Come Back to Our Valley
In 1879, the school was updated somewhat with lumber being brought in from Parrot City. 'I think' this was when the school was actually brought into town and the fort was built around it. Some 'minor' conflicts occur in my sources during that time period. Anyway the school was dedicated early in July 1879 with a dance and a feast. It went through a few changes before being slimmed down and eventually becoming the town jail. In 1887, a new school was built where the grade school now stands. That building went through some phases too and ended up where the Jr. High building now stands. It was sold and part of it still stands in a pasture east of Bob and Sue Scott's Sundance Bear.
In 1880, the first election in the valley was held and William Hayes was elected Justice of the Peace. His first official act was to marry William Brittain and Lou Davenport. They lived in the valley for the duration of their lives but Mr. Brittain had a wagon accident and was unable to continue working. Mrs. Brittain left her husband to care for the home and took up where he left off and hauled freight from Mancos to Dolores and then later used her four horse team to haul freight from Durango to Cortez. In the winter the roads would be all but impassable but she never failed to get the job done. She also had 12 children for her to help her husband raise. One of 13 children herself, she was born in a covered wagon somewhere between Denver and Nevada. Later she came with her parents to Mancos in 1881. Her husband passed away in 1925 but she kept working for as long as she could and died with grace in 1955.
In 1880, Dr. Field believed a way to stop the often drought conditions in Montezuma Valley was to build a ditch from the Dolores River to where Cortez would be. He also believed a ditch could also be brought to the Mancos Valley but noted it would take funds that would only be available in the years to come. He did try to build the ditch to Cortez but the funds ran out and he went back to being a full time doctor for the Mancos Valley. The first newspaper editor, who had come in from Ouray and informally called Muldoon, would later take up his interest in water for the Mancos Valley. Muldoon lived long enough to see others take up that battle but passed away before Jackson Gulch Reservoir became a reality.
The building of a church for the community became serious in 1880. But before the building was completed church services were held in various homes. A Sunday School was organized and Robert McGrew was appointed superintendent with Mrs. Wetherill as his assistant. The Wetherills were Quakers but Mrs. Wetherill continued to play a role even after the church became the home for the Methodists.