Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Potica - Povitica

Derived from the Slovenian word "poviti" meaning "to wrap in," potica (Serbs refer to it as Povitica) is a sweet yeast bread with a walnut, apple, poppy seed or cream cheese filling. 
Making this treat should be mandatory during the holidays: several generations of family are gathered at Christmas or Easter, the process takes most of the day and there are tasks suitable for both young and old family members. Small hands can grind walnuts while grandma explains how the recipe arrived from the "old country" with her mother "who left when she was 16-years-old, and was never able to see her parents again."  A tattered recipe card contains ingredients and the steps, but the commentary provides the variations: "Your aunt Helen always adds raisins, and aunt Agnes uses honey instead of sugar. Folks worried when your Uncle Andy married a German girl but she learned to make the best potica, and it worked out all right." 
More important than a written recipe is the action of kneading, of observing the dough rise (twice!), spreading the filling just so in order for the pastry to cook and pricking the bread so air bubbles can escape. The kitchen is filled with the aroma of baking bread and the warmth of family stories.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Whistles, bells and horns

There was a time in Globeville when few people owned a watch or even a radio, yet most residents were aware of the time and of events important to the community.
"When we heard the Globe Smelter whistle in the morning, we knew we had about 10 minutes before school began and we'd better start walking," June Jackson Egan said. Whistles, bells and horns made sure the neighborhood and the blue-color labor force knew what time it was. 
The meat packing plants used whistles to signal a shift change and lunch time at noon, church bells rang out before Mass each morning and trains blew their horns in warning at every crossing. All would peal in celebration at the end of World War I and on VJ Day, and sound an alarm whenever the Platte River would overflow its banks. New Year's Eve was a noisy affair of whistles, bells and inebriated gunfire. 
Today, the smelter and packinghouses are quiet, and residents check updates from smart phones for detailed information. Yet the bells of Transfiguration, St. Joseph's and Holy Rosary Churches continue their tradition of announcing that Mass is about to begin, and trains interrupt the day with their horns. 

Top photo, the silent Globe Smelter Plant, by Mary Lou Egan
Bottom photo, Employees of Armour and Company, 1929, photo used with written permission from Dorothy Nevelos

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

1918 Spanish Influenza

In 1918, the nation was at war and people were on the move. So too was a mysterious and lethal illness that first appeared in the spring in Fort Funston, Kansas and then traveled with soldiers going to Europe. There the virus mutated into a more deadly form before returning to the United States in the late summer of 1918, carried by men returning from the battlefields. 
At first the virus targeted military camps on the East Coast, but rapidly spread to civilians and to inland cities and rural areas. By the time influenza was reported in Denver in September, it had already killed over 1000 people in Boston and 100 in Chicago.
Denver's manager of health, Dr. William H. Sharpley, hoped to avoid a panic and gave newspapers rules for combatting the disease..."breathe deeply when the air is pure" and to remember the three C's: "clean mouth, clean heart and clean clothes." As the epidemic progressed, Denver's Board of Health ordered all schools, churches, and theaters to close and indoor gatherings banned. Dairys and grocers stopped delivering to homes. 
In Globeville, it seemed that every family had at least one member who was ill. Steve Machuga remembered two of the men who were boarding in their home. “John Stasienko and John Pastor both worked at the Globe Smelter and shared a room at our house. Stasienko got the flu in the morning and died that night and Pastor died the next week.” Records from St. Joseph Polish Church show a burial nearly every day, and sometimes two or three a day from September 1918 to the spring of 1919. Parishioner Tony Mandich lamented that he had served as a pallbearer eighteen times in four months. 
Gradually, the occurrences of the flu subsided. Like the rest of the nation, Globeville lost fewer of its citizens in the World War than to the Spanish Influenza.* 

Globeville's two casualties in World War I were John Wysowatcky and Martin Clement. Numbers of people lost to the flu have not been compiled, but could be surmised from church burial records. 
Statistics on the epidemic are not entirely reliable, but it is estimated that between September 1918 and June 1919, the lethal virus known as "Spanish Influenza" and its complications, particularly pneumonia, killed nearly 1,500 Denverites.

**The 1918 influenza outbreak: An unforgettable legacy by By Stephen J. Leonard, The Denver Post, May 5, 2009

Photo of Joseph Chintala's headstone, one of many graves at Riverside Cemetery with a story to tell. Photo by Mary Lou Egan

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Haunted House of Globeville

A lot of decorations and haunted houses will appear in yards around Globeville during the month of October, but none of them will be as interesting as Globeville's real "haunted house."
The story begins with the discovery of gold in Colorado in 1858 and John B. Hindry, who  made a fortune supplying lumber and cattle to others who came seeking mineral riches. In 1870, the wealthy Hindry purchased 110 acres of land north of Denver along the South Platte River to build a country home away from the grime and noise of frontier Denver, with plans to create an exclusive subdivision. He constructed his two-story Victorian mansion in 1873, a masterpiece crowned with an ornate cupola and an entrance watched over by two massive iron lions. The interior was decorated with black walnut paneling and Italian marble. A two-story brick stable for trotting horses and a greenhouse stood behind the house. A miniature playhouse for the Hindry children, William, Nettie, Horace, and Charles, was built in the style of the mansion.
By the turn of the century, Hindry’s fortunes had turned. He suffered the death of his son Charles in 1878 and of his wife in 1881; his other children had married and left to begin lives of their own. John Hindry was alone in his mansion.
His dream home soon become a nightmare. Not long after his mansion was completed, the Boston and Colorado Smelter began operating (1879), followed by the Grant (1882) and Globe Smelters (1889). The construction of railroads, foundries, and meat-packing plants made the area more suited to heavy industry than to exclusive homes. The fumes from the smelters killed the trees, and ate through the carpets and curtains in the mansion, and the stench from the meat-packing plants ruined any hopes for a subdivision. When Hindry's lawsuit against the Globe Smelter was unsuccessful, he became increasingly bitter.
Rumors circulated that the lonely old man had a hoard of money hidden in the house, and thieves began to prowl the property. After being robbed several times, Hindry set up a trap with a shotgun that would fire straight out the window when the sash was raised. It didn’t take long to get results.
On the morning of September 18, 1901, Hindry set his trap as usual, and went to Golden on business. When he returned home at 6 pm, he found a man dead in his front yard.*
Eventually the trap became Hindry’s undoing. One night he entered the room when he thought he’d heard a prowler, tripped over the trigger cord and was wounded by his own gun. Although he recovered, he abandoned his former dream home to move to California in 1906. 
As the neglected and abandoned property deteriorated, stories of ghostly apparitions began to circulate. Some said they saw Hindry’s ghost, while others claim the figure was that of the man who had been shot there. The former mansion became known as Globeville's “haunted house.”
In 1921 Leo Bomareto bought the house at a tax auction for $6000 and leased it to the city for an isolation hospital for tuberculosis patients for five years, beginning in 1923. In the 1940s, the Bomareto family moved in, fixed up the house and converted the former stable in the backyard to a meat-packing plant. During the 1950s the family sold Christmas trees from a lot set up in the backyard. In July 1962, an unexplained explosion threw Frank Bomareto out of bed and the resulting fire destroyed the house. 
Today nothing remains of the Hindry Mansion but memories.

*Automatic Gun Kills Thief” Rocky Mountain News, September 19, 1901

Top photo, Hindry mansion in its prime, Colorado Historical Society
Middle photo, deteriorating "haunted house" Colorado Historical Society
Bottom photo, the site today is occupied by Bomareto's Market, Mary Lou Egan

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Easing the Way - Emigration

Political unrest, religious and cultural oppression and economic uncertainty were some of the factors that motivated Eastern Europeans and German Russians to emigrate in the years before World War I. Improvements in transportation eased the way. Steamships crossed the Atlantic in as little as two weeks and offered a variety of accomodations and rates, including the opportunity for men to work off their passage. The invention of the prepaid ticket and the development of inexpensive and reliable means of transferring funds abroad made it easier for families to finance their own exodus. 

A sample of a wire transfer of funds in 1902

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Riverside Cemetery

1876. The United States would celebrate its first centennial, Colorado would achieve statehood and Denver would begin to evolve from a rough mining camp to a respectable city. The stability was an incentive for business and families to put down roots and create permanent institutions: churches, schools and cemeteries. 1876 was a fitting year for the founding of Riverside Cemetery.
Globeville would evolve as well, from an area populated with prospectors and homesteaders to an industrial hub with smelters, railroads and meat packing plants, incorporating as a town in July, 1891. Many of Globeville's early settlers are buried at nearby Riverside Cemetery, in the company of mayors, Colorado governors, moguls, madams and military veterans. You can visit the well known and the humble at this historic and park-like burial ground. 
Riverside Cemetery will celebrate its 135th anniversary this Saturday, October 1, from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm with free history displays, vintage baseball and historic tours. For information, see

Top photo by Mary Lou Egan: office, chapel and crematorium
Bottom photo by Mary Lou Egan: chapel

Sunday, August 21, 2011


The people who arrived in Globeville during the 1880s were a diverse lot - Poles, Slovenes, Croats, Czechs, Slovaks, Bohemians, Ruthenians,  Montenegrans and German Russians - yet census data would likely have recorded them as citizens of Germany, Austria-Hungary or Russia. These three powerful empires had annexed, or subdued those regions in a rush to increase their territory, suppressing native languages, cultures, and religion and making people second-class citizens in their own land. These occupying powers created the greatest resentment, however, with the conscription of young men to serve in their armies. 
Poles could be forced into either the German or the Russian military depending on whether they lived in the western or eastern part of their partitioned homeland, while German-speaking colonists in Russia were required to serve a six-year term in the Russian army regardless of whether or not they spoke the Russian language. Likewise, citizens of the area absorbed by Austria-Hungary could be conscripted and possibly forced to fight fellow countrymen or family members. The situation motivated many to emigrate.
Andrew Boytz, a blacksmith, was conscripted into the Austrian army to teach soldiers the art of blacksmithing, but he rebelled against the idea. In the days before photos were used for identification, he was able to borrow a passport, desert the army and come to America, eventually settling in Globeville. Fred Gerhardt, however, served his six-year term in the Russian army before settling in Colorado.
Although their new life in Globeville could be difficult, these immigrants appreciated the freedoms we often take for granted.

top photo, Andrew Boytz lived a long life in Globeville
bottom photo, Fred Gerhardt in his Russian army uniform

Monday, July 25, 2011

Orthodox Food Festival & Globeville Days

Strains of accordion music drift across Argo Park, along with the rich aroma of roast lamb, Serbian povitica, Italian sausage, Romanian Mici, Mexican tamales and Eritrean coffee. Crowds gather in the cool shade to watch dance troops and enjoy the music of various cultures, while children try to win prizes at games. Each summer, Globeville invites all of Denver to experience the ethnic diversity that defines the neighborhood with The Orthodox Food Festival & Globeville Days. Save the third weekend in July for next year's celebration. 

Monday, May 23, 2011


According to historian Jerome C. Smiley in 1901,“...their [smelters] economic value to the city of Denver far exceeds that of any other industry; indeed, it may be said that it overshadows that of all other industries.”1. The remnants of one of the state’s most significant smelters, the Globe, rests on a hill just west of the neighborhood that shares it’s name. 
The plant began life as the Holden Smelter and was organized in 1886 by entrepreneur Edward R. Holden as a silver/lead smelter, using the latest technology. Holden was known as a promoter and speculator and had borrowed great sums from the Colorado National Bank to build the operation. When the smelter veered toward bankruptcy under Holden, the bank appointed Dennis Sheedy manager and he reorganized the firm as the Globe Smelting and Refining Company on January 16, 1889. A company store, hotel and houses surrounding the plant, once called “Holdenville” were then referred to as “Globeville.”2
The Globe Smelter was “integrated” with its own sampling works, crushing mills, roasting units, blast furnaces, refinery and was considered a major force in the industry. In 1899, the Globe joined a number of other smelting concerns to form a powerful trust, the American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO), with the clout to negotiate rates for labor, freight, ore, smelting and political influence. 
The price of metals increased during World War I and mines and smelters prospered, but by 1919, market conditions had changed and many of the nation's rich ores had been depleted. The Globe discontinued smelting operations and turned to producing cadmium, becoming a leading supplier of the element used as a protective coating for aircraft during World War II. In 1993 the firm again changed direction and focused on the development of specialty metals, such as bismuth.
1993 is also the year a group of residents won a lawsuit against the corporate giant, alleging air, soil and groundwater pollution. A second group of citizens were awarded funds in 1997 to remediate the soil in the southern section of Globeville. ASARCO declared bankruptcy in 2006 and the plant sat empty and abandoned.
2011 marks the beginning of a new life for the area as EFB Brownfield Partners plans remediation and development for the property. It is hoped that an industry once so vital to the economy of the region could bring life and rebirth to the Globeville neighborhood.
1. Smiley, Jerome C. History of Denver, Denver, Colorado: The Times-Sun Publishing Company, 1901, page 556
2. Fell Jr., James E., Ores to Metals, The Rocky Mountain Smelting Industry, 1979,
University of Nebraska Press pg 149.

3. Contaminated Globeville May Get a Second Chance, March 24, 2011,

top photo. Globe Smelter 1890, Denver Public Library
middle photo, Globe Smelter about 1926, photo used with written permission from Steve Stevens
bottom photo, Globe plant today

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Omaha and Grant Smelter

Denver's second smelter, the Omaha and Grant, moved to Denver from Leadville in 1882 to a site where the Denver Coliseum stands today. The plant used a different technology than the Boston and Colorado to recover silver and lead, accepting ore from the mountains via the Denver South Park and Pacific Railroad and shipping bullion to Omaha via the Union Pacific Railroad. By 1886, the Omaha and Grant Company was a highly integrated firm with its own mines, sampling works, reduction plants, refinery and even a marketing department. In 1892, Denver's largest smelter expanded, building a giant 350-foot chimney, the tallest structure in the region and a visible symbol of an industry considered vital to the region. A year after the completion of the stack, the nation experienced an economic depression that hit mining and smelting hard. Changes in technology, the depletion of rich ores and the long, violent labor strike of 1903 resulted in the closing of the smelter, leaving the massive plant unoccupied and 375 men unemployed. Over the years, the plant was gradually dismantled, leaving only the giant chimney as a reminder of the glory days of the city's largest smelting company. The chimney was demolished February 26, 1950 to make way for the Denver Coliseum.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Heritage of Smelting

"Joint project expected to provide hundreds of jobs upon completion," the headline in the Metro Denver Economic Development newsletter gushes. The story describes plans to redevelop the former ASARCO site at 51st and Logan, all that remains of the important and powerful industry that once defined Globeville.
The story begins with the discovery of gold and silver in Colorado in 1858 and the "Rush to the Rockies" that followed, bringing hordes of fortune seekers to the territory. A crisis developed as business leaders realized that the mineral wealth was untouchable unless the metals could be separated from the complex ores that held them - settlers were leaving and eastern investors were withdrawing funds. What followed was a quest to find an economical, efficient and reliable method for recovering minerals - the region's survival was at stake. Entrepreneurs, businessmen, scientists and charlatans proposed remedies, but it was a professor of chemistry from Brown University, Nathaniel P. Hill, who found the solution and opened the Boston and Colorado Smelter near Black Hawk in 1867.
The smelter was wildly successful and soon outgrew its canyon location, moving in 1878 to a hill north of Denver and close to the Colorado Central and Denver Pacific Railroads. The new plant covered six acres between what is now West 44th and 47th Avenues, and Fox to Pecos Street. 350 men, mostly English, Welsh, Irish, Scotts and Swedes worked at the Smelter. The Boston and Colorado organized a classic company town, with three hotels for single men, houses for families and several company stores. The village was named Argo, after the mythical ship sailed by Jason in search of the golden fleece, and people soon referred to the smelter by the same name. 
The firm's success lead to the construction of more smelting operations in the area, the Omaha and Grant in 1882 and the Globe in 1886. Changes in technology, and the depletion of the state's mineral-rich ores made the Boston and Colorado Smelter obsolete by 1902. A fire in the smelter's refinery in 1906 spelled the end of the smelter and the town of Argo, but the legacy of mining and refining lives on in the neighborhood in the remains of ASARCO's Globe plant. Again, there is a promise of jobs in processing and reprocessing the earth's minerals.

The "mousetrap" occupies the smelter's location today
Photo of the Boston and Colorado Smelter, Colorado Historical Association

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Denver & Interurban

The headline in the Denver Post proclaimed “Beautiful Boulder Is Now Within 55 Minutes of Denver,” and the story that followed described clean, efficient passenger service on low-cost, electric trains. The article was not about some imaginary light rail system of the future, but an enthusiastic report of the inaugural run of the Denver & Interurban Railroad of June 23, 1908. The Denver & Interurban was worthy of some excitement, providing service every hour between Denver and Boulder with stops at Globeville, Westminster, Broomfield, Louisville, and during the summer, the resort of Eldorado Springs. The Denver Post continued “the electric cars can attain the speed of a mile a minute. . . and passengers are not annoyed with cinders, smoke and dust.” The fare was fifty cents.

The line operated from the Denver Tramway’s Interurban Loop at 15th and Arapahoe Streets, which made it easy for passengers to transfer from any of the city’s streetcar lines. From there, the train traveled to the 23rd Street viaduct, past the Interurban shops at 36th and Fox and east on 45th Avenue to Washington Street in Globeville.
The Globeville station was a small building at 5125 Washington, rented from owner John Bohte for $25 a month. Ed Wargin recalls “If we wanted to go to Eldorado Springs, we’d buy our tickets at the station. It was a store-front kind of a thing with a big old pot-bellied stove.” 
Globeville was the edge of the Denver city limits and the place where the switch was made from the tramway connector to the overhead electrification system, the pantograph. It was also the scene of the line’s only major wreck, when two cars collided on Labor Day 1920, killing 12 and injuring 214. The holiday may have contributed to the disaster; the cars were overloaded and the motormen called in to handle the extra crowds were inexperienced.
The cars involved in the wreck were restored, but the Interurban suffered financially from the settlements awarded to the survivors. After World War I, cars were more affordable, highways were improved and more people wanted to drive. The Interurban electric cars ceased operations in 1926.

The Kite Route, Story of the Denver and Interurban Railroad, William C. Jones and Noel T. Holley, 1986 Pruett Publishing Company, Boulder, Colorado
Interview with Ed Wargin

Interurban station is at the right on Washington Street, about 1913
Lower photo shows the ticket office at 5125 Washington Street, Juarez Auto Sales today

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Nicknames in Globeville

Globeville was (and is) like a small town where everyone knew everyone else, a familiarity evident in the many nicknames given to people.
Joseph Yelenick remembered, "Everyone down here had a nickname. There were 'Buck' and 'Beans' Oletski, 'Dutch' Maier, 'Alias' Stefanski, 'Stash' (Stash is Polish for Stanley) Slovenski, 'Butch' Lunka, 'Too-tall' Vuksinich, 'Hawk-eye' Evanitich (because he couldn’t see very well), and 'Goose-eye' McGahan (because he was a great shot). Andy Jackson was 'Stonewall Jackson' because he had a military posture. There was a kid who played football in Wyoming that had such a long last name that they just called him 'Joe Alphabet'. There was 'Oogie' Ungehire, Johnny 'Chink' Horvat, and 'Butch' and 'Moose' Horvat."
Larry Summers added. "Cocky Spomer was a little fellow and that’s why they called him 'Cocky'. John Dreith was called 'Peggy' because he had a bad leg and Harold Schaffer was called 'Shugs'”.
 "Gas-pipe" Joe Grabrian was a plumber and "lead-pipe John" Predovich managed the Polish Hall. John Wysowatcky was known as "Smitty" and Father Jarzynski as "Father Jar." 
The nicknames were good-natured and well-meaning fun in a tight-knit community.

Top photo, John "Smitty" Wysowatcky
Bottom photo, Andy "Stonewall" Jackson

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Matthew E. Eagleton

The distinguished-looking man in the back row of the 1913 class at Garden Place School is Matthew E. Eagleton, principal from 1901 - 1920, and one of three Eagleton brothers who devoted their lives to schools in Denver.* When he began his career in 1901, Eagleton was in charge of three schools Argo, Globeville and Garden Place, driving a horse and buggy from one school to the other. 
Eagleton was respected by the immigrant community, helping parents with the process of Americanization and holding citizenship classes in the evenings. The teachers at Garden Place admired "Mr. Eagleton, who did everything in his power to make things easier for us...getting supplies and books." He inspired teachers to fill the educational gaps for children who were out of school for several months to work in the beet fields. When Globeville's German-Russian population came under suspicion during World War I, Eagleton defended their patriotism, reminding public officials there were "72 service stars on the service flag, two of which are gold." Matthew E. Eagleton died in February, 1920, leaving his widow (and Garden Place teacher, Maude Long) and a grateful community.
*Brothers J. S. and W. H. Eagleton were also educators and principals in Denver.
 History of Garden Place School, typed manuscript 1950
1913, Picture used with written permission from Maxine DeDonato

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Barns and Sheds

Early Globeville was more rural than urban and many people built a barn in the back for chickens, geese, cows, horses, wagons and storage. Lumber as well as paint could be obtained at the nearby Burlington shops, giving these buildings a distinctive look - tongue and groove wood painted "railroad red." As Globeville evolved, so did the use of these outbuildings - from barns to garages, workshops and mother-in-law apartments. Many of these structures survive - a tribute to the craftsmanship and enterprise of the pioneer builders, and an additional bit of charm in a neighborhood with personality to spare.

Photos, Mary Lou Egan

Saturday, January 15, 2011


There were three German-Russian churches in Globeville whose congregations were composed (mainly) of people who from the same villages in Russia. The Congregational Church was founded by immigrants from the village of Norka, St. Paul’s Church by people from the village of Beideck, and the Friedens Evangelical Church by people from Doenhoff. Though belief varied a little, all three congregations used the same hymnal, the Wolgagesangbuch, with hymns being a conspicuous and important part of worship.

Lydia Heck remembered, “They were long songs, sometimes fifteen verses, and people knew them by heart. Those books had the words in them, but no music.” John H. Werner recalled, “I believe most of the people knew practically all of the 878 songs in the book from memory! Some of the favorites that come to mind are: Allein Gott in der Hoeh, Christi Blut, Ein Fester Burg Ist unser Gott, and Jesu, Geh Voran.
With prosperity and assimilation, the German-Russian population of Globeville moved away from the neighborhood, but their descendants inherited their faith - a faith based on the Bible, a personal relationship with God and a simple lifestyle.

Wolgagesangbuch courtesy of Virginia and John Laber

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Developments at Holy Rosary Parish

Red, white and blue bunting emphasizes that the Slovenian and Croatian immigrants are loyal to their new country, while lodge banners proclaim their determination to preserve the heritage of the home country. The stack from the Grant Smelter looms over the Globeville neighborhood and women hold umbrellas to ward off the hot sun. August 17, 1919 was the day on which the cornerstone of Holy Rosary Church at 4688 Pearl Street was blessed by Bishop J. Henry Tihen "in the presence of a great crowd of rejoicing people." These immigrants were proud of their new parish and devoted their time, treasure and talent to the church. Founding pastor, Father Cyril Zupan, O.S.B., was responsible for both Holy Rosary Parish and St. Mary's Parish in Pueblo, which meant a two-hour train ride each way to say Mass, administer the sacraments and supervise construction.

90 years later, the parish faces new challenges. Pastor Noé Carreón is charged with the task of restoring the church, convent and school and rebuilding both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking congregations. Although the task is great, Father Noé, the parishioners and the neighborhood are excited to see the progress that has been made.
The parish invites you to follow our journey on our blog/website at: