“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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

Chin Lin Sou: A Pioneer in More Ways Than One

When: 1836 –  1894 Where: Born in China, settled in Denver Why Important:  Chin Lin Sou was a leader in the Chinese American community and a successful businessperson in Denver. Biography Chin Lin Sou was born in 1836 in southern China. Chin heard stories of opportunities in the American West. He moved to the United States in […]

Kit Carson: Mountain Man and Hero

When: 1809–1868 Where: Born in Kentucky, died at Fort Lyon, Colorado. Why Important: Kit Carson guided many important expeditions into the territories of the American West. Biography Christopher Houston Carson was born in Kentucky on Christmas Eve 1809. Carson grew up on a family farm in Missouri. From a young age people called him “Kit.” […]

William Palmer: Engineer, Soldier, Founder of Colorado Springs

When: 1838 – 1909 Where: Delaware, Pennsylvania, a “trek west,” Denver and Colorado Springs Why Important: A civil engineer, Civil War soldier, owner and cofounder of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad, philanthropist. Biography William Jackson Palmer was born to a Quaker family in Delaware on September 17, 1836. As a young boy, William was fascinated […]

Helen Hunt Jackson: Author and Indian Advocate

When: 1830 -1885 Where: Born in Massachusetts, moved to Colorado Springs Why Important: Author and Indian Advocate Biography Helen Hunt Jackson led a hard life on the frontier plains. She lost her husband and two children during her lifetime. However, she was among the first writers to draw attention to the condition of the American Indian through […]

Alferd Packer: Notorious Cannibal

When: 1842 – 1907 Where: Lake City, Cañon City, and Littleton, Colorado Why Important: Cannibal Biography Like thousands of other men of his time, Alferd (sometimes spelled Alfred) Packer caught “gold fever” and sought to make his fortune in the mountains of Colorado. During the winter of 1873-74, Packer joined a group of five other men, whose […]

Felipe Baca: Rancher and Town Founder

When: 1828 – 1874 Where: Born in Taos, New Mexico, and founded Trinidad, Colorado Why Important: Colorado Hispanic pioneer who helped found Trinidad, Colorado Biography Felipe Baca of Trinidad, Colorado, farmed and ranched in southern Colorado.[footnote]“The Anti-State Convention.” Rocky Mountain News, January 9, 1869. CHNC[/footnote] Baca, whose family had lived in New Mexico since about 1600, was born in 1828 near […]

Richens “Uncle Dick” Wootton: Frontiersman

When: 1816 – 1893 Where: Raised in Virginia and settled in Denver, Colorado Why Important: Wootton was a guide, a rancher, a farmer, and a storekeeper. He also operated a toll road. Biography In 1836, Richens Lacy Wootton left his home in Mecklenburg County,Virginia. Itching for adventure he headed west. Wootton found work as a hunter at […]