“Howe” did this get here? Part 2: Finding the trail of the Howe lynching

by Ashley Houston, Collections Assistant

In the first installment of this post, I talked about two mysterious items we found in our collection: a knife and a piece of rope that have been traced to the hanging of James Howe, Fort Collins’ only lynching.

To round out my research on Fort Collins’ only lynching, I went with my coworker Museum Coordinator Leigh Westphal to find the modern-day sites of where the murder happened, where the house is now, and the location of the hanging. As it turns out, the house that the Howes lived in is still standing…though not in its original location. You might recognize the original location, though — it’s on Walnut Street in Old Town where the former Goodwill building is now standing.

The Howes’ house was moved in 1947 to W. Myrtle where it still resembles its original form, except a second door on the front has been filled in and a porch roof has been added.

Original Howe house on Walnut Street

Howe house in its current location on Myrtle Street

Next stop was to find the courthouse. The courthouse that was standing at the time of the lynching has since been torn down and rebuilt, but the modern edition stands in the same place as the original. Howe was hung from a derrick used during the construction of the old courthouse. It is the one you can see to the right if you look close enough in this old picture. The derrick was standing at the south end of the building where the entrance is now located.

Original courthouse under construction

Current courthouse, same orientation

Another view of the south side of the Larimer County courthouse

So while we tracked down some of the mysteries surrounding the knife and rope that the Museum has in its possession, many questions still remain. Nevertheless, it’s always fun to learn something new about Fort Collins history — hopefully you learned something new, too!

2 Responses to ““Howe” did this get here? Part 2: Finding the trail of the Howe lynching”

  1. 1 Tina Sprouse March 13, 2011 at 4:28 am


    I just recently heard the story of the Howe Lynching. Is Howes street related to the couple involved in this story? If not, do you know where the name came from? I love looking at the walkway with the trees in the oval in front of the CSU administration building. It would be meaningful to know if Howes street had anything to do with such an awful event.

    Tina Sprouse

  2. 2 Lesley March 14, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Great question, Tina!
    The namesake for Howes Street and the people involved with the James Howe murder are unrelated. Howes Street is named for Alfred F. Howes, a two-term Larimer County judge. He is also known for organizing the Colona Town Company in 1859 (present-day Laporte), and in 1874 he became a member of the governing board for the Agricultural College of Colorado (now CSU). Finally, Howes was a member of the Colorado Senate beginning in 1890. What a busy man! He died in 1896 at the age of 79.
    Thanks for reading, and keep the questions coming!

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May 2010

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