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Coming to Elizabeth

Joyce Ramey
Greeley, Colo.
Joyce Ramey

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The Elizabeth area with its rolling hills of pine trees and the creek running with water was a big attraction for the early settlers. The first settlers came in 1859 through the 1860s.

In time, several sawmills were established along the creek, providing lumber for building. Eventually there were a few buildings on the west side of the creek, which was the beginning of a little town.There were still Indians in the country and it was told that in cold weather they often would come to the sawmills to warm themselves.

In 1880, Gov. John Evans rode the train for the first trip to Elizabeth with his wife and sister-in-law, Elizabeth, for whom the town was named. The train discontinued in the 1930s.

On January 10, 1882, a town plat was filed for Elizabeth and the first Post Office opened March 12, 1982.

A Livery Stable was started in 1901 and 1902, and considered one of the largest in Colorado. As cars became a means of transportation, the Livery Stable was changed over to a Gasoline Service Station.

By 1890, the population of Elizabeth was about 200 people. Through the years it continued to grow … a friendly little country town.

In 1889, my grandfather, George Sager, left Fairfield, Illinois, by train for Colorado. Due to the severity of his asthma it was necessary for him to go to a drier climate. When he arrived in Denver he bought a horse and supplies and rode southeast, sleeping in the wide open space with the starry sky above at night. When he was about 5 miles west of Hilltop, he has his first asthma-free night. With the wonders of the pure, dry air, he now had hope of a better life. He rode his horse to Kiowa, the county seat, and applied for a homestead claim, which he received March 14, 1889. Soon after that his wife, Louisa, and infant son, Frank, joined him.

His first home was made of pine logs from the trees on his property; later a four-room log cabin was built. They bought a section of land joining the homestead on the west and in time built a two-story house and other buildings, including an orchard on the southeast corner of the section. It was 6 miles north and 1 mile west of Elizabeth. The house was destroyed by fire in 1920 and was never rebuilt. The foundation marked the place it stood for many years.

Those early years were years of hardships. Three more children were born, Ira, Gladys, and Grayce. Having four children in four years, living in a log cabin on a homestead certainly was not easy.

On one occasion when the family was away from home, he came back from working in the field to find some Indians at his house. They were hungry so he gave them some food and they left peacefully, for which he was thankful.

My grandmother’s parents both died before she was 7. All her brothers and sisters, (numbering 12) and all older than she, died before they reached middle age. She had the deepest sympathy for orphan children. She was very devoted to her children and wanted them to have a good life as well as a good education. They all attended the Osborn school, a little country school near where they lived.

My father, Clarence Konkel, was employed as a Clerk in a general mercantile store in Stonington, Colorado, prior to coming to Elizabeth.

The morning of July 5, 1913, he boarded the train at Lamar and transferred to the train that ran from Denver to Falcon and back daily. He was impressed with the cattle ranches, the small dairy farms, the hay land along the creek bottom and the pine trees that covered the hillsides as he passed through that part of Elbert County on his way to Elizabeth, which was called and advertised as the “Rain Belt”.

The arrival of “Polly,” the train, brought life and excitement to the town every day.

It was a flourishing little town with a hotel, bank, mercantile store, drug store, and a creamery. The creamery was a busy place; ranchers brought in their milk and cream. There was the rattle of the milk cans, everything washed down and so clean … that fresh creamery smell.

It was at this time my father purchased the Elbert County Banner. The Banner office was just across the street, west of the Elizabeth Town Hall. The residence was in the back of the building. He rented a room and got his meals at the Elizabeth hotel, which was known as Hall’s Crossland Restaurant in 1985.

He had no means of transportation between 1913 and 1915. To leave town he went by train, otherwise he walked where he needed to go. He bought his first car, a Model T, in April of 1915.

He took a carload of girls for a ride in his new vehicle, when as they were going up the street in Elizabeth, the car came to a “chug”… out of gas! How embarrassing! He assumed his new car would have more gas than that!

One day he was in the store when two girls came in. They got his attention! Later he asked the clerk who they were, he said, “They are the Sager girls, Gladys and Grayce.”

On June 21, 1916, he married Grayce at the Sager home. Soon after they were married, the editor of the Elbert County Tribune of Elbert and the editor of the Divide Review of Kiowa, and he, decided to buy a re-built linotype machine together. The machine was to be placed in his office.

In 1917, he sold the newspaper business to L.E. Fry, editor of the Divide Review of Kiowa. He then enlisted in the Navy for the duration of World War I. Upon discharge from the Navy they lived for a short time on a farm north of Elizabeth. It is now part of the Prairie Trail Ranch subdivision.

In November, 1921, they moved to Elizabeth and he was employed in the newspaper business as editor. In 1924 he became deputy assessor of Elbert County. He held that position for eight years. They continued to live in Elizabeth until they built a house and moved to the farm 4-1/2 miles west and 2-1/2 miles north of Elizabeth.

In those years Elizabeth was a quiet little town – you knew about everyone. Now after many years, we can only go back in our memories. What a quiet and peaceful little town it was!


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