A desire to fill in gaps from the family tree and to connect with an extended family that goes all the way back to the establishment of a community at Longs Canyon drew several people from the U.S. and Canada to Trinidad for a reunion, and to do genealogical research.
Descendants of George Horace Long were in Trinidad last week pouring over records in the history room at the Carnegie Public Library in an effort to connect with their past.
Diane Barnes, of Alberta, Canada, said, â€œI was looking for information on my great grandparents. I sent e-mails until I found all the others. I told them, I'm going to come to Trinidad to find the records, and I got all this organized.
Esther Welp, who was born in Trinidad, and now lives in Albuquerque, is a descendant of Long. Her mother married a great, great grandson of Long's.
I always had a lot of information but a lot of it was handed down by word of mouth, Welp said. She and the other family members, some of whom met for the first time, found a lot of old cemetery records, obituaries and names listed in old Trinidad city directories. Welp is an alumnus of Holy Trinity Schools in Trinidad.
A total of nine people traveled to Trinidad from two family lines, the Longs, and the Thompsons. The Thompsons are descendants of Abraham Thompson, who along with Long, established the Longs Canyon community.
Local historian and genealogical researcher Alice Romero said that the original entrance to Longs Canyon was southeast of the canyon, where the dam is now. It was submerged when the Trinidad Lake dam was built. A new access bridge that crosses the Purgatoire River further west of the old entrance into Longs Canyon now serves the residents of that area.
The Longs Canyon community had a coal mine and a thriving cattle business in the 1860s when it was first settled. It is sometimes called Longsdale in older records of the region. Welp, who was named after Esther Long Kimball, said she has found an ancient book that traces the Longs all the way back to New Mexico.
"I've always felt that the Longs were the original American family in New Mexico," Welp said.
George Horace Long died in March 1876 and was buried in one of two cemeteries that had to be relocated when the Purgatorie River backed up that spring.
Janice McElfresh Brannon, of Salem, South Carolina, flew to Colorado for the reunion. She was eager to turn the occasion into a homework assignment aimed at tracing her roots back to her ancestors.
"I hope it spurs people to give more money to the genealogical society",she said. Her grandmother told her stories about being born in a covered wagon during the region's pioneer days.
"This area is a crossroads of history", Brannon said. She has written her own book, a family history detailing their connection to Starkville, just south of Trinidad, and not far from Longs Canyon.
James Avery Thompson, of Visalia, Calif., a descendant of Abraham Thompson, said the journey to Trinidad and the time spent this week at the Carnegie Public Library, has help fill in the gaps of his ancestry.
"We're finding out our connection to this area", he said. He last visited the area 15 years ago when he came to research ancestral family marriage records in Walsenburg. But at that time, he was not aware of some of his third cousins or their interest in Trinidad and their family roots.
"There are still some Longs here in Trinidad", Thompson said. His forebear, George Thompson, also served as Las Animas County Sheriff, but beyond election results from 1874, not much more is known about his tenure in office. Casimero Barela succeeded Thompson in office that same year.
Family interconnections are still evident in Trinidad today. Welp said that her aunt, Bernice Long, was married to William Simpson, a grandson of George Simpson, after whom Simpson's Rest is named. Former Trinidad city councilman Ted Martinez is also related to the Simpson family.
None of those who spent time in Trinidad this week were bothered that their vacation and reunion trip meant that they would spend a lot of time studying history and doing family tree homework.
The group also expressed interest in donating to a fund to purchase a copying machine for the Carnegie Public Library's history room. They found many of the records they needed, but were limited in what they could copy on the library's machine.
Source: By Ken Reamy, Staff writer, The Times Independent