Appearances can be deceiving in these High Plains of Colorado. A small gathering of snow clouds on the horizon can, within just a few hours, become a blizzard killing hundreds of cattle. The quiet, unassuming man in worn jeans and resoled boots may be, in fact, the largest landowner in three counties. A tiny, quiet, humble woman may actually be someone who lived a life full of determination, independence and a self-sufficiency that was against all odds and expectations, at the time. And, in an even greater surprise, that tiny woman with skin that bears barely a trace of wrinkles and eyes that are clear and bright may also be just a few days away from turning 100 years old.
A great man once said, “Forces of nature act in a mysterious manner. We can solve the mystery by deducing the unknown result from the known result of similar events.” While I highly doubt that this great man was thinking of cattlemen when he said that, his words nonetheless are a somewhat dry but very accurate description of what cattlemen and women have experienced the past few days.
In 1854, Stephen Foster – considered the father of American music – wrote a song titled “Hard Times Come Again No More”. In its day, the song was extremely popular in both the United States and Europe, and its message was simple. Those who are fortunate and blessed with abundance in life should be mindful of what life is like for those whose day to day existence is filled with fear, worry and the burden of constant struggles. The lyrics say it all.
‘Tis the sigh, the song of the weary/ Hard times, hard times, come again no more/ For too long you have lingered outside my cabin door/ Oh, hard times come again no more.
Throughout the past four years, there have been numerous references made to the division in the United States being greater than at any time in history since the Civil War. I have made those references myself, choosing the words to emphasize how deep the division between Americans was growing. The purpose, at least from my standpoint, was not to be dramatic or inflammatory; rather, the comparison was used to provide a context reminding us just how devastating the effects can be of a nation that turns against itself resulting in the loss of lives of fellow citizens and a threat to the ability of our precious democracy continuing in a functional manner.
NOTE: The following article was first published in the Independent at the beginning of 2020. However, recently some of our readers came across the referenced photo in this article and a discussion ensued on social media. The Independent is very happy to reprint this story about a surprisingly interesting event that occurred in Kiowa County more than 100 years ago. –For Rob who first asked the question.