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Pity the poor Central office dog for her ignorant owners

Letter from Jeanne Englert

History – September 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

Ed & Martha:

Oh, pity your dog, Ted. The pig ears you asked about in the August edition are dog chewies, which, due to ignorance, you have not bought for her. Dogs must like ’em because the Country General Store on South Boulder Road has bushel baskets and bins full of them. Similar to the rawhide chews you’d buy in the pet section of your supermarket, but cheaper. (Tim Englert and I assume that pigs’ ears on the doggy-treat shelf in Safeway may make some customers squeamish whereas rawhide is apparently more abstract.)

As much as I enjoyed Virginia McConnell Simmons’s story about Otto Mears, “When Opportunity Knocked on Saguache’s Door” (May edition), I’m still not comfortable with the statement that Otto Mears got the Utes to sign away the reservation by giving the Tabeguache and Southern Utes $2 apiece. Certainly Otto Mears was an entrepreneur, always with his eye on the main chance, but nowhere, it seems, does any 20th-century historian document this transaction as fact. It should be mentioned, but only as lore, there being, to my knowledge, no proof. In a long footnote, Marshall Sprague detailed his attempts to document this fabled buy-out, but came up empty-handed.

If Otto Mears did buy-out the Tabeguache and Southern Ute bands at $2 a head, how did he do that? Paper dollars? Silver dollars? Gold dollars?

What would an expert numismatist say? Bank records? Somewhere, It seems to me, there’s got to be some evidence to verify this story that Otto Mears paid the Utes to relinquish the Confederated Ute reservation in 1880.

Perhaps Virginia McConnell Simmons can enlighten me. I’d appreciate it.

Jeanne W. Englert