The history of this one family of Colorado Homesteaders is intriguing and unique. Allen Mingus built his families new home by hand using only the surrounding trees and rocks while living in a dugout. It took him two years to complete before he could move his wife and two daughters into their new life. Once there, not only did they experience incredibly harsh elements and isolation, but they suffered terrible tragedy as well. This story deserves to be preserved. Their story needs to be told.
Mingus Ranch Cabin is located high in the San Isabel National Forest, Colorado. This cabin and the surrounding ranch buildings were built by Allen Mingus in 1908 as part of the Homestead Act of 1862. A later law allowed Allen to apply for a homestead on federal land. He applied for and was soon granted his homestead of 148 acres in the San Isabel National Forest, Colorado.
Allen built this cabin and ranch by hand in a little over 2 years. He used nothing but the raw materials on his new land. He lived in a dugout while he built the house. Once everything was built and ready, he moved his family to their new homestead. They were his wife, Elva, his daughter Helen (4), and Maurine (2). A few years later, they had their third daughter at this ranch.
They lived there as a family with no electricity or phones. Life was hard. There was no help. It took 3 days of rough horseback riding to get to the nearest town Wetmore, Colorado for any kind of supplies or help. It was incredibly isolated and brutally cold. The land was wet and would grow very little.
Still they persisted and carried on.
Sadly, Allen’s wife Elva was trampled in the barn by one of their horses. The horse was spooked and kicked her. She was pregnant with their fourth child at the time and suffered a miscarriage. She died two days later in the main house. Because of the snow, she laid upstairs in the bedroom for a week before a carriage could be arranged to carry her down the mountain for burial at the cemetery.
Allen sent his daughters away to family to be raised as he could no longer do it on his own.
He stayed at and worked his ranch alone until his death on Christmas day 1963.