Oral Histories

Harold Provonsha


Harold Provonsha

Harold Edd Provonsha


Interview by Detta Dahl


Q: Would you state your full name?

A: Harold E. Provonsha.

Q: What does the E stand for?

A: Edd, E double D.

Q: That was your father’s name?

A: Yes.

Q: Harold, where were you born?

A: In Montrose, Colorado.

Q: What were your folks doing in Montrose when you were there?

A: My Dad was selling Dodge cars for Hartmann Brothers.

Q: Was he a good salesman?

A: He was. He did it different than most people, but he got them sold.

Q: How did he do different?

A: He just did his way of doing it. He had to be sold on them (the cars) himself and if he was sold, he could sell it to anybody else. (An honest sale.)

Q: How long did you live in Montrose?

A: I was born there, and we moved back to Moab when I was four, going on five. We moved back in 1929. I was born in 1924. When we moved back, we had to rent a place in Moab for a few months until the people that had the farm in LaSal, which had been leased and the lease was up that fall. We had to wait until the lease was up until we could go up to LaSal. We stayed in Moab for a few months.

Q: Did you start school in Moab?

A: No, I started school in LaSal. I started first grade when I was 5 years old. I rode a horse 2 miles to school.

Q: How long did you live in LaSal?

A: I lived there until I went into the Navy in January of 1944.

Q: What did you raise on the ranch?

A: We raised cows and we had some sheep, alfalfa, and corn. We had a silo where we put silage down for the cows. It was a deep silo, a hole in the ground.

Q: What all did you do to help with the ranch?

A: Well, when I was that age, I helped in the house doing dishes and stuff like that. And pull weeds, we had lots of weeds to hoe. We raised a big garden all the time.

Q: When you were in school, how many grades were in the school and how many other children?

A: The schoolhouse had two rooms; First through the fourth in one room and fifth through the eighth in the other. After the eighth grade we came to Moab to the High School.

Q: Anything you recall about going to school?

A: We used to have a lot of fights.

Q: Would you like to talk about living on the ranch?

A: Things were hard in those days, back during the Depression time. Dad made a wood sawmill where he sawed a lot of wood and hauled it to Moab. He sold wood for people to burn in their stoves. He got the wood out south of the ranch out on the BLM property. It wasn’t really BLM property at that time. It was when the Taylor Grazing Act finally came in. Anybody could go out and cut wood then.

Q: Did you have any interaction with the CCC?

A: They were there. My older brother and kids his age would play ball with the CCC boys. I was too young for that.

Q: How did your folks get into sheep raising?

A: Well, they bought some sheep in 1935, before I turned 11 years old. Dad bought the sheep from a Frenchman in Price and we trailed them in from Thompson to LaSal. I helped with my brother, Dan, and my brother-in-law, Don. When we had trailed them down and got to Blue Hill, I came down with the measles. They set me on old Ginger, one of our horses, and sent me home to ride all the way to LaSal with the measles all broke out. I was still ten and hadn’t turned 11 yet. The horse and I knew the way home, but I was really sick. When I got home, my mother had a fit. I got stuck herding the sheep. That summer we didn’t have a good range yet so I had to herd the sheep down south of the ranch. When I started school I had to take my bookwork out there because they kept me out of school for a little while. Then I had to go to school and make it up.

Q: How many brothers and sisters did you have?

A: I had one brother and two sisters. My brother and one sister were older and one sister was younger.

Q: Were they all at the ranch?

A: Yes, at that time.

Q: You lived on the ranch most of your growing up years?

A: Yes, I did.

Q: Tell me about your mother.

A: My mother’s name was Isabella Beggs McCollum Provonsha. She was born in Moab on December 25, 1897 in a log cabin located where the Wells Fargo Bank is today. Her father was Daniel McCollum who came to Paradox, Colorado about 1878. The exact date he started to operate the first sawmill on the LaSal mountain is not known but his last ledger showed it was in operation in 1889. He sawed lumber in LaSal Pass, Old LaSal, Buckeye and Pine Flats areas. He furnished lumber for the old water flume on the San Miguel River below Uravan, Colorado, hauling it (lumber) down through Roc Creek with oxen to the San Miguel River. The lumber he delivered to his Moab customers was hauled through LaSal Pass and down Pack Creek. He married Helen Grimes on December 13, 1893. He said the sawmill was no place for a woman, so he sold it to a man who had worked for him, Tom Branson. He started working for Pittsburgh Cattle Company at LaSal as the ranch foreman. Helen Grimes family included some of the first settlers in Paradox, Colorado.

Q: This sawmill is the one described in the attached article by Billie Provonsha?

Yes. (Billie: the ledger has interesting details, could be copied, also)

Read the other Oral Histories