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Frank Burch Recalls Incidents of His Boyhood In Boulder County
By Forrest Crossen
Any man who has spent his life In the new country that his parents crossed the Plains in covered wagons to settle is certain to have a fund of stories-not only of his own experiences but those his parents told him. Now take the case of Frank Burch, who lives at 2357 Grove St.
Frank is a retired cattle rancher, of medium height, slender, the marks of his riding days still upon him. He is soft-spoken and his blue eyes light with interest at mention of the old days, when most of the land was open and free. One would never judge his age at past the eighty mark.
"I was born on the old place that my father, William Wallace Burch, (most everybody called him Dick) homesteaded north of Hygiene. Father had come out here from Des Moines, Iowa, in 1862. He walked every step of the way.
I was just a little boy out in the field with him one day when he said, 'Here comes the man I walked out here with in 1862'. The man came up--his name was Johnson-and they talked about that trip.
"It seemed like they started out alone on foot. All they had was a little pack on their back with some extra clothes and a rifle apiece, They fell in with a wagon train and came across the Plains with them. I think they must have helped drive the loose milk cows. A lot of people brought cows with them. Anyway they made it through to Denver City all right."
"Father came on up to Old Pella, which was a little settlement about a mile South of Hygiene, down across the creek. His brother, Henry Burch, came along later on.
"My mother was a Carter--Jane Carter. I can still remember her as slender and young looking, pretty. She wasn't very dark, just about medium complexion. She had come across in a covered wagon with her parents and they settled there near Old Pella.
"She and father took a shine to each other. One day-it was in the Spring of the year, so I've heard 'em tell it-they were riding around on their saddle horses. It must have been on a Sunday, because when they rode up to the schoolhouse at Old Pella, the meeting was just breaking up. They must have had services in the schoolhouse then, with a preacher from somewheres else.
"Anyway, Father looked at her and said that right now was the time to get married, She said 'yes' just as the minister came out. He said for them to sit right there on their horses . . . and he married them."
"I can't remember the first big event in my life," continued Frank with a little smile, "but I remember hearing my folks tell about it. Our house took fire not long after I was born. I was upstairs, asleep. Father rushed up there and carried me out, The house burned to the ground. It was pretty hard to put out a fire in the open country in those days.
"So Father moved us up to Sunshine, which was booming then. He started a livery stable and had teams out freighting. He used to haul ore down here to Boulder and take back a load of things people needed.
"My first recollections are there in Sunshine. All the big mines were going then: the Interocean, Monongahela, White Crow, Osceola and the Grand View. There were lots of other small mines working too. Everybody was working and things were lively,
"Father had a good business there. I can remember going out with him when I was a little boy -I wasn't ten years old. He had a contract to haul out some high-grade ore from a mine way down in the gulch, away from the road. I drove a string of pack I horses down there and the men at the mine loaded them with sacks of ore. Then I drove them up the hill to where Father was in the wagon. He loaded the ore in and hauled it down to Boulder.
"I can remember Johnny Lewis and 'Curly' (Frank) Goddard there in Sunshine. They were young men when I was just a boy. Johnny used to work for Father there at the barn. The three of us were friends all our lives.
"When I was ten years old, Father moved us back to the ranch. The neighbors came in and built us a house. There were some wonderful people in those days. They helped each other, seems to me, more than they do today."
I caught the bit of nostalgia In Frank's voice, Little wonder that he looked back with tenderness on the days of his boyhood and youth. Mining camp and ranching country, he had known them both in their heyday, before the land had become crowded, People had known each other, had helped each other. There hadn't been any other way. Otherwise, the pioneers, rugged as they were individually, would never have survived that hard life.
Frank died February 1958.