Friday, March 18, 2011

Fountain Valley Agriculture: The Land of Enchantment?

The Special Collections of the Pikes Peak Library has a booster pamphlet extolling the virtues of agriculture in the region.  This probably dates to 1908 - 1909 and was likely published by the Colorado Springs Land, Irrigation and Transportation Company.

Woodmen Hall

Woodmen Hall, probably in December 1913
Woodmen Hall, at 102 N Main and Ohio, on the northeast corner of the center of town, was built in 1905.  Those involved in its construction include SA Wilson and his brother Joseph.  A clipping from the Fountain Museum, possibly from a promotional flyer dated 1906, states that the Gore Mercantile Company was owned by CA Gore and Henry Link.  Gore was the manager, assisted by John Redmond.  The building was built by the local lodge at a cost of $8000.

Joseph and Rosa Wilson
The building has a main room downstairs that has been used as a store for the past 100-plus years.  The hall upstairs was used by civic groups, and to show movies in the 1940s and 50s, though on occasion a movie was projected on the outside wall of the building during the heat of the summer, and people sat in the adjacent lot to the north.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fountain's oldest structure?

Does the first Post Office in Fountain still stand?  Consider these facts:

New York Times

As recounted in Marshall Sprague's history of Cripple Creek, Money Mountain, "In July of '73, Miss Lida Womack sent Brother Bob east of Sunview a few miles to Uncle Ben Requa's general store and restaurant at Fountain, Colorado."  The Womacks lived near Rock Creek along Highway 115.  While at Requa's store in Fountain, Bob Womack encountered Professor Hayden and part of the survey team, who spent several summers in Colorado.

Cassius I. Croft first appears in a Colorado Springs Gazette article in 1874, as the postmaster of the town of Fountain.  In a Oct 24, 1874 article, it recounts how Croft presented Professor Hayden with a human skull, possibly from a Ute Indian.  The burial had been found on a 30 foot tall sandstone column some 10 miles east of Colorado Springs.  

Some History of Fountain from 1887

History of El Paso County: Fountain and Fountain Valley
Excerpts of an article published in the Republic on Dec 30, 1887, authored by G.N.C.  Copy courtesy of the Pioneer Museum

Mr. J.C. Woodbury, the county commissioner for 20 consecutive years, resides south of Fountain and possesses several thousand acres of land, 300 acres under cultivation.  He has 700 head of cattle and 100 horses, and a fine orchard with over 1000 trees.

Colonel C.W. Haynes is the proprietor of Charter Oak Ranch, formerly known as the Jack Brown ranch.  This valuable ranch property includes 400 acres of meadow which cuts about 700 tons of hay annually. Besides cattle, Mr. Haynes is a horse fancier and has a large number of blooded colts.

Messrs. Jacob and David Cell are successful ranchmen with good homes and finely laid out orchards.

Three miles north of Fountain is the fine ranch of E.A. Smith, which has a good house and excellent barns.  Besides ranching, he is an attorney.

Four miles south of Fountain lived Benjamin Hall, an old settler and rancher who raised excellent crops of hay, corn and alfalfa.

The ranch of Chauncey Callaway comprises 2500 acres and is situated about ¾ mile east of Fountain village.  Four hundred acres are cultivated and the remainder is pasturage for cattle.  He cut over 100 tons of corn feed this past season, and added a large barn.

Another old-timer, living a mile north of Fountain, is William Sweetland.  His 1500 acre ranch includes a 100 acre meadow, farm buildings, a 600 fruit tree orchard, cattle and horses.  His ranch contains the ruins of an old Indian fort, with cement walls 80 feet square and 6 feet high.
Mrs. Lock has an excellent ranch of 1400 acres which she handles admirably.  Two hundred acres are a fine meadow and one hundred are under cultivation.  There is a young orchard, cattle and horses, and her hay, corn and oats are heard to beat. 

James Neff has a small but valuable area of land just out of town limits consisting of 14 acres devoted to 100 fruit trees, with some alfalfa and a few acres of vegetables, including cabbage.  He sells these for several hundred dollars annually.   

Among the enterprising stockmen, the Overtons own 5000 sheep, besides many cattle and horses.  They raise their own hay and grain annually.

Mr. Corbin, a pioneer, has a ranch of 2000 acres with about 74 acres under cultivation.  Corn and alfalfa are raised, and an orchard has been planted.  He has 75 head of cattle and 125 horses.

Another Colorado pioneer, Isaac Hutchins, has a pleasant home and surrounding which join Fountain.

O.S. Loomis owns 2500 acres of land, 125 under cultivation, and a fine orchard with over 700 trees, 300 of which bear fruit.  Last season he gathered 100 bushels of apples.

In the 1918 publication History of Colorado Illustrated by Wilbur Fiske Stone we learn more about David Cell:

David L. Cell was born in Wheeling, Ohio, February 16, 1853, a son of Jacob and Sarah E. Cell. In 1856 the father removed with his family to Missouri, and there David acquired a public school education.  He was afterward employed as a farm hand until 1872, when he made his way to Colorado Springs and there worked for an uncle, D. W. Cell, for five years. He subsequently purchased his present ranch of two hundred acres. In 1874 Mr. Cell was united in marriage to Miss Margaret Dean, of Missouri, and to them have been born four children. Joseph, born January 3, 1875, wedded Katharine Gee, from whom he afterward secured a legal separation. They had one child, Blanche. Martha, born July 22, 1878, was married to Silas King and they had two children, Roland and Leona. Gertrude, born May 26, 1881, hecame the wife of Arthur Pettingill, who was killed in a railroad wreck on the Santa Fe. She afterward became the wife of Joe Laurence and resides in Alberta, Canada. Amanda, born May 22, 1883, is the wife of William Higby, of Pueblo, who is a railroad engineer on the Santa Fe, and they have one child, Rose.

Mr. Cell is a member of the Woodmen of the World, Camp No. 230, of Fountain. His political allegiance is given the democratic party.  His farm makes full claim upon his time. 

Fountain History recalled by the 8th Grade Class of 1950

History of Fountain, compiled by the Fountain 8th Grade, 1950
These are excerpts of the 9-page report, copied from the collections of the Pioneer Museum. [with Editor’s comments or corrections in brackets, as this data varies from other stories].  Maps that show these locations can be found among Mrs. Bulkley's maps on the side menu.  
The Ark

The oldest building standing in Fountain is the Ark [on S. Main Street].  M.S. Beach built the second house.  The Ark was built in 1847 [probably 1870s] and was used as a fort [?], inn, stage stop, general store, trading post, and Post Office.  It has a 22-year reputation as a haunted house, and is now an antique store known as the Ark, owned by Mrs. Halcombe.


The building across the street from the Ark, truly the oldest building, was a stagecoach stop.  It caved into Sand Creek.  Amos Terrell built the first house in Fountain in 1860 [early 1860s as he still lived in Iowa in 1860], part grout and part frame.  Mr. Love still owns the Terrell ranch.

The Crab’s lived south of town on what is now the Roy Mundell farm.

The Post Office was established in 1863 in the back of the general store, now the Ark.  It was once in a building where the Agriculture building stands [east of the school] and in the Ames store.  Later it was in Orcutt’s house [W. Ohio], in the back of Martins store [Woodmen Hall],  later in room now occupied by Abeyta’s store [??].  Those serving as Post master have included Henry Hutchin, the father of Mrs. John Wilson, Mr. Al Ames, Grace Hutchin, Loren Gore, Robert E. Love, Vera Chapman (Mrs. Gaut’s sister), Cora Johnson and at present Nellie King.

When Bill Colbert was night marshal he slept in the bank most of the time. Sy Humphrey was next marshal and he walked the street with a 30-30 rifle on his shoulder.  Other night marshals were Mr. Shinner, Mr. Higby Sr., John Skinner and now it is Armstrong. Johnny Lindermood is the officer who was murdered.

One theater was where the pool hall stands.  Various clubs put on plays. There used to be a nice meeting house west of the Catholic Church where the organizations had parties and plays, but now there are no theaters in town. 

In 1948 the city bought a piece of land across from the school which they made into a playground.

A former hotel is the Vernie Swarm residence [Link Hotel at Rack and Illinois].

A.E. Ames came to Fountain in about 1871 and built the house two doors south of the school grounds on Main Street, where he resided until his death in 1903.  He built a store on Main St that faced East, at the corner of the alley just south of the school grounds.  He and son Alvin ran it.  After Mr. Ames’ death, the stock was sold to FE Torbit, who also rented the store for warehouse space for a few years.  In about 1908 Maggie Ames, widow of Alvin, had the store torn down and a 10-room residence built using the lumber.  They lived there until 1910, when they sold the house to the Metcalfes and moved to Pasadena.  James Ames, AE’s oldest son, was a freighter on the West Slope of Colorado.  He disappeared and his bedroll was found with blood on it, and he may have met with foul play. Maggie Ames came to Colorado from Missouri in a covered wagon with parents Mr. and Mrs. James E. Love, and her two older brothers.  She was two years old.  The Reimensniders owned the house in 1950.   

The old Ziser’s drug store is in the Jack Marshall house.

Misc notes:

The feed mill was on Ohio across from the lumber yard.  It may have burned in 1931 and then been rebuilt by Orcutt in 1932; he ground grain into flour.  The business was next owned by Mose, who just sold feed.  It was then owned by Hack Wilson, Scott Ferguson, Conrade, and V.O. Eagle, who is the present owner.

The Chancellors came from Missouri and started the Rocky Mountain Pottery Shop in 1936.

The land on which the Methodist church stands was dedicated on May 21, 1912.  The tabernacle opened on Feb 15, 1915 on the lot on which the Methodist Church was built in 1927 by Rev. Sledge, now of Mississippi.

A Puller beet dump was established here in 1941 and improved in 1942.  It is now operated by T.W. Woods.  In 1922 there was a very old stile beet loading place in Fountain. 

In 1919, an electric plant was planned, and four churches existed in town: the Free Methodist, Methodist, Congregational and Baptist.

The Exchange Grocery was where Mr. Gaunt now had his drug store.                                                               

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Grout Fences and the last Indian attack in El Paso County

Grout Fences Protected Pioneers
By Violette Murphy
Excerpts from an undated newspaper clipping from the Pioneer Museum files.

Helen Sweetland Fickett heard her parents tell about the early days.  Her father William came west with a wagon train and took his first land grant in 1860 near Canon City, though he didn’t settle there.  He met Martha Dawson at a dance in Colorado City, and they soon wed.  They settled in the Fountain Valley, where there was room to raise sheep.  He and a Mr. Randall operated the Sweetland and Randall Ranch. 

In the 1860s, the Comanche and Arapahoe would sweep in from the Plains and raid the homesteads, so William built a stout four room grout house that he surrounded with a seven-foot tall grout fence.  Portholes were built into the fence walls, in case of attack, so that settlers could fire out at raiding Indians.  Grout was a mixture of lime, plaster, gravel and small stones.  It was commonly used for foundations, and less so for walls.

Mrs. Fickett told of settlers who came to stay at their house for a few days when Indians were in the area.  The Sweetlands were never attacked, but the grout fence offered security to those who lived in the isolated homesteads. 

Carl Mathews’ parents came to the Fountain Valley from Elbert in 1872.  They told him of a very large Indian encampment they had witnessed at Spring Valley, on the northeast side of the Black Forest.  These Indians were peaceful and would just visit the homesteaders there to beg for food.  Mr. Mathews said that in 1873 a bunch of Arapahoe tried to force their way into Wierman’s Mill near Monument, where settlers had taken shelter, but they were not successful. 

Mrs. Helen Foster Aiken, 90 years old, was born near Stratton Heights, about ¼ mile east of the South Nevada freeway exit.  Her father, Marcus Foster, took up a ranch near Ivywild before 1869.  Helen heard her mother tell of the day they brought the Robbins boys’ bodies into Colorado City.  The boys Franklin 3, and George 11, were killed by Arapahoe Indians on the same day that Charles Everhart, 17, was killed while out herding sheep on the mesa near Fountain.  This was the last raid in the region.  A granite memorial for the boys was later erected in Boulder Crescent Park and dedicated in 1912.   

[Editor’s notes.  The Sweetland Ranch was about a mile north of Fountain. 
Helen Foster was born in Colorado in 1868, which dates this article to about 1958. 
A 1913 Gazette article dates the massacre to September 1868, and the dedication of the monument to Sept 3 1913.  This states that Everhart was killed at the junction of Cascade, Platte, and the Boulder Crescent, where the memorial was erected.  An 1878 Gazette article places the scene of Everhart's attack near Monument.  The Robbins boys, ages 8 and 11, were out herding sheep on Mt. Washington, in the Ivywild neighborhood, when they were killed.  All three boys were buried at the Pioneer Cemetery.]