Western History & Genealogy Blog

Western History Collection

Colorado Ostrich Farm Co. Records, 1907

Harry M. Rhoads at ostrich farm in California, by Harry M. Rhoads, between 1900-1920. Rh-36
Portrait of woman wearing an ostrich feather hat, by Fisher, 1908. Z-6588
Ostrich buggy at the Flower Carnival in Colorado Springs, by H. S. Poley, August 1896. P-2318

With turkeys taking the spotlight this week, let us not forget our other feathered friend: the ostrich.

Ostrich feathers were used extensively in 19th-century fashion, as the ideal silhouette called for fullness in the upper body, neck, and head.

WHG Volunteers Feted

WHG Volunteer Tea
Staff serving tea and sandwiches to WHG volunteers.
Tea or apple cider for the WHG volunteers.

The Jewels in our crown!

Volunteers are like an old fashion candy - they are LIFESAVERS!

Denver Dining of Yore: The Watrous Bar and Café

Interior view of the Watrous Café showing the trout pool (center), circa 1906. X-29454
Watrous Bar and Café menu, 1906. Menu collection, WH1509
Newspaper illustration of Kimmel trial, 1899. George F. Watrous scrapbook, -M822
Beer list from Watrous Bar and Café menu, 1906. Menu collection, WH1509

In 1909, the Watrous Bar and Café was called “the largest, finest and most completely equipped bar and café in the West” by the newspaper

Whisky for My Men and Beer for My Horses

Woman Seated on Ground with Man holding a beer bottle
Saloon in Morrison, Colorado
Bar in Denver, Colorado
Picnic in Colorado
Saloon in Cripple Creek, Colorado
Bar Tenders in Denver, Colorado
Group Portrait of Men with Cigars and Booze
Saloon in Blackhawk Colorado

Frontier Firewater and Old West Mixology

As long as people have been alive on this planet, they have sought to quench their thirst for alcohol. Folks in the Old West were no different.

"Martial Law Declared As Texas Riots Kill Two"

Rocky Mountain News Headlines
Shipyard Workers, Beaumont, Texas
Angry Sailors
Beaumont, Texas, 1943
Beaumont, Texas, 1943
Jim Crow: Legalized Racism
Beaumont, Texas, 1943
Detroit Riots, 1943

Beaumont, Texas June 17, 1943

In World War II, Beaumont, Texas had become an industrial boom town, with its factories and shipyards busily engaged in providing for the U.S. Military in its battle against Hitler and Japan.

Douglas Fairbanks: Denver Native, Famous Actor, And Wild Kid

Outwest. Denver Post Magazine. 3 October 1982. Page 54. Author Mike Flanagan.
Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford in Denver for John Fairbanks' Funeral
Denver Post. 4 November 1999. Page 5E.
Cooke, Alistair. Douglas Fairbanks: The Making of a Screen Character. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, [1940]. Front Cover.

Before Douglas Fairbanks got kicked out of Denver’s East High School for an over-exuberant use of paint and ribbons on St.

Snarky Comments from Denver Theatergoers, 1881-1911

Florence E. McCune, Denver High School, 1879. Z-8022
Scrapbook, 1907-1909. Birdie B. A. McCune Papers, WH407.
Review of The Great Divide by Blanche McCune, 1908.

To say that Denver sisters Florence E. “Flora” (1860-1932) and Blanche A. “Birdie” McCune (1869-1943) liked going to the theater is an understatement.

Sedans, Coupes and Tin Lizzies ~


The Early Days of the Automobile

Though 1886 is generally considered the birth year of the modern automobile, with the introduction of the Benz Patent-Motorwagen, the Model T Ford was the first car that was affordable for middle-c

The Last Outlaw of the West

Earl Durand
Posse Chasing Durand
Men Killed by Durand
Durand Dead

A Tale of a Depression Era Desperado 

On the evening of March 13, 1939 near Cody, Wyoming, Earl Durand – a mountain man who lived off the land – killed several out-of-season elk in Wyoming’s northern wilderness.

Photo Archive Friday

Mabel Strickland
Cheyenne Frontier Days 1929 cover

My Favorite Cowgirl of All Time - Mabel Strickland

Fall is shaping up real nice here in the Rockies. State Fairs are in full swing and the rodeos are coming to town. Speaking of rodeos, this brings to mind my favorite cowgirl, Mabel Strickland.