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Special, colorful characters among Pagosa’s pioneers

They were special, those pioneers who inhabited Pagosa Country during its first fifty years.

The world will never see those people, or their special times, again.

Even the names were special, fitting the tasks required of them. There was Etheral T. Walker, the Virginian and “Unreconstructed Rebel;” Eudolphus M. Taylor, New Yorker, financier and politician; Barzillai Price, lawyer, school superintendent and judge.

Perhaps the prize name belonged to Walter Xerxes Yansei Zabriskie, longtime Pagosa Junction merchant.

Following are obituaries of a few of those pioneers. The obituaries read like miniature history books.

Antonio D. Archuleta — Archuleta County is named for this man. He was born in Taos, N.M., in 1855, the son of Jose Manuel Archuleta. The family moved to Conejos County, Territory of Colorado, in 1855. A staunch Republican, he was elected from Conejos County as a member of the first House of the Colorado legislator in 1876, the year Colorado became a state. He was elected to the House for two more terms representing Conejos and Costillo counties. In 1883, he was elected Senator from Conejos County. In 1885, he introduced the legislation creating Archuleta County in 1886. Archuleta County was separated from Conejos County, as were all of the counties in the southwest corner of Colorado. He moved to Archuleta County in 1887 and became one of the leading ranchers, business men and civic leaders. In 1887, he had married Louriana Gallegos.

Elfego Baca — Fill in the gaps and imagine this life. He died in 1945 at the age of 80. That means he was born circa 1865 near the end of the Civil War. He was said to have been a captive of the Indians for four days, to have run with Billy the Kid, and at the age of 19 to have single-handedly stood off 80 American cowboys.

Norbert Berard — He died in April of 1923. Mr. Berard was of French descent and was born in Canada. His age is estimated at 78 or 79 years. When he came to Colorado is unknown, but he lived near Walsenburg, where he married, before coming to Pagosa Springs with his family in 1878, the year Fort Lewis was started in town. During the early days, he freighted with oxen between Amargo and Pagosa Springs. He made his home on the south side of the river since 1878. (Motter — My understanding is his property was located where the Town Hall now is. The house was still standing when I moved here about 40 years ago.) For many years, he operated a blacksmith shop in Pagosa Springs.

Charles F. Betts — Charles Betts died at the home of Harry Macht in May of 1923. He was born in New York City Feb. 24, 1860. His father and stepfather died when he was a young boy, and he helped his mother, Mrs. Victoria Macht. He came to Colorado in 1879 engaging in mining and blacksmithing at Silverton, Platoro and Cripple Creek.

Albert Gallatin Boone — A.G. Boone was born in Westport, Mo., Nov. 25, 1845, and died in Pagosa Springs June 22, 1916. He was a direct descendent of Daniel Boone and the son of Van D. and Mary A. Boone, which family moved to Colorado in 1860. He married Susie Fosdick at Boone, Colo., in 1876 and they moved to Archuleta County in 1886, taking a ranch at Coyote Park. He was a rancher and served several terms as a county commissioner. He helped organize the Boone School District. When I moved here 40 years ago, the area where he lived was referred to as Boonesville by oldtimers.

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