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Milk, green apples and a dead man

Photo courtesy John M. Motter Dr. Mary Winter was a pioneer Pagosa doctor. She later married and became Dr. Mary Winter Fisher. There may still be folks in the area who personally remember her or were delivered by her as a baby, although she passed away in 1928.

Photo courtesy John M. Motter
Dr. Mary Winter was a pioneer Pagosa doctor. She later married and became Dr. Mary Winter Fisher. There may still be folks in the area who personally remember her or were delivered by her as a baby, although she passed away in 1928.

Josephine Victoria Bennett Pargin was born to John B. and Anna Henry Bennett in Mitchell, S.D., March 12, 1877.

Her father was the first telegraph operator at the Ignacio Indian Agency when the railroad reached there in 1881. Later, the family moved to a ranch at Columbus Bridge nine miles north of Bayfield where she married Benjamin F. Pargin on Dec. 13, 1893.

The couple lived around Bayfield until 1902 when they moved to Pagosa Springs. They resided mostly in the Piedra area. She passed away in October of 1950.

M. M. “Sully” Parr died July 31, 1911, at his sheep camp at the head of Four Mile Creek near Pagosa Peak. His death is the source of a story told by oldtimers involving Pagosa pioneer Dr. Mary Winter Fisher.

According to the story, Parr had left his sheep camp and gone into town to get supplies. On his way home, he stopped at Ma Cade’s place near the head of Four Mile Trail.

Being a good host, she offered Parr a snack of what she had — some milk and green apples. He ate the vittles, thanked Ma Cade, climbed back into the saddle and scrambled up Four Mile Creek to his sheep camp, which was located above Upper Four Mile Lake. Shortly after arriving in camp, he became violently ill with abdominal pains. One of the sheepherders saddled up and rode into Pagosa Springs to get Dr. Mary.

As frontier doctors often did, Dr. Mary made house calls. Never mind that this “house” was over 20 miles away  in a wilderness reachable only by horseback.

And so, Dr. Mary hitched up her team and surrey, rode in the wagon to Ma Cade’s house (the place is a subdivision today called Cade Flats), removed her horse from the wagon, saddled it, and rode through the night up Four Mile Trail to the sheep camp. Sully was dead when she arrived.

To date, the location of the sheep camp in a saddle above Upper Four Mile Lake is called “Dead Man Pass.” If you go through Four Mile Pass in a northerly direction, as I have, you can then follow Dead Man Creek down to the East Fork of the San Juan River.

Other Parrs, including Estie and Lee, also lived in Pagosa Springs during those times. One of them, I’ve lost track of his name, rode horseback from Pagosa Springs to Arizona, bought a herd of cattle, and drove the herd back to Pagosa Springs. Sully Parr was Archuleta County treasurer from 1896 until 1900.

This story was posted on May 16, 2013.