River Portal (East Portal), Colorado

I'm Irish & I'm a Mason...and I have a story to tell.

Sit By The River - Share My Journey

These entries document the stories of the men, women and children who lived at River Portal, Montrose County, Colorado while working on the Gunnison Diversion Tunnel - a historic pioneering project that celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2009.

Please read from the first entry forwards as I tend to have my own writing style that's more like reading a book than an entry that can be read individually. Reading the posts separate from each other doesn't really convey the story properly. :)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


For all of those who have been kind enough to be following this blog, I want to let you know that I've started a new blog.  I'm keeping this one and I've separated out a lot of family related non River Portal stories into my new blog.  This should help those who are researching River Portal to be able to get to the facts and it should help those who like the personal stories (the vast majority ) to be able to enjoy those without having to deal with the River Portal documentation.  If you follow me on here, I hope you'll follow me on the new blog.  I hope you like it.  We're still sitting by the river.  :) 

Irish Mason Musings & Meanderings

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Surname Saturday - Seven Surnames From 1st Boarding House

Today I posted seven different blog entries for the seven different men living in the first boarding house listed on the 1910 census for River Portal.  Please check the individual posts for the information about each of these surnames:


Hope someone finds a connection here and / or can provide additional information.

Household # 22 / 7th Person / J. M. Gilbert or I. M. Gilbert

The seventh and last person listed in the boarding house at #22 is J. M. Gilbert or I. M. Gilbert (depending on the interpretation of the census entry & different listings for indexing the census).  He presented the biggest obstacles & brick walls - resulting in very little information.  

I. M. Gilbert or J. M. Gilbert

1910 Federal Census; Colorado; Montrose County; River Portal;
E.D. 111; Precinct 17; April 27; 22/22; DCH

Gilbert, I. M. Partner M W 23 S
                                        Colorado Ohio Iowa
                                                           Engineer Stationary Engine

Household # 22 / 6th Person / Watson Blight

The sixth person listed in the boarding house at #22 is Watson Blight.

Watson Thornton Blight

1900 Federal Census; Colorado; Arapahoe County; Precinct 9;
Denver City; E.D. 47; June 9; 4236 Wessil ??; 294/295; DCH

Blight, Joseph Head W M March 1850 50 M 20
                                       England England England 1871 29 Na
           , Mary J. Wife W F May 1847 53 M 20 5/2
                                       England England England
           , Richard P. Son W M Oct 1881 18 S
                                       Colorado England England
           , Watson P. Son W M Aug 1887 12 S
                                       Colorado England England
1910 Federal Census; Colorado; Montrose County; River Portal;
Precinct 17; E.D. 111; April 27; 22/22; DCH

Blight, Watson F. Partner M W 23 S
                                            Colorado England England
                                                         Time Keeper U.S. Reclamation Service
1920 Federal Census; Colorado; Denver County;
Denver City; E.D. 16; 3629 West 33 Ave.; 35/49; DCH

Blight, Watson Head M W 33 M
                                     Colorado England England
                                                 Hydrographer State
          , Zilla Wife F W 29 M
                                     Colorado Vermont Canada
          , Aileen Daughter F W 6 S
                                     Colorado Colorado Colorado
          , Edith Daughter F W 2 7/12 S
                                     Colorado Colorado Colorado
1930 Federal Census; Colorado; Weld County; Greeley City;
Ward 3; E.D. 103; April 7; 1929 Tenth Avenue; 103/110; DCH

Blight, Watson T. Head M W 43 M 22
                                          Colorado England England
                                                         ???? Engineer Irrigation
          , Zilla M. Wife F W 39 M 19
                                          Colorado Vermont Canada
          , Eileen M. Daughter F W 16 S
                                          Colorado Colorado Colorado
          , Edith L. Daughter F W 12 S
                                          Colorado Colorado Colorado
World War I Civilian Draft Registration:

Name in Full: Watson Thornton Blight
Home Address: 725 ?? N. 5th ??
Montrose, Colo
Date of Birth: August 27, 1886
Natural Born Citizen
Present Occupation: Junior Clerk
By Whom Employed: U S R S
Dependents: Wife Child 4 yrs
No Previous Military Service
No Exemptions Claimed
Medium Build
Gray Eyes
Brown Hair
June 5 ???
Signature: Watson T. Blight
Social Security Death Index:

Name: Zilla Blight
SSN: 522-66-1375
Last Residence: 80033 Wheat Ridge, Jefferson, Colorado, United States of America
Born: 19 Oct 1890
Died: Mar 1976
State (Year) SSN issued: Colorado (1963)

Household # 22 / 5th Person / Albert Moser

The fifth person in the boarding house at #22 is Albert Moser.

Albert L. B. Moser

1910 Federal Census; Colorado; Montrose County; River Portal;
E.D. 111; Precinct 17; April 27; 22/22; DCH

Moser, Albert L. B. Partner M W 25 S
                                          Colorado Switz-German Switz-German
                                                       Civil Engineer U. S. Reclamation Service
1920 Federal Census; Colorado; Denver County;
Denver City; E.D. 178; January 10; 1125 27th St.; 57/69; DCH

Moser, Kate B. Head F W 59 W 1868 Na 1880
                                        Germany Germany Germany
           , Albert L. B. Son M W 36 S
                                        Colorado Germany Switzerland
                                                       Civil Engineer Contractor

(NOTE: Living next door to Arthur Moser - Kate's son, Albert's brother)
1930 Federal Census; Colorado; Denver County;
Denver City; District N; Block No. 4050;
E.D. 111; April 4; 2732 Race Street; 68/68; DCH

Moser, L. B. Head M W 47 M 41
                                        Colorado Switzerland Germany
                                                         Engineer Civil
           , Eva Wife F W 25 M 18
                                        Colorado Pennsylvania Kansas
           , Leo Son M W 6 S
                                        Colorado Colorado Colorado
           , Clifford Son M W 5 S
                                        Colorado Colorado Colorado
           , John Son M W 2 ?/12 S
                                        Colorado Colorado Colorado
World War I Draft Registration Card Info:

Serial Number: 1964
Name: Albert Lee Moser
Address: Livermore??? Larimer, Colo
Age in Years: 35
Date of Birth: April 6, 1883
Native Born Citizen
Present Occupation: Ranchman
Employer's Name: Mrs ?? K. B. Moser
Place of Employment or Business: Livermore??? Larimer, Colo
Nearest Relative: K. B. Moser
Address: Livermore??? Larimer, Colo
Medium Height
Medium Build
Blue Eyes
Darker ? Hair
September 12, 1918
Signature: A L B Moser

Household # 22 / 4th Person / Charles Chambers

The fourth person in the boarding house at #22 is Charles Chambers.

1880 Federal Census; Kansas; Crawford County;
Osage Township; E.D. 58; June 1; 17/17; DCH

Chambers, C. M. W M 29 M
                                        Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Pennsylvania
                , M. A. W F 25 Wife M
                                        Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Pennsylvania
                , C. F. W M 5 Son S
                                        Kansas Pennsylvania Pennsylvania
                , D. A. W F 4 Daughter S
                                         Kansas Pennsyvlania Pennsylvania
                , L. K. W F 2/12 (2) Daughter S
                                         Kansas Pennsylvania Pennsylvania
1910 Federal Census; Colorado; Montrose County; E.D. 111;
River Portal; April 27; Precinct 17; 22/22; DCH

Chambers, Charles F. Partner M W 33 S
                                                Kansas Pennsylvania Pennsylvania
                                                             Machinist U.S. Reclamation Service
1930 Federal Census; Colorado; Hinsdale County; Lake City Town;
E.D. 1; April 16; Bluff Street; 137/81; DCH

(NOTE: Side comment appears to say "That part of town known as Cosco" or "Casco")

Chambers, Charlie F. Head M W 55 M 48
                                                       Kansas Pennsylvania Illinois
                                                                    Machine Man Quartz Mine
                 , Martha A. Wife F W 45 M 18
                                                       Tennessee Tennessee Tennessee
                 , Sunny June Daughter F W 2 10/12 S
                                                       Colorado Kansas Tennessee
Not positive that these are absolutely correct but seem to be matches.

Household # 22 / 3rd Person / Frank Graham

The third person living in the boarding house at #22 is Frank Graham.

1880 Federal Census; Iowa; Monona County; Onawa City;
E.D. 154; June 3; 27/28; DCH

Graham, Lou W M 31 M Laborer
                                       Wisconsin ? Missouri
             , Addie W F 30 M
                                       Wisconsin Canada Illinois
             , Frankie W M 8 S
                                        Iowa Wisconsin Wisconsin
             , James W M 6 S
                                        Iowa Wisconsin Wisconsin
1910 Federal Census; Colorado; Montrose County; River Portal;
E.D. 111; Precinct 17; April 27; 22/22; DCH

Graham, Frank H. Partner M W 38 S
                                            Iowa Wisconsin Wisconsin
                                                        Boiler Worker U. S. Reclamation Service
Appears to be enumerated twice - in two different counties a distance apart. Train trip visit? Listed in family though not living there? Confusing.

1910 Federal Census; Colorado; Prowers County; Lamar; Precint 4;
E.D. 136; April 25-26; 108 E Elm; 219/226; DCH

Graham, W. A. Head M W 61 M1 40
                                       Wisconsin Pennsylvania Pennsylvania
                                                        Contractor Ditch
             , Addie Wife F W 50 M1 40 5/4
                                       Wisconsin Canada (French) United States
             , F. H. Son M W 38 S
                                       Iowa Wisconsin Wisconsin
                                                        Miner Gold
             , Charles A. Son M W 28 S
                                       Iowa Wisconsin Wisconsin
             , Mary E. Daughter F W 26 S
                                       Iowa Wisconsin Wisconsin
                                                        Teacher School
             , Eva L. Daughter F W 20 S
                                       Colorado Wisconsin Wisconsin
(NOTE: In 1900 family located in Baca County, Colorado. Frank not listed with family.)

Household # 22 / 2nd Person / James O. Winnett

The second person listed in the boarding house at #22 is James O. Winnet.

James O. Winnett

1910 Federal Census; Colorado; Montrose County; River Portal;
E.D. 111; April 27; 22/22; (Boarding House); DCH

Winnett, James O. Partner M W 33 S
                                             Washington Iowa Pennsylvania
                                                             Car Repairer U. S. Reclamation Service
1930 Federal Census; Colorado; Mesa County;
Redlands Mesa Precinct 25; E.D. 32;
Mesa County Almshouse; April 9; Line 17; DCH

Winnett, James O. Inmate M W 60 S
                                           Washington Pennsylvania Ohio
Found on Washington Territorial Censuses - 1857-1892 -
Columbia County - Son of William & Hannah Winnett -

Difficult to Read

Household # 22 / 1st Person / Lochie McGillis

Household #22 is a "boarding house" environment where several people are "bunking" together.  I'm going to post each individual separately. 

The first one listed is Lochie McGillis:

1900 Federal Census; Minnesota; St. Louis County;
Duluth; 3rd Precinct; Ward 3; E.D. 266; 7-8 June;
229 West 5th Street; 115/153; DCH

McGillis, Mary Head W F Apr 1834 66 Wd 13/7
                                        Canada Canada Canada 1890 9
               , Daniel Son W M July 1868 31 S
                                        Canada Canada Canada 1888 11 Na
               , Lochie Son W M Aug 1869 30 S
                                        Canada Canada Canada 1890 9
                                                        Fireman RR
               , Saidie (?) Daughter W F June 1878 21 S
                                        Canada Canada Canada
Smith, Howard Grand Son W M Jan 1889 11 S
                                        Ohio Canada Canada
           , Henrietta Grand Daughter W F Jan 1889 11 S
                                        Ohio Canada Canada
1910 Federal Census; Colorado; Montrose County;
Precinct 17; River Portal; E.D. 111; 22/22; DCH (Boarding House)

McGillis, Lochie D. Head M W 39 S
                                            Canada Canada Canada 1890 Na
                                                         Fireman Stationary Engine

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Ancestor Approved Award

I got on here today not to post anything because I really don't have an Easter photo or story to share.  I just got on to look at it.  Yes, I read my own posts sometimes.  I often even cry when I read them.  I'm what they call "Emo" - but isn't it natural that my own very personal heartfelt stories would move me to tears?  Even though the stories aren't new to me - they're still "my" stories and they're still written from my heart and soul.  They're the stories that moved me and I'm honored that they've touched others too.

Leslie Ann at "Ancestors Live Here" http://ancestorslivehere.blogspot.com/ initiated this award.  I add my thanks to Bill's! 

Bill at "Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories" http://drbilltellsancestorstories.blogspot.com/
was kind enough to pass this award along to me.  He's been my strongest supporter - like a champion cheering me on.  Thank you, Bill!  He also shares my love of the "Liam" name.  ;) 

This is a very special award to me.  It means a lot on many different levels.  I'm thrilled to receive it because I don't think there could be a better compliment (except maybe Descendant Approved) that would make me feel such gratification!  Honestly - there have been so many times when I've felt the Irish eyes smiling down on me - felt that the ancestors were approving and leading me!   I've blogged about that.  Believe if you will - or don't believe - but I've been led by them on this journey.  They've held my hand and guided me.  I'm very proud to have my blog be "Ancestor Approved"!

As one of the recipients of this award I'm supposed to list ten things that have "surprised, humbled or enlightened me" about any of my ancestors.  I'm also supposed to pass this award on to 10 other bloggers who are doing their ancestors proud. 

Wow!  ONLY TEN?!  I've had so many "moments"!  Narrowing it down will be a challenge - as will the honesty to "tell it like it is" for some.  Not all surprises are happy.  Some things that are humbling can be stories that aren't as pretty as others.  Enlightened?  Since every find is enlightening that's even more difficult.  I really can't separate these into the categories.  They're all surprises, humbling & enlightening for me. 

1.  Learning that my GGGrandmother had a marriage no one knew about AND that she had been involved in quite a scandalous incident.  Her second husband molested her 9 year old son.  Back then the name of the child wasn't protected in the media.  That woman is a hero to me.  I admire her strength and courage because she didn't sweep that under the rug as so many would have.  I refuse to sweep it under the rug either.  That wouldn't give her the honor she deserves.  She brought the authorities in and had the guy prosecuted. Her son was named in the newspapers and in the arrest and court documents.  In a tiny town it would have been quite the talk of tea parties!  What guts!  She did the right thing and I'm incredibly proud to be descended from her!  She went back to using her first married name and only some great research (by someone I paid) uncovered the mystery. 

2.  Finding out that my grandfather was born in Ireland - County Down, Northern Ireland to be more precise.  Wow!  I qualify for dual citizenship.  I'm Irish every day!  Didn't know that for most of my life.

3.  Finding out that my Irish Mason family emigrated from Ireland directly to Colorado where I now live - never having known that they were from Ireland - let alone that they had ever lived here.  I've come full circle in many ways!  I didn't know it when I moved here but I'm back where they started out in America.  Awesome!

4.  Finding out that my Irish great grandfather John Patrick Mason was a driller on the Gunnison Diversion Tunnel and lived at River Portal (East Portal).  That tunnel was a pioneering project & was quite an accomplishment.  That place is now part of a wonderful National Park - Black Canyon of the Gunnison.  So Proud! 

5.  Learning that I have at least two ancestors who fought in the Civil War - both on the Union side.  (I'd still like to find a Confederate since I lived in Virginia for several years and because I love Gone With the Wind.  )

6.  Learning that my grandfather really WAS born on a reservation!  Along with that one is the incredible feeling of humility and awe I felt when visiting a Native American cemetery in his birthplace - and seeing so many of his surname there.  They were the ONLY family in that tiny place who didn't see fit to claim their heritage - or they weren't really Native American like my Grandpa said.  Someday maybe I'll know the truth. 

7.  Finding out my other grandfather drowned 20 years (almost to the day) after my daddy drowned. 

8.  Learning that I had an ancestor who was among the first group to arrive in Jamestown - which preceded the Mayflower landing at Plymouth Rock.  Jamestown was the first successful English colony in America - and I lived right by it for several years.  So blessed!  Along with that one - finding out that I had other branches that started out right there on that same little peninsula - and that there's a church still standing that my ancestors attended (and sometimes got in trouble for NOT attending).  Being blessed to live in places that I later learned were deeply connected to various branches of my family. Serendipity!

9.  As my Grandma was orphaned at 12 - the eldest of 6 siblings - tracing her past step by step - and eventually finding the family cemetery and standing on the porch of the home she was living in before she and her siblings were placed in a Masonic Home.  I remember the tears and saying "This is for you, Grandma!"  She taught me so much about family!  It meant everything to her.  I knew she would approve of me finding her family roots.  

10.  Finding my stepmother - learning about her life & about the brother I never knew.  A widow at 16 - the day she & my brother came home from the hospital - her strength and courage have touched me deeply!  Her sacrifice & generosity in giving me the flag that covered my dad's coffin & the wallet he had on him that fateful day - HUMBLING indeed!   

 Now to the ten bloggers I'd like to pass this on to for their awesome work in doing their ancestors proud! 

1.  Bill at http://drbilltellsancestorstories.blogspot.com/

2.  Tom at http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2hriwH/destinationaustinfamily.blogspot.com/2010/03/my-newest-article-blogging-your-family.html/r:t

3. Emily at http://writingyourmemories.blogspot.com/

4.  Greg at http://www.lifetimememoriesandstories.com/who-are-lifetime-memories-and-stories/

5.  Sara Beth at http://www.lessonsfrommyancestors.com/

6.  Lisa at http://www.examiner.com/x-9778-Colorado-History-Examiner

7.  Colleen at http://cmjoffice.blogspot.com/

8.  Lisa at http://small-leavedshamrock.blogspot.com/

9.  Fiona at http://newtonlass.blogspot.com/

10.  Becky at http://beckyjamison.blogspot.com/