Written by William P. Brown. One in a collection by Allen Bachoroski, Local Historical Writer and author of “Tales Along the Highway of Legends”
I have deep roots in Trinidad. Many of my ancestors lived, worked, died and are buried in the area. The Reinoehl branch of my family arrived in Starkville in May, 1886 where my maternal great-grandfather, Jonathan R. Reinoehl and wife Catherine, owned and operated a general store. Some time later he established a similar store in Sopris which featured ranchers’ and miners’ supplies. In 1950, it was owned by the Salvador family and sported a new front. The Reionhl family emigrated from Tremont, Pennsylvania and were of German-Swiss extraction. All spoke “Pennsylvania Dutch” (German) as well as English. They were accustomed to hard work, as were most in those days, and so made a success of the business. J.R. was a well Known merchant, member of several fraternal organizations and a veteran of the Civil War. Born in November 1841, he lived to age of 83 and is buried in the Civil War section of the Masonic Cemetery in Trinidad. Catharine (aka Heffelfinger) is buried in the Odd Fellows section. She was born in 1842 and died in 1918, aged 76.
My paternal grandfather, Bruno Zyskoski (aka Brown Ziskowski and John Henry Brown), is believed to have arrived in the area in the late 1880’s with two of his brother, Frank, (Franciszek) and Joseph (Jozek). They were Russian- Poles and coal miners by trade. All three brothers worked in the mines until October, 1910 when Frank was killed in Starkville in a disastrous mine explosion in which many miners met fate. He buried in a common grave beneath the Z.N.P. (Polish National Alliance) monument in Trinidad cemetery.
Bruno married my grandmother, Sarah Ann Reinoehl, June of 1883 and set up housekeeping in Sopris. From this union came my father, William Brown Zyskowski (Brown), in March 1900. Four sisters preceded his birth, three of whom died in infancy and were interred in the Sopris cemetery. The fourth sister, Catharine (Kate) lived to the age of 25+ and produced five daughters. A fifth and final sister (Marie) was born in 1903 and was the last child of that marriage. Marie has no living descendants. Her daughter and infant son preceded her in death. Sarah lived to age 92 and is buried in Masonic cemetery in Trinidad. Bruno reached age 81 and is buried West Frankfort, Illinois.
My father spent the bulk of his early years in and about Sopris and Trinidad. He started working at age 15 as an apprentice and later as a chauffeur. He worked for various concerns including Harlan Motors, Mack Patterson and Earl Riggs. He enlisted in the U.S. Army early in 1917 using the name, William Henry Brown, and following basic Training at Ft. Douglas, Arizona Territory, was sent to France aboard the troop transport, SS Henry R. MALLORY. He was among the first (perhaps the first) Las Animas County man wounded in action during World War I. He served as a Wagoner (Driver) in the first Infantry Division, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, Company A, 1st. Ammunition Train (Truck). Upon his return from France aboard the troopship NOORDAM, he was honorably discharged at Ft. D.A. Russell, Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1919. His decorations include the Purple Heart and Silver Star.
Following the war, he trained as a dental technician and eventually owned and operated his own business (Brownie’s Dental Laboratory) in Denver. His marriage to my mother, a school teacher, (former Ruth Wacek of Algoma, Wisconsin) in 1926, produced two sons and a daughter… myself, brother Robert, and sister Barbara, respectively. The family moved to Hawaii in 1936 and to California shortly after the start of World War II (Feb. 1942). All are now scattered over the country from California to the East coast. My father lived to the age of seventy-eight and is buried in Provo, Utah. Ruth, now a retired psychiatric nurse, is still living a t age 84 in Reno, Nevada as of this writing (1989). William and Ruth’s descendants include five grandchildren (four boys and one girl) and eight great grandchildren (two boys and six girls).
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