Jan 252012


Photo courtesy of the Stiles family —

Men came to the Stiles’ ceremonial hogan at Castle Butte to enlist to fight in World War II.

Imagine the Hubbell Building as it was in its heyday! The Winslow Chamber of Commerce meeting room much resembled the bullring it once was at the January Second Saturday program about the trading history of the area. As you entered, wool was waiting to be weighed by the still working scales. Going back into the bullring, one’s eyes swept around the room, taking in beautifully carved kachinas, rugs and blankets of all colors, many of them personalized with the traders’/owners’ names. More colors were waiting to be noticed–pictures, artwork, pottery and jewelry.

The people–ah, the people! Many wore their fine jewelry, Dona Harris wore her traditional Indian dress and there was even a real Indian princess present. Lovely Taylor Kirk, a senior at Winslow High School and a student of Don Baker, is Miss Winslow. She was a charming guest in her Bluebird Flour sack gown, jewelry and beautiful smile.

If you were one of the fortunate ones who had a seat at this Winslow Historical Society event, you were welcomed by Baker, who gave a brief overview of the trading history. His wife Charlotte did as all traders’ wives did, assisting her hus-band with the visual part of the presentation.

Trade began with the first contact of Anglo and Native Americans. Trade items included silver work, corn, leather, sheep, mules, cattle and vegetables. Mountain men traded with Indian groups to get more furs, and bought their supplies at trading locations such as Ft. Bent. They also needed guns, powder, knives and coffee, and may have journeyed to Santa Fe and Taos for these, as well as other necessities.

As America expanded westward and after the Civil War, more trading occurred. The Long Walk forced Navajos to march 300 miles to Bosque Redondo. With the creation of the reservation system on their return, trading posts really began in the Four Corners area.

Among famous trading names in the 1870s were Juan Lorenzo Hubbell and his partner C.N. Cotton, Thomas Keam, Babbitt, Wetheril, Foutz, Day and Richardson. Some had posts, while others traded from a wagon or a tent. At one point there were more than 254 trading posts in the Four Corners operated by more modern names, including Borum, Tobe Turpin, Goulding, McGee, Burnham, Stiles, Bruchman, Rinker/Baker and many others.

A trader was more than a merchant. He was part of the reservation community where he doctored people and animals, hosted guests, furnished transportation, served as banker and postmaster, was a source of employment, and developed roads and water supplies. It is believed that without the trader, Native American crafts would not have gone very far. Hubbell en-couraged rug and blanket weaving. Others encouraged the silversmiths. All told, 4,000 talented craftsmen found employ-ment.

Bob Hall shared the history of the Winslow Hubbell Building built in 1917 by the Richardsons. The building is made of local Fenton brick, which was manufactured by Bonnie Brennan’s father. When the brick ran out, the resourceful builders recycled. You can see where they used the brick remaining in two nearby burned homes to finish an outer wall.

In 1924, the building was sold to Lorenzo Hubble, who had many trading posts, but no rail contact. This area supplied wool for the entire United States, especially the eastern clothing mills. A spur was built across Second Street to the ware-house where the wool was processed and stored until it was shipped.

Politics had to play a part in this building’s history, though. A sturdy, efficient elevator was installed, running from the basement to the main floor, but because it was not registered with the state at the time of installation, the state inspector, after a 1½-hour trial run, slapped a lock on it.

Marjorie Herron graciously shared stories and photos of her family, the Stiles. Jot Stiles purchased the remnants of the Hashknife (the Aztec Land and Cattle Co.) and also courted a young Oklahoma beauty, Marjorie Boles, who came to teach kindergarten at Washington School. He had the habit of riding his horse by the playground at recess, dipping his hat and saying, “Good morning, Miss Boles!”

World War I saw him in the 1st Arizona Regiment assigned to patrol the Arizona/Mexico border at Naco. Some things just never change.

When he ran the Tuba City post for the Babbitt, Jot was host to moviemakers. Sunset Pass and Kit Carson were two of the Westerns filmed there. The producers asked Marjorie to be in the movies, but she declined.

At Castle Butte, the Siles’ ceremonial hogan was a site where young men could enlist to serve during World War II. Traders were sent fliers about the draft, so Jot placed a flag outside the Hogan.

The Stiles built a Winslow post on First Street, which they sold to the Bakers in 1959.

Dona Harris told of her great-grandfather’s travel from Prussia to London and then to Ripon, Wis., where he owned a tailor shop. From Wisconsin, speaking German, Richard Max Bruchman’s next stop was Magdalena, N.M., where he learned Spanish. (Jot Stiles also spent time in Magdalena.)

The Babbitts then hired him to work as a trader in Arizona, where in three years he learned to speak Navajo. Bruchman ran the Bird Springs trading post with Navajo helpers and a Mexican couple. He married Corrine Lynn Bocklett, taking her to Bird Springs, where they had six children, four of whom died tragically. Three of the babies are buried in Winslow while one is buried at Bird Springs, where it is said when the wind blows, a baby can be heard crying.

The Bruchmans moved to town around 1920-22 to set up shop on Second Street.

The store sold thousands of Pendleton blankets, with Phillip flying to Pendleton on occasion to bring them back. From 1972, Dona did the books for Bruchmans and even went to Pendleton herself for more blankets.

Ellen McGee introduced Charlie Singer and showed a picture he drew as a young boy. The McGees traded more in New Mexico, but also in Leupp, Sunrise and for the Hubbells. A trader owned his building, but not the land. Ellen was a postmis-tress, as was her mother-in-law.

When Susie Paul remarked that she loved living on the reservation despite trench mouth and other ailments, Ellen let those attending know about the pail of water and dipper that was always kept on the counter. Everyone drank from it as needed.

Don Baker’s best story related how he and his brothers had to jump into the huge bags of wool to compact them. The wool, he mentioned, came from both ends of the sheep and all in between. The bonus was very shiny shoes.

Helen Butler told Don how impressed she was with his dad’s command of the Navajo language. When they were neigh-bors, she occasionally heard George reprimand those three red headed boys in Navajo. His speech was just perfect. Don replied to her comment in Navajo.

The Baker family became traders in Durango, Colo., went to Four Corners and on to Ft. Defiance, then to Winslow, where his First Street trading post was purchased from Jot Stiles. After a fire he opened his last post, which he sold to Phil Bruchman. It is now Four Feathers.

Yes, traders moved all over the reservation. They all have many stories and were responsible for our unique “Southwest-erness.”

The February Second Saturday program will be presented by Curtis Hardy, who will introduce those attending to all the old trails that lead to Winslow and beyond.

Photo courtesy of the Stiles family —

Marjorie Boles Stiles arrived in Winslow in 1914 from Guthrie, Okla., to be a kindergarten teacher.