This is a photo of Charles and Effie Osborn, taken about 1900.

Photo courtesy of the Museum of Northwest Colorado

This is a photo of Charles and Effie Osborn, taken about 1900.

Osborns add to Craig's development


— Newlyweds share dreams of the life and riches ahead of them, and sometimes they make dramatic changes to facilitate those dreams.

When Charles "Charley" Bluford Osborn married Effie May Jackson on Christmas Eve, 1900, they already had made plans for a move that would change their lives forever and add to the rich tapestry of Craig's development as a community.

Charley grew up on a farm in Altoona, Kan., where he was born Jan. 21, 1874. Effie was born in nearby Buffalo, Kan., on Aug. 4, 1880. They learned to work early and shared a love of adventure and a good sense of humor.

Within a few weeks of their marriage, the couple packed up a wagon and moved west, landing in Georgetown, Colo., where Charley worked the rich mines and Effie worked in a boarding house. Their first two children, Everett and Marion, were born in Georgetown in 1902 and 1904, respectively.

Still dreaming of their own place, the Osborns moved from Georgetown to a homestead near Yampa shortly after Marion's birth. They learned the hardships of raising cattle - and sometimes losing them - in the Colorado high country, where winter snows are unpredictable.

The Osborns welcomed their first daughter, Edith, into the family on March 17, 1906, while on the homestead on Green Ridge. They stayed in the Yampa area until 1912, when Charley, suffering from "the rehumitiz" and barely able to walk, decided to move to a warmer climate. They loaded up the children and their possessions into a wagon and drove to Vernal, Utah, passing through Craig on their trip.

"We never saw the sun for the whole winter - it was overcast, foggy and miserable," Edith remembered. The family soon moved back to Craig and began what would be a lasting contribution to the Yampa Valley.

The couple rented a home in Craig, and Charley began hauling freight using horses and a heavy wagon. Effie worked at a bakery in Rosedale. She would rise at 3 a.m. to begin baking bread, rolls and other goods and usually sold out of everything she made. She also made birthday cakes and other confections on special order. Edith remembered her mother hiding the children and locking the shop door when she saw gypsies coming. The belief that gypsies stole children was strong in those days, and Effie was taking no chances.

Marion was tending the bakery one day when a cowboy came in and wanted to trade a pair of German binoculars for a loaf of bread. Young Marion tried the glasses and was able to see a horse switching its tail nearly a mile away. Unfortunately for both the boy and the cowboy, Marion didn't have the authority to give the man the trade.

In 1914, the Osborns leased a ranch on Deer Creek from Mr. Jarvis. The ranch was in considerable disrepair, so the boys soon were put to work cleaning ditches and bringing the place back to order. Other children followed, and the Osborns soon found that the ranch house - a reworked barn - was not large enough for their growing family.

Charley and Effie decided to head back to Altoona, looking for another likely ranch on the way. They left Marion to tend the cattle during the winter with the help of a neighbor. While they were in Kansas, the Osborns received a letter from Mr. Jarvis agreeing to expand their house, so they came back to Hamilton to stay.

Through the years, the Osborn family grew to nine children - seven boys and two girls. As the oldest girl, Edith did much of the child care and housework. The boys worked with the livestock and the land.

Charley became interested in bees and kept several hives, which pollinated the bountiful orchard he developed as an accomplished arborist. He grew apples, cherries, plums, prunes and, after being told it wasn't possible, apricots. The fruit helped feed the large family.

They eventually purchased the Jarvis ranch and expanded it to a good-sized operation. Their Hereford cattle filled the meadows and were shipped out from Craig to markets across the United States.

They also hosted many traveling herds of cattle, providing food and rest for man and beast alike as they traveled to Craig's shipping point.

Effie earned a reputation as "one of the sweetest people you could ever meet," because she helped neighbors and strangers alike. She spent her later years knitting and crocheting for her neighbors and many friends.

As the years passed, Charley lost his hearing and eyesight but he kept in touch with the world through radio broadcasts. Three of his sons took over the operation of the ranch and the place still is in the family, nearly 100 years after they moved to Deer Creek. Charley died Feb. 21, 1959, and Effie died Oct. 2, 1970. The couple left a living legacy of dozens of grandchildren and scores of great-grandchildren.

As they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with family and friends, Effie looked around at all the faces and said, "Look what we've done, Charley. Look what we've done." Theirs certainly was a life filled with riches untold.

Shannan Koucherik may be reached at Article written for the Museum of Northwest Colorado and the Craig Daily Press.


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