Founders would have felt right at home


Scenes from Founders Day, organized by the Old Colorado City Historical Society in Bancroft Park Aug. 13... Reenactors representing the Union and Confederate armies fire their muskets at the same time.
Westside Pioneer photo
Union and Confederate Civil War camps, old-time dancers and a concert band playing famous tunes helped bring history to life Aug. 13 at Bancroft Park. And if anyone wondered why the bell rang now and then at the Old Colorado City History Center (a former church), it marked each time young historical “scavengers” found everything on an item list from the center's museum displays and, in reward, got to pull the bell rope.
       Organized by the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS), the occasion was the 152nd anniversary of Founders Day. The free six-hour event, commemorating the August 1859 founding of the original Colorado City, was attended by uncounted hundreds of people.
       “The day couldn't have been better,” said OCCHS President Sharon Swint in an e-mail afterward. “There was seldom a moment when there wasn't entertainment for the sizable crowd. The vendors were busy. I heard good comments over and over: 'Are you doing it again?' 'This is such a great community event!' and 'It's like we live in a small town and everybody knows everybody.'

Scenes from Founders Day, organized by the Old Colorado City Historical Society in Bancroft Park Aug. 13... Historically attired dancers with the Colorado Springs Victorian Society show off their steps.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The Civil War reenactors even one-upped the schedule on the morning of the event by choreographing a small battle scene showing how skirmishers from either side would have deployed while shooting at each other. The volunteer groups are affiliated with the Civil War Living History Association, which meets every fourth Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the Westside Community Center, 1628 W. Bijou St.
       The Founders Day concert was performed by the local New Horizons Band. which had also played at the pomp-filled 150th Founders event two years ago. The dancers were from the Colorado Springs Victorian Society.
       The previous night, in conjunction with Founders Day, about 75 people gathered at the OCCHS' History Center to hear a presentation by local historian and former college instructor Lew Archer on early pioneer Irving Howbert.
       Among those in attendance was Howbert's grandson, a retired lawyer who is also named Irving Howbert. His life overlapped by about 18 years the man who first came to Colorado City as a teenager with his father in 1860 and died in 1934. “He was a very serious-minded, very community-minded man,” recalled the younger Howbert, now 95. “He didn't tell a lot of jokes.”
       He also revealed a sense of the early pioneer's character, describing his grandfather as being “very, very modest” about his accomplishments, which had touched on such diverse areas as water, banking, railroading, education, public parks and politics.
       In his talk, Archer expanded on Howbert's lack of braggadacio, pointing out that the man may have been overlooked in history books for that reason. Even in his own autobiography he said little about himself and didn't even mention his wife and children. “History forgets modest people who have done significant things,” Archer observed.
       He described Howbert's main talent as an “enabler” who would get involved in complex matters, quietly turn them into successes and then move on to new projects. “Howbert is up there with the best we have,” Archer said. “He was creative and forceful and able to get big egos to work with each other.”

Lew Archer (left), who was about to give a presentation about early Colorado City pioneer Irving Howbert, shares a moment with Howbert's grandson, also named Irving Howbert, Aug. 12 at the History Center.
Westside Pioneer photo

Nine-year-old Roman Leonard looks for a display item as part of a History Center "scavenger hunt," with help from his mom Maria and little sister Ava, during Founders Day activities Aug. 13.
Westside Pioneer photo

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