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Tuesday, January 26, 2021
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Williams Family Series - Part 2
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A few months later on May 4, 1868 another daughter, Laura Ann was born in a log cabin with a hard-packed dirt floor and a sod roof near what is today, Lake Beckwith. Her mother, “Sarah complained the day after a rain, as it took that long for the water to soak through and start dripping.” Jane Converse Frink dressed Laura when she was born. “Her wardrobe consisted of two calico dresses, two red flannel petticoats and two home made flannel shirts.”

“John ran what may have been the first sawmill in the Greenhorn Valley. He raised corn, wheat and beans, the only corps they thought could grow so close to the mountains.” “Unable to bring with them very many provisions and for quite some time there was inadequate means to obtain them after they arrived”, made farming difficult. “They brought along very few seeds, and if they planted a crop which did not mature, they might not be able to obtain new seeds for years. The crops they might raise were limited by the scarcity of seeds. They were handicapped in planting by lack of equipment and in harvesting they often had to use hatchets or pocket knives and then beat the grain out.”

“Since he loved horses and since his crops did not always grow so well, John traveled to trade horses. The market was great among pioneers who had come to Colorado with nothing but oxen. He also did some prospecting.”

Sarah was left to cook, do the laundry, raise their children and work for their food. Luckily she “was a finished tailor, having learned the trade when she was a young girl. She took in sewing. She thought nothing of making an entire suit of clothes—coat, vest and trousers for a man for five dollars. She did most of her sewing after the children were put to bed, by the light of a “dip-wick’ candle which was made by braiding three or four strand of string together, placing the braid in a tin of fat and lighting an end.”

Sarah Williams remembers; “Oh my life in the Valley wasn’t always serious. Sometimes it was scary. I remember the times the Indians came to visit. I never knew whether they were friend or enemy. We’d been eating beets; so I spotted my face with beet juice and jumped into bed. When an Indian peeked through my window, I sat up in bed and looked at him with glassy eyes. Well, those Indians didn’t bother me.”

Daughters, Ida born in 1869; Isabell ‘Belle’ in 1870; Martha E. ‘Mattie’ in 1872; and Emma May in 1876 completed the family. Their beds were made of saplings laced with leather thongs. Mattresses were filled with wild hay, which was replaced frequently. Laura Williams Halsey, “When I was a little girl I waded in this lake (Beckwith) in fact we used to walk over here to take our baths. We would wade out and dry in the sun; we didn’t have any towels.”

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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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