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Nossaman, O’Neal, Oliver — history in a name

Photo courtesy John M. Motter The O’Neal family was among several families who, in 1875, drove a herd of longhorn cattle from Dublin, Texas, to Cimarron, N.M., following the Pecos Trail. In 1877, the O’Neals moved to Colorado, first settling along the Pine River near today’s Bayfield, then moving north of Pagosa Springs where they continued to raise cattle. The area north of Pagosa Springs called O’Neal Park is named for this family.

Photo courtesy John M. Motter
The O’Neal family was among several families who, in 1875, drove a herd of longhorn cattle from Dublin, Texas, to Cimarron, N.M., following the Pecos Trail. In 1877, the O’Neals moved to Colorado, first settling along the Pine River near today’s Bayfield, then moving north of Pagosa Springs where they continued to raise cattle. The area north of Pagosa Springs called O’Neal Park is named for this family.

Dr. A. J. Nossaman was one of 13 children born to Wellington and Sarah Nossaman in Pella, Iowa.

Several of the Nossaman children moved to the San Juans at an early age and played a prominent role in the settlement of this part of Colorado.

The best known was probably Dr. Nossaman’s brother, Welch, who is said to have built the first cabin in Pagosa Springs in 1876, before there was a Pagosa Springs. We have detailed some of Welch’s adventures in previous columns.

Dr. Nossaman, Allen Judd, was born in Iowa Oct. 14, 1866. He died in this area Oct. 8, 1931. He was reared in Iowa until age 15, when he moved with his parents to a homestead near Del Norte, Colo.

For some time, he drove a stage coach between Villa Grove and Del Norte. He later ran an engine for the Queene Annie Mine at Summitville. Then he returned to Iowa to complete his education and, in 1892, graduated from the Keokuk Medical School.

On Sept. 9, 1891, he married Emma Welch at Pella, where he practiced medicine until 1903. In 1903, he moved his family to the Pagosa area where he practiced medicine until his death. During his later years, he lived in the Allison/Arboles area.

Edward H. Oliver died in Pagosa Springs May 13, 1921. He was said to have come to Colorado at the age of 3, in 1867, and to have freighted between Alamosa and Durango before the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad was built along that route.

Fount O’Neal, a veteran of the Civil War, was a member of a family prominent in the early days of settlement in Pagosa Country. He was born in Logan County, Ken., and was 74 years old when he died here Dec. 18, 1916. He settled on the Pine River in 1877 (before there was a Bayfield or Pagosa Springs, and spent his latter years at a site on the Piedra River north of Pagosa Springs. He was a brother of Mrs. Seralda Pargin and an uncle of Ben, Ed and D.D. Pargin, and Mrs. Thomas Reavis.

“Uncle Jim” James O’Neal was born at Dublin, Texas, Jan. 26, 1847, and died May 24, 1929, in Pagosa Springs. He joined the Texas Rangers at the age of 14. In 1875, he moved to Cimarron, N.M., and came to Colorado in 1877 locating near the Pine River. He was accompanied by his twin brother, John S. O’Neal, Henry Gordon and other cattlemen in the long cattle drive that started in Texas and ended in the San Juan Basin. About 1890, he moved to Pagosa Springs, homesteading in O’Neal Park north of town. He married Missouri E. Keith in Texas.

This story was posted on April 11, 2013.