Biography of John M. Bertholf

John M. Bertholf, of Plateau valley, Mesa county, is one of the very early pioneers of the section, arriving in it when there were no conveniences of life available, and every foot of ground that was occupied and made productive had to be literally wrested from the wilderness and its savage denizens. He helped to lay out and construct the first county road in the county, and to begin many other of its works of public utility. He brought the first cooking stove into the county, packing it in on the back of a bull. Thus starting with the very dawn of civilization in this region, he has been helpful and effective in fostering and developing all its interests since then, and building it up into a progressive and wide-awake community, full of earnest activity and the promise of future greatness. Mr. Bertholf was born in Lee county, Illinois, in 1846, and comes of a race of pioneers. One of his paternal ancestors in the direct line came from his European home to the wilds of America as a missionary in 1666; and since then the family have been among the foremost of the emigrants to the farther West at all times, finding pleasure in the wild life of the frontier and the conquests they were able to win in its untrodden domains. The parents of this particular member of the family were Andrew H. and Electra (Macumber) Bertholf, the former a native of New Jersey, and the latter of Ohio. His father moved to New York when a boy and lived in that state until he was eighteen years old, then began a steady progress westward through Ohio, where he was married, Indiana, Illinois, and on to Iowa, where he ended his days as a prosperous farmer, dying in 1878, at the age of seventy-four. The mother lived until 1883, when she passed away, aged sixty-seven. Their family comprised twelve children, John being the eighth. Although born in Illinois, he passed his early life to the age of twenty in Madison county, Iowa, remaining at home until then assisting on his father’s farm and receiving what education he could at the neighboring public schools. He then began farming for himself in Iowa and continued to be so employed there until 1874. At the time he came to Colorado and located in Chaffee county, where he was engaged in mining until 1880, when he determined to turn his attention to ranching, and for this purpose took up a tract of land in the Plateau valley which he occupied and farmed until 1901. He sold it in that year and since then has made his home at Plateau City, Mesa county. As has been noted, the country in which he settled in 1880, although promising, was wholly undeveloped, and there were but few people living in it at the time. And those who were, with himself, are entitled to great credit for the rapidity with which they opened it up and brought its resources to the markets of the world. In its present condition of advancement and progress, it stands a monument to their enterprise and daring, and the comforts with which it is now filled, and the blessings of civilization which it enjoys, only emphasize the privations of their early day and the heroic spirit with which they endured and overcame them. Mr. Bertholf was married in 1867 to Miss Sarah E. Moore, and they have had six children, of whom five are living, Elmeda and Elnora (twins), Glen, Fred and Roxie. A son named Wilbur died in 1881, aged three years.

Source: Bowen, A. W. Progressive Men of Western Colorado. Chicago: A. W. Bowen & Co., Publishers. 1905.

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