Growing Up in Baca County Episode 6, Part 1 by John Havens

Note this episode references Fred Holister. More on Fred Click Here: Fred Holister: A Cowboy’s Story

Many older people of the Vilas Community made an impression on my life. Some were school teachers, some were business men, others were preachers, farmers, and retired folks.

   But one I would like to mention especially was Uncle Fred. Fred was an old Cowboy. He and his wife Fannie lived on a small “ranch” about 5 miles Southeast of Vilas. As Uncle Fred go older, and was no longer able to work, he would often drive into Vilas in his Model A Ford, park it half-way out in the main street, then get out and amble over to our service station to spend the afternoon spinning yarns.

   He love to tell of his days as a Cowboy when he rode the range from central Texas to Montana. He had worked on a number of big ranches, participated in cattle drives, and took part in roundups.

   But one of the stories I remember him telling had to do with the time in Baca County when the citizens voted to make Springfield the County Seat. But rather than build a court house, a building that would serve that purpose was purchased from the town of Boston. Now Boston was a town some 12 miles Southeast of Vilas, and at one time was a thriving community long before I was born. Today there is not a sign of a town ever having been there. Only the Boston Cemetery gives evidence of its existence.

   Anyway, according to Uncle Fred, the building was being moved across country to Springfield. They got as far as the Sand-Arroya, where they camped for the night, but in the middle of the night, members of the opposition party came riding in on their horses, set fire to the building, burning it to the ground.

   I remember Uncle Fred telling that story many times and I also remember that several who heard that story wondered if Uncle Fred might have been in the party that set the fire. I guess we will never know.

   But my story about Uncle Fred doesn’t end there. He and his wife moved into an apartment in Vilas in their last years, but when he was able he still came to our station.

   I graduated from high school, spent two years in the Army, came back to Vilas, married, and went away to Bible College to prepare for the ministry.

   During the summer, after two years of college, we returned to Vilas. During that summer Uncle Fred died, and the family requested that I have his funeral, and not only have the service, but also sing that old Western song, “I’m Headin’ For the Last Roundup,” which was a very appropriate song. However, since this was only my second funeral and I was not yet into full-time ministry, I asked if I might get someone to assist me. The family told me to handle it however I wanted, so the next day I drove out into a wheat field Northwest of Walsh and got Clarence Kearns, a Friends minister, who was in the area helping with the harvest, off of the combine and asked him to assist me. He had met Uncle Fred a few times, so he was not a stranger to him.

   Clarence and I had the funeral and I sang the song they requested, and Uncle Fred was laid to rest in the Boston Cemetery.

Note this episode references Fred Holister. More on Fred Click Here: Fred Holister: A Cowboy’s Story

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