Into the Sunset
Polli Jost Turner, Editor

The following are bits and pieces from the book, Into the Sunset, written by George S. Ball, and published by the Greeley Tribune in Greeley, Colorado, in 1966. Pierce, Nunn, and Ault are small towns clustered together in Weld County, in northeastern Colorado, about 50 miles north of Denver. It was in this area that Grandpa and Grandma Jones met and were married, and thus, the birthplace of the Jones clan.

The Weld County area was arid. Originally it was mostly just cattle ranching country--wide-open spaces where the cattle roamed until the cowhands came to round them up and drive them to market. The ranchers were not pleased, then, when homesteaders began to come in and settle on what they considered to be their rangeland. There were resentments on both sides. The homesteaders had to build fences to protect their farms and gardens from the grazing cattle, and occasionally a cowhand would break down a homesteader’s fence to allow hungry cattle to have a convenient lunch. Eventually the homesteaders won out, as their numbers increased, and water was brought in for irrigation.

The author asked several old-timers of the area to write him a letter telling of their memories of the early days in Weld County. One of those included in the book was from Hazel Lemonds McMullen, Grandma Jones’ aunt.

"Dear George,

"You asked me to write you a letter telling you about my early days in Nunn.

"On March 12, 1852, William Pinkey Lemonds was born in Monroe Co., Iowa. July 8, 1853, Martha Jane Turner was born in Virginia. Her family migrated to Iowa. These young people grew to man and womanhood, met at a 4th of July picnic and were married on April 16th the following year. After living several different places, they settled in Taylor Co., Iowa, on a farm. Six of their 8 children were born there; 2 died in infancy. They lived there until the spring of 1902, sold their farm and moved to Sharpsburg, Iowa, and ran a grocery store and meat market for 4 years. Western fever had gotten into their blood so Father came to Colorado. The new land in Northern Colorado was just opening to homesteaders so he filed on 160 acres of land east of the townsite. Real estate men from Cheyenne had bought a section of land from the railroad company, laid out a town and called it Maynard as this part of the country had always been called Maynard Flats. Father filed on a homestead in July and we had to be on the land in 6 months, so father and mother sold their store and home in Iowa, loaded an emigrant car with horses, cows, dogs, and furniture from a 10-room house and moved to Colorado. Our home on the plains was a 2-room shack. We stored our furniture under tarps in the yard.

"Father and my two brothers, Vote and Lemuel, came to Colorado in January, my two sisters, Mona and Leo, came in February, and Mother and myself came in March. When the train stopped to let us off we stepped in snow to our knees and it was still snowing. Vote and Lemuel met us and we started home but got lost. We were plenty scared as we had heard so much about people in the wild west getting lost and freezing to death. But the boys remembered a dead cow and her head was pointed east so we went back to her and got our directions straight and made it home all right. Father had a light burning in the window for us.

"Spring came on and the homesteaders began coming. We had to go to Ault for our mail and as there were 7 of us we almost needed a bushel basket to get our mail once a week. There were very few fences; we just made roads across the prairie.

"Father had bought Mother a lot in Maynard and a Mr. Elsie Moffit had put a very small grocery store on it. (The building still stands.) The homesteaders began wanting a Post Office. The Government allowed it but insisted we call it Nunn, as that was what the railroad wanted it called instead of Maynard. (That is another story.) We got our Post Office and it was put in a corner of that tiny grocery store. Mr. Barney Joyce was our first Postmaster.

"The owners of the Nunn town site put up a good-sized livery barn and had their Real Estate office in one corner. By then the town itself had begun to grow. The Gilcrest Lumber Co. and The Boise Payette Lumber Co. had each started lumber yards. We had our first dance in the office of the Gilcrest Lumber Co.; our music was a fiddle and guitar. We aleman left and swing on the corner, and did we have fun! More businesses started coming, and we always had a dance in every new building.

"Our first Sunday School and Church was in the livery barn. People came in buggies, wagons and on horseback. The barn was cleaned every Sunday morning, and everyone brought their own chairs. Miss Pear Row was Sunday School Supt., I was organist and secretary. Rev. McMillen from Greeley and Rev. Sureman from Ft. Collins helped us organize. Rev. Gauss of Greeley was our minister.

"Other businesses began coming in; at one time we had 3 lumber yards, four grocery and dry goods stores, a hotel, two restaurants, a millinery store, hardware store, 2 drug stores, 2 livery barns, 2 meat markets, bank, feed store, real estate office and newspaper. Our first restaurant was in a tent house. The first few issues of the Nunn News were printed in Ault.

"Mr. Jack Kent built the Hotel and Pool hall. Our first school was held in the pool hall; Miss Ragland was the teacher. We built a tent house and moved our Sunday School and Church to it. In the fall of 1907 we built our church that still stands. My father and mother donated the bell that is still hanging there.

"My family always liked it there. The first few years the rattlesnakes and cactus bothered us most. Our entertainment in the early days was house parties, ice cream socials, box socials, dances and baseball games. We had one of the best baseball teams in northern Colorado. We thought nothing of walking the mile and a half to town.

"Our first Harvest Carnival was held in the barn in the fall of 1906. I didn’t get to go in the morning; I had to stay at home and bake bread. The entertainment was races of all kinds and a tug of war between the men and women. You know who won, don’t you?

[There was a project underway to divert water from the Laramie River and its tributaries in Colorado into the Pierce-Nunn area. The state of Wyoming went to the Supreme Court to try to stop them, and succeeded. The farmers started dryland farming--kidney beans, sugar beets, and potatoes--with great success.]

"Everyone had big dreams of this being a big city. Greeley-Poudre Ditch Co. was organized. They were going to bring water from the mountains. The Dover reservoir was made. The Great Western Sugar Co. was going to build a factory. The Railroad Co. had promised us a depot. (We had a box car.) But when the Supreme Court ruled that the water we were expecting belonged to Wyoming, the ditch company went broke, and the dreams all faded. Then the farmers started dryland farming.

"My two brothers were very successful auctioneers. People came and went. My brothers and sisters married and I married Jim McMullen [Grandma Jones’ uncle] of Pierce on Aug. 6, 1909.

"My father (Uncle Pink as he was called) passed away June 10, 1919. My Mother (Aunt Mat) passed away Aug. 19, 1934, and my husband, Jim McMullen passed away December, 1961.

"I live in the bank building now. The only other person living at Nunn that was here when we came here is Mr. Oscar Barnes.

"I have three daughters: Gladys McMullen Daems, Ennis, Montana; Martha McMullen Kelly, Walden, Colo.; and Eva McMullen Watts, Alamosa, Colo.

"This is my remembrance of the first years in Nunn.


"Hazel Lemonds McMullen"


In the author’s reminiscences, he discusses the time the automobile first came to the area, commenting that Calvin McMullen had one of the first. I wonder what his father, who owned the livery stable in Pierce, thought of that! The rest of this section on autos has nothing to do with our family, but it is so interesting that I couldn’t resist including it.

"One of the things that comes to my mind when I think back over the years is the coming of the automobile. There were a few in this area before about 1916, one in Pierce owned by Cal McMullen . . . . The McMullen family was another that were pioneers in the area; Mr. William McMullen, the father of Cal and Jim and Mrs. Lem Lemonds [Alice McMullen, Grandma Jones’ aunt] at Nunn, homesteaded right east of Pierce where the Batman family lives today. Cal McMullen homesteaded north of Pierce at the place now owned by Mrs. Troy (Marie) Jones. He had a family of several boys and girls; Erma, the oldest girl; Alice, married first to Harry English, a neighbor of ours, then to Mr. Charles Jones; other children were Ruth, Claude and Lloyd.

"The automobile never really came here until about 1916. I think that prosperity brought on by the first World War made it possible for these people to own automobiles. They were raising pinto beans at that time and the price went high so it didn’t take very many beans to buy an automobile. The going price on a Ford Touring car--they didn’t have any closed cars at that time--was $368 or $398, I don’t remember which. I.N. King ran a Ford agency at Ault. . . . The makes of cars were Ford and Chevrolet, a few Buicks, Reos and some Maxwells and Vellies; also Apperson Jackrabbits. I could name a number of different kinds of automobiles but as I’ve always been a Ford man it seems like the world revolves around Ford.

"The first Ford that my folks bought was along in 1916, in the fall. I remember Forrest Ruffner bringing the Ford out, coming down the road with the dust a-flying. . . . He was a young man then and he brought the Ford and gave us all a ride in it; we drove around the section and it ran pretty good; he left the Ford and went back to Ault. After it had had time to cool off, we went out and tried to start it. The Ford didn’t have any self-starter on it, just a crank. Dad would crank it and then my brother would crank it and then I would crank it and it wouldn’t say a word; it was dead as far as we were concerned. Dad went to the telephone and called up down at Ault to Forrest and told him, "there’s something the matter with that car; we can’t get it started." He said, "Well, what you have to do when you get ready to start it, after it’s cooled off, you’ll have to choke it; there’s a wire that runs out front through the radiator, and you pull that out and make 2 or 3 turns with the crank and then your car will start." So Dad did that and the Ford started and we had no more trouble starting it from then on. But that was just about how "green" everyone was about an automobile when they first came out.

"They had little old tires on them, 30" x 3" in front and 30"x 3 1/2" in back and if you had a flat tire it was a case of fix them some way; I don’t remember how we fixed them in the early days but all of the air you put into them was with a hand pump. It was a common occurrence when these automobiles first came out, the driver not being familiar with an automobile but had been used to driving a team of horses, that when he got ready to stop he’d holler "Whoa!" and of course the car didn’t understand horse talk and it didn’t stop. Several of them drove their cars through the end of the garage when they got ready to stop; the car didn’t stop when they hollered, "Whoa!" That was a common way for some people to stop a car for a long time. . . .

"With the Model T Ford, after it had been used for awhile the back main bearing would wear and the magneto--it had a revolving mag on the fly wheel--would move away from the field coil so you couldn’t start it by cranking it. The common method to get it started then was to jack up the hind wheel about 6 inches off the ground and that had a tendency, if you put the car in high gear and lowered the hand brake, to move the coil nearer the magneto. You also tickled the coils; it had a separate coil for each cylinder and sometimes those coils would work and sometimes they wouldn’t; sometimes the points would stick and you’d have to work with them awhile before you’d get them to work and then you’d give it about 2 turns with the crank and it would take off and if you had a little too much gas on, maybe it would jump off the jack and that would kill the motor again. But that was the favorite way of starting the Model T Ford for years, before they put the self-starter on them.

"Sometimes the owner carried a block of wood the right height and someone would pick up one corner of the car and the other party along would place the block of wood under the axle and then it could be started; they would put it in neutral and shove it off the block and they were ready to go.

"The lights on those early-day cars were something out of this world. They were powered by the magneto and it depended on the speed at which the car was being driven whether you had any lights or whether you needed a flashlight or a lantern to see the road. As you slowed down, so did your lights, till you had no light at all; I think you could probably see better by moonlight than you could by your car lights. Some of the cars had oil lights, coal-oil lights that were on the front, or some kind of carbide or gas lights. But they were a far cry from the automobiles that we have now. They have gradually improved as time went by."



The family is recalled as being active in the local churches. Alice McMullen, (Grandma Jones’ aunt) for instance, was secretary for the Pierce Sunday School. In Oct. of 1906, the Nunn Presbyterian Church was organized with 25 members, including Mrs. Mattie Lemonds and her daughter Mona, who joined by letter from the Presbyterian Church in Sharpsburg, Iowa.


Mr. Ball included a section of clippings from some of the local newspapers in the early years. Our family was mentioned several times. This gives an idea of how hungry small-town newspapers are for stories! By the way, the Alice McMullen mentioned is Grandma Jones’ aunt.

In the Ault Advertiser, Nov. 15, 1907--

"B. McMullen, of Pierce, was through this district Sunday with a party of land seekers."


In the Pierce Page, March 27, 1908--

"Mr. McMullen is clipping his livery horses this week."

"Miss Alice McMullen took dinner with friends at Nunn, Sunday."


June 5, 1908 was a busy day for the family--

"William McMullen purchased two fine new rubber tired buggies in Denver, Monday."

"Mrs. McMullen, Mrs. Shafer and Grandma Davis were calling in the west part of town Thursday."

"James McMullen’s trip to Nunn Sunday evening proved very disastrous. While taking his usual nap on his way home, the horse stepped off into the Pierce Lateral [a water canal], breaking the dashboard and shaking Jim up considerably. We think he will be alright by next Saturday."

Jim and his sister Alice seem to have had a special interest in the town of Nunn! Perhaps because the Lemonds family lived there! It was not long after this that Jim married Hazel Lemonds, and Alice married Hazel’s brother, Lem Lemonds!

Into the Sunset, written by George S. Ball, and published by the Greeley Tribune in Greeley, Colorado, in 1966.

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March 1, 2013
Polli Turner

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The Lord is righteous in all His ways, and kind in all His deeds!
The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth!
Psalm 145:17&18 (NASB)