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Women of Northwestern Colorado: Oral History

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  • Thumbnail for Bair, Elva Lois Wells Biles
    Bair, Elva Lois Wells Biles by Jones-Eddy, Julie

    Lois (Elva) was born in Oklahoma in 1912 and moved to Colorado in 1923. Her parents bought 320 acres in Skull Creek, near Vernal, Utah, and the family of ten children lived in a one room log cabin. She talks about: attending school in a one room school through eighth grade, taking care of siblings, food sources and preparation, play, homemade clothes, puberty, long distances to town, school, church, women's clubs, and deep winter snow. Lois married Bud Biles, a cowboy, at seventeen and settled in Red Wash (near Utah border). They were married for forty-nine years. She rode in rodeos with her husband. Her two daughters were born in Denver due to complications. She was married to her second husband, Everette Bair, for just two years before he died. Lois died in 1988.

  • Thumbnail for Blevins, Freddie White
    Blevins, Freddie White by Jones-Eddy, Julie

    Freddie's grandfather was one of the first homesteaders in Moffat County in 1902. Freddie speaks about her mother's and her own life in the Craig area. Freddie was born in 1912. She talks about: play, work, sports, puberty, music (piano and singing), and dating. Members of her family played instruments and they played and sang together. She studied music at the University of Colorado and Chicago Conservatory of Music. After living in Hollywood for two years, she returned home and married her high school boyfriend, Tom Blevins, at twenty-six and lived on the family ranch in Brown's Park with their two children. She taught in rural schools for twenty years, earning a teaching certificate in the summers. Freddie died in 2006.

  • Thumbnail for Blevins, Mabel Davis
    Blevins, Mabel Davis by Jones-Eddy, Julie

    Mabel was born in Leheigh, Oklahoma in 1897, and she arrived in Craig when she was seventeen. Her father was a Choctaw Indian. She married in 1915. Her husband, Earl, worked in the community and they had two children. She speaks about: Baptists, entertainment, horse and buggies, 8th grade education, clubs, housework, food preparation, winter, 1918 flu, and camping. Mabel died in 1986.

  • Thumbnail for Campbell, Esther Anderson (Chandler)
    Campbell, Esther Anderson (Chandler) by Jones-Eddy, Julie

    Esther was born in Harmony, Minnesota in 1899. She came to teach in the Skull Creek School from Denver when she was twenty-two. She boarded with a family who lived near the school. She soon married a local cowboy, Duard Campbell, and moved into his mother's homestead dugout cabin, which she describes. She continued teaching until retirement. They later moved to Brown's Park and raised cattle. Esther had one child who lived in Denver with her mother until he was school age because she had to teach. She talks about: hard winters, living conditions, social gatherings, school programs, isolated rural schools, the Home Demonstration Club, Freddie Blevins, June Sweeney, her husband's home duties, and Ute Indians. Esther died in 1995.

  • Thumbnail for Chrisler, Ethel La Kamp
    Chrisler, Ethel La Kamp by Jones-Eddy, Julie

    Ethel's father came to the White River area in 1883 and her mother arrived in 1900 from Iowa for her health. Ethel was born in 1904 and grew up on ranches on the White River. She talks about: household chores, outdoor chores, hard winters; transportation; rural school; flu of 1918; home remedies; clothing; community life. She worked on a ranch after eighth grade until attending business college at nineteen. She married Tim Chrisler at twenty-two and lived on various ranches where her husband worked. They had two children. She talks about: coal/wood stoves, gas lamps, food storage, quilting groups, and church. They later owned a motel in Meeker. Ethel died in 1995.

  • Thumbnail for Coles, Catharine Rebecca Craig
    Coles, Catharine Rebecca Craig by Jones-Eddy, Julie

    Catherine was born in Canon City in 1901. Her mother died when she was three and her father remarried. They moved to the Colorado Western Slope and lived on ranches in the Steamboat Springs and Craig areas. She talks about: cooking, caring for children, hauling water, play, rural schools, household chores, and transportation. After three years of high school she qualified for a second grade teaching certificate and taught at the Pagoda one-room school. She talks about the students and teaching experiences. She married her husband, Russell Coles, at age twenty-two. They spent their early married years on the Coles ranch in southeastern Moffat County and had five children. She talks about rural dances. Russell left the ranch and moved to Craig to become the County Treasurer, a post he held until retirement. She talks about the depression, Roosevelt's social programs, and World War II. Catharine died in 1994.

  • Thumbnail for Crawford, Ethelyn Whalin
    Crawford, Ethelyn Whalin by Jones-Eddy, Julie

    Ethelyn was born in Thornberg, Rio Blanco County in 1913. In her early years, Ethelyn grew up on a ranch on Wilson Creek near Meeker. There were eight children in the family. Her mother taught the children at home until they started school in Meeker. She also attended the Axial School for one year. She talks about many childhood memories of play, home, daily activities, and clothing. As a teen ager she talks about: puberty, dances, clubs, poetry, epilepsy, and travel to California. Ethelyn married at twenty-one and later divorced. Ethelyn had two children. She later married twice. She worked "between marriages" as a real estate broker and business administrator. Ethelyn talks about how she arranged for child care and about women's clubs in Meeker. Ethelyn died in 2001.

  • Thumbnail for Deaver, Velma Burdick
    Deaver, Velma Burdick by Jones-Eddy, Julie

    Velma's parents came to the Meeker area in1896 where she was born December 31, 1901. Her mother had eleven children and Velma was the oldest girl. They lived on ranches where her father worked. She remembers: walking a mile to school in the winter, inside chores, outside chores, haying, care for animals, clothing, play, puberty, Christmas, and the Mormon religion in her family. She talks about her mother's births at home. Velma gives details about: washing and ironing, attending rural schools, and high school in Meeker. She went to Western State College for 2 1/2 years and then began teaching. She continued college during the summers. Velma married Hoyt Deaver at twenty-five and continued teaching while her husband worked on ranches and in coal mines. They lived in Rangely and Craig and had one child. She talks about enjoying her teaching career. Velma died in 1999.

  • Thumbnail for Dunn, Ellen Marie Dalrymple
    Dunn, Ellen Marie Dalrymple by Jones-Eddy, Julie

    Ellen was born in Lipol(?) New Mexico on September 6, 1907. Her parents had twelve children. Her father had a stroke shortly after they moved to Meeker in hopes of buying a ranch. Soon they moved to Rifle where the older brothers and sisters, including Ellen, worked to support the family (drugstore clerk, babysitting). She talks about reading, home remedies, illness, education, and puberty. Ellen married Phil Dunn at twenty-three. Her husband worked for the Colorado State Highway Dept. They moved all over the state as roads were built. She describes: rustic housing, cooking, cold winters, road crew communities, and moving often. She lived in Rangely in a tent for a time during the oil boom. She describes the community and the building of the roads. They finally settled in Grand Junction where her husband worked in the pipe business. She describes: women's clubs, activities, marriage, divorce, and working. Ellen died in 1989.

  • Thumbnail for Eberle, Janet Mortimer
    Eberle, Janet Mortimer by Jones-Eddy, Julie

    Janet was born in Kersey, Colorado on February 11, 1911. She came to the Craig area in 1918 with her parents, as an only child. They lived on her grandfather's ranch on Little Bear, for three years. They moved to various rural schools where her mother taught and her father helped at the school and worked at odd jobs. Then they filed on a homestead in 1925 and Janet's mother continued to teach in rural schools. Janet talks about: women being able to support themselves, homestead work, home schooling, clothing, puberty, play as a "tomboy", and play with sleds and skis. Janet describes: the homestead cabin, cooking, food preservation, sleeping with quilts and flat irons, lack of illness, health concerns in her rural community, death of neighbor from self abortion, and care of the deceased. She talks about: Craig high school activities, college, and her own teaching in rural schools. She married Ernest at twenty-six and had two children in her mid-thirties. Their home was in Hamilton on a ranch, where she served as census enumerator and Moffat County Superintendent of Schools.

  • Thumbnail for Eddy, Ina Dalrymple
    Eddy, Ina Dalrymple by Jones-Eddy, Julie

    Ina was born in Hurley, New Mexico in 1916 into a family of twelve children. When she was two they moved to Meeker, Colorado and her father died when she was six. They then moved to Rifle where she attended school. The family was very poor after father's death and Ina talks about: little medical care, home remedies, puberty, deaths of children from TB, spinal meningitis, years of deprivation and sadness, and describes the death of her closest sister from spinal meningitis. Ina married John H. Eddy when she graduated from high school. After having three children, one premature, she found she was RH negative. The family moved around Colorado for her husband's jobs until settling in Rangely where he worked in the Texaco oil field. She describes the early years of the town of Rangely during the oil boom: streets, and schools. They lived in a Texaco company house near the field. Ina worked in the school cafeteria for a number of years. In later years, she and her husband lived in several places in the West for his employment with the government. She missed watching her grandchildren growing up. Ina died in 1988.

  • Thumbnail for Graham, Oma Jensen
    Graham, Oma Jensen by Jones-Eddy, Julie

    Oma's parents came to Blue Mountain, Colorado, near the Utah border, in 1902 to homestead. Oma was born in 1909 in Jensen, Utah (named after her grandfather.) She talks about: Ute Indians, illness, accidents, home remedies, children's play and work, hard winters, Mormon crickets, and work with cattle. They left the homestead in 1926 and moved to the White River (Meeker). She attended high school in Jensen and Meeker, and began her life of working on ranches, inside and outside. She married June Graham when she was twenty-one and he was thirty-seven. They had known each other for three years. They worked on ranches in the White River area. She speaks about: dances, living conditions, cooking, always "enjoying her work", problems with elk, and isolation from neighbors in winter. They worked for the Roosevelt family on their ranch for a time. Oma had an accident with a grubbing hoe which later resulted in the amputation of her leg. Oma tells many stories about experiences in rural Colorado. Oma died in 1988.

  • Thumbnail for Haughey, Mary Gates
    Haughey, Mary Gates by Jones-Eddy, Julie

    Mary's family came to the Craig area over the mountains in a covered wagon to homestead on Black Mountain in 1911 when she was eight. She had three brothers and the family lived in a two bedroom log cabin. She talks about: living conditions, winter cold and snow, cooking, washing clothes, making clothing, yearly trips to town, rural schools, play, and home remedies. Mary attended high school in Craig and describes school activities. She taught in rural schools for five years after graduating from high school in 1921. Mary lived at the school or with nearby families. She talks about: the schools, students, snowstorms, and homesteading. Mary married, Clarence Haughey, at twenty-two, and they lived in various places in Moffat County. They had four children. Mary talks about her family's interest in politics (women were allowed to vote in 1920). She was the Deputy County Clerk when her husband died at age fifty-one. She later won election to be the County Clerk and served sixteen years. Mary was a quilter. Mary died in 2003.

  • Thumbnail for Hinricks, Leona Rector
    Hinricks, Leona Rector by Jones-Eddy, Julie

    Leona's father came to the Rangely area in 1885 from Texas, and her mother arrived in 1899 after her marriage. They purchased a ranch on the White River. There were twelve to fourteen families in the area when Leona and her sister (Ruby Rector Kirby) and brother were children. She talks about: her mother's childbirths, community dances at their house, winter activities, musical instruments, play, school, work, and clothing. Leona discusses: cooking, baking bread, eating their own cows, hogs, chickens, turkeys, staples, washing clothes, home remedies (Ute Indians), and diseases. She talks about relations with the Ute Indians who came by their house during hunting season. She and her siblings attended high school in Grand Junction. Leona attended Western State College for three years and then married Clarence Hinricks. Her husband worked in oil fields in Wyoming and near Craig (Iles Grove). She taught in rural schools for seven years. They had one son. She talks about teaching one winter at the Moropas one room school. She later worked as an office manager. She worked outside the home for thirty years. Leona died in 1995.

  • Thumbnail for Holland, Norine
    Holland, Norine by Jones-Eddy, Julie

    Norine's grandparents came to Meeker in the early 1900's and lived on a ranch on the White River. Her mother, a teacher, came from Denver in 1912. She tells many stories of her mother teaching in rural schools and as Rio Blanco County Superintendent, and of her own experiences in rural schools. She tells of life on the ranch: cooking, clothing, animals, food preservation, transportation, heating, washing, and play. She talks about: access to medical help, home remedies, the early death of her father, mother's midwifery, pregnancy, childbirth, puberty, and divorce. Norine attended college and became a teacher in Meeker. Her fiancé was killed in WWII, so she earned a Master's degree in social work and worked in Denver until retirement. She now spends her summers in the Meeker area.

  • Thumbnail for Hoth, Jayne White
    Hoth, Jayne White by Jones-Eddy, Julie

    Jayne was born at home in Sunbeam, Colorado in 1918. Her grandmother, Sarah Farrell, came to the Sunbeam area to homestead as a single woman in 1887 from Ohio. She came at age thirty-two because she hadn't married and was considered a failure. She married a cowboy in 1890. Sarah was a practical nurse and delivered many babies in this remote area. Jayne tells stories of her grandmother and mother living on the homestead: home remedies, dances, food, outside work, and isolation in the winter. Jayne talks about her own childhood as a "tomboy." When she started school she went to a rural school and then moved to Denver to live with her grandparents. She returned to the Maybell area in 1944 at age twenty-six with one son and divorced. She married again to Carl E. "Mike" Hoth, and lived on ranches where her husband worked. Jayne cooked for the ranch hands and also worked outside with her husband. They had three children. Jayne talks about: ranch life, hobbies, and clubs. Jayne died in 1989.

  • Thumbnail for Idol, Lana Gregory
    Idol, Lana Gregory by Jones-Eddy, Julie

    Lana was born in Elk, Wyoming in 1915. When she was three years old her mother died of cancer and she came to Meeker with her five siblings to live with her Aunt Purdy. Her father continued to run the ranch in Wyoming. After three years they went back to Wyoming to live on the remote ranch. She describes life on the ranch: work, play, school, and transportation. Lana attended high school in Meeker and to receive some "feminine attention." Aunt Purdy took care of thirteen motherless children and homesteaded in the summers. Lana married Loren Idol and had seven children. Loren's parents homesteaded near Meeker in 1916 and Lana tells stories of their lives. Nellie Idol was a rural school teacher. Nellie used home remedies to help people when they were ill (Chuck White). Lana talks about the births of her children and general after birthing care. Lana died in 2006.

  • Thumbnail for James, Minnie Louise Eberle
    James, Minnie Louise Eberle by Jones-Eddy, Julie

    Minnie came to Craig in 1910 with her family when she was fourteen. They lived on a ranch near Craig until they moved to their homestead south of Craig. There were nine children and Minnie was the oldest girl, responsible for many of the household and babysitting chores. She talks about: hauling water from the river, cooking on the coal stove, the cattle/sheep wars, clothing, play, school, and taking care of her sick mother. Minnie boarded in town for high school and talks about activities. She had one year of college and took the state teacher's exam. She then taught in a rural school but didn't like teaching. Minnie moved to California with a friend and went to a business college. She worked as a secretary/bookkeeper for a time and then returned to Craig in 1941. She married Lewis James and moved to the James ranch. Her husband died a year and a half later of pneumonia. She moved back into Craig and worked as a secretary/bookkeeper until retirement. Minnie died in 1989.

  • Thumbnail for Jones, Margaret Tagert
    Jones, Margaret Tagert by Jones-Eddy, Julie

    Margaret's mother, Fannie Wear, came to northwestern Colorado in about 1889, first settling at Juniper Springs, near the Lay stockade. Margaret talks about: her mother's experience with the river (Bear/Yampa), supply trips to Wyoming, Ute Indians, dangerous pregnancies and births, and birth control. Margaret talks about her life in Meeker. She was the only girl with four brothers and her mother was in poor health. She did many of the household chores and took care of her younger brother. Her older brothers had no responsibilities at home, but worked on ranches from age twelve on. Margaret describes life on the homestead where they lived in the summer. She talks about: play, cooking, school, working, puberty - herself and earlier generations, and travel outside northwestern Colorado. She also talks about serious illness and other medical issues. She describes: attitudes towards divorce, working married women, and the advantages of the homemaker role. Margaret earned a B.S. at Colo. State Univ. and taught high school in Craig for a year before marrying Hugh A Jones in Craig. She had two daughters. Margaret died in 1999.

  • Thumbnail for Kawcak, Julia Biskup
    Kawcak, Julia Biskup by Jones-Eddy, Julie

    Julia's parents settled on a homestead in Breeze Basin near Craig in 1908. Her parents were Austrian immigrants and had six children. There was a large Catholic community in Breeze Basin and Elk Head, the areas where families gathered for church (in a tent) and in homes for dances and activities. She describes: her mother's trip from Austria, the homestead cabin, her father's jobs, the J.W. Hugas store in Craig, "Mormon crickets," chores, play, school, clothes washing, and teenage activities. Julia married Paul Kawcak at sixteen and describes a "wedding shivaree." Paul was a coal miner from Walsenburg and many of his friends followed him to Craig to farm and ranch. She describes their homestead: clearing the land, building the house, and digging the well. Her husband worked in the mines while she worked the homestead with their nine boys and seven girls. She talks about: milking cows, cooking, making clothing, Catholic Church activities, dances at the school, and home remedies. Julia died in 1987.

  • Thumbnail for Kenney, Glee Cloward
    Kenney, Glee Cloward by Jones-Eddy, Julie

    When she was eight years old, Glee came to the Rangely area with her father and two siblings (1921?). Her mother had just died of diabetes. Her father had worked in the coal mines in Winterquarters, Utah where Glee was born in 1913. Her father leased a ranch near Rangely where he felt he could take better care of the three children. She describes: household chores, winter activities, dances, school, puberty, and clothing. Glee also describes the town of Rangely and what staples her family bought at the one store. She talks about their food sources: meat from cows, and hunting. Glee married Lester Kenney at seventeen and lived on several ranches owned by her husband's father in the Rangely area. She had three children and went to Vernal, Utah and Grand Junction, Colorado for their births. She describes the small school in Rangely (twelve children) that had teachers who boarded with local families. Glee died in 2000.

  • Thumbnail for Kirby, Ruby Lucile Rector
    Kirby, Ruby Lucile Rector by Jones-Eddy, Julie

    Ruby Kirby's parents (sister is Leona Rector Hinricks) came to the Rangely area in 1898-99. They had three children, Ruby (born in 1902), Leona, and a son. Ruby talks about Ute Indians who visited the ranch. And she describes: home remedies, chores, play, and riding horses. The children had tutors at home and also spent winters in Grand Junction for school. Ruby describes activities at the ranch during their teenage years: house work, horses, picnics, dances, and the family band. She and her sister went to Western State College. Ruby worked in San Francisco for three years in 1927 and then returned home. She married Russel Dare in 1936, but he was shot in front of the Rangely store by a "squatter" when she was eight months pregnant. After having her daughter, she soon married Albert Kirby, a local rancher. They continued to ranch in the area until Albert died two years prior to this interview, but Ruby's daughter and family live on the ranch and she continues to move between summer and winter ranches. Ruby died in 1995.

  • Thumbnail for Knott, CeCelia Sullivan
    Knott, CeCelia Sullivan by Jones-Eddy, Julie

    CeCelia's mother came to Northwestern Colorado in 1910 at about age 17. Her grandfather Sullivan had established a homestead on the Williams Fork River, and later her father filed on a homestead in the same area, which is where her parents settled and raised eleven children. CeCelia talks about her mother's life on the homestead. She worked outside taking care of the animals and helped with haying, etc., as well as all the house work. They hauled water in barrels from the river. CeCelia was born in 1918. When CeCelia was seven her mother was injured by a cow and the children took over all the inside and outside work for a time. CeCelia went to the Pagoda one room summer school through the eighth grade, and then boarded with families to attend high school in Hayden. She had hopes for a career, but married at eighteen. CeCelia had one child. She worked at various jobs in Craig to provide needed income and extra opportunities for her daughter. She was divorced in 1957 and often worked two jobs after that. The job she enjoyed by far the most was as a teacher's aide in the elementary school in her later years. CeCelia died in 2005.

  • Thumbnail for Levkulich, Mary Birovchak
    Levkulich, Mary Birovchak by Jones-Eddy, Julie

    Mary came to the United States from Austria-Hungary when she was eighteen. She was born in 1896. She was the only child of six in her family who got to immigrate and tells of coming through Ellis Island by herself. She lived in New York City, and then moved to Minersville, Penn. where she met her husband, George Levkulich, also an immigrant. They moved wherever he could find work in coal mines. They moved to the Craig area in 1926 and found they had to buy 160 acres because all the homesteading land in Breeze Basin was taken. She tells many stories about: poor living conditions, learning to drive horses, raising 300 chickens, raising animals, growing crops, and butchering and storing meat. She describes "the shack" they first had on their farm and living conditions. Mary had seven children. They had several fire disasters with the chickens and crops. She talks about killing a rattlesnake, and getting rid of gophers. Mary talks about: baking bread in a coal stove, making clothes, and preserving food. She was afraid to visit her home in "Europe" because she would have to deal with the Russian Embassy. Mary died in 1990.

  • Thumbnail for Lyons, Iris Self
    Lyons, Iris Self by Jones-Eddy, Julie

    Iris's parents came from Georgia to Spring Gulch, two miles north of Williams Fork in Moffat County in 1914 with seven children. Iris was born in 1905. The nearest neighbor was 5 miles away. Her father had a college education and taught at the Wattle Creek school and was also a preacher. Her mother found life much harder than in Georgia. Iris describes life on the homestead: garden, cows, wheat, deer, hogs, clothing, play, puberty, and the one room school. For high school the children stayed in a rented house in Craig while their parents stayed on the ranch. Iris was interested in science and wanted to be a nurse. She went to Denver General Hospital for nurses training after high school. She describes some early nursing techniques and home remedies. Iris came home to marry Wayne Lyons and they lived on the Lyon's family homestead in Breeze Basin in 1930 and had four children. She worked as a nurse when she was needed. At one point they would have closed the Hayden hospital if not for her. Later she worked at the Craig hospital. Iris died in 1999.