Butte City: 1886

Boston wasn’t quite the first in the east end as this part of Las Animas county as it was then
called. Butte City was started in June 1886; we believe that less than half a dozen houses were built
there when it was abandoned and the houses moved over to Minneapolis, started a few miles west of it in
the summer of 1887.
– Konkel, Sam. “Persons, Stories and Incidents of Old Boston and the Old Days.” Springfield Herald January 11, 1918

The earliest news mention I have found of Butte City was this St. Louis Post-Dispatch hotel listing showing G. F. Neal of Butte City Colo in St. Louis February 1886.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) 20 Feb 1886.
The Syracuse Journal (Syracuse, Kansas) 21 May 1886.
Border Ruffian (Coolidge, Kansas) 19 Jun 1886.

Below are a couple of items of a name familiar to present day Baca County.

Pratt County Press (Luka, Kansas) 02 Sep 1886.
Garden City Daily Herald (Garden City, Kansas) 20 Aug 1886.
Crill & Bowdle Stage Line – coach is enroute from Butte City to Granada – Winter 1886-89. John Bowdle is driving. This was the first transportation company in Baca County. (Photo courtesy of James Crill)

Note: We have transcribed the letter (left) to help the readability. The letter was published in Alton Evening Telegraph (Alton, Illinois) 14 Sept 1886.
Editor Telegraph: As I promised you a letter viewing the “promised land,” Butte City, Colorado,I have now the opportunity of fulfilling the promise. After skirmishing around awhile on Thursday last, at Grenada, we succeeded in finding a person to take us and two other parties who were on their way to Butte, so at 8 p. m. we started. The country from Grenada, on the Sante Fe rail-road, south to our objective point is a beautiful rolling prairie, here and there dotted with groves or timber on the streams not a single steep hill, the entire route gently rolling. The soil for the first half of the distance is a whitish looking soil, but after crossing Butte creek, seventeen miles out, it becomes much darker, the banks of Butte creek are lined with a very fair quality of stone of the limestone formation. We stopped on the banks of Butte creek to eat our lunch and quench our thirst with the finest spring water.
When we were within about eight miles of our destination, we were halted by a party of movers, one of whom inquired how far it was to Butte City, said he was a brother of a Mr. Boorstor, who lives in the coming city of Southeastern Colorado, and wished us to inform his brother that he would be in in the morning. This was encouraging, to see people with their effects on the way to our new town. At about 8 o’clock In the morning sure enough here came our new settler. There is not a finer looking piece of country anywhere, perfectly free from rock excepting on the banks of the stream. This was an agreeable disappointment to me, as I anticipated seeing some rock almost any where in Colorado, but not so in this southeastern part of the State. The country, when settled up, will compare well with the best part of Kansas.
There are now six houses, the seventh building. Timber claims are being located daily; perhaps some of your readers may not understand what a timber claim means. “Congress passed an Act to encourage the growth of timber on the western prairies bearing date June 14, 1878, providing that a person, either a natural born citizen of the United States, or a person who has taken out his papers, may, on filing his papers at the District Land Office, first signing and making
affidavit as to qualification before mentioned, paying the fees, $14, and at the end of the first year having plowed five acres, and at the end of the second an additional five acres and at the and at the fourth year, having put out the ten acres in trees, he can, at the end of eight years, get a patent for the land, 160 acres, and it is not necessary to live on the land nor to do this yourself, but it can be done by anyone for you. Now here is a chance for some of your fellow citizens to obtain a quarter section of good land at a very small outlay, simply going to Grenada, Colo., making the necessary affidavit before a Notary, paying the $14 land office fees, and plowing five acres the first, and five acres more the second, and having the ten acres set out in trees by the end of the fourth year, and at the end of the eighth year paying the final proof fee of $10, when a patent for the land is issued. Come on, and we will see you fixed up. Will let you hear more from Butte City at no distant date.

It is Given to Few: by J. Ralph Jett

Reprinted from the June 1929 Issue of the Western Empire Magazine:

Nineteen years ago there came into the little town of Two Buttes in Baca County, a suffering, and broken man. Upon his graying head sentence had been passed, and he had no thought but that his doom was sealed. Great Men of the medical fraternity had said to him” you have but one year to Live. use it as best you may.”

Dr. Verity, himself a noted surgeon, stricken with dropsy, hoped that perhaps the Great West, to which he had sent many others, would offer him also some needed relief. He turned his eyes to the setting sun, and here, under the blue sky in nature’s great sanitarium, he found out only relief, but life and a partial return to the robust health he had once enjoyed.

In his new found strength came the call to begin where he had left off, and looking about he found himself in a homestead community — the people poor, coming here to grasp at their last opportunity to own a home. No hope here of great reward for efforts, and no thought of it. Rolling up his sleeve, he said, “so be it” and set to work.

Perhaps God, In his infinite wisdom, saw it to spare Dr. Verity, to minister to these, his humble us children. As Christ, the greatest healer went amongst the lowliest of men, so did Verity, his servant go among the lowly homesteaders giving them cheaply many times gratuitously, the same full-service he had rendered in the homes of the wealthy for large fees.

Perhaps doctor Verity sensed the intercession of Divine Providence, in the motive therein, for though made many flattering offers to use his talents elsewhere, he remained true to his trust in his modest little office at Two Buttes, while the world made a pathway to his door.

Dr. Verity is a humanitarian in every sense of the word. Not merely does he deal with the afflictions of the multitude, not only does he bring into the world dozens of little Baca County folks, but he seeks also as best as he may to guide their destiny to become good men and women. His good works are legion and his further ambition unappeased.

We will cite but one instance of Verity’s surgical skill. This was featured in Rollin H. Ayers the Heights of Manhood.

A little Baca County girl of four summer’s stood in a farmyard watching with interest the efforts of her brother, a year older manfully swung a large ax to cut the day’s kindling supply. Something attracting her she suddenly stooped over in the path of the ax, and it crashed into a skull, penetrating the brain.

That night she lay in the office of Dr. Verity. her little life wavering on the brink of eternity, the spark kept alive through the supreme effort of the tight-lipped old surgeon, who grimly held on and said, “She shall not die.” Particles of bone were removed from the brain, and those present wondered and marveled at the great hands which held such delicacy and mastery.

The fight was won, and the little girl of poor parents, having nothing to amuse her in her convalescence was showered with gifts by Dr. Verity and his friends. When well, she attended school at Two Buttes and ranked high in her classes.

Perhaps the most interesting thing to Dr. Verity is the Two Buttes Band of which he is the founder and sponsor. He purchased the instruments for this band two years before he was able to organize it with sufficient members. Then a capable director was secured, and the band is now one of the finest in the southwest. In 1927 it won third prize against hard competition of large bands. The referee was John Philip Sousa, the old master.

Asked how he came to start this band, Dr. Verity said when I was a small boy in the hills of Wisconsin, I used to hear the martial music of the Civil War bands, as they marched at night. That beautiful music floating on the air imbued me with a firm resolve to someday my life to have a band and to be the drummer. So Baca County benefits by the dream of a small boy many years ago, and we suspicion that Dr. Verity experienced the thrill of his life when shaking the hand of the greatest band leader in the world.

Dr. Verity was born near Oshkosh Wisconsin, and grew there into manhood. He attended Rush Medical College of Chicago, long a famous Institution. He early became interested in fractures and devised the splint, known as Verity Suspension Splint, new and unusual at the time but in common used today. He is quoted on special fractures, by Nicholas Senn, professor of surgery, Rush Medical School in his book, Practical Surgery. His work in the field has garnered much acclaim. In fact, in 1885 he wrote “The Treatment of Compound Fractures by Drainage and Wiring”. This pioneering piece was published in the 1886 Journal of the American Medical Association. Dr. Verity’s next ambition is to erect a building for his community, where domestic science can be taught to girls and useful arts to the boys where they can be enjoyed all the social activities in the community.

So after ordinary men have passed the age of usefulness, this venerable physician carries on, his stamina and his power seemingly unimpaired, looking towards the future in which he may further serve.

Is leonine head and beetling brows suggest sternness, but one looks closer and sees the twinkle of blue eyes, a consideration, and indulgence for all mankind.

I can see Dr. Verity, when he answers his final call, at the portals of the Great Beyond. Around his massive shoulders are the arms of the Greatest Physician, and I hear the words —

“It is given to few to be of service to many. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, my children, ye have done it also unto me. Welcome home, thou good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25-40)