Thursday, September 29, 2016

Red Scare 1920s

They were misunderstood from the beginning. The newcomers had large families, were Catholic or Orthodox, had come from regions in eastern Europe and Russia that were riddled with anarchists, and didn't speak English. Were the Volga Deutsche German? Or Russian? Why was Holy Transfiguration Church topped with a gold onion dome? Who are the Carpatho-Rusyns? 

Immigrants in Globeville had been recruited by smelters, railroads and the beet industry during the economic boom of the 1880s to supply cheap, abundant labor. After the economic downturn in 1893, they were not welcome and retreated to their enclaves, worshiping in old-world churches, socializing with people from the same region of Europe, and congregating in their ethnic saloons, which increased suspicion and misunderstanding.

The devastation of World War I and Spanish Influenza caused Americans and Coloradans to pull back from foreign entanglements. The war had not made the world "safe for democracy" - Europe was still in turmoil - and the Bolshevik's revolt in Russia resulted in civil war, famine and Communist rule. Anything and anyone associated with Bolsheviks, anarchists, foreign agitators, or radical labor unions were considered dangerous.

In the mind of the public, unions were linked with violence, anarchy and Communism. People remembered that smelter workers in Globeville, members of the Mill and Smeltermen, (a subsidiary of the Western Federation of Miners) had participated in the violent strikes in 1903. Labor unrest after World War I, supposedly incited by Bolsheviks spurred the Colorado legislature to pass a law in 1919 forbidding the display of the “red flag” in public. The headquarters of the International Workers of the World in Pueblo were raided and suspected radicals rounded up; and in Denver an ordinance was passed forbidding any person from speaking in a manner that could incite “rebellion.” The most dramatic example of the “red scare” occurred in the summer of 1920, when unionized employees of the Denver Tramway Company went on strike to protest wage cuts. When the company imported strikebreakers, violence erupted, cars were overturned and burned in downtown Denver. In the public's opinion, unions were violent and dangerous.
Residents of Globeville took notice of public opinion. Fraternal organizations displayed large American flags during their gatherings, and many business hung American flags in their windows. Some people left Transfiguration Russian Orthodox Church, while others

“Americanized” their names - Staresinich was shortened to “Star,” Snidersich changed to “Snyder,” Yakin became “Jackson.” 

Gradually the “red scare” subsided, but the negative attitudes toward immigrants remained. Bowing to the growing fear that people from eastern Europe threatened the nation's very existence, Congress passed a law in 1924* that effectively ended immigration from eastern Europe.

* The Johnson-Reed Immigration Act of 1924 limited the number of immigrants allowed into the United States through a national origins quota. The quota provided immigration visas to two percent of the total number of people of each nationality in the United States as of the 1890 national census. It completely excluded immigrants from Asia. 

1921 Convention WSA, Pueblo
Photo used with written permission from Joseph Skrabec

Sjedinjenih "One for All" Orthodox Lodge
used with written permission from Steve Machuga

Polish Constitution Day Parade, 1940
used with written permission from Jan Gisewski Garland

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Nathaniel P. Hill - Boston and Colorado Smelter

Most photos of Nathaniel P. Hill show the mature businessman, distinguished-looking U.S. Senator and publisher of the Denver Republican Newspaper. But it was the thirty-two-year old Hill who pioneered smelting methods and saved Colorado's fledgling mining industry.

A professor of chemistry at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, young Hill was already a rising star in scientific and business circles when he was contacted by mining men and investors in the Colorado territory to solve a problem with ores.

Gold had been discovered in Colorado in the fall of 1858, and fortune seekers rushed to the territory the following spring, finding "free gold" - nuggets and flakes - in their sluice boxes. But most of Colorado's valuable minerals were not "free" but bound up in complex ores. Without a method to economically separate minerals from the sulfides and bromides that trapped them, mining was fruitless. By 1864, the territory faced a crisis as prospectors and investors withdrew their money, mines closed, camps were deserted and settlements evaporated.

Hill arrived in Central City in 1864, intrigued by the challenge, but also attracted to the West as the place to make a name for himself. Hill observed first hand the problems of separating gold and silver from complex sulfide ores and methodically investigated various European smelting technologies, settling on a process developed in Swansea, Wales. With four other investors, Hill organized the Boston and Colorado Smelting Company in Black Hawk and by 1868 the smelter was in operation. 

For ten years, the Boston and Colorado was the only smelting operation in the Rockies to attain both technical and financial success, with production growing from $271,000 in 1868 to $2,260,000 in 1878. By 1878, the company needed to expand and relocated to an area of high ground between west 44th and 48th Avenues and Delaware to Fox Streets, taking advantage of the nearby Colorado Central and Denver Pacific Railroads. The Boston and Colorado built a company town known as Argo, and many people referred to the smelter as the Argo Smelter. (in Greek mythology, Argo is the name of a ship whose captain, Jason, hopes to find the golden fleece and claim his inheritance). The success of the plant prompted the construction of two smelters nearby: the Omaha and Grant in 1882 and the Globe Smelter in 1889.

Hill’s achievements led to a political career: he was elected mayor of Black Hawk in 1871, then Colorado‘s Republican Senator from 1879 to 1885, serving on the Committee on Mines and Mining and advocating for free coinage of silver. After his term ended, Hill purchased the Denver Republican newspaper to promote Republican causes. 

Hill's business success is well known, but his relations with his employees differed from that of his competitors. During the national recession of 1893, both the Grant and Globe Smelters closed, laid of workers and waited for economic conditions to improve. When those plants reopened, new hires were forced to take a 10 to 15 percent reduction in pay, leading to resentment, unrest and strikes. During the same period, Hill reduced his own salary, but not that of his employees saying that he could stand the loss better than they could.* (Because the Boston and Colorado processed ores containing gold, the plant was able to operate without layoffs). Hill's employees never joined the Mill and Smeltermen's Union.

Hill died in Denver on May 22, 1900 and is buried at Fairmount Cemetery. 

*“Did Not Cut Wages at Argo Smelter in 1893 and Said He Could Stand Loss Better Than Men.” Denver Times, June 13, 1899

Senator Nathaniel P. Hill, photo Matthew Brady

Boston and Colorado Smelter at Argo, photo Denver Public Library

Hill residence at 14th and Welton,
built in 1884. photo Denver Public Library

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Blini, Brats, Beer and Slivovitz - Festivals in Globeville

Globeville's ethnic heritage can best be experienced in the parish food festivals, the first of which is the Orthodox Food Festival and Old Globeville Days, July 16 and 17th at Argo Park. Every kind of food, entertainment, games for the children, crafts and tours of beautiful Holy Transfiguration of Christ Orthodox Cathedral. Don't miss it!

Next in the summer calendar of events is the Polish Food Festival, August 20 and 21st at St. Joseph's Polish Catholic Church. Polish food, music, dancers, beer and a chance to interact with your neighbors.
Sunday, September 4th is the date of the Holy Rosary Bazaar, with food being served from 9:00 am until 8:00 pm. There will be a 50/50 raffle for cash and prizes, entertainment, music, games for the children and the GRAND PRIZE raffle for a brand new Jeep Patriot.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Lighted Rosary and three big bells

Dedicated on July 4, 1920, Holy Rosary Church was last of the ethnic churches built in Globeville. Slovenes and Croats could attend St. Joseph's Polish Church in the neighborhood, but longed for a place where they could receive the sacraments from a priest who spoke their language, be married and buried with the comfort of their own religious traditions, and celebrate their distinctive Slavic feasts. Planning and collecting funds for the parish had begun as early as 1902, and when the parish was finally constructed, many people and organizations were eager to contribute.
One such contribution was the lighted Rosary, which surrounds the statue of the Blessed Virgin in the center of the altar, a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Gale and constructed by Mr. John Kucler.
Over the years, the lights forming the Rosary have stopped working, as have the sockets and the band that holds the entire mechanism. Finding someone who could restore the Rosary took some time - the technology dates from the 1920s and the altar itself is fragile. But a craftsman within the parish, Jose Garcia, and Monsignor Jorge de los Santos, found a way to restore this important symbol.

 Photo of lighted Rosary ® Mary Lou Egan
Information about Lighted Rosary and bells
from 25th Anniversary, Silver Jubilee Holy Rosary

Parishioners are also proud of Holy Rosary's bells in the north tower of the church. The largest bell was cast in a foundry in Baltimore, cost $700, weighs 1700 pounds, and was the gift of tavern owner Joseph Jartz. The second largest bell weighs 500 pounds and was donated by parishioners, who raised $400 for the purpose. The third bell was a gift of Joseph Horvat at $300. The smaller two bells were cast in a foundry in Denver. Bells have called people to Mass, announced weddings, funerals, the end of wars and impending natural disasters. This last year, the bells have become increasingly hard to ring, and there was concern about the structural soundness of their mountings. Experts in restoration were needed.
On June 28, Andrew Ruder and Corey Nook of Haselden Construction joined Monsignor Jorge to investigate, climbing the stairs to the choir loft, a narrower set of stairs up the tower, and then a steep ladder. It was worth it!
Even covered in dust, the bells are magnificent, the stamp of the foundry still visible in the metal. The structure holding them seems sturdy, but the rope pulls are frayed. All in all, some fine craftsmanship. Haselden Construction and Verdin (a 175-year-old foundry) will put together recommendations and estimates for the work and the Holy Rosary finance council will review the proposals. It is hoped that the founders of the parish will bless our efforts to continue their legacy.

The largest bell, Rings the note "A"
Presented to Holy Rosary Church By
Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Jartz
In memory of
Their parents
And their son Joseph
Who died Oct. 29, 1918 Photo ® Mary Lou Egan

Two smaller bells were cast in a foundry in Denver.
Bell to the right rings the note "C"

Kraljica sv roznega venca
Darovali clani in clanice zupnije
Denver, CO. 1919
 Text written in Slovenian which means
Queen of Holy Rosary
Donated by members of parish

Bell to the left rings the note "E"
Presented to Holy Rosary Church by
Joseph Horvat
In memory of his wife Katie
Who died Dec. 25, 1918
And son Edward who died Dec. 26, 1918
Photo ® Mary Lou Egan

Andrew Ruder and Corey Nook enjoyed the task. Photo ® Mary Lou Egan

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Shave, haircut and a beer - barbershops in Globeville

In the years before World War II, a visit to a barbershop was a regular and frequent occurrence. The all-male hang-out was not only a place to get a shave and haircut, but to catch up with friends, tell jokes and generally unwind. Conversations included family, sports, local gossip and politics and everyone participated - the fellow getting the haircut and those waiting for a haircut. A newspaper was on hand to verify the facts.
Barbershops were classy establishments, with large mirrors, marble counters lined with colorful glass tonic bottles, and comfortable chairs fitted with leather upholstery. Everything from the shaving mugs to the advertising signs featured an artistic treatment. The aromas of cherry and butternut-flavored pipe tobacco and the scent of hair tonics, pomades and oils welcomed the patron with a warm familiarity. Men would take their sons to the barber to carry on the manly tradition.
Some establishments, like Alex Kohut's at 4945 Washington, or Paul's Barbershop at 4500 Washington included a saloon. There was also John Folcik's at 4531 Washington, Lee Gregston's at 82 E. 45th, Alex San Roman at 190 E. 45th and that of Sam Maestes at 4485 Washington.
Many of those former locations still exist in the neighborhood - perhaps an opportunity for regular grooming, a social center, civic forum and bastion of manliness.  

Sam Maestes Barbershop at 4485 Washington
Photo ® Denver Public Library

Thursday, May 19, 2016

John C Horst - How It Pays To Live A Godly Life

"It is my hope that my life might have meant something to someone," is one of the closing statements in eighty-two-year-old John C. Horst's autobiography, "Real Life. Read about the Horsts. How It Pays To Live A Godly Life."
Born in Norka, Russia, in 1890, Horst begins his story with reminiscences of his early life in the village, one of the largest colonies in the Volga region with a population of about 3000. Horst remembered a "wonderful place" with many small businesses, a flour mill, blacksmith shop, tannery and three churches. "Everybody had to go to church." Those who missed services three weekends in a row would have to appear in front of the mayor with an explanation. Many young men might have chaffed at this expectation, but Horst seems to have embraced it.
Although the family enjoyed their life in Russia, there was increasing pressure from the Russian government to assimilate with the biggest fear being the threat of conscription, and a six-year term in the Russian army. When the family received glowing letters of life in Colorado from an uncle they took the opportunity to emigrate, arriving in Denver in June, 1902.
Young Horst became active in the First German Congregational Church, leading Sunday School classes, a community band and singing in the choir. While singing in the choir, Horst noticed the red-headed Katie Schlitt and they were married in 1916. Both were only 18.
With Horst working for the Burlington Railroad and Katie taking care of the couple's six children, life was good for the family. But when the Great Depression began in 1929, the Burlington cut Horst's hours to two days a week and all members of the family took on whatever odd jobs they could find. In 1931, even though his own family was struggling, Horst served on a relief committee in Denver, an experience that affected him profoundly.
Horst and a Mr. Green found an old couple living in a tin shack between the Burlington tracks and the Platte River, cold, wet and hungry. The men rushed to their own homes and brought back food, fuel and coats to the elderly couple and Horst made a promise that night that he would labor nearly 30 years to fulfill. "God, if you ever give me a few dollars, I will try to do something for the aged."
The economy gradually improved and, in 1934, the Horst family built a machine shop, Farmers Tool & Supply Corporation; in 1937, the family also acquired farmland from a bank auction. As the United States prepared for war, Farmers Tool & Supply began handling government contracts, which provided steady earnings and reason to expand.
In 1941, Horst began the fulfillment of his promise to provide for the elderly, incorporating his farm as Sunny Acres Villa and gradually building a few cottages. Horst approach church members and fellow business owners for financing his vision, but found very little support, until a Dr. Kenneth P. Berg  from Lee's Summit, Missouri, provided the necessary financial and organizational support.
Today, the Villas at Sunny Acres is one of four Christian living facilities in the metropolitan area and a testament to the faith and perseverance of John C. Horst and his commitment to leading a Godly life.

First German Congregational Church Community Band, with John Horst kneeling left.
Photo used with written permission from Heritage Community Bible Church

The board of the Villas at Sunny Acres, John C. Horst third from right, seated.
Photo used with written permission from Janet Wagner

Monday, May 9, 2016

Swedes in Globeville

Most Swedes immigrating to America arrived in the period after the Civil War and settled in the Great Lakes states and the northern Great Plains particularly in Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin. Unlike the eastern European newcomers, Swedes were not fleeing religious persecution but were attracted by the farmland available under the Homestead Act of 1862. Swedes were also lured to the west by the Colorado gold rush, and found jobs in mines and smelters in Black Hawk, Central City, Pueblo, Leadville, Cripple Creek, Aspen and Ouray.
When Colorado's first successful smelter, the Boston and Colorado, built a plant north of Denver in 1878, the company employed Scots, Welsh, Germans, Irish, English and a large number of Swedes. In the company town of Argo, Inca Street was referred to as Smaland Avenue because so many residents came from that region of Sweden. Swedes also found jobs in the Omaha and Grant, and Globe Smelters, railroads, brickyards, foundries and meat packing plants in Globeville.
Swedes formed numerous self-help societies like the Skandia Benevolent Order in 1876, as well as social groups like the Republican Club, the Swedish-American Silver Club, a Scandinavian-gymnastic club, music society, theatrical troupe, hospital organization, publishing company, and Swedish versions of the Red Men, Knights of Pythias, Odd Fellows, and American Foresters. There were seven Swedish-language newspapers in Colorado between 1882 and 1944 with Svenska Korrespondenten (published from 1889 to 1901) being the most widely read with branch offices in Pueblo, Leadville and Cripple Creek.
The Swedish Lutheran or the Union Swedish Church in nearby Argo provided a spiritual home within walking distance of Globeville; the Bethany Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church (at 32nd and Gilpin Street), the First Swedish Methodist Episcopal (in 1890, located at 1924 Pennsylvania), or Swedish Lutheran Church at 23rd and Court Place also held services for Swedes.
Although Swedes were never numerous enough to have a church or lodge building in Globeville, their culture added a distinctive flavor to the neighborhood.

Bethany Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church at 32nd and Gilpin Street

Swedish Lutheran Confirmation Class about 1914 

Swedish workers from the brickyards