Still on the job today Mrs. J. P. (Marian) Phippeny started writing an Eckert news column for the Delta County Independent Newspaper 50 years ago. Except for brief intervals during the time she was raising her family, Marian has kept her local and out-of-town readers posted on happenings in and around Eckert, Colorado, for over half a century.
Marian started writing the column when she was 16 years old, but says she can’t recall the circumstances that first led to her taking on the job. It may be that her father, H. K. Ferguson, was contacted for the job and turned it over to her, she says, but she “can’t be sure.”
Marian’s father and her mother, Olivia, were married in Houston, Texas. They were early day Delta County residents, coming to Eckert, Colorado, in 1892. This part of the country apparently won Olivia’s heart-she had been here in 1882. The couple’s daughter, Marian, was born in 1892 on the ranch where she still lives.
Educating youngster was a problem here in those days and Marian’s parents solved that by tutoring her at home.
When she was nine years old the Eckert Central Grade School was built. “It was the pride and joy of the community,” Marian recalls. Today an apartment building stands on the old school site.
After her graduation from grade school, Marian went to Delta High School. For Eckert students in those days going to Delta High School wasn’t as easy as it would be today. Transportation back and forth to the school was a weekly affair.
Students remained in Delta during the week and on Fridays their parents came and took them home in horse drawn wagons/buggies. Sundays were devoted to getting the school children back to Delta around noon. The horses were fed, watered and rested, and then the parents began the long trip back home to Eckert, arriving near nightfall.
In Eckert, Marian and her parents lived in a cabin on which Marian’s grandfather, Captain William Spalding, had the original claim with his sister, Mrs. Betty Kimball. They came here in 1882.
Marian’s present house was built around the claim cabin, which included what is now the kitchen, bathroom and hallway.
Through the years, the Eckert news column in the Delta County Independent recorded events in the community. Since Marian first started writing, she gave up the work at intervals. Mrs. Christine Schrader and Mrs. Bob Butler were two correspondents who took over the cores when Marian was busy raising her family. She was married to J. P. Phippeny in 1914.
The couple had six children. Two daughters are deceased, Joan, who died at the age of nine years, and Marsha (Mrs. Paul Reed) who died when she was 21.
Four children living are Lynn Talley of Grand Junction, Colorado, Jean (Mrs. W. E. Roasberry) of Rifle, Colorado, Patricia (Mrs. Frank Graham) of Grand Junction, Colorado, and Paul Phippeny of Eckert.
Paul is the oldest child and lives on the ranch in his grandfather’s old home. He has been an elder in the Eckert Presbyterian Church since 1913 – where Marian is also a member. Her service in the church dates back to when she was 12 years old.
Marian is one of the few county residents who can say, “I was here” when history was in the making. She was a babe in arms when the attempted bank robbery and shootings took place in Delta in 1893 – but she was there – with her mother in a grocery store across the street from the bank.
Marian’s new column is a particular favorite with Eckert residents who move out of the county, “If anything happens that we should know about,” they say, “Marian will tell us about it in her column” – and she undoubtedly will!
Delta County Independent