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Archive for the ‘Denver history’ Category

Colorado Day — August 1, 1876

31 Jul

How did Colorado Territory’s citizens, referred to by eastern politicians as living in a “state of semi-barbarism,” achieve statehood? When John and Eliza Routt stepped off the train in Denver in 1875, Colorado Territory citizens were skeptical and suspicious. Seven governors had rotated in and out of the office over fifteen years. The latest in the string of carpetbaggers and inept politicians was Edwin M. McCook, who had misused his power and position until Coloradans protested his appointment and he was withdrawn.

The Rocky Mountain News welcomed Routt’s appointment as “a new era of honesty and good government inaugurated.” He quelled concerns that he was not a resident by saying, “I was getting ready to come and make my home in Colorado anyway.” On March 29, 1875, John L. Routt took his oath of office as Colorado’s Territorial Governor. He then went to work to usher Colorado into statehood.

Creating a new state was no easy matter. Colorado’s quest for statehood encountered strong resistance from eastern politicians, who considered Colorado too wild and uncivilized for statehood. The first hurdle was to establish a state constitution under the Colorado Enabling Act. A committee of delegates studied the constitutions of nearby states, using them as models to construct Colorado’s document.

Denver Capitol w gold dome

Under the management of Governor John L. Routt, the cluster of thirty-nine delegates, worked feverishly to construct the new constitution. A half-year later, the document was presented and ratified, and Colorado was accepted as the thirty-eighth state in the union. The event was punctuated with a July 4 celebration in 1876 unlike anything Denver City had experienced. Then the real work began. Politicians clamored to be elected governor by popular vote. Meetings took place in scattered offices on Larimer Street. Plans were soon underway to build a capitol building for a center of government while tending to the welfare of the new state.

When Colorado’s bid for statehood culminated on July 4, 1876, it became known as the Centennial State on America’s one-hundredth birthday. President Ulysses S. Grant signed Colorado’s proclamation for statehood on August 1, 1876. That date became Colorado’s official birthday, and was known and celebrated thereafter as Colorado Day. For Routt, it was a sweet victory, and the beginning of a quarter century of public service to his adopted state.

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More information can be found in First Governor, First Lady: John and Eliza Routt of Colorado, by Joyce B. Lohse, Filter Press, 2002, ISBN: 0-86541-063-1, List: $14.95

 

 
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Posted in Denver history, Western history

 

In With the New

09 Jan

I enjoy the arrival of the New Year. It is an inspiring time of optimism with an empty calendar waiting to be filled with interesting new adventures and quests for historic tidbits and treasures. To celebrate the arrival of 2014, I ordered a banner to use at upcoming events. During the last weekend of July, I will be promoting books and talking history, along with South Park Perils author Christie Wright, at Burro Days in Fairplay. Come see us! Look for the booth with the big red Colorado History sign!

New book sign

New book sign

Currently, I am moving forward on a biography about Colorado Springs builder and promoter, Spencer Penrose, for the popular “Now You Know Bio” series from Filter Press. The Penrose project is a double-header. I am also hard at work on a presentation piece for the next Pikes Peak Library District history symposium called “Bigwigs and Benefactors of the Pikes Peak Region”, scheduled for June 7, 2014. Working title is “The Penrose Legacy: Ventures, Vogue and Vagary”. During this time of discovery, I cannot wait to see what will happen next or what will appear around the next bend. Penrose was a fascinating character and I embrace the challenge of sharing a fresh viewpoint on his life and times. More details to come.

Looking ahead to fall, my national writers’ group, Women Writing the West, will celebrate its 20th Anniversary with our annual conference taking place in Denver at the Brown Palace Hotel. As hired administrator for WWW since 2002, I will be busier than usual with additional duties as I look forward to participation in and celebration of two decades as a non-profit literary force and presence in the United States. For planning and registration information, go to: http://www.womenwritingthewest.org.

Prospects are excellent for an interesting year, and I anticipate seeing many of my peers and pals along the way. In the meantime, I will be working on the Penrose story, which I look forward to sharing upon completion.

Happy New Year!
Joyce and Don

Events in 2014
Thursday, February 20, 2014 – Porter Place, Denver – “Baby Doe Tabor” –
1 p.m.

Thursday, March 13, 2014 – D.A.R., Aurora – “Eliza Routt: Colorado’s Original First Lady” – Tin Cup at Aurora Hills Golf Course, 6 p.m.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 – Columbine Genealogical Society, Littleton – “A New Age Family History Tour” – 1 p.m.

Saturday, June 7, 2014 – Pikes Peak Library District History Symposium – “Bigwigs and Benefactors” – at East Library, Colorado Springs – will feature Joyce Lohse’s Spencer Penrose presentation – pre-registration is required for this free all-day public program.

July 26-27, 2014 – Burro Days in Fairplay – Author booth with Christie Wright – last weekend in July – come see us and talk Colorado history!

October 17-19, 2014 — Women Writing the West Conference – Denver – 20th Anniversary Celebration – Brown Palace Hotel

Brown Palace Lobby

Ceiling in the Brown Palace Lobby

 
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Posted in Denver history, Western history, Western Travel, Writing Life

 

Million Mile Reflections

31 Dec

When the year 2013 began, I was worried. People often ask about my next project, and I said I did not have one in the works at the moment. Stagnation might be setting in … or was it? A reflection of highlights from the past year tells me that I have little or no reason for concern. It was a very good year.

DWPC

Display of Joyce’s books at the Denver Woman’s Press Club.

Event Highlights in 2013

Two “salons”, interactive literary programs – at Denver Woman’s Press Club

TV Interview on Rocky Mountain PBS, Colorado Experience — Dr. Justina Ford documentary

Daughters of the American Revolution in Arvada — Eliza Routt presentation

CCIRA Conference at the Marriott – Filter Press booth, meet and greet the author

Erie Public Library — Women’s History Month presentation

Palmer Lake Historical Society — presentation on Baby Doe Tabor

National Mining Hall of Fame Museum, Leadville – banquet and program on Baby Doe Tabor

Fountain Public Library – presentation on General William Palmer: Railroad Pioneer

Estes Park Genealogical Society – General Palmer presentation

Idaho Springs Public Library – Baby Doe Tabor presentation

Publication of revised e-book edition of A Yellowstone Savage – 40th Anniversary gathering in Montana

Denver Public Schools Book Fair — Filter Press Booth, Denver Merchandise Mart

Women Writing the West Annual Conference – Kansas City, Missouri

CU Anschutz Medical Center – STEM program on Dr. Justina Ford for Skinner Middle School students

Healy House Museum in Leadville – “Meet the Author” Day

Riverside Cemetery History Walk with “Dr. Colorado” Tom Noel – Eliza Routt portrayal

Piecing Partners Quilters Guild program – Mining for the Real Baby Doe Tabor

Broomfield Public Library – Colorado History: Truth and Mystery Program

Monument Hill Kiwanis Club – Mining for the Real Baby Doe Tabor

Sons and Daughters of Pilgrims – Castle Rock – Baby Doe Tabor: Matchless Silver Queen

Watch for new projects and programs in 2014!

Joyce B. Lohse
www.LohseWorks.com

 
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Posted in Denver history, Western history, Writing Life

 

Riverside Cemetery Halloween Crawl

30 Oct
Riverside Cemetery

“Eliza and John Routt” at Riverside Cemetery

Although I’ve spoken and presented programs to about 150 groups up and down Colorado’s Front Range and beyond, I’ve never before portrayed one of my biographical characters. It was a blast! What a great way to really turn back the hands of time and embrace history, and to enjoy the most beautiful fall day imaginable in Denver’s historic boneyard.

My subject was Eliza Routt, which was a no-brainer to me as a portrayal. Eliza, the original first lady of Colorado and the first woman registered to vote in the state, was my ancestral first cousin from my mother’s family. We even share some resemblance. When Tom “Dr. Colorado” Noel invited me to portray her character at this year’s Halloween Crawl at Riverside Cemetery, I hesitated but only slightly. I forged into unknown territory. Dr. Tom is a first class act and it was a supreme honor to be included in his merry group. I took great pains to prepare my grand four minute speech for an audience of 200 history buffs, and it paid off. I was paired with a wonderful gentleman named John Stewart as the Governor, and our presentation came off without a hitch, with historic gems and amusing moments enjoyed by an appreciative crowd.

To prepare for the day, I augmented my Victorian outfit with a straw hat, which I decorated with streaming ribbon, and silk hydrangea blossoms fixed in place with a hot glue gun. The hat sheltered me during an afternoon in direct sunlight. My speech was originally totally written out, then highlighted for important topics, then pared down to an outline list by subject, then further filtered onto a folded recipe-sized card containing simple key words and subjects, which I never removed from my pocket. It was my insurance in case of memory lapse, and I was happy to know it was handy, although not needed.

The fun and enjoyment of this re-enactment did not quite equal the surge of writer’s rush experienced at the end of a manuscript. However, it was great fun as a more casual and recreational event. Given the opportunity, I would step back in time again, especially if I have the opportunity to channel my cousin Eliza. She is a great character, and a great presence from which to view the past during the wild and exciting days of early Colorado. The only changes I would make would be to carry a quilted bag for modern items such as camera and sunglasses, and a change to more comfortable shoes to continue the jaunt around the cemetery to watch the other speakers.

To learn more about Eliza and her partner, Governor John Routt, read my award-winning biography:
First Governor, First Lady: John and Eliza Routt of Colorado, FIlter Press, 2002. Go to:
www.LohseWorks.com or www.FilterPressBooks.com

Joyce Lohse, 10/30/13
www.LohseWorks.comRoutt Headstone Symbol

 

Summer Road Tour

22 Jul
Little Burro

Little Burro

As summer moves along, my road tour of book events and history presentations at Colorado mountain towns and historic sites is moving forward. Next stop after Leadville was Estes Park, a busy tourist community at the entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park. Their genealogical society hosted a seminar which featured a military records theme this year. With his strong Civil War history, my character General William J. Palmer fit in very nicely with their program. It was a fine and fun day shared with an enthusiastic audience who was extremely knowledgeable about genealogy and history.

Please note a change in the upcoming schedule. Due to a change in plans and logistics, my research partner, Christie Wright and I, have withdrawn our appearance at Burro Days in Fairplay the last weekend of July. We will reschedule our booth of Western History Books for Burro Days in 2014. With plenty of time to plan ahead, it should be a great time to meet with history buffs and enjoy the burro races in historic Fairplay that weekend.

One more correction … the August 2 presentation about Baby Doe Tabor will take place in the Idaho Springs Library, NOT the Georgetown Library! My misunderstanding entirely. Idaho Springs is the place.

Earlier this summer, my fictionalized memoir, A Yellowstone Savage, was published as an electronic book through Amazon.com. After the listing went live on Amazon, a free download was offered for three days. If you missed out, do not despair! Another free download of A Yellowstone Savage will be available to tablet hounds for two days, on Friday, August 2 and Saturday, August 3. Don’t miss this chance for your free preview copy of a fun read about adventures while living and working in Yellowstone National Park.

Go to: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CTSA7BI
on Friday, August 2 or Saturday, August 3, 2013.

To check for updates and the latest details of my western history presentation schedule around the Denver and Front Range area, check at this site, or at http://www.LohseWorks.com

 

More details will follow.
Joyce B. Lohse

 
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Posted in Denver history, Western history, Writing Life

 

What Happens in the Salon …

09 Feb

Midway through February, I will revisit the Denver Woman’s Press Club for some more historic journalism magic. My second visit within a month is part of their salon series. The program is entitled, Almost Famous: Crafting Characters from Colorado’s Past, which will feature myself and fellow DWPC journalist, Kimberly Field. In this program we will discuss several aspects of crafting characters from historical data into biographies. One of the inspirations for the program is my biography, First Governor, First Lady: John and Eliza Routt of Colorado. It is the story of Colorado’s first elected governor and his wife, the first woman registered to vote in Colorado, who happens to be my first cousin, a few generations back.

Gertrude Stein

Before this program came up, I was not especially familiar with the concept of a salon and what it means. I knew that at the beginning of the Twentieth Century there was a cluster of artists and writers living on the Parisian Left Bank, encouraging one another, feeding off of their respective talents, and repeatedly toasting their good fortune. A ring leader of these talented folks was an eccentric writer named Gertrude Stein. Whether she was brilliant, or simply good at positioning herself as such, is not clear, but as her influence increased while her writing gained in importance and popularity, she hosted salons, a series of casual gatherings in her parlor for her talented friends. It was an affirmation of a person’s artistic talent and status in creative circles to be included in Stein’s salons, where abstract ideas and conversation flowed, lubricated by liquid attractions.

When I was invited to host a DWPC salon, joined by respected journalist Kimberly Field, I jumped at the chance. What an honor to share my craft with my peers while enjoying the ambiance of a lovely, historic setting. This should be a really special event. RSVP to DWPC (www.dwpconline.org) for the Almost Famous salon on Sunday, February 17 from 3-5 p.m. Otherwise, to learn more about salons, rent or borrow the movie, Midnight In Paris, starring Owen Wilson, produced by Woody Allen. It is extremely entertaining and a must see for those who are passionate about writing.

Au revoir! A bientot!
Joyce Lohse – www.LohseWorks.com

 

When you lose a friend

03 Nov

Sad Sky

The sky was sad and dark the day I learned my friend Gwyn Ramsey died. In fact, the sky made me think her time had come, and sent me to check her Facebook. After all, that is how we often learn personal news these days. I wasn’t surprised, since she was struggling during her eighth round of battle with breast cancer. While I mourned when she entered hospice the week before, I wrote down some thoughts to share with our writing group, Women Writing the West. This was a list I created for myself:

  1. Send a message to Gwyn. NOW!
  2. Wear a breast cancer awareness lapel pin in her honor.
  3. Find a way to honor this person with a donation that would make her smile.

I did not sleep well that night. At 3 a.m., I got up and wrote a message to Gwyn on a special card. It was a beautiful western scene of two people on horses in the snow, created by an artist friend. I told Gwyn that I always enjoyed our shared research and adventures, and she would always be a part of my journey. I took it to the mailbox first thing that morning. My heart was gladdened to think that it might be sent in time. The rest of the list was easy to follow. The pin was already on my jacket. Since Gwyn was our Raffle Queen, the donation that would make her smile was an antique book by Willa Cather for our WWW WILLA Literary Fund Raffle.

Joyce & Gwyn 09

Joyce and Gwyn in Denver in 2009

We learn of so much that is important in our lives through social media these days. When I saw the news that my friend passed away, I wasn’t sure whether to believe it. I waited a full day before I passed along the message, wondering if it would be confirmed, and it was. I’ve had trouble finding obituaries from other recent losses, and I wonder if obits will become a less used way to announce the end of a person’s life. This would have a large impact on later researchers who are seeking information about personal data.

When a person leaves this life, their internet presence continues. When I later checked Gwyn’s Facebook page, I learned that her husband followed her when he passed away just a couple of weeks later. In its way, the electronic age makes us less connected, but it also binds us closer to people we care about more than 1,000 miles away. Gwyn will also always be present through her books about western history adventure published by Treble Heart Books.

Joyce B. Lohse
www.LohseWorks.com

 

Life After the Titanic

03 May

Survivor CollageBefore we move on from the Titanic disaster and Margaret “Molly” Brown’s heroic actions as a survivor of that tragedy, it is important to note that her life following that event was full of activism. She must have known as she fought for survival that she still had much to do during the rest of her life. Her immediate concern was for other survivors who lost their belongings and loved ones, and suffered terrible losses and difficulties. She organized a survivors’ association while still on the ship, and stayed on the rescue ship Carpathia until each person received care, was allowed to send translated messages to their loved ones, and she made sure all had a place to go from the port in New York City. Although she wasn’t invited to include her testimony with other survivors before a Congressional hearing, she used her connections to tell her version of the story in Denver newspapers. She helped organize a memorial for those who perished, and arranged special recognition of the crew of the Carpathia for coming to the aid of survivors.

The following year, Mrs. Brown briefly ran for Congress until it became apparent that she had no chance of winning her campaign. The following year, she organized Denver women to send supplies and assistance to poor mining families following the Ludlow Massacre in Southern Colorado. While visiting southern Florida, she led guests of the Breakers Hotel to safety when fire broke out. She turned her house in Newport over to the Red Cross during World War I, and traveled to France to help there with the war effort. She helped injured soldiers when they returned from battle, earning the French Legion of Honor Award. She attempted to organize a female military troop, and succeeded in establishing a female coalition for mine operations in Leadville. She supported the arts by organizing art collection displays, and helped mentor young women studying drama. When her life ended, previously arranged gifts arrived for struggling mining families in Leadville, so their families would have presents to open for Christmas. Her life, which continued to be full of adventure, was that of an involved person with intelligence, spirit and purpose.

Joyce B. Lohse
www.LohseWorks.com

 

An Evening with Muffet Brown

13 Apr

Muffet Brown

In Denver, Colorado, we are fortunate to have access to many fantastic resources of Western history in general, and specialized repositories and museums such as the Molly Brown House Museum. The staff at the Molly Brown House has done their usual magical planning by hosting Muffet Brown for the 100th Anniversary of the RMS Titanic Steamship’s Maiden Voyage and ultimate demise in 1912. Last evening, Margaret Brown’s great granddaughter spoke and answered questions to a roomful of history buffs at the historic Brown Palace Hotel. I was able to visit with her briefly, and gave her a copy of my book, Unsinkable: The Molly Brown Story.

An Unsinkable Gift

An Unsinkable Gift

Muffet Brown’s presentation was enlightening and entertaining. She is thoroughly charming, intelligent, and a real person. Margaret Brown, her great-grandmother, must be smiling and appreciative of the job Muffet is doing to preserve the family legacy and to share its fascinating part in history in an open and unobtrusive manner. Her opinions and observations are fair and provocative. It was truly a pleasure to hear her speak. While in Denver, she is also visiting school classrooms, and a gala Titanic dinner celebration, which will bring out many historians dressed in period costume.

It occurs to me that descendants of historic figures carry a responsibility to maintain and preserve the stories and artifacts of a time past, to solidify their place in history, share their stories with those who wish to learn more, and to clarify the truth from past events whenever possible. I found this to be true when writing about Eliza Routt, Colorado’s Original First Lady, the first woman to vote in Colorado, and my cousin from my Illinois homeland. Accepting her induction in the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame was an honor I will not soon forget.

Joyce B. Lohse
LohseWorks.com

 

Titanic – A Scene of Tragic Beauty

08 Apr

As the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster approaches next week, the prevailing question is “Why?” Why does this story touch us so deeply a century later? Why did the Titanic sink?

The story is best told by one who survived the tragedy. If you asked Colorado’s Margaret Brown, known in modern culture as “Molly Brown”, she would describe the Titanic as a great equalizer. In the Denver Post on April 27, 1912, Mrs. Brown said, “It isn’t who you are, nor what you have, but what you are that counts. That was proved in the Titanic.” Death and loss did not choose between classes or character. Heroics and cowardice came forward and became readily apparent and helped determine survival. Regardless, whoever or whatever you are can be found among those who lived and died on the ship that fateful night, providing a link to our own lives.

Ice fields had been reported on the wireless radio. Other vessels had slowed their progress to dodge icebergs in the chilly waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. As of 9 a.m. on April 14, White Star Line officials announced, “We place absolute confidence in the Titanic. We believe the boat is absolutely unsinkable.”

On its maiden voyage, Titanic was racing across the ocean to break speed records and to reach a grand celebration of its achievements in New York City. According to Mrs. Brown, “The tragedy of the Titanic was indirectly due to J. Bruce Ismay [Managing Director of the White Star Line]. He was speed mad and paced the deck like a caged lion as the ship surged through the icy waters. His hand, deadly and terrible, was, figuratively speaking, on the throttle, and in his powerful selfishness, he cared not for human life. All day Sunday shafts of bitter cold swept the decks from the ice fields. The ship was plowing ahead at the rate of twenty-three knots an hour and most of the passengers had remained in their cabins or salons.”

In the Denver Times, on April 30, 1912, Margaret Brown described the collision. “I was lying in my berth reading when the ship struck directly beneath my stateroom, and it scattered ice and glass across the deck. I looked out and seeing nothing but a strange, dark object looming through the cold and blackness beyond, went back to my book. Sailors came beneath my window, laughing, talking, and joking, and I was not alarmed. Finally, however, I was told to dress warmly, don a life-belt and bring all I had to the deck. I have no fear of water — it fascinates me. I saw none of the horror of that shipwreck — nothing harrowing, and to me it was almost a scene of tragic beauty.”

Joyce B. Lohse
www.LohseWorks.com
To learn more, read my book, Unsinkable: The Molly Brown Story
and my “Unsinkable” article in the April Issue of Colorado Central magazine

 
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Posted in Denver history, Western history