Come Back to Our Valley
I have often wondered how the early settlers survived the winters here in the valley. There were no stores of any kind and heat during the winter was limited to what would come from a fireplace. Trees would have been cut down for fuel, chopped up and placed next to the log house. For some at least they counted on beef for meat and the vegetables that had been grown in a garden during the summer months.
Nothing came easy during those early years between 1876 and 1880. Any and all mail was brought in from Parrot City (a few miles north of present day Hesperus). It was brought in bulk by anyone who happened to be going there and back. A post office was established in 1878 and a mail carrier was hired. He died in the winter of 1880 when he couldn't make it through the snow. He died only a few hundred yards from the Sponsel place in Thompson Park.
All homes were log cabins with mud and rags stuffed into the holes. There was no lumber except what could be roughly made by whipsaw or hewn out with an axe. When the first school was erected the lumber was brought in from Parrot City.
Early on, supplies were brought in from as far away as Pueblo by freight wagons and by sled in the winter when horses could make it through the snow.
The first social event was a dance at the Brewer cabin in the lower southwest of the valley. Manse Reid brought a fiddler over from Dolores and Mrs. Morefield (bless her soul) cooked the supper. There were seven women present and nearly all the men in the valley.
As necessary as it was, food was hard to come by. The grain that was grown was ground with a coffee mill and used to make bread. Root cellars were a necessity but what was in them during the winters was limited. There were no fruit trees mature enough to yield apples or other fruit so any that could be freighted in were a luxury.
Logan Whitlock came in 1880 and homesteaded land to the south and west of Mancos. He was ready to send for his family when he was killed by the accidental discharge of a gun in the hands of a Negro who was working for him.
One of the early endeavors was to build an icehouse and fill a part of it with sawdust. (Sawdust was so hard to come by that they used leaves, hay or whatever would fit the purpose.) Then in the winter months ice would be cut from ponds and hauled to the icehouse where it would be covered (top, bottom and sides) with the sawdust. The ice would be used during summer months to keep milk, butter and other food items from spoiling. As the years went by, the Robbins chopped and stored the ice for summer sales.