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Tidbits Unearthed

It’s always so interesting to open up Ancestry.com on a Sunday morning and find some new record hint attached to an ancestor. I try to look at them all, daunting as it may seem — for you can never tell where the path may lead you.

This week, I noted that employee records of the Minnequa Works of Colorado Fuel & Iron Company in Pueblo, Colorado, were posted online. They had a listing for my grandfather, Lorenzo Dow Caldwell — employed with them from August 25 – September 15, 1919. I thought it was not the same person, as I was not aware that my grandparents had ever lived in Colorado. The record, however, clearly listed Sylvia Caldwell as his wife!

Studying the employment card carefully, I saw that he had previously worked in the Healdton Oil Fields (“two years until August 1, 1919”). The examination recorded by the card was date stamped August 23, and he started work just two days later. He and my grandmother lived at the Victoria Rooms (a small hotel – see photo below). His job title was “nail help” — it seems that the Minnequa Works was a wire mill that also made nails.

World War I had been over for about a year. It was the Gusher Age, where employment in all facets of oil exploration and production was booming. Setting the stage for life in Pueblo, Colorado, it was a rough-and-tumble environment. The Pueblo Chieftain newspaper carried stories of a big employee strike at the mill in 1919. Additionally, the last lynching in Colorado occurred on September 13 in Pueblo when a local mob pulled two Mexicans from the jail and took them to a bridge and hanged them. My grandparents were newly weds and teenagers!

Certainly the atmosphere of the town and workplace was frightening to them both. Two days after the lynching, Dow’s employment was terminated (I am surmising that he quit!) and shortly thereafter, they are back in the family fold in Carter County, Oklahoma.

So interesting that one little employment card could unfold a whole story that was heretofore unknown to us. Somewhere in the building pictured, my grandfather was examined and found fit for employment at the Minnequa Works. Age 19. Light brown hair and blue eyes. He was 5′-6″ tall and weighed a trim 131 pounds. I have the picture in my mind …

Postscript: Additional records from the Minnequa Iron Works show that Bart Caldwell (brother to Dow) was employed there June 12 – July 1, 1919, leaving because his “mother was sick in Wirt, Oklahoma”. Bart returned to employment there on the same date as Dow and his address was 119 W. Victoria St in Pueblo. From the image on Google, it appears that this could have been a small hotel — the same place where Dow and Sylvia were living.

Go with Grace


9 September 1930 Beeville, Texas – 30 July 2015 Victoria Texas

I look into these eyes and see myself staring back. As little girls, we looked so much alike. Perhaps as a child, she got away with more than I did — growing up at the ranch with four big brothers and one big sister.

She was my mother’s only sister. You’d think they would have been close, but the anger and mental instability that colored my mother’s life certainly would have made it trying. In the end, Grace achieved more than my mother — three loving daughters, a batch of grandchildren and even great grandchildren. All connected in love and together until the end. [continue reading…]

Good Advice

I have enjoyed looking at the photos and quotes published by Garden & Gun magazine this month — advice that fathers have given their children through the ages. Some are seriously good and some are terribly funny!

fencePost“If you ever see a turtle on a fence post, don’t ever think he got up there by himself. Everybody has help getting where they are.”
An especially nice sentiment — and I found that it’s originally attributed to Alex Haley. I’d never heard it before today, but it appears that I am the last person on the planet who did not know about the hapless turtle, given the dozens of illustrations that appeared on a simple search.

When I first read this quote, I thought of the glass half full. Meaning, everyone could use help to be successful or happy. However, the more I looked at the poor turtle in this image — the more I felt sorry for him. He does not deserve to be stuck on this post! Someone “helped” him to get in this situation? How mean.

boots“If you ever lose yourself and need time to think and find yourself, I will give you 5 minutes before my boot helps you out!” 

I have never understood what hippies of the 1960s meant by saying that they needed to find themselves. Huh? I have always known that I was right here in my own shadow. So, I like the fact that this father was going to give a heave-ho to an offspring who needed to “find himself”.

My father would have gently ‘encouraged’ me with well-worn but nicely polished pair of  Lucchese’s. What I wouldn’t give to sit and watch him shine his boots just one more time.

The best advice I got from my Dad:
“Always act like a lady, Butch, and you won’t have anything to be sorry for later.” Carol Fornum Caldwell (28 December 1920 Wirt, OK – 23 February 1979 Corpus Christi, TX)

John Ford’s Point


Though hobbled by injuries received in the Painted Desert, I was still able to enjoy a photo tour of Monument Valley — a ‘holy place’ that I dreamed of visiting since before I knew exactly where it was. This view of John Ford’s Point was captured as a storm approached the valley.

During a recent snow storm, it was my good fortune to watch again “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon”. There’s a part of the movie where the cavalry troops are making their way back towards the fort in the midst of a wild storm. The filming of it was awesome, especially given the older technology of this old movie. I was transported back to the day that I actually saw this valley with my own eyes.

Hot time in the old town


Wirt, Oklahoma – Christmas Day in 1920

This virtual shanty town was thrown together to house an influx of oil field workers and supporting trades for the big boom at Healdton Field in the early 1900s. It’s written that the second stories of some buildings were brothels. Living facilities were hard to come by, and squatters grabbed any vacant property. Many folks lived in tents.

The town burned several times, the most notable time for me was the Christmas fire in 1920.  My grandmother, Sylvia Rogers Caldwell, was nine months pregnant — and she lived in Wirt where my grandfather was employed as an oil field worker. Their tiny little two room shotgun house (below) likely still smelled of smoke from the blaze when she went into labor late on the night of December 27.

My great aunt, Katie Wynema Caldwell Windsor, told me that they hung canvas over the porch for my grandmother’s accouchement. These humble surroundings welcomed my father into the world in the very wee hours of December 28, 1920.


Happy ninety-third birthday, Dad. I miss you.