Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Memories

Larry Summers is the grandson of Carl Gerhardt, proprietor of Gerhardt Mercantile, and remembers Christmas as a youngster during the Depression. “Mrs. Metzger was a Sunday School teacher who organized the children's program on Christmas Eve at St. Paul’s German Lutheran Church. Everyone had a few lines to say and some was in German. Afterward, we each got a little bag with an orange and a pyramid-looking chocolate with cream inside. I think Grandpa Gerhardt and Mr. Schaffer probably supplied most of the stuff inside the bag."
Globeville's Poles would celebrate with a special dinner on Christmas Eve known as wigilia with mushroom soup, boiled potatoes (kartofle), pickled herring (sledzie), fried fish, pierogi, beans and sauerkraut (groch i kapusta). A lighted candle in the windows symbolized the hope that the Christ child, in the form of a stranger, would come and an extra place was set at the table for the unexpected guest.
Southern Slavs enjoyed homemade wine and delicacies not eaten at other times of the year, such as smoked meats or potica (pronounced po-tee-sa), a Slovenian nut bread.
Using the old Julian calendar, Globeville's Orthodox Slavs observed Christmas on January 7th. Elaborate church services, feasting and visits with family remained the same when the switch was made to the Gregorian calendar in 1968.
Bea Trevino's Hispanic Christmas traditions are those her family observed growing up in New Mexico. "For Christmas and Easter we make meat empanadas. For New Years a lot of us make a chicken mole, or we make menudo with hominy. In New Mexico, we do hominy with ham or pork."
Commemorative Christmas plate, a gift of the Gerhardt Mercantile. Photo Larry Summers.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Southern Slavs

Most of the Southern Slavs in Globeville were from Slovenia and Croatia but were citizens of the Austrian empire, which had absorbed their homelands, as well as those of Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Macedonia. They began arriving in the 1880s, attracted by political and religious freedom and by jobs in the Grant and the Globe Smelters.
Work in the smelters was hard and dangerous with men risking death or disability from extreme heat, toxic fumes and dust from heavy metals. To provide financial security for themselves and their families, Slavs formed fraternal societies or lodges that offered sick and death benefits while seeking to preserve the language, culture and heritage of the home country. The lodge was like a clubhouse where members felt at home and Globeville's residents had many choices: St. Jacob's Croatian Society, the American Fraternal Union, the Slovene National Benefit Society, the American Slovenian Catholic Union or the Western Slavonic Association (Zapadna Slovanska Zveza). Croatians met in St. Jacob's Hall, now the Sidewinder Tavern at 4485 Logan, and many of the Slovenian lodges held their activities at the Slovenian Home at 44th and Washington. Weddings, funerals, labor rallies, Catholic Mass and confession were held in the lodge halls until Holy Rosary Church was built. Members of the fraternal organizations petitioned Bishop Tihen for permission to build a church and then set about raising the funds. Holy Rosary was dedicated in July 1920 with Reverend Cyril Zupan as the first pastor. The church, convent and school received state historic designation in 1999.

Holy Rosary Church and convent about 1930. Photo June Jackson Egan

In 1919, Slovenian Societies hold a fund-raising bazaar 
outside the unfinished church. Photo Joseph Yelenick.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Orthodox Slavs

Carpatho-Russians came to Globeville for the same reasons as the other Eastern European immigrants: religious freedom and economic opportunity. Living in territory ruled by Roman Catholic Austria or Protestant forces in Hungary, the Carpatho-Russian's Orthodox religion was suppressed and they were treated as second-class citizens. Hearing of jobs in Colorado's mines, smelters and railroads, and of a climate similar to the Carpathian or Tatra mountains of home, many flocked to Globeville in the 1880s. Helen Kohut Capron recalled, “My grandfather Peter got a job at the smelter and it must have been a difficult job because it made him sick. The children would come home from school and find him lying on the couch in pain."
Help for men and their families came from the ethnic fraternal lodges. In Globeville, the oldest of these Carpatho-Russian lodges was the Russian Orthodox Society Transfiguration of Christ, connected to the Russian Orthodox Catholic Mutual Aid Society founded in 1895 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. In addition to providing insurance and moral support, the society’s goals included “the spread and preservation of the Orthodox Faith in America” and members of this lodge founded Holy Transfiguration of Christ Cathedral in 1898. The church has survived and prospered for over 100 years and received state historic designation in 1998.
The church about 1902, photo courtesy of Steve Klimoski.
One of the Orthodox Fraternal Societies, Sjedinjenih about 1905, photo courtesy of Steve Machuga.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Poles

In the 18th century, Poland was carved up by its jealous and powerful neighbors when, in 1772, Catherine the Great of Russia, Frederick the Great of Prussia and Maria Theresa of Austria annexed sections of Poland. By 1795, the once-great nation had almost disappeared from the map. The next century saw a relentless attack on Polish identity with restrictions to Polish language, culture and religion, as well as the conscription of their young men to serve in the armies of their oppressors. As conditions grew worse in the last three decades of the 19th century, legions of Poles fled to America.
Poles began arriving in Globeville during the 1880s to work in the nearby smelters. As people became established, they encouraged friends and relatives to join them and a small Polish community developed in the 4500—4800 blocks of Washington, Pearl, Pennsylvania, Logan and Grant Streets, and on Emerson Street near the Platte River.
Poles in Globeville formed organizations that would provide financial help in the event of sickness, injury and death and offered the comfort of old-country customs as they eased into American life. In 1889, Globeville's Poles organized Towarzystwo sw Marcina (St. Martin’s Society), Lodge #134, as part of the national Polish National Alliance.
Since they had been persecuted for their religion in the old country, lodge members then began to raise money for a Polish church and, in 1902, built St. Joseph's Polish Catholic Church.
Poles moved up the economic ladder, assimilated and moved to better neighborhood in Arvada and Wheat Ridge. Yet the "Polishness" of St. Joseph's persists as immigrants have arrived after the fall of communism and a younger generation calls St. Joseph's their spiritual home. The Polish lodge survives as well and makes its home in Wheat Ridge.
Father Jarzynski, pastor from 1902 to 1922, and a class of first communicants in 1914. Photo from Andy Jackson.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Germans from Russia

German-speaking people who began arriving in Globeville in the 1880s came, not from Germany, but from villages along the Volga River in Russia. Their odyssey began some 120 years earlier when they emigrated to Russia to escape the poverty and devastation that followed the Seven Years War (1754—1763). Germans settled the along the Volga in Russia at the invitation of Empress Catherine the Great, who promised free land, and freedom from taxes and military service (privileges not given to Russian citizens). In return, the settlers secured Russia's western frontier and provided the country with grain. 100 years later, Czar Alexander II rescinded those special rights and Germans began to emigrate to America.
There was a substantial community of German Russians in the Globeville area by 1887, with many of them coming from three colonies along the Volga — Norka, Beideck and Doenhoff. Since Germans had been persecuted for their religion while in Russia, they were quick to form their own churches in Globeville, with congregations corresponding to those of their villages in Russia. First German Congregational Church was founded by settlers from Norka, St. Paul's Lutheran Church by people from Beideck and the Friedens Evangelical Lutheran Church by immigrants from Doenhoff. As in the old country, life for German Russians centered around the family, church and work. Leaders in the community were those who were active in the churches, business owners and those who helped others to emigrate.
The Wolf family about 1914: first row, from left,grandfather Peter Wolf, David, father John Wolf Sr., Sarah, Ann Marie, nee Kilthau . Second row, from left, Christine, Katherine, Adam, John, Hulda.
Carl Gerhardt, owner of Gerhardt Mercantile, extended loans to citizens of Globeville and sponsored many events in the community.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Globeville: the Melting Pot

The arrival of so many immigrants to Globeville was the product of perfect timing. The rapid growth of industry in Colorado during the 1870s and 80s motivated employers to recruit people who would work for less than American-born workers even as economic, religious and political unrest in eastern Europe and Russia led hundreds of thousands to emigrate. Agents from the railroads and the Gilpin County Cheap Labor Bureau distributed fliers that promised lucrative jobs on the railroads and in the mines; smelters welcomed those who would endure the gritty, dangerous work near furnaces. These factors led to an explosion in the number of immigrants arriving during the 1880s, and by the mid 1890s, one in four people in Denver was foreign-born.* Then the bottom fell out.
The nation’s economy collapsed in 1893, which hit Colorado’s mining-based economy particularly hard. Late arrivals found themselves competing with American-born workers, as well as with earlier groups, for fewer jobs. The newcomers were resented because they would work for lower wages, had large families, and didn't speak English. Settling near their countrymen, they created ethnic enclaves within a larger neighborhood, and did not assimilate as easily as the earlier immigrants had done. Although Globeville was called a “melting pot,” the term is not an accurate description since each group tried to maintain its own language, religion and cultural traditions. These groups include:
  • The German-speaking group, who came not from Germany, but from a region of Russia along the Volga River.
  • The Poles, who began to migrate to the United States following partitions of Poland among Russia, Prussia, and Austria-Hungary that began in 1772. More political unrest in the 1870s and 1880s brought large numbers to Globeville.
  • Southern Slavs, including Slovenians, Croatians, Macedonians, and Serbs, who came from an area that had been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
  • There were also Russian, Slovak, Czech and “Carpatho-Russian” families, whose countries had been annexed by Austria-Hungary or Russia.
  • Hispanic settlers, some who can trace their family's presence in America to the 16th century, began to settle in Globeville after World War II.
*Leonard, Stephen J. “Denver’s Foreign Born Immigrants, 1859-1900,” Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Claremont Graduate School, 1971
A printed advertisement from the turn of the century announces, “The Slovenian Singing Club will sing Slovenian folk songs in the City’s Fourth of July program.” The women are left, Carrie Grugan, and right, Mollie Zalar. Photo courtesy of Betty Zalar Paprocki

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Shorty Maynard, Circus Clown, 1882 - 1950

He was born to strict Catholic parents in Manchester, New Hampshire, in 1882 and, at thirteen years of age, was expected to work in a shoe factory for 10 cents a day. At that point, Rudolf E. Pigeon did what most young people only dream of doing: he ran away and joined the circus.
Pigeon began performing with the Menard troupe of acrobats, traveling the East Coast with the Hagenbeck Wallace Circus. In 1906, he moved out West and joined the Sells-Floto Circus, owned by Frederick Bonfils and Harry H. Tammen, co-owners of the Denver Post. Known professionally as Shorty Maynard, Pigeon developed routines that drew on his acrobatic ability and love of animals. The mule hurdle had him riding atop the animal’s head, then hanging on to its tail to be dragged around the sawdust ring several times. Pigeon created an audience favorite with Bill, the Trained Goose, and the duo performed tricks for a dozen seasons.
During the off-season, performers found other jobs and pursued other interests. For
Pigeon, that interest was Ada Morgan, and they were married on December 28, 1912. By the time Pigeon joined the Ringling Brothers-Barnum and Baily Circus in 1916, he and Ada had started a family.
After years of
circus life and travel, an exhausted Pigeon retired in 1920. He operated John’s Pool Hall in Sterling, which became a casualty of the farm recession after World War I. Pigeon then moved his family to Globeville and sought out his old friend Harry Tammen, who arranged a a job for him with Swift and Company. He worked there for more than twenty years.
Daughter Carol Christensen recalls, “I remember my dad walking across that bridge at 46th Avenue every morning at 5 am to go to work in the packinghouse. He didn’t make much money, but we always paid our bills on time.”
Pigeon lived quietly with his wife Ada, daughters Florence and Carol, and son Charles in  Globeville, where he died on August 14, 1950 of heart failure.
The man who had
dedicated his life to making people laugh would be pleased to know that he is still entertaining crowds. His gravestone, Block 13, Lot 9, at Denver's Riverside Cemetery is engraved with his image as a clown, and is a popular destination on tours.

Photo courtesy of Carol Christensen 
Photo ® Mary Lou Egan

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Beautiful Globeville

The Globeville tradition of lovely gardens and yards continues in many places. The area is challenged by noise and pollution from the Interstate highways and encroaching industry, yet there is still a sense of pride in the neighborhood. Take a walk some morning and look at the flowers in the front yards, peer over the fences and see the vegetable extravaganza in the back yards. Some folks could feed an army with the produce grown in these small spaces. Here are a few of my favorites on the north side of I-70.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Archpriest Joseph Hirsch 1944-2009

Father Hirsch remembered, "In 1984 a bishop in Chicago asked me if I would come out to Denver for a couple of years and see what I could do about this church. I found out a little about the history of the parish and that there were two points of view — that some people thought that they ought to stay here and some people thought that they ought to sell and move. So I talked with them and I told them that, if they were willing to stay here and work on the situation, that I would come. I didn’t want to be responsible for abandoning a church that had as rich a history as this church did. That would have to be their choice." The people decided to stay and Father Joseph and Matushka Paulette Hirsch came to Transfiguration Parish and the Globeville neighborhood. Both the church and the neighborhood have been blessed by their presence.
Father Hirsch recalled, "First we had to fix up the property, so that people would feel better about it. And then we had to fix up the neighborhood around the church."
"Fixing up the property" included replacing the "old saw mill" with a new church hall, obtaining historic designation for the Temple and restoring the foundation and floor of the church. "Fixing up the neighborhood" resulted in developing and implementing a comprehensive neighborhood plan, obtaining development funds for lighting, successfully battling the highway department and instituting the Old Globeville Days and Orthodox Food Festival. Holy Transfiguration and the Globeville neighborhood have both blossomed.
These many accomplishments don't describe the joyful, spiritual, generous man that left so profound a mark on so many people. Father Joseph passed away August 24, 2009 after a brief illness. He will be greatly missed.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Baseball in Globeville

Baseball was big in Globeville. Andy Jackson remembered, "The lodges had teams, all the packing houses, Armour & Company, Western Packing and Burkhardt, each had a team. The brickyards had a team that played at a ball field at 45th and Leaf Court on Sunday mornings. There were also ball fields at 49th and Washington and at 23rd and Welton. Lots of people played for several teams."
Top photo, 1923 team sponsored by the Gerhardt Mercantile Company.
Left to right, standing: Henry Heinz, Pete Shinall, Nick Walters, Pete Sterkel, Ollie Krieger, and Alec Hilzer, manager.
Left to right, seated: Henry Schlit, Horst Nickels, Charley Jack, Pete Spomer, Jake Sterkel, Henry Honstein, and Albert Tribelhorn, mascot. Photo courtesy Larry Summers.
Max Beer Parlor Baseball Team 1934. Photo courtesy of Paul Goreski

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Orthodox Food Festival & Globeville Days

From its beginning, Globeville has been known for its ethnic diversity, with people from Eastern Europe and Russia settling the area in the 1880s for jobs in the smelters and meat packing plants. The neighborhood continues to embrace and celebrate diverse cultures during its annual Orthodox Food Festival and
Old Globeville Days, held Saturday
and Sunday July 18 and 19, 2009.
Visitors could find homemade food
and crafts from Eritrea, Greece,
Italy, Mexico, Romania, Russia
and Serbia. There were local
beverages, Coors, Bud and Miller
beers, as well as the Czech
Pilsner Irquel and the Slovenian
brandy Slivovitz.
The entertainment was a varied
with 10 different acts taking
the stage over the two-day
festival. Some highlights included
Mark Brissenden playing the
Gaida, a Bulgarian bagpipe,
Planina singing songs of
Eastern Europe and Willie &
the Po' Boys with Southern rock.
There were games and activities
for the children and tours of
the beautiful Orthodox Cathedral.
Mark the third weekend in July
for next year's event.

Top photo, lamb roasting
on a spit provides a delicious aroma.
Middle photo, Fotia from
Hellenic Dance Academy of Denver.
Bottom photo, food vendors
offer a multitude of choices.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sheedy Row

Dennis Sheedys Globe Smelter provided some company housing for its employees. The company built the Globe Hotel on Washington Street, a four-story building containing a kitchen, dining hall, and 125 rooms, where single men boarded two to a room, alternating shifts to use a single bed.

Houses for families were available in an area called “Sheedy Row,” east of Washington Street at about 54th Avenue. Betty Zalar Paprocki’s family occupied a two-story brick home with a rather large yard. “There were ten houses on Sheedy Row and that was the name of the street, Sheedy Row. It was a cul de sac just east of Washington Street. They were nice little houses and each one was a little different from the others. They each had a kitchen and dining room, and a small yard with room for a garden. My grandfather worked in the smelter and that’s how we got a house there."
Left to right, Betty Zalar, and her cousins Juanita and Bob Chermas, taken from the front porch of her home on Sheedy Row. Photo, Betty Zalar Paprocki

Monday, April 27, 2009

Globeville Day Nursery

Early in the 20th century, many women in Globeville found it necessary to work outside the home in commercial laundries, the packing plants or as domestics in the homes of Denver's wealthy citizens. Although some families had grandparents who could watch young children while mothers were at work, those who didn't could rely on the Globeville Day Nursery.
Garden Place teachers Annie Kelly and Luann B. Hanna were instrumental in founding the nursery in 1909, and served on the board of directors for the life of the center. The center was located at 4414 Logan Street and was managed for many years by Miss Mattie Parkhurst.
For 10 cents a day children were given "a nutritious hot lunch and a 3 pm snack of bread and jelly, milk and fruit." The children were under the medical supervision of Dr. Robert S. Burket, "who visits each day." The nursery was open six days a week.
In addition to caring for children, the center was a resource for immigrant families assimilating into American life. A Mother's Club met on the third Tuesday of the month to study "America, her needs and ideals" and the English language.
The nursery served the neighborhood until 1948 when it closed because of declining enrollment. The house is now a private residence.

photos courtesy of Paul Goreski
Top photo, children in the front yard of the Globeville Day Nursery
Lower photos, left to right Florence Fanning, Mattie Parkhurst, unknown, Louise Goreski

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Saturday, February 25, 1950

Photos used with written permission from Janet Wagner
Both the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News featured the storyKOA radio carried the broadcast live and a score of airplanes flew overhead. An estimated 100,000 people gathered near the site while an additional 250,000 watched from rooftops and ridges all over the city. The occasion was the demolition of the Grant Smelter smokestack, a 350-foot remnant of Denver's glory days of mining and smelting.
The giant chimney was built in 1892, part of the expansion of Denver's largest smelter, the Omaha and Grant. The stack was the tallest structure in the region and a symbol of the city's largest industry.
A year after the completion of the chimney, the nation experienced a 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 and stack.
The smelter was dismantled until only the enormous smokestack remained, and it became a playground for neighborhood children who rode their bikes in and out and dared each other to climb the steep walls. Issues of safety and economics eventually dictated the that the stack would be demolished.
Saturday, February 25, 1950, was the day selected for the demolition. Denver Mayor Quigg Newton, politicians and newspapermen made speeches eulogizing the structure as most of Denver's population waited. There was delay after delay until 5:00 pm when five blasts, each two seconds apart, exploded in the base of the 7000-ton tower. Incredibly, nothing happened. When three more blasts were detonated, a million bricks crashed to earth and a blinding cloud of dust enveloped officials and spectators. It took more dynamite on the following day to finish the job. Denver had shed a piece of its industrial past and, in 1952, constructed the Denver Coliseum on the spot. 
Photos of the stack courtesy of Janet Wagner

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sanguinette's Farm

Brothers Louis and William Sanguinette are first listed in the Denver City Directory in 1876. Originally from Genoa, Italy, they stayed for a time in New Orleans before opening a saloon in the mining town of Georgetown, Colorado. Louis, William and their father Peter moved to Globeville after Peter purchased 10 acres of farmland from former Globeville mayor William Clark, who lived on Washington Street.
The Sanguinettes worked together to build a big home for their large, extended family (Louis and his wife Mary had 14 children) and raised enough vegetables, turkeys, and chickens to support themselves and supply local markets. The Sanguinette farm was best known for its celery, crisp, sweet and almost white in appearance.
Mary Sanguinette Dudymott, the great granddaughter of Peter, still lives close to her family's former farm in Globeville. She recalls her grandfather Jim who was born in 1882, and his tales of visiting with the gypsies and the Indian tribes who camped along the Platte River. She remembers his alarm as the area became increasingly industrial with the arrival of the smelters, railroads and the meat packing plants.
Family photo, top, left to right, Leroy Mosconi, Rose Sanguinette Mosconi, John, 
Lily and Louis Sanguinette. Photos courtesy of Mary Sanguinette Dudymott.

Bottom photo features Leroy Mosconi and Peter Sanguinette plowing fields 
along Watervliet, the name of Washington Street before 1903.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

1st German Congregational Church

German-speaking people in Globeville came, not from Germany, but from villages along the Volga River in Russia. Perhaps because they had been persecuted for their religion in Russia, German-Russians wasted no time organizing churches in Globeville. The earliest of these was the First German Congregational Church.
The church was founded by people from the village of Norka and was known as "the Norkera Church."  The first structure, known as the shanty, was constructed at 44th and Lincoln in 1894 and was soon replaced by a larger brick building in 1896 or '97. As in the old country, life revolved around the church with Sunday services, prayer meetings, Bible studies and revivals. The services were held in German, and children attended "German school" after regular school during the week. Membership increased steadily and, in 1927, a larger church was built.
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  the new church was dedicated in 1974. The former building in Globeville was purchased by the city of Denver in 1976 and is now home to the Globeville Community Resource Center.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

45th & Washington

For over a hundred years, the corner at 45th and Washington has been the place to go for an inexpensive meal and visit with friends. Today the site is home to a McDonalds Restaurant; in 1908, it was home to the Western Slavonic Lodge.
Slavs began arriving in Globeville in the 1880s seeking jobs in the Grant and Globe Smelters. Work in the smelters was hard and dangerous with extreme heat, dust, and exposure to toxic fumes. To provide financial security for themselves and their families, the Slavs formed Zapadna Slovanska Zveza, the Western Slavonic Association, a fraternal society that offered sick and death benefits for its members.
The organization sought to preserve the language, culture and heritage of the mother country, Slovenia. Here, the newcomer felt comfortable and welcome, speaking his native tongue, enjoying familiar ethnic dishes and socializing with others from the old country. Slavs could find information about jobs, places to stay and where to meet other single people from home. New arrivals were introduced to American customs, music, dress and slang and helped with the process of Americanization.
Slavs gradually assimilated into American life, moved up the economic ladder and away from the Globeville neighborhood. The Western Slavonic is now Western Fraternal Life and still offers annuities, insurance products and fraternal activities at its location at 11265 Decatur Street in Westminster. The land was sold to McDonalds in 1988.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

First Mayor of Globeville

William H Clark arrived with the hoards of gold seekers in October 1858 and built a small cabin in an area north of Denver. Along with his neighbors, a few homesteaders and native Americans, he did some farming, hunting and prospecting.
Clark had lived in his cabin for 20 years when the first of the state's big smelters, the Boston & Colorado was built in 1878. The Grant and Globe Smelters were constructed in 1882 and 1889 and Clark watched the district evolve from a rural outpost to an industrial area. The increasing population voted to incorporate as the town of Globeville in 1891 and selected Clark as the first Mayor. 
After his mayoral term ended in 1894, Clark returned to farming. He was known as "Uncle Billy" and, at 59, was considered an old timer who would share his memories of the early days with anyone who had time to listen.
He was found dead of "advanced age" in his cabin on June 26, 1921 and is buried in Fairmount Cemetery. A street named "Clark Place" in the Globeville neighborhood pays tribute to this pioneer.