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Author Archives: joyce4books

About joyce4books

As a journalist, genealogist, photographer, and biographer, I have written several award-winning books and articles about Western pioneers. I write for the "Now You Know Bio" series from Filter Press, and I work as administrator for Women Writing the West. When I am not doing admin. chores, writing or presenting stories to groups, you can find me on research jaunts, lurking around cemeteries and archives in Colorado.

Colorado Day — August 1, 1876

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was Edwin M. McCook, who had misused his power and position until Coloradans protested his appointment and he was withdrawn.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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My Yellowstone Years

my-yellowstone-years_edited-2
Whenever I learn about a Yellowstone Savage who has written a memoir of their unforgettable experiences living and working in Yellowstone Park, I set aside my cares and responsibilities to acquire and read the book. This was the case when My Yellowstone Years by Donald C. Stewart caught my attention. The book was published in 1989, the year following my memoir, A Yellowstone Savage: Life In Nature’s Wonderland. Stewart was a Savage in 1951, assigned as a dishwasher at Old Faithful. The following season, he became a naturalist Ranger through 1963, while he pursued a PhD in English literature. A career as an English Professor at Kansas State University resulted from his studies.

The preface to this book pulled me in, hand-tied fly hook, line and sinker. He said, “Each year I went out to Yellowstone, physically and mentally tired. Each year I returned, physically and spiritually renewed.” I knew then that this man “got it,” and that his account was bound to be a good read.

Stewart continued. “This, then, is the story of one man’s experience in Yellowstone. But it is also the story of many generations of Americans who had preceded me and who have followed me, either working for the park’s concessionaires or for the National Park Service. No one, to my knowledge, has yet told the story of Yellowstone’s summer ‘savages’ and ninety day wonders. But it is a story worth telling, a slice of Americana that was very special in the lives of all who experienced it.”

In his memoir, Stewart does a splendid job of describing the highs and lows of life in Yellowstone, without overtly gushing about the highs, or whining about the lows. He was fortunate to be assigned to what was then a remote and rustic Madison Campground with his new wife, where they made the best of rough living conditions, developed strong alliances with lasting friends around the evening campfire, and enjoyed fly fishing on the Madison River. He shared enchanting experiences and adventures from the perspective of a freewheeling Savage, then settling into his role as an exemplary ranger and family man.

I hope Professor Stewart became aware of my book, which barely preceded his in publication. Many accounts have succeeded both of ours, each telling a different perspective of Life in Wonderland. Connecting with some of the authors has been a pleasure and especially rewarding. Sadly, Don Stewart has passed on. However, he left us with a valuable piece of history from a time past in Yellowstone Park, which he treasured and shared, including the disastrous earthquake of 1959. I was so engrossed in his story that I could barely stand to put the book down. Stewart nailed it.

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Colorado Treasures

Manitou Incline

Manitou Incline full of tourists

People often ask how I find the treasures of information about people for my biographies, along with nuggets of details about Colorado’s colorful history. I have a system, which boils down to “making the rounds” to various hot spots and collections pertaining to my subject. Whenever possible, I begin at the cemetery. By visiting a family plot, I get a sense of dates and family members during the final days of a character’s life. Then I work backwards, visiting libraries, archives, repositories, museums, houses, statues, and monuments.

Until recently, I often visited archives and repositories to look up files and read microfilm. Now, we have the luxury of studying many of these documents online. Although most of us know better than to believe what we read in the newspaper, articles contemporary to the person’s life give us many details about the times in which they lived. The trick is to follow up these leads and road maps to primary evidence and public records to substantiate what we find. In Colorado, the manuscript collections at Denver Public Library and History Colorado’s library allow access to special documents and collections. The Colorado Archives office in the Department of Revenue’s basement is an especially rich assemblage of information.

I am constantly on the lookout for graphic images and photos of the places where my character worked, lived, and played. I have a secret weapon … post cards! My growing collection of vintage post cards contain scenes as they appeared during the lives of my pioneer subjects. Several of these images often appear whenever I give PowerPoint presentations about Colorado history, and also are included in my biographies. They flesh out the scenery as it appeared during Colorado’s early days.

My current work-in-progress is Spencer Penrose: Builder and Benefactor, due for publication from Filter Press later this summer. Penrose built many important buildings and landmarks in the Pikes Peak Region, such as the Broadmoor Hotel, the Pikes Peak Highway, Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, the Manitou Incline, and many other attractions. The El Pomar Foundation, established by Penrose and his wife, Julie, is responsible for millions of dollars in grants donated to non-profit organizations in Colorado. The Penroses were colorful characters who worked hard to improve their growing community, and to make it a better place for its citizens.

Joyce B. Lohse
www.LohseWorks.com

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2015 in Western history, Writing Life

 

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Outlaws and Desperados

Outlaws and Desperadoes

Spencer Penrose with pal Harry Leonard, outlaws and desperados, in their twilight.

A writer’s life often requires switching gears and topics while awaiting the next step, another round of edits, a transition in story format, publication. My Work In Progress is a biography about Spencer Penrose, a mover and shaker in the early days of the Colorado Springs community at the foot of Pikes Peak. With fortunes made from mining and land development, he built roads and attractions to accommodate tourists, built the Broadmoor Resort Hotel, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun, Rodeo Arena, and buildings for schools and hospitals. He invested his mining fortune in the El Pomar Foundation, which continues to donate millions of dollars in grants to non-profit groups for good work and causes in the community.

In the late 1800s, Colorado Springs founder, General William Palmer, banned the sale of alcoholic beverages in his new city, in order to discourage bad behavior, outlaws and desperados. When Penrose arrived in the city, he was looking for a job and a cold drink. His prospective business partner, Charles Tutt, accommodated both needs by offering him a job, and taking him to the newly established Cheyenne Mountain Club outside the city limits where they could enjoy their favorite libations in the bar. A few weeks later, Penrose was briefly banned from the club for his involvement in a minor brawl, which disrupted the elite club and resulted in broken furniture. If his reputation as a trouble maker followed him to the freewheeling Cripple Creek mining district, it was no doubt overlooked.

By the time he moved back to Colorado Springs, the scrappy investor’s reputation was overshadowed by his shrewd investment sense and knowledge of mining ventures. He married a widow named Julie Lewis McMillan, which further settled and cultivated his behavior in public and his stature as a solid citizen with an adventurous streak and a flair for fun. The mold was set for his place as a colorful and important character in Pikes Peak area history.

Joyce B. Lohse, http://www.LohseWorks.com

 
 

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Important Western Movies

Most western writers and history buffs I know enjoy watching a good Western movie. An article caught my eye in the December 2014 issue of Roundup Magazine from the Western Writers of America. The title was “Twenty Significant Western Movies (1903-1969)” by David Morrell. As usual, the magazine’s list was thoughtful and thought-provoking. I was surprised that I had missed so many of the titles, and promised myself to fill in the gaps. Here is the list:

1. The Great Train Robery (1903)
2. Hell’s Hinges (1916)
3. The Iron Horse (1924)
4. Cimarron (1931)Doc Holliday
5. Stagecoach (1939)
6. The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
7. Red River (1948)
8. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
9. Broken Arrow (1950)
10. The Gunfighter (1950)
11. Winchester ’73 (1950)
12. Westward the Women (1951)
13. High Noon (1952)
14. Shane (1953)
15. Seven Men from Now (1956)
16. The Searchers (1956)
17. The Magnificent Seven (1960)
18. Lonely Are the Brave (1962)
19. A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
20. The Wild Bunch (1969)

As this list ends, so does the Golden Era of Westerns. Many enjoyable Westerns have been made since then, although formed and fashioned for modern audiences and box office success. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, also made in 1969, is a perfect example of combining clever entertainment with a quirky Western drama. Another favorite is Tombstone, in which I discover brilliant new quotations from Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday every time I watch. Then there is Lonesome Dove, which steps away from the movie format for extended, in-depth exploration of character and story. Another movie that won this writer’s heart was True Grit. John Wayne was brilliant throughout his career, but took it to new heights in this story of Marshal Rooster Cogburn’s comeback to combat evil. Great stuff. When it comes to great Westerns, I’m your huckleberry.

Joyce Lohse, http://www.LohseWorks.com

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2015 in Western history

 

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Cheyenne Vacation?

Cheyenne Mansion Jan 2015

Recently, while vacationing in Cheyenne, Wyoming (yes, I said vacationing in Cheyenne,) we stayed in an incredible B&B adjacent to downtown. According to our host, the Nagle Warren Mansion is considered one of the best appointed and restored cattle baron Victorian homes in Wyoming. We actually had a business errand to conduct in Cheyenne, but combined it with our 41st wedding anniversary. What a treat! Our 40th had slipped by unnoticed, so a splurge was in order. The beautiful welcoming late 1800s mansion, artfully decorated with period antiques, includes an extremely pleasing gourmet quality breakfast served in a gorgeous dining room with period china and table settings. This was the perfect venue for our celebration, and a great way to step back into western history.

The upstairs turret on the third floor is a cozy reading room. It has the feel of a treehouse and would be sadly underutilized if it was never a children’s playroom. I found it mildly claustrophobic up there, but it certainly added to the charm of the old building. I did not ask about the presence of ghosts, but would not be surprised if they were present. Our room was in the carriage house on the main floor, which was perfect for us. Had it not been for the biting chill winds and freezing ice conditions, the patio outside our room would have been delightful. As it was, the fireplace kept us cozy inside. The hosts did all they could to attend to their guests and make them comfortable. We will definitely go back another time. After all, true Denver Westerners travel through Cheyenne and into Wyoming at regular intervals. Be warned that the road from Colorado is a wind tunnel, often afflicted with nasty weather during the winter months. Gates can be closed in both directions, and they are not afraid to close them to save travelers from unfortunate situations. Without time constraints, we weren’t concerned as long as we were both on the same side of the gate.

More information about the mansion, located at 222 East 17th Street, can be found at http://www.naglewarrenmansion.com/

Joyce Lohse, http://www.LohseWorks.com

 
 

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More Yellowstone Savages

Squatters in Paradise

James Perry cuts loose in his memoir of twenty-five years as a concession employee in Yellowstone National Park. Although his outlook is often jaded and sometimes sarcastic, his viewpoint is honest as he withholds very little in describing life in the nation’s oldest and largest national park. My outlook in A Yellowstone Savage: Life In Nature’s Wonderland is decidedly more optimistic, as he readily points out with a funny jab about the potential for singing Kumbaya around the campfire in my version. Although our voices and tones differ, we share an honest love and reverent respect for Yellowstone, a place where hardy souls endure sometimes unforgiving working and living conditions for the privilege of calling it home.

I enjoyed noting the differences in lifestyle of new age “Savages,” concession employees that he sometimes refers to as “Parkies.” Mobile satellite dishes?? Technology has intruded. I also noted a plausible theory about the origin of Yellowstone Christmas, considering documentation of the traditional version is vague at best. So much food for thought. James and friends’ invasion of the CUT (Church Universal and Triumphant) compound was brazen and delightful. What an adventure! I tip my Savage hat to James. I was leery that this might be an angst filled tirade, but it came off as more honest and straightforward than diatribe. Bring on more memories, Savages! There’s plenty of room.

My book, A Yellowstone Savage: Life In Nature’s Wonderland, was published in 1988 in trade paperback, and was published as an ebook in 2013.
http://www.amazon.com/Yellowstone-Savage-Natures-Wonderland-ebook/dp/B00CTSA7BI/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1369061111&sr=1-4&keywords=A+Yellowstone+Savage
This was the first Savage memoir of its kind, initiating a cult following, and inspiring others to publish, preserve, and share their own stories and versions of their memories and life in Nature’s Wonderland.

Joyce B. Lohse
http://www.LohseWorks.com

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2014 in Western history, Writing Life

 

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