The Wetherill Story
By Richard Lilley
Grandson of Anna Wetherill Mason
I think most Wetherill families can be traced back to Northern England and the ancient village of Wetheral, which is east of Carlisle and a few miles South of the Scottish border. It’s one of the most beautiful villages in all of England, Wetheral village is set in green rolling hills with the River Eden running along side of it. The village is situated on the Western slope of the river. The gentle hill slopes up about a mile before rolling over towards Carlisle, twenty miles away. Wetheral is a small village with just a few stores, churches, train station and a couple of pubs.
In the center of the village is a grassy park with a old roman cross at the south end and a road leading down the hill to a old church abbey with a grave yard surrounding it, as was the custom in the old days. The grave stones are so weather beaten that about all you can make out on them are the words, "From the village Wetheral". Back up the road toward the park, is another road leading South for about a quarter of a mile to the old farm that used to be a monastery and which has a large gatehouse that was once the entrance. The farm is still in operation with sheep and cattle everywhere, but it is now privately owned.
Returning back up the road to the park and down the hill past the store and post office, we come to the small train station which has a half mile long bridge stretching toward the North, and Scotland, over the beautiful River Eden one hundred feet below. On the other side of the river green rolling hills covered with grazing sheep stretch on as far as the eye can see.
After the Battle of Hasting, around A.D. 1066, William the Conqueror ordered every man in the kingdom to select any surname. The Wetherill’s acquired their name which means a enclosure to protect sheep, probably because they were the protectors of the sheep from the raiding parties from the Scottish Highlanders and other outlaws.
Our first known Wetherill was William Wethereld and was reported, born in Yorkshire England in 1754 and later lived in Rich Hill, Armagh County, Northern Ireland. William married Hannah Creeth from Armagh in Tullamore Ireland in 1787. Their first son Richard, was born in Rich Hill, on Oct. 9, 1788. Later came a daughter, Sarah and three more boys, William, Joseph and George.
Richard emigrated to America in 1812 while the War of 1812 was being fought between the United States and Great Britain, from June 1812 to the spring of 1815. The main land fighting of the war occurred along the Canadian border, in the Chesapeake Bay region, and along the Gulf of Mexico; extensive action also took place at sea. From the end of the American Revolution in 1783, the United States had been irritated by the failure of the British to withdraw from American territory along the Great Lakes; their backing of the Indians on America's frontiers; and their unwillingness to sign commercial agreements favorable to the United States. The peace treaty ending the war was signed in Europe in December 1814.
Richard worked in cloth making, later purchasing a cloth mill in 1834 in Lower Merion Township, Montgomery County, Penn. and became very successful in the cloth business. It is interesting to note, that William Mason also came to Mass. In 1832 from Leeds, England, to also set up a textile mill and this family of Wetherill’s and the Mason’s would come together in a union in the young state of Colorado, fifty-three years later.
Richard Wethereld became an American citizen on October 9, 1821 and at that time he changed the spelling of the Wethereld name to Wetherill. Richard married Ann Henvis from Upland Penn. In 1814 and They had 13 children, one of which was Benjamin Kite, born Dec. 24, 1832 in Chester, Penn. The other children were, Deborah, William, Robert, Isaac, Hannah, Mary, Joseph, Sarah, Mary Ann, Richard, George, and John, Benjamin being the next to the youngest.
The Wetherill family were Quakers in faith and remain so after coming to America. Richard’s wife Ann, died on April 3, 1844 and Richard remarried three years later to Ann Magill from England, in the Friends Meeting House in Chester, Pennsylvania.
At the age of twenty-one years old, Benjamin Kite, traveled to Wisconsin and then on to Iowa where he met and married Marion Tompkins from Clear Lake, Iowa, who was born on Feb. 18, 1835 in Ottawa Canada. The Tompkins were a family of Quakers as were the Wetherills. Benjamin and Marion were married at the Friends Meeting House in Iowa City on May 22, 1856. The story is that Marion’s grandfather was taken by the King Phillips Indians as a small boy and raised to manhood in the tribe . When he returned to his life, as a colonist, he took with him an Indian wife who became Marion’s grand mother. On one side of the family we have Capt. Ben Church who fought the King Phillips tribe and the other side a member of the tribe.
After Benjamin and Marion were married they moved back to Chester, Penn. where on June 12,1858, son, Richard was born. In 1859 they moved to Leavenworth, Kansas where they lived for the next seventeen years. During their time in Kansas they had five more children, Benjamin, Anna, John, Clayton and Winslow.
While the Wetherill’s lived in Kansas, the Civil War raged on in the East from 1861 until 1865, with the greatest loss of life in any war, past and present. 624,511 lives were wasted in this stupid war while in the west the Indians were being forced onto reservations in order to make more room for the people moving ever westward. The Indians who resisted were hunted down and either killed or remove to the reservations. The fact that Canada accomplished the same thing without hardly any blood shed, through negotiations, doesn’t say much for the United States Government.
Kansas was considered an unlikely place for Anglo settlement, and the government decided to use the land for reservations for displaced Indians from the East. Westward-bound migrants were passing through Kansas, however, on both the Oregon Trail and the Santa Fe Trail. Soon tremendous pressure developed to open Kansas itself for settlement, and in the early 1850s the Indians were moved to what became Oklahoma. Three small reservations in northeast Kansas are relics from that earlier time: the Potawatomi, the Kickapoo, and the Iowa-Sac-Fox.
The U.S. government opened Kansas to settlement in 1854 under the terms of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which allowed the territory to determine its own position on slavery. The peopling of Kansas thus immediately became a national issue. Organizations like the Emigrant Aid Company promoted immigration by antislavery Northerners, while proslavery groups mounted a similar drive. The two groups of settlers established rival governments, violence erupted, and the territory soon became known as "bleeding Kansas." After much controversy within both the territory and the U.S. Congress, the proposed proslavery Lecompton Constitution was rejected by the electorate, and Kansas entered the Union in 1861 under the terms of the Wyandotte Constitution (1859). Guerrilla raids continued along the Missouri-Kansas border throughout the Civil War.
As part of President Grant’s program of purifying the Indian Service by enlisting the churches to nominate Indian agents, the Central Superintendency -- Kansas and Indian Territory-- fell to the Society of Friends. In the summer of 1869 Quaker agents, pacifists by religious conviction, took charge of some of the most warlike Indians on the continent. Lawrie Tatum, a balding, big-framed Iowa farmer of great courage and tenacity, was appointed to the Kiowas and Comanches. Elderly Brinton Darlington received the Cheyenne and Arapaho Agency, to be succeeded after his death in 1872 by John D. Miles, an energetic and able executive, Overseeing these agents from offices in Lawrence, Kansas, were Superintendent Enoch Hoag, a pious visionary, and his chief clerk, Cyrus Beede, whom General Sheridan characterized as "a little to simple for this earth."
Honesty, trust, generosity, forbearance, and persuasion were Quaker tools in the task of transforming the plains nomads into self-supporting Christian farmers. Benjamin Wetherill was appointed a Indian trail agent in 1872 and was sent to Leavenworth Kansas until 1876. This was doing the time of the Red River war in Texas when the Indians rebelled because of the slaughter of buffalo and the constant push of the military to keep them on a reservation where they were to become farmers. The rations on the reservation were either stolen by crooked agents or was not fit for human consumption. It is no wonder the Indians were very warlike and there were raiding parties everywhere in the Oklahoma Territory that Benjamin had to ride.
As Benjamin Kite Wetherill rode the Chisholm Trail as an Indian agent, his job was a peacemaker, fitting for a Quaker. The letter he wrote home to his wife in 1873 made clear to her and the children the conditions which faced the representatives of the Government in the Indian Territory.
U.S. Indian Agency, IT.
Office for Osages, 7th Mo. 3, 1873
(Via Coffeeville P.O. Kansas)
I sent a letter to Richard a few days ago containing two dollars. I expect to get a letter from thee when the mail comes in, which will be the last one until I get on the plains, as this is the last thee will get from me until then, as I expect to go out on the 7th day with the Indians and stay with them during their winter hunt; the Indians have got their money, spent it, and started for the plains. Tomorrow will be the 4th of July. I wish I could spend it at home. Jesse Morgan has the contract for carrying the mail from here to Coffeeville, once a week at $50 per month.
I will have to buy me some clothes as mine are nearly worn out. Am using my best all the time. I did not give thee any account of my trip home from Wichita Agency which I will do thinking it may interest thee and the children, particularly as my trip prevented a general Indian war in the territory, and was the means of having the difficulty between the tribes amicably settled. Well to begin, I expect to give thee an account of each day, as I wrote it down at the time. Thee can preserve it for future reference.
Left the Wichita Agency on the 9th day of 6 Month for the camp of the Wichitas. four miles distant. The chiefs were not ready to start. Visited the school. The boys had no clothes on except shirts, which is an improvement on most of the Indian children as most of them are dressed with a string around their waists and are happy. Found the children learning English very fast. Visited the camps, found the women exposed to the waists, having no shirts, many of them busy picking lice off each others heads and cracking them between their teeth, and forgetting to spit them out, as is the custom with all Indians. I gave Little Raven, head chief of the Arapahoes, my old straw hat, of which he appeared quite proud. Left the Wichita camp at 11 o`clock and camped at two o`clock for dinner. It rained very hard until after we camped, There were 35 Indians in the party. They mix their dough and roll it around sticks, and hold it over the fire to bake. Their beef is cut in long thin pieces, and stuck on a long stick with two shorter sticks across to hold it out straight; the long one is stuck in the ground leaning over toward the fire, thus cooking the meat. We found a wild colt today. It followed us being very hungry for milk. I think it was left by some Cadde Indians, who were out for a few days before, and caught 22 wild horses. Started after getting dinner and drying our blankets &c. At 1/4 to 4 o`clock, traveled in an eastern direction, and came to the cattle trail at 7 o`clock in the evening, and begged a fat cow from the drovers for the Indians, which was freely given us; the Indians butchered it very quickly, and we camped for the night about one mile east of the cattle trail. Saw a deer in the forenoon, about 20 of the party gave chase and would have succeeded in killing it, had it not been a stream which could not be crossed with the horses. We crossed one stream so swollen with the rain that the water ran over the horses backs.
6th mo. 10th. Got up after a good nights rest at 5 o`clock and started at half past five without any breakfast, rode twenty-five miles over a beautiful country, and camped at Johnson’s ranch for breakfast and dinner at 11 o`clock. Johnson has five hundred cows and a great many yearlings and calves. They milk 22 cows. They charged us 10 cents per quart for milk. Their nearest neighbor is seven miles distant and a colored man. We started at two o`clock after eating our dinner and resting out houses and selves. We passed over the most beautiful country imaginable; prairie and timber so interspersed as to render it so; the view I took was from an elevation west of the Canadian River. After crossing the river we stopped and killed a beef, which we got of a colored man, who has a herd of over 500 head, Afterwards rode about five miles and camped for the night. Our supper consisted of beef, entrails and coffee. One of the Indians shot a deer, It was very poor.
6th Mo. 11. We got up and started at 5 o`clock without breakfast, got to a little river at 8 ½ o`clock. We had very wet roads until 11 o`clock when we camped for breakfast and dinner. We saw a large black timber wolf, who stood and looked at us very impudently, but a couple of shots sent him away. Saw several deer today, but did not try to kill any on account of their being so poor. Left camp at 4 o`clock, rode four miles and camped for the night, and to counsel with the Shawnee Chief, who gave us a beef; I got my supper of him, consisting of pounded corn cakes, beef and coffee.
6 Mo. 12. Got up at 5 ½ o`clock, ate breakfast, and waited until 10 o`clock for the chiefs to meet in counsel. I got very tired of waiting and was anxious to be riding. The Shawnee Chief killed the fatted hog for us, and made us a good quantity of pounded corn cake and coffee. Went into counsel at ten o`clock. Dave, the Wichita Chief, made a good talk in Comanche language. McCluskey, the Wichita interpreter, interpreted it into English, to a Creek who interpreted it to a Shawnee Chief, Joe Ellis, in Creek, who interpreted it to the Shawnees. I explained to them the contents of the letter sent to the Wichitas by the Osages. The Shawnees called counsel again in the afternoon, and wrote a letter to the Osages, and one to the Superintendent, demanding the man who killed A-sad-a-wah, and agreed to send a delegation of four men with us to represent their tribe. We left at four o`clock and rode three miles to a traders, from whom we purchased a beef, then went on to the North Fork of Canadian River, and had to swim it on our horses. Rode only 9 miles today, camped at 8 o`clock. It has been very sultry all day and looks like a heavy storm in the North. At 10 o`clock tonight a remarkable phenomenon appeared in the north on the intense black clouds, in the shape of a large rainbow. It consisted of a band of light the width of a rainbow and enclosing about one fifth of the horizon, a more perfect bow I have never saw. I think it falls to the lot of but few to see a bow in the night. It was nearly as bright as clear sky. The magnificence of the sight is indescribable.
6 Mo. 13. Arrived at the chief’s of the Sac & Fox Indians at 1/4 to five o`clock, where they feasted our party. They even went so far as to kill a fat dog, which is considered a great honor among them. I left them feasting and rode to the Sac & Fox Agency, where I found Agent Pickering not enjoying very good health. The Agency is beautifully located on an elevated spot of prairie, surrounded with timber.
6-14. I slept with the Agent and ate my meals with him. The chiefs of the Wichitas and Sac & Foxes had a council this afternoon. The Sac & Foxes had a letter written to the Osages demanding of them the man who shot the Wichita Chief. After the council was over the Indians went to horse-racing.
6 Mo. 15. First Day. Left the Agency at 8 o`clock. Got to a deep fork at 1/4 to 9 o`clock, found a dug-out canoe and attached ropes to each end of it and crossed our saddles and other things and self in it and swam our horses; it is amusing to see how naturally the Indians take to water. They would rather swim a stream than go over in a boat. We rode until 1/4 to 1 o`clock and camped for dinner, started at 1/4 to 4 o`clock and rode until half past 7 o`clock making 35 miles today. We camped at Pole Cat creek, near the house of a Uchee Indian of whom I bought a two year old steer for seven dollars. The Indians are now eating it 1/4 past 9 o`clock. I got supper from the Uchee. I tried to tell them that I wanted some bread and milk, but they went to work and made a fire and fried some bacon and pounded corn and made some bread and coffee of which I partook heartily. When I told them I wanted meat for the men they brought out about five pounds of bacon almost as thick as my hand. Our party now consisted of 48 men. I finally made them understand I wanted a whole beef.
6 Mo. 17. Slept very well and started at 6 o`clock, rode one hour, and stopped at the house of a Cherokee, and killed a two year old heiffer belonging to Augustus Captain, a half-breed Osage, and ate it. Started at 1/4 to 11 o`clock, got to Captains at 12 o`clock, and took out across the country expecting to get to the Agency. We stopped at 3 o`clock for dinner, and had quite a heavy shower of rain. Started at 5 o`clock and rode until 1/4 to 8 o`clock, expecting to get to the Agency every minute, but am disappointed. The horses are all tired, having travelled over very mountainous country covered with stones. We saw beautiful falls on a creek we crossed. The country appeared as though no one had ever been there before, and I claim the right of discovery. We are making a plain trail and I hope to visit them again at some future time.
6 Mo. 18. We started at 5 o`clock expecting to get to the Agency by riding five miles, but after riding two hours, we struck a road leading to Homing Creek from the Agency, near Mt. Wistar about four miles from the Agency. We travelled all day yesterday, and this morning without any road or trail. We arrived at the Agency at half past eight o`clock, being very glad to find it, as it was lost to us the night before. The people at the Agency were somewhat surprised at the size or number of the delegation I had with me, there being 38 Wichitas (three having joined us the day after we started) 4 Shawnees, 2 Seminoles, 1 Shank, 1 Creek, the Wichita interpreter and myself, forming the party. Everybody appeared glad to see me back safe, as many were of the opinion that I would never be able to make the trip, and get back alive. I got a good breakfast at my boarding-house, and was asked innumerable questions all day, being looked upon as a kind of curiosity by both whites and Indians.
I have now written the full history of my trip from Wichita Agency which makes a very long letter, but thee may get time to read it this summer. I hope it will prove interesting to thee and the children, and probably to some of our friends, if they desire to take time to read it.
If thee desires it I will sometime write thee a history of my trip from this Agency to the Wichita Agency, if thee thinks it worth while to read and preserve it.
From thy loving husband
After four years as Indian agent in Kansas territory Benjamin leased a lead mine in Joplin Missouri and shortly there after his health started to fail, probably from lead poison. In 1879 Benjamin wanted to go to a new climate and employment so he moved to Southwest Colorado. Benjamin and son Richard worked at the mines in Rico for a short time before moving that same year to a small ranch near Bluff City Utah. When the heavy rain fall washed the biggest share of the ranch away, they packed up again and moved to Mancos Colorado. For the first two years they lived on the ranch of a friendly settler named Coston. In 1882 Benjamin and his five boy’s started to build on what eventually became a successful cattle ranch about four miles west of Mancos called the Alamo ranch.
Because of Benjamins ill health he was dependent on sons Richard, Al, John, Clayton, Winslow and their sister Anna to do most of the ranch work. Eleven years after the ranch was started, it was one of the most successful in the Mancos valley. At the height of prosperity they controlled more than 1,000 acres with 300 under cultivation. They did very well considering that when they arrived in Mancos they didn’t have a dollar to their name. After the discovery of the Mesa Verde cliff houses by Richard Wetherill and brother-in-law Charlie Mason in 1888 the ranch became famous for the guests that came there to be guided into the cliff houses. At the time of the discovery the Indians were not friendly to anyone going up into the country of the cliff houses but because the Wetherill’s treated the Indians with respect they were allowed the discovery. Richard was 30 and Charlie was 29 at the time of discovery.
From 1888 until 1898 they worked in cliff houses in the winter and on the ranch in the summer. By 1893 the excavations in the Mesa Verde were done and they moved onto Grand Gulch to explore more cliff dwellings..
Here’s an excerpt from the book wrote by Frank McNitt about Richard Wetherill and the first sight of the cliff palace of Mesa Verde.
In the winter of 1888 Richard Wetherill and brother-in-law Charlie Mason were on top of Mesa Verde tracking strays that had wandered off with a bunch of wild cattle. The men had reached the summit after driving their horses across the icy and then up a precipitous switch-back climb between Navajo and Soda canyons. Now, following the tracks, they found themselves in a place where neither had been before. It was snowing, large, drifting flakes that blurred their vision. Making the progress more difficult, a barrier of underbrush scratched and snared the legs of their panting horses. The cattle tracks fanned out or narrowed according to the terrain, sometimes taking the riders closer than they liked to the edge of an abyss.
Richard and Mason dismounted to rest the horses at a place overlooking a small branch canyon, and then walked out on a windswept point of bare rock. The gulf yawning below them was so deep that a dislodged stone would have plummeted down and struck at last without audible echo. A snow powdered dark green carpet of treetops ascended the bottom of this gorge into a wider, distant canyon. Suddenly, with a exclamation of astonishment, Richard grasped Mason’s arm.
Nearly Opposite of them, half a mile away and just below the far mesa’s brown caprock, was a long, deep opening in the cliff face. Mirage-like in the falling snow and outlined against the cave’s darkest shadows, were ghostly traceries of the largest cliff dwelling either had ever seen. The walls rose and fell in broken terraces, pierced here and there by the black, sightless eyes of doorways. Near the center, rising austerely in the afternoon’s pale light, a tapering tower of three stories, beautifully round, dominated the entire ruin. It was all as compact. as complete and unreal as a crenelated castle.
The strays were forgotten. Richard and Charlie Mason turned away and started back around the edge of the smaller canyon, keeping the horses as close to the rim as they dared. They broke a fresh trail through the underbrush until they reached a clearing directly opposite the great cave. Here the cliff dropped away abruptly for thirty feet or more, but the problem of descent was quickly solved. Finding several dead trees, they lopped off the limbs to within a foot or so of the trunks, joined the sections togeather with their lariats and then lowered the whole improvised ladder over the cliff. By this means they reached the bottom.
Now, standing in the silence of the ruins, they could begin to gauge its size. The walls rose in tumbled splender above them for several levels and to the height of a tall pine - reached into the shadows beyond the round tower for two or three hundred yards. The cabin they had left that morning could be tucked away in a corner of this crowed cave. They moved, scarcely speaking, but their voices magnified in hollow echoes across piles of rubble. Behind them, from one room to the next, they left footprints in dust for centuries undisturbed by any human.
In May of 93 the Wetherill brothers exhibited their collection of artifacts from Mesa Verde at the Chicago World Fair. While at the fair, Richard met the Hyde Brothers, of the Babbitt soap fortune, and they formed the Hyde Exploration Expedition. During his time of employment with them, Richard, and much of the time with his brothers and brother-in-law Mason, explored Grand Gulch, Chaco Canyon, Kiet Seil, and many of the other cliff houses of the four corners area. After the cliff dwellings were pretty much explored out, they started to build trading posts in New Mexico and Arizona to trade with the Navajos and Utes.
In 1894 came a very dry year which put the Alamo Ranch heavily in debt. It was the beginning of the end for the ranch.
Richard Wetherill was born June 12, 1858 in Chester, Penn., three years before the beginning of the Civil War. When he was one year old, his parents Benjamin and Marion Wetherill, moved out West to Leavenworth, Kansas. They remained in Leavenworth while Richard grew up, received his education, and began to work nights at a boiler factory at the age of sixteen.
In 1876, the same year as Custer met his death at the Little Big Horn, Benjamin moved his family to Joblin, Missouri, and went to work in the lead mines. Richard had turned eighteen and was assuming much of the family responsibilities, being the oldest of the family of five brothers and one sister.
Three years after moving to Joplin, Benjamin’s health began to fail and he decided to leave and try to find something better. He traveled alone to the mining town of Rico, in the new state of Colorado and tried his hand at silver mining. Because of his failing health he sent for Richard who joined him and later the rest of the family also came to Rico. After work at Rico didn’t pan out, they moved on to Bluff City, Utah, where they took up a small ranch along the San Juan River. They had only been there a few months when one of those Southwest rain storms flooded them out to the point that it wasn’t worth rebuilding.
They packed up what belongings they had left and headed East into the Mancos valley of Southwest Colorado, where they stayed at the Coston Ranch for a couple of years. In the year 1880, when Richard was 24, they were able to start there own ranch, which they called Alamo. The ranch became very successful in the next eight years under the operation of the large family and in 1888 while Richard and brother-in-Law, Charlie Mason, were looking for stray cattle on the Mesa Verde, they discovered the cliff houses. For the next eight years Richard, his brothers and brother-in-law, worked the ranch in the summer and went exploring and did archaeological work in the winter.
In May of 93 the Wetherill brothers exhibited their collection of artifacts from Mesa Verde at the Chicago World Fair. While at the fair, Richard met the Hyde Brothers, of the Babbitt soap fortune, and they formed the Hyde Exploration Expedition. During his time of employment with them, Richard, and much of the time with his brothers and brother-in-law, Mason, explored Grand Gulch, Chaco Canyon, Kiet Seil, and many of the other cliff houses of the four corners area.
In 1896 Richard lost all of his interest in the ranch after which he went to work full time for the Hyde Brothers. On December 12, 1896, Richard and Marietta Palmer were married on a trip to Sacramento, California. Richard had guided the Palmer family to several of the dwelling around the four corners area and had fell in love with Marietta who was twenty at the time and Richard was thirty-eight. Richard left the Alamo ranch and built a home and a trading post at Chaco Canyon and was a successful trader and rancher for the next fourteen years.
In 1910 at 6 o’clock in the evening of June 22 while herding cattle for sheriff Tom Talle of Gallup, down from Rincon del Camino about half mile below his trading post, he was shot by a Navajo Indian by the name of Chis-Chilling-Begay. There were many rumors about why this Indian, who Richard thought of as a friend, did this killing. One of the most plausible was that the Navajo owed him a lot of money and he saw this as a good way to get out of debt. Richard had done much for the Navajos by operating a trading post and improving the breed of sheep for the Navajos so they could weave better blankets for which he had created a market. He had supplied them with better tools for improving their silver work and overall making them wealthier people. Richard and his wife Marietta are buried in Chaco Canyon up against the cliff about 300 yards North of Pueblo Bonito.
A bit of a note from the newspapers about Richard. Thought you would enjoy.
The Denver News' reporter got locations slightly mixed in the following article, but he no doubt refers to Richard Wetherill, formerly of Alamo ranch this county.
When the fall term of court "takes in" at Santa fe, Dick Wetherill will begin his fight to get back his home. The case will make precedent, and if Dick Wetherill wins; homesteaders will feel safer in their shoes. For the nubbin of it is this: After seven years of living on his homestead claim, after complying with the law of the country, and, proving up, the government at Washington did--and it is freely charged that it was persuded[sic.] so to do by interested persons--reverse its former action, cancel his patent and take away his home. He is now fighting to get it back.
Dick Wetherill is of old Pennsylvania stock, and the family was in early days of the Quaker faith, but the meekness of that sect has somehow been shelved in the representatives of this generation, and there is fight to lose, in Dick Wetherill. Some people have already found this out to their cost, for Dick was not backward in catching hold, the last time the opponents of his way of looking at things tried it on. His father and four brothers came with him from Kansas to Mancos, N.M., and there they "went into cattle." They were responsible for much of the interest taken in the Pueblo ruins, the broken homes of the cliff dwellers, and found after awhile that it was almost as profitable to take care of the tourists who came to see the relics of a forgotten race as it was to take care of the rangy steers which the country produced. Dick become[sic.] more interested in the ruins than any other member of the family, and went somewhat into the Indian trading. It is said that there was a $10,000 business in his little store at Mancos, and that was not his only store, either.
After awhile Dick Wetherill went further into the canon country, where the later and greater ruins were uncovered and rebuilt. He was now a "ruins man" for fair. With Hector Alliot and Arthur Willmarth of Denver, he prepared the exhibit for the world's fair 1893, and he himself made the model, which is today shown in the capitol in this city.
About this time it occurred to him to homestead enough of the canon, and mesa in combination, to cover the ruins, and thus to protect them. He filed his claim and then met the members of the Hyde Exploring expedition in which he became a member. Their money was used to put the ruins into preservable shape; some of the walls that threatened to fall were propped, more digging was done, and the placed was generally "fixed up."
Before long, however, there came disagreements between Dick Wetherill and his partners. They are the Babbitt's soap men and immensely rich, but Dick fought them to a finish.
The government came out when interest in the ruins had grown sufficieiently to induce somebody at Washington to get Uncle Sam to spend his money on an agent to be seen what could be done. The agent came to Dick Wetherill and they talked it over.
Dick Wetherill saw a way and proposed to deed his land to the government, if the government would make a national park of the place--and presumably leave him in charge of it.
That is about all that came of it at the time. Then, last spring, after he had severed his connection with the Hyde people, came the blow, dealt, his friends say, in secret. The government suddenly discovered that Dick Wetherill had evidently taken up his homestead claim for some purpose other than that stated in the filing, and the claim at once revoked, the patent cancelled and Dick Wetherill's homestead was his no longer.
Who his enemies were, his friends will not state, though they say emphatically and in ornamental language that they know who they are, they think.
Wetherill has a store in denver, where he sells Indian goods and Navajo blankets. He has three or four others scattered over the country, and the income from all these would put him beyond the reach of ordinary bread and butter worry, for every one of them is doing a good business. But Dick Wetherill has become a "ruins man," and want to see the cliff dwellings preserved, and when a man gets one of these notions into his system, he will fight for it as hard, and perhaps a little harder in some cases, than he would for any actual personal necessity.
Mr. Wetherill came through denver, headed east and he was "a-fannin' and a foggin, as Owen Wister makes his westerners put it. And last Saturday he came a fanning and a fogging back. He has now disappeared into the fighting ground of New Mexico, and will stay there a month. In the meantime interest in his case is growing daily.
"He was simply the thing you put into the jaws of the squeezers,"said a man who is familiar with the whole detail of the case, yesterday. He was the nut, and when the cracker came together, like, he got it, and he got it good. But you watch."
John Wetherill was born September 24, 1866 on Diamond Island, in the middle of the Missouri River East of Leavenworth, Kansas. Shortly there-after the river proceeded to wash the farm and island away and the Wetherill family was forced to move into Leavenworth. When John was nine the family moved to Joblin Missouri where his father, Benjamin Kite went to work in lead mining. After three years the family moved to Colorado and eventually to the Mancos valley.
In 1880 when John was fourteen, they began to build the successful Alamo ranch. By the time the Wetherill’s and Charlie Mason discovered the Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellings in 1888 John was twenty-two. John, his brothers and Charlie Mason worked at ranching, exploring, guiding visitors and excavations of the cliff dwellings until 1890 when the ranch was sold.
In March 1896 John married Louisa Wade, who was from another pioneer family in Mancos much like the Wetherills. John Wetherill and wife Louisa left Mancos in 1900 after several years of drought and crop failure and moved to Ojo Alamo, a Hyde trading post near Chaco Canyon which they operated. For five years John and Louisa lived in New Mexico before building a trading post at Oljato Utah, against the advice of many people who said that the Indians would kill them as they had done other white men wondering into their country.
In 1909 John guided Byron Cumming and W.B. Douglas to discover the Rainbow Bridge. Sometime later he guided Ex-President Teddy Roosevelt and Zane Grey into the bridge, plus many other tourists who had to see this natural wonder.
After Richard was killed in 1910, John left Ojato and built a trading post at Kayenta Arizona which has become a growing town at the present. He operated this post until 1924 at which time he sold it to O. J. Carson and leased a ranch near the Mexican border and conducted tours into Mexico until 1928. Nov. 4, 1944, John Wetherill died West of Flagstaff atAsh Fork, Arizona on a train and was buried on the hill overlooking Kayenta, the town he started as a trading post in 1910. Along side of him lie his wife Louisa, who died a year later, and their son Benjamin who died in 1946. John was 78 at the time of his death and Louisa was 68.
Clayton was born July 18, 1868 in Leavenworth, Kansas. When he was seven or eight, his family moved to Joblin, Missouri. By the time the family had moved to Colorado and started to build the Alamo Ranch Clayton was twelve.
After the ranch was sold in 1900 Clayton worked with his brothers at the trading posts in Chaco Canyon and Kayenta and with his brother-in-law who was building a fish hatchery at Hermit Lakes above Creede.
Clayton’s home and fish hatchery on the Rio Grande River road In the spring of 1907 Clayton Wetherill and his new wife, Euginia, moved from Mancos to Hermit lakes above Creede on horseback over Weminuche Pass and built a cabin on grouse creek, then later he and his uncle Justus Tompkins, built a fish hatchery on land leased from Lora Officer. Lora had bought the land a few years earlier from Herbert C. and Jennie Bent. The hatchery did well and the Clayton Wetherill home was built on top of the hatchery.
Clayton and Euginia raised their three children at this ranch, which is still standing today just east of the San Juan Ranch about twenty miles up from Creede on the Rio Grande reservoir road. Clayton died of a heart attack at the age of fifty-three and is buried at the Creede cemetery along with his wife Euginia who lived another forty years, dying at the age of seventy-seven in 1962. After Clayton’s death, his widow, Eugenia Faunce Wetherill, purchased the Robberson homesteads, beginning Wetherill Ranch.
Clayton’s wife was usually called "Aunt Genie." and Genie’s mother was Dr. Mary Wattle Faunce.
Dr. Mary Ann Wattle was born Oct.15,1845 north of Cincinnati in Big Woods county Ohio. She lived there until she was nine years old, then they moved with her parents to Lynn Co., KS to help make Kansas a free state.
She went to college in Oberlin, Ohio then studied medicine under Dr.Emily Blackwell in New York: from there she went to Heidleburgh, Germany to complete her medical education. Dr.Wattle practiced medicine in New York City in 1870 and taught anatomy at N.Y. Women’s medical College.
While in New York she met Isadore Faunce, who was her student and Isadore introduced her to her brother Carroll Sylvanius Faunce. Mary Ann Wattle and Carroll Sylvanius Faunce were married on July 4,1882. They had three children: Theodore Faunce born June 22,1883, Eugenia Faunce born June 10,1885, and Hilda Faunce born March 16,1887.
Dr.Faunce practiced medicine and taught until 1898. Carroll Faunce was an artist and designer who made designs for textile mills. In 1898 Carroll decided to move west and came to CO. He and son Theodore, came to Mancos to farm. Dr. Mary Ann and daughters Eugenis and Hilda spent the winter at FT.Collins, CO. where she obtained her license to practice medicine in CO. Then they joined her husband and son at Mancos where they lived until 1912. At that time they sold their farm and moved to Denver, and spent their summers at Estes Park where Mary Ann studied botany and Carroll painted pictures of Colorado mountain flowers. They devised a game of flowers, much like the game of Authors. The game is now in possession of the Denver Botanical Gardens.
In 1915 Carroll decided to return to New York City and do more textile designs. Dr.Mary Ann came to live with her daughter Eugenia Faunce Wetherill at the Wetherill hatchery near Creede, CO.
Carroll Faunce returned from designing in May 1925 and came to Creede where he and Mary Ann lived until her death in June 1935. She would have been 90 the following Oct. Carroll lived in Creede and at the Wetherill ranch with his daughter Eugenia until his death in Dec.1949 age 94 yrs 7 mo.
Benjamin Alfred Wetherill
Benjamin Alfred Wetherill, better known as Al, was born June 25, 1861 in Leavenworth Kansas. It was the same year that tme Civil War began and the battles began to rage in the East. When he was fifteen his family moved to Joblin Missouri. When the family moved on to Colorado and started to build the Alamo Ranch Al was nineteen and along with his brothers, sister and parents they worked hard to build the ranch into a paying business. After 1888 and the discovery of the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings the Wetherill boys and brother-in-Law, Charlie Mason, worked on the ranch in the summer months and explored and worked in the ruins in the winter.
As the years went by the ranch was neglected more and more and a very bad drought came along in 1894 which was the beginning of the end for the ranch. By 1897 Richard had given up on the ranch and that winter Richard, Al and Clate spent four months building a trading post in Chaco Canyon.
When Al’s father, Benjamin Kite Wetherill, died in November of 1898 he left the indebted ranch to his wife Marion and son Al. The rest of the family had moved on to building homes of their own. For three years Al managed to keep the ranch operating until a $3,000 note became due in 1901 in which Al couldn’t cover and the ranch was sold at public auction to satisfy the debt.
Marion moved in with Daughter, Anna and son-in-law, Charlie Mason, at their Hermit Lakes ranch above Creede. Al and his wife, Mary (Turrant), whom he had married in December 1899, move to Thoreau, about twenty-six miles East of Gallup New Mexico. Richard had arranged for Al to buy into a trading post there. Al worked at it a year before he saw that it was not going to pay off, so he sold his interest and moved into Gallup where he became the Postmaster. Al held this job for the next fourteen years until the age of fifty-five.
Al’s life and activities are well documented in the collection of his writing compiled and edited by Maurine Fletcher in a book called "The Wetherills of Mesa Verde".
Al moved to Sand Springs Oklahoma, nearTulsa, where he spent the rest of his life. He died at there at the age of eighty-nine on January 5, 1950.
Winslow was born on July 31, 1870 in Leavenworth Kansas. He was six, when his family moved to Joblin Missouri and at the age of nine they moved on to Colorado. At the age of twelve he helped his family build the Alamo Ranch in Mancos and from there he worked with his family in cattle ranching, exploring and excavations of the cliff dwellings.
On December 3, 1894 at the age of 24 he married Mattie Pauline Young, they had two children, Milton and Helen. Win worked with his brothers in trading posts and excavations until he became the operator of the Two Grays Trading Post in Western New Mexico. After about tens years of marriage he and Mattie split up and he married his brother Clayton’s sister-in-law, Hilda Faunce, the daughter of Dr. Mary Faunce from Mancos.
Win and Hilda move out to the Oregon coast until 1913 when Win became home sick for the dry desert and they returned to take over the Covered Water Trading Post near Black Mountain Arizona. This they operated for the next four years until saving enough money to buy a farm near Farmington. They traveled by wagon for four days over the Cottonwood pass to get to the farm which was on the river next to the old Kit Barton’s place. Win was forty-eight at this time.
Win was kicked in the head by a horse and it is said he became mean and Hilda divorced him. Later he became the postmaster of the post office in Farmington. Win died December 15, 1939 in Farmington at the age 69 and is buried there. His ex wife, Hilda Faunce Wetherill, wrote the book, which can be checked out at most libraries, "Desert Wife." In this book she calls Win, "Ken" because after their divorce she didn’t want him to have any claim on the book.
Anna Isabel Wetherill
Anna Isabel Wetherill was born January 24, 1865 on Diamond Island near Leavenworth Kansas as the Civil war was just coming to a close. When Anna was eleven her family moved to Joblin Missouri where she was to meet her future husband, Charlie Mason. Charlie was eighteen at the time and had a job delivering water from a excellent well on the Mason’s property, and the Wetherill family was one of his customers. In 1879 when Anna was fourteen, the Wetherill family left Missouri and moved to Colorado and then Utah and back to Colorado to settle in Mancos. A few years later the Masons also decided to move to Colorado and eventually stopped in Mancos sometime around 1883. Charlie was 24 at this time and he decided to stay in Mancos and work with the Wetherill’s on their ranch, that they had started to build in 1882.
Anna had announced to her parents, when she was eleven while living in Joblin, that she and Charlie would be married when she turned twenty. It became a fact on December 27, 1885 at the Wetherill’s Alamo Ranch near Mancos. During the next ten years Anna gave birth to five daughters: Alice, July 8, 1886; Deborah, March 31, 1888; Marion, Dec.28, 1890; Olive, May 5, 1892; and Luella, Feb. 5, 1895. All the girls were born in the Mancos area and all but Olive were born at the Alamo Ranch. Olive was born in her Uncle John Wetherill's homestead cabin near Mancos.
The Charlie Mason family lived in the Mancos area, most of the time at the Alamo Ranch, from 1885 to 1899. At times they lived at a homestead taken by Clayton Tompkins, Anna's uncle, on McElmo Creek, Clayton was a brother of Marion (Tompkins) Wetherill. During his time in the Mancos area Charlie worked at a number of different jobs, sometimes for $1.00 a day. He acquired a good team of horses, Prince and Frank, which was as essential at that time as an automobile is today.
Around 1890, because of his interest in fish culture, Charley started looking for a place where he could build a dam and create a suitable lake. He found such a site about seventy-five or eighty miles (as the crow flies) northeast of Mancos, across the Continental Divide near the headwaters of the Rio Grande River, in the beautiful mountain valley where South Clear Creek originates. In this valley, which had a elevation of abut ten-thousand feet above sea level, Charley took up a homestead.
With the help of his brother-in-law, Clayton Wetherill, also known as "Uncle Clate," Charley built a log cabin and constructed a dam across South Clear Creek to form a good-sized lake. This was the first "Hermit Lake," so named because Charley said he felt like a hermit as he lived alone in this remote area before bringing the family there. Later Charley bought a homestead having a natural lake and adjoining his property from Fred Burrows. The name of the ranch was now Hermit Lakes. Later a hatchery and a second cabin were built so Charley could accommodate his sizeable family. In the spring of 1899 Charley brought the family to the ranch. Debby remained at Mancos to help Grandma Marion Wetherill. Marion's husband, Benjamin, had passed away in November 1898, after a long illness. In the fall of 1899 after the Alamo Ranch in Mancos was sold both Debby and Marion came up to Hermit Lakes.
A CHRONOLOGY OF WETHERILL FAMILY EVENTS
1620 -- Plymouth Colony founded in New England
1689-1763 -- French and Indian Wars
1754 -- William Wethereld born in Yorkshire England
1770 -- Boston massacre
1773 -- Boston tea party
1775-1783 -- American Revolution
1775 -- Battles of Lexington and Concord
1775 -- June, Battle of Bunker Hill
1788 -- Richard Wethereld born in Rich Hill, Ireland
1803 -- Louisiana Purchase
1805 -- Nov., Lewis and Clark reach the Pacific
1812 -- Richard Wethereld migrates to US and changes spelling of name
1814 -- Richard Wethereld and Ann Henvis married in Montgomery, Penn.
1832 -- Benjamin Kite Wetherill born in Chester, Penn.
1835 -- Marion Tompkins born in Ottawa, Canada
1844 -- Ann (Henvis) Wetherill dies in Penn.
1847 -- Richard Wetherill remarried to Ann Magill in Chester, Penn.
1856 -- Benjamin Wetherill and Marion Tompkins married in Iowa Falls, Iowa
1859 -- Benjamin and Marion Wetherill move to Leavenworth, Kansas
1861--1865 -- Civil War
1861 -- Confederate’s open fire on Fort Sumter to begin the war
1865 -- Jan. 24: Anna Wetherill born at Diamond Island, Kansas.
1872-76 -- Benjamin K. Wetherill worked as a Indian Agent on the Chisholm trail. Appointed by President Grant
1876 -- Benjamin Wetherill moves family to Joblin, Missouri
1876 -- June 25, General Custer and regiment of 250 men killed at Little Big Horn
1876 -- Colorado becomes a state
1879 -- Benjamin Wetherill moves family to Bluff City, Utah
1880 -- Benjamin Wetherill moves family to Mancos, Colo.
1882 -- First building built on Alamo Ranch
1883 -- First store built in Mancos by Geo. Bauer
1885 -- Dec. 27: Anna Wetherill and Charley Mason married.
1888 -- Dec: Charley Mason and Richard Wetherill discover and explore Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde.
1892 -- May 5: Olive Mason (Lilley) born to the Masons in John Wetherill’s cabin.
1893 -- Explorations completed of Mesa Verde Cliff Houses by the Wetherill boys and Charley Mason.
1895 -- March: Richard, Al Wetherill and Charlie Mason discover Kiet Siel Cliff Houses.
1896 -- Richard Wetherill loses all holding at Alamo Ranch.
1896 -- Dec.12: Richard Wetherill age 38 marries Marietta Palmer age 20 in Sacramento, Calif.
1897 -- Jan: Richard, wife Marietta, Clate Wetherill, Charlie Mason and Clayton Tompkins plus investors C.E. Whitmore and Geo. Bowles and hired men, L. Carson, E.C. Cushman, Geo. Hangrove, J. Ethridge, Orion Buck, W. Henderson and Bert Hindman explore Grand Gulch
1898 -- May 18, Benjamin Kite Wetherill dies at Mancos
1900 -- John and Louisa Wetherill leave Mancos to operate Ojo Alamo trading post
1909 -- John Wetherill guides Dr.Byron Cummings and Mr.Douglass to the discovery of the Rainbow bridge
1910 -- Richard Wetherill is murdered by an angry Navajo in Chaco Canyon
1913 -- John Wetherill guides ex-president, Theodore Roosevelt, to the Rainbow bridge