Hired Man's House - Who Lived Here?This two room house was in existence by 1920. Most likely, the Vails built it for use by families working on the Empire Ranch. Dusty Vail Ingram, who grew up on the Empire, recalled that the Estrada family lived here in 1924. One of Dusty's favorite playmates was the Estrada's oldest son, Mike.
In 1927 Mariano Ferra, his wife, and granddaughter Eva, moved in the house. Mariano first worked as a cowboy for the Vail's in the Rosemount area of the Empire, and later worked at ranch headquarters cutting and hauling wood.
When the Boice's purchased the Empire in 1929 they allowed Eva's grandparents to remain in this house. At the age of 13, Eva began to help Mary Boice with her children, Bob and Pancho. Eva married Empire Ranch cowboy, Dick Jimenez, who worked for Frank Boice from 1933 to 1945.
From an interview with Dusty Vail Ingram about life in 1924:
Dusty: Well, the ...children that I played with were Rita and Bartolo's children. They lived in that little house that's off to the north of the big house. And Rita always fascinated me because she rolled tobacco for Bartolo. She'd roll it in the cigarette papers, and so on. Well, she kept his cigarette pouch all nicely filled and he never had to roll a cigarette himself. He was the envy of all the men there, as you can imagine.
Glenda Bonin: She spoiled him.
Dusty: It was great...The one I played with most was Mikey - the oldest boy. We played marbles and all the games children play. We also played hide-and-seek, and we'd climb over the rooftops and things like that. We had a good time.
(top photo) Eva Ferra Jimenez circa 1935 (age 18)
(bottom photo) Dick and Eva Jimenez and their daughter Mercy, circa 1945
Photo caption:Dusty Vail and Mike Estrada playing marbles circa 1924.
Historic Preservation of the Hired Man's House
When this house was built, the adobe bricks were laid in a shallow trench with no foundation. The original roof had no gutters. After the house was abandoned, exposure to the weather led to erosion of the adobe, and deterioration of the walls.
In the summer of 2000, professionals and volunteers worked to replace deteriorated bricks and stabilize the walls. Today, this house remains an important architectural component of the Historic Empire Ranch Headquarters with thanks to the Bureau of Land Management's partner, the Empire Ranch Foundation (ERF). Complete restoration of this historic structure is a long-term goal of BLM and ERF.
Why are so many of the Empire Ranch buildings constructed of adobe bricks? Adobe was the most common building material in the southwest in the 1800s. Adobe is made of readily available soil composed of sand, silt and clay, and also organic material such as hay or twigs. Adobe houses stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Photo captions:
An archeologist's sketch of the floor plan.
Preservation specialists stabilize the adobe walls.
A view inside during restoration.
Newspaper clippings found on the walls inside this building during stabilization represent an earlier era.