By Dona Lee Cockroft
In looking for a better way of life for their family, Hiram B. and Loretta White traveled from Kansas to Montrose in 1896 in a covered wagon. They were parents of ten children (including two sets of twin girls). Mother Loretta died in 1898 at the age of 45, so with the aid of the oldest daughter, Etta, Dad White moved the family to Cedaredge in 1902 and rented a farm. He also hauled wood with the team of mules: his pay for this was $1.00 a day. Dick was the fourth child. As a young boy, he carried wood upstairs for a grocery owner and was paid fifty cents for 3 hours work; all three boys helped with the farm work. The boys attended school through the eighth grade, and Etta made sure all the girls had a high school education. Dick and his brother Joe earned enough money to purchase three teams of horses and wagons. They hauled fruit, produce and coal to the mining camps in Ouray and Telluride.
Etta took a job with the Co-op Telephone Company as operator in Cedaredge. She held this position for 39 years, and also trained operators for Hotchkiss and Paonia exchanges. After Dad White passed away in 1922 and her siblings left home, she bought a lot in Cedaredge and built a two story house. It was a pleasure for her to work in her garden; she always had vegetables, berries and flowers to share with family and neighbors. She and Dad White are both buried in Cedaredge cemetery.
Dick and Eva Wood met at a dance in Hotchkiss and they were married in Springville, Utah, on December 4, 1906. Eva’s mother and Father, Frank and Zerelda Wood, had married in Missouri in 1889 and moved to Montrose later that year. Evan was born in Rico where the family located while her father worked for the mines with a team of horses. She eventually had eleven brothers and sisters. Frank moved the family to Hotchkiss, where he farmed, then to Delta. He opened a tire shop located in a building which was where part of Delta Hardware is now.
On August 25, 1909, Dick filed and received a homestead title from the Department of the Interior Land Office in Montrose on 160 acres northwest of Eckert (upper place.) After clearing fields, planting and irrigating crops, his ranch soon would support livestock. He later expanded his acreage. The ranch had good irrigation water. It was passed on to his son, Carl, who later sold it to the City of Delta for the water rights. Les Hamilton now has a lease on the ranch (called the White Ranch) from the City for ten years.
Dick and Eva’s oldest son, Fred, was born in 1907. His heart problems caused and early death at the age of 12. Carl was born in 1910, Glendalene in 1915, and Lla, the youngest, was born in 1917. Family life was hard on the ranch: up at sunrise and work until dark. During this time, Dick helped haul large rocks used in the construction of Eckert Odd Fellows Hall and the Presbyterian Church buildings. Nearby ranches were few and far between. Eva became a midwife and helped Dr. Bolton with deliveries in homes of neighbors. There were no tractors or balers; horses worked right along with the men. When machines did become available for combining, haying, filling silos and gathering crops, Evan and the girls were busy baking bread and preparing meals for all the crews that came to help. They also canned and preserved foods for winter use. Perishables were kept cool in iceboxes by blocks of ice cut from a pond on the ranch. The large building used for storing these blocks was insulated with sawdust and coal slack. Household water was hauled from the Delta pipeline, located above the ranch, and kept in a cistern, then into the kitchen by a hand pump. The family raised their own beef, chickens, pork and turkeys, and always had milk cows for milk, cream and butter. An underground cellar kept produce cool in the summer and safe from freezing in the winter.
When relatives came for visits in the summer, the youngsters enjoyed horseback riding and swimming in the pond. The children rode horseback to the Jackrabbit School, located southwest of the ranch. They attended high school in Eckert. Eckert High School was closed the year after Glendalene graduated. Ila finished high school in Cedaredge.
Dick and Eva bought wasteland below Cory on Tongue Creek. He cleared the land and built a house (lower ranch) that became their home. Glendalene married Gordon Gore in 1933 and they moved to the upper place. They had three daughters while living there: Dona Lee, Janet and Myrna. Dr. Hick delivered Carlene and Dona Lee at the upper place. Carl’s family grew to include Carlene (Dougan), Dick Aaron and Patsy. Richard (Dick) and Gayla were Lla’s children.
Several years later, Gordon bought a farm in Gunnison Valley. As their cattle herds increased he and Dick would drive their herds to a collecting point west of the lower place in summers, to merge with other ranchers’ herds. All were then driven through the adobes up the side of Grand Mesa to their forest allotment. Ranchers sharing the same area were: Buck Peters, Art Lewis, Olin Bruton, Roblee Talbott, Clarence Hawkins and Bob Knox. They spent long hours in the saddle on a hot and dusty trail. There was a Pool cabin on the eastern side and the Point cabin on the western side. The calves were all branded before going onto the forest. The ranchers took turns riding fence lines and hauling salt block for minerals for the cattle. They reversed the process and drove the herds down the mountain in the fall.
Dick bought Dr. Bolton’s mountain pasture on Surface Creek for additional summer grazing land. Later, because of failing health, he and Eva sold the lower place and Bolton’s pasture and bought a home on Garnet Mesa in Delta.
Growing up on a cattle ranch taught much about working together. It strengthened family ties and we had the satisfaction of seeing the results of our labors.
Director, Delta County Historical Society and Museum