Come Back to Our Valley
We kind of forget about time and distance since we can travel to Pueblo in a matter of hours. In the spring of 1876, however, Manse Reid and Charley Frink came to the Mancos Valley looking for cattle range and that fall drove herds of cattle from Pueblo to the Mancos Valley. In September of that year Major Sheets and his cowboys, including Wylie Graybeal and Lou Paquin, brought over a thousand head of cattle into the Mancos Valley. Then to make the valley seem even smaller, George West, who would later serve as state senator, brought in several hundred head of cattle. There were no fences so the cattle had to have intermingled leading to troubles off and on.
One of the things we need to remember is that there were no women in the valley at this time. That changed in 1877 when men in covered wagons began bringing their families into the valley. Andy Menefee came with his wife, Sarah and their three children. Even though they lived to the east and north of where the town would arise, they played important roles in the settling of the valley. At one point the post office was located in the Menefee home.
About the same time came David Willis and wife and three boys. David would later join a posse and be killed by a band of Indians out toward what would later become Monticello. They were soon joined by Joseph Morefield and his young bride. Joseph was one of the early men who gave favors to the Indians and gained their trust. He ran his cattle in Morefield Canyon that is now a part of Mesa Verde National Park for a good number of years.
Others came that year and early in 1878 other names soon became familiar in the valley. Among them was Theodore W. Wattles. He had served with the Fifth Kansas Cavalry during the Civil War and came west because of his health. He built the Wattles schoolhouse and was instrumental in getting a high school building constructed.
Another name that became familiar was Ed Ptolemy. He bought and sold land in the Mancos Valley for much of the remainder of his life and donated land to the railroad to ensure Mancos would have not only a railroad but also a depot.
Another man that became quite familiar in the valley was Manson W. Reid. Like most everyone else, he ran cattle. He also became the County Tax Assessor for two terms. He married Minnie Weston who died in 1885.
Jasper Butts didn't live long enough to make a name for himself. He helped with the branding of a large number of cattle one day and rode off to camp alone. He was found dead in the trail. He had a broken neck so it was surmised that his horse had bucked him off.
Dick Giles, who built the first cabin in the valley, could see a great future for him in the valley but he died of pneumonia in the spring of 1878.