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Pagosa Country’s settlers had one goal — home

We continue with the stories of Pagosa Country’s early settlers. As you will see, they came from all over the nation but they had one goal—they were looking for a home. Some stayed, some moved on. Some descendants are still here.

Jose Marcelino Archuleta was born in Conejos County April 26, 1858, the son of Jose Manuel Archuleta. He was one of the first settlers, having taken up land near Edith in 1876. He was a leading rancher, business man, and community leader until his death in 1920, the result of a shooting confrontation over ownership of a hay crop near Edith. He built the first flour mill in Archuleta County in 1898.

He married Eduvigas Salazar and they had seven children. A previous marriage to Genoveva Gomez resulted in one child who became Mrs. Ross Archuleta. Genoveva died in Amargo in 1891. He was from the family for whom Archuleta County was named and had three brothers: Presalino, Don, and Delfido.

At various times, Marcelino had businesses in Amargo, Lumberton and Pagosa Springs. He built the two-story frame house that still stands on Pagosa Street and was much involved in the early-day conflicts between Hispanics and Anglos for political control of Archuleta County.

Marcelino O. Archuleta died at the age of 53 in February of 1933 by falling into a hand-dug well at his place on Blue Mountain not far from the Blanco River. A coroner’s jury decided the death was due to suicide, but locals of the time mostly felt he had been murdered.

A story is told that Marcelino was involved in a bitter water dispute with his neighbors. The dispute was resolved, it is said, when a group of hooded men knocked on his door one night, threw a blanket over his head, then carried him several yards to the well and dropped him into the well head first.

Eva Patton Babcock, the wife of George Babcock, died October 13, 1915, at the home of her sister, Mrs. William J. Bates, near Bayfield. Mrs. Babcock was one of seven daughters born to the now aged Mr. And Mrs. George Patton, pioneers of the San Juan Basin. Two daughters have passed away. Surviving sisters are Mrs. Jewett Palmer, Mrs. Pitt Palmer, Mrs., J.W. Bates, and Mrs. Weiser. Deceased was born at the mining town of Fairplay, Colo., June, 1870, and came with her family to Pine River, now Bayfield, about 1878. She married George Babcock, also a pioneer, in 1902. They had no children.

Elfego Baca died in October of 1945 at the age of 80. He was said to have been a captive of Indians for four days, to have run with Billy the Kid, and at the age of 19, lone-handed, stood off 80 American cowboys for 36 hours.

Leidy Baker was born April 20, 1878, at Lisbon, Illinois, to Daniel Webster Baker and Frances Pease Baker. He came to Colorado in 1900 and worked on the railroad when it was first built in Archuleta County.

He was Pagosa Springs’s water commissioner and cleaned up the water facilities after the 1911 flood. Leidy organized a kid’s band in 1909 and conducted and played in bands and orchestras in the Pagosa Springs area for 25 years. His kid’s band grew to contain more than 50 members. He worked as an electrician at the light plant in South Pagosa until he retired in 1948. He married Mrs. Ada Kenny Peck in Pagosa Springs in 1911.

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