Since I just finished some revisions on the first story in my western historical romance series, it made me think about the early cattle ranchers in Colorado. I decided to see what the house of an early cattle baron might look like. Plus, what would would I hear if those walls could talk to me?
Alonzo Hartman was one of the earliest cattle ranchers in southwestern Colorado. He was a very young man when he arrived in Colorado. In fact, he was only about 18 years old and knew little about cattle when he was put in charge of the Los Pinos Indian Agency cow camp in 1869. This camp was a holding place for cattle driven up from Texas to feed the Ute Indians on a nearby reservation. When the Utes were moved to another location a few years later, Alonzo and his partner decided to stay on the cow camp land. They started a community (Gunnison) as well as a ranch which became one of the biggest in western Colorado. While Alonzo also diversified into other businesses in later years, he was first and foremost a rancher.
The included pictures are of the large house he built for his wife, Annie, after he became successful. The house was completed in 1894, when he was still a relatively young man in his 40s. The house was so large and ornate, it became known as the "Hartman Castle."
I find this house intriguing for several reasons. First, because it is the ultimate proof of a what a young, inexperienced person can accomplish with some cleverness and hard work. Secondly, because it must have hosted some interesting people over the years. Can you imagine the dinner parties Annie and Alonzo might have hosted over the years, and the influential guests who might have attended? While the house passed out of the Hartman’s hands in the early 1900s, it still exists today. How was it used, and who might have passed through its doors in the intervening years?
I will never know the house’s full story, but that is okay. Not knowing allows me to make up my own stories about what this house might say, If These Walls Could Talk.
I write historical fiction, and I invite you to share the journey to published author with me.