FARMING & RANCHING IN COLORADO
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Begins on Topic Page . . .
Food, Clothing and Shelter
2 ; Food
7 ; Clothing
9 ; Shelter
12 ; Interiors
Families, Children and Schools
13 ; Families
16 ; Children
18 ; Schools
20 ; Classrooms
Farm Work and Tools
21 ; Irrigated Farming
23 ; Dryland Farming
25 ; Harvesting Wheat
27 ; Other Farm Crops
29 ; Hazards of Farming
30 ; Farm Women‘s Work
Ranch Work and Tools
32 ; Cattle Drives
34 ; Cattle Ranches
38 ; The Roundup
41 ; Cutting Hay
42 ; Ranch Women
Market and Supply Towns
45 ; Businesses
49 ; Factories and Mills
51 ; Fruit Packing
53 ; Holidays and Celebrations
57 ; Fairs and Festivals
58 ; Churches and Religion
60 ; Entertainment and Sports
FARMERS & RANCHERS
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
TABLE OF CONTENTS (CONTINUED)
Begins on Topic Page . . .
63 ; Horse-Drawn Vehicles
65 ; Railroads
68 ; Early Automobiles
FOOD, CLOTHING AND SHELTER
―The food on a roundup was always of the best. A fat calf would be killed for meat and this with potatoes, canned tomatoes, beans, and bread baked in a dutch oven, would satisfy the appetite of the hardest riding cowboy. And one may be sure that after a hard day‘s ride with only a sandwich or two, and those eaten while riding, appetites were not lacking. And table cloths and napkins were a minus quantity. Each man‘s grub would be handed out to him by the cooks, dished up in a tin plate. He found a comfortable seat on a rock or the wagon tongue and ate. At night each man crawled into his own tent or slept out under the stars, rolled in a blanket.‖
Source: Frank Loustalet (1934), CWA Interviews, Doc. 343/41, Colorado Historical Society.
“WATERMELON DAY,” 1881
―This is the first occasion of these festivities and with ardor well becoming
such a feast the people of that country went in and made for their guests a royal feast. Large tables were built in the public square, on which were piled hundreds of specimens of the crisp and juicy fruit. The guests were also provided with a free dinner, composed of the numerous other products of the Arkansas Valley. . . . The Santa Fe [Railroad] Company ran out several large excursion trains.‖
Source: Denver Republican, September 15, 1888, quoted in Therese S. Westermeier, ―Colorado Festivals (Part III),‖ Colorado Magazine, 30 (July 1953): 194-95.
FOOD AT DEARFIELD
"The first year there were but seven families in the settlement. . . . We managed to get in some garden: corn, melons, pumpkins, squash, Mexican beans and some hay, and cleared some ground of sagebrush. We raised quite a lot of chickens, ducks, and turkeys. By assisting each other we managed to raise and store away enough produce to run us part way through the winter, which was a very cold one."
Source: O. T. Jackson, quoted in Karen Waddell, "Dearfield . . . A Dream Deferred," Colorado
Heritage, 2 (1988): 5.
RAISING MOST OF THEIR OWN FOOD
―True, some canned foods were available [in 1900]. Dad bought crates (twenty-four cans) of peas, corn, and tomatoes. Most of our fruit came from our own orchard. Dad had set out apple trees that bore fruit from July on, and the long-lasting varieties kept until the next spring. We had currants, gooseberries, raspberries, cherries, plums, and pears. I can still see the glasses of jelly set up on the window ledge to catch and reflect the sun and be admired. Before the Mason jar, fruits were dried or preserved in sugar. Sugar and flour were bought in one-hundred-pound bags and lard in fifty-pound pails or tins. In the summer there was a large garden. . . . Meal preparations were always so much easier when the lettuce, onions, and radishes were big enough to eat. From then on there was a procession of vegetables to the cantaloupe and watermelon, and finally the parsnips.‖
Source: Hazel Webb Dalziel, "The Way It Was," Colorado Magazine, 45 (Spring 1968): 111.
―Dad had a unique arrangement for keeping milk and butter. An
enclosed shed housed a long tank made of wood, which was insulated and lined with zinc. Two or three large cakes of ice were dug out of the cinders in the ice house, washed, and put in the tank. The milk was strained into tall cans and let down into the icy water. Fresh meat and butter were kept in it too. A tight lid, also zinc lined, kept the heat and dust out. Many a tasty dish resulted from this convenience: ice cream, lemonade, iced tea, pitchers of thick cream and milk, and pounds of sweet butter.
―The ice was "harvested" in the winter. Our lake was a reservoir for irrigation water brought from the mountains via a canal. . . . The water then was fresh and clean and the ice was cut from it when it attained a thickness of six to twelve inches. It was sawed out in blocks, loaded into wagons, stored in a deep hole, and covered with cinders. A house was built over the pit for protection from rain and sun. There was always enough ice to last all summer.‖
Source: Hazel Webb Dalziel, "The Way It Was," Colorado Magazine, 45 (Spring 1968): 111-112.
DINNER PARTIES ON THE PLAINS
―Several families came from Eastern Kansas to Colorado to homestead
that same year, and we had lots of good times together. We would all gather at one home for Sunday dinner. The men usually played cards while the women cooked and tended the children. The menu might be pinto beans, fried rabbit, roasting ears from the corn field and wonderberry pie for dessert.... We always danced until daylight so we could see the wagon trails across the prairie to go home, as there were no fences or roads.‖
Source: Clara Watson," Homesteading on the Plains," Colorado Magazine, 38 (1961): 142.
―Bread was made two or three times a week. Yeast was sold in packages of small dried cakes and, after soaking in warm water to which a little sugar had been added, was turned into a "sponge" and was always made up the night before baking day. After breakfast enough flour was added to make a firm dough and it was set out to raise. About mid-morning a piece of the dough was made into rolls and baked for dinner. The bread was baked in the afternoon. Nothing every tasted quite so good as a heel of fresh warm bread spread with butter and honey and eaten in the middle of a long afternoon.‖
Source: Hazel Webb Dalziel, "The Way It Was," Colorado Magazine, 45 (Spring 1968): 116.
RAISING THEIR OWN FOOD
―We milked cows, churned our own butter, sometimes molding it into rectangular cubes, especially if we sold some of it. We made cottage cheese. We also baked bread and sometimes ground wheat for cereal. We butchered our own beef and pork during the winter, canned or cured the meat for use in warmer weather. . . . We had no refrigeration. We build an ice house which was a rectangular hole in the ground in which blocks of ice were placed in straw and then covered with straw then a board cover placed over it.‖
Source: Ivalee Barnes, ―Memoirs of Towner,‖ in Roleta D. Teal, Kiowa County (Kiowa Co.
Bicentennial Commission, 1976): 21.
HOME COOKING IN THE 1880’s
―Mother raised chickens and Father had a garden. We always had lots of butter. The cowboys enjoyed Mother‘s home cooking....‖
Source: Nola G. Kasten, "Early Days in Southwestern Colorado," Colorado Magazine, 37 (1960):
A CATTLEMAN’S DINNER, 1878
―I washed the dishes, took a warm bath and then wrote to a friend; after
that got dinner -- applesauce, beans, rice, roast duck, bread and tea, spent the evening finishing my letters. Fine Day.... Mice disturbed me at night by running over me and rattling things generally as we slept on the floor.‖
Source: S.L. Caldwell, "Ranching on the Colorado Plains Sixty-One Years Ago: From the Diary of S. L. Caldwell," Colorado Magazine, 16 (1939): 193.
HISPANIC SETTLERS' BLUE CORN MEAL
"The principal [corn] meal that they did grind was from a blue kind of sweet corn that they had brought from New Mexico and which they grew there to make their flour. . . .
"At that time I can remember my grandmother talking about the different classes of flour that they had grown in those days, after the grinding in the Blue Mill. . . . The first grade was always called the floor [Jamie, check this, could it be flour?] or best of the meal, the second was the "semeta," which is pretty fair and the third, which was the poorest grade, was the "salvado," which would make a kind of a course biscuit or cookie."
Source: Josephine Silva in San Luis Valley Historian--Limited Edition, 6 (1974): 101.
BEANS, CHILI, AND STEW
"Up to forty years ago, cookstoves were almost unknown among the Mexicans. Meals were prepared over fires outside, or during bad weather, at fireplaces in the house. . . . Brass kettles were the main cooking utensil, a family's social standing, depending on the number and size of these vessels. Even today, a common sight in the Mexican towns, is a woman tending the fire under a large brass kettle in which beans, chili, or mutton stew is cooking or perhaps the family washing is being boiled."
Source: Will Meyers (1934) CWA Interviews 349/22. Colorado Historical Society.
"The one thing I especially enjoyed about harvesting was the meals. At harvest time, I was one of the crew, and being a crew member, I was counted as a man, and as a man I ate at the first table. It was not like Sunday dinner, when you had guests or were guests at the neighbors. Then there was always a second table and the kids had to wait, watching the chicken on the platter dwindle down to backs and necks, the biscuits, the mashed potatoes and chicken gravy, and later the pie, vanishing, and you drooling and slowly starving to death."
Source: Glen R. Durrell, "Homesteading in Colorado," Colorado Magazine, 51 (1974): 2.
―Shortly after we came to [Greeley,] Colorado [in 1872], father went down the Platte on a buffalo hunt. He was gone three or four days and brought back a load of buffalo meat. We took the meat off of the bones and rubbed salt and pepper into it and hung it on the north side of the house. It dried and was the best meat one ever tasted. We had wild meat all the time for many years.‖
Source: Mrs. Jennie Lucas, (1934), CWA Interviews, Doc. 343/26. Colorado Historical Society.
―I have seen herds of buffalo so large that they stopped the trains. The men would get out on the platform of the train and shoot them as they went past. Sometimes they would fire from the windows. They did it just to kill them. Every fall, my father would go down the Platte toward Fort Morgan and kill our winter supply of meat. Sometimes I went with him. I have killed fifteen buffalo. They had practically disappeared by 1876.‖
Source: George A. Colbert (1934), CWA Interviews, Doc. 343/25, Colorado Historical Society.
APPLE PIE DAY IN RIFLE
‗The apple pies were furnished by the local women, who took great pride in displaying their culinary skill in these spicy, fragrant pies baked to just the right shade of brown.
―Upon long wooden tables under the trees in the most attractive spot available, the pies were ranked in pungent rows. Each huge pastry was cut into 5 pieces furnishing each person with a tremendous portion.‖
Source: Mrs. Lynn Kennedy in ―Colorado Eats,‖ WPA Files, Box 5, Denver Public Library.
―Mother's dresses were made with tight bodices and full skirts. She also wore checked gingham aprons. The number of things she could use these for was endless. One unforgettable sight was seeing her coming toward the house with the hem of the apron gathered in one hand. She might be carrying apples or plums or turkey eggs or baby chicks, or perhaps freshly picked corn or cucumbers. Indoors the apron was handy for grasping hot pans or taking something from the stove.‖
Source: Hazel Webb Dalziel, "The Way It Was," Colorado Magazine, 45 (Spring 1968): 119.
―[Clothes are] one of the interesting changes in our life. You look about
the same now whether it‘s morning, afternoon, or night. But then you didn‘t. If you went to church, you didn‘t look like you did Saturday at home. If you went to a party, you didn‘t look that way. You were dressed up. It was an entirely different affair. You had your party clothes, and you had your regular clothes. Now, you just have clothes!‖
Source: Jesse Fitzpatrick quoted in Maria M. Rogers, ed., In Other Words: Oral Histories of the
Colorado Frontier (Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing, 1996): 91.
FARM CLOTHING IN THE 1890s
―Clothing by this time [1890s] was being manufactured in large quantities, especially for men and boys. But girls and women had to make their own clothes or hire a dressmaker. . . . The materials were mostly gingham and calico and each of us made her choice. Then she [the dressmaker] measured us and jotted down the figures in her little book. For winter we wore all-wool dresses covered with gingham aprons. . . .‖
Source: Hazel Webb Dalziel, ―The Way It Was,‖ Colorado Magazine, 45 (Spring 1968): 118-19.
"One time Mr. Fisher took a pail of potatoes to Walsenburg, and there sold the potatoes for two calico dresses for me. Of the greatest pride were these two dresses to me. To have two dresses t one time, and these both of calico, placed me on a high level among the people of the frontier."
Source: Cynthia Fisher (1934), CWA Interviews, Doc. 344/13. Colorado Historical Society.
THE COWBOYS’ CLOTHES
―It is the general impression among the people of the east, as well as with
tourists of the great west, that the long hair, wide-rimmed hat, big spurs, fringed leggings, and other striking things in a cowboy's outfit and appearance are worn simply for show and bluster, but. . . the impression is entirely wrong.
―. . . When the wind is blowing the sand like hot shot in our faces we would suffer greatly but for the protection afforded our eyes by the big-rimmed hat. When the mud is flying from the heels of stampeding cattle, or the terrible hail storms of the plains are pelting upon us, these hats are the best friends we have.
―. . .As to our long hair, there are good reasons why we wear it. Our business is out of doors, rain or shine and in many changes of climate, and we have found from experience that the greatest protection to the eyes and ears is long hair. Old miners and prospectors know this well.
―. . .[The big handkerchief] is frequently called into use as a veil during the fierce sand storms we encounter in crossing the country and that is why it is made so large. Being of inestimable service in the sand storms, we can't be too careful of the safety of our handkerchief. Tied about the neck it is handy and secure.
―. . . The leather leggings of shaparajos--shaps, we call them--are worn by
the cowboys to protect their clothes and limbs from the wear and tear of the heavy saddle, and also as protection against brushes with thorns, such as cactus, mesquite, and many other.
―. . .Many people ask me why the cowboys wear such high heels on their boots. . . . The heels on our boots are often two to four inches high, sloping greatly toward the sole of the foot. This is to keep our feet from slipping through the stirrups in times of danger; they are also kept in a comfortable position when riding. Our boots are made to ride in, not to walk.
Source: Broncho John H. Sullivan, Life and Adventures of the Genuine Cowboy. (1896).
Western History Collection, Norlin Library, University of Colorado Library.
A COWBOY’S OUTFIT
―. . . The outfit of a cowboy--buckskin breeches with wide fringes running
down the legs, pants stuck in boots, spurs on their high-heeled footwear, blue flannel shirt, red bandanna tied loosely about the neck with the knot at the back, a wide-brimmed hat covering their usually unkempt hair, and a brace of six-guns strapped to their hips.‖
Source: George A. Root, ―Gunnison in the Early ‗Eighties,‖ Colorado Magazine, 9 (Nov. 1932):
A LOG CABIN
―When the few scattered settlers in the region heard that Father was building a cabin. . .they came and helped him. This cabin was about eighteen feet long and fifteen feet wide. It was built of round logs and smaller logs were used rot the roof. A large ridge pole was put across the logs were the walls were high enough and then smaller logs were laid on this ridge pole, forming the roof. . . . In one side of this cabin there was a small window. The only doorway was cut in one end and the door itself was made of rough boards with a wooden latch that fit into a groove on the inside with a buckskin thong hanging on the outside. . . .‖
Source: Attie Long Thompson, "Our Home in the Petrified Forest," Colorado Magazine, 11 (May
1934): 104, 105.
INSIDE A LOG CABIN
―We had a home-made table and a few broken chairs which Father had
mended. There wasn't much room for furniture but we always had a trundle bed which could be pushed under the big bed in the daytime. We had an iron teakettle, iron pots, iron skillets, and iron handled knives and forks. . . . The floors were made of rough boards from the saw mill. After much wearing and scrubbing they became smooth.‖
Source: Attie Long Thompson, "Our Home in the Petrified Forest," Colorado Magazine, 11 (May
"Some [of the first settlers] were in tents, some in dugouts and some just had a cave in the hillside. The first year there were but seven families in the settlement and we had only three teams [of horses]. . . . That winter only two of us had wooden houses, and the suffering was intense. We had scarcely any wood to burn. Buffalo chips and sagebrush were our chief fuel. Three of our horses died from starvation and the other three were too weak to pull the empty wagon."
Source: O. T. Jackson, quoted in Karen Waddell, "Dearfield... A Dream Deferred," Colorado
Heritage, 2 (1988): 5.