Wednesday, February 21, 2018


In 1901 residents of Colorado Springs, Colorado wrote letters to be sealed away in a century chest to be opened in 2001. At the time the letters were written, Colorado Springs had been in existence for approximately thirty years. Not long by many standards, but the residents believed in their town and what it had and would stand for.  Below are some excerpts from some of those letters taken from the book "The Century Chest Letters of 1901: A Colorado Springs Legacy, edited by Judith Reid Finley. 

When I read the beginning of Dr. Caldwell's letter, I had to smile. Yet he seems to capture the essence of the town at that time.

Samuel Le Nord Caldwell M.D.

My dear friends of the 21st century,

I wish that I might be present one hundred years hence, when you open the iron box and read this letter and the others enclosed with it. Be careful how you criticize it for my spirit may be hovering around, or I may be present in my "astral body" listening to what you are saying. 

Dr. Caldwell goes on to say:

The presence of this large element of people of wealth and cultivation, who had traveled and seen much of the world, makes Colorado Springs a very delightful place of residence and different from any other towns in the West. 
Samuel Le Nord Caldwell M.D. 

Mrs. Goddard explains  what life was like for she and her friends. This excerpt is from the beginning of her letter explaining how busy their lives are.

Elizabeth Cass Ledyard Goddard

My Dear Twenty-first  Century Women

As I try to give you a pen and ink picture of today I wonder if you will have made the days any longer whether life will have become less complex. For we think we are very busy women and interested in a great variety of pursuits. Perhaps a sketchy record of one day would give you some idea of what I mean. I am sure someone else will have told you of our houses, our resources, and many of the conditions that go to make our homes comfortable and convenient. We usually breakfast from 8 to 930 — fruit and some sort of serial, such as cracked wheat, oatmeal or one of the many preparations of that nature, eggs in some form, tea or coffee, and griddle cakes, either with or without syrup. Sometimes this is served on trays and sent to the bedroom, but generally the table is set in the dining room area and the family gathers there. A visit to the kitchen where the needs of the larder are disclosed, and the closets and refrigerators (large boxes with ice to hold the food) are inspected. By means of the telephone which is found in almost every home and shop much of the ordering is done. A trip downtown to complete what was not finished through the telephone and to attend to some business follows, and during this little expedition cheery greetings are exchanged and quite a bit of social life is [brought] with the morning walk. In winter we are warmly clothed and wear skirt of some woolen material which escapes the ground by some three inches. A fur or heavy cloth coat, a close-fitting little bonnet, or a hat with plumes or some soft trimming, and comfortable boots, with thick soles and low heels. White is a favorite color for summer — or a "shirtwaist" of some wash material and a different kind of skirt. A little sailor hat is the style of the young girls in the same shape hat found spoken of before for older people, close-fitting and one without strings. On our return from this morning walk in the mail for the day awaits us, when the letters are opened and answered.
Elizabeth Cass Ledyard Goddard

I absolutely love Harriet's letter. This 'salt of the earth' woman is someone I can relate to.

Harriet Peck Farnsworth

Dear Great grandchildren,

This grandma has been asked to write you a letter giving you a little idea of her life in its Western surroundings. It seems rather a ghostly thing to do — this writing to a generation yet unborn! Maybe not my own descendents! Even my dear grandchildren, Alice five years old, Edith three, will not be living when this letter is opened and read; but I hope there will be some of their children who will be interested in the few details I shall put on this paper. It seems weird, that the paper will outlive us all and bear witness that we have lived.

Perhaps you are wondering what my surroundings are, so I will try to give you a picture of this Sunday afternoon — July 28, 1901. My little home has a wonderful view of Cheyenne Mountain and Pike's Peak, and as I look out of the door of my little den, the wondrous beauty of the mountains appeal to me so much that I should like you to see it, just as I see it. Now and then a bird's note is heard, but a Sunday quiet, a New England Sunday quiet, is over it all, and the power of nature's grand silence is felt. The "everlasting hills" will be the same to you, which is a pleasant thought.   Harriet Peck Farnsworth

My final choice is the beginning of Leah Ehrich's letter. She seems to voice the thoughts we ourselves my be asking ourselves about the coming generations.

Leah Lucile Ehrich

To the people of Colorado Springs in the year 2001,

It is with mingled feelings that I begin my letter to you who are as yet unborn and un-conceived, undreamt, and thought of! There is something inexpressibly sad to me in the thought that we can never reach you, never know how you receive our words sent in this manner, never know how much or how little you sympathize with us and feel gratitude for our small achievements.  Leah Lucilce Ehrich

What a gift it is to be able to read what was important to those who lived in the time we write about. Yes, Colorado Springs was not your typical Western town, but its residents lived, loved, laughed and cared about the future. We do the same thing.

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Member of National League of American Pen Women,
Women Writing the West,
Pikes Peak Posse of the Westerners

Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet
For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Photo and Poem: Click Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

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