Baca County History

by the Plainsman Herald

Growing up in Baca County Part 8b – By John Havens


In January 1947 I married my high school sweetheart, Marie Konkel, in the Vilas Friends Church.  We then moved to Haviland, Kansas where I completed four years of education at Friends Bible College.

    During the years of my ministry I have served churches in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Iowa, then in 1993 I became Chaplain of the Pratt Regional Medical Center in Pratt, Kansas.  But even now at the age of 90 I continue to teach an adult Sunday School class.

    During the years of my ministry I have been invited back to Baca County to officiate at almost fifty funerals of friends and relatives.  I am grateful for the confidence these families have had in me.  Someone once said that it takes a village to raise a child.  I think that village was Vilas and I was that child.  Many of those funerals were of people who influenced my life while growing up.

    In my times of reminiscing I go back and take a stroll down the main street of my old home town.  West of the highway there was the school and several homes, but turning to the East, there was Tony’s Market with my Uncle Tony and Aunt Ruth.  Next was Terril’s Drug Store run by Homer and Tess Terril.  On the corner was the Capansky home with Grandma and her daughter, and the sons: Abel, Andy and Bert, and a grandson, Earl.  Across the street was the home of Roy Blanche Hagerman and daughter Ruby.  Roy was the village Blacksmith, and also a Quaker Preacher.  To the East of their house was the blacksmith shop.

    To the East of that was the Post Office with Jim Hutson as the Postmaster.  The Hutson family were faithful members of the Friends Church.  One of their daughters, Ella Ruth, became a missionary to China and later Taiwan.  One of the sons, Robert. Became a Friends Minister.

    The Hutsons moved to Las Animas, CO and I believe Minnie Jackson became the Postmistress.

    Just to the East of the Post Office was a small Barber Shop operated by Wal Dishman.  Then on East was the Christie Building and I believe the Paytons operated some kind of a store there, and following them was the Doc Greenstreet Family.

    Two of the Nixon Brothers, Carl and Ray built a service station on the corner.  Across the street East of the station was the Nixon Grocery Store.  Anna, one of the daughters of the Nikons became a Friends Missionary and felt the call to go to India.  On her first trip during World War II, the ship she was on was captured by the Japanese in the Philippines and she spent 4 years in a prison camp.

     She was released and returned home, and after regaining her health, she once again sailed for India where she spent fourty years.  Meanwhile, the Nixon family sold their store and moved to Western Colorado.

    I believe this pretty much describes the businesses on the South side of the Main Street in Vilas as I remember them.


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