Colorado History

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Category: Colorado, Unsourced Profiles Category: Colorado, Cemeteries

Colorado later created as Colorado Territory from parts of Utah, New Mexico, of Kansas-Nebraska Territories

California, Utah, Nevada Territories (Colorado included).

Mary Richardson Allan Thomas are leaders of this History page Project leader: Paula Johnson,

This project is part of the United States History Project.


Timeline of Historic Colorado


  • 14,000 BCE Ice-age Paleoamericans use ice free corridor east of Rocky Mountains to migrate throughout the Americas
  • 1100 CE- Ancestral Puebloans begin to construct cliff houses on Mesa Verde
  • 500 CE move to Mesa Verde.
  • 1246 - 1299 Prolonged drought on Colorado Plateau forces many Ancestral Puebloans to migrate SE into the Rio Grande Valley
  • 1300 - 1525 Jicarilla Apache migrate to present Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico from Alaska and NW Canada
  • 1540-42 --Spanish exploreration by Francisco Vasquez de Coronado 1540-42, skirted future border of CO territory
  • 1682 - Explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle appropriated area East of the Rocky Mountains, now known as Colorado, for France Dominguez-Escalante Expedition - explored southern CO looking for the 7 lost cities of Gold.
  • 1765 - Juan Maria Rivera led a Spanish expedition into San Juan and Sangre de Cristo Mountains in search of gold and silver along Santa Fe Trail.
  • 1776-83 - American Revolution
  • 1779 - Gov de Anza of NM defeated Comanches under Cuerno Verde in SW CO; made peace, created alliance against Apaches.
  • 1803 - U. S. acquired Eastern Colorado from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase
  • 1806 - Zebulon Pike - Pike expedition. Spanish explorers were the first Europeans to see, naming it “El Capitán.” The name Pike’s Peak was a beacon to gold rush settlers who flocked to the area with the slogan “Pike’s Peak or Bust". [1]
  • 1820 - Stephen Long to Longs Peak.
  • 1833 - Bent’s Fort, near La Junta, Colorado, was built and set up trading system between American Indians and fur trappers. [2]
  • 1842 - Oct. 11, 1842 Mexican settlers (84) and attorneys went to take possession of large land grants from Mexican gov. in San Luis Valley. [1] Actual settlement by these families took place in 1850’s. End of Spanish-American War and Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo brought the San Luis Valley into territory of U.S. SEE 1851.
  • 1845 - 46 John Frémont expedition to Boulder area.
  • 1848 Cherokee crossed South Platte & Cache la Poudre River valley on way to California, found gold in South Platte River (E. Colorado)
  • 1848 - Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo: Mexico cedes to US most of part of Colorado, not acquired by Louisiana purchase (Western Part). [2] It called for U.S. to verify land holdings in good standing with the Mexican Government. Families then occupying the grant must have sensed impending problems of formal status of their claim to grant.[3]
  • 1851 - First permanent settlement founded at San Luis. Mexican Government bestowed large land grants to families from New Mexico , such as Conejos Guadalupe Land Grant and Banded Peak Ranch in San Luis Valley on Rio Culebra River and the Sangre de Cristo Grant. They were slow to settle there until after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. To protect settlers in the valley, Ft. Massachusetts was established, north of San Luis, in 1852.
  • 1854 - Permanent U.S. settlers in E. Colorado area began with Kansas Nebraska Act allowed private land claims to be filed.
  • 1858 Green Russell and Georgians returned from California, heard story of gold in CO,
    began to mine, founded gold mining camp called 'Auraria'. Tales of the placer gold they found, Wm Larimer laid a claim near 'Auraria', Denver City, promoted real estate for the miners. Territory was swarming with miners.
  • 1858 - 1861 Pike's Peak Gold Rush brought the first large concentration of white settlement to the region.
  • 1859 First stagecoach with mail for Cherry Creek settlements left Leavenworth, Kansas; Rocky Mountain, first newspaper in the region published. Gold discovered at N. Clear Creek, Cripple Creek, and the Blue River; oil discovered.
  • 1860- Pike’s Peak Gold Rush, (greatest number of immigrants to Colorado were from Ohio, then Illinois, New York, Missouri, and Indiana. Population of Colorado Territory was 34,277 (1,586 were women) Movement for Territory within boundary of CO began.
  • 1861 - Colorado Territory- authorized by US government out of land from part of Utah, New Mexico, Kansas Nebraska. US congress was eager for gold and minerals. Feb 28, 1861
  • 1861 - Secession by Southern states that precipitated the American Civil War
  • 1865 A smaller size statehood was presented to US, vetoed by President Andrew Johnson.[4]
  • Gen. Kit Carson commands Ft Garland in San Luis valley to make peace with Ute Indians. Kit Carson dies at Ft Lyon
  • 4 July 1869 Meeker, formed a fertile, farming community between Cache La Poudre Rivers and S. Platte Rivers- Greeley Colony or "Union Temperance Colony"- homesteaded colony with advanced irrigation in North Eastern Colorado. Irrigation aid for farming (farming emerged as a rival to mining in that area).
  • Aug 1 1876 - admitted to Union as state
  • 1776 - Priests F.A. Domínguez and S. V. de Escalante search for overland route from Santa Fé to Presidio Reál de San Carlos de Monterey. The expedition maps the Colorado Plateau for a future trade route.
  • Discovery of silver at Leadville led to a silver boom in the state of Colorado in 1879 further fueling the state’s booming population.

Colony Origin/History

Conejos Land Grant by the Mexican Government Mexico granted Large land grants to the Mexicans inhabiting the area of San Luis Valley similar to feudal system of possession of Europe. The grants covered over 3600 square miles, 2.5 million acres with boundaries: Rio del Norte (Rio Grande) on east, the San Juan Mountains on west, the Rito La Garita on north, a line from Rio San Antonio to Ute Mountain on south. U.S. gained the region of Nuevo Mexico from the Republic of Mexico in the Mexican war of 1846-48. Treaty of Guadalupe called for U.S. to verify land holdings in good standing with Mexican Government.

San Luis Valley is located on the route of the Old Spanish Trail from Santa Fe to California. People of Hispanic origin settled there beginning in 1840's. Oldest church in Colorado is a Catholic Church.
Mormons from Southern States were the first whites to settle in the San Luis Valley. [5] Later Amish settled there. 50% of 2,000,000 acres in the San Luis Valley is privately owned. The lands started as large Mexican land grants, thus privately owned in S part of the Valley. ~500,000 Acres on the valley borders adjacent to National Forest Land are managed by (Bureau of Land Management) BLM: leases its lands for neighboring ranches grazing for fee in all of Colorado.[6]

1866 Map Many other regions followed this same practice of BLM managing.

Original Structure of Colorado

Territory of Colorado - organized incorporated territory of the USA from organic act creating the territory, passed by Congress, signed by President J. Buchanan. Territory helped solidify Union control over a mineral-rich area of the Rocky Mountains. Colorado Territory had congress, and governors.

Evolution of Government Structure

Colorado government has governors, a house and senate, and judicial system.

1863 Colorado Territory (green), Kansas and Nebraska and Utah on left. J Johnson 1827-1884 Johnson Mountain States map series. Cartographically this map is based upon the earlier work of J. H. Colton.


Although the state has many afternoon showers, it has an arid climate, due to the altitude. Dating back to the mining history, the water rights for this colony/territory/state vary from others: Colorado’s water belongs to the people of Colorado. Riparian law reflects those with land adjoining a stream have a right to use the stream water. Colorado adopted a different system -- prior appropriation. This system is commonly summed up as “first in time, first in right.” This means that those with senior rights can begin to use water before junior rights holders in times of water shortages. [3]

1879, the legislature provided for the division of the state into ten water districts, nine of which are in the South Platte valley, and one in the Arkansas drainage. In each district, the statute provided for a Water Commissioner to divide the water according to priorities of the various ditches within the district, in accordance with the Prior Appropriation Doctrine of "first-in-time, first-in-right." The priority of each ditch was determined by the district courts based upon the date the ditches were constructed


  • American Indians
  • Mexican Americans in Southern Colorado
  • Mormon from the Southern States were the first whites to settle in the San Luis Valley. [7]
  • Amish settlers
  • Danish settlers in San Luis Valley

Migrating From the Eastern, Northern, Western, Southern Colonies

Migrating Ancestor Template

How to add the Migrating Ancestor Template

American Indians

Tribes came from other places, thus contested among themselves for living and hunting space. Utes migrated E from Utah and Great Basin bef 1600 occupied most of Colorado. Native Americans found: Crow, Cheyenne, Arapahoe, Sioux, Ute, Kiowa, Comanche, Apache, Caddo, Wichita, Navajo, Hopi, Nez Pierce, Shoshone, Shebits, Kaibab, Utah, Ouray, and Paiute. [8] [9]

  • ~1500 A.D. - Utes Indians inhabit mountain areas of Southern Rocky Mountains since ~ 1500 A.D. These Native Americans are the oldest continuous residents of Colorado. Present day Ute are in three groups; 1) Northern Ute , live on Uintah-Ouray Reservation in Utah; 2) Southern Ute live on Reservation near Ignacio, in Southwest corner of Colorado; 3) Mountain Ute live on Western end of Southern Ute Reservation near Towaoc, Colorado. 4) White Mesa Utes in Blanding, Utah
  • 1700's - Comanche moved from N plains.
  • Navajo are in S. Colorado
  • Cheyenne, Arapaho came from NE, pushed Utes back into mountains, settling on North and Eastern plains. [10]
  • Utes - less dependent on bison hunting occupied mountains and Western plateau
  • Comanche - south of Arkansas River
  • Pawnees hunted bison in E. Colorado


  • Children of American Indians were sold to Mexicans and Americans. Kit Carson III would buy children from the Ute Indians, sell them to the San Luis Valley farmers. His reasoning: helping The Utes by paying for their children as well as a supply of field workers. Many of them became members of the families and/or married into them. [11]

Economic Resources and Information

  • Marble
  • silver
  • Lead
  • Iron
  • Coal
  • Gold:
  • CO2 at Sheep Mountain, Huerfano, Colorado
  • Evergreens (for timber)
  • Tourists: Sightseeing
  • Mountains ,deer, Elk, Pike's Peak, Gunnison, Royal Gorge, Mesa Verde, Many National Parks
  • Tourist activities: Fishing, Hunting, Skiing, Rafting, Hiking, Exploring, Biking, Horseback backpacking
  • Windy
  • water - "ditch rights"

Conflicts Within The Colony

  • Sand Creek Massacre kills 163 Cheyenne and Arapaho, mostly women and children
  • 1779 - Gov de Anza of NM defeated Comanches under Cuerno Verde in SW CO; made peace , created alliance against Apaches
  • Gen Kit Carson commands Ft Garland in San Luis valley to make peace with Ute Indians
  • Wild Fires -Nature.
  • Landslides - Nature

Research Resources

WikiTree Resources

Resource Page New Mexico Resource Page California

the following states were derived from California; New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and part of Colorado

the following state was derived from parts of Utah, New Mexico, Kansas and Nebraska

  • Resources Page Colorado

Resource Page West la Florida

Resource Page East la Florida

Existing Categories
Related Free Space Pages

Please add a short description, and separate "paragraphs" using the = keys on either side of the title as needed. See the next paragraph for an example that uses 6 = signs on either side.

Surname/Family Pages


On individual Cemetery pages, resources should be listed along with a description.

  • Colorado, Cemeteries - The mid-level category page for cemeteries located within the State of Colorado. Subcategory listings for each of the state's counties will be provided there if available.
  • - When available a second link to our progress page, showing a listing of cemeteries within the state for which surveys are completed/ or in progress.
  • Colorado Cemeteries
  • National Parks Service records search for national cemeteries.
  • Tea for 2
  • Find a Grave
  • Colorado Gravestones
  • Rootsweb Colorado Cemeteries
  • Nolo: Burial & Cremation Laws in Colorado
  • History Colorado:Unmarked Grave Information
  • Colorado Tribal Contacts (PDF)
  • "Historical, Prehistorical, and Archaeological Resources Act of 1973 (CRS 24-80-401 to 410) and CRS 24-80-1301ff -- Unmarked Human Graves (PDF)"
  • Native American Consultation Database
  • National NAGPRA Program
  • "Process for Consultation, Transfer, and Reburial of Culturally Unidentifiable Native American Human Remains and Associated Funerary Objects Originating from Inadvertent Discoveries on Colorado State and Private Lands (PDF)"

Free Resources

  • Family Search, Church of Latter Day Saints
  • Rootsweb

Paid Resource Sites Fold3

Photos and Images

Photos and Images of Colorado

Sources for this Page

Comments: 2

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Another beautiful page, Mary. You do really nice work. Since the page isn't open, I couldn't do this myself, so please remove all tags, and references to US southern colonies project. You could put it under your Colorado project that you already manage


posted by Jillaine Smith

December 9, 2014

posted by Paula J