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More on Pagosa’s early settlers

This is a continuation of a series of articles describing the Phillips family, builders of the historic building on Pagosa Street we know today as the Hersch building.

My information source is a letter written me in 2001 by Sara Phillips Masco. Information is included about several other Pagosa settlers including the Nossamans, Halletts, Miniums, and others.

Continuing with Sara’s letter: “I don’t have much information about Artena or Artenia as she was really named, but to my father, Tom Nossaman, she was always Aunt Teener and I grew up hearing her called by this name. I think I saw her once when I was very small, but don’t have a sharp memory of her. My second cousin, Shirley Jordan Hopkins of Camp Verde, Ariz., sent this to me. Aunt Teener was the sweetest, most feminine, and friendliest of the four (Phillips) sisters. At the age of sixteen she met a very dashing young man who was a cook at Summitville. His name was Harry Wentz. It seems the time was near Christmas 1877 and they were walking the streets of Del Norte, Colorado, looking for a special gift that he wanted to buy for her. Something she desired. She had never had a doll in her growing up years and that day she found a beautiful doll dressed in a fine wardrobe. He bought her the doll and she eventually gave it to her niece, Pearl Hallett. It was later appraised at between $2,000 and $4,000. Artena married Harry Wentz, April 9, 1882, and they had one son, James L. Wentz. Harry Wentz deserted his family and when James Wentz grew up he left home before the age of 20 and never corresponded with his mother again. In her later years, Artena married Uriah Lewis who was very kind to her. They lived in Arizona, where he died in the early 1970s (?), leaving her with no income. She lived with Pearl and Everett Jordan for about a year, then moving to San Diego, California, she lived with her sister Alice Sorge and her husband, John Frederick Sorge. They helped her acquire a small old-age state pension and she lived the remainder of her life with them. Artena died January 30, 1943, in San Diego.

“As stated above, Alice Phillips married John Frederick Sorge who was a German by birth. I don’t have information about him or how she met him. Alice was in her late ’30s, I think, when she married. I don’t have a marriage date for her but it must have been around 1900 or later. She and her husband owned a dairy for a while in Silverton, Colorado, before selling it and moving to California. Alice Phillips started building the Phillips building in the summer of 1898 in Pagosa Springs. It is now known as the Hersch building still standing in Pagosa Springs. According to her plans, it was to be a large, two-story, brick building 50 by 75 feet and was fireproof according to the code of that time. It was completed by December 1899, because a community Christmas dance was held in it at that time. Will Macht told of seeing her and her sisters laying brick for this building, a work unheard of for women to do at that time. (Motter’s note—It is said that bricks made by local brickmaker A.A. Putnam were used in the Phillips building. Putnam is the source for the name Put Hill just west of downtown. His house still stands, a two-story frame structure on Piedra Road [also known as the Pagosa-Durango Stage Road] about a block south of the Elementary school). They both died in San Diego, Calif., Alice dying May 28, 1942.

“Addie Phillips, my grandmother, was the youngest Phillips sister. She married Welch Nossaman in Del Norte, Colorado, August 31, 1885. He was 14 years older than she. Since Welch already had property interests (Motter’s note—He had the first homestead near Pagosa Springs) in Archuleta County, they came over to Pagosa and began life ranching.

Motter’s note: This series will end next week.