Archive for May, 2011

From the Archive: Larimer County’s First Newspaper

by Lesley Drayton, Curator, Local History Archive

We’ve been working on scanning the number one issue of the Larimer County Express newspaper, published in Fort Collins on Saturday, April 26, 1873.

Newspaper founder Joseph S. McClelland

This fragile paper consists of four pages full of interesting tidbits and advertisements that shed light on life in Fort Collins only a few short months after the town was officially incorporated. It’s a real treat to read!

Jefferson Street in 1874

Fort Collins historian Ansel Watrous wrote in the newspaper history section of his 1911 History of Larimer County that the Larimer County Express first newspaper printed and published in Larimer County, and sure enough, column 2 of page 3 of this 1873 paper supports this assertion:

 Several prominent in this gentlemen have spoken for the first copy printed of this issue,–being the first paper ever printed in Larimer county. We shall be unable to furnish more than about fifty ‘first’ copies! Applications should be made without delay!

We’ll have the entire newspaper available for viewing on the Fort Collins History Connection website soon; for now, enjoy perusing the first page of the paper below!

Larimer County Express, Page 1

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The New Adventures of Auntie Stone

by Amy Scott, Volunteer Coordinator and Director of Visitor Services

Worldwide sightings of a small doll donning a purple bonnet have prompted much whispering and curiosity. Who is this diminutive mystery woman who pops up at landmarks across the globe and, according to reports, always seems to be clutching a sack of flour?

She is the Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center’s very own Auntie Stone Doll, fashioned after Elizabeth Stone, the “Founding Mother of Fort Collins.”

Elizabeth "Auntie" Stone

In 1862, Elizabeth Stone and her husband Lewis Stone traveled across the plains from Minnesota to Denver, Colorado in a covered wagon pulled by milk cows. In 1864 they moved to the frontier post that eventually grew into the Fort Collins we know today. There they built a log cabin to serve as both their private residence and an officers’ mess.

The Stone Cabin

Elizabeth, in her sixties at the time, cooked meals and baked pies for the officers. Since she took such great care of them, the men of the post came to call her “Auntie” Stone, a sobriquet that followed her for the rest of her long life. Auntie Stone was a pioneer in many respects. In addition to being a wife and a mother, she was also a suffragette, entrepreneur, landowner, and town builder.

Like her namesake, Auntie Stone Doll has a grand sense of adventure. The Museum’s good friend Cindy Reich was kind enough to show her around the sites in Ireland several years ago. In a postcard addressed to the Museum, the doll wrote: “Ireland is a most interesting place. Although it is nearly October, all the fields are very green with grass in abundance. Their cattle are fat and sleek.”

Auntie Stone Doll has traveled extensively in the U.S. and abroad. North Carolina, Brazil, South Dakota, Australia, and Disneyworld are just a few of the places she has visited.

Auntie Stone enjoying the surf in North Carolina. Photo by Beth Higgins

While vacationing in Australia, Auntie Stone Doll wonders how on earth she is going to eat this entire bacon sandwich and lamington. Photo by Cindy Reich

Basking in the sunshine at Freemantle Harbor in Australia. Photo by Cindy Reich

Auntie Stone Doll captured during a pensive moment at Galway Bay. Photo by Cindy Reich

Auntie Stone Doll Leaving South Dakota. Photo by Cindy Reich

But why does the doll carry a sack of flour wherever she goes? Along with Henry Clay Peterson, the original Auntie Stone built a grist mill that produced flour from wheat, the first of its kind in Northern Colorado.

As you can see, Auntie Stone Doll has developed a particular affinity for oceans and beaches. Look how dreamy her eyes become whenever she is near water. Where will she go next? No one knows for sure. A Caribbean cruise is likely, but she also hopes to go camping in Colorado’s mountains at least one time this summer.

In the meantime, you will find Auntie Stone Doll resting at the Museum Store in the company of toys, books, and other wonders. Stay tuned for further adventures.

From the Archive: Ellen Michaud Remembers

by Lesley Drayton, Curator, Local History Archive

The Fort Collins Local History Archive has hundreds of interesting oral histories in the collection, the bulk of which were recorded in the mid to late 1970s by community volunteers eager to capture the stories of many of Fort Collins citizens who had witnessed the many changes in the city from the turn of the 20th century on up to the nation’s bicentennial.

One especially compelling oral history was recorded by Jill Boice in the summer of 1974 when she listened to the many fascinating stories told by Ellen Michaud, a retired nurse who had come to Fort Collins at the age of 14 in 1909.

Ellen Michaud in 1979

Some of Ms. Michaud’s more humorous memories involve early driving habits in Fort Collins:

“Well, my father owned a car in 1916, a Ford. And that’s when I learned to drive a car…I taught myself. I just simply went out. And first I tried backing it up, and driving it up, backing it up, and driving it up. And then I got real brave and I drove it around the block…

A lot of people thought [cars] were useless…for a long, long number of years there was horses and buggies and cars…and people just drove wherever they wanted to. You drove up, well on College Avenue, you just drove, that’s all. And streetcars run down the middle of it—and you usually would drive on the right hand side. And then you could go to the corner or you could turn around in the middle of the street; it didn’t make a bit of difference…there wasn’t so much traffic then. And you could just come and go as you please.”

This photograph of Wellington in 1915 shows several modes of transportation

Do you remember your first driving experiences?

From the Archive: Student Hijinx!

by Lesley Drayton, Curator, Local History Archive

The Fort Collins Local History Archive recently received a donation of scrapbook pages belonging to a student at Colorado A&M College (present-day Colorado State University) who was also a member of the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon in the early 1950s. The pages offer a fun glimpse into some of the shenanigans carried out by the students at this time. For instance, these two fraternity brothers show their loyalty in a hair-raising fashion:

The scrapbook pages also chronicle a unique stunt pulled off by the members of the Aggie Livestock Club to publicize their Little National Western Stockshow. The students broke city ordinances by leading two sheep and a steer down College Avenue, and were subsequently “arrested” by city police. The whole lot was sent to jail where they were later “pardoned” by Colorado Governor Daniel Thornton. It helps to have friends in high places!


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