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