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Famous Coloradans

Colorado Biographies

This page contains biographical sketches of a few famous historical Coloradans. A similar page, Notable Coloradans, includes shorter sketches of  additional people. Casimiro Barela 1847-1920
Known as a highly respected legislator whose career in the State Senate spanned 25 continuous years. Casimiro Barela also was a member of Colorado's Constitutional Convention in 1875. Elected from Las Animas county, Barela was instrumental in ensuring that Colorado legislation was printed in the Spanish language so that the native Spanish speaking people of his county could understand Colorado laws.
Chipeta, "White Singing Bird" 1844-1924
In 1859, she became the second wife of Ouray of the Uncompaghres, chief of the Ute Indian Nation. Her diplomatic tenacity strove to achieve a bloodless peace with white settlers. She is buried at the Ute Indian Museum in Montrose, Colorado.
Clara Brown 1800-1882
Known as the founder of Denver's first Sunday school in 1859, Clara Brown also was instrumental in founding the St. James Methodist Church in 1872. She was the first African American to come to Colorado in the gold rush of 1859.
William Byers 1831-1903
Known as the founder of the Rocky Mountain News, Willaim Byers was president of the constitutional convention for the creation Jefferson Territory and was active in the final achievement of statehood for Colorado.
Ralph L. Carr 1887-1950
Thirty-first governor of Colorado (1939-1943). Known best for his humanitarian actions concerning Japanese-Americans during World War II. His opposition towards alien land legislation ensured those of Japanese ancestry their basic freedoms, and a safe haven from the internment camps of the western coast.
Kit Carson 1809-1868
Known best as a mountain man, Kit Carson also was an Indian agent and had a long miliary service record. He accompanied three of the Fremont expeditions as a guide.
James William Denver 1817-1892
Known as the man for whom Denver City was named, General James William Denver was a Governor of the Territory of Kansas, a federal Commissioner of Indian Affairs, served in the California State Legislature and was the leader of the Relief Expedition of 1852 in which 50,000 immigrants crossed the Sierra Mountains to California.
John Lewis Dyer, "Father Dyer" 1812-1901
Known as early Colorado's itinerant preacher, Father Dyer traversed the Continental Divide in the central Colorado mountains to carry mail and to preach to Colorado's mining camps such as Buckskin Joe, Oro City, Como and Fairplay. Father Dyer was also the first Chaplain of the State Senate of Colorado.
Barney Ford 1822-1902
Known as a successful businessman in early Colorado, Barney Ford was instrumental in ensuring that equal voting rights for all citizens became a part of our state's constitution in 1876. Ford, who was once a runaway slave, is best known for his work in support of civil rights in early Colorado history.
Owen J. Goldrick
Known as the founder of Denver's first school in September of 1859 and of Denver's first public school in 1862.
Horace Greeley 1811-1872
Known as a prominent journalist who promoted Colorado during the Gold Rush. The town of Greeley was named for him by the organizers of the Union Colony.
Emily Griffith 1880-1947
Known as the founder of the Emily Griffith Opportunity School, opened in 1916 and still in operation today, the school was a national model for the promotion of lifelong learning and of adult learning for people from all levels of educational background.
Nathaniel P. Hill 1832-1900
Known as a famous chemist who built the first large mining smelter in Colorado in 1868. The building of the smelter is said to have initiated the era of hard rock mining in our state. The company was called the Boston and Colorado Smelting Company.
Benjamin B. Lindsey 1869-1943
Known as the founder of the nation's first juvenile court system in Denver, Judge Ben Lindsey is credited with shifting the treatment of juvenile offenders from punishment to rehabilitation.
Otto Mears 1840-1931
Known as the Pathfinder of the San Juan, Otto Mears is best remembered for his building of toll roads and narrow gauge railroads which helped to make parts of the state easily accessible for the first time in the state's history. Tourists today may realize that they are travelling on an Otto Mears road when they drive on the Million Dollar Highway in the San Juan Mountains or ride the narrow gauge railroad between Durango and Silverton. Otto Mears also served in state government as chairman of the Board of Capitol Managers, overseeing the construction of the State Capitol and contributing the design for the gold leaf covered dome.
David H. Moffat 1839-1911
Known first as a mining king and then as a railroad builder, David Moffat rose to fortune early in Colorado history as owner of over 100 gold and silver mines and also as the builder of several railroads. The Moffat Tunnel, a railroad and water tunnel connecting North Park to the Front Range, was named for David H. Moffat.
Chief Ouray 1833-1880
Known as a great Ute Indian chief, Chief Ouray is recognized as the man who brought peace forward between his people and the white man. Ouray is buried in the Ignacio cemetery. Ouray County was named for this famous Chief of the Utes.
Alferd Packer
Known as Colorado's famous cannibal, Alferd Packer was convicted of cannibalism after it became known that he was the sole survivor among several prospectors stranded for the winter in the Colorado mountains. Packer was paroled in 1901 after serving a 15 year sentence.
William J. Palmer 1836-1909
Known best as a builder of railroads, but also as a successful businessman, military man and philanthropist. William J. Palmer was a Union Cavalry General during the Civil War, and later founded the town of Colorado Springs. He incorporated the Colorado Coal and Iron Company which later merged with John Cleveland Osgood's Colorado Fuel and  Company in Pueblo, to form the Colorado Fuel and Iron Corporation. Palmer was instrumental in bringing the Denver and the Kansas Pacific railroad lines to Denver. Palmer is perhaps best known as the builder of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad which was the first narrow gauge railroad in the United States. The Denver - Colorado Springs line started service in 1871.
Florence Rena Sabin 1871-1953
Known as a famous medical researcher and humanitarian, Florence Sabin sought to improve health laws in Colorado. A statue of her resides in the nation's capitol in recognition of her service as one of the greatest scientists of our country. She was the first woman professor at Johns Hopkins University and the first woman to be elected to life membership in the National Academy of Sciences.


  Information from www.colorado.gov

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