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From 1890 to 2008 :

806 Yampa Ave. a historical house

Dan Davidson/Special to the Daily Press
A photo of the house at 806 Yampa Ave. taken about 1900, most likely while the Tuckers still lived there.
Courtesy Photo

— The frame home of Craig and Vicki Conrad at 806 Yampa Ave. is the oldest structure to survive from the beginnings of this frontier community almost 120 years ago.

It was built by William H. and Flora Tucker in about 1890 as a house whose owner was looking forward to a day when the new town was more than a few buildings thrown onto a sagebrush flat.

One of the first things Tucker did after the house was finished was plant trees in his yard as well as up and down some of the main streets of town.

As with most early residents, Tucker had several different occupations through the years. So by 1900, it appears that Tucker and his family moved to Breeze Basin (an area southwest of Craig and south of the Yampa River) to have a stint at farming and ranching.

The property at 806 Yampa was sold to Charlie Ranney by Flora Tucker in December 1901.

As a sidelight, the Tuckers did not own the property they built the house on until 1892 and it was held only in Mrs. Tucker’s name, both appear to have been almost normal for that time.

Charlie Ranney purchased the house from the Tuckers a few months before his marriage to Josie Bassett McKnight in May of 1902.

It was told by Esther Campbell that Josie had the first windmill and plum trees in Craig while living at the old Tucker place.

At this time, the property also had a fair-sized barn located on the alley to the north of the house.

Only a year later, Ranney traded the house and the lot his drug store was located on in downtown Craig to D.C. and Mary J. Crowell for their place on Fortification Creek, 20 plus miles north of Craig.

The Crowells had lived in the region for a number of years and were of an age where hard physical work was behind them. Mrs. Crowell passed away in 1909 and D.C. remarried the next year. His son Walter Crowell sold the home to the George Kimball family in February 1913.

Amazing as it appears, Crowell and his new wife Victoria and her young daughter took up a homestead Northwest of Craig. His wife received the patent in 1920 after his death in 1917.

The Kimballs, an old Golden, Colo., family, had come to Craig only two years prior to start a new newspaper in the community, the Craig Empire.

When Moffat County was formed in 1911, there was a democratic governor in office in Denver, so all Democratic appointments we’re made for the new county.

Since the Courier was a Republican paper, there was a chance for a new Democratic paper in town, which would then receive the advantage of becoming the official paper for the county and receive all the legal advertisements, a built-in revenue source, which had been the Courier’s previously.

It is an interesting sidelight is that Kimball’s young daughter Leslie became lifetime best friends with Dorothy Spenser, daughter of the Courier’s Republican editor/owner Walter Spenser. It is said that even though the fathers disliked each other intensely, they were very kind to each other’s daughters.

The house was remodeled in 1925 while the Kimballs owned it, with the front entry being changed as well as an addition of a sun room on the south.

They most likely modernized the home at the same time and added a bathroom and perhaps electricity, all new conveniences to the community around 1918. The Kimballs left the area in the late 1920s and moved to California after he sold his interest in the Craig Empire, and the papers we’re combined into the Craig Empire-Courier.

During the 1930s, the house became the home of the Frank and Bessie Bieser family.

The Biesers added several small rental units to the property adjacent to the alley during their ownership.

Bieser came to the area in the early 1930s as a bank receiver after the area banks failed in 1932. He helped establish the Moffat County State Bank in 1935 and remained as president until he sold his interest in the bank in 1945.

He continued to live in the community until 1956, when he was appointed as manager of the Bond Department for the state of Colorado in 1956.

The Biesers also continued to own the house as a rental until July of 1972 and was home to a number of families during the time.

In July 1972, the house was purchased by Robert Fenton who then sold it to Frank and Velma Hadley in December 1974. The Hadleys owned the house until November 1982.

During the same time, a small home was moved onto the north side of the lot and improved as a nice rental unit. It had been the original C. A. Van Dorn homestead house located west of town near what today would be the Tri-State Equipment John Deere dealership.

By June of 1983, it was purchased by the Wisdoms and was home to a real estate office for a brief period. In November 1983 it was sold to the Ruckmans who then in June 1985 sold it to Craig and Vicki Conrad, the current owners.

The Conrads have made a number of improvements since they bought the house and have materially added to its the appearance. Today, it bears witness to a number of Craig families, which through endurance and fortitude have changed that sagebrush flat into a community beyond what the founders could have imagined.

Research done by Dan Davidson, Museum of Northwest Colorado


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