MAES CREEK, HUERFANO COUNTY — Way back in 1870, Jose Antonio Lujan’s aim for his family may have been to survive the changes ahead for Indians near Fort Laramie, WY. His wife was an Oglala Sioux, to be placed on a reservation. It was then he, the Medina family and others, opted to move to Maes Creek, probably familiar to them from hunting excursions. “The family lived in a tent or tipi until they built a log cabin consisting of a fireplace and dirt floors, walls chinked with mud. They didn’t have any furniture. The table they used was made of a wide log edged and rounded. Bedding was goat and sheep skins, straw, or hay. Their cooking utensils were two big pots (one to keep water heated over the fireplace and another to make atole), one wooden bowl to make masa for tortillas (made of blue corn meal they ground for every meal in a metate). Atole was also made with blue corn meal. “It was like cereal, only it was salted and eaten with boiled goat milk,” wrote Yvette Vialpando later in school. Lujan probably never dreamed a descendent of his would leave the homestead on Maes Creek, but many have. Jess Vialpando left to work in oil fields around the world for 32 years. Others in the family through the years traveled to northern Colorado to the beet fields, or to shear sheep, or gather the poisonous loco weed east of Colorado Springs, all for cash money, but they always returned home. In the
present generation, Myra Vialpando Trujillo, Jess’s daughter, has an A.S. degree from the Pikes Peak Health Institute in medical science. Today she heads up the Sangre de Cristo Center for Youth on Walsenburg’s Main Street. Lujan may have hoped a descendent such as Nick Vialpando would still live on the old homestead, still operated by the Vialpando, Truijillo, Cortez and Martinez families. He may have hoped for males to inherit through the next century: in fact the line often continued through the female side. The neighbors are the same; the adjoining ranch still has a Medina living on it. Even in 2016, the old skills are still useful on the ranch: the ability to make adobe bricks, raise vegetable gardens and cattle, and make hay still keep the homestead alive. The family also uses the cemetery named for Jose Benito Maes, who settled in the 1860s. For all that things stayed the same, things also changed. Lujan could not have dreamed that East Coast urban residents would move in and set up a hippie commune at the top end of the road, but they did anyway and called it ‘Libre.’ Lujan undoubtedly would have been proud to know the State of Colorado honored his foresight and his family at the 2015 State Fair as a Centennial Farm, owned and worked by the same family for at least 100 years. The History Detective is a service of the Huerfano County Historical Society huerfanohistory.org Carlynewmn@aol.com 719-738-2840. Information is from the family, from From Santa Fe to Maes Creek, and an essay by Yvette Vialpando.