Chapter VI-- FIFTEEN YEARS IN COLORADO
In his old age WILL KING liked to tell his grandchildren the story about when he first took his 21 year old bride LIZZIE to their new home in Colorado. [It was 1884] It was a log cabin he had previously built on his new land in Routt County, Colorado. On the way from Dade County, Missouri he was quite concerned about [what] she would think of the house. Their wagon was loaded with farm tools, furniture, and all of their possessions to start their new life and was quite heavy. Within sight of the house, after over a month on the road, he purposely stuck the wagon while crossing the Yampa river. He told LIZZIE to get out, wade ashore and walk on to the house while the horses pulled the wagon out of the river. A half hour later when he reached the house she was sitting in the only chair crying. The problem was that while building the house he had not had enough time to cut more trees, split logs, and put in a wooden floor. For the first year they had to make do with dirt. However, let it be said that except for that one occasion, tradition and the pictures we have tell us he always provided his family with a nice home every place they lived.
The ranch in Routt County was alongside the Yampa River about 6 or 6 1/2 miles downstream from the town of Yampa which was the closest store. Note- We now have a ranch Picture inscribed by BESSIE PATTERSON stating the ranch was 6 to 6 1/2 miles north of Yampa on the Yampa river. This is more likely correct. They were about 1/4 mile from Egeria which was not really a town but only a post office in somebody's home.
Note- As a boy I can remember my father OLIVER A. KING (son of WILL and LIZZIE KING) telling me that as a boy he had made skis of barrel staves and had skied in this area.
Many of their groceries and supplies came from Steamboat Springs about 30 miles to the north. Every fall when the season's deer crop was full grown WILL KING would go hunting and shoot and dress enough for a load to take to the meat markets in Steamboat Springs. There was usually no exchange of money but a credit would be set up from which he could draw for whatever was needed. On the return trip to the ranch the wagon would be loaded down with enough groceries to last the family and stage stop for the winter.
A few cows were raised for the milk and butter or butchering if meat ran low. The family also kept a garden and there was always plenty of fresh vegetables during the summer and canned or stored for the winter. Alfalfa was raised for hay to feed the stock during the winter. In the summer the stock was put out to pasture. WILL KING built a nice log barn on the ranch to protect the livestock through the winter months. As a money crop alfalfa was raised for seed which was sold to the stores in Yampa and Steamboat Springs. He also grew alfalfa for seed later on in California and it was considered to be a profitable crop.
The KING ranch became the stagecoach stop in that area with meals for passengers and feed for the horses. The ranch was known to stage coach drivers as the "Pretty Woman's Ranch", referring to LIZZIE KING who was quite tall and beautiful in her youth. LIZZIE's sister NELL BIRD (wife of MILTON) and family lived part of the time in nearby Yampa and later moved to Jerome, Idaho. We have a picture of LIZZIE's parents Mr. and Mrs. JOHN PARMINTER during a visit to the Colorado ranch.
During the 1960's CLYDE and BESSIE KING PATTERSON made a return trip to the ranch which had been known all through that part of the state as the KING Ranch. On arriving in Routt County BESSIE soon found out no one had ever heard of the KING ranch. This was a disappointment to her. We tried to explain that the KING name Would not stay with the place after no one in the family had been there for 60 years. This was little consolation. At the time of that 1960 return visit the house and barn were still there and the place run much as when the family left, with a few modern improvements.
After 15 years WILL KING decided to move to California for some unknown reason. It may have been the chronic urge to keep moving west or possibly he had a good offer for the property. It could have been that glowing reports were coming back from someone he knew in California. In any case they left Colorado in 1899.