Since this family history is being compiled for the descendants of Thomas Robert Pace, little effort has been made to follow the other branches of the family but what sketchy information is at hand, is recorded for its general interest. Acknowledgement is gratefully made to those who have supplied it:
- John A. Pace, 3rd generation, son of John K. Pace
- Dean Ragan Rook, 4th generation, daughter of Cordelia Pace Ragan
- Laura Penland, 4th generation, daughter of Neptuna Pace Penland
- Gertrude Pace Armor has contributed much of the information
on her parents and pioneer life.
- Some facts have been contributed by almost every family,
but if each family receiving this brief record
would add fuller account of their own family,
the value for succeeding generations would be much more significant.
There seems to be no record of where the first generation Robert T. Pace came from or where he made his home. It is believed that his first child William Alexander was born in Indiana. But it was in the Cave Springs area in Missouri that a young man of twenty-four WILLIAM ALEXANDER PACE married JANE BAUCUM, who had come from Tennessee.
SAMANTHA CORDELIA PACE
and THOMAS ROBERT PACE
were born to them.
Jane died in 1853 and is buried in the Cave Springs Cemetery.
Some two or three years later WILLIAM remarried, this time to
MARGARET JANE NOBLET, a cousin of his first wife JANE BAUCUM
We do not know just when the move was made to Kansas, near Carlyle.
Three children were born to them there.
Some of the grandchildren recall that Grandmother ANNIS lived in her own home not far distant from theirs, until her death.
Little Robert Thomas Pace was only two and a half when his mother died.
His aunt, NANCY PACE PHILLIPS took him into her home but in later years, when he returned to Missouri to visit, he felt most at home with his Uncle JOHN K.PACE and Aunt JANIE because their two sons JOHN A. and WILLIAM were near his own age.
It is this cousin, JOHN A., whom we find joining the THOMAS ROBERT PACES in Colorado, years later, where he was dubbed “Big John” to distinguish him from their little son JOHN COWDEN. Though there was a close bond of affection between these cousins, succeeding generations have not maintained communications.
ELMER and ZETTA were “Big John's” children. They were farming near COTTONWOOD, Arizona, when last heard from.
No attempt has been made to contact this or other branches of the family.
Little Thomas Robert Pace was left motherless at three years of age.
Our record does not tell us when his mother's cousin, Margaret Jane Noblet, became his step-mother, or just when the move of nearly a hundred miles to the west and north, into a newly developing region in Kansas was made.
Many years later he used to recall his early experiences as a herder-boy. Only a few acres around each little home were fenced, leaving thousands of acres of open range. Unattended cattle might wander many miles and require much arduous searching to round up.
Children, barely old enough to sit a horse were often given the task of wandering with the cattle, keeping them within reasonable distance of home.
T. R., as he was called, recalled that the summer he was thirteen years old two neighbors paid him five dollars each for the summer for herding their cattle with his father's. In all he had about a hundred head. He might be gone two or three days at a time.
At night he'd roll up in a blanket with his dog as companion.
He knew that as long as the cattle were quiet and the dog wanted to curl up near him, all was well.
During the winter the cattle were turned in on the fields where grain had been harvested.
One winter he went to Missouri to visit. He stayed with his Uncle John and Aunt Janie Pace, as they had two sons near his own age. He had such a good time that he returned two succeeding winters. In the summer he herded cattle; in the spring and fall he worked with his father. They cut trees and hewed logs square and built a good five roomed house.
One spring when he returned from Missouri
he told his family he had met the girl whom he wished to marry.
He was given fifty acres on the south side of the family home and he was able to file on an adjacent homestead. That was a busy summer. A little two roomed cabin was built, a stable, and some fencing. Plowing was done for a few acres of winter wheat and a little corn to be planted in the spring. He had bought heifer calves two years earlier to start a herd of his own. He did not have as good luck with these as he had hoped for. Texas Fever had gotten into this region and was causing severe losses. Cattle from Texas carried a disease, which they seemed to have developed an immunity to but which was very destructive to cattle in other areas. Texas stock was often driven through this region on the way to market. Also, people were moving into Kansas from Texas. If cattle drank or grazed where affected animals had been, they were in danger of getting the disease.
Mary Eleanor Cowden was the girl whom Thomas Robert Pace was interested in. She and her brother James lived on the homestead her parents had taken up when they first came to Missouri. Her mother, Margaret Amanda Steele, had been born near Nashville, Tennessee, September 21, 1821, the daughter of a well to do farmer, owning several slaves. She married James Adam Cowden, who was born and raised in the same community. After they were married they joined some relatives and friends who were going to Green County, Missouri. Her parents gave them two covered wagons, teams and all the supplies and household furnishings they could haul. They were also given a family of slaves, a mother, father, and three children.
It was customary in a family that owned a number of slaves that one woman would be designated to care for a new baby in the master's household. She was known as the “nigger Mammy” for that child and often became his property as he drew to adulthood and a real bond of affection often existed between them. This family was Amanda's (Margaret Amanda Steele) nigger mammy and her family.
The Tennessee settlers took up homesteads and began clearing the land of timber and brush. Houses had to be built for the families and their slaves and the cleared land cultivated and put into crops. They built the little village of Pleasant Hope and it became the center of their settlement some twenty miles north of Springfield.
Mary Eleanor Cowden was born February 14, 1846.
She had a brother about two and a half years younger. Her father had been in failing health for some time. Only three days before his death, another little brother, James Steele Cowden, was born. Amanda took Mary, John, and baby James and moved away for a time but eventually returned to her original home near Pleasant Hope. Some three years later she married William R. Patterson. He owned a farm several miles from hers and also a small place in Pleasant Hope. His sister, Margaret, lived with him and Amanda. For some time they lived on his farm. She left the Cowden Homestead to her three children. Mary kept the house for her two brothers as they worked the farm.
Eventually, Grandfather Patterson built a two story house on his property at the edge of town and they moved to it. There was no hotel in town but frequently people came into town needing a place to spend the night. Grandmother furnished some rooms and took care of such people. She also served meals. Room and breakfast was $1.00. Dinner was thirty-five cents. People those days raised most of their own food. They had a garden and orchard. Their cow provided milk, cream and butter. They had their own cured pork and bees furnished honey. The salesmen who supplied the stores of various little nearby communities liked to make Grandmother's home their stopping place.
When John Cowden married Malissa Jane Wallis, they built a log house for their home not far distant from the Cowden home and he and James continued to farm together. They planted two acres of cotton each year to supply their own needs. The seeds were picked out by hand. It was carded and spun into thread. Coarse thread was spun for rough work clothes, fine thread for household use as sheets and pillow cases. They made their own woolen cloth, too. Cleansing the fleece was a hard task. If colored cloth was desired the thread was dyed before it was woven. Lichen, roots and barks were used for dyes.
Mary was a fast spinner and weaver. She liked to do both for she could prop a book up before her and read while she worked. The summer of 1873 she was especially busy for she was making all the supplies for her new home as well as her wardrobe. Besides all the weaving there was knitting, too: socks, stockings, gloves and mittens, scarves and caps for winter. Her mother and step-father gave her a set of blue and white dishes, cutlery and cooking utensils. And, of course, an iron pot, an essential part of every household's equipment. It was hung in the fireplace for cooking; cook stoves were just beginning to be used. It was placed over an outside fire on wash day to heat water.
On hog butchering day, after it was no longer needed to heat water, the lard was rendered in it, and in fruit season preserves were made in it. But their special gift to her was the money with which to buy material for her wedding dress and one other dressy dress. Most such materials were imports and hence quite expensive. For her wedding she chose a lovely pale blue and white tiny check, an English silk. She made it with a plain bodice and wide sash. For the other dress she chose a Japanese silk, white and dark blue little figures on a gray ground. All materials were quite somber those days.
When Thomas Robert came for his bride he rode horseback from Kansas to Missouri. Then he bought a wagon with its wagon sheet, as the covers were called, to move his bride and her household goods to their new home. His Grandmother Baucum gave him a young mare for a wedding present. The previous winter he had bought a young mare and left her with her former owner until his return. Now they had a team.
On February 12th, 1874, they rode horseback to Ebenezer to be married in the little church at ten o'clock. Her two brothers, several other relatives and friends were with them. That evening the young couple went to Pleasant Hope to visit her mother and step-father and to get her things. A trip to Cave Springs to visit all his relatives was next. After nearly a week of festivities and preparations they were ready for the road. Two cows were tied behind the wagon, two horses beside the team. It took them eight days to make the trip.
Farming equipment and methods were very simple and even primitive still. Grain was sown by hand. A grain sack partially filled with seed grain was carried at the side by means of a rope or strap slung over the shoulder. The sower scattered a handful of grain as he walked. A good sower did such an expertly even job that there were no spots too thick or none barren, the very same method we have seen illustrated as in use in Bible times. At harvest time the grain was cut by hand using a cradle or a scythe, then gathered up and tied in bundles or sheaves. These were stood on end and in bunches called shocks to dry ready for thrashing.
The thrashing was really hard work. An area of level ground was swept clean and a frame some ten or twelve feet square with sides some three or four feet high was built. It had a bottom of small rails laid about two inches apart. A sheaf or two of grain was scattered over these rails and beat with flails, which were short handles with a tee piece at one end. It took a great deal of beating to knock the grain out of the heads. It would then rattle through onto the smooth ground underneath. When it seemed most of the grain had rattled through, the straw would be raked out and more sheaves scattered over the rails. Of course, much straw and chaff fell though with the grain. This had to be separated out by tossing shovelfuls into the air when there was just the right amount of breeze. The grain being heavy fell straight down and the light chaff and straw blew aside. Some of the straw was gathered up and put into ticking to make a sort of mattress under the feather beds and some was used for bedding material for the animals in the barn and sheds during the cold winter.
The first winter they had an acre of winter wheat which had done nicely. They hoped this would yield enough for seed and flour for their own use. Roasted wheat was often used for coffee also. Real coffee was not only expensive but sometimes difficult to get. Just when the wheat was ready to harvest, chinch bugs [Blissus leucopterus] came and caused much loss. Some of the neighbors lost even their seed. The bugs were a regular plague. They tried to save the corn by plowing a ditch around it. The bugs had a hard time crawling out of the ditch. By dragging a log through the ditch frequently, quantities of them were destroyed. The next year everyone was alert for the bugs in order to combat them better. But this time it was grasshoppers. They came in clouds and were so thick that the train crushed so many on the rails they became slick and the train could not run until sand was sprinkled on the rails. Beans and corn were dried for winter use. There were some wild plums, gooseberries, strawberries, and grapes and a large persimmon which was good after it was frozen. The woods also had black walnuts, hickory nuts, and hazelnuts. The pigs had to be kept up until the nuts were gathered for they soon found every one of the ground. Fish, rabbit, prairie chickens, ducks, geese in the migrating season all contributed to the meat supply.
Neighbors often worked together and helped in other in many ways. There was no one else to turn to for help. Two neighbor women came to be with Mother on March 6th, 1875, when I was born. Father rode horseback six miles through a blizzard for a doctor.
Each year the farming seemed to go along a little better. Father and some of the neighbors pooled their resources and bought a thrashing machine. It was run by horse power and was a wonderful improvement. My brother Will was born in 1877. Father's two half-sisters came to stay with us. This made it possible for mother to help in the fields. Chinch bugs came again and father saved about half of his crop.
The following year the new house which had long been planned was built. Father cut the logs and hauled them to Carlyle where they were sawed. The mill took a certain portion of the lumber for sawing it. They sawed chunks the right length for shingles, but father had to split them. There was a basement or cellar, as we called it, where our vegetables could be stored for winter use. The living room and kitchen were on the first floor with two bedrooms upstairs. The old well was close to the corrals and barn so it would convenient to water the stock, but now Father dug a new well quite near the house. It was roofed over the stone casing which extended about three feet above the ground. A shelf just above the water line along this casing made a fine place to keep things which needed to be cool. Butter and milk especially were kept there. Two years after the house was built father had enough lumber sawed to build a new barn. Though I was only five years old I can remember how proud I was of it and what fun it was to play in before the hay was in.
In the fall of 1881 father's youngest half-sister, Aunt Molly, came to be with us and a tiny baby girl was born. A baby sister seemed very wonderful to me. But in January a cloud seemed to settle over us when father became very ill. It was very cold weather and he had been called on jury duty, making a trip into town necessary every day. He caught a very hard cold and then it was discovered that he also had the measles. Pneumonia developed and even by spring he was able to be up only a portion of a day. A family was found who would move into our old log cabin and care for the farm and stock. Father had over two hundred head of hogs that spring. He sold them for ten dollars a head and considered that to be a good price. He did not regain his strength and the doctor feared he might have developed tuberculosis and advised him to go to a high, dry climate. Colorado was opening up at this time; the mountain country appealed to him. He sold the farm to a good friend and neighbor, John Wright. He kept his cattle but sold the sheep and hogs.
It was decided to spend the winter in Missouri visiting relatives before the anticipated move to Colorado. Covered wagon was the only means of transportation those days, so that was the way we went to Grandmother and Grandfather Patterson's in Pleasant Hope, Missouri. It was fun to get to know all the relatives and I was able to to go school with my cousins, Cora Cowden, daughter of Uncle John and Aunt Janie Cowden, and Christie and Maude Cowden, daughters of Uncle Jim and Aunt Sally Cowden.
Father's health seemed to improve some. He bought a new wagon and prepared to return to Kansas on his way to investigate Colorado. He left us in March 1882 and returned to the old home where he stayed with our good friends, the Wrights. He made arrangements for the summer care of his cattle. Gus Meester, a neighbor, decided to join him in the Colorado trip. They had a good team of mules and were traveling light so they could make good time. Towns were small and sometimes far apart. They supplemented their food supply by catching fish as they followed the Arkansas River for some distance. As they came into the foothills on the east side of the Rockies they found cattle ranches.
Mr. Sharp, one of the ranchers, was very helpful in telling them about the region. They camped on his ranch for several days. He suggested that they see the San Luis Valley before deciding on a location. They found the floor of the valley very dry and surrounded by great towering mountains. Several ranches had their headquarters along the Rio Grand River. Some were taking water from the river and irrigating small fields. Grains, field peas and all kinds of vegetables seemed to grow well. Their cattle could graze out on the floor of the Valley part of the year. Father was much impressed with these ranches. He found one for sale about nine miles from the little town of Del Norte and bought it. The river ran right through the place. The buildings were on the north side of the river on good high ground. There were two hundred forty acres all under fence, much of it could be irrigated. The south side was drier but good pasture. However, they were to learn that having the place divided by the river posed some problems. It must be forded to get to town, so that trip was made only when absolutely necessary for supplies.
Father and Gus went to the mountains, cut trees and hauled the logs down so Gus could get them hewed and start building onto the little two roomed cabin which was on the place. Cottonwood and pinion made good wood. Some of this had to be cut, for Gus had decided to stay on the place while Father returned to Missouri for the family.
Father's letters had been so enthusiastic and his health was so much improved Mother was sure we would be moving out in the spring. She was busy with spinning, weaving, and sewing in preparation for such a trip. On the way back for us, Father stopped in Kansas to visit his half-sister, Aunt “Nop” Penland and her family. They listened to his account of the San Luis Valley and its possibilities for irrigation and decided to be ready to join us when we should come for the cattle on our way to Colorado in the the spring.
The wagon that had brought the family to Missouri from Kansas was now made ready to take them to their new home in Colorado. Such planning and work as the moving preparations required! A second wagon was extended to twelve foot in length, with a sort of cage built on top of it.
The Move to ColoradoDuring the height of westward migration and wagon train pioneering, half of the wagons used were Studebakers. They made about a quarter of them.
19th Century Wagon making - The impressive wagons pulled by the Budweiser Clydesdales are Studebaker wagons modified to carry beer, originally manufactured circa 1900.
Father was taking a herd of some three hundred head of cattle and there would be calves born along the way. They would not be able to keep up with the herd at first and would have to be hauled in this cage. There were all sorts of things that had to be packed: small tools and a little sheet iron cook stove to be used along the way and in the new home, all our personal things and clothing, as well as all the equipment and supplies needed during the weeks of travel.A platform was built on top of the calf cage with the bows and wagon sheet covering it all. This was for the use of the boys who were riding herd. They were Bos Prator, a relative of Mother's, Will and Jim Albright, Scott Armor and Will Wallis, a nephew of Grandpa Patterson.
Grandpa Patterson had become so interested in the whole operation that he decided to go with us and would drive the family wagon and help Mother in any way he could. He bought about ninety head of cattle and put them with Father's herd to be driven through. Finally preparations were completed.
The boys took the herd and the calf wagon and started ahead of the family. The morning we left was beautiful. The family wagon was loaded until there wasn't room for anything more. Relatives gathered to bid us farewell. Grandfather's yard was full of people. After the last good byes had been said someone started to sing a hymn; others joined in. An uncle of Mother's led us in prayer, committing us to God's care.
That day we went to Father's sister Aunt “Cord” Ragan's home. Again relatives and friends gathered to bid us good bye. Our next destination was our old home in Kansas. Of course it was fun to visit our old friends and neighbors. We stayed with father's half-sister, Aunt “Nop” and Uncle Bob Penland, as they were joining us; we helped them get ready for the road.
The boys with the cattle did not go to Iola but struck off for the west in a more direct line for Colorado. Father had planned a meeting place. They were to rest there until we caught up with them. When we did join them we found some of the heavy cows, the bulls, and the oxen that pulled the wagon were all getting sore feet. Father and the boys knew how to shoe the horses and had taken care of them before leaving Missouri. Now they used heavy leather to shoe some of the cattle.
Because the animals were getting tired and the weather getting very warm, we had to travel much more slowly. The cattle were started by sun up and then allowed to rest and graze for two or three hours in the middle of the day. Mother planned carefully for lunch so it would not require too much unpacking or preparation. As there was no other shade, the boys would set up a tent at lunchtime. They got to be experts and could do it in record time.
Father became more concerned for the cows heavy with calf and his registered bulls. He decided to ship two car loads from Wichita, Kansas, to La Junta, Colorado. Grandfather (Patterson) and Will Wallis would go with those shipped.
One night a terrible windstorm struck us. Soon it began to thunder and the the lightning flashed. Then came the torrents of rain. We had all gotten up and Mother put us children in the wagon thinking that it would be safer than the tent. It was well that she did for the tents were soon blown down. The cattle were terrified and in spite of the boys' best efforts, they stampeded before the wind and rain.
We were quite near the Chisholm Trail. A large herd from Texas being driven along it, also stampeded. In no time the two herds were all mingled together. It took our boys three days to get ours cut out and on the way again.
He hoped that this downpour might have washed the grass and the ground clean but he was anxious to get as far past the Trail strip as possible before other herds might come along since the rain. We traveled eighteen miles the next day, the longest distance covered in any one day on the trip.
We children had been exposed to whooping cough while visiting in Kansas. Soon we came down with it, adding to Mother's concern. She had suffered some severe gallstone attacks in the past. Now this experience was too much for her and she became terribly ill. Though I was only a little girl, I had to drive the mules with the family wagon for we were two men short because of shipping the cattle. But I was old enough to realize something of the serious situation we were in. What a relief it was was when she began to get better.
We were going to have to cross the Arkansas River. It was very high because of the storm. We traveled north two days to a toll bridge so the wagons could cross it. They would swim the cattle across. The man at the bridge suggested that we camp a few days and let the flood waters run down. It would be much safer. The water was going down rapidly but it was several days before he thought the cattle could make it. The river was about half a mile wide but a sandbar some distance out in the stream finally emerged. That could be a little resting place and help get them across. Some calves were hauled across in the calf wagon. It was really difficult to make the cattle take to the water and keep them going, but when they finally would get close enough to the west bank that they could hear their calves bawling, they went fine. It was a long hard day to get them all across.
Father had bought four ponies from some friendly Indians a few days earlier. They gave each of the boys a fresh horse which helped a great deal.
One morning Uncle Bob Penland told Father they had decided to turn back. Father tried to persuade them to continue, but they were too discouraged and turned back for home. Just a few days after they left us the first cow died. We had not escaped the Texas Fever after all. Now we had to travel more slowly for others were showing signs of sickness. Father rode on ahead to make sure we would not encounter any other stock and so endanger them. Some of the ranchers were quite hostile, but other realized our helplessness and helped us what they could.
Father finally reached the Sharp Ranch. Mr. Sharp offered him a place to camp and a fenced pasture for his herd so that we could hold the cattle there until the disease had run its course. It was really wonderful to feel we had a friend. Father hired two men to go back over our trail and skin the cattle that had died and sell the hides for him. He got a hundred dollars for them.
Grandfather (Patterson) and Will Wallis,
with the cattle that were shipped, arrived at La Junta.
When Grandfather (Patterson) and Will Wallis were able to join us,
Father took the family wagon with mother and us children
and went onto the San Luis Valley.
Our ranch was only about a half day's trip from the mountains; anyone could cut logs or wood wherever he wished. Father and the boys took both wagons and set out for the mountains, for several loads of logs were still needed to complete the house and the winter wood supply must also be supplied. Father and Grandfather Patterson hauled while the boys felled the logs and hewed them ready for building. When completed, the house had a living room and two bedrooms added to the original little cabin, which now served as the kitchen and dining area and also storage space.
Life in the San Luis Valley
In frontier communities such as this, there were no public places where a traveler might stay. Enough floor space to make a bed on was about all the accommodation any home could offer or that any traveler ask. I never knew my parents to turn anyone away whether they were ill and needed care before they could continue on their way or only shelter for the night.
Father took up a Premption and a Timber Claim quite some distance out in the Valley from the River ranch. He built a log cabin, some corrals, and a stable. Mother and we children lived there several months each year as there were residence requirements as well as improvements in order to acquire title under the Premption Law. The Timber Claim had to have at least two acres cleared and cultivated each year and little trees set out. Working three places really kept Father busy.
Antelope ran in herds over the Valley.
One morning we found a newborn one so young he couldn't run with the herd. We took him in and fed him by letting him suck our fingers in a pan of milk. He became a real pet and would not leave after he was strong enough to join the herd.
We moved back to the River ranch by the first of October so that Will and I could go to school. There were two months of school in the fall and three in the spring. We rode our ponies about three and one half miles to school. There were Swedish, English, and Mexican children in school. We were the only American children at first. More settlers were coming to the Valley. Of course everyone could not have land lying along the river where it could be irrigated. But it could be seen that irrigation was not only good but essential. The Prairie Ditch Irrigation Company was organized. Father was one of the officers. When completed this main ditch would supply water to a district some eight or ten miles east of us. Father had three or four teams which he put to work on the project. Boys who had come to us from the old home area in Missouri were glad to have this work. They were Frank Christ, John Pace, a cousin of father's, and Scott Armor, who by this time had sold his family's Premptions in Kansas and was anxious to learn about irrigation.
June 1, 1888, another little brother was born into our home. He was John Cowden Pace.
That summer father decided that land which would be under the new irrigation ditch system would be a good thing, so he filed on a Homestead. A new log house was built and the family moved the next spring. The ditch was not completed far enough to bring the water to our place that summer. So again Mother took the little children and went to cook for the men as they were farming on the other place, while Will and I remained at the new home to do the chores and tend the garden.
A new school district was organized and the new school was just a mile and a quarter from us. Mrs. Booth was the teacher. She was there for two years. Then Mrs. Gillet became the teacher. They, with their families, had taken up Homesteads under the new irrigation system. In the morning and at noon our school day began with the reading of a chapter from the Bible. At first there were only ten pupils and I was the oldest girl. At noon and recesses Mrs. Gillet taught me to embroidery and crochet. She taught there for many years.
It was soon evident that the Prairie Ditch could not carry enough water for all who wanted it, nor could it reach some areas. The old timers decided to organize another irrigation district and build another main canal. This one would be known as the Farmers Union Ditch. Work would start on it in the fall as soon as crops were harvested. Each farmer would bring his own team and equipment and work as much time as he was able to spare from his own ranch.
Many household tasks were very difficult and time consuming those days. Often settlers had gone many miles ahead of any town. They had to provide for their own needs. They hunted and fished and they butchered their own stock to provide meat. Nothing was wasted. Every bit of fat was saved and rendered out in the big iron pot. This was their shortening. Drippings from cooking meats were saved to be used as seasoning or even as a butter substitute when the cow might not be producing. Cracklings from rendering fat and fat undesirable for other uses was used for making soap.
Lye had to be made before soap could be made.
Ashes were taken from the fireplace or stove and placed in a big V shaped hopper. Water was poured through the ashes and as it seeped through, the lye was leached out. The strong liquid drained out of each end of the hopper into earthenware jars or small iron pots. Then the big iron pots were set over the outside fire. Cracklings, lye liquid, and water were poured in and mass cooked for hours. Finally the fire was allowed to die out and the mass in the pot slowly solidified. The top three or four inches would be nearly white and perhaps quite usable soap if the housewife had become skillful enough in estimating quantities of the ingredients. The next few inches would be cream colored and the remaining quantity dark, while in the very bottom there would remain a strong, discolored, useless mass while would have to be discarded. Barks, roots, and herbs wee gathered. Some were used as medicines, some for seasonings, and some for dyes. Now the sassafras root was boiled and this liquid added to the soap mixture as it was put into the pot for a second boiling. This gave a lovely pink color and a nice fragrance. Sassafras was also brewed and used as tea.
An extra quantity of lye was needed so some would be available for the making of hominy.
Corn had to be treated in some way so it would be available for winter use. If it were merely dried it became so very hard and the little skins on the kernels were so tough that it was difficult to use. But when the partially dried kernels were soaked in lye water the outer skins could be scrubbed off. Thorough rinsing in fresh water followed. Then when the resultant kernels were dried, they made a good hominy which could be soaked and cooked at any time.
Next to the big iron pot which had so many uses besides being the every day hot water tank, was the wash boiler. Rubbing clothes in one's hands is a difficult and tiring task so clothes were boiled to help clean them after rubbing. When the washboards became available that was a marvelous help. Ironing was one of the most time consuming and tiring of the homemaker's tasks. Yet skirts were long and very full and so required much ironing. The early irons were clumsy and heavy, nearly twice as large as the modern ones. They were hollow and this space was filled with red hot coals. When the fire began to die down in them, dieing coals were shaken out and replaced with hot ones. After stoves were available to heat them on, a much smaller, solid iron came into use. This meant that no matter how hot the day was, a roaring fire had to be kept going to keep heating the irons. This is why baking and ironing were done the same day. After many years an iron which had the handle on a hollow shell which fastened over the iron was invented. Not only did this hold the heat much longer but the ironer's hand did not receive as much heat as the garment which was being ironed.
Some people were not as interested in cattle raising and farming as in prospecting for the various minerals being discovered in the mountain ranges surrounding the Valley. Rich deposits of silver, lead, nickel, and gold were being discovered. Father was much interested in all of this. During the summer months, for several years, he spent all of the time he could possibly manage to be away from home searching the mountains for his “strike.” Apparently he was not too successful in the Sangre de Cristo Range, the range to the east. But in the San Juans to the west he was more successful. While he never “struck it rich,” he did locate at least one successful mine. It held a combination of minerals which were difficult and expensive to refine with the then known processes. It was with considerable reluctance that he finally sold this claim which he believed would really produce. He did not have the capital to develop it; neither could he be away from the ranch for long enough periods. Eventually he did have the satisfaction of having it justify his belief in its worth when it was properly worked.
Riches in the Earth
The years passed;
we three older children married and established homes of our own in the valley not far distant from our parents' home which was firmly established on the Homestead. The extensive irrigation in portions of the Valley was causing sub-irrigation in other areas and this was bringing up alkali, thereby ruining land which a short time earlier had been good, fertile land.
After a quarter of a century of participating in the development of one rich valley,
A New Venture
Father and Mother were to add their bit to the development of another. Imperial Valley was just staggering out of the great Colorado River flood of 1906. Much damage had been done to ranches that had been in the way or even adjacent to its course when on a great flood crest it swept through low areas and cut New River channel into a gorge and filled the Salton Sea to several times its former size. Perhaps this was not all bad for it did focus attention on a very fertile valley, which up to this time, had not attracted extensive interest. New settlers, leadership, and money, the three requirements for any extensive development, came pouring into the Valley.
In 1908 Father and Mother came, too. They bought a half section five miles west of Calexico.
Again, life was primitive, no running water except that in the irrigation ditches and that was thick with red silt of the Colorado River. It was dipped up, carried into the house and filtered. No electricity, no refrigeration, not even a good air cooler and at first only a wood burning stove, but somehow they survived these hardships and saw all of their land leveled, ditched, and under cultivation before they finally leased it and moved into Calexico. But again Father's teams had worked on another history making irrigation project, this time the All American Canal.
Once a prospector, always a prospector, at least at heart, was also true of Father.
Somehow he became convinced that there was gold in Lower California (Baja) along the Gulf. With permission from the Mexican government and meager equipment, he set out. His quest was not in vain. Soon he was sending samples of ore to the United States for assaying. The reports were excellent. But there were some gigantic problems. The Colorado River regularly flooded great areas between the mine location and the California border. Even the mine location itself was known to be flooded on very wet years. This made operation impossible for a considerable period just at the season of the year best for working. Then the old problem of limited amount of capital which he felt it wise to invest and the real cause of his concern, the unpredictable attitude of the Mexican government. But the assay reports were such that he finally bought a truck to haul supplies and equipment down from Calexico, and a small boat to carry the ore from the mine to the Selby Smelter in California. Some of the early assay work had been done by offices in Colorado with which he was acquainted but not that a quantity of ore was to be moved, the all water route to a smelter was much cheaper. Some two or three loads of ore were shipped and the assayed samples verified. But again the Colorado River plagued him and confiscation of alien permits by the Mexican government ended that venture. He did salvage his equipment.
Father had little formal schooling but he was an avid reader
and little of worth from the local or world scene that found its way into the daily news or the magazines which he saw, escaped his keen eye and critical evaluation. Some small article reporting a peculiar shale found in enormous quantities in Wyoming and Colorado caught his eye and fired the prospector in him again. He wrote federal and state offices for all information available, on location, properties, and quantities, and he became convinced that this was the greatest oil strike yet discovered. He conveyed some of his conversations to three or four others who were leaders in Imperial Valley development and together they made an exploratory trip through the great oil shale deposits. They were greatly impressed and convinced that it was oil shale but they had no idea how to refine it. Father brought quantities of samples of the shale home with him. He wrote numerous letters to all the leading oil companies trying to interest them. Some did express a genuine interest but were completely at a loss for a method of handling it. He never gave up the idea that some day it would prove to be a tremendous resource. Now more than fifty years later, many concur in his appraisal but an economically profitable method of refining it has yet to be devised.
In later years their home was in Calexico where Mother died March 29, 1922.
She is buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in El Centro. Father died while visiting his daughter, Daisy, in Colorado, October 22, 1929. He, too, is buried in El Centro.
Pioneer, farmer, developer, prospector. Thomas Robert Pace was all of these. And “Molly” [Mary Eleanor Cowden Pace], always at his side, was homemaker even when there was little to make with. She was teacher to her children and nurse to the neighborhood. Theirs was the kind of unswerving courage, indifference to hardship and staunch Christian faith which made a great nation of what was once an unknown land.
James William Pace, second child of Mary Eleanor Cowden and Thomas Robert Pace,
James William Pace
was born in Kansas and moved with his family by covered wagon. A new home on the Rio Grand River in the San Luis Valley was established. These first settlers organized elementary schools but for several years they could not also manage high schools for the few children who were old enough for them. “Billie,” as the family called him, returned to Missouri, to his maternal grandmother, Amanda Cowden Patterson, to attend high school.
On February 7, 1898, he and Sarah Alice Bannister were married in Del Norte, Colorado. Their home was a farm near Center. Their two oldest children were born there before they joined his sister, Gertrude and her family and filed on a homestead near Nanton, Alberta, Canada. Six children were born to them there. Two of them, Britomart and Thomas, died when only a few days old and are buried in the Nanton cemetery. In 1914 they sold all their property, except their land, by auction and left for Southern California, stopping to visit her parents who were living in Rosalia, Washington.
Margaret Julia Maroe was born to them in Calexico. Will returned to Nanton and sold their homestead and on the return trip purchased a farm in western Utah about nine miles west of Delta, near the little post office of Abraham. The family moved there in March 1916, with the exception of Robert Oswin who remained in Calexico with his grandparents to attend high school. He joined the family the next summer. Again they were to lose two babies, Adelia, born Dec. 15, 1916, and died Nov. 8, 1917, and Benjamin, born Jan. 13, 1918, and died Jan. 28, 1918. They are both buried in Hickley, Utah.
In 1919 they returned to California near Orland where Robert Oswin was married. Four years later they returned to Imperial Valley and again farmed his father's ranch for a number of years. Their oldest daughter, Dorthea, died there of diptheria, Nov. 9, 1924. She was buried beside her grandparents in Evergreen Cemetery, El Centro. For the next four or five years they farmed near Yuma, Arizona, then joined their third son, James Stanley, near Mt. Shasta, California. Their lovely farm there was home for the longest period of anywhere they had lived. When no longer able to run the farm, they moved to Susanville to be near their oldest son, Robert Oswin. Alice died there April 12, 1955, and Will followed her in death April 29, 1956.
Robert Oswin Pace, first child of James William Pace and Sarah Alice Bannister
Robert Oswin Pace
was born on Grandfather Pace's farm, Saguache County, Colorado. In his late teens he struck off on his own from his family's home and found work in the Corning Box Factory, Corning, California. This was the beginning of twenty-five years of working in the lumber industry, the last twenty-one of which were with the Lassen Lumber and Box Company in Susanville. He was Power House Foreman and Sawmill night Engineer. He had been Planer-man and Cut-off saw man for the Clover Valley Lumber Company after leaving the Box factory. On March 22, 1920, in Orland, he and Mary Nancy Welch were married. A daughter and three sons were born to them. A growing family needs space so in 1938 the family home was moved to a six acre site at Johnstonville, five miles from Susanville. From 1945 to retirement in 1964, Robert was employed by the California Pacific Utilities of Susanville as foreman. Retirement will permit time to follow the much enjoyed hobby of being a Rock Hound.
Vera, oldest child of Robert and Mary Pace, was born Dec. 2, 1920.
Vera Alice Jane Pace
In 1939 she married Delbert Hewitt. He was an auto mechanic. Their son, Russell, is also a mechanic and worked with his father. Their daughter, Della Marie, married Monte LeRoy Hatch. He was employed by a gas distributing company. All reside in Susanville.
Jim, second child of Robert and Mary, was born July 10, 1923.
After high school he served a term in the Navy in World War II in Iwo Jima. At home again he was shop foreman at the Ford garage. Later he was employed as a carpenter. A year ago he took over an auto repair shop. He and Phyllis Ellina were married in 1952. They have a home in Susanville. Their children are Chris Pace and Robert (Bobbie) Pace. Phyllis also has a son, Johnny Ellina, from her first marriage.
Marv, third child, served in the Marines in World War II in the Pacific in Iwo Jima. He, too, became a carpenter for a time but has been a Postal cleark since 1950 in the Susanville post office. He and his first wife, Alma Bishop, were divorced. Later he married Virginia Allen. He had one daughter.
John Marvin Pace
Fred, the youngest child, attended Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, receiving his degree in Animal Husbandry. He worked on two large cattle ranches, first in Niles and later on another near Middletown (Guenoc Ranch). The last four years he has been with Pacific Dairy Breeders Association as an artificial inseminator. He married Harriet Emily Chappuis in 1955. They have four children and live in Petaluma, California.
Earnest Frederick Pace
return to Fred Pace page - go to top of page