Another Baca County Wheeler: C. H. Wheeler

Each and every small place is a cultural destination. Each small town has customs, history and traditions that make it unique.  I truly appreciate the opportunity to dig into many of these treasures that are Baca County history.   The following photo appears on page 62 (Campo history) of our 1983 Baca County History Book.  The caption says,  “C.H. Wheeler on Trade Day”

C.H. Wheeler on Trade Day in Campo Colorado

This one is interesting and when I decided to dig into information about C.H. Wheeler  a bit more, the only reference I was able to find is on page 62 of the Campo History section of our 1983 Baca County History book.  The section discusses Campo being named by Frank Wheeler and a post office being established in 1912 in a dugout with Frank Wheeler serving as postmaster.   However, other than the photo there is no other reference to C.H. Wheeler in this book or any other that I can find.  As always I hope this post jogs a memory and we can piece together some more of the story….so here we go.

When you speak of  Baca County Businessmen named Wheeler you most often think of the Vilas version, C. F. Wheeler.  However, the  December 6, 1918 Springfield Herald pays tribute to another Wheeler a little to the south and west.  Campo it seems had the good fortune of having an enterprising citizen and booster named C.H. Wheeler.  The article isn’t really an obituary, but it certainly honors the recently departed Mr. Wheeler.  

The story from the Herald goes as follows:

In scolding young Wheeler recently as editors are sometimes wont to do, the Herald narrated some of the good things it had previously said about him, and we want to say now that the Herald had never said anything about the young man that hadn’t been earned and wasn’t deserved.

To say that our friend of many years was a booster doesn’t quite cover the ground. He was a builder by nature. He had the genius to do things and he did them.

The little town of Campo is a standing monument to the young man’s memory.   The stores and other business places in Campo are monuments to his memory. The Campo newspaper as a monument to his memory. The large dairying interest in Campo is a monument to his memory. The bank which is soon to be put in Campo is a monument to his memory.  The Campo band is a monument to his memory. The Campo-Springfield telephone line is a monument to his memory. And many other things big and little will stand out as monuments to the young man’s memory, so long as there is a Baca County.   

Not everybody knew of the untiring efforts of the young man to build up the town he founded– and industries of the entire country.

Take dairying alone. He was contemporaneous with the Herald in talking up dairying interests and his efforts in this direction were unflagging even up to the time of his untimely taking away.   

Our readers will remember the milk-can automobile cut which some years ago was published in the Herald. That was Wheeler genius, and it’s just a small index to his efforts in that direction. This cut will be published elsewhere in the Herald this Issue.  (NOTE: I will have to dig this up next time I am in Springfield)

Take the Campo Band as an illustration. The good people of Springfield, and especially the band boys, know what an uphill battle it is to build up a band and hold together a band at the little cross-roads town of Campo.

But Wheeler did it — not a large band, but the time of his demise and for a long time before the only band in Baca County.

Take the Campo-Springfield telephone line. The task of putting it in on foot and pushing it through to a successful finish was Herculeon.  It was a task that took genius, pluck, and stick-to-it-iveness and Wheeler did it.

We would say that Wheeler spent time and money on this line, hundreds of dollars and without any hope of return except the building up of Campo in the country.

We know that for a long time two of the projects that lay nearest Wheeler’s heart was a bank at Campo and a telephone line to Elkhart.

The bank is believed to soon be realized and we believe that had he lived, that in a few years the line to Elkhart would also have been realized. Baca County needs more dog and untiring persistent Wheelers and the more of the Wheeler inspiration and the desire to do things.

When the silent Boatman ferried his Spirit across the dark river, the loss wasn’t alone his family’s nor yet Campo’s, but in Baca County his place will be hard to fill

The Herald hence joins with all Baca County in an expression of sympathy to the sorrowing family and their relatives.


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