I wrote about the Dearfield Colony last summer, and current efforts by various local organizations and citizens to preserve what’s left of an important site for African American history in the west. There’s an article today in the Denver Post containing an update on Dearfield, and on a recent site clean-up. Dearfield was founded by Oliver Toussaint “O.T.” Jackson in 1908, and a handful of householders broke ground there in 1910. “Early residents lived in tents, dugouts and even caves. But in 10 years, Dearfield had grown to 700 people and boasted a church, schoolhouse, filling station, lunchroom and dance pavilion.” The Dust Bowl put an end to this lively experiment, and the colony was abandoned in 1948.
Says La Wanna Larson, executive director of the Black American West Museum in Denver, “This town is in huge peril. It will not stand another winter.” The Greeley Museums, the Black American West Museum, and Weld county Commissioner Bill Garcia are working together to save the site and erect a monument to commemorate the centennial of the colony’s founding this year.
The Post also notes 100th anniversary celebration events:
The Friends of Dearfield will mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the community with a celebration from 1 to 4 p.m. Sept. 28.
The Black American West Museum will host a series of afternoon teas, lectures, tours, festivals and programs featuring the history and accomplishments of the settlers of Dearfield throughout the year. Participants also will be given the opportunity to tour Dearfield. For more information, call 303-482-2242.
Sounds like it’s time to plan a field trip!