Pagosa’s Past: School days: Retracing the state’s history

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Photo courtesy John M. Motter
This early photo of the Pagosa Hot Springs has a log cabin which may have been where Fil Byrne taught the children of Fort Lewis soldiers and early settlers during the late 1870s.

By John M. Motter
PREVIEW Columnist
In order to trace the history of schools in Archuleta County, it seems necessary to retrace the state’s history.
Here we go with Colorado history 101 taken from Wikipedia.
The first Europeans to visit the region which became Colorado were Spanish conquistadors led by Juan de Oñate, who founded the Spanish province of Santa Fé de Nuevo México among the pueblos of the Rio Grande on July 11, 1598. In 1706, Juan de Ulibarri claimed the territory of Colorado. In 1787, Juan Bautista de Anza established the settlement of San Carlos near present-day Pueblo, Colo., but it quickly failed. Colorado became part of the Spanish province of Santa Fe de Nuevo México as part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. The Spanish traded with Native Americans who lived there and established the Comercio Comanchero among the Spanish settlements and the Native Americans.
In 1803, the United States acquired a territorial claim to the eastern flank of the Rocky Mountains by the Louisiana Purchase from France. However, the claim conflicted with Spain’s claim for sovereignty over the territory. Zebulon Pike led a U.S. Army reconnaissance expedition into the disputed region in 1806. Pike and his men were arrested by Spanish cavalry in the San Luis Valley, taken to Chihuahua, then expelled from Mexico.
Miguel Hildago y Costilla declared Mexico’s independence from Spain on Sept. 16, 1810. In 1819, the United States ceded its claim to the land south and west of the Arkansas River to Spain with the Adams-Onis Treaty, at the same time purchasing Florida. Mexico finally won its independence with the treaty of Córdoba signed on Aug. 24, 1821, and assumed the territorial claims of Spain. Although Mexican traders ventured north, settlers stayed south of the 37th parallel north until the United States signed a peace treaty with the Ute Nation in 1850.
During the period 1832 to 1856, traders, trappers and settlers established trading posts and small settlements along the Arkansas River, and on the South Platte near the Front Range. Prominent among these were Bent’s Fort and Fort Pueblo on the Arkansas, and Fort Saint Vrain on the South Platte. The main item of trade offered by the Indians was buffalo robes.
In 1846, the United States went to war with Mexico, and the defeated nation was forced to relinquish its northern territories by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. This opened the Southern Rocky Mountains to American settlement, including what is now the lower portion of Colorado. The newly gained land was divided into the Territory of New Mexico and the Territory of Utah, both organized in 1850, and the Territory of Kansas and the Territory of Nebraska, organized in 1854. Most settlers avoided the rugged Rocky Mountains and headed for Oregon, the desert or California, usually following the North Platte River and the Sweetwater River to South Pass in what is now Wyoming.
Motter’s note: I’m just getting warmed up. We’ll locate our first school in Archuleta County pretty soon, mon amie, mi amigo?