eres a story you gotta hear:
My first wife was Granddad Johnsons daughter Nettie. Granddad didnt like for his children to marry. Nettie and I were planning to have a double wedding with Ollie Nash and Jim Lavender. A man drove up to Johnsons and told Granddad I was going to take his daughter away. So when I came, Granddad met me with a shot gun and said:
Hold on there! Hold! I stopped. Whats the matter? I asked. Enough the matter, he answered. I want you to turn around and drive away from here. This is a post office here, a government office, I replied. Mr. Rohre, he said to the clerk, see if Als got any mail. Mr. Nunn, I dont believe you have any mail here, Rohre replied. Its not mail Im after; its female, I answered him.
Nettie climbed into the spring wagon beside Nunn, and they drove off to the wedding. The date was Feb. 16, 1880.
The story of a pioneer who tried to stop a wedding with a shotgun is described in Volume 3 of Great Sage Plain To Timberline: Our Pioneer History.
Based on a 1934 interview with Elbert Nunn, the story goes on to describe, among other things, how Dove Creek got its name. Its one of many accounts the Montezuma County Historical Society collected in the book to preserve this regions heritage.
Volume 3 of Great Sage Plain To Timberline continues the tradition the historical society established with the publication of Volumes 1 and 2. The third volume describes the experiences of pioneers and their families before and after they settled here.
I think they offer readers the chance to find out what the pioneers had to go through when they first came to the Montezuma Valley, and this is the story of some of their tales and some of the things that occurred before 1900 and then after 1900 also, said June Head, a historian with the Montezuma County Historical Society. I feel its just bringing back history to the descendents of the early pioneers.
Volume 1 was published in November 2009, and Volume 2 was published in April 2010. Volume 3 came out this month. At 200 pages per volume, the historical society has published 600 pages chronicling the regions past.
The reason we started to begin with is because Ive been collecting history for 30 years and I decided if I didnt tell this stuff or put it in publication, people might not know about it, Head said.
Head wasnt the only person collecting local history, so the historical society had a large foundation on which to build Great Sage Plain To Timberline.
The group also took another approach to gathering stories for the book. Area residents wrote the different histories described in the pages.
We encouraged people to contact us if they had accurate information, and we wanted to give them credit if they had information. This is one reason youll find so many family stories in there is because people wanted to help, Head said.
The result is history told not through the voice of historians but through the voice of the pioneers, settlers and founders of this region either directly or through the recollections of their descendants.
Reading the accounts, told in the unique voices of so many different people, is kind of like sitting down with those people and listening to their stories. Heres an example, circa winter 1910, about the new DistrictNo. 9 schoolhouse, located about six miles north of Arriola, as described by Sonora Lewis Porter:
FIRE! FIRE! shouted the Brown brothers, Royce and Bobbie, as they burst through the door in a cloud of snow. The big boys were always pulling pranks. A fire drill on a day like this wasnt any fun. Turn, rise, and march, children. Take your coats and overshoes with you as you pass out. Miss Stevies voice had an overtone of hurried urgency as she looked up at the flue. There it was, smoke and flames licking at the flimsy boards of the ceiling. It was all over too soon. Books, desks, the wall map, and even the lunch pails gone. The children in stunned bewilderment crowded around Miss Stevie.
Although the book lists names on the Memorial Board erected on Main Street, Cortez, to honor World War II veterans, Great Sage Plain To Timberline largely describes earlier events, Head said.
We had pretty much decided that anything could go in the book if it was of historical value and happened before World War II, she said. We had to have a cutoff date.
Funds from the sale of Great Sage Plain To Timberline will go to the Montezuma County Historical Societys Museum and Learning Center Fund, Head said.
We really would like to get a museum, she said. We probably have enough stuff around the county that we could house a good museum.
The historical society is working on Volume 4, and there could even be a Volume 5, Head said.
If its interesting and its history, were probably going to try to get it in a volume, she said.
To purchase Volume 1, 2 or 3 of Great Sage Plain To Timberline or to learn how to submit accounts of your familys history for an upcoming volume, contact Virginia Graham at 565-7767 or June Head at 565-3880.
The book also is available starting Friday at the following locations: Let It Grow Nursery, 90 Mildred Road, Cortez, 565-3099; Books, 124 Pinon Drive, Cortez, 565-2503; and the Ponderosa Restaurant, 108 S. Eighth St., Dolores, 882-7910.
Reach Russell Smyth at [email protected]