At the age of 14, young August W. Klipfel enlisted in the 106th Ohio Volunteer Infantry by insisting he was 16 years old, following in the footsteps of his father, uncles, and cousins who had enlisted in the Civil War before him. Initially serving as a drummer boy for the Union Army, he would eventually find rank as a Private. According to the family, he took part in guerrilla-type warfare blowing up bridges and train tracks in the war effort. His company was taken prisoner in 1862 during the Battle of Hartsville in northern Tennesee, along with 1,843 others. He would ultimately be paroled and exchanged a year later.
When August moved to Missouri he met Leah Thomas and they were married in 1869. Five children were born to the couple while living in Missouri, including William (died as an infant in 1871), Edward, Mabel, Charles, and Mary Ann (died as an infant in 1878).
August and a small group of dreamers ventured west to scout work and a place to homestead. August camped on the upper South Creek eight miles above Beulah and knew he had found ‘home’. In 1882, A.W., Leah, Edward, Mabel and Charles traveled to Colorado by covered wagons drawn by oxen. At just six years old, Charles was said to have walked the entire route from Missouri to Colorado beside the slow-moving wagon trains. The joy of arriving in Pueblo was tempered by the family passing by Pueblo’s Hanging Tree on Union Ave. and witnessing the hanging of a horse thief.
Initially homesteading at the ‘Yuker Place’ near Couzzen Springs on Siloam Road, the family had to quickly adapt to life in the wild west. The first summer in Beulah, Charles and his father were planting corn when a rattlesnake bit Charles on the heel! The closest doctor was in Beulah Valley an arduous 8-10 mile trip away. Help was dispatched by way of donkey. While waiting for the doctor to arrive, Leah killed two chickens, split open their backs, and wrapped them around the boy’s ankle in hopes the heat of the chickens bodies would draw out the poison. Charles survived the frightening experience with scars to prove it.
The family moved into Beulah Valley in 1898, initially living on the ‘Slattery Place’ (Occhiato Ranch) near their timber claim, then on the east side of Pine Drive, eventually he would purchase land on the west side of Pine Drive and 12 Mile road. They began raising cattle, farming, and operating sawmills.
August and Leah celebrated the birth of four more children, Francis, Nellie, Mildred, and Valentine (Vollie) after moving to Beulah, while also grieving the deaths of Mabel in 1892 and Edward in 1894. Both are buried in Beulah Cemetery.
According to the Colorado Daily Chieftain, August and Leah moved the family into their newly built ‘commodious’ residence in 1899, which was located at 8933 S. Pine Drive. Unfortunately not long after, the home was destroyed by fire on a winter night. They would live at 8954 S. Pine Dr., previously a boarding house, before moving to 8905 S. Pine Drive, adding a log schoolhouse from the Mountain Park to the back of the home to accommodate their large family.
A.W. And Leah both died in January 1918 just 16 days apart from each other; both are buried in Beulah Cemetery.
All three remaining sons–Charles, Francis, and Vollie stayed in Beulah, carrying on the agricultural legacy and ranching lifestyle they started with their parents. A brief overview of the boys and their families is below.
Son Charles Tildon
Having already walked from Missouri to Colorado, hardworking Charles was 9 years old when he was hired by Cal Hercules to build a rock wall. The pay for a the summer’s work was a calf. Charles ended up buying the ranch. The rock wall still stands today at the Triple K Ranch (which stands for Klipfel, Keating and Kyte). Charles married local Beulah girl Fay Altman in 1902 after establishing himself in the community as a mail carrier and as owner of a four-horse stage that operated between Pueblo and Beulah. They settled at 8860 Central and called the place Nightingale; it is still in the family. Charles freighted the famed Beulah Marble from Beulah to Pueblo, a three-day venture that included an overnight stop at the bottom of Rock Creek Hill to rest the horses before double-teaming the load for the trip up the steep road the next day. He encouraged local ranchers to grow grains after he and Professor J.F. Keating invested in a CASE thresher to help with the harvest. Attachments available on the new machine also made it possible to thresh pine cones to render seeds that were sold all over the nation.
In 1906, the couple moved to Valley Ranch at 8741 Central Ave. They raised eight children, including Herman, Beverly, Wesley, Emmett, Helen, Hugh Lee, and twins Fay and Fern.
In 1921, Charles and his sons graveled North Creek Divide using horses to haul the stones. They also built the tank and helped hand dig the Pine Drive Water systems pipeline. Charles T. was the Republican (Progressives) Chairman for years, running for the legislature in 1912. His brother Francis was the Democratic Chairman, and they still were the best of brothers!
Children of Charles and Fay...
Herman - Married Edna Fay Lemmon in 1925. They had five children–Charlene, Ellen, Patricia, Charles and Mitchell. He was a Pueblo County Commissioner in 1941 and a Pueblo Postmaster in 1966.
Beverly - Built a home on the family property at 8933 S. Pine Drive, site of A.W. and Leah’s home that burnt down. Beverly lived there with his wife Goldia Hankla, their son Willard was born in 1935.
Wesley - Nicknamed Dutch, Wesley lived on the S. Pine Drive Ranch before Kay Keating puchased it. He married Dorothy Van Ornum in 1932 and had daughter Alta Fay.
Emmet - Nine year old Emmet survived a lightning strike while at the Beulah School chalkboard. He was saved by a copper wire his mother had used to sew a patch onto the sole off the shoe. He and brother Hugh Lee farmed and ranched. Emmet worked for the Forest Service building bridges and campgrounds in San Carlos and San Isabel. He married Shirley Hunter in 1960.
Helen - Helen married Roscoe Kerr and they had three girls–Louise, Donna and Wanda. After Roscoe passed, Helen married A.D. Ahlers. Daughter Louise has continued living in Beulah her whole life, raising her three children on land originally homesteaded by her great-grandfather A.W. and Leah.
Hugh Lee - The calf man at the Colorado State Prison Honor Farm, he mainly worked with cattle. He married Anna Mae Kellar in 1945. They had son David Lee and daughter Deanna Klipfel Kirby. He farmed and ranched with his brothers Emmet and Wesley on the Valley Ranch and the 12-Mile Ranch.
Fay - Twin of Fern, the pair were not identical. Faye married Johnnie Hadwiger and they lived at 8821 Central Ave. They had five children, Le Etta, Chuck, Delaine, Jerry and Jonnalee.
Fern - Faye’s twin married William J. Holland and moved to California and had five children–Joyce, Janice, William, Judith and George.
Son Francis Irvin
A bachelor, ‘Uncle Frances’ lived at 8905 S. Pine Drive in the same home his parents lived in. He was well known in the area for his team of white horses named Barney and June. They plowed roads in the summer and winter, raked hay on 12 Mile, and freighted from Beulah to Pueblo. Francis pastured cattle on the Forest Service land from 12 Mile Road to Second Mace.
Son Valentine ‘Vollie’ John
The youngest child of A.W. and Leah, Vollie would join his friends by riding donkeys and roping ‘wild’ steers which they would try to ride. A big man, Vollie was quiet and had a reputation as a hard worker. Vollie ranched and farmed on the Klipfel 12 Mile Ranch. After serving in WW2, Vollie owned a saw mill on North Creek Road, ran a pool hall on Grand Avenue, and helped Shorty Parker build the Gayway at 8869 Grand Avenue. Vollie married Edna Hayes in 1916. They had two children, Howard F. and Janella, both stayed in the Beulah area and started families.
Howard - Howard, known as a man who could fix anything, loved hunting and fishing, and spent many summers putting up hay at the ranch. He was devoted to his wife Leah M. (Cook) and his family of four, including Margie, Howard, John, and Marilyn, who still resides in Beulah.
Janella - Daughter Janella would also live at this location with her husband Leo, daughter Velta and son Leo. She was a Beulah schoolbus driver.
With appreciation for the generations of Klipfels still writing the story, even though they may not be mentioned in this brief family overview. v