday. We arrived in Delta Colorado on evening of Sunday. There was about a foot of snow on the ground and the hotel was about a mile down town and no transportation. The depot agent was kind and gave mother the keys to the waiting room. So with mothers big red and black check wool blankets, we were soon asleep on the floor. Early next morning, mother was awakened by someone knocking on the door. She woke up Aunt Etta and said to dress quickly as the Depot agent wanted in, but when mother opened the door there was father. The freight train had pulled in after midnight. In due time we were all located in the freight car. Father and Uncle George had moved the car and bailed hay to the stock yards. Mother and Aunt Etta soon had our new abode comfortable which was our home for the next 2 weeks until word was received from Uncle Tom (Crain).

When Uncle Tom could come get us, one thing we learned while living in that car, when that old engine began to switching cars to take us for a ride up and down the track if it was our meal time we grabbed our plates to save our meal. Delta celebrated the 4th of July on Monday snow and all. Uncle Tom came, details of moving, I don’t remember whether we had 2 wagons or made a second trip, but one thing, we could not make the distance from Delta to their home on Bone Mesa in one day.

Above Austin was the Old State Bridge and nearby were two large cement or rock houses, barns and all to accommodate people going to and from North Fork Valley to Delta. I remember it was late in evening when we arrived at Uncle Toms place. Every grade either going up or down mother, Auntie, and us kids had to walk because mother was afraid of those grades, especially Rogers Mesa grade above Hotchkiss. Later Mr. And Mrs. Merton and 2 girls, Grace and Perry bought the 2 cement houses from Mr. Millis. A Mr. And Mrs. Long and their daughter Gertrude owned the Hotchkiss Hotel, they sold to Mr. And Mrs. Merton. The Merton girls and the Long girl were in my class at school in Hotchkiss. We used to play all over the hotel. When we arrived at the ranch the first thing I asked my cousin Mabel was about her dolls, but she said we couldn’t see them till morning as they were in the cellar. I thought that strange, we need our cellars in Kansas when we saw a cyclone coming but she told me there were no cyclones in Colorado. But mother never did get used to those terrible dust and wind storms in the spring.

Father rented a small house in Hotchkiss and we all moved and father and Aunt Etta started checking in Houts General Store, same block as the Hotchkiss Hotel is in. A Mae Patterson worked there and she and Aunt Etta were the best of friends for many years. She is Mrs. Broshell and still lives in Grand Junction.

Our place was located across from the Caleb Mahars place, where he had a big cellar and a mill and ground up apples to make cider and vinegar. A road went past his place down into what is now the Fair -grounds, but there was a brick yard down there, also a slaughter pen. Mother was so afraid when the cowboys brought those longhorn beef to the slaughter pen they passed our house. Father then bought 3 lots covered with alfalfa but had a 1 room log house closer up town. Later he bought 5 lots back of us from and old man we called "the honeyman" as he had bees and sold honey. A big gulch was all along the side and back of both places and I have seen many cloud burst come down that gulch and about flood the town. Never came on one side our banks were higher. The store took sacks of flour and piled around the store to keep the water from coming in and damaging inside, also basement.

The road from Hotchkiss to Paonia has been changed, but where the bridge now is over the North Fork, Jack Fobare had a ferry across and the first bridge was finished a short time before we came. To celebrate the new bridge a big dance was held on the bridge. I saw that bridge washed out with the terrible high water of the North Fork. I have seen houses, machinery, all kinds of livestock washed down that river. Everyone in Hotchkiss and Peonia night and morning had to take their livestock to the river to drink, it was quite a chore to keep the stock separated but when the fire mountain canal, the Verland ditch and one called Long ditch were built the farmers made reservoirs and a lot of time was saved. A Mr. Myers had a big tank built and he hauled water all day from the river to peoples houses and filled their barrels. A lot of times the barrels would have a layer of mud in the bottom. I used to go many times with Mr. Myers and help put the hose in the barrels. I thought it a lot of fun for the ride.

The main street of Hotchkiss where the church of God now is was Greers’ three story hotel. I used to climb those narrow stairs to the 3rd floor for my music lessons from Mathe Greer, it burned down. Across the street form it was Miller Drug Store, above the store was Nells Hall where dances, silent movies, lodges were held. Next to the drug store was Golwicks room and boarding house. Where the Assembly of God church is now was a blacksmith shop, later my father and grandfather had a tin shop next to it. Then Leeves Livery Barn across the alley was their home then the Lucions Printing Press. Later it became a dance hall and theater where troops of actors gave plays.

Across on the corner from Greers Hotel was Dukes Bank - Dukes General Store. Houts had sold out and father worked for George Duke in the store. Next was Roses board and rooming house then Mr. Piburn hat shop, Grand Seamvers house, she had a bakery. You could smell her good bread all over town. Where the bank xxxxx at Hotchkiss was a Mrs. Bemmedy restaurant, across from her restaurant was a Livery Barn, later made into Lillian and Ralph Giffeys showhouse. Then Hotchkiss Hotel - Bridge Street was used for horse racing.

Grandpa Livesay came from McCune Kansas before 1900 and he and father put up a tin shop where they made all kinds of pans, boilers wash tubs, coffee pots and the women canned their fruit in tin cans and sealed them with red sealing wax. Then in 1900 Grandma and Aunt Bernice came out and they all moved to Paonia in a brick house just down from the Methodist Church North. Grandpa moved the tin shop up to Paonia. When father clerked in Dukes store his hours were from 6 a.m. most time till midnight, wages @ $45.00 month.

Grandpa made a distill to purify the water and the location was just below the ditch that goes around the little hill, not far from the house as you came into Paonia that has 3 stories, but built on the hillside across from where Lura Atkins had a place of business - he had a spring wagon and one horse, a big umbrella over as shade and delivered ; distilled water all over Paonia. When I would be up visiting I, Nellie Bruce, and some times Fern Bourns would ride with grandpa. Bruces lived across on the corner a block from where Grandpa lived and Bourns lived across the alley in back. There was a Mamie Swan and Faye Hawkey I used to visit in Paonia. The North Fork river was terrible muddy and not fit to drink as the ranchers made their corrals bordering the river so their stock could drink.

A Mrs. Hawkey every fall took her girls to Delta for school. She didn’t like Paonia schools. Rosellia would sing for the silent movies show in Delta she is the only one of the girls living and still does beautiful paintings, 93 years old, lives in Pendleton Oregon {Insert Poem Here}. She married my fathers youngest brother George Livesay. Hotchkiss and Paonia used to have Sunday School picnic upon Mt. Leambow. One time Aunt Rose rode her pony with some others and they got off there horses to walk awhile and Rosellia gave a terrific scream and grabbed her hip, thinking a snake had crawled up her leg but she had crushed it, it was a squirrel.

Father made an ice cream freezer that supplied all the crowd with ice cream. He made a big box lined with heavy tin and inside was a big drum filled with ice and salt, and father would turn the handle of the drum and the women would pour in one side the milk, eggs, sugar and flavor and as long as they poured the ice cream came out in big sheets on the other side.

An Al Miller and wife and 4 girls Sally, Ethel, Gladys, and Margene lived down in the lower part of Hotchkiss off the road going to the bridge. He delivered the mail, also had a dairy and delivered milk on the north side of North Fork and came back on the south side of North Fork. No bridge as yet into Paonia. Some said as he forded the river water got in the cans, but they were good Baptist people. I used to ride several times with him to visit my grandparents.

One time mother and us kids drove from Hotchkiss to the Crain ranch on Bone Mesa and then Aunt Neppie and some of her kids took a wagon and drove to the Old Turner ranch for peaches. We picked a wagon load of peaches, besides all we could eat, fruit was wonderful in those days. They didn’t have to be sprayed, the soil was good, the water wasn’t polluted and with the good old Colorado sunshine the fruit was the very best. We drove back. The Crain ranch had a grade to go up to their house, just on top of the hill but just about of the way up the grade one old mare stopped (balked) and nothing every changed her mind until the boys unhitched her from the wagon and she never stopped until she was up at the corral. It started drizzling rain so it was up to us kids to go get covers to put over the peaches until that old mare made up her mind to bring the wagon on up the grade.

Another time Mabel, Clint and myself would follow a ditch bank over in the hills and hunt arrow heads and shells. We decided to dig a cave, a lot of times we used to go so far Auntie would have to send some of the older cousins to get us, too far to hear them call. So Pearl and Jim told us that over there in that area was covered with scorpions and if one bit us our flesh would drop off. Well one day, Mabel let out one terrible scream and grabbed her wrist. A scorpion had bit her, me just behind her screaming "Hope she don’t die, hope she don’t die!". Clinton behind me screaming "Hope her flesh doesn’t drop off, hope her flesh doesn’t drop off." We were all running as fast as we could, hoping to get to the house before all her flesh dropped off. Aunt Neppie just solved the condition to her satisfaction, that one of those sharp rocks she was digging had bit her wrist and it was Pearl and Jim’s way of trying to keep us from going so far to save them from coming after us. Mabel and Clint live in Long Beach, California. Mabel was back to Paonia a few years ago to a class reunion, her book is in the Paonia Library. (There is no record of this book in the library. -- Diane )

Every spring my father, Grandfather, his brother Louis Livesay from Illinois, Uncle Edd Mason from Oklahoma, my Uncle Tom Crain, his boys and my brothers would all climb Mt. Lambour and write their names and put them in bottles and put them down deep in the crevices of the rocks. Then would put up the flag on top. I feel is someone would go up on top and investigate would find their names written in the bottles all before 1900.

I remember Railroad day when the narrow gauges came to Hotchkiss. The grand stand was a big tent with long tables that held fruit and vegetables of all kinds, and under the tables were baskets that were kept full with all the good fruits to eat free- melons were free, a big barrel full of free lemonade dipper on chains hanging on the barrels. This first showgrounds was where the catholic church now stands in Hotchkiss, the school children put on quite a program. We also put on fancy drill and I was the one that carried the flag and we all sang xxxxx. I was almost eight years old. Afterwards we were given free rides in the caboose and cars from the crossing on Rogers Mesa grade to the depot in Hotchkiss. What a thrill. One kind of melon that was really the favorite was shaped like a cantaloupe but inside was the sweetest green meat (not Honeydew). They were not known at that time.

Later on when the railroad was finished to Somerset there was an excursion one Sunday from Hotchkiss to Somerset for a ball game. So the Methodist church decided it a good time to go for a Sunday school picnic. I didn’t get to go but went to depot to see who all were going. Was quite a train load by the time it reached Somerset. But coming home everybody didn’t look just like they left. For Somerset was noted for more to drink than water, the people from the Sunday school picnic were very embarrassed as a large portion were just loaded in the box cars like sacks of potatoes. One person especially was Mrs. Dumgers, she was quite a large, but now very sedated, pious woman and she was the one that never told much about that day.

Before churches built baptistous I have seen ice cut out of the river large enough to Baptize and have known some to walk home a quarter of a mile afterwards. Most everyone had a house filled with sawdust and ice cut 18 inch square would be packed in their ice houses for summer use.

Grandfather Livesay bought five acres at the end of the street that goes from the bridge thru town over railroad tracks and then had to walk on a ditch bank thru a mans alfalfa field to get to their place but with a team had to drive a long way around a mans place and then the lower part of his alfalfa field often prevented that way if he was irrigating.

One day at noon grandfather came from town, Paonia, and had an armful of hats, coats for my little brother. Some man owned a store down in Paonia of men’s and boys clothes was selling out so grandfather went in and bought him out. Then was all morning bringing in needy people and giving them clothes. I don’t think he ever sold very much, he found too many people that needed shoes, suits, and etc. but he was sure happy.

When the Gunnison tunnel was finished above Montrose the water was for California and Ash Mesa and made that county real productive. A peach box was lined with extra nice paper and about 40 large peaches were packed. I had the pleasure of seeing some of the peaches. they came from Pete Slatters ranch above Hotchkiss. I was packing peaches at his place. Loretta Wade from Paonia was chosen Queen and it was she that handed the box of peaches to President Taft. At Midway on the railroad was a packing shed and both Paonia and Hotchkiss young folk also quite a lot of older ones had dances. Upstairs was a very respectable place. When Otto Bruce got married the boys of Paonia got him in a car and the girls got his wife but the boys brought Otto down to the dance and guarded that stairway like a hawk. But Otto came over to dance with me and told me of his predicament, so I told the bunch of girls to get over in the corner next to the window over the porch. The next time I danced with Otto before the dance was thru we put Otto out the window and he was gone a long time before the gang noticed, they quizzed us girls where Otto was but we all were very innocent. I never knew the results.

When I returned home from nursing as a nurse at the St. Mary’s Hospital in Pueblo 1910-11-12 I nursed from Somerset to Delta up at Crawford and Black Mesa and all over North Fork Valley. I have nursed in Dr. Mitchell, Dr. Erick, Dr. Holly, Hospitals here in Paonia and Dr. Goulds Hospital in Hotchkiss. In the early days I have known the Dr.’s to drive with teams miles and miles and maybe get home nearly a.m., get a fresh team and go again. Dr.’s didn’t` always get paid in money they received anything that was usable or could trade for something they could use. I knew a Dr. Muklejohn for 9 years was paid in milk, eggs, butter, even the family washing or house cleaning. If everyone stuck their tongue out usually got their faces slapped. Now stick your tongue out might cost you $23.00 to $100.00 dollars. I also nursed for Dr. Hazelett many times. My first case was in 1911 Mrs. Hazelett was the talk of the county for her beautiful black hair and eyes and her complexion was as white as a lily. My most interesting case was four months for Dr. Hazelett when Mrs. Sage Stratton was so terribly burned. After 20 years she and Mayone had moved to California. Mayone cooked at school. Some one reported Mrs. Stratton being left alone so authorities were going to make Mayone put her in a nursing home out there but Mayone brought Mrs. Stratton to my place in Grand Junction. I had moved in 1942 from Hotchkiss and had a place for elderly people.

To add to some of Mr. Hutons (There is no record of a paper by Mr. Huton in the library -- Diane) rugged mountains and muddy country accounts when I came to Colorado in 1897 the Duke brothers had a can camp up there someplace. Edd Duke looked after the cattle, George Duke took care of their general store, Bill Duke and then brother in law Fred Simmids worked in the bank. It was a story that when Bill Duke found the church he started to make up for some of his sins by passing out sacks of flour to some. George and Edd said Bill you’ve got to change that flour deal or you will put us all out of business. Some of the cowboys were Charlie Ives, Earl Webb, Billy Evnert, Shorty Edwards, Ray Doughtery. Edd Dukes wife was a beautiful painter and she was Baby Doe Tabors bridesmaid in Denver. The President came out for the wedding. She danced with the President. She had gorgeous and beautiful cloths and was quite the woman when she put on her saddle and stevepeg hat, long kid gloves and would take her daily rides on her beautiful horse.

No needy person or family ever escaped the goodness of Aunt Maude Duke. I have known many many cases where she made comfort and happiness to poor people and her home was always a place for fun and laughter.

Every summer she would take her family of three boys, hired girls, a friend or two to go to the can camp for a vacation The fun they had, were interesting stories. Some time she told how they made each cowboy an individual pie but when they opened the crust there was live frogs but the cowboys always came back with some dissension.

Sam Hartman ranch was in the upper part of Union Valley, not far from Crystal Creek and the old road over back near to Gunnerson. His cow camp was in that upper country. I have been past his place many times as a youngster. When I lived in Hotchkiss in 1920 he was our assessor and rode a beautiful black horse. He told me about how his leg came off. He was at his cow camp, and how he broke his leg I don’t remember but it was so bad. He never would have lived to have even tried to get him to a Dr. So his cowboys took a saw and knives and took his leg off and then with the branding irons cauterized it. Their last home was on Dukes hill above Hotchkiss and then that house was Dr. Goulds Hospital. Young Sam Hartman was and maybe still is a treasure in Gunnerson.

Aunt Bernice Livesay clerked in Matthew’s store maybe some other places. She married Albert Beryl Campbell. Their only son Boyle was a teacher in the University of Kentucky at Louisville. They had one son but the son and wife had several boys but only one girl. Uncle Albert said that was the first girl in the Campbell family in 20 years. All buried in the Bethlehem Cemetery beside many friends: My Grandfather James Monroe Livesay, grandmother Emily Ann Livesay, Parents Henry Monroe Livesay and Sarah Jane Holt Livesay, Aunt Bernice Livesay Campbell and Uncle Albert Beryl Campbell, and brother Lyman Livesay. The Crain family have a baby boy buried there.


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