Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Eldred B. Tresize Narative: Part 5 Leadville Fires

This is a narrative that covers the history of the family of Edward John Tresize and their immigration to America from England. It was originally posted on http://www.usgw.org/co/lake/trezise.htm but is not avail. May have been posted by his children.

The second big fire that destroyed Leadville burned not only the hillsides and all the old houses and buildings, it also destroyed the Methodist Church that we attended. The church had a big tall steeple and the men later dynamited it to the ground. Even to this day, there are very few trees to be seen in the area because of the big fires that occurred in Leadville.

The fires were not the final blow, however. With the gold standard change over, the silver miners became tired, sick, and disappointed. They were hungry, ragged and destitute and began leaving the barren snow covered hillsides in droves by any means available. Most went by wagon since the train was too expensive. Four of the six railroads which came into Leadville were abandoned, leaving only two in operation to serve a town of less than 400 people. The Trezise family with nine kids were some of the last families to stay in the area. Our house at 514 East 9th Street in Leadville burned to the ground in 1903. We lost all of our belongings including pictures, picture albums, valuable papers, and money. We were left with only the clothes on our backs. Our close knit family split apart, not to get together again for over 40 years. John moved to California, Charlotte raised a large family in Oregon, Precie (Pricilla) moved to Sterling, Colorado and Polly and Fred moved to Missouri.

We packed up our few belongings in a covered wagon and were going to go to Florida. My father heard it was a land of sunshine and oranges. We got as far as Buena Vista, Colorado. We got there in the dead of winter. We stayed in Buena Vista and raised strawberries and potatoes. We sold the strawberries for 10 cents a quart and the potatoes for 25 cents a hundred pound sack. The five of us younger kids got to go to school there for four years. In the fall of 1908, we left in a covered wagon, determined to get to Florida. An early snow set in and covered the hills. The winter of 1909 - 1909 was one of the coldest ever recorded. We were not prepared for it. Our clothes were mostly rags and we did not have warm clothes to wear. We passed an orchard that had some frozen apples on the ground. I asked a boy at the farm house if we could have the apples and he said yes. We ate apples cooked over a camp fire in the cold. My father had a shot gun to bag a few rabbits along the way. I remember one evening we saw a tree with a bunch of black crows in it. My father shot and got six of them before they all flew away. They were cleaned and roasted for dinner. My little brother Tom was real skinny, like Lewis, and never seemed to get enough to eat. He did not get enough to eat until he joined the Army in World War I.

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