As a child, Val FitzPatrick often saw the displaced Utes ride by in the twilight, returning to their forbidden homelands for the traditional autumn hunt. Val’s family was one of the first to homestead Ute lands, and his account of the Northern Ute removal is told from the unique perspective of one who knew and respected these displaced people. “Red Twilight” also recalls the experiences of Val’s fellow pioneers in northwest Colorado in the late 1800s.
Included is a rare oral history by one of the Ute warriors in the Battle of Milk Creek, as well as excerpts from the long-forgotten diary of Wils Rankin, early cowboy and nephew of Joe Rankin, scout of the ill-fated Major Thornburgh.
6 by 9 inches
About the Author
On January 4, 1886, in a log cabin at a silver mine near Georgetown, Colorado, a baby boy was born and christened Valentine Stewart Parnell FitzPatrick by his Irish/English parents. When young Val was eight months old, his family homesteaded in beautiful but lonely northwest Colorado. Craig, the nearest town to the FitzPatrick homestead, was still struggling with the concept of civilization. This last frontier served as a refuge for those who preferred the old ways.In 1894, when Val was eight, the family temporarily moved from the homestead to a ranch that was near the postoffice for the tiny community of Lay, Colorado (originally called Lay Over, as it was the crossroads of the government road from Wyoming and the wagon road west towards Utah, and was a handy place to stop for the night). Val writes, “We were right in the mainstream of whatever traffic there might be in the region. Hardly a day passed but there came ranchers, cowpunchers, an occasional prospector or trapper, a few Indians, and now and then an outlaw. In this same year, 1894, the outlaw Teton Jackson died in a jail break in Idaho. Although Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch had not yet attracted much attention, they occasionally stopped for food and shelter.”At the ripe old age of 13, Val got a job at the K Diamond Cattle Company, and at 14 he went to work for the prestigious Two-Bar Ranch, the goal of nearly every young man in the area. Thus began Val’s career as a cowpuncher. Val’s other careers over the years included geologist, civil engineer, and newspaperman. Twice he was made Grand Marshall of the Craig Ride ‘n Tie Days Rodeo, once at age 98, and again at age 100. Val died on July 3, 1988, at the age of 102.