Bob Amick, Sandy Bradfield come from long-term pioneer clan

Above is the old Watson Store, later the A. Oldland and Co. building in 1887 and later the building was occupied by the Independence Lumber Co. at th and Main streets in Meeker.

Mary Delaney Oldland and Ambrose Oldland pose for a celebratory event. The Oldlands have left their impression in the Meeker area, including being Bob Amick and and Sandy Bradfield’s great aunt and uncle. Mary Delaney Oldland wrote about the family’s history in early 1952 in a story published in Colorado Magazine titled “Sixty-seven years in the White River Valley.”
Mary Delaney Oldland and Ambrose Oldland pose for a celebratory event. The Oldlands have left their impression in the Meeker area, including being Bob Amick and and Sandy Bradfield’s great aunt and uncle. Mary Delaney Oldland wrote about the family’s history in early 1952 in a story published in Colorado Magazine titled “Sixty-seven years in the White River Valley.”
MEEKER I In 1879, the White River Utes rebelled against tyrannical Indian agent Nathan Meeker in the last major Native American uprising at the Ute Agency in Powell Park, and the concurrent Battle of Milk Creek with U.S. Army troops.
The Utes were evicted from Western Colorado in 1881 by an act of Congress.
Above is the old Watson Store, later the A. Oldland and Co. building in 1887 and later the building was occupied by the Independence Lumber Co. at th and Main streets in Meeker.
Above is the old Watson Store, later the A. Oldland and Co. building in 1887 and later the building was occupied by the Independence Lumber Co. at th and Main streets in Meeker.
As the area became an official county, pioneers came to the White River Valley in search of new land in the wilderness. They were drawn by some beckoning finger of hope, by some belief in an ideal, by some vision of a better kind of life. A bridge was finally built across the White River near what was White River City.
There are many stories of the families that traveled to this area, where the Ute Indians dwelt for so many years. These pioneer families had to be tough, perseverant, have ingenuity and, of course, have the will to survive.
Such was the case of the family of Bob Amick and his sister, Sandy Bradfield. The two are fourth-generation pioneers and co-presidents of the Rio Blanco County Pioneers Association’s 102nd annual Old Timer’s reunion.
Bob and Sandy’s great-aunt, Mary Delaney Oldland, wrote about the family’s history in early 1952 in a story published in the Colorado Magazine titled “Sixty-seven years in the White River Valley.”
It is remarkable to imagine the life of these courageous people whose story began in 1884, when James Durkin, Mary’s uncle, and James McAndrews rode into the White River valley from Leadville and Alma.
Durkin staked a claim below the junction of the Piceance Creek and the White River, and McAndrews staked his claim in the area later named McAndrews Gulch and Crooked Wash Gulch. The two men returned to Alma with rave reviews of the beautiful White River Valley and persuaded Mary’s father, John Delaney, with his wife Sarah and their five children to move to the ranch.
John purchased 25 cattle, some horses, two wagons and went west. The family traveled for days, riding their horses and keeping the cattle together, but allowing them to graze along the way. They could only go eight miles per day in the latter part of the trip due to sore feet and lazy cattle.
They finally arrived at the mountains, where they were on narrow trails high above growing communities. They arrived in Glenwood Springs, and, as fate would have it, the young man working the ferry to cross the Colorado River was J.D. Amick.
He, too, settled in the White River valley and, 45 years later, his youngest son, Morris, married Elizabeth Delaney (Sandy and Bob’s mother and Mary’s niece).
From Glenwood Springs, the family went on to Piceance Creek and finally arrived at the ranch they would call home.
The family members were always generous and accommodating to people passing by. In fact, one visitor was the Ute Chief Colorow. On his first visit, he was bloody to his elbows and held up one finger meaning one dollar. He had a deer he had killed and Mary’s mother, Sarah, was glad to pay the dollar for the meat.
Some Indian women also brought a nanny goat and two kid goats as well as a white lamb as gifts. They developed a great friendship and respect for one another. In time, John Delaney acquired a ranch of his own, five miles west of the Durkin Homestead.
The winter of 1885 was remembered by many for its terrible cold and huge amounts of snow. It is believed that half the cattle in the valley died.
In 1887, settlers were warned of the Ute Indians being on the warpath as they had never given up the rights to the 16 million acres of land they inhabited for many centuries that had been granted to them by the Treaty of 1868.
But by that time the pioneers had settled in. Ambrose Oldland built a store in White River City, and others soon built a saloon, a restaurant, a brick yard and several cabins.
Oldland had come west from England, and he, John Delaney and George Howard were the first school directors of the White River School.
Vera Lowe was the teacher, and 15 children attended school in the first year.
In 1891, Ambrose Oldland married Mary Delaney. Ambrose was the county commissioner and a good businessman.
In 1895, he knew that White River City was on its way out, so he bought the Watson Mercantile Co. in Meeker and moved to town, where he founded the A. Oldland & Co. store that was first located where the current public library sets. He later purchased the Hugus Building where the store served the White River valley for more than 70 years. During the Great Depression, Ambrose and Mary sustained many area ranchers and residents by giving them credit to buy food, clothing and hardware for ranching and business, much of which was never repaid.
Mary wrote, “Time has justified the faith of the pioneers and proved the wisdom of their enterprises. It was an age that had a marked effect upon men’s lives and, in essence, should be handed down to posterity.”
Anyone who has taken the time to speak with Bob Amick or Sandy Bradfield knows they are an intelligent set of siblings. Sandy went to Colorado State University before finishing her nursing degree at Colorado Mesa University. She worked as an R.N., and as a director of nursing at Pioneers Hospital for approximately 35 years, and at Rangely’s hospital for 14 years.
Bob was graduated From the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU) with a degree in political science and minor in in education, theater and history. He was a staff member at CU for 34 years and is now retired. He became an Eagle Scout in Meeker and has served as a scouting volunteer leader for more than 50 years.
It is clear that their work ethic and way they speak so well are two of so many traits handed down. Both serve on many organizations, including Cattlewomen’s, Woolgrowers, Meeker Arts and Cultural Council, the MHS building accountability board, and Bob has written grants in excess of $130,000 for the Meeker High School stage and sound system as well as for the White River Museum.
The siblings are diligent volunteers for the community and are now serving as the Pioneers Association co-presidents. The 102nd annual reunion is June 7 beginning at 3 p.m. with oral history and social hour, followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m. For more information, see the website at www.rbcpioneers.org.