John Motter to speak at Aug. 11 Archuleta County Genealogical Society meeting


By Carolyn Pascal

Special to The PREVIEW

The Archuleta County Genealogical Society is pleased to welcome John Motter to its August meeting. Motter will present on the topic of “What brought the early settlers to this area and the obstacles they faced?” His presentation will be filled with photographs and include a question-and-answer period.

Motter began his knowledge of the history of this area around 1976 when he joined “old-timers” in their morning coffee rituals. He listened to their stories and those they had been told by their parents and grandparents. He spent innumerable hours looking at old photo albums and documents and poring over old Pagosa SUN articles. Motter’s research culminated in the publishing of his book, “Pagosa Country: The First Fifty Years.”

Motter was born in 1934 in Kansas and moved to Oregon when he was 2 years old because of the Dust Bowl and depression in Kansas.

He said that in his early years, his family could have starred in “Grapes of Wrath.” John Steinbeck is his favorite author. Motter graduated high school from Grants Pass, Ore., did a short stint pulling green chain in a sawmill, then served four years in the Korean War in the United States Air Force.

He attended San Diego State on the GI Bill majoring in electrical engineering. Since then, he has been a jack-of-all-trades, including sound engineer, audio-animatronics at Disneyland and Disney World, conservation aide at Navajo Lake in Arboles, a photographer, reporter, editor and general manager for three newspapers in Texas and The Pagosa Springs SUN. In Texas, Motter received several newspaper awards including first place in humorous column writing, first place in news writing, best weekly newspaper in Texas and some second- and third-place finishes.

Motter moved to Pagosa Springs circa 1970 and started working for The SUN in 1976. He has held several positions with The SUN, including general manager and writer. He has written approximately 12 travel guide books about various cities from San Antonio, Texas, to Piedmont Triad in North Carolina. He currently writes a weekly column for The SUN titled “Pagosa’s Past.”

He has been married to Vicki for 34 years and they have resided in Dulce for the past 18 years, where they pastored the Dulce Baptist Church, she taught public school and he taught GED and adult education to the Jicarilla Apache Nation.

Archuleta County Genealogical Society meetings are held at the Community United Methodist Church on Lewis Street every other month. The next meeting will be held Saturday, Aug. 11, at 11 a.m. All visitors are welcomed and encouraged.