Mary Pat Dunn: Carrying on the good work
Diverse communities throughout the western United States have one thing in common: pioneer families that brought a strong sense of dedication and a tremendous amount of elbow grease to their new homes. In each community some families moved on after a period of time while others stayed and continued to impact the areas they chose to live in. Craig is fortunate to be able to boast of numerous pioneer families that worked hard to contribute to the growth of the fledgling town.
Craig’s first unofficial “Welcome Wagon” committee was comprised of two sisters, Flora Tucker and Rosella Breeze, who moved here around 1890 when the town site was first being laid out by their brother Willard Teagarden and Flora’s husband William. The two women, noted for their kindness, strove to welcome newcomers into the close-knit frontier community, helping them to settle in and become adjusted to the remote area with its rigorous climate.
While some families left the area for various reasons, others dug their heels into the Moffat County clay and determined to make their homes here. Whether among the first ones to settle here or among those who arrived later on the homestead scene, the pioneering families that chose to stay stamped the community with their individual traits and visions.
Carl Van Dorn homesteaded his land in 1918 near the intersection of present day 10th and Legion Streets. His wife Myrtle was the daughter of early settler R.V. Bryan, who was one of Craig’s early mayors. Carl and Myrtle raised their children, Robert, Perry, Esther and George, on their homestead and imbued them with a strong work ethic, sense of continuity and a commitment to their hometown.
With the fifth generation of the Van Dorn line living in Craig today, the grandchildren of Carl and Myrtle still exhibit their community pride and sense of commitment to the well-being of Craig. Recently the children of Perry Van Dorn used memorial funds to install a plaque at their grandparents’ homestead site, commemorating the dedication of Carl and Myrtle to their family and community. The bronze plaque tells, in part, of Carl’s seven-year project to dig a hole in the sand rock formation behind the cabin, to use for a chicken house — “the finest in the county” according to an early day newspaper report.
Dedication, hard work, and a willingness to help the community expand with the new influxes of settlers and ideas — these are attributes that help a town thrive and grow. That kind of spirit marks Craig today as newcomers still experience the genuine welcoming warmth of the town’s settled and dedicated residents. Newcomers, or old-time residents, we all have a play in the continuing vision of our town and county, helping to make our remote corner of the world the best it can be. Stop by the Museum of Northwest Colorado in downtown Craig, or visit our website at http://www.museumnwco.org, to learn more about the spirit and dedication of our pioneer families, and to be inspired to follow in their footsteps. Remember, “History is Now” and it’s “Your-Story.”
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