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MARCH 9, 2012
Jefferson County Celebrates 150 Years!

Jeff CoRight from the beginning, Jefferson County has had some colorful characters.  Celebrate our sesquicentennial by reading about some of these folks--- early settlers, murder, mayhem, madness, and frontier justice and injustice---plus some of the more ordinary pioneers who set the groundwork for what Jefferson County is today.

The Pike’s Peak Gold Rush of 1858-59 brought many men and women west with the excitement of gold found in Colorado.  But few people know that eight years earlier a man named Lewis Ralston had struck gold in Arvada.  On June 22, 1850, a California-bound wagon train stopped to rest six miles from the confluence of the Platte River and Clear Creek.  John Lowery Brown, a member of the party, wrote in his diary that gold had been found and “we called this Ralston’s Creek because a man of that name found gold here.”

Almost a decade went by when it was decided that the Pike’s Peak country needed a local government, being far from the other territories of New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska and Utah.  In 1859 a group convened to form the Territory of Jefferson, carved out of these other territories and named to honor our third president Thomas Jefferson.  On October 24, 1859, a provisional government was elected.  The first legislature led by Governor Robert Steele organized the new territory into twelve counties, including Jefferson County.  From 1859 to 1861 Denver and Golden vied to be the territorial capitol but most of the day-to-day work was done at the home of Governor Steele in the town of Mount Vernon in the foothills west of Golden.

If this piques your interest in Jefferson County’s history, try the following titles available at JCPL libraries: 

Notorious Jefferson County: frontier murder and mayhem by Carol Turner

The Shining Mountains by Georgina Brown

From Scratch:  a history of Jefferson County, Colorado by members of the Jefferson County Historical Commission

Jefferson County, Colorado, a Unique & Eventful History! by Carole Lomond

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