Letter reveals frustrations of doing business

Thursday, March 9, 2017 6:13 PM
Stephen Smith about 1900.

This is another letter from Stephen Smith, of Cortez, to his boss, E.S. Turner. The frustration Smith feels because of the lack of guidance he is receiving on business matters comes through very clearly. It is also obvious that taxes, owed to both Montezuma and La Plata Counties are a mounting problem.

February 8th, 1892

Dear Mr. Turner:-

I was much disappointed upon my return to the Valley two weeks ago not to find any reply to my letters written before starting East, particularly the one of December 7th, last.

I have avoided Mr. White thus far, hoping each night to receive money for bank taxes, about $525 still due, but expect he will insist on payment soon, or advertise our bank fixtures for sale to satisfy the Commissioners, who are worrying him about the matter. This matter is important.

Another matter we are bound to face, and very soon, is as to the stage outfit. The last installment of mail money was a month and a half late, and did not get here until about Jany. 1st; and although Parley promised faithfully to send it to Mr. Freeman, ($858), he used all of it for other debts of the stage line. Another installment of $858 is due here on the 15th inst., and I am afraid we will lose this as well I am helpless to do anything until after this is received, for if I sell him out now, we lose even the chance of getting a portion of that. He is only running now between here and Dolores, all our mail being taken to that point, and coming by way of Rico instead of Durango. The Treasurer will shortly attach this stock for taxes, and we will have that to pay as well. Parley wants to get work up at Creede Camp, near Wagon Wheel Gap, and if successful, to take the outfit up there; but, he will have to get your consent to that before he can take them out of the County, and, if he disposes of the next mail money, I shall take the stock, provided I can raise the money for expenses. I presume there will also be a pasture bill against them for the past four months.

The Reality Company still owe, Mattson $75; Water note $225, and balance on the Sharp Ranch loan, about $150. The latter was about $300, but the $140 which you sent Mrs. Hunter, I applied on this, as I had already paid Mrs. Hunter. There is also still due Mattson from you for work during 1890 a balance of $110. I hope you will return before many weeks, so as to talk over the matter of farming the coming year. I have decided as best to do nothing except look after all the alfalfa, the fruit trees, and to put the bottom land on the Hayes place into oats. We cannot do anything with our 1400 bushels of wheat, the mill is not buying any.

The taxes for 1891 against several interests are as follows: Town Co. $2212.62; Realty Co. $231.72; Mrs. Turner, $160.24; and E.S. Turner, $51.44.

Mr. Payson has been writing Mr. Carpenter and to the Chamberlins about the taxes against the Town Co. of 1888, for which the property was sold in May 23rd, 1889. The County Treasurer wrote Mr. Payson that they must be redeemed before May 23rd next, or La Plata County would take a deed for the property. What shape is this matter in? Was it not placed in the hands of Thompson & Ingersoll? Judge Thompson is in Denver, and I have written The Chamberlin Investment Co. to see the Judge about it. Mr. C. had written me nothing that I knew as to the matter.

I hear nothing from Routt.

The Valley is quiet as ever, but things seem to look a little brighter. The railroad is finished, and the prospect is good, I think, for a road through the Valley before another year, from Dolores South to Arizona or Albuquerque. Hanna completed his survey from Albuquerque to Durango, and is now in the East working on the matter.

It has stormed every day for the past two weeks, and it is about time for a blockade. There has been considerable sickness during the Winter. Blatchford lost his little boy, and old man Powers died. We have, I think, a good Physician here now, a Dr. Sperry. The only trouble with him is he gets on an occasional spree.

I hope to hear something definite from you very soon. If possible, I should have $1000 at once, or trouble and expense is bound to ensue.

With best wishes,

Very sincerely yours,

Stephen J Smith

Presented by the Montezuma County Historical Society. Without Bill Lemmons’ efforts tp preserve these letters, we would have lost very significant documents about the beginnings of Cortez and Montezuma County. Bill passed away recently. We will miss him greatly.