Fountain Schools and town memories

Fountain Fort Carson School District 8

The school district was formed in 1870, according to a 1978 newspaper clipping from the Fountain Museum.  That year, students rode horseback or in wagons, or walked to the wooden school on Main Street.  How things have changed!

Fountain School circa 1888

School History Recalled: undated Fountain Herald article
In 1903, when school districts 8 and 4 were consolidated, it was necessary to erect the present grade school and the old wood building was purchased by M.O. Rhinehart and W.G. Riddoch.  A part of the old school was moved to a lot a block southeast on Main Street, to be used as a grain storehouse; this part was wrecked by high winds while it was being remodeled in 1920 for use as a blacksmith shop and garage by Tucker and Marshall. The other part was moved by Rhinehart and Riddoch to its present location.  While moving according to Mr. Rhinehart, they found in the attic a piece of the face of a box-car wheel , eight inches long and 6 inches wide- bright as a silver dollar on the tread—blown into the building during the big explosion of 1888. The school was one of the buildings in Fountain which was not demolished in the explosion.
The Opera House Company, Riddoch, Rhinehart, and Reed, remodeled this part of the school into an auditorium with a small balcony and here the town’s entertainment, dances, etc., were held. While the present grade school was being constructed, the upper grades were located in the opera house, and grades three to five had quarters in the Bock building on the site now proposed for the new Ag building. Mrs. Jennie Belch taught the primary pupils in still another building.
In August of 1904, the Congregational Church rented the (opera) building for church services.
After fifty- four years, the materials purchased by the early residents of Fountain to make a home for the educational program of that day, are now being returned to their original task. Back there in the early days men were building for the future, just as the present school administration is doing.  The spirit is exemplified in the closing paragraph of a Handbook published in 1913 when the school board was composed of L. G. Niles, Geo. L. Phillips, and F.E. Torbit, which reads as follows: “The boys and girls of today are the men and women of tomorrow and upon the home and school rests the responsibility of training these boys and girls for citizenship”.  
[For those not familiar with Fountain’s schools, the original school stood on S. Main Street, where Aragon Elementary is now.  It probably started out with one room and was later expanded to two or three rooms, possibly after the 1888 explosion.  This article refers to the building being split and moved, and replaced by the 1903 brick building.  Half of the building was used for grain storage.  One of Marshall’s welding shops was on Main, two lots south of the present library.  The other part of the wooden building was placed behind or west of the bank/ St. Joseph's church on Ohio.  The Ag building referred to seems to be the stucco structure used for Ag classes that was located on S Main, across from Aragon Elementary, where the library parking lot is now. ]

Cornerstone Laid, August 1903 Gazette

This photograph of the 5th grade class at Fountain Elementary dates from 1905, and was published in the Fountain Valley News on August 4, 1971.  Some students in the picture include Lowell Miles, Sarah Wolbertton, Mary Benedict, Fredy Bader, Nellie King, Ruth Walkup, Percy, Elva and Arthur Johnson, Art Velthoen and Claude Rhinehart.
Lowell, 2nd row, 2nd from left, recalled that the school almost burned to the ground when the waste basket in the basement caught fire.  The school bell, in a tower, was also equipped with a fire gong, in addition to the regular clapper.  Help came quickly and the new building was saved.  The bell was later moved to a pedestal on the school grounds.  When Lowell graduated in 1912 there were only two seniors in school, he and Edith White.  In 1908, his sister Nelle and Jenni Fugit graduated.
A list of Fountain graduates includes: Eva Quick Reed in 1903, Letha Hall and Ralph Quick in 1904, Ray Phillips in 1906, Rita Spicer Bettekofer, Geraldine Spicer and Gladys Phillips Brust in 1907, Lula Spicer Boutwell in 1909, and Clara Wolf Campbell, Mabel Sharp and Loren Gore in 1910.  In 1919, there were 260 students enrolled at the Fountain school.  Members of the 1921 class included Evelyn Christian, Edna Wallace, Wilma Quinn, Nina and Margaret Johnson, Mildred Garrish, Lois Koger, Vallie and Hallie Foster, Carolyn Monk, Evelyn Metcalfe, Lucille Riddoch, Elva Colbert, Mary Lee and Emma Jean Townsend, Flora Rose Templeton, Rose Helen Torbit and Sidonia McBride [Fountain Herald Aug 17, 1921].

This is page 8 of a 1918 edition of Fountain's School Breeze.  Note the local advertisements.

The Jun 25, 1924 Fountain Herald notes that the new school cornerstone was laid under direction of the Masons.  Sealed in a metal casket under the stone were copies of the history of the Fountain masons and the school district, the Women's Improvement Club yearbook, a bible, a 1924 coin, the Fountain Commercial Club Annual and the Fountain Herald.
1924 Junior High

These laws were enacted in Fountain! Even into the 1970s, girls were sent home for wearing pants to school.  

Fountain Ordinances, 6/1/1903 -page 9, section 17.  If any person shall hitch or fasten any horse or other animal to any ornamental fence railing or to any ornamental or shade tree or shrub, in or about any private premises or in any street or alley or other public grounds in town, every such person shall on conviction, be fined a sum of not less than two, or more than one hundred dollars.

A letter from the Board of Directors, School District No. 8, L.G.Niles, President, Mrs. Eunice B. Loomis, Sec'y, F.E. Torbit, Treasurer, reads:
                                    Fountain, Colorado May 7th, 1914

At a meeting of the Board of Directors of School District # 8 El Paso County the following motion to be adopted as a rule was unanimously carried:  No teacher shall engage in dancing nor attend any gathering where any form of dancing is indulged in, while holding a position in our schools. Any violation of this rule will be considered just cause for dismissal by the Board.  

Fountain 1937-38
Fountain High School Band 1939-40

Fountain High Future Farmers Club 1940

This article on Fountain was written by Mrs. Daisy Torbit for her grandson, Stephen Torbit.

The first people who settled around what is now Fountain were early homesteaders. Frank Miller (was really Mueller), the Locks, Owens and Corbins were some of the first settlers. Frank Miller was here in 1860. His land was north of the Ward place. The Cruse home is on part of the original ground. The Lock’s ranch is now the home of the Leonards.

Large cattle ranchers were soon east and west of Fountain. This all brought about the settlement of Fountain. It was really a ranch and cowboy town. It is also older than Colorado Springs. A great number of cattle have been shipped from Fountain.

Two old timers who are now gone were Mr. JO Quick and Mr. Fugit. Both men fought in the Battle of Sand Creek when they were young. 

The old stage coach stop was situated on the spot where George Marshall carries on his business. The Terrell family lived there. One of the Terrell girls married J.O. Quick. When I was a little girl, I remember that Mrs. Quick always baked extra bread to sell to anyone who ran short. In those days everyone baked their own bread. At that time their home was where Mr. and Mrs. Reams live now.

Two of the oldest houses in the Fountain are now the homes of Mr. and Mrs. Jackson and the Jack Powell home. Both houses have since been remodeled. Mr. and Mrs. Nils and Mr. and Mrs. Love were married in the Jackson house. The large house back of the Jack Powell home used to be called the Perkin’s home. It is now used for apartments.

The town has had two hotels. The building west of Marvin Fox’s home was built in 1880 and was called the Mitchell House. Teddy Roosevelt stayed there while on a hunting trip. A few years later the Brunswick Hotel was built and has just now been torn down. Mr. and Mrs. Love had their wedding reception in the Mitchell House.

There are many other old buildings and many of the grout houses were destroyed by the railroad explosion in 1888.

Fountain used to have an opera house. It was moved to the ground east of Mr. Orcutt’s house. Later it was remodeled for a Congregational Church and later it was used for a club house until it was torn down.

The Free Methodist was one of the first churches in Fountain and is still standing. My father came to Fountain in 1895 and it was standing then.

A drug store, owned by Tony Zeiger, stood where the Bakers live now. This was more of a saloon than a drug store.

FE Torbit ran a store on the east side of Main Street, but about 1900 he built the building that is now occupied by Mr. Kraus and the post office. He hauled groceries, coal, ice, etc. to all the ranches, the section house of Buttes and any place where needed.

At one time there was a store where the Metcalf house now stands. It was owned by Mr. Ames, who ran the store.

The old original school house stood where the red brick one does, facing the west. While it was being torn down and the brick one built, the children went to school in a grout house just north of the Roger home. This same building was about the first post office in Fountain and run by Joe Benedict.

The first post office I remember was in the building called the “Old Ark”. Miss Hutchins was the postmistress. Later she built the house where Mr. Orcutt lives, the front part was the post office. Later the post office was back of the present Martin Store building. Some of the postmasters were Mr. Loren Gore, Mrs. Pyles, Cora Northrup and Nellie King.

When Fountain was incorporated, the first police judge was Judge Roberts. Harry Ellington edited the first Fountain Herald and was the first town clerk. My father, L.A. Toothman, was the first Street Commissioner and the first policeman. I have the club which he carried. The town hall or office was just west of the Hasty Café.

Fountain never had a large population in itself but in the old days there was always good business. The ranchers and cowboys kept _____???. The streets were full of cowboys in the evening, holiday and such.  My father and the old timers have told me it was rough. There was quite a lot of drinking and some guns.

I can remember when our hotel was full. We even had some regular summer tourists who came back year after year. We nearly always had two doctors in Fountain.

One of the Mitchell girls married Ed Redmond. Later they moved out west of Fountain. The only other neighbor was the Townsends. Ed Redmond called on the Townsends to get acquainted. He told them he and Mrs. Redmond would like to have them for supper the next evening but was afraid it would be an embarrassing for them as his wife was so deaf that one had to yell loudly for her to hear. Mrs. Townsend said that would be all right, they would be glad to come. Mr. Redmond went home. He told Mrs. Redmond that Townsend’s were coming to supper the next evening. He also told her it might be rather hard on her as Mrs. Townsend was very deaf and they would have to yell to make her hear. Mrs. Redmond said they could get by for the evening, she was sure. When the Townsends arrived, Mrs. Redmond screamed at Mrs. Townsend and Mrs. Townsend screamed at Mrs. Redmond. Finally Mrs. Redmond asked Mrs. Townsend why she was yelling so loudly, that she wasn’t deaf. Mrs. Townsend said “well, neither am I”. The rest of the evening they spent visiting and talking in ordinary voices.

Fountain Principal Closes Long Career at End of Term

A newspaper article clipped from an area paper in 1952 related the history of Mrs. Pearl Taylor, who spent 30 years at Fountain, and 40 years teaching.  Born in 1888, she completed the 8th grade and then went on to teachers' training in Pittsburg, KS.  She began teaching grade 6 at Fountain, coming to the valley in 1922 with her  husband, Fred Taylor, county superintendent.  When the new high school was built, Mrs. Taylor was made principal of the grade school.  She taught several thousand students over her career.  During World War II she kept track of her boys in service, and seven had a gold star beside their name. 

John Wilson, President of the Board of Education.
Board Garnett, Kansas in 1877, his parents came to the Springs in 1889. Graduating the 8th grade, he took up farming, and has lived in the Fountain Valley since 1894.  He has served on the board since 1920, except for one term.

These articles ran in the Fountain Valley News in July, 1971, when the 1903 school was being demolished.

The Life of Elizabeth Hammer

This story contains excerpts from two articles that were given to the library.  One is entitled My Memories of Aunt Liz, written by Ernest W. Hammer and the other is Aunt Liz’s Last Three Years.

Elizabeth Katherine Hammer was born in Parkersburg, WV in 1906 to Ludwig O. Hammer and his wife Margrethe von Barsewich.  Elizabeth was the eighth of twelve children.  Ludwig came from a family of coal miners and emigrated from Germany in 1893.  He became a Lutheran minister.  Margrethe came from an aristocratic family in Germany.  She attended nursing school in Switzerland before emigrating in 1894.  They married in 1894, possibly in Pennsylvania.

The Hammers must have made a trip out to Colorado Springs in 1903, as their names were found in the guest register at the Garden of the Gods.  Elizabeth, her mother and six brothers were sent via train from WV to Colorado in the fall of 1906.  Her father had gone ahead and filed on a homestead east of Colorado Springs.  Upon arrival they lived at 10 N Walnut Street in the Springs and then moved out to their homestead, taking their possessions in wagons.  On this trip, baby Oscar road in the wagon or was sometimes carried by his brother Paul.  When mother hadn’t heard any noise from Oscar for quite awhile and went to check on him, she found that Paul was carrying him upside down.

The homestead was about 17 miles east of the Springs near Franceville coal mine.  It was a two room shack with a tin roof and no running water.  Ludwig would scrounge for old boards and scrap lumber, and they were able to add another room onto the house.  He also picked up old railroad ties and used these to build a bunkhouse for the boys, though he sometimes grabbed new ties from the mine and hauled them home with a wagon.  When caught, he had to haul them back.  Ludwig didn’t like living out in the country and would spend time in town when he could.  He was well educated and worked for the Post Office at one time. 

Aunt Liz related that during the winter of 1913 they had a blizzard and two sheepherders stumbled into their house on the prairie nearly frozen to death.  Another time, the boys were trying to saddle break burro colts and ruined the family’s bean field.  They fretted about what their mother would do when she got home.  Henry began praying for rain and a little while later a big cloud formed and a terrible storm descended on them.  Henry was running around the house screaming that they were going to drown, and Liz was busy trying to get the papers and books up off the floor, while holding her baby sister in the other arm.  After two hours there was no trace of where the bean field had been. 

Liz attended the country schools, O’Conner, Franceville and Drennan, before her mother enrolled her at Fountain, which was accredited and would allow Liz to go on to college.  Liz worked for a family in town, in exchange for room and board, and made friends with the Christians and Wallaces.  She went on to get her teacher’s certificate at Greeley Teacher’s College in 1926.

Aunt Liz taught school in northern Weld County before taking a job at Jefferson in Park County.  She married Bill Smith and they lived on a ranch near Badger Mountain.  A daughter Kathryn was born in 1933 and a son Joe in 1934; Elizabeth stayed home with her children for several years before returning to teaching.  In 1939, she was hired at the Valley School in Lincoln County, and Bill tended cattle for her brothers on Horse Creek, though when he was drunk she had to do his work too.  She worked in Fountain for a few years between 1943 and 1946, and then was elected the Park County School Superintendent.

Aunt Liz was always a teacher and liked to talk.  She would ask me what I thought about different things happening in the news or in the world.  She was very politically active.  She always kept in touch with all of her 29 nieces and nephews, and I enjoyed the time I spent with her.    

In 1948, she got a divorce from Bill Smith, and in 1953 she returned to Fountain and taught there until her retirement in 1972.  She lived in the streetcar that Mr. Wallace converted into an apartment.  I heard about a boy in the Fountain grade school who gave the teachers a lot of trouble and bullied kids.  One day Aunt Liz took him into the coat closet for a few minutes and when they came out he was a changed child.  I don’t know what she said or did.  In 1963, Liz married Charles Benatti.  He retired from the military and they bought a cabin at Lake George and spent their time fishing.  He passed away in 1985.  At the age of 90, Liz took a writing class and began working on the history of the Hammer Family, which her family is editing for publication.  Elizabeth Hammer Benatti died in February, 2009 and is buried at Fort Logan National Cemetery. 


A school house has stood on Main Street since the early 1870s.  Read about the buildings' and town's history, in these letters written to students in 1961, as a school project done by Mrs.  Hanson's class.  Students wrote "old-timers" and inquired about Fountain history.

William S. Reed

Riverside, California

March 15, 1960

Mrs. Hanson,

I am sorry I haven’t answered your letter sooner but I am in California for the winter, will be back the first of April.

When I was a boy, east of Fountain was all open range, everybody ran their cattle and horses on it. There wasn’t too many ranches then, most of them were along the Fountain Creek. There were lots of cowboys. They held a round-up twice a year to brand the calves and wean them. They took a bed wagon and a chuck wagon and about two-hundred cowboys went on the round-up. The Indians were all gone but there was an old fort just south of the springs, one above Fountain, one east of Buttes and one at Wigwam.

In about 1911, Lue May had some of his sheep herders take homesteads out east to have water for the sheep. Then other people started to homestead up that eastern country. In 1913 we had a bad snowstorm. The snow was six feet deep on the level and it caught the homesteaders without much to eat and not much feed for their stock. It took them two days to get to town and two days to get back home.

Our ranch was on the road to town, about half way. Sometimes there would be as much as ten to twenty people to stay all night. People those days didn’t go to town very often. They killed their own beef in the winter and cured their own pork.

That is about all I can think of to write. If I could talk to you, I probably could tell you more.

As ever,

William S. Reed
4256 Beatty Drive

Riverside, Calif.

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William R. Weir
225 E. Fountain St.
Colo. Sprgs., CO

January 7, 1961

I first knew Fountain, Colo. in 1913. At that time it was a quiet little town of 600 people. There were no electric lights at that time. Everyone had a well to furnish water. Some people had windmills and some had hand pumps. As I remember there was 2 grocery stores, a post office, a bank, a pool hall, a drug store, and a hardware store. There were 2 doctors, Dr. Broadway and Dr. Hildendorf. Fountain had a volunteer dire department. The fire truck was a 1900 Brush Auto with two cylinders. There was a 20-room hotel with a large dining room. In connection there was a stable for about 15 horses. There was a lumber yard run by a Mr. Riddock. A blacksmith shop was run by a Mr. McBride.

1913 was the year of the big snow. Snow began falling on December 3 and kept up for three days and nights. There was about four feet of snow. Both railroads were blocked for a few days. There was a great loss of livestock and the cattlemen were hard hit.

Fountain was a heavy shipping point for cattle. Many cattle were driven as much as 50 miles to be shipped. Among the big cattlemen were the Rose Cattle Co., Field-Bohart-Thatcher Cattle Co., Holmes Cattle Co., May Cattle Co., Skinner & Tabor Cattle Co. The life of a cowboy was not one of glamour. Very few cowboys wore a gun. Wages were only $30 a month and there were lots of hardships.

In those days there were hitching racks all along Main St. for horses. The cowboys had horse races on Main St. I never knew Fountain to have a saloon but whiskey could be shipped from Colo. Sprgs. on the many trains.

Many of the old homes of the Fountain Valley were made of cottonwood lumber that was sawed around Fountain. There was an old fort south of Fountain in the Buttes area that had been used in Indian days. There was much more water in the streams then and many thousands of tons of hay came out of Fountain Valley. Most people hauled their coal from Franceville, eight miles NE of Fountain.

Those were homestead days and thousands of acres of land were taken up east of Fountain. Some of the homesteaders stayed but a good many went broke. I have seen very hard times for the homesteaders. The cattlemen did not like them and did nothing to help them.

Mrs. Hanson, I hope this small bit of information will be of some help to you.

- - -
Fountain High School Class of 1922

May 8, 1961

Susie Loch  Andersen
Seattle, Washington

Dear Scholars:

I was very happy to hear from the children of Fountain schools as I am still interested in my birth place.

I fully intended to answer sooner but I work away 5 days a week and have been sick too.

I was born and raised in Fountain, also my father.

My grandparents came from Germany and drove from New York to Fountain with an ox team and homesteaded 100 acres about one mile south of Fountain, which was known as the Loch ranch. This was about 1860 as my father, Uhland K. Loch was born September 7, 1862.

The Indians at this time were plentiful and when my grandmother heard their horses coming she would grab my father in her arms and run to where grandfather was working. They would laugh and say they wouldn’t hurt my grandmother. I guess they wouldn’t as they could of scalped all three of them had they wanted to.

The first store I remember  ????  and grocery run by my grandmother and father across the street from the Fountain school on Main Street. This isn’t the Main Street now. We had a picture of this store which read “U.K. Loch Mercantile Co.” This store burned down about the time my father and mother were married so they moved on the Lock ranch about 1890.

I am the third child and was born in 1897 and at that time the folks owned the house beside the beet dump.

My father passed away when I was 7.

Cowboys were numerous when I was a girl. I have seen better rodeos on Main Street in Fountain than since as they would come to the school at noon and recess to see the girls and of course tried to show off.

The first school I remember was held in a building they made into a stucco house not far from the new school that was built around 1900 as I started to school there and didn’t go till I was 7 as I was ill so much.
The first post office I remember was on the same street south just as you started down a small hill.

I don’t remember any hardships. We were all happy and everyone knew everyone (including their business). We all had about  ????.

The largest celebration we ever had was when Fountain got the water in piped from the mountains. The well water contained alkali and iron and all the children had brown stained teeth and I still have mine.

Fountain had carbine lights for years.

Our entertainment was that which we make ourselves but we thought we had a wonderful time. My home and the Virdeu home was always open for parties and all the parents helped with refreshments. We had many parties.

We used to ice skate on the Torbit reservoir near the cemetery. We would dress warm and throw our skates over our shoulder and walk down the railroad tracks. We always had a big bonfire going near the ice edge and roasted marshmallows.

The Loch ranch and Gebbie ranch had large cherry orchards and we kids always picked cherries to help earn new school clothes.

I think you children would enjoy talking to Mamie Christian about how Fountain has grown. Her husband Lee Christian and her father grew up together. She is about the oldest old timer I know of around there.

????? early spring and pick anemones. They usually were sticking their heads up thru the snow.

We children were full of mischief around Halloween. We used to take every gate off in town and carry them away so all the owners would have to hunt them. The boys would haul wagon and buggies away and push the toilets over.

But all in all, we didn’t know what crime was those days. We all went to church and all church doings and got together for community singing. We didn’t know about radio or TV but we were happy without it as never had had it.

The way the world has progressed is wonderful and Seattle is having the World’s Fair in 1962. Any one that can come see it from Fountain is welcome to come see us. It’s always nice to see someone from home. I’ll call the World’s Fair office and have them mail you a Century 21 brochure.

Hope you have enjoyed my letter. I’d love to come to school and talk to you. I’m not bashful and really would enjoy it.

I’m wondering if your professor Paul West used to live at Fountain too. If so, I remember him. His mother's name was Charlotte and I named my oldest daughter after her as I always loved her so much. Her home was always open to the young folks and a bunch of us went there every Sunday afternoon on the Petter farm. His sister was Edith Charlotte Petter.

Hope you children have enjoyed this letter.

I remain your friend,     Susie Loch Andersen

- - - -

Feb. 19, 1961

Dear Friends:

I wish to thank you for your invitation. I have been away from there so long, I fear I have forgotten much about places and locations. Indians and trading posts were before my time. I would be glad to come to your class and tell you of some of my memories of Fountain in earlier days. Since Lee Christian passed away, maybe no one in that family could help but the Benedict sisters could give you much information.

Please let me know when I should come to visit the class, and I will be there, if the weather permits.

I congratulate you and your fine teacher for your interest in the history of your town.

Cordially yours,

Paul V. West

Map of Fountain, found with the school letters

 -  -  -  -

Fountain, Colo.
March 15, 1961

Mrs. Hanson’s fourth grade,

In reply to your letter about Fountain. When I started to school in Fountain in the 1st grade, there was a three room frame school house standing where the old high school stands (the one built about 1903). Then my Father and Mother moved to a farm south of Fountain, where we lived until I was in high school.

I can tell about much of the history of Fountain but would be pleased to have you come to see me and perhaps I and my sisters could answer some questions. My address is 218 W. Illinois Ave.

Yours respectfully,

Mrs. John Wilson

 -  -  -  -

Info by Mrs. John Metcalf
Mrs. Daisy Torbit

The telephone office was located here as early, or earlier, than 1907. Offices were in homes. Where Oscar Porter lives on Main Street
is where the last office was located for years. Then an equipment office was built back of the lot south of Porters and the telephones were dial, no operators in Fountain since 1939 or 40.

Alice Thady – manager
Mrs. Herbert Wilson
Mrs. Virgil Estep
Mrs. Riddock – manager
Mrs. Lucy McCumber

Not every home had a telephone, people would go to the central office to use the telephone. If someone received a telephone call and didn’t have a telephone, the operator would run right over and deliver the message.

 -  -  -

1711 9th Ave. W. Apt. 2
Bradenton, Florida
April 8, 1961

Mrs. Hanson’s Fourth Grade
Fountain, Colorado

Dear Fourth Graders:

I am sorry to be so slow in answering your interesting letter sent to me in Colorado Springs. I have been in New York City the past winter and the letter finally reached me here in Florida.

I think your interest in the history of Fountain is a fine one and I would like very much to talk with you about the early days there. You will probably find out many things about the town that I did not know. I will not be back in Colorado until about May 20th and I think your school will be out by then but maybe next fall, if you are still interested when you are in the fifth grade, ---------.

I came to Fountain as a small child in 1896 and lived on a small farm about a block west of the present high school. The house which was there at that time was made of grout and the yard boundary flowers, especially roses and a number of large cottonwood trees. There were also two cedar trees, one on either side of the walk leading to the front gate. Those two trees are still there and it seems to me that they are not much larger now than they were when I lived there from 1896 to 1903. Of course they must have grown but evergreens of that kind grow very slowly and they probably have had no ----, very little water all of these years. They must be nearly one hundred years old and I am quite sure are the oldest living things in Fountain. If you go to see them, you will notice that they are not very large. I think they were planted by a man by the name of Hutchins, who lived there before I did.

I will write briefly about the different subjects you mentioned in your letter.

Before my day, there had been some Indian raids in the Fountain Valley but none as late as 1896. Most of the Indians had been put on reservations by that time.

There were many cowboys around Fountain and large herds of cattle were often driven thru the streets on the way from one pasture to another or to the railroads to be shipped. Sometimes they went by the school and the teacher would let us go to the windows and watch them.

From 1900 to 1903, I attended a small, three roomed wooden school house that stood where your building now stands. They tore it down and while your present school house was being built, we went to school in an old store building across Main Street to the east. The stove store building, called Torbit’s Store, had just been ----- his old store. It, the stove store, is now Mr. Barney’s store across the street north of the school grounds. All of this took place fifty-eight years ago – before your parents were born.

I remember well the day the cornerstone to your building was laid. You have noticed it at the northeast corner, I am sure. The names of the members of the Board of Education, Mr. Si—llington, Mr. Phillips and, I believe, Mr. Link are on it, also the date – 1903. It is hollow and there is a small, sealed copper box in it with several articles inside, but I don’t remember what they are. There were speakers and music on the program and after it was over many people enjoyed a picnic on the school lawn. The bell, which is now on the lawn, was at one time, in a belfry just south of the building where it once helped to save your school from burning down. One afternoon in 1906 or 7, just after school was out, a long and loud clanging of the bell brought the entire town rushing to the school to find the basement on fire. They managed to -----for a time, as if the building would be entirely destroyed. As far as I know that was the only time the school was ever threatened by fire.

Our chief “hardship” was having very little money. Even the sugar sold at twenty pounds for one dollar, bread was five cents a loaf and the butcher gave away liver. We were never sure where the next dollar was coming from. My parents died before I was two years olds and my sister and I were living with a maiden aunt. We always got along someway, though, without asking for any charity.

Quite a number of people homesteaded land within a few miles of Fountain. In most cases it was a mistake because there was never enough rain to raise crops and after a few years of near starvation, they abandoned their homestead and went back to their original homes. You can still see what is left of some of these “homes” not far from Fountain.

We had some 4th of July celebrations with races up and down Main Street and fireworks ----- Sunday school picnics where we all went on hayracks to Rock Creek Canyon, about ten miles across the mesa to the west. Of course there was always plenty of food and we played games and went on hikes up the canyon. Usually once during the summer my aunt, my sister and I would go to Colorado Springs on the train and be gone all day. We took our lunches and ate in the park so that was quite a celebration for us too. Several passenger trains each way stopped at Fountain. I remember the regular, round trip fare was 75 cents but on Saturday it was 55 cents.

There were some large cattle ranches in those days on which the cowboys worked but there are few cattle on ranches these days. Most of them are raised in “feedlots”. That is due to a number of things. Maybe I can talk to you about them someday.

There were no “trading posts” in or near Fountain in my days. They were just regular stores.

A few days ago I had the pleasure of --- visit with Fountain’s-----------Fountain in 1870 and lived there until 1916 when she moved here to Florida where she has lived ever since. Of course she is 90 years old now. She told us many interesting things about her life in Fountain, particularly about the “big explosion” in 1888, by far the worst thing that ever happened to Fountain. She was an eyewitness.

I think, though, Fourth-graders, that I have written you enough for this time. If you have been able to stay awake while Mrs. Hanson has read all of this to you and if you would like to hear about the “explosion” you let me know and I will tell you what this eyewitness to Fountain’s very early history told me.

I hope that you have found that the history of Fountain has been interesting to you and that you have decided that it is a good place in which to live.

Most sincerely,

Lowell Mills

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1922 Commencement
The graduating class consisted of girls Elizabeth Ford, Clement Adkins, Frankie Rowe, Concheatious Layman, Margaret White, Corinne Tucker, and boys Ray Marshall, Roy Ga_t and Clarence Foster.  Commencement was held at the Fountain Theater on May 19.  

Graduation Day, Rosetta and Ruth Perriman, 1943