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Pagosa Country pioneers in the 1870s

Pagosa Country was settled starting from the mid-1870s.

The first settlers were a mixed group and came from all over the nation. They brought with them a desire to make a home and a life for their families.

Let’s look at a cross section of those first settlers.

John E. Colton was remembered by early Pagosa settlers as a financier and loan maker before there were any banks in the area. He was born in Arcade, N.Y., on May 23, 1841, and died at Fort Meyers, Fla., in January of 1926. A lifelong bachelor, he moved to Pagosa Springs in April of 1887. For a period of time, he lived in the little log cabin that stood on Main Street near where Victoria’s is located today. That building later served as a public library and in recent years has been moved to the Fred Harman Art Museum, where it remains. I suspect he built the block home on Pagosa Street known as the Alley House and now serving as a restaurant.

A few miles south of Pagosa Springs on U.S. 84 is a hill known as Confar Hill. Snow and ice, combined with a tight corner at the bottom, make Confar Hill treacherous during the winter season. The hill was named for the Confar family. If one continues southbound on U.S. 84 around the curve, the Confar place is the first house encountered on the left. According to family descendants, the Confars were hunters of wild game and supported themselves by supplying wild meat to railroad construction crews, mines and perhaps to military forts such as Fort Lewis in Pagosa Springs. The Confars still have surviving relatives living in this area.

William Confar was born in Pennsylvania, April 6, 1820, and died Sept. 25, 1890, in Pagosa Springs at his home near Chromo. Arthur Confar was born May 29, 1886, at Liberal, Mo., and came with his parents to Chromo in a covered wagon, probably in the late 1880s. The family moved to San Diego in about 1919. Among the other Confars were Fred, Lou B. and Thomas.

Henry C. Cooper first came to Pagosa Country in 1879 when he rode for the J.W. Lacy cattle outfit in Colfax County, N.M., when that outfit drove their cattle through Pagosa Springs. He was a blacksmith at the Ignacio Indian Agency in 1884 and later ran a blacksmith shop in Pagosa Springs for 16 years. He died in June of 1926.

Ike Cox, a one-time Pagosan, died June 21, 1942, near Eugene, Ore. Cox was one of the participants in the sheepmen/cattlemen range wars that took place in this part of the country during the early days.

John Cox, a brother of Mrs. A.U. Graves of Cedar Hill, and one of the early pioneers of San Juan Country, passed away April 9, 1927, at Kingman, Ariz. He was born in 1858 and moved to the San Juan Basin 1876, participating in one of the early longhorn cattle drives from Texas to here.

Mrs. Carrie Crawford, formerly Mrs. Ed Laithe, lived in Pagosa Springs starting in 1878 or 1879. She died in March of 1932 near San Francisco, Calif.

Mrs. George Crawford, nee Rebecca Ann Roberts, was born near Lexington, Ken., July 13, 1838, and died June 26, 1929. After marrying George Crawford, she moved with her family by covered wagon to Kansas, where her wagon was destroyed by marauding Indians. She moved to Colorado and located at a site on the Navajo River in 1888.

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