Telling my family's stories
In 1904, Joseph Lewis Cook bought land in southeastern Colorado, near the town of Lamar. He moved his family from Kansas, and they built a homestead there and lived there for several years – this is where his son Denver and Tina Belle Greenwood were married in 1909.
Looking at records from the Federal Government’s Bureau of Land Management, we can see the history of this land. When he bought the land from the federal government, it was identified as the NW1/4 (160 acres) of section 11; 022S & 48W of the 6th Prime Meridian in Bent County, Colorado. In 1863, this was part of the Arapaho and Cheyenne Indian Reservation. In fact, this was where the Sand Creek massacre of the Cheyenne took place on November 29, 1864. After the massacre, the land was retaken by the government and a military fort (Fort Lyon) was built in 1888, with the border of the fort extending to just one section south of what would be the Cook land.
Section 11 was designated available for homesteading on January 12, 1889. This was cancelled, with the land being designated as Desert land on September 14, 1892 – probably because it was too barren for farming or ranching. Here is a description of the climate:
Southeastern Colorado experiences hot to extremely hot summers. Between June and September, daytime temperatures can exceed 100 degrees. Rainfall is often spotty, but brief summer downpours may occur. Embedded thunderstorms, while rare, can occur spring through fall. Winter temperatures in southeastern Colorado can range from cool to extremely cold. Readings of below zero, while infrequent, do occur. Severe winter storms, with blowing and drifting snow may occur between late October and mid April. (www.nps.gov/sand/index.htm – the National Park Service website for Sand Creek)
It must have been changed back to homesteading at some point after that, however, because Joseph Cook took out a homestead patent on the land on April 8, 1904.
I know there’s a picture of the old homestead somewhere – I’ll try to find it and put it up.