History – The Pagosa Springs SUN http://www.pagosasun.com The most trusted source for news and information about Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Thu, 28 May 2020 20:03:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.1 http://www.pagosasun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/cropped-sun-logo-512x512-1-32x32.jpg History – The Pagosa Springs SUN http://www.pagosasun.com 32 32 Pagosa’s Past: Trailing San Juan Mountain trails http://www.pagosasun.com/pagosas-past-trailing-san-juan-mountain-trails/ Wed, 03 Jun 2020 11:00:57 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=204607

Photo courtesy John M. Motter
During the early days, buildings on Pagosa Street were built from lumber. Fires burned many of those buildings. This picture shows survivors from one of those fires. Downtown businessmen finally got wise and built using bricks.

By John M. Motter
PREVIEW Columnist

Have you ever entertained company from out of town and gone through the following scenario? Visiting friend Waldo has loafed around the house for a couple of days, the fried chicken is gone, the drinks are drunk, most of the war stories have been repeated until, when you clear your throat, open your mouth and start with “have you ever heard …?” a chorus of groans generates silence.

Waldo has been staring out the window when the idea bulb lights up over his head. “You know what?” says he. “Think I’ll just go over there and take a little hike through those pine trees. Won’t be long.” And out the door he goes.

Won’t be long gets longer and longer; everybody is tired of snackin’ and no Waldo. Eyes meet eyes and someone says, “Maybe we better go look for Waldo.” About the time three or four men are on the front porch zipping up their jackets, Waldo shows up.

“You didn’t have to worry,” Waldo asserts. “Might’ve been out there a little longer than you expected, but I lost the trail.”

Think about it. Truthfully, trails don’t get lost. People do. It’s not so rare as you might think. I heard a story once about a hunter lost in Maine. When one of the local guides found him, his excuse was, “I lost my compass.” The guide builds a fire to warm things up before starting home. Lost hunter hovering over the fire quips, “That feels toasty. Think I’ll slip off my boots and warm my feet.” As the second boot drops to the floor, the lost compass reappears and bounces across the floor. Every eye focuses on him, busily rubbing his hands together over the fire, a silly grin on his face.

In Pagosa Country, hunters get lost almost every hunting season. I remember when a group of hunters asked for help finding a buddy lost on Wolf Creek Pass. Finally, he was located on a mountain shoulder up above Treasure Falls. “I lost the trail,” he uttered. We locals looked at each other knowingly, but kept quiet. We all knew we could hear and see cars and trucks crossing Wolf Creek Pass from the place the lost man was found.

That’s not to say I couldn’t get lost. Back in the day, when I’d head out on a fishing expedition, I’d tell friends where I was going followed up by, “Don’t worry. I’ll come out somewhere.” I knew if I went down-hill, I’d eventually hit a road.

Most of my trout fishing expeditions followed a branch of the Piedra or San Juan rivers up a canyon. To come home, I just had to retrace my steps down the river. On my San Juan National Forest map, I’d noticed that somewhere not too far from where I was fishing — whether north, west, east or south — there was a road.

One of my favorite history persons was Kit Carson. Kit couldn’t read or write, but if you wanted to go anywhere in the USA West, Kit could take you there and get you home. His most famous trips came about when he made two trips from California to Washington, D.C., and back, horseback, 60 days per trip. One trip was in 1847, the other in 1848.

I did see the name “Kit” carved in a rock near the remains of one of the old museums in Arizona. The man really got around.

 

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Pagosa’s Past: San Juan Mountain trails http://www.pagosasun.com/pagosas-past-san-juan-mountain-trails/ Tue, 26 May 2020 11:00:24 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=203920

Photo courtesy John M. Motter
The Old Joe Mann cabin is located on one of the more popular hiking trails in Pagosa Country. Following the San Juan East Fork River, this trail has a colorful history as a Native American trail before the coming of the white man, a wagon trail for pioneers, a military road for the Army, and access to the mines in the nearby mountains and a state highway before construction of Wolf Creek Pass.

By John M. Motter
PREVIEW Columnist

Mountains matter. Mountains are one of Pagosa Country’s major assets. Everybody knows that folks come here to enjoy the mountains. Pagosa Springs, with its world-famous hot springs, is a favored destination for folks visiting the Southern San Juan Mountains. Historically, the reasons attracting Pagosa Springs visitation are varied and colorful.

Before white men came, Utes, Jicarillas and other Native American men hunted for game in the San Juans while the distaff side of their families grubbed for roots and berries and such.

When snow blanketed the mountains, the native people hunkered over small fires where the womenfolk seared strips of meat while abuelos surrounded by los jovenes fingered grains of corn and told tales of the ancestros.

The first mountain visitors from across the Atlantic Ocean were Hispaños, who landed on the eastern coast of Mexico in search of gold and forayed as far as the San Juan Mountains in that search.

For a few years, beaver trappers took “gold” in the form of beaver hides from the many streams in the San Juans. Soon after came the San Juan Mountain ‘49ers, also hunting for gold. These pioneer prospectors developed prosperous silver mines, ergo Silverton, but found little gold. They were succeeded by “gold on the hoof,” herds of longhorns driven from Texas to take advantage of the lush San Juan Mountain grasses. Arch enemies of the cattlemen were sheepmen. Cattle grazed in the lower mountains and tens of thousands of sheep in the higher mountains, say above 10,000 feet.

The San Juan Mountains were covered with marketable timber, mostly ponderosa pines. Enterprising timbermen made fortunes cutting and marketing lumber from those pines.

Next, wouldn’t you guess, in the early 1900s, the U.S. Forest Service was created to manage the forests. They established and enforced rules for use of the land and trees and identified and marked trails. And here’s where our story has gone full circle. The mountains are beautiful, but to enjoy that beauty beyond just sitting at the bottom and looking out of the window, trails are needed. And trails aplenty are available. Next time you are hiking up a trail to a favored lake or camping spot, remember the history we’ve just outlined. You owe thanks to all of the people groups we have described. Very likely, a Native American hunter, a Hispanic treasure seeker, a prospector, a cattleman or a sheepherder with thousands of sheep and, finally, a government forester cleared the path you are following.

It’s fun to imagine, just as Lewis and Clark were first on the Oregon Trail, you are first on the trail you are following. But, you need to remember: That wilderness you are in echoed many oohs and aahhs long before you arrived. 

 

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Pagosa’s Past: Going on a bear-sighting expedition http://www.pagosasun.com/pagosas-past-going-on-a-bear-sighting-expedition/ Wed, 20 May 2020 11:00:01 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=203606

Photo courtesy John M. Motter
This photo well represents the Pagosa Country frontier circa 1920. On the left is Emmet Wirt, a cattleman who operated the trading post on the Jicarilla Apache Reservation in New Mexico just south of Pagosa Springs. The other hombre in this picture is Felix (?) Gomez, an Apache leader probably trading with Wirt. The cattle provide a perfect background.

By John M. Motter
PREVIEW Columnist

Back in the days when these legs were younger and mountain trails seemed shorter, I spent a lot of time navigating those trails. Seeing wildlife was a big part of the attraction. Former Colorado Game Warden Herb Browning and I were palavering over a cup of black coffee one morning down at the Chimney Rock Café when the subject drifted onto bears. You have to know Herb knew more about the northwestern part of this county than almost anybody. He also knew more about bears.

“Seen any bears lately?” I queried. 

“Ya know, I was up the Piedra last week. Got as far as Fish Creek. Bears? That whole valley must’a been full of bears. Ya could smell ‘em.”

That was good enough for me. I was going on a bear-sighting expedition. After checking my San Juan National Forest map, cramming some grub and fishing gear into my backpack and cinching up my hiking boots, I started up the Middle Mountain trail. Sooner than I expected, the legs started complaining. After a cursory examination of a sizable bear dollop in the middle of the trail and not seeing any cuff links or other obvious evidence of a candidate for a missing person’s report, I slavered down a small can of beans, doffed the backpack, and sacked out, soon matching my snores against the vocal efforts of a nearby screech owl.

The gobbling of a flock of turkeys deserting their perch in search of breakfast informed me that daylight was spreading across the mountains. A can of beans accompanied by a biscuit satisfied my early morning culinary cravings and, with the pack straps draped across my shoulders, down the trail I went, slipping and sliding. The trail was covered with small, marble-like rocks. Maintaining balance required serious effort, but a fall down that slope would have been disastrous.

Finally, I reached the bottom, dropped the pack to the ground, sat down on a nearby log and opened another can of beans. Have you ever noticed how a can of beans sharpens your thinking apparatus?

As I ate, I eyed the nearby bridge carrying the trail across to the north side of the Piedra. On the other side of the bridge and a short distance downstream, Fish Creek dumped into the river. The objective of this hike wasn’t far off. And I was already getting leg cramps.

I’d learned a long time ago that on any trail, it was just as far coming home as it was going away. The mental map in my brain showed a dashed line to my right pointing upstream to where the Piedra Road crossed the Piedra River. I knew folks regularly stopped at a parking lot near that bridge and got out of their cars to play in the water.

Pinto bean brainstorm! I found a 6-foot hiking stick, returned the pack to my back and headed upstream against a current pushing hard against my belt buckle. Finally, after sloshing along with legs protesting every step, I reached the parking lot and caught a ride to town. Looking up as I entered the front door, the wife asked, “How’d it go?”

“OOOH, words fail me,” I mumbled on my way into the bedroom.

 

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Pagosa’s Past: School days: A memory from a country school http://www.pagosasun.com/pagosas-past-school-days-a-memory-from-a-country-school/ Tue, 12 May 2020 11:00:24 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=202925

Photo courtesy John M. Motter
Fil Byrne was the first Pagosa Springs school teacher. Shown in this 1901 photo seated on the rumble seat of the wheel horse, Byrne is leading the boys’ band in the annual Fourth of July parade.

By John M. Motter
PREVIEW Columnist

I’m sure there are at least a few old-timers who share my memories of country school. Some of those are good memories and some are not so good. I recall a day when we had a substitute teacher. Everything was going as per normal starting with the ring of the school bell — a real bell hanging in the bell tower above the red, shingled roof. If you were being good, sometimes the teacher would let you ring the bell.

On that particular day, I sort of forgot about being good. Sitting in front of me was the other fourth-grade student, a goody-goody, pig-tailed girl who eagerly assumed responsibility for making the rest of us be good.

Well, I couldn’t help noticing that one of those pigtails hung within a tantalizing distance of the bottle of black ink ensconced in the upper right corner of my desk. Without capturing her attention, I managed to maneuver the pigtail into the ink bottle and settle back with a self-satisfied, buck-toothed grin lighting up my freckle-spattered face. 

Ker-whop! The next thing I knew I was pulling myself off the floor and back into my desk. “What happened!” I wondered. My left hand soothed the sharp pain invading my right shoulder. Suddenly, the answer appeared.

“Surprised you, didn’t I, young man?” The teacher’s face was about 3 inches in front of my face and the gleaming eyes dared me to try something. I didn’t cry. The older boys were watching. I didn’t want them to think I was a sissy. I thought about walking out, but where would I go? I could tell her my mom was president of the school board and she’d better watch out if she wanted her paycheck.

The longer I thought about telling my mom, the more I realized I was building a bigger problem. I knew what mom would do. She favored one of those big French knives for slicing meat and chopping vegetables and such. It had another use that I tried to avoid. She’d go into the kitchen, rummage around through the silver drawer and come back patting the flat of that knife against her hand. Her eyes accented everything she said.

“You know those willows growing down on the creek where the cows drink? I want you to find a green willow about this long.” She stretched out her arms, handed me the knife and threatened, “Don’t be long about it or I’ll tell your dad. You know what he’ll do.” It was her top threat.

I grabbed the knife and ran out the door. I did know what Dad would do. He didn’t believe in willow whips. He’d grab the nearest arm right above the elbow and start kicking the rear side of my sitting apparatus, barely allowing me to stay on my feet as I circled the room, the boot-clad foot right behind, kicking, kicking, kicking. My caterwauling should have scared the cows grazing way out in the pasture.

If they had child-abuse laws in those days, I didn’t know about ‘em. Neither did my friends. Even so, we all grew up working hard and living respectable, law-abiding lives.

Those were the days, my friend.

 

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Pagosa’s Past: School days: Fil Byrnes and Pagosa’s first school http://www.pagosasun.com/pagosas-past-school-days-fil-byrnes-and-pagosas-first-school/ Wed, 06 May 2020 11:00:36 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=202611

Photo courtesy John M. Motter
Pictured in the center is Fil Byrne, proud of the brand new .30-30 rifle cradled in his arms and with which he shot this black bear while hunting along the Blanco River.

By John M. Motter
PREVIEW Columnist

In mid-October of 1878, troops under the command of Capt. William Hartz marched across the Continental Divide from Fort Garland and temporarily set up camp in Pagosa Springs. Their mission was to protect Pagosa Country settlers from a perceived threat from the Southern Ute Indians. Among those settlers was a young man named Fil Byrne. Now we’ve reached the target I was aiming at when I started the school days series of columns a few weeks ago — Pagosa’s first school.

Byrne rode into town shortly after Hartz and commenced teaching school. Welch Nossaman had come to the Hot Springs a few years before the Army and Nossaman is said to have built a log cabin on the locale of what today is Town Park. A bit of guesswork is involved, but it is possible Nossaman’s cabin was later used by Byrne as a schoolhouse. Byrne was the first school teacher and at one time was county superintendent of schools.

I could write a book about Byrne and his contributions to Pagosa Country history, but now is not the time. As in other early communities, as settlers moved out of town, crossed a divide and began clearing land for another town, they also built a schoolhouse for their children. In Archuleta County, schools were soon built at what became Chromo, Edith, Pagosa Junction, Cat Creek, on the Upper Blanco River, on the Lower Blanco River, at Frances, Arboles, Allison, Yellow Jacket Creek, Chimney Rock, Turkey Creek and many more. Several of those school buildings remain. Fred Harman III moved the Upper Blanco schoolhouse his father attended to the Fred Harman Museum in town.

At the beginning of settlement, Archuleta County was covered with huge stands of ponderosa pine trees and mills were built in every stand. Each mill created a need for another schoolhouse and often another commissary. Temporary narrow gauge railroads were built to most of the mills. The lumber companies were awarded free land on which to build the railroads and a square mile of free timber on either side of the railroad. Considering that encouragement, it is little wonder the timber was clear-cut and has not grown back.

Two major lumber companies did most of the cutting, Ed Sulllenburger’s Pagosa Lumber Company started at Pagosa Junction, and the Biggs Lumber Company started in New Mexico and entered Archuleta County at Edith. Sullenburger later moved his mill to south Pagosa Springs. He moved it to Dulce in 1916.

Back to schools. There was a time when teachers could punish misbehaving children with a paddle or a belt. I have personal experience with this particular “used to be.”

 

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Pagosa’s Past: School days: Retracing the state’s history http://www.pagosasun.com/pagosas-past-school-days-retracing-the-states-history/ Tue, 21 Apr 2020 11:00:58 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=201620

Photo courtesy John M. Motter
This early photo of the Pagosa Hot Springs has a log cabin which may have been where Fil Byrne taught the children of Fort Lewis soldiers and early settlers during the late 1870s.

By John M. Motter
PREVIEW Columnist
In order to trace the history of schools in Archuleta County, it seems necessary to retrace the state’s history.
Here we go with Colorado history 101 taken from Wikipedia.
The first Europeans to visit the region which became Colorado were Spanish conquistadors led by Juan de Oñate, who founded the Spanish province of Santa Fé de Nuevo México among the pueblos of the Rio Grande on July 11, 1598. In 1706, Juan de Ulibarri claimed the territory of Colorado. In 1787, Juan Bautista de Anza established the settlement of San Carlos near present-day Pueblo, Colo., but it quickly failed. Colorado became part of the Spanish province of Santa Fe de Nuevo México as part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. The Spanish traded with Native Americans who lived there and established the Comercio Comanchero among the Spanish settlements and the Native Americans.
In 1803, the United States acquired a territorial claim to the eastern flank of the Rocky Mountains by the Louisiana Purchase from France. However, the claim conflicted with Spain’s claim for sovereignty over the territory. Zebulon Pike led a U.S. Army reconnaissance expedition into the disputed region in 1806. Pike and his men were arrested by Spanish cavalry in the San Luis Valley, taken to Chihuahua, then expelled from Mexico.
Miguel Hildago y Costilla declared Mexico’s independence from Spain on Sept. 16, 1810. In 1819, the United States ceded its claim to the land south and west of the Arkansas River to Spain with the Adams-Onis Treaty, at the same time purchasing Florida. Mexico finally won its independence with the treaty of Córdoba signed on Aug. 24, 1821, and assumed the territorial claims of Spain. Although Mexican traders ventured north, settlers stayed south of the 37th parallel north until the United States signed a peace treaty with the Ute Nation in 1850.
During the period 1832 to 1856, traders, trappers and settlers established trading posts and small settlements along the Arkansas River, and on the South Platte near the Front Range. Prominent among these were Bent’s Fort and Fort Pueblo on the Arkansas, and Fort Saint Vrain on the South Platte. The main item of trade offered by the Indians was buffalo robes.
In 1846, the United States went to war with Mexico, and the defeated nation was forced to relinquish its northern territories by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. This opened the Southern Rocky Mountains to American settlement, including what is now the lower portion of Colorado. The newly gained land was divided into the Territory of New Mexico and the Territory of Utah, both organized in 1850, and the Territory of Kansas and the Territory of Nebraska, organized in 1854. Most settlers avoided the rugged Rocky Mountains and headed for Oregon, the desert or California, usually following the North Platte River and the Sweetwater River to South Pass in what is now Wyoming.
Motter’s note: I’m just getting warmed up. We’ll locate our first school in Archuleta County pretty soon, mon amie, mi amigo?

 

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Pagosa’s Past: School days, school days http://www.pagosasun.com/pagosas-past-school-days-school-days/ Mon, 13 Apr 2020 11:00:20 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=201027

Photo courtesy John M. Motter
This was known as the Born’s School, located near the foot of Wolf Creek Pass circa 1900. These are Dutch Henry’s children and the teacher, appropriately enough, was Miss Darling.

By John M. Motter
PREVIEW Columnist
My latest reflection on history is that not much has changed more over the years of my life than the public schools. Nowadays, we take for granted that our county school system will take care of educating our youth. Not so many years ago, each little valley in our county had its own school system complete with a school board and taxing mechanism. How many of you remember this song?
Nothing to do, Nellie darling?
Nothing to do, you say?
Let’s take a trip on memory’s ship
Back to the bygone days.
Sail to the old village school- house.
Look in there and see, there’s you and there’s me
A couple of kids once more.
School days, school days
Dear old golden rule days
Readin’ and ‘riten’ and ‘rithmetic
Taught to the tune of the hickory stick
You were my queen in calico
I was your bashful barefoot beau
And you wrote on my slate, “I love you, Joe”
When we were a couple of kids.
I started school in Oregon in 1940 and during the fourth and fifth grades had the privilege of attending a two-room country school with eight grades in one room and the teacher’s residence in the other room. When I was good, I had the privilege of holding the flag while the teacher led us in the flag salute. How many of us remember that?
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America
And to the republic for which it stands,
One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
More next week on old time schools and school districts in Archuleta County.

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Pagosa’s Past: Early Pagosa pioneers http://www.pagosasun.com/pagosas-past-early-pagosa-pioneers/ Mon, 06 Apr 2020 10:00:26 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=200603

Photo courtesy John M. Motter
This 1896 photo looking south across the main business block of Pagosa Springs shows the four officers’ barracks lined up along the north side of 3rd Street on lots now covered by the middle school gymnasium.

By John M. Motter
PREVIEW Columnist
Macht was an old and honored name in Germany. Carl Macht crossed the Atlantic, landing in New York City, where he lived for a time before moving west, first to Del Norte, Colorado Territory, where Carl passed away. He left his wife, Victoria, with three sons.
Victoria successfully brought her young family and all of their belongings across the then wild and woolly Continental Divide from Del Norte to Pagosa Springs in 1883. The roads across the mountains were not the paved thoroughfares we enjoy today. The road surfaces were encumbered by rocks, fallen trees and gullies created by heavy rains and the runoff from melting snow.
Wagon wheels mired in mud holes had to be dug out by hand and everybody had to push and shove to help the teams get up the steep inclines. Going down was just as difficult. It was sometimes impossible for the teams to avoid getting run over by the loaded wagons behind them. One tactic used by these wagon travelers crossing the mountains was to fell a large coniferous tree and cut its length to reduce its weight so the mother and her three young sons could attach it to the back of the wagon, where it dragged along the ground, reducing its tendency to bump into and spook the laboring team.
The task of managing the team across such terrain would have been difficult for a husky man, let alone the beleaguered mother and her young sons. They also had to manage campfires for cooking and warmth, harness and unharness the teams, shoot wild game to have meat to cook over the campfire, and be ready to meet the challenge of menacing grizzly bears and other fanged and clawed wilderness creatures.
The family first lived in one of the abandoned Fort Lewis buildings remaining on Pagosa Street on the main downtown business block. They later homesteaded on a ranch on Turkey Creek Road, where the widowed mother with her three sons established a successful cattle ranch. The family recalls harsh winters during which the bark was peeled from willow branches in order to keep the cattle alive. At other times, one or more of the boys journeyed to San Diego and worked as carpenters and took other forms of employment in order send money to their mother to keep the ranch going.

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Pagosa’s Past: Pagosa Country pioneers http://www.pagosasun.com/pagosas-past-pagosa-country-pioneers-2/ Wed, 01 Apr 2020 11:00:14 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=199972

Photo courtesy John M. Motter
Shown in this photo are two buildings located on Lewis Street. On the left is the first Archuleta County school building and on the right is the first Catholic Church. The buildings are on the north side of Lewis Street between 3rd and 4th streets.

By John M. Motter
PREVIEW Columnist
One of the most interesting Pagosa Country pioneer family histories describes how a persevering woman overcame what, to many, would have been unsurmountable obstacles to raise her young family to become leaders in their new- found home.
Our story begins when Harry C. Macht was born in New York City July 11, 1877. He accompanied his parents to Colorado Territory when he was 6 years old. On Thanksgiving Day, 1899, he married Lena Adams. They had three children, son Ray, daughter Reva who died in infancy, and his brothers, Will, Jule and Joe. Harry was active in community affairs as he ranched until his passing in May of 1942.
Lena K. Adams, his wife, was born in Newton, Kans., on Oct. 4, 1877. At an early age, she moved to Durango, Colo., where she lived until marrying Harry. She died Dec. 11, 1951.
Joe J. Macht was born in New York City in 1871. At the age of 7, he moved to Del Norte, Colo., and in 1883 he arrived in Pagosa Springs with his widowed mother, three brothers and one sister. He moved to Glendale, Ariz., in 1929 and to Aztec, N.M., in 1942. He married Hazel Adams in 1915 and the couple had two children before he passed away in July of 1947.
Jule Macht was born Dec. 1, 1878, in New York City and passed away June 14,1963. He was the youngest son of Carl and Victoria Macht, the brother of Joe J., Harry, and Will, and sister Mrs. Harry Hampton. The family moved to Del Norte when he was a boy. The father, Carl, passed away in Del Norte and the mother, Victoria, moved the family to Pagosa Springs in 1883.
The family first lived in one of the abandoned Fort Lewis buildings remaining on Pagosa Street in town before moving to a ranch on Turkey Creek Road. He married Jennie Belle Flaugh Nov. 7, 1901. Jule was always active in community affairs. He also built a brick house in town which remains on the corner of 3rd and Pagosa streets, formerly the site of the first Baptist Church in Pagosa Springs. His daughter was Mrs. Fern Hott.
William (Will) Macht was born Jan. 2, 1870, in New York City to Carl and Victoria Macht. Will married Myrtle Adams in 1894. In 1904, they moved to San Diego, but returned a short time later to Pagosa Springs, where they homesteaded a ranch just north of the cemetery. He passed away Dec. 8, 1963.
Next week we’ll take a closer look at how the widowed mother and her sons fared on the wild Pagosa frontier.

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Pagosa’s Past: Pagosa Country pioneers http://www.pagosasun.com/pagosas-past-pagosa-country-pioneers/ Wed, 25 Mar 2020 11:00:50 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=199640

Photo courtesy John M. Motter
Pioneer Eudolphus M. Taylor, shown with his team in this photo, lived near the Jule Macht house in town. He likely had a carriage house for the team shown in this photo.

By John M. Motter
PREVIEW Columnist
Today’s column focuses on the Macht family, early day Pagosa pioneers. I had the privilege some years ago of spending considerable time talking with Ray Macht about Pagosa history and his family history.
A drive through town a few weeks ago and a follow-up telephone call is what triggered this column. I started with a question: Have you ever driven past something year after year without really looking at it? OK, so I’m the only one to be so careless.
As it happened, I was driving eastward down Lewis Street through its intersection with 3rd Street, the entry to Mesa Heights. I enjoy that drive almost daily because it isn’t unusual to see wild turkeys and the town mule deer herd in that vicinity. As I eased through the intersection, a phenomenon from the right caught my eye. What is that, I wondered? Standing there on the east side of 3rd Street between Pagosa and Lewis streets were two two-story brown frame buildings.
My mind began to churn. On the south end of that same block next to the two buildings is a red brick building. The idea fermenting in my mind was, somewhere, sometime, that red brick building had been built by pioneer Jule Macht. I knew Jule had run a cattle ranch up in the headwaters of the Little Blanco River. It was common during pioneer days for ranch homesteaders to maintain a home in town. That way they could go to the store, go to church and the kids go to school without fighting the snow between the ranch and town. It seemed logical to assume that the two buildings on 3rd Street next to the red brick house had been built by Jule Macht. He would likely have needed a building in which to park carriages and carts and a place to keep a horse or two.
And, so, last week, I placed a phone call to John and Jean Taylor, who, along with other Pagosaites, were enjoying Arizona sunshine while the rest of us shovel snow.
Jean Taylor is a descendant of the Macht family. She answered my questions by confirming the guess that those buildings on 3rd Street had been built by Jule. She said he owned almost half of that city block. I also referred to a story on the Macht family I had written in The SUN a few years ago based on information from Ray. The family history as Pagosa pioneers is worth repeating, so watch for it in next week’s column.

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