One of the original pioneers of Mesa county, coming to seek his fortune amid its prolific resources and abundant opportunities in the early days of its history, and impelled to the move by the hope of thereby benefiting his wife’s health, Zachariah Bertholf, of the Plateau valley, who lived one mile south of Collbran on a good ranch which he had made comfortable with all the appointments of modern husbandry and fertile through careful industry and persistent effort, succeeded in both aspirations, finding his wife restored to vigor and good spirits by the healing air of the section and his own condition in life well provided for in a worldly way and secure in public esteem. He was a native of Indiana, born in 1837, and the son of Andrew H. and Electra (Macumber) Bertholf, whose history is given at some length in the sketch of his brother, John M. Bertholf, to be found elsewhere in this work. Mr. Bertholf remained at home until he attained his legal majority, receiving a district school education and acquiring a thorough knowledge of farming by practical experience in his father’s fields. His first independent engagement in the business of life was in the line to which he had been trained and was on farms in his native state. In 1883 he came to Colorado and located in Mesa county on the ranch which was ever afterward his home. The story of his early struggles with hardship and danger, and of his systematic and well-applied industry in making his farm habitable and productive, is an oft-told tale in American history. It is sufficient to say that he found the conditions of life primitive and full of privation and hazard, and he met and overcame them with a manly and self-reliant spirit, as his ancestors had done elsewhere in this country from time to time where they were pioneers. He was married, in 1858, to Miss Melissa Carrothers, of Indiana, where the marriage occurred, and their union was blessed with nine children, all but two of whom are living. They are Dora, Ida, Harvey, Eva, Elsie, Arthur and Forest. The first born child, a daughter named Letitia, died at the age of thirty-five, and another named Myrtle at that of eleven. Mr. Bertholf gave the affairs of his ranch close and careful attention. But he nevertheless found time to indulge his passion for hunting at times, and he had a great reputation as a Nimrod in the state, having to his credit many deeds of prowess in this line of sport. On one occasion with five shots he brought down three bear and two deer, which is strong proof of his skill and accuracy as a marksman, as well as a high tribute to his courage and success as a hunter. His journey hither with his family, from their Indiana home, was made with teams and portions of it were through a trackless wilderness; and they traveled, not in an armed and well protected train, but alone and with no guards but themselves; thus showing the true spirit of the pioneers, which is ever undaunted amid dangers, and ever at home amid Nature’s benignant manifestations and multi-form scenes of life. In the community which he helped to found and aided in developing Mr. Bertholf was held in the highest regard as a wise and progressive man and a good citizen. His death occurred on October 16, 1903.
Source: Bowen, A. W. Progressive Men of Western Colorado. Chicago: A. W. Bowen & Co., Publishers. 1905.