OCCHS dodges raindrops during weekend of history

       After the latter part of Founders' Day got drenched the day before, the Cemetery Crawl escaped with just a light sprinkling Sunday, Aug. 13, enabling the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS) to take a reasonably sunny disposition on the weekend. Larry Blasgen portrays frontiersman John Nelson
Westside Pioneer photo
       “We made $741, which is good,” reported OCCHS Treasurer Dave Hughes. He was talking about the annual Crawl, attended by 124 people this year. They bought tickets to visit the graves of notable figures buried in Fairview Cemetery and watch costumed enactors with the OCCHS tell their first-hand stories.
       The money helps pay the volunteer society's costs, most of them for upkeep of its Old Colorado City History Center - a bookstore and museum at 1 S. 24th St.
       “There were more people than expected, given the threatening weather,” Hughes added. “We had a sprinkling of rain, but nobody quit.”
       This was the first time the non-profit society has grouped the two events into a weekend with one on the first day and the other on the next. Founders' Day (a free event in Bancroft Park including music, craft booths and historical speakers), celebrates the start of Colorado City in August 1859.
       Typically, in recent years, the Crawl has been offered on both days of a different weekend, but because of additional society activities this summer - particularly the Zebulon Pike Family Reunion at the History Center last month - the OCCHS board decided to scale back with a combination effort this year.
       “It worked very well,” Hughes said. “We took a chance making it (the Crawl) one day.”
       The event was enlivened by a visit from Susie Winternitz, a direct descendant of Dr. Isaac Adler Winternitz, one of the historical figures being portrayed at the Cemetery Crawl. He is famous for having been shot by a girl's father when he refused, because of public health reasons around the turn of the century, to bury her when she died of diptheria. OCCHS press releases identified the shooter as a “saloon-keeper,” but Hughes said it was in fact Adolph Busch, who had been involved with the glassworks in the area in those days, and Busch Street is named after him.
       To help the characterization of her great-great granfather, Susie Winternitz provided the re-enactor, Phil McDonald, with a medical bag that she said had belonged either to him or his son (also a doctor), David Henry Winternitz.
       Although she had no additional information on her great-great grandfather's unfortunate fate, she said he was part of eight generations of doctors in her family that ended with her generation. “Every once in a while, I'll run into somebody who knew my grandfather or great-grandfather,” she said. “They'd say how gentle they were. Back then they would take chickens or whatever people had to pay.”
       Founders' Day, helped by the Saturday Farmers' Market on 24th Street, drew an estimated 300 people at its peak Saturday, Aug. 12, according to organizers Jo Cervone and Joanne Karlson. Then the skies opened around 1 p.m. and the OCCHS officially concluded the event an hour later.
       One of the four musical acts in the park bandshell and one of the four speakers in front of Garvin Cabin had to be cancelled as a result. The last of the speakers to go on, Liz Duckworth as celebrated 1800s Denver reporter Polly Pride, gave her enactment inside the cabin at 1:30 after recruiting remnants of attendees who were still gathered under the park pavilion to evade the rain.
       Old Barn Road, a bluegrass band from the Black Rose Acoustic Society, had started its show in cloudy but dry weather at 12:45 p.m., but saw its audience gradually fade away or flee to the pavilion. The group's last song, “Keep on the Sunny Side of Life,” elicited only thunder and an increased downpour.

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