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Oral History: Rudy and Esther Verzuh

Gunnison Valley history

Donated by Tom and Nancy (Verzuh) Speedy standing Rose Verzuh, Mary, Mie, Fanny, Rudy Seated Emmy, Frances (mother), Martin (son), Martin (fatehr), jay

Rudy Verzuh was born in Crested Butte in 1909 and was one of eight kids, Rose, Mary, Mie, Fanny, Emmy, Martin, and Jay. Rudy and his siblings worked chores at their parents'  grocery, which they had bought from Mike Fisher and called Martin Verzuh’s General Store. Rudy quit school at age 16 to deliver groceries and by the age of 25, he was running the family store, saying, “I was too young to run the store but my dad didn’t realize it, I guess.”

He met his future wife, Esther Lorr, after he was ditched by his date at an Almont dance. The two turned out to be the best waltzing couple in the Valley, although there must have been some tough contenders. They married in 1933 when he was 24 and Esther was 21.

Esther Lorr’s family had a homestead up by where Jack’s Cabin Cut-Off is today. Her family had property because a gentleman by the name of Jack Howe had talked her grandfather, father, and father’s sister into homesteading around the up and coming community. She would ride the narrow gauge train from Gunnison to Canon City for school.

Gunnison Valley history

Donated by Nancy Speedy Martin Verzuh seated, holding Rudy Verzuh, standing is Mary (mrs John Kapushion) Verzuh, Francis (Mrs John Byouk) Verzuh and Mike Verzuh. Seated Francis Spehar Verzuh, Rose Verzuh child. Taken 1910

When Jack Howe homesteaded, his property became a stop for miners and freighters. At the time, there was no bridge across the Taylor River where Almont is today. These freighters and miners originally tried to name the area Howeville but the name “Jack’s Cabin” seemed to stick. You would not know it today, but this was once a bustling community, complete with a post office, two hotels, a supply store, saloon and restaurant. Once the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad set tracks from Gunnison to Crested Butte in 1881, Jack’s Cabin was no longer a stop for the inflow of miners.

This history comes from an oral history recording of Rudy and Esther Verzuh saved in the Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum archives. Oral histories are an incredible asset to our community. Much of our local history has been created and passed on through oral traditions. As a community, we are incredibly grateful for the stories that have been shared with us on street benches, in coffee shops, and the occasional Flauschink party. As a Museum, we are so fortunate to have a small collection of oral histories recorded and stored in perpetuity.

Records can deteriorate, be lost over the years, thrown away, or disappear in a fire. Now, so few physical records are kept anymore and we all assume the records are somewhere in the consciousness of the World Wide Web. Do not be fooled, we still need archivists and hobbyist scrap-bookers to pull out the stories that matter to us.

The Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum is excited to announce a revival in efforts to collect oral histories. We are taking on the future by upgrading from video cassette tapes to digital recording. We would like to thank the Crested Butte Rotary for providing the Museum with a grant to step up our efforts to record oral histories that will now be accessible to our virtual audience. With our new equipment, we are ready to start recording your stories. Whether you have been here for 40 years or 4 days, we want to hear from you. Help us preserve the history of the Gunnison Valley by coming to the Museum and sharing your story.

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