Telegram Staff Writer
Dorothy Pretti has taken great care to preserve her and her husband Bob’s family histories.
The Pretti family settled in Silt at about the same time the Chivers family and George Green planted themselves in the Rifle area. The Chivers and the Greens are Dorothy’s family.
George Green was a lone pioneer who left his parents, sister and two brothers in Wellington, Kan., when he was 20 years old. In 1887, he took a team of horses and a covered wagon to the base of Pikes Peak outside Colorado Springs. While camping there on his way west, George met up with the Chivers-Bussell family.
Sarah Chivers Bussell, who was widowed when her first husband died in Nebraska, was traveling with her second husband, Edward, three Chivers children and three Bussell children.
A young man, George teamed up with the family, and together they all made their way west through Leadville.
There was no road to follow through Glenwood Canyon in 1888, so George left his wagon with Sarah and tried to navigate his horses through the canyon. When it didn’t work, he turned back to Dotsero and went over Cottonwood Pass and back down to the Grand River, now the Colorado River.
George settled in Rifle, while the Chivers made their first homesteads on Piceance Creek.
George kept his horses with the Chivers-Bussell family through the winter. George and May Chivers, Sarah’s daughter, wrote love letters to each other. Dorothy still has those letters.
In 1891, George bought a ranch on Rifle Creek about two miles north of town. Two years later, he married May, and they had seven children.
George was known as a cowboy poet, who would tell stories to children in verse and write poems home to his family instead of letters.
George bought a violin in Rifle in 1889. Dorothy said she never heard her grandfather play the instrument. She said he was missing his right forefinger, which may have explained why he didn’t play the violin.
“He told us that he was wrestling with a bear and the bear bit it off,” Dorothy wrote in an account of her grandparents’ lives. “Being small grandchildren, we believed him entirely.”
Later, Dorothy found an article in a 1894 edition of The Rifle Reveille that said George was thrown from a bronco, breaking his finger. The digit had to be amputated.
Over the years, George did several different things to earn a living. He was a blacksmith with his own shop. He drove freight to Meeker and broke wild horses. He also sold dairy milk and cream.
May’s health was not good, and the family traveled to New Mexico and California to get help. But they always returned to the ranch in Colorado.
Dorothy’s mother was the second Green child, Sadie Grace. Dorothy said the name has stayed in her family. She has a granddaughter named Sadie Grace.
Thank you to Dorothy Pretti for sharing family information for this story.
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