Come Back To Our Valley

Recently I had someone ask, “What happened to the early settlers if they got sick in Mancos?”

It wasn’t until 1879 that a doctor arrived so people in the Mancos Valley relied on midwives or home nurses. There were others early on but the most widely known was Hannah Perkins. She was my great grandmother and came to Mancos in 1883 with her husband John Perkins. They had three daughters and two sons, one of whom was William Ellis, my grandfather.

Hannah was called on in times of childbirth and for numerous types of illnesses. She would hitch up the family buggy and be gone from home for a day or two and sometimes for over a week. She accepted as pay chickens, eggs, butter or whatever the family was able to pay. Like other midwives, she relied on practices that had been known for generations. Two of her special cures were rubbing a sty on an eye with a gold ring and curing warts by rubbing them with the open side of a cut potato and then burying the potato. Such practices continued into my generation and my grandmother Harriet Bell Ellis rubbed my warts with a cut potato and then buried it in the ground.

The first doctor to come to Mancos was Dr. Newton Field who came in 1879. He lived north of town out close to the Jo Moore reservoir but carried on his practice into Mancos on horseback. He was a gentle man and was well-respected throughout the valley. Later he had an office on Grand Avenue north of the school grounds.

Two other doctors came to Mancos in 1893 and were known as the Lowe brothers. At that time Dr. Field was still leaving his office or someplace in the valley for his home at a late hour almost every day. In June of 1896 he was making his way home when something frightened his horse. Dr. Field was bucked off and lay there only partly conscious while his horse continued on home. When his horse arrived home without him, his daughter Anna led the horse back to where Dr. Field had been bucked off.

She was able to get him onto the saddle and led the horse into town where she was able to awaken the younger Dr. Lowe. He did all he could for Dr. Field but he died five days later on June 23, 1896. It was a terrible loss for Anna and the entire valley. Dr. Field himself had suffered a loss when his precious wife passed away in 1893. They had married back in 1845.

Two years after Dr. Field passed away, Wiley Graybeal, whom Anna had married, was heading to town on his wagon and was thrown forward off the wagon. The wagon caught the back of his head and broke his neck. Wiley was killed on May 26, 1898, just two years after Dr. Field had passed away. Anna passed away at the age of 48 in 1906.