Descendants of Fosdick hear History Center talk

       Last winter, the Old Colorado City History Center obtained an original printing of Henry Fosdick's 1860 plat map for the then-new town. Now the center has - at least on loan - the surveying chain that Fosdick is believed to have used in creating that legal document.

Westside historian Dave Hughes (second from left) poses after his presentation on original Colorado City plat creator Henry Fosdick with visiting Fosdick descendants in the Old Colorado City History Center May 13. At far right is Joe Fosdick, Henry's great-great-great grandson. Holding Henry's preserved muzzleloader is Joe's father Sam, while Joe's son Mitchell holds most of the historic surveying chain, which is temporarily being loaned to the center. Also in the picture is Sam's sister Louise.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Four of his descendants, from Fowler and Pueblo, drove up to Old Colorado City May 13 to attend a Fosdick Plat presentation by Westside historian Dave Hughes. They brought the chain with them, still intact, consisting of individual links of 7.69 inches each, according to Joe Fosdick, the great-great-great grandson of Henry. Its full length is 5.5 yards, which is equivalent to a rod.
       The Fosdicks also brought along a still-operational, 50-caliber muzzle-loading rifle that their prominent ancestor had owned. However, they took it back home with them. Hughes explained afterward, “they really keep the rifle close. They loaned some Fosdick rifles to a museum, and when it closed, all of them disappeared.”
       Other Fosdick family members in attendance were Joe's father Sam and Sam's sister Louise - who had lived in Colorado Springs in the 1970s - and Joe's son Mitchell.
       They listened with about 75 others at the center as Hughes told the history of the map - a legal document defining blocks and streets for Colorado City, many of which are unchanged to this day - and Joe complimented him afterward for finding information that even the family had not known.
       The Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS), a volunteer nonprofit that runs the History Center, bought the map after being contacted by a seller on the Internet. Hughes negotiated a purchase price of $150. The OCCHS board had authorized an amount no higher than $300. Hughes said in his talk, “I didn't tell the board that if they [the sellers] had turned me down and put it on E-Bay, I would have offered $1,000 for it from my own funds. It is that rare and valuable.”
       Colorado City was founded Aug. 12, 1859. Fosdick, who had studied at Harvard, came west in 1856 in search of engineering possibilities, first settling in the Arkansas Valley area. Hughes isn't sure how the Colorado City founders linked up with Fosdick, but the survey date is shown as Nov. 1, 1859, and the map was printed in spring 1860 - a 38-by-28-inch product that showed 302 blocks of 32 or more lots per block, and a total of 9,874 separate 30-by-125-foot lots.
       Fosdick didn't receive money for his work, but was paid in lumber, livestock and “a bunch of lots,” Hughes said. Later, he brought his family (wife Sarah and four children) from Boston to Colorado City. He is credited in a recently published book, the “Historic Westside Design Guidelines,” for introducing farming to the area in the 1860s. Before that, the popular view had been that the climate here was too dry for crops.
       Fosdick and his family eventually relocated to southern Colorado. It was a time when Colorado City was in decline - Hughes said that Fosdick sold some of his lots for only $1 each.
       He lived into his 80s and is believed to have died wealthy. At least five Fosdick families now reside in the Fowler and Pueblo areas. Another claim to fame is that Fosdick's daughter Susan married Albert Boone, the grandson of Daniel Boone, Hughes said.
       As reported in a Dec. 9 article in the Westside Pioneer, the only Fosdick Plat available to the OCCHS until the recent find had been a poor copy, with barely legible writing, donated in the 1950s.
       Prior to the sale, the original document had belonged to a private citizen in Grand Junction, sitting in a closet and folded into a 4-by-6-inch “booklet,” Hughes said. He described the paper as fragile; he hopes that a digitized photo can be taken of it and be put on prominent display in the History Center.

Westside Pioneer article