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Working Ranch - March 2016

Continued from page 178 Prowers was well known for his philanthropy in the surrounding communities including local churches, even though he had no affiliation with any of them. He founded a bank and several businesses with partners from all over. John and Amache had nine children, eight living to adulthood. They sent all of them, boys and girls both, to college. In 1889, five years after his death, Colorado split Bent County into two counties. The western half was named Prowers County in his honor. Today, the site of the Sand Creek Massacre, in Prowers County, is a designated historic site managed by the National Park Service. Thirty-five miles from Sand Creek is a more modern historic site - the Granada War Relocation Center. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 incarcerating more than 7,000 Japanese Americans in the prairie camp in Prowers County. The camp was surrounded by barbed wire fences and machine gun towers. Soon the camp became known as Camp Amache. A little farther west is Bent’s frontier fort, rebuilt to original specifications. Look closely when you drive through Prowers County and you can feel the real history of the American West pulling you in. Bert Entwistle’s web page is www.blackmulepress.com. an attempt to make reparations. In this area were the original 640-acre tracts given to Amache Ochinee, her mother, and two of the Prowers’ daughters. It became the foundation of the Prowers ranch. In time, the ranch also controlled nearly 400,000 acres of open range. Within twenty years he owned as many as 70,000 head of well-bred cattle carrying the Box B and the Bar X brands. He eventually built his own slaughterhouse in Las Animas (to cut down expenses) and sold beef and live cattle. Prowers was appointed Bent County commissioner by the Governor and in 1873 he was chosen to represent the county in the State House as an independent candidate. He served on numerous agricultural committees including irrigation and stock laws. He became both a rancher and statesman, admired by politicians of all parties. Prowers believed that the government should lease the thousands of acres of open range it held and collect revenue from it. Never one to sit back and reflect, he had interests in water and wildlife and was one of the first in the area to introduce irrigation to his ranch. He dug miles of ditches on his property to water his crops and his stock. He introduced whitetail deer to the area near the mouth of the Purgatoire River and brought in Bob White quail and prairie chickens. and advocates for all the tribes, John and Amache worked hard to assure fair treatment and keep the relations stable. On November 11, 1864, a band of Cheyenne and Arapaho, mostly women, children and men too old to fight were camped at a place called Sand Creek. Chief Black Kettle of the Cheyenne and Prowers’ father-in-law, One-Eyed Chief, were sleeping peacefully when they were awakened by rifle shots and the sound of charging horses. The Colorado Militia, formed by territorial governor John Evans and led by Col. John Chivington, had adopted a ‘take no prisoners’ attitude when confronting Indians. Guided from the fort by famed mountain man and trapper Jim Beckworth, they reached a ridge overlooking the encampment. Chivington, anxious to engage in the “battle”, gave the order to attack as soon as it was light enough to see. 700 soldiers attacked the camp in full fury, killing approx. 160 women, children and old men, wounding many more. No adult warriors were present at the camp. Kit Carson, close friend of both One- Eyed-Chief and John and Amache Prowers, expressed public outrage. Chivington publically declared a great victory telling the committee investigating the incident they had killed an estimated 500-600 warriors. Only four soldiers were killed and 21 wounded in this “Sand Creek Battle”. Col. Chivington, a Methodist minister before his military service, was stripped of his command but never prosecuted. In 1868, Prowers and his wife, tired of the freight business, bought a farm near Boggsville, the temporary seat of Bent County. Turning his efforts to cattle ranching, he began to grow his ranch and paid close attention to the genetics of his herd. He introduced the Hereford breed to the area and in1871 bought a famous bull called Gentle the Twelfth from a breeder out of Canada. In the next decade he increased his holdings to 80,000 acres of fenced land including forty miles of river frontage on both sides of the Arkansas River. Each surviving family member of the Sand Creek Massacre received a section of land by the government as MARCH 2016 | WORKING RANCH | 177 KELLIS / SHUTTERSTOCK


Working Ranch - March 2016
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