Democrat, Populist forces attack ‘big business’

We have been reporting on the 1899 local Archuleta County election. From the time Archuleta County incorporated in 1885 and started holding elections, charges of fraud and illegal voting were the norm. Nothing seems to have changed by 1899, when Republicans swept all the local contests.

Pagosa newspaper editor, Democrat Daniel Egger, blamed sawmill magnates Ed Biggs and Arthur Sullenburger, and José Manual Archuleta for illegally encouraging New Mexico residents to vote in Archuleta County. Specifically, Egger claimed that Edith community was in New Mexico, but Edith residents voted in Colorado. In truth, the state line between Colorado and New Mexico was much disputed and remained in dispute until the 1950s.

Populist E. T. Walker sided with Egger. We continue this week with Walker’s letter to the editor begun in last week’s column.

Walker: “Whole pages of slush, specially designed to intimidate and influence the court was published and it was a winner too — temporarily.

“Rulings and decisions of courts have been the breeding of more anarchy and the organizers of more mobs in this country than all other causes combined.

“When the knowledge of law is limited by our courts it ought to be their policy to be liberal in their rulings, and particularly so in disputes of attorneys on points of law that raised especially to confuse and rattle the court.

“Take the case of Blake and Archuleta in this contest. Jewett Palmer was sheriff and saloonkeeper for Archuleta. Blake served notice of contest on Archuleta and Archuleta’s saloonkeeper holds it until Sunday and then serves notice on Archuleta—result court rules case out on account of saloonkeeper’s action. Now Mr. Editor, if this is good law I had rather be sheriff and saloonkeeper than the whole of the supreme court of the state. All parties in favor of fighting this case through to the finish are respectfully requested to put themselves in communication with me. I do not want any financial aid, not one cent. Give me your good will and moral support and I have faith that this matter will be remedied before another election.”

Walker’s attacks on “The Don” appeared week in and week out in The News columns. No editor today could print such material. I know of no successful legal actions supporting Egger or Walker.

Pagosa Lodge No. 122, I.O.O.F., formed January 20 with 24 members. Walker’s temper was not the only thing that exploded in 1900. A steam boiler brought over Cumbres Pass and into Pagosa Springs in 1878 to power his sawmill exploded. No one was hurt. It was being used to power a sawmill run by C.M. Ayers six miles west of Pagosa Springs. Running the mill were Ira Hubler, Ayers, Hans Nelson, Andrew Hubler, and C.W. Slade.

1900 was a year of considerable building in Pagosa Springs. The Commercial Hotel was built on the south side of San Juan Street between Lewis and Pagosa Streets.,

In April, the News reported that “J. Allan Johnson and E. H. Chase are making preparations to build large residences near the M.E. Church (on Lewis Street). On the same street P.L. Scott will erect another business house and James Waber a cottage. Work on the Buckles and Schultz block has been resumed. On Pagosa Street the new post office and Collar building are now being erected and additions to the Archuleta and Blake buildings are being completed.” (More next week)