Thursday, December 28, 2017

New Year's in Globeville

Today, the week between Christmas and New Years is a frenzy of activity - gift returns, end-of-year car sales, the ubiquitous mattress sale, parties and non-stop Bowl Games.
In Globevilles early years, New Years Eve was also a busy time, with celebrations of old-world traditions with friends and coaxing good fortune in the year ahead with feasts.
The New Year was celebrated at midnight by whistles from the smelter, the meatpacking plants, and brickyards. Random gunfire from intoxicated revelers also punctuated the night.
Church bells rang on January 1st, as Globevilles Orthodox Christians, Poles, Slovenes and Croats observed the Circumcism of Jesus with attendance at Mass.

The New Year was welcomed with special foods symbolic of good luck, health and prosperity.
  • Fish, particularly those with silver scales, were thought to symbolize money.
  • Pork, with its rich fat content, was a harbinger of prosperity. Serving roast pork loin and sausages was common.
  • Greens, usually cabbage, were associated with money and were thought to bring good fortune.
  • Ring-shaped breads, cookies and doughnuts represented the year coming full circle.
  • There were also tortes, nut rolls, strudels and povitica.
  • And vodka, slivovitz, whiskey, home-made wine and brandies.
New Years Day was the occasion for German Russians to visit family members: older aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents, and godparents. A child wishing an older family member a happy new year might receive a coin (Wünschgelt or wishing money). Adults visitors might be offered a shot of whiskey, a glass of wine or beer.
German Russian traditions 
Many of these traditions have been passed down while some only live in memory. Whatever your family traditions include, we wish you Szczesliwego Nowego Roku (Polish), Sretna Nova Godina (Croatian), Srečno Novo Leto (Slovenian), Štastný Nový Rok (Slovak), Ich wünsche euch ein glückseliges Neues Jahr (German Russian).

Greeting cards, one from 1911 and one from 1907

Monday, November 6, 2017

With Our Men in Service

Volume II, Number 14. The weekly bulletin from Holy Rosary Parish was packed with information about the upcoming carnival, a Sunday ham dinner and bingo event, and notices of Men’s Sodality and Ladies Altar Society meetings. But during World War II, the news most appreciated was from those in the armed services. Tidbits were gleaned from letters home and shared among parishioners.
Members of the First German Congregational Church formed the Blue Star Letter Writing Committee to keep the congregation’s 175 service members informed about church activities, and a newsletter called “The Minister's Mailbag” to keep the men in contact with each other as well.
The students at Garden Place School collected scrap and saved their pennies for bond drives, while the young women of Holy Rosary Young Ladies’ Sodality volunteered at the Catholic USO at 16th and Logan. The Polish Harmony Club, a young-people’s group affiliated with the Polish National Alliance, entertained servicemen at Fitzsimons Army Hospital and sponsored weekly dances at the Polish Hall for military personnel.
Mary Canjar joined the Red Cross and attended classes to become an air raid warden. She was issued a uniform with a shirt, pants, helmet and armband, and made sure that windows were covered and lights turned off during blackout periods. Canjar won an award for persuading every family on Logan Street to purchase War Bonds.
Victory gardens, meatless meals, grease collection and scrap drives all supported the war effort. Women filled vacancies in factories when men left for the service. Carol Christensen worked on aircraft (including Eleanor Roosevelt’s plane) at McClellan Field near Sacramento.
On both V-E and V-J Day, church bells, factory whistles and car horns sounded. Twelve young men from Globeville lost their lives in the war; the nation and the neighborhood were forever changed by the conflict. Globeville honored its veterans from World Wars I and II with a memorial in Argo Park, dedicated August 25, 1948. Joseph Zalar, a casualty of the Korean War, would be added later.

The memorial in Argo Park honors veterans
from World War I, World War II and Korea.
Photo ® Mary Lou Egan

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Queen of the Holy Rosary - Kraljica sv. Roznega Venca

The dedication program is written in Slovenian. The community of Southern Slavs wished to both celebrate their religion and preserve their culture in their new country. (And working twelve hours a day, six and seven days a week didn't allow much time for learning English).

Slovenes and Croats had been arriving in Globeville since the late 1880s and found low-paying, industrial jobs in one of the area's three smelters, its foundries, brickyards, railroads and meatpacking plants. At the urging of Bishop Nicholas Matz, Catholics attended St. Joseph's Polish Catholic Church in the neighborhood, but Slovenes and Croats didn't contribute financially, since they were saving to build a parish of their own. In 1918, new bishop Henry Tihen gave his approval for a Slovenian church and the fund raising continued in earnest. Money was raised in the lodges; St. Jacob's Croation Lodge, KSKJ, the Western Slavonic (WSA) and the American Fraternal Union. And there were concerts, plays, and a week-long festival to raise funds.

Ground for the new parish was broken in May 1919 and construction moved swiftly. The parish was dedicated on July 4th, 1920 to the Queen of Holy Rosary - Kraljica sv. Roznega Venca.

Today, a new group of immigrants shares this devotion to the Queen of Holy Rosary. A bi-lingual Mass will be held on the feast day of the parish, Saturday, October 7th at 7:00 pm with refreshments and fellowship in the parish hall. Holy Rosary Parish is located at 4688 Pearl Street in Globeville.

A Slovene Glee Club gave concerts to raise money
Photo ® Betty Zalar Praprocki

Father Cyril Zupan celebrates May crowning at Holy Rosary
photo ® Mary Lou Egan


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

African Americans in Globeville - Charles Lilburn Cousins

4200 block of North Broadway, ® Mary Lou Egan

Today the site is occupied by nondescript warehouse and distribution structures, but Sarah Cousins Sims remembered when North Broadway was a block of small family homes. “We came to Denver from Kansas. My father decided he could progress more in Denver than he could in Atcheson so we came out here in 1909 and he purchased a house at 4229 North Broadway. North Denver at that time was a mixture of all nationalities: we had an Italian family on the south side of us and, on the north side, we had a German husband and wife.
We went to Garden Place School. . . I think we were the only Negroes, at least around there. But there were all nationalities there at that time, and nobody really thought anything about whether we were white, Negro or what. We were all just sort of one family then. 1. 
Sarahs family was part of the great western migration of African Americans in the years following the Civil War. These newcomers were seeking economic opportunity, homestead land, a healthy climate and less racial oppression than in the South or Midwest. Sarahs father, Charles L. Cousins worked as a porter for the Pullman Company for thirty-three years and raised a large family. By saving ten percent of every dollar he made and teaching himself construction skills, he was able to purchase run-down buildings in the Whittier Neighborhood and repair them with salvaged material. Cousins walked from his home in Globeville to the building site and worked on the restorations on his days off from the railroad. The renovated properties were then rented at modest rates, and Cousins acquired more projects while teaching construction and repair skills to his son and other young men in the neighborhood. 2.
The family would move from Globeville to the Whittier Neighborhood in 1917. Cousins continued to build and rent properties, making housing available to his people at a time when covenants and lending practices restricted African Americans. A leader in the African American community, Cousins passed away in 1962, and his wife Alta in 1971. The Cousins family continues to operate many of the properties he built. 3.

 Charles Lilburn and Alta Cousins, Denver Public Library

Alta Cousins Terrace, 725 East Twenty Sixth Avenue
1. Sarah Sims. Transcript of OH0107. Recorded on January 25, 1977
2. Denver Neighborhood History Project, 1993-94. Five Points Neighborhood, Denver, CO
3. Denver Neighborhood History Project, 1993-94. Whittier Neighborhood, Denver, CO

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Polish Food Festival - August 12 and 13

Saturday, August 12, from noon until 9:00 pm
Sunday, August 13, from noon until 7:00 pm

St. Joseph's Polish Roman Catholic Church, 517 E 46th

for details, see

Polish Food:
Pierogi (Polish Dumplings), Gołąbki (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls), Hunter Stew (Bigos),
Potato Pancakes (Placki Ziemniaczane), Kiełbasa (Polish Sausage), Kaszanka (Blood Sausage), and more! Price: $6-$8 per meal

Polish Beer: Perła, Żywiec, Warka, Okocim, Lech, Łomża. Price: $6 per large 0.5L bottle
Polish Pastries: All delicacies are home-made by the ladies of our parish. Great variety of small-batch creations. Price: $3 per piece

Krakowiacy Polish Dancers

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Railroads and Globeville

Coloradans rejoiced when the Denver Pacific Railroad's first train steamed into Denver on June 22, 1870, and celebrated again when the Kansas Pacific arrived in August. Now the territory was connected to the rest of the nation and settlers had access to supplies, markets for their products and mail. To an economy dependent on minerals and mining, railroads also promised an outlet for Colorado's gold and silver.
In 1878, the Boston and Colorado Smelter relocated from Black Hawk and built a large plant west of the Platte River, taking advantage of the confluence of rail lines on the plains. The Omaha and Grant Smelter opened in 1882 and the Globe followed in 1889. Foundries, pattern shops, brick yards and businesses that supported mining grew along the rails, as well as meat packing plants and machine shops to service the railroads. Within a generation, a rural outpost had become the industrial town of Globeville, surrounded by railroads.
The rail lines appear on maps with the names changing with each merger or acquisition: the Denver Pacific and the Kansas Pacific would become the Union Pacific (1880); the Colorado and Southern (1898); the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy (1901); the Denver and Salt Lake (1912), and the Denver and Interurban (owned by the Colorado and Southern).
Today, there are only two rail lines: the Burlington Northern and the Union Pacific, and they still encompass and define Globeville.

1898 Rollandet map

Company picnic, photo used with written permission from Ed Wargin

 Burlington chugs past Polack Valley ® Mary Lou Egan

Monday, July 10, 2017

Orthodox Food Festival and Old Globeville Days

It's almost here - the 14th Annual Orthodox Food Festival and Old Globeville Days at Holy Transfiguration of Christ Orthodox Cathedral, 349 E 47th Avenue (at Logan Street) in Denver. This grand event will be held one day only, Saturday, July 15, 2017, from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. Taste ethnic food favorites from Romania, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine, Eritrea, Italy, Greece and Mexico, as well as grilled lamb, hot dogs, craft beer and Slivovitz (Slovenian plum brandy). 
Enjoy live entertainment, games for the children, crafts, an iconography exhibit, and tours of the historic Orthodox Cathedral. Admission is FREE. Presented by Holy Transfiguration of Christ Orthodox Cathedral.
Orthodox Food Festival

Planina Ukrainian Singers

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Nanny Goat Hill

During the 1880s, immigrants moved to an area north of Denver that offered jobs in the smelters, railroads and meatpacking plants. In this industrial enclave, developers began laying out tracts with pastoral-sounding names like Garden Place, Greenwood Addition, Cranberry Place and Tacoma Heights. Families acquired these small plots, constructed the tiny homes that still define the neighborhood and took their first steps toward building a life in Globeville. To the west, on a bluff overlooking the settlement was an area known as Nanny Goat Hill.
Sam Dreith remembers, "There was a section in between Broadway to about Fox Street we called Nanny Goat Hill. All along Globeville Road and where the Regency Student Housing is now, that was all truck farms. Old man Struck kept nanny goats. And, to the south, Fiori’s had a truck farm with nanny goats. There was nothing but prairie and the Argo ditch to the north. Quite a few Germans, Kriegers and Wilhelms,
lived up there too. And the brickyards, Denver Sewer, Pipe and Clay, were up there on 45th and Fox Street. The Cook brothers had a service station up there. They were the only businesses up there on the prairie.
Today, this area is again the target of real estate developers, hungry to capitalize on a location close to transportation and downtown Denver. Long gone are the truck farms, the nanny goats and the memories of Globeville's early days.

43rd and Cherokee overlooking I-25
Photo ® Mary Lou Egan

Homestead Nanny Goat Hill 2017
Photo ® Mary Lou Egan

Newer Condos Nanny Goat Hill 2017
Photo ® Mary Lou Egan


Thursday, April 27, 2017

1st German Congregational Church - What's the Plan?

"If these walls could talk..." the building at 4400 Lincoln in Globeville has been witness to years of celebrations, marriages, baptisms, confirmations and funerals. Once home to German-speaking immigrants from the village of Norka, Russia, the building was the home of the 1st German Congregational Church, and a monument to faith and hard work. Newcomers first met in neighbor's homes for services, and then built a structure known as "the Shanty" at 44th and Lincoln as their first place of worship in 1894. A larger brick structure replaced "the Shanty" in 1896 or '97. Membership increased steadily and, in 1927, a larger church was built.

Laying of the cornerstone, April 24, 2017 
Photo used by permission of Larry Summers, 2004

Rose window, a gift of Caspar Hofmann
Photo ® Mary Lou Egan

As in the old country, life revolved around the church with Sunday services, Sunday school, choirs, prayer meetings, Bible studies, a social group for young people and frequent revivals. The services were held in German, and children attended "German school" after regular school during the week. Throughout the years, attendance and contributions remained high, even as the neighborhood came under attack. The construction of I-25 and I-70 took the homes and businesses of many church members and led to discussions about relocating away from the neighborhood. A search committee purchased land at 5615 West 64th Avenue in Arvada and, in 1974, the new church, Heritage Community Bible Church was built. The former building in Globeville was purchased by the city of Denver in 1976 and served as a Senior Center for many years, where Globeville's seniors could share a meal, learn crafts, take a class and socialize. 

In the last several years, the building has been unoccupied and seems uncared for. The circular frame that once held the stained glass window is deteriorating, mortar is seeping out from between the bricks and a misspelled message on a crumbling step warns "no lortering."

 Photo of 1st German Congregational Church in 2016
Photo ® Mary Lou Egan


"No lortering" and crumbling steps
Photo ® Mary Lou Egan
A community forum was held June 25, 2016 to solicit ideas from the community for the best use of the building. Suggestions included:
A small library for Globeville
A satellite office for the North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative 
Office space for a non-profit organization.

According to Seneca Holmes, (from the city's Office of Economic Development and chair of the 2016 meeting) the building needs numerous improvements, updates and extensive repairs. Holmes is no longer with the the OED but was hopeful about the future of the project and suggested I keep in touch with Councilwoman at Large, Debbie Ortega. 

Ortega's Aide, Susan Aldretti, was less optimistic. In an email from April 24, Aldretti said: "Unfortunately, there has not been a lot of progress. Denver is preparing a list of projects to take to the voters, and the rehabilitation of this building is included in the initial list. The process for the bonds is lengthy. The requests are being considered by sub-committees, who then make recommendations to a steering committee. The steering committee will make recommendations to the Mayor and then the Mayor will recommend to City Council. It is not possible to predict if this project will be included in the final package at this point."

If these walls could talk, this former church building would share the memories of the active, vibrant community of immigrants who created and cared for it. Will there be new stories? Or will this crumbling structure be a reminder of a past that seems brighter than the present?


Friday, April 7, 2017

Badges, Ribbons and Banners

Your logo here! Today's promotional materials include mugs, pens, T-shirts, key chains, stress balls, rain jackets, umbrellas and drink coasters  Globeville's earlier residents also liked to remember important events, such as the dedication of Holy Rosary Church, with souvenirs.
Slovenes and Croats had saved a long time to build a church of their own and planned a gala celebration for April 18, 1920 with Mass, choirs, speeches by visiting dignitaries, and processions by fraternal groups. Those in attendance may have come away with a commemorative badge
produced by the Colorado Badge and Novelty Company located on 1752 Champa Street in Denver.
The front of the badge features a photo of the newly completed church, while the reverse side provides information about the company itself. Noteworthy is the union label number 30 - probably significant to the Mill and Smeltermen, or Western Federation of Miners - whose badges were also manufactured by the company.

Lodge ribbons would also be important souvenirs, with one side being displayed during conventions and the reverse side worn at funerals.

Ribbons for St. Joseph's Polish Lodge 

And, of course, there were the banners with embroidered type, images and fringe - proudly displayed at meetings, parades, and conventions. These century-old commemorative mementos were meant to be substantial - I wonder if any logo-bearing T-shirts will survive a hundred years.

  Banner for St Joseph's Lodge, American Fraternal Union

Monday, February 27, 2017

Ed Wargin and Polack Valley

I became acquainted with Ed Wargin in 1999. I called and asked Ed if I could interview him about Globeville for a history of the area I was writing. He was originally reluctant to meet with me - I was a total stranger - but we finally got together, sat on his back porch and he answered my questions. As we got more comfortable with each other, he shared memories of his father and grandfather, stories of the kids he played with, what people did for fun, and the gypsies. Each time we met, Ed regaled me with his memories and reminded me that Globeville was a very special place. He suggested we take a tour and he could show me various places in the neighborhood and what Globeville was really like.

I picked him up on a Saturday in April 2000 and we followed the old Interurban tracks through the neighborhood. His enthusiasm was contagious as he pointed out the different houses where his family had lived, the churches, lodges, and sites of former grocery stores and saloons. The finale was a trip to "Polack Valley" on the north side of the highway, between the railroad tracks.

Ed pointed to where Kowalczyks, Ryszkowskis and Oletskis had settled in the 1880s and where their descendants still lived. At the Oletski's house, the entire family was gathered to make sausage, but they stopped what they were doing and visited with us. Everyone was laughing and waving their hands as they told stories about their grandfathers Wargin and Oletski, who knew each other.

They were forceful men who worked as blacksmiths, in the smelters and on the railroad and built houses so all their family members could live nearby. They organized the local chapter of the Polish National Alliance, and then built St. Joseph's Polish Catholic Church and school. John Oletski excused himself, and when he returned, he gave us each a pound of the sausage they had just made.

I saw then the Globeville that Ed wanted me to see. The Eastern European hospitality where folks dropped what they are doing to talk with an elderly visitor and amateur historian, and treat each of us to a pound of home made Polish sausage. It doesn't get much better than that.

Ed Wargin, April 2000
Photo ® Mary Lou Egan

Oletskis still live in Polack Valley

Friday, February 3, 2017

Short Sherman

Globeville is defined by its ethnic enclaves, but there are also pockets of the neighborhood that locals refer to by their own distinctive titles. Like Short Sherman.
Short Sherman is located on the southern end of Globeville and consists of three houses on the west side of the 4200 block (there is no east side), right next to the Burlington Railroad tracks. The Denver city directory lists these three families on the block in 1934:
  • William and Elizabeth Yaeger occupied 4289 Sherman, a house built in 1896.
  • Peter and Thelma Meininger were in the middle of the block at 4287 Sherman.
    The home dates from 1901.
  • John and Elizabeth Triebelhorn lived the southern end of the short street at
    4285 Sherman, in a house built in 1900. 
Triebelhorns are the best example of families settling near each other, with fourteen Triebelhorn families living on Sherman and Lincoln Streets in the Garden Place subdivision. Seven Triebelhorns worked for the Burlington Railroad, four were laborers, one a small businessman and two ladies were employed at the Denver Dry Goods.
The small enclave is also an example of chain migration, with all the residents being German-speaking immigrants from the Volga region of Russia. German Russians had been persecuted for their faith in the Old Country and were very active in the three German-speaking churches in Globeville. (David Triebelhorn is listed among the founders of the Freidens Evangelical Lutheran Church).
While those families listed in 1934 have moved away from the neighborhood, their legacy of families working together and supporting each other remains a characteristic of Globeville today.

4200 block of Sherman Street in Globeville
Photo ® Mary Lou Egan