Photo from Hotchkiss-Crawford Historical Museum Concrete sidewalks. In 1909, Hotchkiss finally began to replace the boardwalks and dirt paths with sidewalks. This group of businesses includes, from left to right, Dr. Myers office, the North Fork Times newspaper office, the real estate office of Dickson and Winters, and the North Fork Market. Along with the workers are two children playing as if they are helping with a donkey pulling them along. Reprinted with permission from North Fork Valley by Kathy Addams McKee and Claudia Sutliff King. Kathy Addams McKee and Claudia Sutliff King, the local authors of "North Fork Valley," will have a book signing on Saturday, Dec. 8, at 1:30 p.m. at the Hotchkiss-Crawford Historical Museum. The book will be available for purchase from the museum. The museum has a number of other books in the Images of America series by Arcadia Publishing.
Kathy McKee, co-curator of the Hotchkiss-Crawford Historical Museum, got the idea for the book one year ago. The original idea was to do a book on Delta County. But when she wrote down all the chapters necessary for a book on the entire county, she realized what a daunting task that would be. So she and the historical society book committee decided it would be better to focus solely on the North Fork Valley.
She sent her proposal to Arcadia Publishing for their Images of America series in February.
Being the museum co-curator gave McKee a head start on the project. "It was wonderful because I actually got looking into files I hadn't looked in before, and realized we had a lot of pictures."
The authors searched for original pictures in three different historical societies and nine private collections. Hetty Todd and Dennis Turner were two who contributed pictures. The majority of photographs in the book will be new to readers.
McKee worked on the book in her off hours from the museum. She scanned all the photos at home.
Among the new discoveries for McKee were the information and photographs she found of The North Fork Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), an organization of Union veterans. The GAR purposes were fraternity, charity and loyalty to fellow members, their families and their communities. The North Fork GAR post and the Ladies' Relief Corps were located in Hotchkiss.
McKee was impressed with Thomas Blackwell, editor of the North Fork Times. "He was a wonderful editor."
She had a lot of fun with the Lazear chapter, even though it was hard to find pictures there. She used photographs in the book by Thomas Jamison, who visited the area through the years.
"Lazear was really an interesting little town. It had a cheese factory, a blacksmith shop, stores, but nobody had pictures of those," McKee said.
Royden Girling did a lot for the community. Girling bought the Lazear Mercantile Store in 1920 and became the postmaster. A few years later the Girling brothers bought a store across the street. In 1929 his longtime employee Tom Coutts became his partner. The store was named Girling and Coutts. Coutts succeeded Girling as postmaster and later bought Girling's share in the store.
McKee learned a lot about coal mining from interviewing Robert "Bud" Bowie. "He was a delight."
McKee wrote the chapters on Hotchkiss, Lazear, Crawford and Bowie. McKee is a fourth-generation resident of Hotchkiss.
Photo from Hotchkiss-Crawford Historical Museum Thomas Blackwell, editor of the North Fork Times, was a charter member of the Knights of Pythias, police magistrate, justice of the peace, state representative, and a member of the businessmen’s association that was responsible for promoting the valley. Reprinted with permission from North Fork Valley by Kathy Addams McKee and Claudia Sutliff King. Claudia King, a local historian who has lived her entire 73 years in Paonia, did the chapters on Paonia and Somerset.
Doing the book made even King learn more about her local community. "It really did help me to understand the interconnectedness of people in Paonia," King said. "Some of the things I just didn't realize." She finally learned why events developed the way they did. For example, she played with children whose parents owned the Oliver mine. She never understood why they suddenly left the area. Doing the book, she found out they sold the mine in 1949.
"All the kids in Somerset and Bowie came down to our schools," she said. "I learned a lot more about these classmates by just doing the research."
King learned a great deal about the mines in Somerset and the surrounding area. Miners were paid in silver and gold coin. "That coin came from Utah and if a specific miner didn't pick up his wage, it just went back on the train to Utah and it came back the next day. They didn't keep a lot of money around up there at Somerset," King said.
King acknowledges her great sources — Bill Palmer Sr., Myrna Hunten Pierson and Ralph Audin Jr. — for much of the mining information she shares in the book.
This is McKee's first book. King has written previously. Most notable was her "Treasured Memories — First 30 Years in Paonia" published in July 1996 and "A Walking Tour" in 1976.
"North Fork Valley" costs $21.99 and is available locally at the Hotchkiss-Crawford Mu-seum, at online bookstores, or through Arcadia Publishing at www.arcadia
publishing.com or (888) 313-2665.
Proceeds from the sale of this book will help to support the Hotchkiss-Crawford Historical Museum, which is non-profit and volunteer-run, and to continue in its mission of preserving the history of the area.
Arcadia Publishing is the leading publisher of local and regional history in the United States.