How Gunnison Dealt with the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic

The year was 1918 and the Spanish Flu pandemic was in full swing. The disease would, all told, claim many millions of lives, with an estimated half-billion cases. But, one small Colorado mountain county – namely Gunnison – had very few cases, at least for the first two waves of the Flu. According to the […]

Caroline Nichols Churchill: Activist, Suffragist, Author

When: 1833-1926 Where: Born in Canada, but accomplished most of her work in Denver, Colorado Why Important: Activist, Suffragist, Author, Editor Biography Caroline M. Nichols was born in 1833 in Ontario, Canada to American parents who encouraged her to pursue her love of reading and education. By age thirteen, Nichols had left school to become […]

Elvin R. Caldwell: City Council President, Activist, Community Leader

When: 1919 – 2004 Where: Denver, Colorado Why Important: First African-American City Council Member West of the Mississippi, Civil Rights advocate, policy-maker, and life-long community leader and organizer. Biography Elvin R. Caldwell was born in Denver on April 11, 1919 and grew up in the historic Five Points neighborhood, which was a predominantly black neighborhood at […]

“Father” John Lewis Dyer: The Snowshoe Itinerant

When: 1812-1901 Where: Central Colorado Mountains Why important: Beloved circuit-riding Methodist preacher Biography John Lewis Dyer was born in Franklin County, Ohio in 1812, but spent most of his early years in Illinois. He received little formal education and, after his marriage to Harriet Foster in 1833, Dyer moved his young family to Wisconsin in […]

John Charles Frémont: Senator, Governor, Presidential Candidate, and Explorer

  When: 1813-1890 Where: Colorado’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains Why important: Explorer, Presidential Candidate, Civil War General Biography John Charles Frémont’s life was a series of ups and downs.  He ran for president, but lost.  He served as a civil war general, but was ridiculed for his approach.  And even before all that, he led […]

Otto Mears: Pathfinder of the San Juans

When: 1840 – 1931 Where: Born in Russia and came to America at the age of 11. Why Important: Built 450 miles of toll roads that later became most of the modern roads in southwestern Colorado.  He also built three railroads in the San Juan Mountains that helped develop the area’s mining wealth. Biography Otto Mears was […]

Helen Bonfils: Denver Post Co Owner & Philanthropist

When: 1889-1972 Where: Peekskill, N.Y. Why Important: Co-owner of the Denver Post, Philanthropist, Established the Denver Center of the Performing Arts Biography Helen Bonfils was born on November 26, 1889 in Peekskill, New York. Her father, Frederick Bonfils, bought the struggling Denver Post newspaper with H.H. Tammen in 1895 and moved his family to Denver, […]

Black Kettle: Cheyenne Chief and Peace Negotiator

When: around 1803- 1868 Where: South Dakota Why Important: Native American peace negotiator Biography Black Kettle was born in South Dakota around 1803 (no one is quite certain what year he was born) into the Cheyenne Nation. Not much is known of Black Kettle’s earlier life, however he clearly possessed leadership skills as he was […]

Julia Archibald Holmes: First Woman to Summit Pike’s Peak

When: 1838-1887 Where: Nova Scotia, Canada Why Important: First woman known to summit Pike’s Peak Biography Julia Archibald was born on February 15, 1838 in Nova Scotia, Canada. When she was ten her family moved to the United States and settled in Worcester, Massachusetts. Her father was an abolitionist and her mother was a suffragist. […]

John Denver: Singer and Songwriter

When: 1943-1997 Where: Aspen, Colorado Why Important: Award winning musician, singer and activist. Biography John Denver was born on December 31, 1943 in Roswell, New Mexico. His real name was Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. Around the age of twenty, he changed his name to “John Denver” after his favorite state’s (Colorado) capital. John’s father was […]

Frances Wisebart Jacobs: Health Care Activist

When: 1843 – 1892 Where: Central City and Denver Why Important: She helped establish the Jewish Hospital Association of Colorado, now called National Jewish Hospital. Biography Frances Wisebart Jacobs was born March 29, 1843 in Kentucky to Bavarian immigrants. The family later moved to Cincinnati, Ohio where her father Leon Wisebart worked as a tailor. Frances and […]

William Byers: Founder of Rocky Mtn News

When: 1831-1903 Where: Ohio, Iowa, Nebraska, and finally, Denver Why Important: Byers was the greatest Denver promoter, bringing people and money into the city. He established the first paper, the  Rocky Mountain News. Biography The greatest Denver promoter of all, William Newton Byers was born on an Ohio farm in 1831. His family moved to Iowa in […]

Chief Little Raven: Peacemaker

When: c. 1810-1889 Where: Colorado and Oklahoma Why Important: This Chief sought peaceful relations  between Native Americans and whites even amidst the Sand Creek Massacre. Biography Little Raven was born around 1810 on the Plains near Nebraska. He negotiated peace between the Southern Arapaho, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Comanche, and Plains Apache in 1840. He was also known to welcome […]

Molly Brown: Suffragist, Socialite and Adventurer

When: 1867-1932 Where: Born in Missouri, lived in Leadville and Denver Why Important: Maggie Brown traveled frequently, gave time and money to charity, sought women’s suffrage, and was a survivor of the Titanic disaster. Biography Margaret Brown was born of July 18, 1867. Her friends and family called her Maggie; she was not known as Molly until after […]