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Sharing history though pictures

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By Editha Bartley

We just had a fun and educational visit with some interesting folk here at the ranch. I continue to be amazed at how old ranch history just pops up, and this time, the stories were really old.

Peter Welles called me early in the year to find out what was going on at the ranch, and could he and his wife Anita come for a visit in May … of course I said yes! His family built the third log cabin here when my grandfather started our dude ranch business.

The cabin was built about 1926, and it was used every summer until we sold it in our big auction here in 1991. It was bought by Lee Calderwood’s son (she owned Dick’s Liquor store here for a long time) and he meticulously took it apart, log by log, and now has reassembled it somewhere around Magdalena, I think. This is proof once again that something very old can become something new again.

The Welleses and I walked down to the cabin site, still quite obvious, in our horse pasture.

This was a “wet feet” trip because irrigation water happened to be running through the pasture as well. When we got back to the house, Peter had some old, very old, photographs to show me.

His family (his grandfather) was a Valmora Sanatorium director, and was an executive with the famous Marshall Field store in Chicago. Because of his connections, this cabin had beautiful white towels, heavy cotton, of course, and sheets monogrammed with the name “Welles” on each one, either in red or blue thread. Because we never throw anything away here, I dug out our collection of old towels, and was able to give them a few.

They were surprised to learn they were still around, and in very good shape. That was because they were used only for a short time almost every summer until 1990.

After lunch Peter pulled out a laptop and showed me a very old movie his family had taken. The Cowboys Reunion was during the 4th of July back in 1931, and he has a very old, black and white movie of the parade, complete with my grandfather in it (He never missed a parade or any celebration he could get to).

And there was a section of this movie showing the Welles family digging a swimming pool, after diverting a ditch off of our creek.

Peter had a letter saying it was built at “Dos Ritos” where the family spent a summer. My grandfather arranged this stay, and even sent six horses to Dos Ritos for them to use. I couldn’t figure out where this was, partly because I hadn’t heard the name Dos Ritos in so long. It was hand dug (with the help of a Fresno and a good team of horses) and it doesn’t just disappear into the forest, but son John and I could not figure out where all this took place.

Suddenly in the middle of the night it came to me. My grandfather (Dr. Brown) called the place just up the road a mile Dos Ritos. Dos Ritos became Kickapoo Camp when my aunt sold it after my grandfather’s death in 1935.

In the 1940s it was sold again, and yet today is known as Camp Davis. Yes, the swimming pool is still there, holding water, and often stocked with trout for the camp guests in the summer. There were pictures of the main house in Peter’s collection as well, and happily the house looks almost the way it did back in the 1930s.

I never stop reminding our younger generation to record any and all history they learn from us old-timers. And with all of the modern and fancy devices we have today, that is easy to do. Yes, every month is now a “happy history month” here, with friends like the Welles who kept these old movies and pictures, and share them.    

Editha Bartley  lives in Gascon in Mora County. She may be reached at 454-0563.