Justina Ford: Denver’s First Female African American Doctor

When: 1871 – 1952 Where: Born in Knoxville, Illinois, moved to Chicago and then to Denver Why Important: Justina Ford overcame prejudice and discrimination to become Denver’s first female African-American doctor. Ford was a pioneer in opening up a profession for African-Americans and women Biography Justina Laurena Warren was born on January 22, 1871 in Knoxville, Illinois. […]

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 […]

Josephine Roche: Police Woman and Labor Advocate

When: 1886 – 1976 Where: Born in Nebraska and educated in New York, she moved to Denver in 1906 Why Important: Labor advocate, businesswoman, and Denver’s first female police officer Biography Josephine Roche was the first policewoman in Colorado,[footnote]“Miss Roche is Now a Deputy Sheriff.” Salida Mail, May 13, 1913. CHNC[/footnote] the first woman to run a major coal company, […]

Emily Griffith: Educator

When: 1868 – 1947 Where: Born in Cincinnati, moved to Denver in 1894 Why Important: She believed that everyone had a right to  education. She founded The Emily Griffith Opportunity School, which helped make this possible for many people in Denver. Biography Emily Griffith was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on February 10, 1868. She  grew up poor. […]

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 […]

Juana Suaso Simpson: A Frontier Life

When: 1827 – 1916 Where: Born in New Mexico and settled in Trinidad, Colorado. Why Important: Simpson did charitable work at churches, schools, and hospitals. She also taught Spanish-speaking students. Biography Juana Suaso Simpson was born in 1827 in Taos, New Mexico.  She was the daughter of Teresita Sandoval, a notable female pioneer. In 1835, when she was eight years […]

Owl Woman: Cheyenne Trader

When: 1800s – 1847 Where: Born and lived in southeastern Colorado Why Important: Owl Woman married William Bent and helped run Bent’s Fort Biography Owl Woman, known as Mis-stan-sta in Cheyenne, was probably born in what is now southeastern Colorado in the early 1800s. White Thunder, her father, was “keeper of the arrows.” This honor made White Thunder a […]

Barney Ford: From Slavery to Success

When: 1822 – 1902 Where: Born in Virginia. Lived in South Carolina, Chicago, and Central America, settled in Denver, Colorado. Why Important: Barney Ford escaped from slavery using the Underground Railroad. He became a successful businessman and civil rights activist Biography Ford was born on January 22, 1822 in Virginia. He grew up as a slave. Ford’s […]

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 […]

Dr. Florence Rena Sabin: Doctor and Medical Reformer

When: 1871 – 1953 Where: Central City and Denver Why Important: Dr. Sabin was the first female medical professor at Johns Hopkins as well as a major medical reformer in Colorado. She also was the first female member of the National Academy of Sciences and first female physician-scientist at Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research. Biography Florence Rena Sabin was […]

John “Jack” Swigert: Astronaut, Congressman

When: 1931-1982 Where: Born and raised in Denver, CO Why Important: One of 24 people who have flown to the moon; Elected to U.S. Congress Biography Confronted with the grave peril of outer space, John “Jack” Swigert, Jr. demonstrated a courage and heroism that defies the human spirit. Jack was a member of the Apollo 13 crew […]

Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.: Silent Film Actor

When: 1883-1939 Where: Born and raised in Denver Why Important: Well-loved silent film actor and star of swashbuckling favorites such as Robin Hood (1922) and The Mark of Zorro (1920). Biography Douglas Fairbanks, the “King of Hollywood,” was born Douglas Elton Ulman in Denver. As a child, he demonstrated the wild, devil-may-care attitude that would later become his […]

Glenn Miller: Musician and Bandleader

When: 1904-1944 Where: Fort Morgan and Boulder, CO Why Important: Musician/Bandleader Biography Glenn Miller was one of the most popular musicians of the Big Band era. He was born Alton Glenn Miller in Iowa in 1904. Throughout his childhood, his family moved frequently, first to Nebraska, then to Missouri, then finally to Fort Morgan, Colorado during Miller’s […]