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 […]

Time Machine Tuesday: Silas Soule and the Sand Creek Massacre

Tomorrow, November 29, is the 153rd anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre.  That morning, approximately 675 U.S. Volunteers under the command of Colonel John Chivington attacked a peaceful village of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians, many of whom were women, children, and old men.  Over the next eight hours the soldiers butchered as many as 230 […]

Time Machine Tuesday: Researching Past Colorado Legislators

Our library receives many questions about finding biographical information on state legislators from the past.  Many of these questions are geneological (“my great-grandfather served in the Legislature”) but we have also received questions about whether certain legislators are still living; how many legislators belonged to a particular profession; where to find a photo of a […]

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 […]

Time Machine Tuesday: Colorado’s Poet Laureates

Was Colorado the first state to have a poet laureate?  It depends on who you ask.  Alice Polk Hill, Colorado’s first poet laureate, was appointed by Governor Oliver Shoup on September 10, 1919.  However, California’s Ina Donna Coolbrith had been appointed by her state’s governor four years earlier, in 1915.  But the Library of Congress […]

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 […]

Time Machine Tuesday: Trappers, Traders and Mountain Men

In the early decades of the nineteenth century, French, English, and American fur trappers came to Colorado, living a rugged existence in the mountains.  They traded with — and often married into — Indian tribes, and sent pelts back to “the States,” where beaver hats were fashionable.  James Baker and Leroy Hafen, in their 1927 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Time Machine Tuesday: The Moffat Tunnel

Getting trains through the Rocky Mountains has always been a challenge — steep grades, rocky cliffs, and tall snowdrifts are among the many obstacles that early Colorado railroad officials and designers had to contend with.  However one man had a vision for a tunnel that would ease travel through the Continental Divide.  Although he did […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]