Pagosa’s first newspaper and Wild West tales

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Photo courtesy John M. Motter Emmit Wirt, pictured here during a long and distinguished career as post trader on the Jicarilla Apache Reservation, sewed some wild oats during his younger days, as the accompanying column reveals.
Photo courtesy John M. Motter
Emmit Wirt, pictured here during a long and distinguished career as post trader on the Jicarilla Apache Reservation, sewed some wild oats during his younger days, as the accompanying column reveals.

We have reported a series of election confrontations between Anglos and Hispanics for political control of Archuleta County. The events we reported took place in the first election after creation of the county in 1885.

Most of the information for what happened locally during those years was obtained from newspapers in neighboring counties. Pagosa Springs did not have a newspaper at that time.

Pagosa Springs finally got its own newspaper when D.L. Eggers came to town in April of 1890. On April 10 of that year, Eggers published the first edition of his newspaper called The Pagosa Springs News. Eggers, a populist, immediately jumped into the middle of local politics, where he remained for the approximately 10 years he published the News.

Frank Deatheridge had published a weekly called The Pagosa Springs Herald the summer before Eggers arrived, but no copies of that effort remain. It appears Deatheridge got in trouble with the law and, adorned with a pair of handcuffs, departed for the state prison at Canon City, ending his newspaper endeavors.

From the pen of Eggers, we read of the following Wild West excitement. It seems Sheriff Billy Kern had built a new house at the corner of San Juan and Park streets. We know what the house looked like because it is still standing at that location. For years, oldtimers called it the “Sturdivant House.”

Here’s what happened when Kern threw an open-house celebration.

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.