by Nancy Christofferson
WALSENBURG — Aug. 30, 1889 Walsenburg World: A.A. Jellison contracted George McLaren to build a two-story, 20 by 60 foot business house on North Main opposite the city jail, for the W.W. Jellison grocery story on the first floor, and the Walsenburg Cactus newspaper office on the second.
W.W. Jellison arrived in Walsenburg as the first of the family and opened a grocery store in May 1889. He reported a “rushing business” and in fact felt it was so successful he sent for his family to join him in Walsenburg. The town claimed a population of 1,500 and was just beginning to thrive with the addition of the electrical system and many new stores, not to mention the development of coal mines nearby. W.W.’s brother A.A. arrived in August.
A.A. hailed from Wilson, Kansas, where he served as mayor. At the time of the above article, he had been in town for several months, possibly longer, and he and W.W. were advertising good, fresh and cheap groceries at the Jellison store on West Sixth Street, across the street from the Hayden House at Albert and Sixth, in May 1889.
W.W. was the Rev. William. Born in Pennsylvania, he had served in the Civil War and was incarcerated in the notorious Andersonville Prison for 11 months. According to his obituary, he had been an early circuit rider for the Methodist Church in Colorado. In Huerfano County he continued with his work with the church by preaching at the coal camps not yet having their own houses of worship.
Once the grocery business was firmly established and thriving, more Jellisons appeared. An A.C. joined his father A.A. in the business. Then in November, S.B. (sometimes seen as S.J.) and his family came from Dorrance, Kansas. Accompanying S.B. was “Mrs. S. Wait”, a sister. The “Wait” family, the newspaper assured us, was from Macksville, Kansas.
“Mrs. S. Wait” was actually Mrs. W.B. Wayt, nee Jennie Jellison.
The Jellisons, now doing business as Jellison and Company, were waiting anxiously for the completion of their new building. It was to be called the Capitol Hill Grocery, and it was at the corner of First Street in the 200 block of Main. The two-story structure was frame, and cost $2,000 to build. McLaren the contractor had announced his plans to build on that block anyway, so he may have owned a piece of the new building. The new store opened in late November.
A.A. and A.C. soon disappeared from the scene, perhaps to return to Kansas. W.W. continued west to Los Angeles, where he died in 1930.
S.B., or Sumner B., and Jennie Wayt and her husband stuck around.
S.B. evidently also was a minister. He married a Catharine Alice and they had at least three children, William, Glen Dale and Dora. William married a Pictou girl and died in 1905 at the age of 29, leaving his wife Charlotte and two children. Dora married a William H. Crabtree of Dorrance. There may have been another brother, Leslie, who was mentioned in Glen Dale’s obituary.
With the rest of the family scattered, Sumner went to work for the Hindman Supply Company that had coal camp stores at Rouse, Sunshine and other mines. In 1902 he joined Hindman and O.D. Staplin to incorporate the Wahatoya Toll Road company which did not actually produce a road. Then for a while he was in partnership with a Mr. Taylor in the furniture business near Walsen until it burned down in 1907. The rebuilt business was moved to the Wayt building at 204 Main and later to the Workman building. By 1919 Sumner was selling tires and inner tubes as the tourist traffic through Walsenburg grew. From this grew the Jellison Transfer and Storage Company, which by 1927 had a large cement and brick warehouse, 35 by 80 feet with a full basement, on West Seventh Street. He continued in this business until 1943 and then went to work for Lenzini Motor Company for 10 years. He died in 1956.
Back in 1904, Sumner had proved up on a homestead claim near the Black Hills, adjacent to Colorado Fuel and Iron Company land and so, presumably, Sumner thought his property would also contain coal. The homestead later became the property of the Black Hills Land and Cattle Company.
Glen Dale, known as Dale, married Jessie Caddell on Christmas Day 1905. The service was officiated by Rev. William W., Dale’s grandfather. Despite W.W.’s obituary identifying him as a Methodist circuit rider, Dale and Jessie were said to be early members of the Baptist Church.
The couple had one child, a son named Sumner W., born in 1906, who married Rose Lorenzo of Boulder in 1932. They had a set of twin daughters.
Sumner was involved in the transfer business a while but took over Fawks Drug store in the 1930s. He apparently had appendicitis complicated by pneumonia and died at the young age of 35 in 1941.
Meanwhile, W.B. and Jessie Wayt had taken another route. W.B. went into the furniture business with a brother but when the store burned down they were suspected of arson. He was quickly cleared of the charge and bought another furniture store, but then sold it back to its original owner. He was a builder, and had a shop in the 200 block of Main where he also did carpentry and which he used as an office. On the side he operated a dairy on his ranch outside of Walsenburg. He hit his stride about 1908 when he opened the Wayt Lumber Company at 204 Main. He took his sons into the business in 1912. Their yard was later moved to Fifth Street and then to Fourth, though their office was on Main.
W.B. was elected city councilman for Ward I in 1919 in Walsenburg’s first election after becoming a city.
In 1942, W.B. and his son Paul sold out their lumber business to their competitor, J.J. Pritchard, and moved to California. A major glitch along their way in the Walsenburg business world was when lightning struck the lumberyard on Friday the 13th in August 1926 and destroyed it, though it was quickly replaced.
Paul, too was a rancher as well as a one-time director of the old Guaranty State Bank. Paul also built some “bungalows” on East Fifth called Wayt’s Court. These came complete with garages and in 1931 rented for $25 a month furnished or $16 unfurnished (Phone 241). They were torn down in 1965 to make way for “elderly low cost housing.” Another son, Ralph, had left the family business in 1916. W.B. died in 1947 and Jennie Jellison Wayt in 1953, both in California.