Hank Alderfer’s Yesteryear

hankbookYesteryear: Tales from Colorado Front Range Mountain Communities
by Hank Alderfer, with Barbie Alderfer

Last night, November 30, 2016, marked the first appearance of Hank Alderfer’s long-awaited memoir of life in the Jeffco foothills in and around and beyond Evergreen. More than a hundred area residents, lifelong or newer friends and well-wishers, gathered at the Evergreen Lakehouse to see this book and pay tribute to its author. Most went home with at least one copy! Peter Eggers acted as emcee of the evening, riding herd on presenters who included friends and colleagues like John Ellis, Mimi Nelson, John Steinle, Linda Dahl, John Erlandson, and others.

Storytellers like Hank are not found along every trail. As Hannah Hayes wrote in the book’s Preface: “Retelling the past so vividly with such depth of dedication ensures Hank’s legacy.” More than 100 of Hank’s personal essays, most previously published in the Canyon Courier, are collected here, thanks to the cooperation of its editor, Doug Bell. With them are several newer pieces that help to round out the story.

In addition to his own lifetime of personal experience, Hank has collected decades of stories of the pioneer settlers from their descendants and chronicled them here. Today, the recollections he captured inform a regional history that would otherwise be lost. He has performed an invaluable service to future historians.

My feelings for Evergreen, its history and its land, grew from my mother, Arleta Anderson Alderfer, Tom Hayden, and his grandmother. My appreciation of oral history had its roots with those three people. They were down-home, always worked the land and enjoyed the simple ranching life. —Hank Alderfer, Yesteryear introduction

Hank Alderfer, right, with John Steinle

Hank Alderfer, right, with John Steinle

In 2007, Hank was named an honoree in the Jefferson Co. Hall of Fame. The Alderfer legacy remains especially significant to county residents via the preservation of the family ranch as the Alderfer-Three Sisters Open Space Park. In October 2016, JCHC named the Alderfer Ranch House and Barn as a county landmark, another highlight of historic preservation Hank and his family have made possible.

Our gratitude goes to Hank and Barbie, and all the others who made this book possible.


Getting to know Evergreen through a native’s eyes is a singular opportunity. This historical treasure will enrich life immeasurably for those of us who are lucky enough to be connected to this town. Hank’s strong, true and enduring mark is that of local historian. To learn from history is our responsibility. —Hannah Hayes, Yesteryear preface

I’ve already been enjoying the book… finding great tidbits in it. The stories in the book are rich and varied; this compilation is a terrific addition to Jeffco history and lore. I hope some of the great stories shared last night were or will be captured somehow as well. —Sally L. White

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Anniversary of Arapahoe City

Based on information contributed by Golden historian Richard Gardner.

Dedication of the Arapahoe City monument, May 12, 1946. DPL X-6664 description of photo.

Dedication of the Arapahoe City monument, May 12, 1946. DPL X-6664 description of photo.

On this day in history, November 29, 1858, the Arapahoe City Town Company was organized. Although Arapahoe City existed for only a few years (1858-1863), it may have been the first town site in what later became Jefferson County. It was located about two miles east of Golden along Clear Creek. The Colorado Historical Society (and others) marked the site with a monument in 1946. The first building boom in Jefferson County was in the spring of 1859, when about 20 log buildings were constructed at Arapahoe City.

“Indians are thick here. We apprehend danger from them. They have sent us word by some of their chiefs to quit their country…

We have laid out a town by the name of Arapahoe City…”
—Thomas Golden

Settlers hunted game on the Table Mountains, including buffalo, elk, deer, and mountain sheep.

George Jackson and John Gregory settled at Arapahoe City. Jackson struck gold near Idaho Springs; Gregory found good prospects near Black Hawk. These finds sent the Colorado Gold Rush into full boom, leading to the settlement of this state.

“The rise and prosperity of Golden caused the decline and fall of Arapahoe. Many moved their log buildings to Golden.”
—Jerome Smiley, Colorado historian

Arapahoe City was the 4th gold rush town in Colorado, after Montana City, Auraria, and Denver (all pretty much in Denver’s realm now). It functioned as an important base camp for gold seekers heading to the hills. Prominent gold discoverers John H. Gregory (at today’s Black Hawk/Central City) and George A. Jackson (at today’s Idaho Springs) lived at Arapahoe City leading up to their famed gold strikes. Thomas L. Golden, whom Golden was later named after, was an officer of the town company. Although not part of the town itself the historic stone home of town surveyor George B. Allen, built in 1868, stands not far east of McIntyre on the south side. It’s made of stone he hauled out here from Council Bluffs, Iowa.

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Throwback Thursday: 1976 Centennial-Bicentennial

Who remembers this centennial-bicentennial logo for Jefferson County, designed by Linda Allen in 1976?

76logo

In fact, this auspicious national and state-wide celebration was a primary reason for the formation of the Jeffco Historical Commission in 1974. Several local historical societies asked the County Commissioners to appoint a coordinating committee to help plan the county’s celebration.

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Jeffco Archives Celebrates Throwback Thursdays

In recognition of the 25th year of Jefferson County Archives, and this past October being National Archives Month, archivist Ronda Frazier has been sharing fun images, stories, and other items on the county Facebook page each Thursday. Most of these, along with other historic information, also appear on the JCHC Facebook page. Here are some samples of recent postings:

landpatent1866**Throwback Thursday**
Posted Nov 3, 2016

This image is a land patent from September 1, 1866 for the original town site of Golden, Colorado. Golden was originally bounty land, used to entice military service. Grants of free land were issued to men who served in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War and the Indian Wars. Veterans or their heirs could claim bounty land or assign or sell it to others. Both of these warrants were issued for service in the War of 1812 and assigned to a Jefferson County judge for the benefit of the occupants of Golden City in 1866.

tinytown**Throwback Thursday**
Posted Oct 27, 2016

This photo of a little girl (Doris Hilton) was taken in 1926 at Tiny Town. By dating the photo based on the girl’s clothing and doing some research on Tiny Town, County Archivist Ronda Frazier was able to help the donor establish a timeline of her family’s travels back and forth across the U.S.

Jefferson County Archives also just received a donation of a home movie of Tiny Town taken in the 1930s. We will be digitizing the film soon and can’t wait to see what is on it!

**Throwback Thursday** Posted Oct 6, 2016

railroad-bondThis image is a Railroad Aid bond issued by Jefferson County in 1868 in order to raise $100,000 to fund construction of the Colorado Central Railroad. The principal amount of $1,000 was to mature in 15 years at an interest rate of 8%. The attached coupons were payable annually on June 1st, for the amount of $80. The bond was signed by County Commissioners Edward L. Berthoud, T.C. Bergen, and William M. Allen, and also features a 50 cent U.S. revenue stamp which paid the tax duty on the document.

**Throwback Thursday**
Posted Sept 1, 2016

Check out this postcard of the original Jefferson County Courthouse from 1911!

The postcard was written and mailed in 1911 by a Morrison resident. On the postcard is an image of the original Jefferson County Courthouse at present-day 1501 Washington Ave. in Golden. The postcard was found at a flea market in Iowa by L.G. Joerg of Farimont, MN and sent to the County Archivist in care of the Auditor’s Office in 1994.

The cornerstone for the original Jefferson County Courthouse was laid June 23, 1877 at present-day 1501 Washington Ave. The original courthouse and jail opened February 15, 1878. Denver architect W.H.J. Nicholls designed the building, which cost $30,000 to build. The courthouse was in use until 1953, when the new courthouse at 1700 Arapahoe St. was built. The original courthouse building was demolished in 1963.


More to Explore

Visit the Jefferson County Facebook page to find more Throwback Thursday memorabilia from the Archives, including Jim Beam whiskey decanters from elections depicting political parties, historical photos of people and places, and original documents from early years.

Jefferson County has records dating back to the mid-1800s (before Colorado was a state)! Did you know these records are available for the public to access? Citizens can access census data, ledgers, photos, maps, and many other historic records. All you need to do is contact Jefferson County Archives and make an appointment. For more information about Jefferson County Archives, appointments, or internship and volunteer opportunities, email County Archivist Ronda Frazier, call 303-271-8448, or visit Jeffco Archives online.

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What’s in the Jeffco Archives?

Researchers Bob and Kris Autobee and Lyle Miller take advantage of available records in the Archives Reading Room.

Researchers Bob and Kris Autobee and Lyle Miller take advantage of available records in the Archives Reading Room.

Jeffco’s archival collections have grown over the years, making them an increasingly valuable resource for historical researchers, genealogists, and others interested in the history of Jefferson County and its residents. The Archives now includes, for examples:

  • Administrative and Financial Records
  • Aerial and Other Photographs
  • Board of County Commissioners Records
  • Court Records
  • Elected and Appointed Officials’ Records
  • Election and Voter Records
  • Land and Property Records
  • Tax and Assessment Records
  • Licenses and Registrations, including Marriage Records
  • Manuscripts and Personal Papers
  • Maps, Plats and Drawings
  • School Records

In recognition of the 25th anniversary of the Archives, Jeffco is publishing samples from the collections on its Facebook page each Throwback Thursday.

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Golden’s Romano Home on National Register

romanoCross-posted, with permission, from Historic Golden Colorado on Facebook:

It is my honor and pleasure to announce the historic Romano family house has just been listed on the National Historic Register! Located at 16300 South Golden Road and familiarly known by its stone arch driveway entrance, the Romano home was originally built around 1924 by Camp George West commanding officer Leo Rundstein, made of fieldstone gathered from its vicinity, of the local architectural movement now recognized as the Golden Rustic. In 1927 it was purchased by Emery and Mary Barlock, immigrants from Budapest and Yugoslavia. Emery John Barlock ran the first cash store in Golden and began raising mink here. In 1929 it became the home of Italian immigrants Samuel and Albina Romano, who that year built their own Golden Market still standing well preserved itself next door (and likely could make the National Register too if its owners so wanted). They operated the store and the La Romana fox farm here for many years while raising their family, as well as such operations as the Fox Trot Inn dance hall and a tenant trading post in the reassembled Boston Company building (itself unfortunately burned down, but its motel court very much still standing nearby).

The Romano home, now proudly owned by Judge Sabino Romano, is one of the region’s best preserved historic landmarks, a time capsule of the 1920s inside and out, complete with original trellises, flooring, kitchen appliances, light fixtures, radiators, bathroom fixtures, furnace and more. It is the 2nd Italian-American landmark of Jefferson County to be recognized by the National Register (after the Cabrini Shrine) and the 2nd one in Pleasant View (after Camp George West). Congratulations to the Romanos for their worthy recognition!

The Samuel and Albina Romano House was listed on the National Register on September 26, 2016. It was designated as a Jefferson County Landmark in 2003.

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2016 Hall of Fame and Awards Event Report

Joe Tempel was honored Oct 20 for his many contributions to Jefferson County's cultural and historical preservation.

Joe Tempel was honored Oct 20 for his many contributions to Jefferson County’s cultural and historical preservation.

On October 20th, Joe Tempel joined the ranks of the Jeffco Historical Commission Hall of Fame at the 38th Annual Hall of Fame and Historic Preservation awards event. The award honors individuals significant to county history or the preservation of county history.

2016 Hall of Fame honoree Joe Tempel, with Dr. Martin Lockley, UC Denver emeritus professor and dinosaur track researcher.

2016 Hall of Fame honoree Joe Tempel, with Dr. Martin Lockley, UC Denver emeritus professor and dinosaur track researcher.

Among his many achievements, Joe Tempel was a founder of Friends of Dinosaur Ridge. He was nominated by Dr. Martin Lockley, leader of the effort to preserve the landmark and educate the public about the natural history of Dinosaur Ridge, a National Natural Landmark. Joe also was responsible for constructing the Dinosaur Ridge Visitor Center, the Discovery Center, and Triceratops Trail at the Fossil Trace Golf Course in Golden, along with interpretive signs. The improvements and professional guides at Dinosaur Ridge help educate 160,000 visitors annually.

For many years, Joe also served on the Board or as executive director of the Lariat Loop Heritage Alliance, where he was instrumental in the route’s designation as a National Scenic Byway in 2010. His fundraising efforts there supported the development of seven interpretive sites around the 40-mile historic route. The most recent, at the CDOT Woolly Mammoth parking lot, was dedicated in June 2016.


Norman and Ethel Meyer Historic Preservation Award

Donald Tallman, director of the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, accepted the Meyer Award.

Donald Tallman, director of the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, accepted the Meyer Award.

The Colorado Railroad Museum was the recipient of this award, which honors efforts to preservation buildings and structures—and in this case, railroad cars— that reflect our heritage. The Railroad Museum opened in 1959 and currently displays more than 100 narrow and standard gauge steam and diesel locomotives, passenger cars, and cabooses on its 15-acre site. Several of the locomotives are individually listed on the National Register, and the museum itself was designated a Jeffco historic landmark in 2011.


Jefferson County’s Historic Landmark Program

Alderfer family members with JCOS's Mary Ann Bonnell at the landmark presentation.

Alderfer family members with JCOS’s Mary Ann Bonnell at the landmark presentation.

At the event, the Alderfer Ranch House and Barn located in Evergreen, now owned by Jefferson County Open Space, became a designated county landmark. The Alderfer family accepted the Jefferson County Landmark plaque for the property, which was originally the 1873 James T. Hester Homestead. The buildings are a centerpiece of Jeffco’s Alderfer-Three Sisters Park.

Burdette Weare presented the Jefferson County Landmark plaque to Debra and Gary Wysocki, owners of the Big Red Barn in Conifer. This landmark along Highway 285 was originally part of the George Kennedy homestead, later known as Beaver Ranch, a gathering place for the area and a vacation destination in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Director Steve Sumner accepted landmark designation on behalf of the Center for the Arts, Evergreen.

Director Steve Sumner accepted landmark designation on behalf of the Center for the Arts, Evergreen.

The 1901 Arvada Jaycee Hall, earliest non-residential building in Arvada, and the early 1880s Soda Creek Schoolhouse (now the Center for the Arts, Evergreen) were also designated as landmarks in 2016. Read more on the Evergreen-area landmarks at JustAroundHere.com.

Learn more about the Jefferson County Historic Landmark Program on this website.

All photos courtesy Leda Thaler.

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