Life-and-Death Story of Hyde
by Regina Carpenter
(The rise and fall of Hyde in Washington County was recently mentioned in the Sterling Journal-Advocate [and it] caught the attention of [northeastern Colorado] historian Regina N. Carpenter, 616 Ash St, Yuma. She captured a synopsis of that community's life - and - death struggles. It follows)
I was very much interested in [the Journal-Advocate’s] article and pictures of the Hyde elevators and cemetery. Over 50 years of my life have been spent in and near Hyde.
All of the stories and mysteries of the Hyde Cemetery have always fascinated me. Many of them will never come to light but I have traced a little of the early history of the town of Hyde, which had its beginning in 1885, from one of these tombstones [in the Hyde cemetery on Highway 34].
Out of the many who have, no doubt, been buried in this little, neglected plot, only the few who had marble headstones can be found or traced. In the early twenties it was burned over, destroying all the wood markers. By taking the names and dates on the oldest stones, I found the name of Gary A. Doggett, Lieut., Co. H, 10 Cav. born Hillsboro, Ohio, April 1823 and died in June 1886.
The records in the abstract office in Washington Co. which at that time was a part of Weld Co. show that Cary A. Doggett [see link below] filed on the SW¼ of Twp 2N, R49W on Dec 30, 1885.
This was the quarter of land on which the town of Hyde was [later to be] located. He then sold it to the Burlington Railroad for $200, who in turn transferred it to the Lincoln Land and Livestock Co. on Jan 15, 1886.
The [Burlington and Missouri River] Railroad (track was laid in 1883) was at the time buying quarter [sections] of land adjoining the track about every seven or eight miles apart. These quarters were platted for town sites as an inducement for people to file on land nearby and also accounts for the fact that such towns as Wray, Eckley, Schram, Yuma, Hyde, Otis, Platner, and Akron are so evenly spaced along the tract.
The first lots in Hyde were sold in May 1886 by the Lincoln Land Co. The price varied from $100 to $500.
Since the record on the headstone of Mr. Doggett shows he died in June 1886 we then found the administrator of his estate to be Nathaniel M.Y. Ustick. The most interesting part of this was the fact we found a son of Mr. Ustick's still living who gave us much of this valuable information concerning the original town of Hyde along with Mr. Huston whose grandfather is buried in the Hyde Cemetery.
Some of the interesting things we learned from these two men were that in 1888 Hyde was a thriving little town larger and Yuma. In fact, for a few years the people of Yuma came to Hyde for their mail. Hyde could also boast of a newspaper being published there.
The streets of Hyde were built around the town cistern. It was about 90 feet deep and 25 feet across with a double-action pump which took two men to draw the water from it. As there were no wells nearby, all of the homesteaders hauled water from this water supply.
Some of the business houses, I am told, which surrounded this cistern were a bank, stores, post office, two saloons, a lumber yard, two livery barns, and others besides a large stockyard built on the south side of the railroad track to the east of town. A large two-story house, built in 1888, was used for school, Sunday school, a dance hall, and in general a gathering place for the community.
Since there were few dwelling houses, the life of the town depended on the homesteaders. Because of the dry years and grasshoppers, many of the homesteaders stayed only long enough to prove-up on their land [5 years] then sell it for as little as $100; others left without staying the required length of time to own it.
In 1895 the bank was liquidated, other business houses closed and Hyde was on the road to a ghost town.
About 15 years later a new interest was taken in Hyde. Smith and Cuney bought most of the original lots. In 1910 Mr Cuney built a new store building with living rooms. This was the last building to be built on the original town site. It was during this time the school house and section house were moved away. With these last two buildings gone even the ghost town of Hyde had disappeared and only records and memories were all that was left to tell us of the past.
Mr. Cuney, his young wife and baby had a thriving little business in the new store building for a few years after which he sold the contents and it was moved to a new location across the track [south] and the building was left to fall to ruin.
In the next attempt to rebuild Hyde, all of the buildings were [re-] located south of the railroad track. Our present highway 24 [present County Rd Yy] was Hyde's main street. First building to bu ilt in the new location was an elevator by the Shannon Grain Co. on the east side on Main Street now owned by Bartlett Grain Co. On the west side of Main Street, Wager Grain Co. built another elevator which was later bought by the Farmer's M&M Co. Mr Miller also built an elevator on the west side but after a short time, it was dismantled. A.A. Baker and daughter Mabel built a large cement building on the east side housing one of the best bearing and hardware stores anywhere near. It later burned down while being occupied by the post office and a small grocery.
A company known as the Farmer's Union Exchange bought a few acres on the west side, south of the elevators and built a garage, large store building with living rooms, two nice dwelling houses for their employers and stocked a good lumber yard.
The Foster Lumber Co. built a large new lumber yard and office building a block east of Main Street.
Also a new school building was built a short distance to the south and west of town. An oil and gas bulk plant near the railroad track helped to make Hyde again an independent and industrious little business center for the surrounding country which by this time was completely settled up.
But this town, too, melted away as did the original Hyde and the only new landmark now is the Farmer's M&M Company’s [concrete] elevator storing 200,000 bushels of wheat from the surrounding farms. It's grown on the once dry and wind-swept prairie of bunch grass, sage, and soap weeds.
The two little tin elevators and the two residences which house the managers are the only reminders of the past. Even the school district is waiting to be dissolved and school house to be sold and moved away.