Author: joan

Early Douglas County Newspapers

In August 1873 the Colorado Miner and Rocky Mountain News reported the appearance of the first known Douglas County newspaper.

“The copy before us is neatly printed, and displays talent and industry,” read the Colorado Miner on August 28, 1873.

Since Archives & Local History (ALH) possessed no copies of the Douglas County News, we weren’t able to judge for ourselves … until now!

While conducting initial processing of the more than 50 boxes of materials recently acquired by ALH as part of the Metzler estate collection, head archivist Alyssa Carver unearthed four editions of the Douglas County News from 1874, 1875 and 1876.

The earliest paper (from April 29, 1874) is only a clipping but confirms that Edward H. Sturdy was publishing out of Frankstown at the time. In fact, in its early days, the publication was sometimes known as the Frankstown News.

By January 20, 1875, Sturdy was operating out of Castle Rock and describing himself as “the wickedest man in the pencil shoving business” in a tongue-in-cheek advertisement for his own publication.

Accounts in other Colorado newspapers indicated that Sturdy left the News for the Cheyenne Sun in September 1876. Shortly before his move, the Golden Weekly Globe referred to the Douglas County News as “the most obscure sheet published in the territory.”

Maybe this is the reason so few copies still exist.

In 1876, the paper passed quickly from T.S. Harris to Walter Spencer. In November 1878, C.E. Parkinson purchased the publication and changed its name to the News Letter. However, Walter Spencer regained ownership in May 1879 and reverted the name to the Douglas County News. Spencer owned the newspaper until it ceased to publish in the winter of 1879.

So what were the people of Douglas County up to in 1874, 1875 and 1876? In January 1875, Thomas Harris, owner of the Star Saloon, was busy serving “good liquors of all kinds, cigars,” and “sardines and fresh oysters” while his patrons enjoyed billiards and “other amusements.”

R.R. Foster hoped to attract business to his Foster House on Perry Street with “good meals and fair dealing to defy competition in the town.” T.S. Harris at the Castle Rock Hotel charged $6 per week for room and board, or $5 if you just wanted to eat but not sleep. Transients coughed up 35 cents per meal.

From the March 1, 1876, edition, we get detailed descriptions of Kiowa ranchers, including Newton A. Gleason, who once ran the California Ranch with Dave Wood. His neighbor and brother Horace Gleason was described as a “dashing bachelor, rides a good horse, has a good heart, and is, with-all, a smart business man.”

My favorite excerpt from the papers is a letter to the editor written by Patrick McInroy in the August 11, 1875, edition titled “That Mathematical Problem.” McInroy takes issue with an unknown writer’s understanding of basic algebra. McInroy writes, “I claim that F.J.S. simply proves that twice zero is zero, which I fancy everybody knew before. … I have my opinion as to which is the more ignorant of the two of us, and he may have his opinion for all the difference it makes to me.”

After the Douglas County News folded, D.A. Jennings and W.F. Waller began publishing the Castle Rock Independent in January 1880. It, too, had a short life, lasting only about a year. A competing publication, the Castle Rock Journal, launched in June 1880, becoming the first long-lasting newspaper for the county.

To discover more about this topic or items in the archives, please check out ALH’s digital collections or contact archives staff at (303) 688-7730.

Lessons From the Grasshopper Apocalypse of 1937

In the spring of 1937, 1,000 egg pods were found in 20 sites across Douglas County. Shortly thereafter, the insects invaded, consuming $3.3 million worth of Colorado crops. Are you prepared for the next hopper hordes? Here are some tips from the archives.

Stock up on Molasses & Sawdust

The government will provide sodium arsenate to kill the pests, but you have to get the hoppers to eat it. Adding molasses (beet molasses will suffice if you can’t find or afford cane molasses) will tempt the taste buds of the insects. Mix the whole molasses-arsenate concoction with sawdust and spread 101 tons of the poison across the county.

Roll up Your Sleeves

There’s no way to survive the hopper onslaught without getting dirty. Specifically, you need to dig, in the dirt, about two to three inches. Harrowing, plowing, disking, whatever floats your boat. Just make sure you expose those grasshopper eggs to the sun, destroying the beasts within. Think of them as plant vampires and act accordingly.

Get Ready to Scavenge

Look for bolts, nails, and welding torches. These materials can be used to meld parts of old grain binders, Model T Fords, tires, and combines into your own Hopper Bait Mixing Plant. If County Agent Gunther did it behind George Nickson’s Blacksmith shop, then you can too.

Get Creative in the Kitchen

The corpses of grasshoppers can be easily found piled in irrigation ditches on Perry Park Ranch and stuck to alfalfa stocks in West Plum Creek. Don’t let these protein-rich pests go to waste. Remove their legs and sprinkle with salt, oil or butter and you have a perfect and abundant popcorn substitute!

Think Outside the Box

What if grasshoppers could be mutated to the size of horses and then trained to work on the farm? They already morph from ground-hugging jumpers to extreme winged fliers in their lifetimes. Hack Buntain, of Mirado Ranch on Garber Creek, joked about the uses of such a creation: saddle horses, stock yard quality grasshopper meat, or (if they cannot be tamed) buckin’ hoppers at the Douglas County fair.

Plan an Escape, Just Not by Train

You might decide to bail when you see the millions of hoppers on the ground making the surface appear to be “moving like a tide.” When making escape plans, locals recommend avoiding the trains. Reports of one giant hopper blocking the routes couldn’t be confirmed, but it is a fact that swarms of hoppers made the tracks so slick the train couldn’t get any traction.

Winter Is Coming (But That’s a Good Thing)

The grasshoppers may have survived the drought and heat, but winter succeeds. Where other weather fails, the cold sounds the death knell for the enemy. With the snow, we declare victory. Since each female grasshopper can lay around 100 eggs, you might consider buying more molasses before spring 1938.

To discover more about this topic or items in the archives, please check out the Archives & Local History digital collections or explore our newspaper collection, made available at


A Thanksgiving Day Menu From Douglas County

The cookbook collection in the Archives & Local History (ALH) vault is a great place to search for a Thanksgiving menu steeped in Douglas County history.

Compilations of recipes in the ALH collection come from many sources: families, individuals, churches, parent-teacher organizations, restaurants, and schools. One book, “Behind the Badge,” was published by the Douglas County Sheriff’s office and features the recipes of law enforcement officers, firefighters, and their friends.

To start your Thanksgiving dinner, consider the recipe for “Stuffed Mushroom Delights,” contributed by Loretta Bierschenk, secretary of patrol for the sheriff’s department at the time.1 And even though it’s not traditional, a recipe for olive tarts found in “Recipes by Parker Newcomers Club” sounds tempting.2

For the dinner’s centerpiece, cook up a fabulous turkey using the instructions from the National Turkey Federation found in the pages of the cookbook “Favorite Recipes from the Golden Dobbin.”3 The McConnells opened the Golden Dobbin restaurant in 1964 at 519 Wilcox Street in Castle Rock. They published multiple editions of the cookbook containing their most popular recipes starting in 1965. Instead of dressing, consider Dobbin’s Tomato Pudding, a recipe added to the cookbook’s fourth edition by popular demand.4

Thousands of options exist for side dishes inside the pages of the cookbooks in our collection. Consider baking corn bread from “Naturally.” The recipes there were compiled by Karen Becker and Ferne Adams of Jarre Canyon in the 1960s for the family “tired of opening boxes and cans of over-processed, chemical, artificial and additive laden foods.”5Tried N True” features recipes from Douglas County 4-H members. Corey Crispe’s take on cranberry salad features cherry Jell-O, celery, pecans, and cranberries.6 Instead of green bean casserole, consider the recipe for green beans Napoli from “The Clarke Family Cookbook,” published for a family reunion in 1991.7

A Thanksgiving meal is not complete without dessert. The Golden Dobbin Special Dessert includes a “butter fluff” layer topped with chocolate, bananas, and cherries.8 A recipe for raw apple cake contributed by Phyllis Davis to the Hilltop Community Church Cookbook sounds like a perfect fall treat.9

Let us know if you try any of these recipes with success, or even if you fall short. We hope you have fun trying. To discover more about this topic or items in the archives, please check out the Archives & Local History digital collections or contact archives staff.


1 “Behind the Badge,” Stuffed Mushroom Delights by Loretta Bierschenk

2 “Recipes by Parker Newcomers Club,” Olive Tarts by Judy Pearson

3 From “The Preparation and Cookery of Turkey,” National Turkey Federation, Mount Morris, Ill.

4 “Favorite Recipes from the Golden Dobbin,” Fourth Edition, 1975, Tomato Pudding

5 “Naturally,” Corn Bread, Karen Becker and Ferne Adams

6 “Tried N True: Douglas County 4-H Cookbook,” Cranberry Salad, Corey Crispe

7 “The Clarke Family Cookbook,” Green Beans Napoli, Jamie and Joe Kordziel

8 “Favorite Recipes from the Golden Dobbin,” Fourth Edition, 1975, Golden Dobbin Special Dessert

9 “Hilltop Community Church Cookbook,” Raw Apple Cake, Phyllis Davis