Wednesday, August 1, 2007
A Passion for Life: Ruth Marie Colville by Jo Ann Virden is the biography of a Pennsylvania woman who becomes a rancher's wife in Del Norte Colorado. Born in 1904 to a newly middle class family in Bethlehem, PA, she later attended Wellesley College where she learned to be an independent thinking woman.
She came to Colorado in 1928 as a school teacher, married a local rancher and over the next 60 years would become a respected local historian. To learn the complete history of the area Ruth had to cross the divide between Anglo and Hispanic culture...Not an easy thing in the early and mid 20th Century!
Ruth was fascinated with "trails", the routes of early explorers and inhabitants of the area. She helped find and document Fremont's Christmas camp of 1848 and recovered the only remaining artifact of that ill fated camp, a sledge.
With the help of a number of other local amateur historians she helped document the old Sanderson and Barlow stage road from Alamosa to Lake City Colorado.
Perhaps Ruth's biggest project was collaborating with Helen Blumenschein of Taos in researching, finding and documenting the "de Vargas Entrada". This was the 1694 route of General Don Diego de Vargas and his party from Taos into the San Luis Valley of Colorado searching for corn for the beleaguered colony of Santa Fe. This project kept Ruth busy for over 30 years and she authored a book, "La Vereda, A Trail Through Time" to document her discoveries.
I found this biography very interesting and easy reading but I suspect it will have greater appeal to people familiar with the locale in which the events occur. I was so interested in her work on the de Vargas Entrada that I ordered a copy of her book...which by the was was not easy to find.
It's my hope that someday I will be able to personally walk at least a portion of the trail she describes. This is a trail that was blazed at least 130 years before any Anglo viewed the San Luis Valley.
Thanks for visiting.