Charles M. Barrack

Written by Vivian Barrack, One in a collection by Allen Bachoroski, Local Historical Writer and author of “Tales Along the Highway of Legends”

The search for a better life led Charles John Barrack from Zahle, Lebanon to the United States in the year 1885. Charles was the youngest of eight children. He had six brothers and one sister. His older brothers financed Charles’ trip to America with the understanding that he would bring his nephews to this country – which he did.

Charles first settled in Springfield, Illinois, but soon moved to Spokane, Washington, where he married Miriam Skaff in 1890. He operated a tobacco shop there for several years. In 1892 Charles and Miriam had a son, Murphy Charles Barrack, and, soon afterward, a daughter, Sophie, who later married William Azar. Having heard of the booming coal fields in Southern Colorado, Charles moved his young family to Las Animas County in 1894 where many of his descendants still live.

Upon arriving in Las Animas County Charles opened a general merchandise store. He visited all the mining camps in the region – traveling on foot and by horse and buggy in order to sell his merchandise. He eventually opened a grocery store in Segundo. The store was successful, but during the labor unrest in the county in the early l900’s the building was destroyed by a bomb planted by a strike breaker because Charles had been extending credit to assist the striking miners.

After his store in Segundo had been destroyed Charles started over again. He moved his family to Trinidad in 1910. He built a two story building at 115 Elm Street to house his grocery store. The second floor of the building was a “motel” where people who came from up the river to purchase supplies could spend the night before returning home.

It was during this period that Lizzie Barrack, Charles sister, joined the family and became well known for her fine linens. She would take her wares and walk throughout the Purgatory River Valley selling them. Many of the linens she sold survive to this day and people still tell Charles’ descendants that “Lizzie Barrack sold these to me.”

Murphy Charles Barrack had joined his father in business by this time and in 1915 Murphy married Sophie Hathoot in Omaha, Nebraska. They were blessed with five children – Roger (Las Vegas, Nevada), Charles, Suzanne (Waterbury, CN), Helen (Hume, Duante, CA) and Regina Barrack, who died at the age of three.

In 1938 the family decided to leave the grocery business and Charles John retired. He died on June 6, 1947. Murphy decided to concentrate on the automobile agency, Southern Motor Company. They had begun selling automobiles in 1918. Over the years Murphy built the agency into one of Trinidad’s most successful businesses. In 1948 Murphy retired and sold the business to his sons Roger and Charles. They successfully expanded the business and were in operation until 1971, when they decided to sell and pursue other activities.

Charles Murphy Barrack graduated from Holy Trinity in 1936 and the University of Notre Dame in 1940. He married Vivienne Nicholas of Enid, Oklahoma in 1941. In 1942 Charles joined the USA Army and served with the 81st Infantry Division rising to the rank of Staff Sergeant. Charles saw duty in the South Pacific during World War II and at the time of his discharge in 1945 was part of the occupation force in Japan. After the war Charles and Vivienne returned to Trinidad to raise a family and become part of the community.

Charles served in the community in a number of capacities: Commander of the local V.F.W.Post and President of the Trinidad City’s Planning and Zoning Commission and became Chairman of the Board of the Trinidad Development Institute, the forerunner of today’s economic development organization. Charles also served on Trinidad’s City Council from 1975- 1977. Vivienne Nicholas Barrack also served her adopted Community in a number of capacities. She was president of the Mt. Carmel Home & School Association. She produced and directed several musicals which took advantage of the talents of the local parishioners. Vivienne served as president of the Hospital Auxiliary and was on the first Board of Directors of the new Mt. San Raphael hospital. She also was the first woman to serve on the Las Animas County Planning Commission.

Charles and Vivienne have three children – Miriam (Zappanti of Trinidad), Carol (Emery, of Denver) and David (of Trinidad). They have five grandchildren. Brian, Mark and John (Zappanti) and Carrie Ann and Rex (Emery). Miriam is employed as the Lead Instructor of Trinidad State Junior College G.E.D. program, and assists her husband Jim in his electrical and consulting business, Electro Tech Enterprise. Carol is a homemaker and substitute teacher. Her husband Bruce is a teacher in the Jefferson County School District. David is the owner of Barrack Real Estate, a real estate brokerage and consulting business.

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