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Wednesday, January 27, 2021
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The Bigelow Family - Part 2
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In addition to working in the blacksmith shop, Joseph Alvin managed the ranch, served as Justice of the Peace, played the fiddle for community dances and acquired a medical library which assisted in his helping treat his neighbors when a doctor was unavailable. He was also known to be good with a shot gun and to be a “happy drunk” on occasion.

The school was two miles from home. “Grace, Ray and Glenn rode horseback or burro-back. Horses were faster!” Miss Hattie Bollinger became their teacher. She later married their brother Arthur Alvin with his father, Joseph, performing the ceremony.

A cousin lived with the Bigelow family one winter and made snow skis for each of the younger boys (first they had heard of).” They were the first to ski at what became the San Isabel Ski Area. They also used the skis to get to school

Joseph Alvin with his oldest son, Arthur Alvin, carefully constructed two wagons: a large heavy one and a small one. The wagons were put to use freighting what the family could grow or make. Joseph and the older boys made the trip to Florence to trade for supplies about once a month over what is now named Bigelow Divide. After their chores were completed, Joseph would fiddle for free drinks at a local “canteen.”

Joseph Alvin's wife, Roxie, “knitted stockings, mittens and wristlets. She made everything the children wore except shoes or boots. One winter she made 1600 pounds of butter which they sold to the stores in Florence. She bought blue denim by the bolt and made their overalls. Calico for dresses was 3 cents a yard. It took 5 yards for a dress, so it cost 15 cents.”

Mr. Wilcox moved his sawmill to their ranch and cut lumber from pine, spruce and Douglas fir. The family’s share of the lumber was used to construct a sizeable barn and sheds for the protection of horses and cattle. Some was freighted to Florence and sold to a lumber dealer for which they received $10 per thousand feet.

That led to cutting red spruce narrow gauge railroad ties. Hewn with a broad axe and sawed, they were freighted to Florence and sold to Mr. White who operated a feed store at Main Street and Pike Avenue. The ties were used to build the railroad between Florence and Cripple Creek.

Joseph Alvin died on April 20, 1916 and is buried in Beulah. “After Pap died, Uncle Glen (Nelson Glen) and his wife, Eva Aurelia moved in and lived in the old cabin with Grandma Almeida “Roxie”. Later she took turns living with Glen and Bert (Herbert Holmes). She was deaf all of her adult life she communicated by her own primitive sign language and always carried a slate tablet. She loved to write letters and as paper was hard to come by she wrote small, never indented, used paragraphs or left any margins. She wrote nearly every week to her daughter Gracie who married and moved to Oregon.” Roxie died in April of 1935.

“Glen‘s wife, Aunt Aurelia had some kind of nursing training and along with her twin sister took on the role of mid wife and local healer.” Later, Glenn had a mining claim up off of Ophir Creek. He built a small cabin and had an appraisal done every so often to keep the claim active, as the BLM didn’t like the squatters on the land.

Arthur Alvin “filed his homestead claim in 1908 for eighty acres two miles north of the house his father built more than 20 years earlier. He built his house on the edge of a meadow above a tiny stream.” He and his wife, Hattie lived in the log house until 1913. “By the time Art proved up in 1913, he had somehow added forty acres to the claim, but he was ready to move to town. Emma Harper bought the place, borrowing $100 for a down payment.” (Patent in 1913 6th Meridian; 22S, 69W; Section 32 NE ½ NE ¼; SE ¼, NE ¼; NW ¼, NW ¼)

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The Greenhorn Valley View is a weekly newspaper serving the communities of the Greenhorn Valley in Southern Colorado,
including Colorado City, Rye, San Isabel, Beulah and Hatchet Ranch.

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