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Hispanic pioneer : Done Felipe Baca

Material Information

Title:
Hispanic pioneer : Done Felipe Baca
Series Title:
This week in history
Creator:
Castro, Richard T.
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Publisher:
Richard T. Castron
Publication Date:
Language:
English

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Auraria Library
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
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Copyright [name of copyright holder or Creator or Publisher as appropriate]. Permission granted to University of Colorado Denver to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.

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Full Text
This Week In History
Hispanic Pioneer: Don Felipe Baca by
Richard Castro
It was July 1860 when Don Felipe Baca, traveling to Denver with a load of flour to sell, passed through what today is the city of Trinidad, Colorado.
Baca lived in Mora, New Mexico and traded his flour with a small mining camp on the banks of Cherry Creek. Upon his return home, he stopped along the Purgatoire River in an area dominated by the landmark of what later would be called Fishers Peak. He recognized the land's potential for agriculture and grazing and decided to return.
In the fall of that year, Baca left his family in Guadalupita in northern New Mexico, and moved northward. He laid claim to a choice piece of bottom land and the next spring he took the fruits of his labor, a wagonful of melons and unthreshed grain, back to show his Hispanic countrymen.
In March of 1862, he convinced 12 family heads of household, all Hispanic, to cross over Raton Pass and lay settlement of this new land.
They came with 20 wagons, all drawn by oxen, loaded to the limit with all their belongings. Then and there they decided to stand together in all emergencies. They acquired plenty of firearms and ammunition, strapped rifles to their backs, revolvers to their waists and moved out.


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They brought cattle, sheep, goats and swine. Some of the men traveled on foot, others rode horses, others who were fortunate to own a burro, used them as mounts to good advantage.
These first Hispanic families spread out along the river valley into small settlements. Baca, however, settled in the heart of what soon became the town of Trinidad. He was a dominant personality in the early growth of the town. Baca and an Anglo pioneer, William Hoehne, opened the first general store in the tiny settlement. By 1866, the Trinidad Town Company had incorporated on land that Baca donated to the town.
By this same year, Trinidad had a school and a school board. Baca served as president of the school board from 1866 to 1868. A Catholic church was built on land given by him. A convent was set up two years later, again on land and with money donated by Baca.
He became involved in territorial politics. In 1870, he was elected to the territorial legislature, serving one two-year term. He compaigned against statehood, feeling that it would be detrimental to the southern, Hispanic region of the territory, which would be overshadowed by Anglo dominated Denver. The southeastern corner of Colorado was later named Baca County in his honor.
Baca died in 1874 at the age of forty-six years. His will, executed only days before, showed that he died quite a wealthy man. His estate, consisted of both money and personal possessions but especially large


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numbers of sheep, was divided among his wife and nine children. He specifically provided for his minor children's education, and they took advantage of this opportunity.
This story of Don Felipe Baca is yet another in a long process that saw Hispanics fanning out from the narrow river valleys along the Rio Grande and its tributaries, where they had settled since the Spanish colonized New Mexico in the early 1600's.
In reading U.S. History, there is little or no acknowledgement of the contributions Hispanics made to the settling of the Southwest. For example, by the time the Pilgrims had landed on Plymouth Rock, the Spanish had already settled and lived in Santa Fe for 10 years. The true history of the Southwest would point out that Hispanics unlike other ethnic groups did not migrate to the United States, rather the United States migrated to the Soutwest where Indians and Hispanics had lived for centuries.
Don Felipe Baca's move in 1862 was one of the later settlements. About 1870, the line of Hispanic sheepmen and farmers ran headlong into another movement, the Anglo cattlemen, and that is another story.


Full Text

PAGE 1

This Week In History Hispanic Pioneer: Don Felipe Baca by Richard Castro It was July 1860 when Don Felipe Baca, traveling to Denver with a load of flour to sell, passed through what today is the city of Trinidad, Colorado. Baca lived in Mora, New Mexico and traded his flour with a small mining camp on the banks of Cherry Creek. Upon his return home, he stopped along the Purgatoire River in an area dominated by the landmark of what later would be called Fishers Peak. He recognized the land's potential for agriculture and grazing and decided to return. In the fall of that year, Baca left his family in Guadalupita in northern New Mexico, and moved northward. He laid claim to a choice piece of bottom land and the next spring he took the fruits of his labor, a wagonful of melons and unthreshed grain, back to show his Hispanic countrymen. In March of 1862, he convinced 12 family heads of household, all His .panic, to cross over Raton Pass and lay settlement of this new land. They came with 20 wagons, all drawn by oxen, loaded to the limit with all their belongings. Then and there they decided to stand together in all emergencies. They acquired plenty of firearms and ammunition, strapped rifles to their backs, revolvers to their waists and moved out.

PAGE 2

2 They brought cattle, sheep, goats and swine. Some of the men traveled on foot, others rode horses, others who were fortunate to own a burro, used them as mounts to good advantage. These firs_ t Hispanic families spread out along the river valley into small settlements. Baca, however, settled in the heart of what soon became the town of Trinidad. He was a dominant personality in the early growth of the town. Baca and an Anglo pioneer, William Hoehne, opened the first general store in the tiny settlement. By 1866, the Trinidad Tow A Company had incorporated on land that Baca donated to the town. By this same year, Trinidad had a school and a school board. Baca served as president of the school board from 1866 to 1868. A Catholic church was built on land given by him. A convent was set up two years later, again on land and with money donated by Baca. He became involved in territorial politics. In 1870, he was elected to the territorial legislature, serving one two-year term. He compaigned against statehood, feeling that it would be detrimental to the southern, Hispanic region of the territory, which would be overshadowed by Anglo dominated Denver. The southeastern corner of Colorado was later named Baca County in his honor. Baca died in 1874 at the age of forty-six years. His will, executed only days before, showed that he died quite a wealthy man. His estate, consisted of both money and personal possessions but especially large

PAGE 3

3 numbers of sheep, was divided among his wife and nine children. He specifically provided. for his minor children's education, and they took advantage of this opportunity. This story of Don Felipe Baca is yet another in a long process that saw Hispanics fanning out from the narrow river valleys along the Rio Grande and its tributaries, where they had settled since the Spanish colonized New Mexico in the early 1600's. In reading U.S. History, there is little or no acknowledgement of the contributions Hispanics made to the settling of the Southwest. For example, by the time the Pilgrims had landed on Plymouth Rock, the Spanish had already settled and lived in Santa Fe for 10 years. The true history of the Southwest would point out that Hispanics unlike other ethnic groups did not migrate to the United States, rather the United States migrated to the Soutwest where Indians and Hispanics had lived for centuries. Don Felipe Baca•s move in 1862 was one of the later settlements. About 1870, the line of Hispanic sheepmen and farmers ran headlong into another movement, the Anglo cattlemen, and that is another story.