Come Back to Our Valley
I've been asked to come up to the late 1960s with my column but I want to complete some of the earliest history before doing that.
In 1878 a school was built. It was partly a dugout that had been used as a chicken coop on what is now the very northeast end of the Humiston property. Men got together and sawed pine logs and made the school somewhat presentable. The first desks were made the same way. Lizzie Allen, a good teacher but only 16, was the first teacher. Anna Bradford, in the company of three men, went to Parrot City and took her teacher's exam and became the next teacher. She was followed by Anna Field, daughter of Dr. Field who was killed in 1896 when he was thrown from his horse on his way back to his home one evening.
In 1877 Robert McGrew settled on land two miles north of town. There was quite a comfortable building on that property that had been erected by the very early cattlemen. It stayed somewhat in tact over the years and my mother mentioned seeing the brands that had been burnt into the huge log over the fireplace. The early settlers must not have known about that building when the claim was made that Dick Giles erected the first cabin in the valley.
During those years it was tough to bring in food and the necessary supplies. It was freighted in from Pueblo but in 1878 the railroad reached Alamosa. It was during that time that some of my relatives came through Hole in the Rock and lived for a few years in Bluff, Utah. Their food and other supplies were freighted in from Alamosa. It wasn't until 1881 that the freighting became much easier. That was the year the railroad reached Durango. It was also the year that George Bauer came to Mancos and set up a mercantile store.
Money was almost nonexistent in the Mancos Valley until around 1881. As stockmen began driving their cattle to Durango for sale, money began to circulate. IOUs had taken the place of money so it was a great relief in the valley when money began to circulate.
A post office was established in 1878 and mail was no longer just delivered when someone was coming in from Parrot City. That didn't make the delivery of mail any easier since the mail carrier had to ride horseback in the summer and on snowshoes during the winter. In 1880 the carrier was stranded in Thompson Park and froze to death.
Mancos Hill was a dreaded experience since the wagons had to be rough locked with chains and let down by rope. The Menefees came close to losing their wagon and a few families did have spokes of their wagonwheels torn out and had to go for help to make it on into the valley.
In 1879 the post office was moved to the Menefee ranch.