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Williams Family Series Part 4
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In May of 1879 “a terrific and damaging storm” hit southern Colorado and blew the roof off the two-story Williams house and their barn. The house with wooden floors, one of the first houses with wooden shingles on the roof, was built between the head of the Muddy and the St. Charles Creeks. “The roof with four logs to which it was attached was lifted from over their head and set down on the east side of the house. The same thing happened to the barn. No one was hurt although one of the girls ran for the door and got outside when someone caught her and lying down to the ground, crawled with her back to safety.”

By 1880, the Williams children were enrolled in the old log school house on the Graneros in Rye. “They were in classes with children much older, testifying to Sarah’s creditable manner of education in addition to doing the house work, sewing and knitting for a family of seven children, sewing carpet rags and weaving her own carpets and being called upon continuously by neighbors.”

School terms were three months or less. Sarah and all the children moved wherever they needed to, to stay through the term. Belle Williams Hurmiston reported “theirs was a gypsy life but that they liked it and certainly made contacts. In three months Sarah would have conducted the year’s study for the children, made the rugs and clothes and then moved on to another ranch.”

“Sometimes wild game was difficult to find and if no wagon train came with provisions for some time, food became scarce. The people shared what they did have. One time when the cupboard was bare, John Williams was sitting near the doorway and saw a wild sheep on the hillside. Laura Williams Halsey says he called to her mother to look at the sheep, and then he took his rifle. He went out the back door and started sneaking toward the sheep. Soon, he came back with sheep hung over his shoulders. Mrs. Williams, being very religious, said she thought God had sent the sheep knowing that they needed it. They shared the sheep with their neighbors. They did not have the storage problem with the meat which we might expect because they ate it before it could spoil.”

“One time one of the neighbors had gone to a spring to get water when a heard of antelope came to drink. He was able to kill a few and take back a wagon load of them. It was an occasion for a community festival as the settlers helped butcher and eat them.”

“They would also dry lots of meat, cutting it in long thin strips and hanging it from tree limbs. In the winter fresh meat was hung on the north side of the house were it froze solid. When they wanted meat, they took an axe and chopped off what was needed. They had no clothes lines; the washing was spread on the bushes to dry.”


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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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