Pioneer times on the East Fork: Old Joe Mann and Jacob Lane

Photo courtesy John M. Motter
We have shown a photo of the Chapson family in their Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes. The photo this week shows the same family in their “let’s go outside and do some work clothes.” They lived for some years around the turn of the 20th century on the west fork of the San Juan River.[/caption]

As we continue with the history of the San Juan East Fork, I’ll run a few excerpts about Joe Mann taken from newspapers and county records of that time.

• Mann purchased one-fifth interest in extension of the Little Annie Lode, known as the Golden Queen. — March 30, 1874, in the Rio Grande County Courthouse, Book B, Pages 215-216.

Motter’s note: The Golden Queen was a mine at Summitville.

• “From Joe Mann of Pagosa Springs we learn that members of the Indian Commission will meet in Pagosa Springs today to hold a treaty with Ignacio and his tribe …” — San Juan Prospector, February 1878.

Motter’s note: The Prospector In Del Norte was one of the earliest newspapers in the San Juans.

• “… to sell, grant, bargain, and convey all my right, title, and interest … in the Highland Mary Lode” — June 10, 1878 in the Rio Grande County Courthouse, Book 5, Page 247).

Motter’s note: The Highland Mary was one of the most productive gold mines at Summitville.

• “Joe Mann, from the Pagosa Springs Country, was in town this week after supplies. He has been appointed forage agent for the troops stationed near the Springs.” (San Juan Prospector, July 28, 1878).

• “… Forage Agent, Joe Mann was in Del Norte Thursday, after supplies … Considerable travel is going to Pagosa Springs by way of the South Fork Pass … Asa Pangborn and Capt. Rogers have located ranches on the north fork (Motter-should be West Fork) of the San Juan River and are delighted with the Country … Joe Mann has built stables for the government at the Springs and will keep accommodations for the officers and the traveling public. He intends cutting four or five hundred tons of hay the present month …” (San Juan Prospector, Aug. 10, 1878).

Motter’s note: When I wrote about Joe Mann a few weeks ago I referred to him as an enigma. These items from the Del Norte Paper prove it. 1) I suspect infantry troops, not Joe Mann, built the stables, 2) He never delivered any hay, he never supplied housing for officers or travelers in Pagosa Springs.

• “… an appropriation of $15,000 has been made towards building a wagon road from the end of the D.&R.G. (Alamosa) to Pagosa Springs … It has not yet been definitely decided in regard to the route whether by the way of Alamosa and across the San Juan River or up the Rio Grande and across the Divide by South Fork …” — San Juan Prospector, Aug. 17, 1878.

• “The people of Pagosa Springs want the Del Norte, Summit and Pagosa mail route reinstated … I will guarantee to carry it from Summit to Pagosa Springs twice a week and not miss a trip…I make a trip now to the Summit once a week for my own mail …” — Joe Mann, San Juan Prospector, Jan. 3, 1880.

• “Joe Mann was down from his ranch last week. He reports that seven families have recently located on the East Fork of the San Juan. Mr. Mann’s new neighbors are anxious to have the territory occupied by them cut off from Rio Grande County and attached to Archuleta County. They are also clamoring for a post office and a mail route between Pagosa Springs and Summitville. These requests should be granted but it would be necessary first to construct a wagon road between the points named …” — Pagosa Springs News, Jan. 29, 1891.

A few miles east of Joe Mann’s cabin on the East Fork is Lane Creek, which runs from the north into the East Fork river. A pile of logs in the shape of a cabin and several outbuildings, the scraps of a car, farming equipment and other debris adjoin the Lane cabin. The remains of an elaborate irrigation system show that water from Lane Creek was used to grow a garden. Across the road from the cabin site, old-timers in town told me I’d find a substantial patch of rhubarb. They said they used to go to the East Fork during the summer to pick wild strawberries, raspberries and chokecherries, and as much of the rhubarb as they could carry.

The settler responsible for the homesite on Lane Creek was Jacob Lane. An item describing the life and death of Jacob Lane appeared in the Times-Observor, an early Pagosa Springs newspaper, in October of 1907: “Last week we noticed the fact that Jacob Lane had been taken to Woodruff Hospital at Pueblo to be placed under expert medical care on account of his mind giving away. He had been thus afflicted only about three weeks and was at the hospital about a day when a telegram was received here Sunday stating that Mr. Lane passed away about 10 o’clock Saturday night, the immediate cause of death being pneumonia. F.A. Byrne left Monday morning for Pueblo to bring the body back, arriving here Wednesday evening and the funeral was held yesterday afternoon under the direction of the local G.A.R. post from the Methodist Church, Dr. DeMotte officiating. The G.A.R. and W.R.C. attended the body.