By Frank Hicken
I, Benjamin Franklin Hicken, better known as Frank, was born March 10, 1903, in St. Louis, Missouri. My father was killed the same year, working on the railroad. My mother moved to Denver after that, and the four of us boys were placed in the Orphan’s Home, as our mother’s health failed after our dad was killed. I don’t know how long we were in that home, but our mother decided to go back to Missouri where some of her folks lived, but a little while after we got back to Missouri, she died.
Our sister Mamie, older than us, brought us back to Denver. There were Ralph, Ray, Orville and myself. Mamie died in 1908, but she took care of us for a while, then had to put us in a home. We were there for a time and then we were put in the State Home for Dependent Children. Orville and I were in there till March 24, 1914.
Our two older brothers were here (Meeker) as they had come from Cripple Creek by horseback in 1913. They were working for J.B. Legg, and Ray told him about Orville and I being in the home in Denver. He told Ray if he could find someone to take one, he would give the other a home. They got Wes Tomlinson to take one, so on March 24, 1914, Orville and I said goodbye to the Orphan’s Home. A man from the home brought us to Rifle on the old Colorado Midland railroad.
The next morning, he put us on the stage to Meeker. We left there before daylight and Orville and I had never been out in the country, so it was something for us to see. We got up the hill aways and had to change horses and also to a sled to come over the top. We stopped at Alleys at Rio Blanco and ate. J.W. C. Shepherd was on the stage and he paid for our dinners. We got down about to Petrolite and had to change back to a wagon and got into Meeker just about dark. Ray and Ralph were there to get us and they took us out to the ranch Legg lived on, afterward owned by Irene Kracht. The next morning Ralph saddled up two horses, the first I had ever rode, and took me over to Tomlinson’s. He got me over there and then left and I was sure lonesome. I had been with Orville ever since I could remember and I was lost, so I took off and walked back over to the place where Orville was, so Ralph had to bring me back over and told me if I didn’t stay, he would give me a good beating, so I stayed.
Excerpt from H.W. Tomlinson story by Margaret Smith Issac
“A few years after the Tomlinsons moved to their new home, they took a young boy, frank Hicken, as a foster son. Their love and kindness guided him into this youth, and his cheerful, happy ways were a great comfort and help to Mrs. Tomlinson as her health continued to fall.”
Uncle West and Aunt Jennie, as I called them, were mighty fine to me, and gave me a good home. Uncle Wes owned a ranch on the river, but he lived up the gulch which is called Tomlinson Gulch. He sold the ranch on the river to John R. Smith and it is still owned by their daughter, Margaret (Smith Issac). I was eleven years old at the time, but helped all I could around there, I helped milk the cows, clear sagebrush and farm some.
Uncle Wes milked several cows and sold the cream to the Baer’s Creamery. They had a wagon come around and gather the cream up at the places.
I went to the Mesa School till I finished the eighth grade. The Hamiltons, Lockharts, George Russell, Kilduffs, Cotten, Harkers, Margaret Smith, Carstens, and several others went to school there when I did.
When we were not very busy, I would help some ranchers hay, driving stacker team or sulky rake. I made fifty cents a day. In about 1918, I worked for Arthur Amick’s folks, and that fall Uncle Wes sold all but the home place and went to Rocky Ford for awhile with his brother, and then he came back and bought a home in Glenwood Springs.
I worked at Amicks till the winter of 1920, and in the spring of 1921, helped Ralph and Orville move up Elk Creek to the old Vaughan Lodge, which they had leased from G.W. Clark. I worked for Clark that summer.
Orville took up a homestead east of Elk Creek in the fall of 1921, and we stayed up there that winter and trapped.
Billy Gregor lived on a place where the Seven Lakes are now. Orville, Bill and I used to take a sled, go off the hill and gather up folks on the river and go to Buford, Marvine and Miller Creek to the dances. Billy was quite a fellow and Orville and I used to go over there a lot and have a lot of fun with Billy.
Higdons lived where the Dobbs ranch was in later years. Harold Jonah lived there after Higdon. Orville’s homestead was where the Russell Cow Camp is now. Ralph had a homestead that joined Orville’s, and Ralph and Ray spent several years up on the hill with us.
In 1922, we got a job fencing Arthur Wilber’s homestead on south. Johnny Rescoria, Orville and I worked on that for fifteen cents a post. Orville and I went to Monte Vista to the rodeo on a motorcycle in 1922. We used to go to several rodeos and ride bucking horses. That fall, I helped Jim Coordes hay some. That was the ranch I was to spend a lot of my years on. Orville and I would spend our winters on the homestead. Lester Burns bought some horses from Harold Jonah and I worked for him, hauling logs off Burro Mountain, and hauling lumber to town from the old Burro Mt. Sawmill. It was quite a trip as the New Castle Road wasn’t there, and I had to come down Daum Gulch and Elk Creek.
I used to help ride at the Ringbone Cow Camp. We used to ride this end, then drive to the upper camp up South Fork to the upper camp at the head of Dry Sweetwater, then over the hill to Dotsero to load out on the railroad. I remember Frank Marshall had come home to get his new hat and some clothes to wear to Denver. One evening Arthur Wilber, Frank Marshall and I were sitting around after supper. It was dark and we had a lamp on. A pack rat poked his head out of a hole, looking at us, and Arthur said, ‘Hicken, get him!’ So I took my 30-30 and drawed down on him – Boy, that gun went off, knocked the lamp chimney off and blew out the lamp. So we got another lamp on. I sure got the rat. Marshal’s hat was hanging under the hole and it had blood and guts all over it. Frank didn’t say much, only he had to clean up his hat.
The Dobbs family moved back here from Kansas in 1925, and he had bought the place up on the hill but they lived on the Coordes place till the spring of 1926, then moved up on the hill and lived there till 1943. There were several families lived on South Fork till Bell bought them out. They used to have a school up there above Hill creek and we all used to get together a lot.
Orville and Lucille Dobbs were married in 1930, and in 1932 Orville and I built several cabins up Elk Creek. I rode for the Burro Mt. And Elk Creek cattle pools and in 1937, Iola Dobbs and I were married and lived up at the Hamilton Cow Camp.
Frank and Iola Hicken, May 21, 1937 at Elk Creek Picnic
From TIWIR Volume II, page 218- 220