Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Slovak Community


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The Christian Orthodox Church marks the remnants of a once wide spread community that fled from Eastern Europe during the communist revolution in Russia.  Situated north of Calhan, CO, on the other side of the valley.  Here the few descendants from the early settler still celebrate their heritage.  Once a year they have Slavic days.  Worship services are still held in the little country church.

Scattered across the area are other reminders of when there were more Slovaks in the area.  Empty church, cemeteries in the land and the names in the phone book still resonate.  They were mostly, Ukrainians, Serbs and Czech’s.  The community reached into the Black Forest to East of Matheson, CO. 

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Like many small towns on the prairie, the siren song of the city attracts many a youngster leave their home and go seeking in the lights of big city life.  The few that remain carry on the life their ancestors started.  The horrors of communism that their friends left behind had to face are memories that do not go away.  The slaughter of the populace by Lenin and the Bolsheviks is not forgotten.  Here they fond a life they could live out in peace for over a century.  Yet the communists of Russia have raised their ugliness from time to time to remind them of why they fled.  One of the first thing the communists did was to ban churches in the countries under their control. 

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Around the US  were other communities like this.  The north side of Denver has a settlement of Slovakians. 

Much like other settlers in the US, schools were important.  Building schools and educating their children into the new country, their adopted country was important.  Farming and ranching the pioneers gained a new life in a new land.  A land away from tyranny. 

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Today, much of what they built is now gone.  Only memories and the occasional old picture. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Forgotten Frontier Tale


Some of these little towns of ghosts have quite the history.  Click on the links to read the tales of yesteryear.



When Charles A. Creel set up his real estate business on the site of present day Arriba in Lincoln County in 1888, he knew exactly what kind of town he would like to build there. The Rock Island Railroad track was laid near-by. Later that year and for several years thereafter, Arriba grew steadily and orderly, pretty much following the plan Creel had in mind.

C.C.Coleman wasn't in Creel's plan, however. Coleman purchased land adjacent to Arriba in 1904, platted it, and by 1907 was selling lots under the name of "Frontier City". And while his neighbor, Creel, had refused to sell property to people wanting to build saloons, Coleman allowed one of his lots, which was very close to Creel's home, to be used for a saloon business. The "wets" and the "drys" squared off. Creel apparently took it as a personal obligation to protect the people of Arriba from the evils of drink.

Visit the Arriba Museum to hear ". . . .the rest of the story."

Arriba Museum

This museum contains a well kept collection of history and artifacts from the local area. The museum staff are helpful and knowledgeable on the museum collection. To cap it off, view their video which documents the entire Arriba - Frontier City feud. Quite interesting.

Visit the Arriba Museum to hear "the rest of the story."

Arriba Museum
Arriba Town Hall
Arriba, Colo. 80804
Open Monday, Wednesday, & Friday 8am-12noon 1pm-5pm
Contact Eunice at 719-768-3371 for appointments.

Grandpa Jerry's Clown Museum

It all began with 13 clowns in 1986 in Sterling, Colorado. In 1990, I met Dale Ann and things went crazy. From there, collecting became a disease. My brother Larry got involved and became the biggest contributor to the collection. Both of our families and countless friends also got involved and the collection took off. In 2001, the museum moved to its current location on Arriba, Colorado.

Grandpa Jerry's Clown Museum is the largest collection of its kind in such a small building. The collection includes everything from baby rattles to a Picasso piece. It is made up of items from at least 28 states and 13 countries. Among the items housed in the museum are cookie jars, salt & pepper shakers (one of the most difficult items to find), coffee cups, tea sets, head vases, banks, music boxes, pictures, porcelain pieces, and countless other items.

A must see on your museum tour.

Grandpa Jerry's Clown Museum
22 Lincoln Ave.
Arriba, Colo. 80804
Open by appointment during the winter.
719-768-3257 Home
719-740-6195 Cell
719-768-3399 Work




by local author & historian: John LaBorde

Back to Ghost Stories HOME

Arriba - A Tale of Two Towns
Across the prairie of eastern Colorado the Chicago Kansas and Nebraska Railroad was building a highway of iron. Many a speculator wanted the railroad to pass through their claim. Many a dream failed but a few were fulfilled.

A Charles A. Creel traveled to Colorado with the fever of gold and ended up in the gold fields of Pikes Peak at Cripple Creek. He heard about the new railroad being built across the high plains and headed for Colorado Springs. Mr. Creel packed up and went east. Out on the rolling prairie he bought a parcel of land and in 1888 platted out a town. Sure enough, the following year the iron rails went through his town. The man who had set up a tent to sell lots in his town had guessed correctly where the railroad would pass.

Sitting on the high plains the new town was given the name Arriba for it sat above the prairie. The pronunciation was anglicized and is pronounced, Air....baaah. Pronounce it the Spanish way and the locals look kind of cross eyed at you. A depot was built by the railroad as were other structures. The town of Arriba was a going little town. There were shops, stores, banks, a newspaper, etc. Charles Creel moved from his tent into a nice house in his new town. He was a temperance man and no stores selling alcoholic beverages were allowed. Arriba was growing and new people were arriving. A C.C. Coleman moved to Arriba in the early 1900’s. He was a hard working man that had a thirst. There being no alcoholic beverages nearby, he took matters into his own hand. Next to Arriba, Mr. Coleman acquired some land and also platted out a town.

In 1904, Frontier City came into existence and the first building in the new town was a saloon. The establishment was built right across the street from Mr. Arriba’s house, Charles A. Creel’s. That did not set very well with the Arriba founder as the view from his yard or window was of a saloon. The gall boiled over and Charles Creel forbade residents of his town to partake of the saloon and a fence was built between the two towns. Frontier City had what some of the people of Arriba wanted and the fence did not stop the thirsty residents of Arriba from going to Frontier City’s drinking establishment. Daily holes in the fence had to be repaired and a worker would go along and fix them. The next morning there would be more work repairing the holes in the fence. A few said that George was making the holes at night so he would have work to do the next day.

The fence was not very successful at stopping the thirsty residents of Arriba, so Creel dug a ditch to separate the two towns. The ditch only slowed down the residents of Arriba from going to the saloon. Soon the ditch became a trench and even that was not stopping them from going to Frontier City. This trench became known as “No Man’s Land.” and it divided the two towns. Each town had their own streets and businesses. Creel and Coleman kept up their feud until Creel passed away. Mrs. Creel did not like the feud and after her husband passed away met with Mr. Coleman and settled their differences. The hatchet was buried and Frontier City became a part of Arriba.

The trench of No Man’s Land remained and the street names did not change. Going East to West or vice a versa, when one crosses No Man’s Land, the name of the street changes. Even today after 100 years the ditch is still there and the streets change names when crossing.

At twilight just after the sun sets the sharp eyed person can glimpse a shadow or two moving across No Man’s Land. Quickly the shadows flit over the ditch.

In downtown Arriba there is a sign marking No Man’s Land. Here one can pause and look at the history of a town born of speculation, burned in animosity, pushed by desires, truly a town of the West.

Trains still pass nearby but the saloon is gone. The sound of tinkling glasses is a memory. A brief flash of light moves by searching for a place of respite.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Some thoughts on …….. ????


Living in the hinther lands of the country, I am somewhat insulated from the goings on in the big cities.  I see the stories on the riots, protests and other propaganda.  For the most part it is over there, and so be it.  Yet what happens over there has a trickle down effect on the rest of the country.  Kind of a monkey see …… monkey do. 

I grew up during Vietnam, so protests are nothing new.  I watched the marches, heard the chants and stood on the sidelines.  I watched protestors, trash public spaces and scribble messages on walls and windows.    Then there were the violent protests, clashes with police, tear gas and out rage.  Laws were being violated and yet there were no consequences for the people breaking the law.  The attitude was….. If I am protesting, I can break the law in the name of the protest. 

This lawlessness, pretty much has set the stage for the violent protests of today that lead to riots. 

Yet the violence of protests are not that new.  One can go back a couple of centuries and witness similar protests leading to violent riots. 

During the 1880’s Karl Marx was becoming popular and his style of economics was being embraced by some elite academicians around the world.  At the same time the labor movement for unions was boiling pretty good.  Working conditions around the world were pretty bad.  No longer was the agrarian society the dominant feature.  Society was shifting to a new way of life, industrialization and factories. 

More and more people were flocking to the cities to work and many would end up in the sweat shops.  A Tale Of Two Cities, probably best describes the horrible conditions people worked in. 

This gave fuel to the Marxists to denounce capitalism, it also gave rise to the trade guilds and unions to fight the capitalists.  The Marxists, got into the unions and agitated, soon there were all types of riots around the world. 

The elite Marxists had been meeting at various cities around the world and declared they would take to the home countries and introduce Communism to their home countries. 

There was tremendous labor strife during the late 1890’s to 1915 in the United States and other countries.  There were violent clashes between the military, police and labor organizers.  City streets would be jammed with labor sympathizers marching in protest of working conditions, sometimes resulting in violent clashes and often deaths.  There were armed conflicts at mines across the country. 

The communists were gaining a foot hold and the Communist Party had been formed and they were running candidates for various elected offices, including congress and president. 

Two things happened to keep the Untied States from becoming a communist country.  World War I broke out and the unions began to get some concessions and improved working conditions. 

After the war, lots of the unrest had calmed down and the communists did not have the hatred to build on like they had the previous decade. 

In Russia it was different.  Lenin had went to Russia with his minions and joined up with the Bolshevik's.  A non-aggression treaty was signed with Germany and the Marxist, Lenin continued his takeover of Russia imposing Communism.  It was a conflict of labor and peasants and the landed Tsars.  One of violent clashes, using the classes of society as a diving point to wage a revolution.  The parallels in Russia during the early 1900’s to the United States is astounding. 

So when I look at protests that turn to riots, I look where are the agitators.  They tend to stay in the background, yet they have a Marxist view on life.  The Communists are still alive and well, they are also growing. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Teddy Roosevelt and the Cowboys of Hugo


The small town of Hugo, Colorado, clings to life on the parched plains of Eastern Colorado.  It is a ranching town, built by the railroad.  The 10 gallon hat and boots are pretty much standard dress apparel.  The pick up has replaced the horse although the pick up often has a horse trailer in tow.  Up on the ridge, the grassland stretches to the eyes end.  Rolling prairie to the horizon, dotted with cattle marked by fences. 

Here the land is pretty much the same as it was in past centuries, only now broken by fences.  In 1902 the little cow town was a buzz, the president was passing through.  It was also round up time and the ranch hands had gathered in town to begin their round up. 

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News must of spread across the prairie of the president’s trip for there were also more then a couple of photographers in town.  These shutter bugs were snapping pictures of the event and the cowboys were proudly posing. 

Hugo was a stop on the railroad where steam engines were serviced.  So it was with anticipation that they would get to see President Roosevelt.  When the train arrived, it was chow time for the cowboys and the aroma of cooking food was drifting in the air.


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When Roosevelt stepped onto the platform of his car the aroma of the food engulfed him.  The cowboys gathered around to get a glimpse of the US President.  Banter went back and forth and soon the cowboys had the president off the train and to have some chow with him.

Cameras were flashing and smiles were growing.

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It was time to gather around and break bread with the President of the United States. 

Many a picture was taken and many years later these pictures were gathered up into books.  One of the photographers traveling with the president became so enamored with the cowboys of Hugo, he returned the following day.  Arriving in Denver, He caught the next train east to Hugo and set out to capture more pictures of these boys of the West.

His pictures were gathered into a small booklet and very few copies were made.  One resides in the tomes of the Colorado State History Museum and a few can be found here and there. 

The photographs by the other photographers have become parts of cowboy book from the early 1900’s.

These books and their photographs give a glimpse into and era that was on the wane.  There was no Hollywood yet to glitter up the real thing.  Unvarnished, these were the cowpokes that roamed the range, tending to the cattle. 

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In downtown Hugo, is a small memorial park to this moment when the President of the US stopped in the little ranching town and ate with the cowboys. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Eastonville, CO


The bustling village of Eastonville has all but disappeared.  There is an old shack near the where the RR grade used to be and out in the pasture is an old Cog railway car on the RR ROW.  The land has been developed in country estates and lots of the old town is vacant under new development. 

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The burg had its beginnings as a ranching and logging town a few miles to the west.  When the railroad came through in the mid 1800’s, the townspeople voted to move their village next to the tracks.  Old Easton as it was known originally, became Eastonville for there was a town up north of Eaton.  To avoid confusion they ville behind their town’s name. 

It was a wild and woolly town, with the cowboys, loggers and add the railroad workers.  There were saloons and other forms of entertainment. 

During the spring roundup the cowboys would show off their riding and roping skills.  Enterprising stage operators in nearby Colorado Springs would schedule coaches out to Eastonville for the townspeople to watch the cowboys show off.  The young city ladies would cheer on their favorite cowboy and money exchanged hands on the riding powers of the cowboys.  It was a wide open celebration on the frontier. 

The railroad did not last long.  In 1935 the floods washed away a major portion of the tracks to the north.  Rather then rebuilding, the railroad abandoned the rails and used the tracks to the west.  The little town of Eastonville was abandoned.  There was still ranching but most of the logging was gone.  The glory days of the little town was ending.

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The cowboys would still carouse at the saloon on their day off.  Into town they would go to whet their whistle.  The saloon was busy that day.  The two cowboys were talking about their jobs and drinking beer when a black cowboy walks into the bar.  Soon the one partner was making nasty remarks about the black cowboy.  Being liquored up didn’t help, but the other cowboy got his partner calmed down and out side. 

Getting his partner settled and under a tree, He went into the general store to get some supplies for the week, mostly tobacco.  Getting his supplies, the cowboy went back out looking for his partner and go back to the ranch. 

The drunk partner was riled up again and standing in front of the saloon shouting and waving his gun. His partner walks up to him and tries to calm the drunk down.  But to no avail louder he shouts at the black cowboy.  Soon the partners are in a wrestling match and the gun goes off.  The partner had killed his drunk partner in front of the saloon on main street at high noon.

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The Eastonville cemetery is west of the railroad crossing near where the town of Easton had its beginnings.  Whether the cowboy is buried their or not is a good question.  It sits in a serene spot, surrounded by stately pines.  Pikes Peak looks down on the ghosts of the long gone village. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Being Bashed by Gays …..


Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.



            I don’t sit down and read the Constitution very often.  When I do, I sometimes wonder where some people get their ideas and notions about the document. 

Right now the popular argument is about religious freedom, which is part of the First Amendment. Other freedoms are addressed in this amendment but the clause about the government and religion is what I want to focus on. 

            Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

          Read the last part of the clause, it says the government can not establish a law prohibiting the free exercise thereof.  To me it says the government can not establish a religion, of any type, nor can it prohibit one from expressing their beliefs. 

            Now if I refuse service to someone on my religious beliefs, am I covered by this amendment?   One would think so, yet there is a sector of the population that does not accept that.  Using the Civil Rights Acts, they are forcing these people to provide service to them. 

            The Civil Rights Acts were passed in the 60’s to address the situation of voting and segregation.  A law that is two parts, government and moral law.  It was passed to allow a discriminated segment of our society to have full voting privileges and access to government sponsored institutions, IE schools.  It was also used to force business to have customers they preferred not to have.  This is the morality of the law and where the law in part has been a failure.  For prejudice is still rampant in the United States. 

            The morality portion of the law is what is being used by the Gay community in the United States to force themselves on people who do not want to deal with them.  Using the First Amendment of the Constitution, these business owners say it violates their religious beliefs to serve and or do business with Gay people. 

            So the Gay people take the business owners to court and use the Civil Rights Acts as their cause to force these people to do business with them.  So far the courts have been agreeing with the Gay’s, saying they are being discriminated against. 

            So I reread the amendment again and to me it looks like the government is violating its own laws.  For by forcing somebody to do business with some one they oppose on religious beliefs could be construed as a law against religious freedom.  Counter to the First Amendment of freedom of speech and religion.


For a different situation.


            You have a car for sale, I stop by to look at it.  I am wearing a very flashy shirt with the marks of satan all over it.  I offer to buy your car at your price.  You decide not to sell it to me.  Saying on religious beliefs you do not deal with Satan.  I offer you more money, you decline, I leave.

            I go to court next day and file a lawsuit against you, saying you discriminated against me, I invoke the Civil Rights Acts.  I want the court to force you to do business with me. 

            Is it really a different situation?  Has the Civil rights Act been abused?  Has the courts abused their power?


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Ghost Town of …. Las Vegas New Mexico


Situated on the highlands of eastern New Mexico Las Vegas is a nice little city and one would not even consider it as being a ghost town.  Yet for a short time in the late 1700’s it was vacated and left to the winds of time. 

Settlers from Spain were traveling to the New World to settle and get away from the persecution in Europe.  Santa Fe was a northern capitol of New Spain and was a jumping off place for new arrivals to the America's. 

I have misplaced my notes, so the dates will only be an approximation.  The mid 1700’s a group arrived in Santa Fe from Spain to settle in the New World.  The families and stores were left in town and some men went into northern New Spain to scout a place to begin a new life. 

When the traveled over the mountains east of Santa Fe they come on the Highlands.  Her was everything they wanted.  Water, good soil for their crops and grass for the livestock.  Measurements were taken and the men returned to Santa Fe. 

Here in the Capitol city they filed their claim for a land grant from Spain.  They were granted their land and eastward the people began their trek. 

Arriving in the area of present day Las Vegas, the settlers began to establish their village.  Homes were built, crops were planted and pens for livestock were built.  Life was looking good for the settlers.

The local people did not like the invaders in their land.  The Indians began mounting attacks on the little settlement.  The newcomers were able to ward off the attacks with little loss but the Indians did not stop.  Over the years the attacks continued.  Some crops were burned, some livestock was driven off and the occasional settler was killed. 

After about 10 years the people gave up the battle with Indians.  They packed up and returned to the safer area near Santa Fe.  For years the little village lay in ruins.  Europe was in turmoil and in the first decade of the 1800’s, Napoleon forced the Spanish rulers, the Borbons into exile.  Napoleon's brother became the ruler of Spain and a puppet was sent to rule New Spain in Mexico City. 

Shortly after this, the Mexican revolution began.  Eventually the French were pushed out and New Spain became Mexico. 

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During this time more people were fleeing the turmoil in Europe.  Another party had arrived in Santa Fe to look for a place to settle.  They traveled east over the mountains from Santa Fe and found the New Mexico Highlands to their liking. 

Returning to Santa Fe the filed for a land grant.  This time the grant was processed through the government of Mexico and the Mexican government issued them a grant.  There was no cross reference with Spanish land grants. 

The people loaded up and went east to settle their new land grant.  This group was large enough that the Indian attacks were minor and they were able to easily fend off the Indians.  The little village of Las Vegas began to grow and prosper. 

There was more turmoil on the horizon.  The westward expansion of the United States soon had them at war with Mexico.  The Mexican/ American War ended in 1848 with the signing of a treaty.  Now the New Mexico portion of New Spain was a part of the United States. 

With the signing of the treaty, the United States agreed to honor all land claims.  People were pouring into Santa Fe with their land claims to file them with the new government.  The people that had the Spanish land grant came forth claiming their grant at Las Vegas.  There were people living there and they had a grant from the Mexican government.  The United States could not chase the later settlers out of Las Vegas.  So the holders of the Spanish land grant were offered other parcels of land in exchange for their Spanish grant. 

These 100,00 acre parcels given to the Baca’s in exchange of their Spanish land grant. These parcels stretched into northern New Mexico and southern Colorado.  One of the 100,00 acre parcels became a part of the Bell ranch in eastern New Mexico.  For the Baca;s immediately sold their parcels off. 

Someplace in the present day city of Las Vegas is a portion of the first little village settled there then abandoned.