Saturday, March 14, 2009

Carrying the Mail to Conifer

In 1895, Maggie Crow and Naomi Found volunteered to carry mail to Medlen, nine miles from Morrison, to prove up a mail route. After the trial period, the U.S. government contracted with Will Crow, Maggie's husband, and Maggie carried the mail for two years, using a wagon like this one. The photo was taken in 1907, during Will's second contract period, when Maggie shared duties with her daughter Dora. Left to right, front: Maggie (on wagon), Kate Snedeker, Julia Morris, Vern Crow, Edith Snedeker, Dora Crow Snedeker. On porch, Mrs. Clark Snedeker, Oliver Overman, Patsy Snedeker, and Clark Snedeker.

As Maggie tells it (read the rest of her story here):

Mrs. Anna Biggar was named Postmaster for the Medlen Post Office located about nine miles from Morrison on Turkey Creek. Mrs. Maggie Crow and Mrs. Naomi Found volunteered to carry the mail, each coming one day a week in turn to Morrison for the Medlen mail.

On October 15,1895, the Medlen Post Office was established and mail service started. At the end of the six months period when the cancellation money was divided, Mrs. Anna Biggar received $1.46 as her share as Postmaster and Maggie Crow and Naomi Found each received $.73 as their pay for carrying the mail.

At the end of the six months the contract was let and mail service was then established daily between Morrison and Hutchinson via Turkey Creek and the Medlen Post Office. W. L. Crow was awarded the first contract starting on April 15, 1896, to July 1, 1898, at which time mail contracts were let for the period of four years. So on April 15, 1896 the mail route was started between Morrison and Hutchinson with Maggie Crow as mail carrier.

There was no free delivery of mail along the route at this time. Each patron of the route paying the mail carrier 25 cents a month for delivering the mail to their box. Owing to the fact that mail for the Hutchinson Colorado was often missent to Hutchinson Kansas, early in 1897 the Postmaster of Hutchinson, Douglas Hamer, had the name of the Post Office changed to Conifer.

In 1898 when all Star Routes were let for four years, Andrew Johnson was awarded the contract. At the end of Johnson's term, Miner Lewis was awarded the next four year contract. In 1902 or 1903 the Medlen Post Office was discontinued. Following the Miner Lewis contract, W. L. Crow was awarded the contract in 1906, with Maggie Crow and her daughter Dora taking turns carrying the mail with a two horse stage, often driving through deep snow, and breaking their own roads during the winter months.

W. L. Crow was followed by Joe Hocking as mail carrier. During the time Mr. Hocking carried the mail, he had the route changed to come down North Turkey Creek from Conifer to Morrison in order to give the residents of North Turkey Creek daily mail service. And from Morrison to Conifer up South Turkey Creek as originally established. Following the Joe Hocking contract, Robert Kemp was awarded the mail contract in 1914. Mr. Kemp was the first one to use an automobile on the route, thus ending the horse and buggy days though at times in the winter months when the roads were bad he had to use horses in order to get the mail through.

Mt. Morrison Honor Roll

Ruth Matthews Schneider poses in front of a mural honoring men enlisting in World War II. The men represent families from Morrison proper (Denbow, Fleming, Hocking), as well as outlying areas from Conifer (Turkey Creek, including LeGault, Granzella, Snedeker) to Lakewood, east along Bear Creek (McCoy, VanGorden). The local VFW Post is named after Paul Westover, who was the first local boy to be killed. He died in the Battle of the Bulge, 1944-45.

A Family Enterprise

Sam Hebrew (1857-1932) and Nora Smith (1876-1947) started a long-term business serving tourists at the Gateway Stables, leading donkey trains into the scenic Garden of the Angels, known today as Red Rocks Park. Nora was the daughter of Jeremiah and Margaret (Healy) Smith, one of the original Morrison families.

The Gateway Stables, founded by Sam and Nora Hebrew, provided access to Red Rocks Park via burro. Daughters Bertha Marie and Bonnie grew up on donkeys. Bertha lived in Morrison her whole life, taking over the family business and continuing to serve Morrison tourists. She married a Morrison boy, Curt LaGrow, and cooked homestyle meals for tourists and boarders.

School Days

James E. Parsons, Sr., was in 5th grade at the Mt. Morrison school in about 1919. In this photo, he is third from left in the center row. Parsons later worked for the Morrison Monitor, one of the town's early newspapers. Courtesy Parsons Family.

Morrison Town Band

This gathering of musical talent represents a "who's who" of early Morrison families, including the town's innkeeper (2nd from left), shoemaker (4th), apothecary (7th), and livery owner (right). Others include several town fathers who were the first aldermen elected in 1906. From left, at Red Rocks, the Morrison Town Band in 1910: Lawrence LaGrow, John Swanson, Francis Ewan, Pete Christenson, Evans, unknown, Jake Schneider, unknown, Pete Nelson, Pete Schneider, and James Abbo.

Today's musicmakers, honoring the past, also call themselves the Morrison Town Band. Their performances are the highlight of town events, most recently the "Cabin Fever Dance" held January 31st. Left to right, Lucky, Jamee, and Chris on stage.

By the middle of the evening (above), the dance floor was crowded with lively town residents and guests of all ages. Most enjoyed a "freestyle" approach; Loren and Sue, center, were the couple to watch!

Before the festive evening got in full swing, dance instructor Lila (right) gave a few lessons to early comers. Here Margaret tries a two-step ahead of the crowd.

Walt sat in with the band a while, playing a custom guitar he built himself, which Gus is admiring as Steve looks on in this photo.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cabin Fever Dance Tonight

The Morrison Action Committee is sponsoring a mid-winter dance tonight, 6 p.m. til midnight, at the Town Hall. No cover charge, with music to be provided by the Morrison Town Band beginning at about 7:30 p.m. Donations will be accepted to help refill MAC's coffers for future events; light refreshments will be served.

The Morrison Historical Society will launch its new membership campaign at tonight's festivities. This is your chance to get in on the ground floor with a charter membership!

Lila Horton will offer a free dance lesson -- great chance to learn the Electric Slide, or practice your blues and boogie!

Hogback Cellars, near the Town Hall, will offer specials on appetizers and wine early in the evening; the Historical Society will provide munchies later to keep your strength up for the dancing.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Return of the Bell

Morrison acquired its first school building in 1875, and it was used as a school until about 1955. This beautiful sandstone building had, as traditional, a school bell in a "belfry" on top. Sometime after 1955, the building was vacant, the bell mysteriously disappeared, and the belfry itself was soon removed. (See before and after photos at the link above.)

In 2006, just in time for Morrison's centennial celebration, the bell came home. After some negotiation by Dan Rohrer, the town borrowed it from the International Bell Museum in Evergreen, where it had come to reside. The loan was extended after the Bell Museum's proprietor, Winston Jones, died in August 2006. Last year, the town arranged to acquire the bell from the beneficiaries of Winston's 6,000-bell collection. A few other historic Colorado bells were also repatriated, but most of the collection has gone to a new home at Hastings College in Hastings, Nebraska. (Click photos to enlarge.)

On Wednesday, I ran across the bell again while it was awaiting a new installation back home in Morrison. Here, DeWayne, Jerry, and Marcie contemplate the 240-pound bell in the back of a town pickup, making plans for its relocation near the town's new mural and interpretive kiosk along Mt. Vernon Creek at main street (Bear Creek Avenue).

Yesterday, Jerry kindly sent this photo of the bell in its new home above the Mt. Vernon Creek bridge on the Bear Creek Trail. He promises step-by-step photos soon. If you get a chance, go by and welcome the old bell back to its hometown, if not its rightful spot!

See also, story at YourHub.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Morrison: The Book

It's been more than 30 years since a Morrison history book was published. To rectify that, MHS signed a book contract with Arcadia Publishing last fall. The book will be in their Images of America series, a 128-page format with about 200 photos of the town's history. It should be available for purchase early next year.

Morrison history in print, to the best of our knowledge, consists of the following two books:

Morrison Memory Album, by Lorene Horton and Mary Helen Crain, was published in 1976; a few copies are still available through the Horton House Bed & Breakfast. It's currently also on

A View from Mt. Morrison, by Samuel Arnold, was published in 1974 and is out of print. If interested, try searching for it on ebay.

Morrison is, of course, mentioned briefly or in chapters of several histories of Jefferson County. We'll try to list some of those in a future post for your reference.

Morrison Historical Society Renewed

In fall 2008, several of us got together to rejuvenate the Morrison Historical Society. We now have an address, a book contract, and the beginnings of a plan for a great year in 2009. We hope you'll join us here for updates and breaking news as the year progresses.

We'll launch our membership campaign on January 31st at the Morrison Winter Dance. Details will be posted soon. Join us there!

Background: The Morrison Historical Society was originally organized in the 1980s as a branch of the Jefferson County Historical Society in Evergreen, Colorado. The Morrison Historical District Museum, founded and managed by Lorene Horton until her death in 1991, was a private museum. After 1995, the Horton Collections moved into the old Town Office and began operations under Town auspices as the Morrison Heritage Museum. The Morrison Historical Society continued an active and advisory role in that museum until it was closed in 2004. Lila Horton plans to reopen the Museum as a private museum (we hope it will be later this year), and the MHS will assist in that effort.

More information on Morrison history is available at our website: