100 Years Ago in Alamosa-March 1919

March 1919

March 1919 was only the second year for daylight saving time; the clock change was March 31. The law had just been passed in 1918 for the purpose of conserving coal. An estimated 1, 500,000 tons of coal was saved that year.

        A severe penalty would be enforced if you did not get your income tax filed by March 15th.  “Proceeds of tax should be regarded as a national investment.”

  Still feeling the aftershocks of the war, the newspaper contained many stories about the hardships the soldiers had faced. 

       March was the time to look ahead to spring planting, predicting crop values and advice about crop selection. Just as we are doing now, the Courier reviewed newspapers from 44 years prior (1875) when the headlines were: SAN LUIS VALLEY A GREAT GOLD BELT, HUNDREDS OF RICH LOADS LOCATED.  Coincidently in March of 1919, a new mining company reopened the Gilmore Vein in the Platoro District which had been discovered in 1912. 

       An article comparing President Wilson to President Lincoln was not favorable toward the former. “Wilson surrounds himself with small heads, takes advice from no one and when a representative is to be sent to the most important gathering of the century, he sends himself.“ (The Paris Peace Conference had just begun in January of 1919 with Wilson in attendance. The Treaty of Versailles would not be signed until June. Wilson’s extensive tour of Europe cost him his health. )

       Someone complained that now that the booze business was temporarily satisfied there was a movement to prohibit the manufacture and sale of chewing and smoking tobacco. “Next there will be a law prohibiting fish worms, who are disturbed by unruly farmers ruthlessly plowing the ground.”  Anheuser Busch was going to resume full capacity beverage brewing after the government lifted the ban on cereals and relinquished the lease on their buildings in St. Louis.  “Like all Americans, we made our sacrifice to help win the war.”

A little book was sent out by the Secretary of Interior to ascertain the attitude of soldiers’ work and home expectations. A post card containing survey questions was attached. The SLV County Commissioners Association met before the Senate and House Agriculture and Irrigation Committees to appeal for soldier settlement in the SLV to help out on projects and start up irrigation districts. The Del Norte land office opened up 87,000 acres in the foothills between Del Norte and Saguache under the Homestead Act. 

       In Saguache buffalo hunters killed and carried away nine of the fattest cattle off a ranch. You could sell your hides, pelts and furs to Krille-Nichols Wool and Hide Co, one block west of the Alamosa Depot. A bull buffalo was angered by a slow-moving train on LaVeta Pass and charged the train twice. But heck, on the Trinchera it was common to see 20 to 30 buffalo in your backyard every day. One reporter used a hick dialect to describe how successful the Monte Vista Stock Show was (was this sour grapes?), while another article stated that Alamosa must awaken to stage an event every year for the amusement of patrons. Monte Vista has the H.O.G show, Manassa has an annual fair, Hooper has a harvest and home carnival. “People demand diversion or they will go elsewhere!”

       An engine turned over and scalded the engineer in Osier. Each week an entire column was dedicated to railway men, stating positions and transfers.

       The Colorado Power Co. and Sherman-Carnay Drug were commended for their colorful, green display windows which “increased the attractiveness of our city.”

       Divorce summons could be found on page two of each week. Obituaries were not like those in the present day. Deaths were announced on page one of the Courier, often in great detail. Several local, prominent, young men had died in March from complications of the influenza. 

       Some “people spoke despairingly about Hooper farmers.” However they saved the day that winter with their alfalfa crops. Snow covered the ground in most areas all winter. It had been the worst winter since 1885-86. “Hooper was their salvation.” While they were at it, Hooper was expecting double the potato acreage for the coming season. Hooper also held a big party for returning soldiers in March.

       Alamosa School District Superintendent Elizabeth Farnham announced that the regular exam for teachers was scheduled for March 20, 21 and 22 at the county courthouse (three day test? Yikes!). All teachers were expected to attend the SLV Teachers Association Meeting on March 29 (Saturday!). The conference was bringing special speakers from Denver, a demo on cafeteria equipment and a photo exhibit of school buildings. Consolidation of Alamosa schools was almost certain now. 

       An elopement announcement of a dental office worker and the son of a billiard hall proprietor appeared on page two. “No trace of the young couple was found.”

       The film Riders of the Purple Sage was showing for an entire week. (Based on the 1912 novel by Zane Grey, the film is about a former Texas Ranger who goes after a group of Mormons who have abducted his married sister. This silent film was the first of five film adaptations.)

       East Alamosa requested a foot bridge on the side of the cement bridge over the Rio Grande to make access to downtown easier. 

       San Isabel Forest Reserve was proposing to open a road over Mosca pass.  Wagon and car travel was possible over Mosca Pass at this point in time. 

       The owner of a farm one mile north and three miles east of Alamosa was auctioning off his farm and returning to Iowa, and he stated in the auction flyer that he was quitting farming. For those who were sticking with it, instructions about how to select potato seed were given in March. ‘Do not use culls, use a medium, smooth potato for seed. Whole or cut seed? Well, there is a strong argument for both. If you have plenty, go whole, but be careful to identify diseases such as Rhizoctonia and Fusarium.  You can treat seed potato with 4 oz. of corrosive sublimate to 30 gal of water. You can reuse the solution three times, but, caution, it is very poisonous.’ (Corrosive sublimate is mercury chloride. It was also used to treat syphilis. )

       Sunflowers were urged as a silage crop for the SLV. Potatoes reigned. During 1918, 4,000 (box) cars of potatoes were sent out of the valley and 800 cars of hogs. SLV led in Colorado for potatoes followed by 2,717 car loads from Greeley and 727 loads from Montrose. Other community statistics were given for a total of 10,000 car loads of potatoes for Colorado. 

       Bids were being accepted for the Costilla ditch excavating and head gate work at the upper Denny place. 

       The General Election to be held April 1 for the city of Alamosa notice was published. Mayor, Clerk, Ward 1-4 Alderman, and “Should the mayor receive compensation for services?” were all on the ballot. 

       ‘Part your hair down the middle in the latest style and send your best frock to the cleaners’ to get ready to attend the Chautauqua Festival in Alamosa, March 20-25th, full of lectures, fun and good music.

       Canary birds were for sale at 571 Main Street. Baby chicks had arrived. Old false teeth were wanted at $21.50, broken or not; send to Milwaukee, Wisc. You could get Cream of Mustard for aches and pains for 25 cents or when neuralgia attacks your nerves get Sloans Liniment to settle congestion and relieve pain- keep a big bottle, always, for family use. 

       Always a joke column was to be found in the Courier. “He married money. Wasn’t there a woman attached to it? Too much attachment, he found out later.”



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