Wrapping up 2022, Heading into 2023


Happy New Year

Happy New Year one and all! I thought I would put together a note wishing you a happy 2023, reflect a little, and update you on what we are doing in our efforts to document Southeast Colorado History.

After acquiring the Plainsman Herald we’ve published a significant amount of historical content, made the commitment to provide more local coverage, survived (so far) rapidly increasing print costs for the print edition, and brought the publication online.

 It has been over 10 years since Sylvia Harrison started the “You Might be from Baca County” FB group,  8 years since we first started BacaCountyHistory dot com, 4.5 years since we published “Old Boston: Wild as They Come”, and 3 years since we purchased the Plainsman Herald.

Our publishing of Old Boston has blazed the path for a dozen other books, most of them with some connection through research of that first book. It is amazing that a tiny Western town –which only lasted 3 ½ years, being shot to pieces in 1889– has led us to so many places.

When we jumped into this, the first blog post on BacaCountyHistory.com said,

“…Maybe this project stops with a few blog posts and tall tales, or maybe we can transform the content into an update of the big brown Baca County History book from the early 1980s..”

We haven’t done a comprehensive compilation, but we certainly have pulled together a significant amount of content, and are extremely close to publishing another book compilation on pre-Baca County. Here’s a sneak-peek at the working title and contents of our latest endeavour:

Header from 1919 Persons, Stories and Incidents article in Springfield Colorado Democrat Herald.
Header from 1918-1919 Series in the Springfield Democrat Herald

Before it Was Baca: Persons, Stories, Incidents and Letters from the Early Day East Enders, 1886-1889.

Table of Contents
Introduction                     1
Chapter 1: 1886 Letters 3
Chapter 2: 1887 Letters      15
Chapter 3: 1888 Letters      66
Chapter 4: 1889 Letters      90
Chapter 5: Horse Thieves Paradise 102
Chapter 6: Ten Nights in a Bar Room 109
Chapter 7: Free Newton – Boston’s Musical Genius  118
Chapter 8: Baca’s First Judge, Ezra Nowels 140
Chapter 9: Preacher Evans – Minneapolis Orator  149
Chapter 10: F. R. Gammon -Vilas Town Founder   158
Chapter 12: The Writer -Sam Konkel  186
Chapter 13: The Regulator – Bill Thompson 190
Chapter 14: The Boston Hotel & Benjamin Franklin Gumm  195
Chapter 15: Bob Crossman Vilas Republican/Democrat    218
Chapter 16: Ferguson Stage Line    246
Chapter 17: The Jenningses 247
Chapter 18: Judge Lynch in SE Colorado    256
Chapter 19: Wilde & West Point    271
Chapter 20: Offices of the Prairie Cattle Company 287
Chapter 21: The Noted Burying Ground     307
Chapter 22: John B. Garvin 319
Chapter 22: IR Holmes        335
Chapter 22: Other Bits and Pieces  343
Appendix 1  344

A special thanks goes out to our sponsors, advertisers, and readers. You all have allowed a 136 year old newspaper to keep defying the odds in an age where news has become fast, cheap, and increasingly unverifiable.

To those folks who have committed to supporting local reporting –to maintaining a continuous thread of historical documentation that has been in place since 1887– you are supporting independent, verifiable news. News that does not answer to any mega-corporation or political interest. You are supporting local kids competing in sports, breaking new ground in agricultural education, and preparing for a future many folks could not have imagined.

Thank you Baca County for welcoming Lexi Brooks, who has served as your community reporter for the Plainsman Herald this past year.  This has been a significant step to make sure we bring you the local happenings, which are truly the core of content for a community newspaper.


While I haven’t posted to social media as much as I would have liked in the past year, we have been working feverishly to move and upgrade our web hosting services, improve blog security and access, and most importantly, make all our services more sustainable, affordable, and accessible.

With this work, we want to keep encouraging community involvement with story-telling and documenting local history. If your schedule and interests permit, I’d still be honored if you would write an article for the newspaper, or if you want to share a guest blog post about our beloved area of Southeast Colorado on the Baca County History blog.

We love what we’ve been able to do so far and look forward to finding better ways to bring you all more content, but we do need your subscriptions and sponsorships to continue this work.

Some of the research done by Dr. Bill Stoner, who we lost this month, Steve Doner, Greg Crane have been invaluable contributions to preserving our collective history.  

There are so many people who have contributed to our many compilations. “Thanks” doesn’t seem quite enough, but thank you for sharing and telling your stories.  

We also have large amounts of content in the works. I am excited about what we have the opportunity to do on a couple of different fronts.  One I think has a chance to be significant historically.  Between the archives of the Herald, archives from the 1930s Walsh Tab shared with us by Tim Hume, photos from various people and the Homsher Red Cross collection shared with us by Kent Homsher I would suggest we may have the most amazing and complete Dust Bowl collection anywhere in the world.  Again, if we do this well,  we are certain to make a major contribution to the history of the Dust Bowl.  Have a contribution to this? We are interested! 

The image below is the December 1934 front page image from the Springfield Democrat Herald.  Much optimism was coming off the pages of the Herald during these times. Little did they know they were entering folks through the two toughest years of the decade. It was also the year the term “Dust Bowl” was coined to describe the area hit hardest by the dirt storms in the first of a three-part series on the Dust Bowl area.

Democrat Herald Springfield, CO Dec 27, 1934
Democrat Herald Springfield, CO Dec 27, 1934
Above: Just so you get some feel for some of the activities we are undertaking to record Baca County’s Dust Bowl history we will describe the activities surrounding the use of the items above.  We love the content in these three articles above, but they are examples of content outside of that which we own that we are considering using for our Dust Bowl book.   However we would have to license from the Associated press as it is not yet in the public domain.  The cost for using just these three items is considerable. 

Another topic we have been compiling for a while is about one of the most colorful groups of people to ever pass through Baca County; the Broomcorn Johnnys.  We intend to add it to our compilation on BacaCountyHistory.com as we continue collecting pieces of history. We’ll close this with a question: What are the names of some of the Broomcorn Johnnies which worked with you or for you?  Here is an excerpt as an example…

“They came in all shapes and sizes and often with colorful nicknames whose hard work might only be surpassed by the colorful tales of wild Saturday nights when they came to town.  When the fall harvest began, the towns would fill up with men with an array of colorful names, Ted Burhenn shared Rabbit Rocking Chair, Johnson Runabout (Nicknamed Cowboy Copus who started at age 14) Cesler Feathers, Noland Noisy Water…….”

2022 Headline Recap from the Plainsman Herald

Support local journalism and Community History!

January 

  • Bob & Jacci Mason Celebrated 60th wedding anniversary!
  • T.J. Spell begins Serving Baca as a Licensed Massage Therapist
  • Baca County’s Black Gold Genetics Brings Home Grand Champion Honors at the 2022 National Western Stock Show.
  • Winter storm blankets area with 7-10 inches of snow; Springfield receives 4-5 inches. 
  • Plainsman Herald begins offering E-edition along with a revamped website!
  • DAR Good Citizens awards go to Shalee Billings, Campo, Alayah Meltabager, Springfield; Alea Wittler, Vilas; Rochelle Casey, Walsh; Rhealie Krentzlen, Eads; Maggie Chase, McClave; Kaitlin Baca, Granada & Chloey Palmer, Lamar 
  • JC Forgey named WALSH firefighter of the year
  • Groundbreaking Ceremony for New Springfield School Draws Large Crowd
  • Bridle Bit Simmentals named Colorado Cattlemen’s Association Seed stock Producer of the Year!

Those We Lost:

  • Harold Powell May 8, 1922 – January 5, 2022
  • Ted Locke January 20, 1943 – January 7, 2022
  • Loretta Mae Goode August 21, 1926 – January 12, 2022
  • Catherine (Cathy) Marie Wheeler June 27, 1962 – January 4, 2022
  • Tonya Wilson June 13, 1978 – January 13, 2022
  • Ellen Hall May 16, 1926 – January 15, 2022
  • Walter Dean Wait May 19, 1958 – January 16, 2022
  • Anneliese “Omi” Haskins December 9, 1937 – January 18, 2022
  • Billy Stagner January 1, 1950 – January 18, 2022
  • Greg Caricato November 9, 1962 – January 19 2022 
  • Marie Brandt Feb 14, 1934 – Jan 19, 2022
  • Treva Haney May 4, 1932 – Jan 22, 2022
  • Erlinda “Lyn” Casper Jan 24, 1929 – Jan 22, 2022
  • Eric Alfrey December 1, 1974 – January 31, 2022

February

  • Springfield United Methodist Held Groundhog Supper
  • Walsh Gen Theater Hosts “Love is All You Need” Variety Show
  • Chelsea Brisendine crowned Colorado Miss United States Agriculture
  • Sheriff Aaron Shiplett announces re-election campaign
  • Jozy Stegman announces re-election campaign
  • Sharon Dubois Announces re-election campaign
  • Shiloh Freed announces re-election campaign
  • Gayla Thompson announces re-election campaign
  • Annual Baca County Arts Center & Theatre Variety Show Draws Large Crowd
  • Maddyson Forgey Fundraiser a Saturday Success.
  • Gladys Brinkley Turns 100. 
  • SECED announces housing initiative in Baca County
  • Author Iris Jamahl Dunkle, writing Sanora Babb Biography, visits Baca County
  • Legislators Respond to Bureau of Animal Protection hire,  Rebecca Niemiec, in letter to Gov
  • Keagan and Kayla Gonzales of Springfield, Colorado announce the arrival of a son, Kanyon John Gonzales. February 18, 2022

Those We Lost:

  • Marjorie Harmon December 13, 1933 – February 02, 2022
  • Judy Whitaker October 13, 1948 – February 6, 2022
  • Keith Davison  November, 29, 1949 – February 14, 2022
  • Larry Bishop March 21, 1947 – February 11, 2022
  • Ted Mullins February 4, 1959 – February 11, 2022
  • Wesley Wayne Watkins December 31, 1975 – February 18, 2022
  • Banie Cumbie Sept 12 1954 – February 20, 2022
  • Oscar Eden August 1, 1937 –  February 14, 2022 
  • Charlotte (McGinnis) Martin November 6, 1937 – February 24, 2022

March

  • Commissioners & Representative from Senator Hickenlooper’s Office Tour Jordan Process Facility Southwest of Springfield
  • Clare Dunn Named 2022 Rocky Mountain Female Vocalist of the Year
  • Springfield Schools Seeking New Superintendent; Community Input Requested
  • Kim Mustang boys and Springfield girls win district basketball championships
  • Tree Pruning Workshop Held Saturday in Springfield
  • Local Citizen Arrested: Springfield Resident Armando Burciaga charged with 2nd Degree Attempted Murder
  • Former Ag Dept. Chair Greg Cash returns as interim dean of instruction at Lamar Community College
  • Jeremy West Announces Candidacy for Springfield Town Trustee
  • Baca Republican Assembly held March 18 in Walsh
  • Dean Ormiston announces candidacy for State House District 47
  • Amache Relocation Center in Granada Designated America’s Newest National Park
  • Mike Smith announces candidacy for Baca County Sheriff
  • Local Guide, Laneha Everett, Leads Equinox Tour in Picture Canyon
  • Christy Brady Joins the Frontier Bank Ag Lending Team
ABOVE: Dry conditions persist. Photo taken March 4, 2022 shows the the dirt blowing outside of Vilas.

Those We Lost:

  • Marilyn Nidey November 11, 1934 – March 4 2022 
  • Kasidy Jean Flores  July 18, 2014 – March 19, 2022
  • Wanda Jenkins September 10, 1934 – March 20, 2022
  • Bill Miller  June 14, 1927 – March 11, 2022
  • Ronald Kirk Barler January 30, 1957 – March 13, 2022
  • Betty D. Litke January 10, 1930 – March 31, 2022

April

  • Pritchett FFA hosts Calf Fry, Cajun Boil and Student fundraiser sale
  • Resurfacing on US 160 East of Springfield to run through July.
  • La Junta Livestock Commission Held 67th Anniversary Sale
  • Five Hour Stand off South of Vilas Results in Arrest of Murder Suspect
  • Bob Morrow Seeks re-election as County Coroner
  • Gary Thompson and Troy Bishop, announce candidacy for Southeast Colorado Hospital Board
  • Larry Forgey announces candidacy for Baca County Sheriff
  • Peoples Credit Unions Holds Annual Members Dinner
  • All Church Choir Presents
  • “Footprints in the Sand this past Sunday Night
  • Dollar Tree / Family Dollar Opens in Springfield
  • Mable Eden Celebrates 99th birthday
  • Debbie Sharpe Recognized in OPSU Alumni Spotlight
  • 7 car pileup north of Springfield Caused by Blowing Dirt
  • Baca County Food Bank Board Recognizes Gail England for years of service
  • Bill Bunting’s art featured at Lamar Community College
  • Homicide Suspect Brandi Utley Arrested
  • DUI Crash Scene Simulation Held at Kim
  • Craft Bazaar at Baca County Fairgrounds draws a large crowd
  • Kansas artist Brady Nichols performs at Branding Iron Saloon in Pritchett
ABOVE: Laurie Schroder’s photo from the April 20, 2022 Herald may summarize the year 2022.  Four inches of sand in the rain gauge!
The Dust Bowl returns in Rafe Schroder’s April 2022 photo. Severe drouth conditions persisted throughout Baca County in 2022.
Courtesy of Kathy Mann
Courtesy of the Springfield Fire Department

Those We Lost:

  • Randy Dean Cogburn September 27, 1954 – April 6, 2022
  • Ruth Schenck  January 26, 1924 – April 10, 2022 
  • Judy Parker February 4, 1941 – April 9, 2022.
  • Bill McEndree April 5, 1949 – April 21, 2022.
  • Judith Diana Williams Brewster January 2, 1944 – April 18, 2022
  • Joyce Mundell September 13, 1931 – April 18, 2022
  • Darwin Hansen August 12, 1952 – April 19, 2022
  • Cynthia Gallagher February 16, 1949 – April 13, 2022

May

  • Wind and Blowing Dirt Continue creating hazardous Driving conditions.
  • Highway 160 is repaved
  • Baca County Community Health begins community health walks to spotlight importance of health and fitness
  • Southeast Colorado Power Holds Annual meeting in Springfield, Features Baca County recording artist Clare Dunn
  • Gem Theater hosts Winnie the Pooh in Walsh
  • Alea Wittler Awarded 2022 Daniels Scholarship
  • Lions Club and SECH serve breakfast for hospital staff
  • Lost Dog Bar Debuts in Springfield
  • Rain Brings Some Relief, Hope; Doesn’t Solve Long Term Drought
Art Briles rain guage
Above: Art Briles Rain Gauge west of Pritchett
  • Dust Storm Again Strikes Baca County Roller Hits Baca May 18, 2022  
ABOVE: Historians and locals alike of stories and images of the 1930s. The legendary black-and-white photos showing massive clouds of dust rolling in from the north seemed from another place, but today with vibrant colors we can really imagine what our parents and grandparents saw and felt during the Dirty Thirties. Photo above by Leslie Hume.
Above: Photo courtesy of Rafe Schroder 
  • Springfield resident Jeremy West installs a book lending library outside Red Feather Gifts.
  • EMS Week 2022 recognizes work of EMS professionals. 
  • Eclipse Seen Clearly in Baca Sunday Night
  • Baca Schools graduate 21 & Kim, 3 Kim Seniors
  • Walsh Interviews 4 candidates for 
  • Regional collaboration of Southeast Colorado Enterprise Development (SECED),
  • Southern Colorado Economic Development District
  • (SCEDD)yields 83 new homes
  • Four Finalists to be Interviewed for Walsh Superintendent position
  • Kaden Keenan Receives $35,000 John Deere Ag Tech Scholarship from American Implement
  • Jamie Quick Receives Sheriffs of Colorado Scholarship and First Farm Bank Scholarship

Those We Lost:

  • Harold Bryan September 15, 1926 – May 3, 2022
  • Lonetta Jane Irvin July 16, 1943 – May 15, 2022  
  • Daniel Francis Konic January 9, 1951 – May 17, 2022
  • Brenda Harmon March 23, 2022 – May 23, 2022
  • Shirley Stoner  October 17, 1943 – May 24, 2022
  • Devon Caldwell  June 30, 1944 – May 24, 2022  
  • Gerry Wayne Watters June 8, 1931 –  May 25, 2022 
  • Alyssa Piper  May 21, 1991 – May 26, 2022

June

  • Memorial Day Activities are held across the county to honor those who paid the Ultimate Sacrifice
  • Former Baca Countian Clay Rose Steps Away from Military Service after 26 years
  • Kyle Lasley Named Dean of Academic Services for Lamar Community College
  • Voting equipment testing was held at the courthouse with County Clerk and Recorder Sharon Dubois accompanied by local republican and Democrats explained all equipment used in elections must undergo Logic and Accuracy Testing (LAT)
  • Walsh Names Dr. Corey Weiss Superintendent
  • Kathy Self Awarded 2021 Volunteer of the Year from CO State Forest Service
ABOVE: Walsh fire department offered free, ice-cold watermelon to attendees, as well as some shade.
  • Jerry Houser Receives Lion of the Year Award; Past President Steve Sanchez Presented with a service pin
  • Local Grad Cahil Roberson Completes Air Force Basic Training
  • Race Across America Cyclists Pass Through Baca
  • Blue Rose Ranch 2022 Youth Horse Camp hosts nearly 30 campers.
ABOVE: Steve Doner and Jasper greet RAAM racer Nicole Reist as they pass through Baca
  • Chief Katrina Martin Cleared in Internal Affairs Investigation
  • Arrest Made in Local Credit Card and Identity Theft Case
  • Brilyn Jackson and Remi Babbitt Crowned Melon Miss Queen and Princess 
  • Memorial Park Celebrates 30th Anniversary
ABOVE In June Golf-ball and larger-sized hail accompanied drought-relieving rain. Photo courtesy of Laiken Griffy.
ABOVE: Sunset Down the Fence row is provided courtesy of Staci Bishop.

Those We Lost:

  • Joan Compton Nov 38, 1936, June 1, 2022  
  • Billy Raybon November 18, 1933 –  June 1, 2022 
  • Wayne Sheldon April 17, 1931 – June 5, 2022
  • Reba May Miller February 8, 1937 – June 7, 2022

July

  • Springfield names Shelly Swayne as Superintendent; Jerri-Ann Kirk and Ginger Walker, principal 
  • Farm Bill Listening Session Held at Baca Resource Center
  • Aaron Shiplett wins Republican Sheriff Primary
  • Springfield School District Hires New Superintendent & Principals
  • Springfield Receives Major Rainfall Thursday; Cat Creek runs for the first time in several years
  • Baca County Celebrates Independence Day
  • Springfield Police Department Resigns; News goes viral on national social media; Springfield Seeks New Law Enforcement Personnel
  • Ralph Rothman named 2022 Baca County Fair Parade Marshal
ABOVE L-R: Bob Gourley and Baca County Parade Marshal, Ralph Rothman
  • Two Fatalities in Vilas Crash
  • Bryann Forrest and Braelyn Rosengrants Crowned Miss  Baca County and Miss Baca Princess
  • Baca County Conservation District Hosts BBQ and Work Session
  • Hearings held for two local shooting suspects; Shane Steward and Armando Burciaga

Those We Lost:

  • Melvin D. Konkel May 8, 1936 – July 6, 2022
  • Marjorie Mae Orewiler  November 11,1928 – July 9, 2022
  • Radine Hargrove October 20, 1930 – July 13, 2022
  • Cirstye Schaller December 18, 1888 – June 5, 2022
  • Margie Hicks September 2, 1925 – July 17, 2022
  • Donald Bishop  February 15, 1947 – July 22, 2022 
  • Elzeta Hefley Sept 17, 1939 – July 23, 2022

August

  • Baca County hold 2022 Fair
  • Jeremy West family of Springfield Opens Coffee Shop on Main
  • Rafe Hutches Opens New Food Truck
  • Local Food Workshops Held By Grow SECO and Ogallala Commons
  • Annual 2022 County Fair Entertains Local families, Welcomes Others Home, and Inspires Next Generation of Ag Producers
  • County Administrators RetiresCindi Parsons, County Administrator, and Pat Smith, Road and Bridge Administrator 
  • Off-Duty Baca County Deputies Assist in Semi-Truck Rollover
Two Buttes with Tumblewees

Those We Lost:

  • Leonard Packard October 31, 1951 – August 6, 2022
  • Karen Louis Best 1938 – August 19, 2022
  • Doug Ray Lasley May 31, 1966 – August 11, 2022
  • Alvin Eugene Packard Nov 7, 1931 – August 18, 2022
  • Nancy Aguilar February 27, 1951 – August 28, 2022
  • Linda Dukes March 27, 1947 – August 31, 2022

September

  • Maltbie Funeral Home Changes Ownership; the Legacy Continues
  • Dawn Keenan is Published in new book, How Not to Shoot Fish and other Deer that Got Away
  • 39th annual Okie Tex Star Party held in Kenton
  • Baca Countian Dawn Keenan is Published in New Book
  • Springfield Appoints Clay Klipfel New Chief of Police
  • Baca Businesses Host Backin’ the Blue Event for Second Year
  • Land Access & Transfer Planning Workshop held by Ogallala Commons 
  • KLMR & KLMR-FM go silent; Broadcast Licenses returned to FCC
  • Walsh Gem Theater Hosts Magic Show with Christopher Manos
  • Arthur Bunting Celebrates 98th birthday

Those We Lost:

  • Kimberly Cooper February 23, 1971 – September 15, 2022
  • Burrell Mason August 2, 1947 – September 15, 2022
  • Robert “Bob Gibson May 2, 1946 – September 6, 2022

October

  • Springfield Enjoys Inaugural Octoberfest and Chili Cook-Off
  • 19th Pheasants Forever Banquet Held at Cat Creek Event Center
  • Little Britches Rodeo Returns to Baca County
  • Arbor Day Celebration held at Memorial Park, Volunteers Honored, New Sculpture Installed
  • Baca Farm Bureau Hosts Candidate Discussion Forum
  • Town of Walsh Contracts with Baca County Sheriff’s Department
  • Annual Xi Delta Iota Social Held
  • Ogallala Commons Hosts 2022 Discovery Days Dinner
  • Springfield and Pritchett Schools participate in National Fire Safety Week. 
  • Colorado and Baca County First Responders Present DUI Drama
  • Tayli Freed holds book signing at the Fabric Garden
  • Quilts of Valor celebrations honor veterans across Baca County
  • Bob and Kim Wood named Baca County 4-H Family of the Year
Quilts of Valor
ABOVE: Quilt of Valor Recipients: Standing Center Sherill West, Sitting Right Doug Stolebarger


Those We Lost:

  • Billy Eden  January 2, 1957 – October 13, 2022
  • Harry Allen Rowe June 2, 1943 – October 16, 2022
  • Virginia Andrea Rivale September 10, 1927 – October 18, 2022
  • Opal Mae Brinkley October 25, 1927 – October 20, 2022
  • Don Jones April 2, 1944 – October 22, 2022

November

  • Baca County’s Jane Doe Has a Name; Remains Found in 1988 Identified
  • Cat Creek and Everitt Moore Host Trunk or Treat Events
  • Campo Family Recognized for National Adoption Month
  • SECHD Recognizes New EMTs, Kevin Johnson and Matt Self
  • Baca Celebrates Veterans Day With Quilt of Valor Presentations
  • UMC Women’s Group Holds Annual Turkey Dinner and Silent Auction
  • Dutch Magazine Publishes Article on Local Farmer
  • Xi Delta Iota and Eta Lambda Hold Pledge Dinner
  • Baca County Youth, Evan Mayo, Thomas Grokett, Treagyn Duarte, Rhett Bray, Hadley Bray compete in Youth World Championship Ranch Rodeo
  • Dutch Magazine Features Baca County farmer Bobby Grogan


Those We Lost:

  • Juanita Ownbey August 3, 1935 – November 13, 1955
  • Irene Huffman November 6, 1944 November 15, 2022
  • Ben Allen Doke February 23, 1949 – November 24, 2022
  • Ronald Eugene Turner September 23, 1943 – November 28, 2022

December

  • Tumbleweed Blizzard Hits Baca County
  • 3rd Annual Christmas Cruisin’ Brightens Springfield Main
  • Vilas School District Awarded Local Food Grant
  • Southeast Colorado Hospital District Earns Top Three In Colorado Critical Access Hospitals
  • Don Compton Receives 2022 Melvin Hendrickson Award

Those We Lost:

  • Bill Stoner July 25, 1942 – December 4, 2022
  • Margaret Wade December 27, 1927 – December 14, 2022
  • Rita Mona Watters February 1, 1938 – December 18, 2022
Photo by Colette West

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