History of San Juan County
On January 3, 1888, the Relief Society of San Juan Stake was organized at Bluff, with Mrs. Jane Walton as Superintendent. The Stake reached into Colorado and New Mexico, besides occupying a part of Grand County in Utah, but the doings of its authorities are too closely related to the growth of San Juan County to be omitted from tis account.
Bluff had increased very little, or perhaps not at all in numbers since the departure of so many of its people who became discouraged with the big flood four years earlier, but those who stayed were more strongly attached to the country, and confirmed in their determination to remain. No solution had yet been found for the ditch problem. The river cut sections of it away nearly every spring, and floods from the hills leveled it over with sand, or ripped it crosswise with deep gulleys. Parts of it had to be made anew so often, and the riprapping intended to protect it, dragged its monotonous tale of days through every winter and spring season.
And all this time the acreage under the ditch grew smaller before the ravages of the river. Walton's Slough invaded the fields south and southeast of town, and at various places above and below there the restless stream cut far inland from its former course. Bluff was termed a "dry camp." The people made their living from their stock and their freighting, and by their success with these outside enterprises they made it possible to meet the expense incident to maintaining thei[r] unprofitable headquarters.
They had small orchards producing excellent fruit, and they raised enough hay and fodder to feed a few freight teams, saddle horses and milch cows during the dead of winter. But when it came to figuring the cost of these things against their real worth, they simply smiled and let it pass, for Bluff was to be held in spite of any story told by a pessimistic string of figures. In fact, going a little ahead of the story, and considering the ditch alone, which is an index to the whole "dry camp", after they had lived there forty-four years and spent $150,000 to $200,000 on that ditch, the area of their farming land had simmered down to a hundred and seventy-five acres, and the ditch was washed out beyond all redemption
The chronic failure of that ditch, a tribe of thieving Indians on their south, another tribe no better on their north, the Texas outfit with their uncouth men and unsightly cattle, and hanging over it all as a cloud of increasing blackness, the proposal to give the whole country to the Utes, the struggling little colony had their cup full of intensely interesting things. Looking back at it now from our vantage point of years, we must yield to their belief that a clear-hewn Providence maintained Bluff against great odds for the sake of more fruitful places which men had not yet been trained to appreciate.
Francis A. Hammond stood foremost in awakening to the worth of these more fruitful places, working, talking, and exercising his authority to promote their settlement. To this end, on March 5, 1888 in Bluff, he organized the Blue Mountain Mission with Charles E. Walton as Secretary. In the same month a company including the Secretary, his son C. E. Jr., Frederic I. Jones and Frank Hyde, went to the wild site of the proposed town, Monticello, and finding the weather somewhat rough, they built from the lumber hauled the previous fall, a rude shanty six feet wide and sixteen feet long to shelter their bedding and their camp outfit.
One morning after its completion, there came a fierce blizzard from the north, driving by them with such fury they did not venture out to build a fire nor attempt to cook a meal until in the evening, but walked back and forth in their prison all day to keep warm.
Sometime later the arrival of Miss Leona Walton from Bluff to do their cooking, left a pleasant place in their recollection and gave them more time for the fence and corrals they were building. It is related they ate freely of venison, having found it quite easy to bring in before breakfast in the morning. The proposed town was located between two big cow-camps and many smaller outfits held forth in different directions. Their cattle filled the country, and their riders numbered from seventy-five to a hundred men. Those cow-punchers looked with general disfavor on the new settlement, both because it threatened to limit their claim to the country, and because they had no faith in the region as a farming district. One of them asked C. E. Walton, Jr., what the people intended to do for a living, and he told them they intended to farm, "Well," he said, "you'll have to draw your gizzard up pretty small if you live on farming in this country."
The cowmen could not forsee the rich farms which were to be all around Monticell[o] any more than they could discern the invincible elements among the men who had gone there to make those farms possible.
In April, George A. Adams, Nephi Bailey and Edward Hyde joined the little community at Monticello, and by May 20th, enough of their families had arrived to make possible the first Sunday School which was ever held in Monticello.
Sometime in the late spring or summer, John E. Rogerson, William Rogerson, Ernest B. Hyde, Mons Peterson, Mrs. Amasa Barton, Al Farnsworth, Frank Farnsworth, Harvey Dunton, William Adams, and Fred Adams became settlers in the new town.
Planting, fencing, ditching, hauling house logs and keeping track of their cattl[e] and horses as they grazed on the hills, made this pioneer existence a tense and continuous game. F. I. Jones was the first to finish his log house which he roofed with earth. C. E. Walton's home with the first shingle roof in Monticello, was completed July 4 and naturally it had the honor in the evening of sheltering the first dance, and of serving as meeting house each Sunday for weeks thereafter.
On July 9th, Carlisle turned the water from the Monticello ditch, and placed an injunction against the Blue Mountain Irrigation Company. The settlers had no money with which to fight the case in court, and the situation wore a bilious expression for them. President Hammond filed a demur, and the thing hung fire f[or] eight or ten years, resulting in no end of annoyance, and often taking the water from the Monticello crops just when it was most badly needed.
F. I. Jones was met on the ditch by two cowpunchers who told him in the most brutal language, and at the point of a gun, what the cow interests wanted and what they were determined to have. They knew he had no weapon, that he carried no such thing, and that he loved peace too well to harm anyone, in fact it was no doubt this knowledge which gave them courage for the brave gun play and the big talk.
In August the people began getting out logs for a meeting house. C. E. Walton and Harvey Dunton hauled the shingles, doors and windows from Mancos, and according to most accounts, the house was roofed over for Monticello's first Stake Quarterly Conference which came off on the twenty-sixth of August. The benches were of slabs and split logs, resting on stakes driven in the ground, on boxes or on stones, rather primitive equipment with which to grace the long-winded preacher, but the conference seems to have left none but pleasant memories with all who attended, so far as the meetings are concerned. John Henry Smith of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles was present from Salt Lake City, and the people while they listened forgot the instruments of torture which sustained them. Among the important business of the Conference was the appointing and sustaining of F. I. Jone[s] as Presiding Elder of Monticello, with Mons Peterson and C. E. Walton as his counselors.
But the conference had an unpleasant feature, which persists in the memory, like a soiled place on an otherwise clean sheet; a brave (?) fellow from a nearby camp rode madly through the streets firing his gun, and pouring forth his wonderful feelings in howls and yells which would turn a hyena green with envy.
About that time President Hammond organized the Blue Mountain Mission, in the spring of 1888, a movement was also made to place a colony on Indian Creek. William Rogerson and John Rogerson were called from Mancos, and Joshua and Alma Stevens from Burnham to begin the new settlement. The Rogerson brothers went by way of Monticello to the creek, but it seems that no definite place had been chosen for the town, and they waited for the Stevens brothers that the townsite might be selected by mutual consent.
The men from New Mexico traveled by way of Bluff and over Elk Mountain from the southeast side. Through some misunderstanding, instead of continuing on to where the Rogerson brothers were waiting, they stopped on Strawberry Creek, built and fenced and prepared to make their stay permanent. They lived there at least in the summer time for two years, and the place has since been known as the Mormon Pastures.
After waiting eight or ten days in uncertainty, the Rogerson brothers returned to Monticello to learn the whereabouts of their fellow pioneers. They found the new town coming slowly, but surely into existence, and since they had to wait for thei[r] answer by mail or until the coming of President Hammond, they responded to the urgent call of the awakening country and did all they could to help matters along.
When the President heard their story, and learned of the settlement on Strawberry, in view of the fact that Monticello needed help and that more settlers were not available, the colonization of the creek was postponed, and its two settlers calle[d] to Monticello. Thus the strange ways of fate withheld a town from Indian Creek, and gave it instead a long string of valuable ranches, and surrounded it with rich cattle interests.
But this same strange fate was kind to Monticello in giving her John Robertson, who cradled all the grain raised in her fields that year. Though the number of acres is not stated, the very suggestion of cutting and binding so much grain by hand today, would lay the strongest men up with a severe backache. Not only did John Rogerson's ability dovetail into the needs of Monticello like a thing made to order, but his wife's education made her the first school teacher to teach in the new place. As autumn approached, the men of the town helped finish the Rogerson log home that it might be ready in time for the little school to open without delay. It began in the fall with nine pupils, whose benches were of the slab and split-log persuasion.
The grain raised in Monticello's fields that year, was threshed with a separator belonging to C. E. Walton, and to convert it into flour it was hauled to the mill at Mancos, Colorado. However primitive this may seem, it marked a huge improvement over the previous year, whose threshing was done with horses feet, and whose grain was not milled at all.
In the forepart of October, two men from the Indian Department at Washington, one of them named Kane, visited San Juan to ascertain whether it was a suitable place for a Ute Reservation. They crossed the County westward from Bluff, going down White Canyon with L.H. Redd as their guide, and returning, they arrived on the 17th with President Hammond at Monticello. It is somewhat amusing, though it is ahead of the story, that they reported San Juan as an unfit place for Indians, not only because of its dark pockets fro secure retreat but because the wild forbidding nature of the country would tend to keep Indians in their savage state. And yet, when we finish our smile, their recommendation was not unwise.
ON the 18th of the month, Mrs. Eliza Peterson, wife of Mons Peterson died in Monticello. She was a daughter of President Hammond who, we may have noticed, arrived in town with the Indian Commissioners the day before. The funeral was held in the dooryard of the little home, and being the first occasion of its kind Monticello, it cast a gloom of lonliness over the town, a gloom which seemed somehow to be associated with the heavy frost, the first of the season, which blackened the leaves that night.
The ecclesiastical organization of the little branch, and this organization, by the way, preserved the system with which they proceeded to bring order into chaos, was carried into all its details of arrangement. IT is said that John Rogerson became Sunday School Superintendent, and Mrs. F. I. Jones President of the Relief Society, with Mrs. Mary B. Adams as Counselor, and Mrs. John Rogerson as Secretary. Edward Hyde was President of the first Y.M.M.I.A. with C. E. Walton as Secretary. Magnolia Walton became President of the Young Ladies Association, with Emma Hyde and Mrs. John Rogerson as Counselors. Unfortunately the name of the President of the first Primary is not given, but their first meeting was held December 8, 1888. Lewie Hyde and Edward Rogerson were baptized that say by John Rogerson. It was the first baptism in the new place, and it was necessary to cut the ice before it could be performed.
The log meeting house, both before and after it was floored and finished, became a place for meetings, dancing, and all kinds of public gatherings. It gave shelter in wet seasons to unfortunate families whose mud roofs failed to turn the rain and it offered a handy place for friends to meet, and for strolling lovers to rest in the evening. It was not a church, but simply a meeting house, vested with all essentials for solemn worship, but not too good nor too nice for any lawful servic[e] to the busy pioneers.
On Christmas Day, a big dinner party gathered at the home of John Rogerson, where they feasted and made merry in spite of the heavy winter which had already begun to break upon them. Even yet it is related with a pleasant smile how on that day, William Adams danced and sang his Irish song, brandishing his shillelah in a way that would make old Erin beam with pride.
As the full volume of that winter broke upon them it cut all outside travel, and all communication from every direction. The mail which had been carried by volunteers at regular intervals, and distributed from C. E. Walton's Post Office failed to arrive. The little school with its nine pupils went sleepily onward with a weary hum, and all Monticello was in prison, a deep white blanket of snow cut them off from the rest of mankind. For six weeks no one came or went.
One day Will Hyde went out of the little school house and let forth a yell which startled all his mates within, and brought Mrs. Rogerson to the door to see what on earth had broken loose. "See! See!" he howled, "someone coming!" and he point[ed] at a struggling speck southwest of town. That was ten o'clock in the forenoon and the children watched while they danced and laughed and cried with joy. But it was five in the evening before that speck materialized and came into town; two horsemen from Bluff.
The coming of the Texan outfit to San Juan, and the growth of other large cattle companies who employed a drifting outlaw element, bid fair to produce a dangerous change in the old order of things, by over-ruling the better element. The country's peculiar geographical features had ever offered a strong lure to fugitive's from justice, and their increasing number on the ground made the attraction even greater, until, with the added menace of the Reservation question, things began to assume a rather desperate aspect. Not only did certain of these men become notorious for their records elsewhere, but they began their work of theft and violence in San Juan.
Two fellows invented a brand which they called "M pole", a ponderous M, reaching variously from a cow's ears to her tail. It was made with a dozen different kinds of curves, or with any necessary angle, acute or obtuse, and it had a great bar running through it from left to right. It could cover almost any brand but E L K M, and its avaracious upper and under slope in each ear could eliminate any earmark, or the ears themselves if necessary.
This brand found most of its victims among the cattle belonging to Bluff, whose people knew the game and who played it, but they lacked evidence. Worse still, if possible, the nearest court was at Provo, a thousand miles distance if we consider their means of transportation. But at length the M Pole thieves walked into a trap set to catch evidence against them. A complaint was made, and a warrant placed in the hands of Joe Bush, Marshal, who came with his deputies to Bluff. The country spread its rocks and wrinkles around him on every side, like a huge haystack from which he was to hunt the needle.
Just at that time, L. H. Redd, Joe Hammond and Kumen Jones, who were riding on the range, made their camp in the head of Comb Wash as the sun sank behind the cliffs westward. In the twilight, an outfit passed them headed down to the Wash, and with it the leading spirit of the M pole gang. Kumen Jones left camp at duck and rode most of the night towards Bluff, where, towards morning he awakened Bush and his men, and before sunrise they arrested the M pole man in his bed at Rincon[.]
Right here, it may be true that catching always precedes hanging, but hanging doe[s] not always follow the catching. This M pole artist lay in jail eight months, and was liberated because the complaining witness refused to appear against him. But he never dared to return for the cattle he had branded, and no one could be induced to do the job for him. It was a big herd without an owner and the calves became mavericks as long as the old stock lasted.
Sometime in the summer, two train robbers headed for San Juan and Bush took up their trail. It is not strange that in this favorite outlaw retreat, those two robbers should cross the trail of other robbers, and that the marshal should be following men for whom he had no papers. This is exactly what happened. At Bull dog Park, north of what is now Blanding, he got switched off on a new set of tracks, while the train robbers scented his approach, took a hotfoot for Ogden Utah.
Bush followed the new tracks, suspecting nothing, and reached Bluff but a few hour behind the men who made them. He deputized Hanson Bayles and John Allen to assist him, and he followed the tracks to Recapture, eight miles northeast of town, passing between town and the hill.
Bush added seven Navajos to his posse, and crossing the river, followed the trail all night into the Reservation. At noon the next day he found the two strangers eating their dinner high up in a cave in the cliffs of Chinlee. While his white men and Navajos waited to drink at a water hole, Bush bolted on up the hill to within a few yards of the camp before his help came up.
One of the men, whose alias at the time was Rumrel, surrendered though he retaine[d] his revolver. The other man, afterwards giving the name of Curtis, dropped behind a rock with a big 45-90 rifle aimed at the Marshal.
"No good of you killing me," said Bush, calmly and drawing nearer all the time, "these Indians will clean you out sure if you do that."
John Allan relieved Rumrel of a revolver, but noticing on him another empty scabbard he demanded another revolver, and Rumrel fished it out from under his shirt. Then Allan threw down on Curtis, and Jim Joe, the Navajo, followed suit, asking eagerly every half minute, "Shootey? Killey?" apparently keen for the command to fire.
Curtis glared over his gun like a wildcat in a corner. "I'll fix you, you --- ---- ---
Allan's wide straw hat and loose overalls made him look more as if he should be in the garden with the rake and the hoe, and the blooded outlaw considered him a personal insult. But Jim Joe's persistent "Shootey? Killey?" made further resistance too much like suicide, and the stranger gave up his gun.
Instead of the train robbers, on whose tracks the Marshal had started, he had captured two horse thieves who had, among other stolen animals, six head belonging to Bob Hoot of the L. C. Cattle Company.
Irons were forged at Bluff, and the two desperadoes were riveted together by a chain connecting their ankles. Bush ordered all possible speed toward the railroad, and the two fellows were loaded into a light wagon. They were guarded close night and day, and when the outfit left Moab at duck with Hanson Bayles riding behind on a mule, the thieves were lying on some hay in the bottom of the wagon box, covered over with a wagon cover.
The irons had been riveted on over their boots, and one of them had found it possible to draw his foot from boot and iron at once, but they kept the secret for a favorable opportunity. Near the rushes and brush on the river bottom north of Moab, with the shades of night growing thicker every minute, the leaped from the wagon, throwing up the cover with such suddenness that it frightened Bayles' mule into a fit and it started back for Moab at forty miles an hour.
Bush fired from his place on the spring seat, and Bayles came back with his mule as soon as possible and fired again, at real or imaginary shadows, but nothing could be found of the missing men, though the rushed and brush were converted into a wide flame.
The ferry ahead, and every road and trail leading away were closely guarded for four or five days, at the end of which time someone discovered the two fellows hiding in the rocks up one of the creeks where they had killed a cow and begun drying the meat, preparatory to living in plenty until the guards should be withdrawn from the way out of the country.
But this catching, and recatching, with all its difficulties and danger, was not followed to any noticeable extent by a hanging, not was any other disposition made of the two men to keep them out of San Juan County. Unlike the M pole man, they came back.
Strangers to San Juan take no pleasure in looking back at her days which have gone and remembering the different scenes, the men and the women who played their difficult parts, and the many crises which gave its drama an attraction for all who watched or took part. But to the souls whose most cherished recollections were inseparably interwoven with the acts and actors of that stage, the old days live on as a bright picture undimmed by time. The simple honest charms of old-time Bluff and old-time Monticello, have outlustered many a bitter memory, and left images and echoes which may never fade.
In those days Bluff could boast one shingle roof, and made President Hammond's home the only dry place in town when the rain came down, and for hours after the sky became clear. The low log houses with their weed-grown roofs, were humble in comparison to that little stone building.
Bluff had bull fences in those days, and the sandy road traversing each street, wa[s] little more than a narrow pass between two forests of stinkweeds. They grew ten feet high, loaded with rich purple blooms, and always full of the buzz of bees wild and tame. Platte Lyman hunted for two days across the benches between Recapture Creek and Cottonwood Wash for one of his cows, and all that time she stood peacefully chewing her cud among the weeds of the Bluff streets.
A mighty cottonwood tree south of town had long been a favorite gathering place on warm summer afternoons. Its great branches made a wide cool shade, and some responsive soul answered its genial invitation to hang a swing on one of its limbs. For years thereafter, it was known as the Swing Tree, and its photograph is carefully preserved and cherished as the likeness of a dear friend.
Beyond the old tree on the river's sandy bank, a lumber boat rocked and floated at the end of a rope tied to a sapling. In this doubtful bark, Navajos made thrilling voyages over the rolling quicksand to trade their blankets, wool, pelts and jewelry to the San Juan Co-op. The L-shaped counter in the little store allowed them a space about eight by twelve feet, and in this narrow area they jostled each other, smoking and laughing, and giggling with the clerk in their high keyed lingo for higher prices on their wares.
The business of hauling this Navajo merchandise to Durango, and loading back with other freight, was eagerly sought by the stockholders of the store. The wealthiest men of the County today, wrangled these slow-plodding freight outfits over the sand and rocks and mud without a murmur unless, as it sometimes happened, their wagons or harnesses broke down when they had no bailing wire handy for repairs.
One of the actors on the stage of that day was Joseph F. Barton, Judge of the Probate Court. He succeeded John Allan in that position, and was the last to hold it, for his term continued to the end of territorial times, when statehood brought a new order of things.
Another figure was Josephine Wood, or "Aunt Jodie", as she was familiarly known, who had been called by the Bishop and set apart as the doctor and nurse to the isolated community, Mrs, Thales having moved away. Whatever the hour of the day or night when the cry of distress reached "Aunt Jodie", she went, always willing and always with a cheerful smile. No one could come into the world or go out of it without her gentle assistance, for the belief seemed to be general that she belonged to everybody in the place. The man and the women who are indebted to her for the first help given in their infancy, would constitute a big beginning for a town. Another multitude in the immortal world will remember her forevermore as the one who smoothed their pillows in the last agonizing moments of life.
Her humble home was always open to the throngs of children and young folks, and whatever the weight of her own cares, she made merry for them when they came, and planted seeds of cheer and good-will which will never die.
One of the early events of '89 in Monticello, was the birth of the first baby, th[e] son of Mr. and Mrs. John Rogerson. He was born on the last day of March, and named George Halls. "Aunt Jody" had been brought up through mud and snow from Bluff, for though she did not realize it at the time, the new town from then onward was to claim an interest in her magic assistance.
Those early days had many a thrill for the pioneers of Monticello. Since outlawry had found such a safe retreat in San Juan, it struggled to maintain its supremacy and it prowled around the little settlement like wolves around a sheep fold. But outlawry, only half decent in its sober moments, is wholly indecent when inflamed with liquor.
One of the first glimpses of the part liquor was to take in the situation, came when the cowboys shared their drinks with the Utes. It was followed by a fight in the streets, and timid women and children listened in terror to the shooting and the fierce talk. The Utes were driven down over the hill south of town.
More shotting on the streets was yet in the program, and quiet evenings were to be made hideous with savage yells of racing horsemen. Many a night the weak and defenseless lay trembling in their beds lest a stray bullet should find them or their loved ones. Bullets entered the homes of C. E. Walton and F. I. Jones, but fortunately they struck no one within.
Once when a gang of these brave (?) fellows rode shotting through the streets, they passed William Rogerson on the brink of a cellar which he had been digging. "Get into that cellar, you --- -- - -----!" yelled one of the ruffians, raising his gun.
"Shoot, you ---------", answered the old gentleman, climbing to the top of the bank of dirt, but no shot was aimed at him.
Again, when they began a gallant (?) charge on the town, and fired into the meeting house, they happened to ride up to where a threshing crew had been busy, and discovered the butts of a dozen rifles projecting from a pile of straw. They guessed the truth; there was a tendency among the people to weary of their nonsense, and they departed without delay for camp.
One day when one of them rode pistol in hand into the streets, he fired but a few shots when F. I. Jones sent a bullet singing over his head. He understood in a minute, and made a brush run for the hills.
Too bad the people could not have registered their protest more often, but they were heavily outnumbered, and they knew that discretion is often the better part of valor. One Monticello woman declares she counted seventy-five cowboys, besides the men and boys of the town, at one of their dances. On that occasion there were but eight women and girls who danced. It is claimed that most of the boys of the town carried concealed guns to meet threatened emergencies.
What a scattering among these men-of-the-saddle when Joe Bush came into the Count[y] tracking train robbers! One of them was seen riding down South Montezuma like a bat out of the smoking abyss, and happened to meet F. I. Jones, he whirled his horse from the trail and plunged into the brush and trees, neck or nothing.
The pioneers who were called and those who went without a call to build up Monticello and Mancos, left Bluff weak indeed as to numbers, in fact the whole population included but ten families. Such a little handful of people in the heart of an Indian country, fifty miles from any other settlement, could not help but know they stood in extreme peril if ever the temper of the red man became ruffled. President Hammond asked that the town never be left with less then ten men to protect the women and children, but the number of these protectors often simmered down to Bishop Nielson alone. The men were gone after freight or to tend their cattle, their sheep, their horses or to trail thieves or frill some missionary appointment in a distant part of the Stake, and the women and children developed a sturdy self-assertiveness, and a wholesome faith in the protecting hand of Providence.
"There are but eight families here who are not interested in making a place somewhere," wrote Platte Lyman in April '89, and went on to say that the little community found it difficult to preserve its individuality from the strong cowboy element all around.
One of the eight men interested in Bluff alone was Hanson Bayles, whose wife had just died, leaving four small children. She was but a young woman, full of life and vigor, and her going at that time left a distressing vacancy in the reduced circle of friends who struggled to hold the place. The names of the other families are not definitely given, but among those living in Bluff at the time were Francis A. Hammond, Jense Nielson, Lemuel H. Redd, Kumen Jones, Hyrum Perkins, James B. Decker, Joseph F. Barton, H.Joseph Nielson, and John Allan. Platte Lyman was there a great part of the time, though his family lived in Millard County.
But nothing had come between Thales Haskel and his call to the San Juan Mission. His folks had moved away to San Louis Valley, but he remained at his post like the image of fidelity. Nor did he stay simply to refrain from deserting his mission, this gray-haired veteran was always doing something worthwhile, and doing it because he loved humanity.
In the spring of '88 he spent two months with the Utes in Allan Canyon trying to teach them the rudiments of successful farming. It was a thankless undertaking, for though they had great respect for Haskel, they could not appreciate the worth and meaning of his efforts for them. After he succeeded in getting them to work, he had to see the blistered hands of each one, and hear them complain, "Heap sore back."
It may be however, that the seed he planted in that forbidding soil has grown beyond his expectations. When it is borne in mind that the subjects of his benevolent endeavors were the confirmed product of generations ignorant and indolent, that they were fierce and blood-thirsty, delighting in the stain of white men's veins on their robes, it is hardly to be expected his teachings would soon bear much fruit. If he really laid a foundation for better works in succeeding generations he did very well.
Those Utes are better today than in the days of Haskel, and their reverent reference to his teaching places much of the credit of their improvement to his efforts. Henry, the friendly youth who assisted the first white explorers onto Elk Mountain, is ever emphatic in his praise of the old missionary: "Haskel all the time one talk," Mancos Jim too, a veteran of all the old fights, doesn't hesitate to declare whenever Haskel's name is mentioned, "Me heap like um."
In the year '89, Haskel clerked in the San Juan Co-op, in which capacity he could not only attract Indian customers, but could find ample time for the laconic declarations and impressive sermonettes he wished to deliver. He could out-Indian the red men themselves, and from his bearded moccasins to the firm lines of his fine old face, they found the tactic dignity which impelled them to concede to him the superiority they otherwise would have assumed in silence for themselves.
In February, '89, two Apostles visited the colony, prolonging their stay nearly a month. They sent out for the people of the Stake to attend, and held a four day Conference in which they organized a Stake High Council, and settled some old difficulties of several years standing. They encouraged the people to persevere in holding San Juan, and left them reconciled anew to the drawbacks and hardships of the mission.
In '89 the mail still came to Bluff but once a week. Pleasant anticipations and hurried efforts to write overdue letters were the usual preliminary to mail day. That mail was seldom too much for one sack, which was tied behind the saddle of the carrier. This responsibility generally devolved on a white man, but at least one Ute, Bridger Jack, came grinning into town with the old leather sack, delighted to think he was an honored employee of Uncle Sam.
At one time the Reservation question seemed to have completely settled the question of continuing longer in San Juan. An appropriation had been asked for by the Ute Commission to cover fifty percent of the value of the white men's improvements in the County, and the people expected to take it and go. The Utes too had heard of it, and were selecting the houses in Bluff and in Monticello which they would occupy as soon as the word was given.
The long delay of that appropriation, and the necessary legislation to conclude the matter one way or the other, naturally left the Utes in uncertainty and unrest. Instead of going about their usual activities, they hung around the settlements eagerly anticipating the change.. The judgements of which Haskel had told them had been brought to their attention by the unexpected death of some of thei[r] huskiest braves, and they had reformed, at least from their viewpoint, but their reformation had not corrected their inveterate tendency to steal everything they could always get their hands on. To undertake curing of such an old tendency in one generation, would be to kill that generation.
One of the Utes who had lingered wistfully around Bluff, was Mike Moancopy. Ever[y] day, or every so often, he came to the store with enough wool to buy the necessities of life, and every day the store missed about that much wool from their warehouse. They investigated, found a loose chink in the log wall, and set a double spring wolf trap beneath it. Next morning Mike stood fretfully by the wall with his arm through the chink, waiting for someone to remove the trap from his hand. He was meek enough while they opened the jaws of that trap, but later he became enraged and struck at Bishop Nielson with a quirt. L. H. Redd, who stood near by, delivered him a vigorous kick in the tight waistband of his big overalls. Mike doubled up like a pocketknife and demanded $100 damages. The money was never paid, though he went out of one fit into another, and threatened to do all kinds of terrible things. He had a way of looking as black as a thundercloud and demanded from one to ten sacks of flour as a price for a smile, but the people had already learned that two slices of bread and molasses would cure the most violent fits to which he was subject.
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