Frank George Welch
Frank George Welch
Born: 24 Jun 1864
Skokie, Lee County, Illinois
A brief history of Frank George Welch
Frank George Welch was born 24 Jun 1864 in Skokie, Lee County, Illinois to Lucy Anna (Reed) and Alonzo Fay Welch.
The first two boys in the Alonzo and Lucy Welch family were born in Michigan; however, when Frank came along the family had moved to Illinois. Then, when Frank's younger sister Josephine was born the year after Frank (1865), the Welches were back in Michigan. The Welch family moved to Iowa and Frank's brother Alonzo was born in 1870 in Des Moines. In the 1870 census, the family was listed as living in Council Bluffs Ward 6, Pottawattamie, Iowa where Alonzo was working as a carpenter. Effie May was also born in Iowa in 1871, but by the time brother Roy came along in 1875, the Welches had moved on to Colorado.
In the 1880 U.S. census, the Welch family was living in Arapahoe, Colorado and Alonzo was raising cattle. (Frank was 17 and working on the farm.)
[The rest of this biography on Frank was written by his Granddaughter Nellie (Welch) Fry:]
One Day Frank was eating a bowl of oyster stew in a restaurant in Creede, Colorado, a mining town in the Rocky Mountains. A young woman named Amelia was visiting Creede briefly, and because she worked in Harvey Houses, she was used to people leaving food in their hurry to board the train. She assumed this gentleman had to leave his oyster stew for some pressing engagement. So... she sat down and continued to eat the stew. To her embarrassment, he returned and found her eating it. This is how Amelia met Frank Welch, her future husband.
Frank ran a livery stable in Creede and one day he was thrown from a horse and injured. He developed brain fever and was nursed back to health by Amelia. They were married July 27, 1882, in Lake City, Hinsdale County, Colorado.
The Welch family first lived in Jimtown between upper and lower Creede where he searched for gold. Shortly after the birth of their first son they moved two or three miles east of Regnier, Oklahoma, in the Oklahoma panhandle in what was then Oklahoma Territory. It was just east of what is now Kenton, Oklahoma. Cattle ranching was their livelihood.
They moved again, onto the Conkle place by the Cimmaron River in southeastern Colorado. One day their youngest daughter was playing with fire and accidentally set the house on fire. It burned to the ground and everything was lost.
They moved into a two room rock and mud house 21 miles west of Campo, Colorado. Grandpa added to this house four more rooms and a front and back porch. Around it was his many rock collections. Beautiful yellow roses bloomed abundantly in the yard. It became the family ranch house. As the children reached twenty one, they all homesteaded around the ranch until they owned a very large cattle ranch.
The ranch house was located on a bend in Pat Canyon. It had been a favorite meeting place of the Indians. Tell tale signs were all around. Just above the ranch house was a deserted village of rock circles where they had camped. There were Indian pictures on a rock by the spring, telling their stories and areas where many arrowheads were found. Searching for arrowheads became Grandpa's lifetime hobby.
There were rolling hills covered with buffalo grass, deep rocky canyons and with a clump here and there of cottonwood or hackberry trees and wild choke cherries on the hillside. Speckled over the hills were cedar trees. It was a land that could be kind and beautiful or harsh and cruel as it was one winter when the snow piled so deep that it buried the cattle alive.
Disaster struck their cattle herd twice.... once when hoof and mouth disease struck the country wiping out entire herds and again with the "black blizzards" of the 30's. The 30's brought two blows simultaneously: the great depression and the dust storms.
On the east and north of the ranch as far as you could travel, the farmers and "nesters" had moved in with barbed wire and plows and plowed up every inch of buffalo grass. A great drought came and the winds picked up the dirt and the sky at midday was dark as at midnight. Dust blew nine days out of ten. It was everywhere. It was on everything. It was on every twig, every blade of grass, every strand of wire. It was in the hair of the half-starved jack rabbit and prairie dog. It changed the color of the bull snake.
The black dust storms would appear as a great cloud completely across the northern horizon. In a rolling motion and hissing moan they would descend upon you like a huge curtain dropping. Cattle and sheep died of starvation; prices collapsed. Finally, the government paid the ranchers $1.00 a head to shoot the cattle.
Frank and Amelia held on desperately. They borrowed money from the Reconstruction Finance Company, which was a government agency, to feed their livestock. Then they borrowed again. Just as the drought subsided, and the depression lessened, and prices began to rise, the finance company foreclosed.
Frank came down with crippling arthritis and after an extended illness, died March 12, 1941 at his ranch house 21 miles west of Campo, Colorado. He was buried in Lamar (the nearest city), in Prowers County, Colorado. During her later years, Amelia lived with her daughter Louise who kept her and cared for her until she died at the age of 92 on March 19,1963, in Denver, Colorado. She is buried in Fairmont Cemetery in Lamar, Colorado, beside Grandpa.
1- 1870 US Federal Census -- Council Bluffs Ward 6, Pottawattamie, Iowa (Page 25 of 53)
2- 1880 US Federal Census -- Arapahoe, Colorado (Page 5 or 20)
3- Colorado State Census, 1885 (Page 42 of 61)
4- 1900 US Federal Census -- Harrison, Beaver, Oklahoma (Page 9 of 9)
5- 1910 US Federal Census -- Harrison, Cimarron, Oklahoma (Page 7 or 9)
6- 1920 US Federal Census -- Regnier, Baca, Colorado (Page 15 of 16)
7- 1930 US Federal Census -- Carriso, Baca, Colorado (Page 2 of 3)
8- Hinsdale County [Colorado] Historical Society
9- A COWBOYS FUNERAL 1891
10- Findagrave.com Link