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20th Century & Beyond

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 […]

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Colorado's Beginnings

“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 […]

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Herndon Davis, Colorado Artist

You’re probably familiar with the Face on the Barroom Floor, the mysterious portrait of a dark-haired lady on the floor of the Teller House in Central City. But did you know that the same artist who painted this iconic image also used his paintings to document the Colorado he knew, before it vanished forever? Herndon […]

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Colorado's Beginnings

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 […]

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Colorado State Publications Blog

The “Maverick” of Carpenter Ranch

Farrington “Ferry” Carpenter was a Harvard- and Princeton- educated rancher whose autobiography, Confessions of a Maverick, is one of the most frequently checked out items in our library collection. Today, his Routt County ranch, still a working cattle operation, has been preserved as a nature center. Originally from Evanston, Illinois, Carpenter (1886-1980) spent time in […]

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Colorado Biographies

Genealogists and others looking for biographical information on Coloradans from earlier than 1927 should view volumes 4 and 5 of the State Historical Society’s History of Colorado, which has been digitized by our library. These final two volumes of the five-volume set are filled with hundreds of biographies on Coloradans. While many of these biographies […]

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Colorado’s First Ladies

March is Women’s History Month, an appropriate time to recognize the First Ladies of our state.  Whether they came to Colorado as pioneers or worked to leave the state a better place, these ladies led very interesting lives. In the 1960s and ’70s Helen Cannon of the Colorado Historical Society profiled a number of the […]

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado Governors: Samuel Elbert

Colorado’s highest mountain bears the name of Samuel H. Elbert, territorial governor of Colorado from 1873-74.  Elbert County is also named for him. Originally from Ohio, Elbert, a lawyer, moved to Nebraska in 1854 and became heavily involved in Republican politics.  He campaigned hard for Abraham Lincoln and through this campaign met John Evans, future […]

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Rydberg's Flora

One of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century America’s greatest botanists extensively studied the flora of Colorado, and left us what is still one of the most important works on the state’s flowers. Per Axel Rydberg (1860-1931) emigrated to the United States from Sweden in 1882.  His career as a botanist came somewhat by accident.  Upon moving […]

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado Governors: Edward McCook

Edward Moody McCook served two non-consecutive terms as territorial governor.  Originally from Ohio, McCook had come to Colorado during the 1859 Gold Rush.  He settled in Central City and set up a successful law practice.  He returned east to serve in the Union Army during the Civil War, attaining the rank of Brigadier General.  McCook […]

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Colorado State Publications Blog

The Architecture of Jacques Benedict

In the first decades of the twentieth century, Victorian architectural styles gave way to newer styles including Beaux Arts and Mediterranean-influenced architecture.  One of the most significant architects in Colorado to embrace these architectural styles was Jules Jacques Benoit Benedict.  Although today he is most remembered for his Denver residential designs (many examples can be […]

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Colorado's Count and Countess

Discoveries of gold in 1858 drew many to what would eventually become Colorado, and in 1858 the two towns of Denver and Auraria were established (they soon merged into one, and Auraria is now a neighborhood of Denver).  Among the earliest settlers in Auraria were Count Henri and Countess Katrina Murat.  Count Murat claimed to […]

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado Governors: Alexander Cameron Hunt

Colorado’s fourth territorial governor, Republican Alexander Hunt, was appointed to lead the territory on April 24, 1867.  Hunt had grown up in Freeport, Illinois, where he eventually served as mayor.  Lured by the California Gold Rush in 1850, Hunt stayed in California until a new gold discovery was made in Colorado in 1858.  Relocating to […]

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado Governors: Alexander Cummings

After the resignation of John Evans, Alexander Cummings (served 1865-1867) was appointed Territorial Governor of Colorado by President Andrew Johnson. Cummings had previously served as a special purchasing agent for the War Department during the Civil War and, after being discharged from this post, had in February 1864 attained the rank of Brigadier General and Superintendent […]

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20th Century & Beyond

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, […]

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado Governors: John Evans

Colorado’s second territorial governor, John Evans, is remembered for his many contributions to the development of Denver, including bringing the railroad to the young town and founding the Colorado Seminary, which became the University of Denver.  Evans is also remembered for being disgraced by his role in the Sand Creek Massacre and his subsequent resignation […]

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Colorado's Beginnings

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 […]

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado Governors: William Gilpin

The first governor of Colorado Territory, William Gilpin, was appointed by Abraham Lincoln and served 1861-62.  Born in Pennsylvania in 1813, Gilpin participated in several western expeditions in the 1840s, served as a Major in the Mexican-American War, and was made a General in charge of protecting white settlers on the Santa Fe Trail.  When […]

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado's Pioneer Women

Everyone knows about Colorado’s famous women like Molly Brown and Baby Doe Tabor, but far less has been written about “ordinary” women in Colorado.  In reality, Colorado’s early pioneer women often overcame great obstacles and harsh living conditions while helping shape the Colorado we know today.  This Women’s History Month, let’s take a look at […]

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Colorado's Beginnings

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. […]

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Colorado's Beginnings

Ouray: Ute Chief and Negotiator

When: 1833-1880 Where: Southern Rocky Mountains, CO Why Important: Ute Chief and Treaty Negotiator Biography Chief Ouray was born November 13, 1833 in Taos, New Mexico to a Jicarilla Apache man and a Ute woman. On the night he was born there was a meteor shower. This event apparently influenced his parents to name him […]