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Welcome to Steele Park

Editor Emeritus: Penelope Puffbear Quivertail 2000-2014

This site contains cross-postings of my posts at Agonist.org, before it folded, since archived at Agonistas.com.

It also has a number of music videos and recipes and computer ‘war stories’.

It is affiliated with Steele Park Press.

      Joe Bageant died in 2011. He wrote “Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War” and “Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir”. Joe’s writing was put before the public, particularly the online public by a peripatetic, cosmopolitan chap named Ken Smith. Ken was Joe’s ‘literary executor’ and Ken put together “Waltzing at the Doomsday Ball: The Best of Joe Bageant”, which Ken felt were Joe’s best 25 essays.

    Ken kept Joe’s website operational and after some issues with the hosting, was considering migrating it to WordPress. I offered to help with this and he gave me access to the data, to serve as a archive in case the conversion failed or the old website was lost permanently.

    In 2016, Ken Smith passed away. At the request of Joe’s family I have established Joebageant.org to preserve Joe’s online presence and the website now belongs to Joe’s family.

    While I am happy to help preserve Joe’s wonderful writing, I am neither young nor immortal.
Buy the books, read and savor Joe’s wit and honesty – and spread the word.

Pies and Other Good Stuff!

Pecan pie

is a type of Chess Pie, based on sugar, syrup, butter and eggs and there are many variations (including Vinegar Pie). It’s hard to find a good one in restaurants North of the Mason-Dixon Line.

The type and ratio of sugar and syrup determine how rich/hearty it turns out.
If you like extra rich, use molasses and dark brown sugar.
If you like it lighter use white Karo corn syrup and a lighter sugar.
You can experiment using honey, maple syrup, white sugar.
Traditionally pecan halves are intact but some folks like to chop and mix in, ‘decorating’ with halves around the edges. I cover the bottom of the pie crust with pecan halves. They rise to the top during baking. Continue reading

There Is Only Bacon!

Brown Sugar Bacon!

Thick-cut bacon as needed
Brown sugar as needed – I use light brown sugar but it’s up to you.
Optional: Cayenne pepper & coarse black pepper, maple syrup
Pre-heat oven to 375°
If you have a large enough pan with edges, just line it with foil.
If not, make an aluminum foil ‘pan’ with edges folded up to prevent
drippings from running out and put it on a baking sheet.
(To be safe, I usually make a 2nd foil ‘pan’ for the shelf below. I hate to mess up my oven).
Cover foil with brown sugar, need not be thick, just enough to cover.
Lay down bacon
Optional: Sprinkle LIGHTLY with pepper if desired.
Sprinkle brown sugar on top to cover bacon.
Optional: Drizzle a LITTLE maple syrup over bacon.
Bake about 20-25 minutes.
Let cool. Continue reading

Ignorance Running Rampant

During one particularly wintry day, I took my bearskin coat out of the closet and wore it to work, along with my Mohawk silver-fox cap (including tail) and rabbit-skin mittens. When I walked into the office, there was much merriment (and some flat-out jealousy, if truth be known). I remarked that the bear was killed in 1916 or early 1917, one of the last things Uncle Wal did before joining General Pershing’s staff on our entry into WWI.

Digression: Pershing was a tall man and hated standing out for his height. He liked to surround himself with staff equally tall. Or maybe he felt that on a battlefield he made too tempting a target. Uncle Wal was 6’4″.

One co-worker. however, sniffed disdainfully and lamented that a “noble animal had died to make someone a fur coat”. Continue reading

Where It All Began

   Steele Park is specifically the area above the Steele’s Alta Vista ranch on the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River a few miles north of Lake City and below Cannibal Plateau, where Alferd Packer murdered and devoured his companions in the winter of 1874. More generally, it encompasses the area where Charles and Cynthia Steele ran their cattle and cut timber. It is the starting point for the history contained here.

The What-The-Hell-Is-This-Thing-Called?

In bowl:
  1 tsp ground cumin
  1/2 tsp mustard powder
  2 tbsp oil
  1 tbsp brown sugar
  1 tsp chili powder
  1/2 tsp salt
  1/2 tsp pepper
    Mix thoroughly

6 skinless chicken breasts
  Dip into mix
  Bake 1 hour @ 350F
  12 slices cooked bacon
  1/3 cup chopped scallions
  1 chopped red onion
  3/4 cup BBQ sauce (what type?)
    Mix thoroughly

Make into pie ..
  Tortilla on bottom of round pan
  Cover 1/2 cup cheese
  Add mix
  Cover 1/2 cup cheese
  Tortilla on top of pan
    Chill 1 hour

Meanwhile make the dip..
  1 1/2 cups sour cream
  1/2 tsp onion powder
  1 tbsp chopped chives
  1 tbsp chopped parsley
  1/4 cup mayo
  1/2 tsp garlic powder
  2 tsp lemon juice
  1 tbsp chopped dill
    Mix & salt to taste

Remove “pie” from fridge
Cut to 6 slices

Dip into
  2 cups flour
  whisked eggs
  3 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
    Deep fry until golden

Put on baking tray
  Top with 1/2 cup pizza sauce
  Top with grated mozzarella
  Top with slices of pepperoni
    Grill 5 minutes

Dip & enjoy
(Have medics on speed-dial

h/t to Yashar Ali on Twitter

Cannibal of the San Juans

Excerpt – Rio Grande Ripples
– Mabel Steele Wright

   Tonight when the kitchen was filled to capacity, as usual, with the overflow sitting in the dining room, and I at my typewriter answering the day’s correspondence and the rest occupying chairs, stairs and floor space, “Juicy” Owen remarked that surely there must be some newcomers—he really said “victims”—who hadn’t heard the Packer story. Response was immediate. “I have, but not for ages—besides Miss X hasn’t, I’ll bet, and maybe Susan.” Miss X was a reserved but pleasant type from Vermont, dean of women at a college Susan attended.
Continue reading

The Bent Family – Hermit Lakes

Excerpt: Rio Grande Ripples
– Mabel Steele Wright

   It seems appropriate at this time to relate something of the Bent family with whom I was privileged to be closely associated for many years. Herbert C. Bent’s father, and grandfather to several of the Bent children in my little mountain school, was Charles Hammond Bent. He was by heritage endowed with an adventuresome spirit. His wife, Amanda Jane Carr Bent (Jennie), was of the same. The Carrs came to Boston in 1635 and the Bents in 1638. Both families were associated with the Massachusetts Bay Company. As time passed, members of both families sought new lands and fortunes with the result that Amanda Jane Carr and Charles Hammond Bent were married in Oswego, Kansas, December 23, 1868. While living there, he held various public offices, including that of legislative representative at the Capitol in Topeka. In passing, it is interesting to note that Charles and William Bent, who built and operated Bents’ Fort in southeastern Colorado (territory) in the 1830’s, were cousins. I remember Bert Bent saying that there was always a “Charles Bent” in the family — his eldest son a Charles. Continue reading

Weed Genealogy

Stanwick, Northamptonshire, England

Thomas Weed Sr. (b. 1508) m. Anne White
 Thomas Weed (b. 1547) m. Hannah White
  Jonas Weed b. 1575 England
  m. Mary Jane Davidson b. 1580 England
   Jonas Weed (Immigrant) b. 1598 England d. 1676 Stamford CT (age 78)
   m. Mary Elizabeth Schofield b. 1616 England d. 1689 Stamford CT
      (Mary was daughter of Daniel Schofield b. 1574 Berkhamsted, Suffolk d. 1670 Stamford CT & Sarah Petitt)
Jonas arrived via Arabella (in the 1630 Winthrop Fleet), established himself in Watertown MA, made Freeman May 1631. Few years later, he helped found Wethersfield CT, first official settlement in CT. He soon moved to Stamford CT and became one of the leading figures in early Stamford. Arrived with John (cousin?). Both moved to Wethersfield but John did not move to Stamford with Jonas. Instead, he moved to Salisbury, married Deborah Winsley and started growing weed.

     Elizabeth 1637
     Mary 1638
     John 1639
     Dorcas 1641
     Samuel 1645
     Hannah 1650
     Daniel 1652
     Sarah 1654
     unnamed 1656
     Jonas Weed II b. 1647 CT d. 1704 CT (age 57)
     m. Bethia Holly b. 1656 d. 1713
       Jonas 1678
       Benjamin 1681
       Abigail 1695
       Johnathon Weed I b. 1684 CT d. 1728 CT
       m. Mary Ferris b. 1690
         Jabez 1712
         Joshia 1716
         Silas 1718
         Mary 1722
         James 1723
         Jonas 1722
         Johnathon Weed II b. 1711 CT
         m. Mercy Drew b. 1715
           Elizabeth 1736
           Johnathon 1739
           Hannah 1742
           Abigail 1744
           Mercy 1750
           Gilbert Weed b. 1740 CT d. .. NY
           m. Abigail Hoyt b. 1740
             William Weed b. 1774 NY
             m. Olive Branch b. 1772
               Tracy Hoyt Weed b. 1811 NY
               m. Cynthia Cherrington b. 1815

Cynthia may have been a 2nd cousin to Abraham Lincoln...her grandfather Wm. Cherrington married Margaret Hanks. Still tracking this down. Cherrington family geneologists say that Margaret Hanks was unrelated to Lincoln's mother Nancy. If they saw me bearded, they might rethink their position. While it could be a coincidence, I look much so like Abe that it's scary. Will probably never know for sure, as conditions in that part of the country during that time were extremely fluid and documentation wasn't high on their list of priorities.

                 Wlliam Branch Weed b. 1836
                 m. Josephine Topping b. 1838
                   Cynthia Sophia Weed b. 1872 OH d. 1963 CO
                   m. Charles Steele b. 1850: in Albany or Auburn NY, d.1926 CO

Son of Jacob Steele. Found NYS death certificate for Jacob in area north of Rochester NY, near Auburn. Family tradition says Jacob was an architect. At that time, there were no schools of architecture and the label implies self-education and/or European background. Will pursue when time permits.

            Lee 1893 - died young
            Edna (Dolly) 1896 - died young
            Mabel 1898
            Mary 1901
            Nell 1904
            Herbert 1907
            Charles b. 1910 d. 2002
            Elizabeth (Betty) b. 1913 d. 1990
            m. Andrew Dugger Saunders b. 1904 d 1983
              Norman Dugger 1932
              William Kraig 1934-2007
              Ray Lynn - 1937 
              m. Cynthia R. Gartner b. 1942
                Robert b. 1962
                m. Debbie Wein
                  Randi b. 1992
                  Lauren b. 1994
                Scott b. 1963
                m. Andrea Cole
                  Joshua b. 1986
                Amy b. 1964
                m. Peter Lawer
                  Jessica b. 1986
                  m. Kyle Flynn
                    Sean Patrick Flynn b 2010
                    Brayden Robert Flynn b 2012
                    Kylie James Flynn b 2014    
                m. Peter Davis
                  Rachel b. 1988
                  m. TommyCatalano
                    Ella Marie b. 2019           
                m. Bob Cowen
                  Amanda b. 1991
                  Elizabeth b. 1993
                  ** Shane Farrell
                    Lucas b. 2018
                    Jacob b. 2021
                Tracy b. 1968
                Tim b. 1970
                m. Gina Miccio
                   Emily Rose b. 2019
                   Abigail Grace b. 2021
            m. Frank Milton Wallace - of Scots descent
              Sue Ellen b. 1947
              m. Wm. Knowles
                Julie Knowles b. 1969
                Beth Knowles b. 1972
                m. Wm. Wyman
                  Alex b. 1997
                  Alysha b. 1998

Steele/Weed side of the family

     Although he put in a year at Harvard, Charles Steele could not resist the lure of the West. Turning down his father's offer to finance his degree, he preferred to punch cows for the Slaughter outfit, among other pioneer ranchers. In moving cattle around the West, he once rode through the San Juan Mountains of Colorado and fell in love with them. Eventually, he bought a small ranch and homesteaded additional acreage about eight miles north of Lake City around 1890.

     Cynthia Weed grew up in Gallia County, Ohio. On the death of her mother, she was forced to take over running the household until her father eventually remarried, so at the age of ten, she could do all the things required of a country housewife in her day: cook, bake, wash, iron, mend and make clothes, raise a vegetable garden, preserve fruits and veggies, raise chickens and geese and tend her younger siblings. On her father's remarriage, her skills were put to work as a neighbor's 'hired girl' - that is, she got room and board in exchange for working 12-16 hours a day six-and-a-half days a week. Small wonder then, that when her sisters in Colorado suggested she come West, she wasted no time. She met Charles Steele while he was visiting her sisters' home, a wide spot in the road near Salida, Colorado.

     There were several of the Weed family in Western New York, in the same general area where the Steele family was considered to be. It is quite possible that the families were acquainted before Charles and Cynthia met in Colorado. I never heard why Charles was visiting Cynthia's sisters in the first place, since they lived several days ride from where Charles lived. However, the West was rather sparsely populated in those days, and it was quite common for people to look up others who came from the same part of the country, if only to get news from home and to lend a helping hand to newcomers. I'm sure that if the Weeds and Steeles were even minimally acquainted, Charles would have been told that there were Weeds in Colorado and would have paid his respects. In any case, he and Cynthia met and duly impressed each other (He was an up-and-coming rancher and politican, she was a tiny beauty). They were married on New Years Day, January 1st, 1892. Cynthia was 19, Charles 41.

     'Lake Fork Charlie' set to work raising horses and being a County Commisioner. He and Cynthia had eight children, with the two eldest succumbing to Scarlet Fever at a tender age. Charles himself suffered a stroke which left him bedridden in his later years. Cynthia had to shut down the horse-raising operation (it requires an expertise which Charles could no longer exercise and the children lacked). She got into the cattle business, which requires mostly an appalling amount of patience and mind-numbing optimism. Since cattle ranching is once-a-year income (and lucky to get that), she had to do a lot of truck farming to make ends meet, preserving her garden produce against the winter and selling chickens, eggs, and vegetables to the booming mining town of Lake City. All the clothes were homemade and one of Grandmother's fondest memories is of the day Grandpa brought home a second-hand sewing machine, which looked to be the original demonstration model. From then on, she didn't have to make denim overalls by hand. And you think you've got it tough?

     The income from the garden was so vital that on one occasion when the regular bridge was washed out by Spring floods, she took the wagon over the High Bridge, an amazing wooden trestle structure 125 feet above the river, bumping from tie to tie, with the horses walking planks laid between the rails, her son holding a coat over the horse's head so it could not see the raging floodwater below!. All this work while tending a paralyzed invalid husband. With the help of the two boys, she kept the ranch going until 1923, then sold out and moved to Gunnison, where she kept busy for another forty years, taking care of homes and grandchildren, crochetting Afghans (her only hobby), raising and canning fruits and vegetables from a WWII Victory Garden, and tending chickens through winters that ran as cold as 60 below zero. I have always been amazed at the household skills she took for granted and which are now becoming totally forgotten. But more amazing is that while nothing in her life had ever been easy, I do not recall ever hearing a negative word from her or a judgemental remark about others. She had great inner strength, a rather dry sense of humor and an understanding heart. She died at 93 and I miss her greatly. I deeply regret that my wife and children never got the chance to know her.

     Aunt Mabel left home to teach school at Hermit Lakes when she was 17. She eventually married Raymond Wright and settled at the Wright Ranch in the upper Rio Grande Valley. In addition to running cattle, Ray and his brothers, Wallace and Warren, build a bunch of cabins for the dudes, mostly fishermen escaping the heat of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Georgia. Some families have seen three or four generations coming to the ranch, even though the cabins are bare-bones facilities, with a pump in the front yard and an outhouse in back (of course, many of the guests lived that way at home too, 70-90 years ago). Some of my fondest memories are of the summers I spent at the ranch, fishing the Rio Grande or Clear Creek, working the cattle and putting up hay. (Imagine an eleven-year-old at the wheel of a tractor - Yippee!). Tending to the cabins and dudes and running that business became Mabel's job and she was still cleaning cabins in preparation for the tourist season when age finally caught up with her at 94, although when she finally died, we had to beat her with a stick to make her lie down.

     Uncle Herbert and Hope started raising Larry, Nelly, Peggy and Joyce in Gunnison, then moved to the Pacific Northwest and eventually Alaska.

     Aunt Mary and Hugh Monson lived near Gunnison, with Ruby, Joe and Clyde, then retired to Montrose.

     Uncle Charles worked in Gunnison til he retired, then went to Creede to become a County Commissioner, among other things, and to help Mabel with the ranch after Ray died. He has one son, Lee. Charles lived at the ranch with Dorothy until his death in 2002.

     Betty married at 19, had three boys and supported them through the depression as Clerk of the County Court and as a newspaper reporter. She remarried during WWII and had a daughter, then finished her college degree and taught English in the local High School, finding time to edit the local paper for a couple of years while the new owner learned his way around the county. She also wrote a newspaper history column and a couple of books, histories of the area and of early editors.

     Norman pursued his doctorate in Physics to the point of exhaustion, eventually settling into a government job at White Sands. He retired in 1997 and lives among the pecan trees in Las Cruces NM with Lee and their pets.

     Kraig became a jack-of-all-trades in pursuit of a unique lifestyle which would allow him and Lorna to write the Great American Novel. They definitely produced the unique lifestyle, along with some truely great stained glass work and a fantasy novel. Lorna died in December 2006 and Kraig in January 2007..

     Lynn spent four years in the USAF, part of that time in Japan, got an interesting but useless degree in Linguistics at Ohio State, then moved to NYC, where he enjoyed the Sixties in Greenwich Village. While working at IBM, he married Cindi in 1969, moved about 75 miles north of NYC and has been there ever since, with 5 kids, 8 grandkids 5 great-grandkids and several (it varies) animals.

     Sue and Bill Knowles continue to live in Gunnison, with whatever pets are current. Bill retired from managing a real estate agency. They have two girls; Julie, who is a school administrator near Rifle CO (at least for now); and Beth. Beth and husband Bill own and operate Wyman Woodworks with the help of their two little girls, who have no idea how lucky they are in their choice of parents and grandparents.

My Sister the Stove

Mabel Steele Wright 1898-1993

You were retired this day, May Day, 1976, after 75 years of almost constant service, some of it night duty, far beyond the call of, and I feel a compulsion to comment on our relationship from the autumn of 1918.
It was then I was formally introduced to You. You presented what I thought, a formidable appearance. Ray and I had moved from the Honeymoon cabin where we’d spent our first summer to the Big House where I was to endeavor to cook for him and his brother who would be feeding the cattle that winter and for many more to come. Continue reading

Halloween 1889

Granny’s Halloween Story – published 1994 in Lake City Silver World

Young children growing up in the log cabin of Charles & Cynthia Steele located on a mesa above the Lake Fork north of Lake City were always particularly fascinated when their mother washed the worn wooden floorboards in a certain room of the house.

On those occasions when the boards were moistened, a deep maroon stain would gradually appear on one section of the floor. Over the years Mrs Steele scrubbed and scrubbed in an effort to remove the stain – but to no avail. When those particular boards were wet, the puddle shape of the suspicious maroon stain always returned. Continue reading