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The settlers were helpless against disease or pests because medicines often were not available. The Williams family lost young Ida before 1880 and Martha ‘Mattie’ in 1887 when she was 15. She is buried at Brookside Cemetery in Rye.
When the grasshoppers came the pioneers had no grasshopper poison, so all of their gardens and crops were destroyed. After the worst pestilence Laura Williams Halsey tells of viewing the Greenhorn Creek and remembers it was green with floating grasshoppers.
In spite of the discomforts of early life, the Williams girls “enjoyed even then the advantages of living in this pastoral region. For entertainment they tried to ride calves, hunted rabbits or squirrels and danced. Dances were frequent and fun-filled; they began shortly after sundown and didn’t break up until daylight.”
The 1885 Census shows the Williams family living in Huerfano County. “In 1885, when Laura Williams Halsey was sixteen, her father repurchased their original Gardner property and homesteaded another 160 adjoining acres.” [Huerfano County; 6th PM; 026S; 069W; E ½ W ½; section 18; proved in 1890]
Later the family moved to Pueblo temporarily “so Laura Ann and her sister could attend 10th grade at Centennial, which ended their formal education.” Laura Ann met her husband, John Halsey when she and a group of Centennial classmates gathered on the bluffs in Pueblo to watch the first Missouri Pacific train pull in to Pueblo from St. Louis.
Lycurgus Williams, the only Williams son, married Minnie Black Higgason sometime before 1885 when their first son, John was born in Rye. Another son, Aaron was born in Rye in 1888. During the next year Lycurgus took his family to Mancos, Colorado where they lived for many years and had four more children another son and three daughters. His parents, John and Sarah are buried in Mancos, but he and his wife ended up in California.
Sarah Jane Williams married Will Barker from Vermont about 1879. She may have married Mr. Moon later in life and she too went west to California. Sarah was a life-long friend of Ellen McDaniel Miller.
After finishing 10th grade, Laura Ann became a schoolteacher in Huerfano County. She rode side saddle, wearing long riding skirts, 14 miles a day to serve at one of the schools. She said “her father would have slipped her if he caught her riding astride the horse.” She always opened school with prayer and reading the word of God, and she taught the children Gospel songs.
In 1888, Laura married John H. Halsey in Gardner. They lived in Pueblo. Laura Williams Halsey was honored when Colorado City was created and many of the stories repeated here came from those interviews. Laura celebrated her 99th birthday in Colorado City and shared a “log cabin cake with her 88-year-old sister, Mrs. May McHarg who was flown in from California. Laura lived to be 101 “with a clear mind and living alone in her home in Pueblo.”
Isabell ‘Belle’ Williams married Edward Everett Hurmiston in1896. They raised their nine children in Mancos and lived there until their deaths in 1936 and 1943 respectively.
-Many histories written about Rye and the Greenhorn Valley
-Ancestry.com and census records
-Brookside Cemetery and other cemetery records
-“Laura Halsey 101 Years in the Pueblo County Area 1868 – 1969” by Harold Cotner as a eulogy written in 1967 and given to Mr. Cotner at a celebration of Laura Halsey’s 99th birthday in Colorado City. Printed in the May 1986 and October 2001 Pueblo Lore.