Friday, November 2, 2012


In the 1880s people flocked to an area north of Denver that offered jobs in three large smelters, several foundries, brickyards, meat packing plants and railroads. Many were men who would accept any work to raise a little money and then seek their fortunes in the Colorado gold fields. Other newcomers were from Eastern Europe and Russia, recruited to work for less money than their American-born counterparts in
 gritty, dangerous work. Within a few years, this culturally diverse population had reached 2,000 and many residents felt the need for some sort of civic structure. In 1891 the community voted for incorporation as a town, officially calling itself “Globeville,” and chose William H. Clark as the first mayor. The city government consisted of the mayor, six trustees, a recorder, treasurer, magistrate and marshal, each serving a two-year term. The town council took its responsibilities seriously, meeting every second Tuesday of the month at 7:30 p.m., with additional meetings when necessary. 
Globeville existed as an independent town for only a short time, from 1891 until annexed by Denver in 1903, but in those years the governing body embodied many of the virtues today's politicians only talk about. There didn't seem to be any grandstanding about who was more American or any resentment of newcomers or immigrants. Mayor Clark was an American with a capital A, born in Iowa, homesteading in Nebraska and then joining the bands of gold seekers who rushed to Colorado in 1858. Clark did a little bit of everything, including prospecting and farming, while he watched his frontier home evolve into an industrial town. As mayor, he represented homesteaders, newcomers, native-born citizens and recent immigrants and treated all with respect. Likewise, men who would have been enemies in Europe, cooperated with each other and formed lasting friendships. German-Russians John Wolf, John H. Webber, Fritz Vogt, J. F. Heim and William Hellwig, Croatian Emil Forman, and Max Malich from Slovenia would all serve as trustees.
The minutes of board's meetings reveal the earnestness these men felt in making their community a good place to live. Since many were from countries where they had little to say about government, council members took special interest in the details of the ordinances they were creating. No one could carry a slingshot, bowie knife or deadly weapon without written permission from the mayor. Gambling, as well as dog or cock fights, was prohibited. ... “abusive, common, vulgar, indecent or improper language to incite others to commit violent offenses or crimes” was illegal. “Vagrant mendicants, common prostitutes and habitual drunkards” were to be restrained and punished by the enormous fine of $25 to $100. 
Globeville had only been incorporated for two years when a catastrophic national depression took place in 1893. Mayor Clark suggested a way to both continue civic improvements and relieve unemployment, appointing a man from each end of town to locate unemployed men who were married and had families. The men were given jobs working on street improvements and paid with credit at local grocery stores. With this solution, families in need received help while contributing to the community.
That same spirit of community could be seen in an 1899 ordinance that read, “Moved by Max Malich, seconded by Smith, that the town of Globeville buy 50 tickets from the Smeltermen’s Union #93 for their picnic and to distribute the 50 tickets amongst the people of Globeville unable to buy the same.”
Although Globeville has been part of Denver since 1903, the neighborhood is still defined by those characteristics of the earliest settlers, that of respect, cooperation and people surviving hard times by taking care of each other.

Mayor Clark in front of his homestead

Trustee John Wolf, photo used with written permission from Betty Patterson 

Mayor (1894-96) Emil Forman with infant Mamie Shaball, 
photo used with written permission from the Shaball family

Trustee Max Malich
photo used with written permission from the Shaball family

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