One Pioneer’s Story

The following is excerpted from the History of Eaton, c1936. Accounts of Myers’ experiences are of his own telling, as he was frequently interviewed by the author Pauline Allison. Other sources include newspaper items, and his grandson Dr. Harold Myers Deane’s oral history.

Al MyersAlbert Henry Myers first came to Colorado in 1880 and located in a mining town in Boulder county. He later removed to Denver, where he became acquainted with Orville Babcock. Babcock’s brother, John, was superintendent of Governor Eaton’s Highline Canal construction camp, where Mr. Myers found employment.

Gov. Eaton influenced John Babcock to preemption the quarter section, one and one-half miles west of Eaton. John sent his brother, Orville, to carry on the preemption duties, and Orville later wrote to “Al” Myers, asking him to assuage the former’s loneliness by paying him a visit.

Probably welcoming the opportunity to see more of the West, Mr. Myers entrained one day in 1882, from Denver. On the train, he announced to the conductor that he wished to get off at Eaton, to which the conductor replied, “Eaton? There is no such place that I know about. You must mean Evans.” Mr. Myers insisted he meant Eaton, seven miles north of Greeley, and the skeptical conductor informed him there was nothing at that “jumping off place” but a side track, or switch. Despite the conductor’s insistence that Mr. Myers must surely want to detrain at Evans, the latter maintained he was headed for the place where there was “nothing but a switch.” The train stopped in a cactus surrounded place, and the conductor probably wanted to say to Mr. Myers, “Aha, I told you so. There is no such place as Eaton.”

As A. H. Myers stepped from the train upon his arrival in Eaton in 1882, he saw an old buggy in the lower end of the town site. Since that was the only object of transportation in sight, he made his way through the cactus to where the vehicle stood and found it belonged to Jim Hill and A. J. Eaton, the latter of whom by his business initiative won for himself the appellation, “Father of Commerce in Eaton.” The two were searching in the cactus for the stakes laid out by the town surveyor, Nettleton. They were seeking a proper location for a store they intended to build on the town site.

A.J. Eaton had a camp situated about one half mile west of town. Mr. Myers sought work at the camp and was given a job. One Sunday morning “Al” was standing around the corral with the other hired hands, when A. J. Eaton approached them and said, “How would some of you young lads like to plant potatoes on that land,” and he indicated, with a wave of his hand the section across the road.

Louis Cohler, close friend of Mr. Myers, looked at him and asked, “Can you plant potatoes?” To which Mr. Myers replied, “No, can you?”
His pal answered, “I never planted a potato in my life.”
“Well,” said Mr. Myers confidently, “I never planted anything in my life that didn’t grow.”

Therewith Cohler suggested that if “Al” would plant the potatoes, he would continue to work for Mr. Eaton and aid Myers financially, and they could share half interest in the crop. Mr. Myers planted twentynine acres of potatoes.  He originally homesteaded four miles west and one mile south of Eaton.

Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 11.36.56 AMMr. Myers was married November 27, 1885 to Miss Jenny Storms, whose parents came overland in a wagon and were among the original Greeley union colony members. They had two daughters, Nellie and Ellen. The Myers town home, a commodious eight-room structure on the northeast corner of Third and Elm, was built in 1899.  

Myers came to own and work numerous farms in the area including a large farm east of town on the section where the Eaton Cemetery is located. His daughter Ellen Myers Deane and her husband Harold Bancroft Deane, along with their two children Harold Myers Deane and Donald L. Deane lived on that farm. Al Myers built the barn on that property in 1915.1st barn pic

In 1906, J. M. Collins and Myers organized the Potato Growers Cooperative company. Myers served as president of the Potato Growers Company until his death in 1947. Although the Greeley colonists were first as successful potato growers and had made a reputation for their product before the Eaton ditch was constructed, Eaton potato growers came fast to the front and occupied a long lead in the quantity of 1st quality tubers loaded out to feed the western world. Its large area of irrigated farm lands of superior quality soil, good drainage and gentle slopes, and its farmers with their knowledge of how to till for best results, placed Eaton unmistakably at the head as a potato growing area.

Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 11.29.37 AMProminent as a farmer, Mr. Myers also achieved provincial distinction by his activities in civic affairs. He was elected trustee of the town board for four different terms – beginning in 1898, and served several terms as mayor. He was first elected mayor in 1904 and served also the terms of 1909, 1910 and 1913. Town officials were at that period elected for one year terms. Under Mr. Myers’ mayoralty, the measure providing for grading, curbing and the installation of sidewalks in the town was passed. He was on the board when the waterworks and sewer measures were passed in the early part of the 1900 decade, and it was also during his term as trustee that the measure providing for the installation of electric lights in the town was effected.

Myers was not hesitant to put foot to shove either and influenced how we see Eaton today in other ways. The general practice was to go down to the river after flood time and pull out little saplings of the cottonwoods. A. H. Myers and Frank Foster assisted in setting out the cottonwood twigs on Cheyenne avenue in the spring of 1885.

Al Myers was also involved with regional irrigation management, and served on the Board of the Poudre Valley Reservoir Company that was organized in April, 1902, as a supplementary supply to all other storage of the Larimer and Weld Irrigation Company. Poudre Valley Reservoir Co, together with North Poudre Reservoir Co, built Douglas Reservoir west of Wellington.

A.H. Myers died after a brief illness in February of 1947. He was 86 years old and still very much involved with farming, the management of the Potato Growers Cooperative, and the affairs of the town of Eaton.

 

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