[Editor’s Note: A large red barn on the south side of the Beulah highway, just east of Siloam Road, is the only remaining building of the ‘town’ known as Goodpasture. Two stone pillars, constructed by Charles Klipfel in 1921, still serve as a welcome to the site. The following is the abbreviated story of Goodpasture by Roy Roper, and at age 96 he is the only person still living who has knowledge, or a relationship with the people and happenings of Goodpasture. He was born two miles south on the St. Charles Canyon, most of his relatives were the residents of Goodpasture.]
I begin this story with a major untruth–the Goodpasture settlement was never a town, even though founder Lee Roper may have had hopes of making it happen.
The 160-acre land unit that later became the community center for Goodpasture was first taken up by John E. Roper (older brother of Lee Roper) in 1886, through a sale/cash entry. His mother, Elizabeth Roper, then followed through on the land claim after John’s death from Tuberculosis in 1888. John had built a small home on the southwest corner of his claim near water holes, later the small house was moved to the Beulah Road by Lee, where it became part of a larger home for Lee and Elizabeth.
At age 19, Lee Roper married Jessie Murray, daughter of James Perry and Amanda (Sease) Murray, a well-known pioneer family in 1889. They first homesteaded at Wales Canyon where they welcomed two sons, Ray and Wilbur. They returned to the Beulah road location where they established their ranch.
Lee also made plans for a General Store, but his interest in founding a community probably started with approval of a U.S. Post Office, which was located in his store. The spot became the nucleus for the establishment of a larger community. The post office was named Goodpasture in honor of William F. Goodpasture, who lived in the area, and had helped train Lee Roper to take on the postmaster duties.
After he became postmaster in 1899, Lee became enthused with adding other features to his community, including donating space for a Methodist Church in 1910; the large barn, 1910; Parsonage, 1911; Community Hall, 1911; Seaman’s Gas Station, 1920’s; Roper Bros. Blacksmith and Auto Repair Shop in 1921.
Bountiful crops had been raised in the community during earlier years, some thought the good crops would continue and support a good-sized agriculture population. However, the need of a dependable water supply for the community and ranch operations was quickly apparent to everybody at Goodpasture. Any source that would yield some water was considered. A large concrete cistern was constructed at the northeast corner of the barn to capture rain/snow from the barn roof.
The Ropers had a dryland orchard totaling 300 trees, winning first prize for these apples and plums at the 1910 6th Annual Dry Farming Congress Exposition. Lee won a trophy for the Best Fruit Grown on Ground Sub-Soiled with Dynamite. Indeed, Lee had used dynamite charges to shatter the clay textured subsoil where each tree was planted.
The large barn was built by Fred Youngren, who also built the Methodist Church and Community Hall. The parsonage was built by Rev. Sledge. Hamp and Sherrie Howie lovingly preserved the barn in 2008, and it now serves as a community gathering spot. Lee’s wife Jessie saw to it that the barn was completely paid for upon completion, $1,000. Her monetary means for purchasing lumber ahead came from the sale of dairy products, chickens, calves, boarders, and bread. The lumber came from Beulah. Jessie died in 1920, her death was a devastating loss to Lee and for the ranch, as she had contributed so much to the ranch operations.
In 1914, convicts pitched their tents east of the barn for 18 months while working on the Beulah highway. Additional tents were erected to serve as a kitchen and to house livestock.
Lee and others persuaded officials to establish the Pueblo County Fair to be held at Goodpasture, so successful, it was held there for nine years (1917-1926). The event even captured the attention of the Western Farm Life Magazine, a reporter wrote a detailed article of the event. The Roper Hall was utilized for the fair demonstrations of hand work, baking, grains, vegetables, fruits, etc. There were cattle shows, horse races, and other competitions at the five-day event.
Lee offered his nephews Eddie and William Roper a space for relocating their blacksmith and auto repair business in Goodpasture after the brother’s business was burned out of Beulah in 1921. The business was simply called Roper Bros.
In 1928, Lee was dragged more than a mile by a team of frightened horses, breaking both of his legs and a hip. He told the doctors “You can cut off my head, but leave the leg alone,” He would walk with a limp and a cane for the rest of his life.
G. F. Seaman’s Mountain View Station was built in 1929, the one-pump gasoline station was located just across the highway to the north from the Methodist parsonage building. He sold gasoline, soda pop, candy bars and some tobacco items. The building is now located at 8695 Pine Drive and painted red.
Economic factors and changing times found the Roper store and post office closing in 1923. The Methodist Church no longer was active by 1927, Ed Roper bought the empty church building and used it as his residence. The blacksmith shop had changed, too. In earlier years, the Roper Bros. tried to stock some Model T auto parts, tires, inner tubes, gasoline, oil and the like, but by 1930 there was not enough money to spare to keep up such an inventory. With new autos becoming more complex than the once popular Model T Ford, William Roper decided he could no longer keep up as an auto mechanic. Eddie would carry on doing blacksmithing work until the 1940’s.
Many cattle died of starvation on Lee’s land, and other ranches too, during the drought of the 1930’s. In those years, our family gathered many cow chips there for fuel.
But a new downtown business came into existence too. William and Viola Opp, my grandparents, living at Canon City had separated. William returned to the Beulah area where his mother, Lydia lived. Having no place to live, William asked Ed Roper if he could share space at the blacksmith shop. He then built on an extension to the side room for his residence and place for his repairs business. He did a fairly active business doing odd jobs such as saw sharpening, sheet metal work, roof repairs and many small concrete jobs, cisterns and even clock repairs. He was able to save enough money to purchase land and build his home in Beulah 8-9 years later.
In 1934 Lee married Pearl Holmes who lived on Siloam Road. She was a writer, and I thought she might own the only typewriter in Western Pueblo County at the time. We heard she had sold a story to True Story Magazine for enough money to buy a new black 1934 Plymouth auto.
The 1930’s was a bad time for Goodpasture folk starting with the October 1929 stock market crash and the onset of drought. Both the depressed financial conditions and severe drought would linger on for more than 10 years and be the financial ruin of many farms and ranches in the area, and throughout the country.
The ranch income was much reduced in the later years. I can remember a few crops of wheat, corn and pinto beans but with the dry years even these had a low yield.
The Final Years were 1938-45, by this time financial problems had overtaken all others. The land ownership had been mortgaged years earlier and now there were simply no funds to pay on the loan, buy cattle or pay the expenses. Time was running out.
Walter Murray, a nephew of Lee and Jessie stayed on faithfully working at the ranch for very low wages until near his death in 1939.
In 1950, when the Beulah highway was expanded, the old store building, blacksmith shop, Methodist Church and Community Hall were removed. v
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