Adus F. Dorsey II
It was harvest time in 1905; Thomas Nixon was semi-known in the area to the locals as a hopeful miner and Don Juan type. Calvin Pendleton was a polygamous that lived in Fruita and made it his business to know of this Thomas Nixon, and as the story goes Calvin didn’t approve of this Nixon fella hanging around anywhere near Fruita, or his daughter Lucy Ann. Lucy Ann was a pretty little thing and came from good stock. Thomas took a liking to her unbeknownst to the old man Pendleton. As lovers will often do they snuck off together and Lucy Ann was soon with child in the winter of 06’. After that old man Pendleton disowned his daughter Lucy Ann and never, ever spoke to her again.
It was on April 17thin 1909, when Arth Meeks was slowly poking some cows down through Sulpher Creek near where it connects with Nixon Canyon. Thomas Nixon had set himself up a nice little homestead on a good spring there and in the summer months he had a pretty good garden with lots of corn and some purple Lilac bushes that surrounded the property where he and Lucy Ann lived. Today the Lilac bushes are still there at the mouth of Nixon canyon and bloom almost every year.
Why Arth Meeks decided April 17th, 1909, was a good day to move his cows down Sulphur Creek nobody will ever know, but he did and it would be a day he would never forget and he would tell the story the rest of his life.
Arth had been riding most of the morning when he came up on Thomas Nixon’s cabin. The closer he got the louder the wailing sound he could hear. At first he wasn’t sure what it was as he had never heard anything like it. Through a break in the budding Lilacs of the Nixon cabin Arth Meeks saw a kid about three years of age, crying, big sobs.
Arth pulled back on the reins of his horse and climbed down from his saddle and walked over to where the little boy was crouched on a rock step in front of the Nixon cabin. If anyone has ever told me what the little boys name was I don’t rightly remember and to this day I still don’t know.
The door to the cabin was closed and Arth immediately sensed something was wrong because the hair on the back of his neck was standing straight up and his skin was tingling. The little boy didn’t look up when Arth asked him where his folks were; the three year old just sat there on the step and sobbed. Going into someone else’s house when the door is closed was something Arth Meeks was not comfortable doing. People get shot doing that sort of thing here in the wild-west, Arth must have thought to himself.
The cabin door hinges were in bad need of oil and squeaked loudly when Arth Meeks force the door open. It was dark and hard for him to see. It took what seemed like an hour for his eyes to adjust to the darkness but Arth Meeks wasn’t in any hurry to find out what was in there so he waited… and waited. Before his eyes could fully adapt Arth Meeks heard another muffled cry coming from inside, a whimper of sorts, kind of like the sound a baby lamb makes when it is born. At this point I am sure Arth was whispering for anyone in the cabin to tell him it was alright for him to come in but no one called back except the cry of the little lamb?
On a straw tick bed in the corner of the room Arth Meeks was able to make out someone laying there, who ever it was wasn’t moving but something else was. Arth Meeks knees were knocking and his spurs clinking and he didn’t want to go any closer but he knew he had to.
He saw the baby first and he gasp at the sight of it. The baby was whimpering and he could see the young mother was gone. Arth Meeks pulled the covers up over the dead mother then bundled up the baby in a blanket he found near the end of the bed. Outside he grabbed the sobbing little boy and climbed up on his horse and all three headed back up the trail he had just come down.
About half way to Torrey, Arth Meeks saw the miner Thomas Nixon hoofing it at a pretty good clip. He stopped to find out what had happened. Nixon saw the little boy and the bundle in Arths arms. Arth told Nixon his wife was dead and Nixon dropped to his knees clutching his chest. Thomas Nixon told Arth that Lucy Ann went into labor the night before and was having a tough go of it. By morning he knew it was more serious than he could handle so he was on his way in to town to get the mid-wife Josie Lee Hancock. He had left the little boy at the cabin because he knew he would slow him down. Nixon’s eyes were full of alligator tears.
Arth Meeks handed the crying little boy down to his daddy and rode off toward town with the baby cradled in his arms; Nixon didn’t try to stop him. Josie Lee was out back doing chores when Arth Meeks rode up. She could see something was terribly wrong and dropped what she doing and ran to where Arth Meeks was. Josie Lee took the baby from Arth Meeks and quickly started toward the house. She told Arth to get some water from the cistern and come inside. After seeing the baby was going to be all right
Arth Meeks ask Josie Lee if there was a horse he could borrow to go get the miner Nixon. Josie Lee said there was an old nag in the corral he could take so Arth quickly wrapped a rope around the old horses neck and off they went at a trot.
Josie Lee was the mid-wife in Torrey for years, and she didn’t have any children of her own. She was a kind and gentle person and was known to be quite musical.
As far as I know the miner Nixon’s story pretty much ended at this point and no one knew much about what happened to him until another rider found him dead in his little cabin out on Miner’s mountain on July 16th, 1928. Thomas Nixon is buried in grave in the Grover cemetery next to a cedar stump.
Josie Lee took charge of the two children and named the baby Erma and taught her to play the piano. Some people say John Hancock, Josie Lee’s husband, was rather stern with the little boy and the boy eventually went to live with somebody else never to be heard of again.
It took me a long time to find where Lucy Ann was buried; as it turned out she was in the Loa cemetery, in a small patch of ground that faces to the west. When Erma was older she went to see the old man Calvin Pendleton, he was living somewhere in Idaho. He was feeble and couldn’t see. The old man mistook Erma for Lucy Ann, the daughter he had disowned in 1906, and at once he began to pour out his built up sorrow and said that he had regretted his actions the whole of his life.
Erma passed away in 1997 and is resting peacefully in the Torrey cemetery next to her husband Jack Osborne. She lived a good long life and was always known to play piano at church.
*This is a story that was related to me by Jim and Aileen Haws (Aileen was Lucy Ann’s Grand Daughter) some of the details may not be exactly correct.