Interesting History about our city – Parker, Colorado
Popular legend has it that Parker’s history can be traced back to 1864 when Alfred Butters established a railway station called Pine Grove Way Station. Before that, it was mainly used by Indians as a hunting ground, and renowned archaeologists have unearthed several of their hunting camps. The first residents were the prehistoric Plains-Woodland Indians that included mostly Cheyenne, Arapahoe, and Utes tribes by the 1800s.
In the early part of the 19th century white men, including James Pursley and Baptiste LaLande in 1803/4 and John Charles Fremont and Stephen H. Long from 1820 to 1844, came to explore the general Colorado area.
Early trappers used old Indian trails running next to Cherry Creek, traders, gold seekers, and frontiersmen including John Beck, William Green Russel, Captain R.B. Marcy, Jim Baker, Kit Carson, ‘Uncle Dick’ Wootton, and Thomas Fitzpatrick. The main trail, known as Cherokee Trail, was a branch of Trapper’s Trail.
In 1858 gold was discovered in Colorado and during the following year, these trails carried more than 100,000 people in search of fortune. As the focus started to change from gold to land, small settlements and towns began to spring up. Around 1864 Alfred Butters built a small one-room building among the pines just south of what is now the Parker Methodist Church.
Appropriately called Pine Grove, it became a refuge for travelers that provided them with a place to leave messages, get mail, and obtain provisions. He traded the building for a yoke of oxen to a Mr. Goldsmith who in turn sold it to George Long. Mr. and Mrs. Long moved the structure from its original site to the present day location on Main Street and adding ten rooms that included a ballroom on the second floor. They also built additional buildings to accommodate wagons and animals.
The Longs named it ’20 Mile House’ as it was located just 20 miles from Denver City. Like other ‘mile houses’ in the area it became a stage stop that provided travelers with meals, provision, and lodging. Historical accounts record that the Longs traded the house in 1869 for a span of mules Nelson and Susan Doud. Legend has it that the Douds, in turn, sold it to a station manager and ex-bullwhacker from Kiowa in 1874 although the deed of sale is dated September 15, 1870.
Under the ownership of James Parker, ’20 Mile House’ quickly grew with a blacksmith shop equipped to shoe oxen and a general mercantile store added to its facilities. The house became the first post office in Pine Grove which opened on December 8, 1970. He granted rights-of-way for future telephone lines, roads, and ditches and eventually for the establishment of the Denver and New Orleans Railroad.
Parker also built the first schoolhouse across the road from 20 Mile House when his daughter reached school going age and paid the first year’s salaries for the teacher and provided her with free boarding.
The first cemetery in the town was established on top of a hill east of the Highway 83 intersection with the E-470. However, he buried his son Charlie who died in 1874 and his other son Bela who died in 1882, as well as his first wife Mattie who died in 1887 on a knoll north-east of 20 Mile House. He donated those three acres to the town to form the new cemetery which was surveyed in 1884. In 1885 the four people buried in the original cemetery were moved to the new one and in 1911 title to the cemetery was transferred by heirs of James Parker’s to the J.S. Parker Cemetery Association.
When James Parker died in 1910, he was buried on the knoll next to his wife, Mattie. Nearby his grave is the headstone of the pioneer Jonathan Tallman which reads “Killed by Indians on May 8, 1870,” and many of James Parker’s first families were buried in this cemetery.
West of Highway 83 the land was owned by James Parker while land east of the highway belonged to his brother George Parker. George was instrumental in the growth of other businesses and built a saloon. With impetus provided by the railroad the town soon built a hotel, a post office, two blacksmith shops, a pump house, a water tower, a livery stable, a stockyard, a barber shop, a school, brickworks, a dry goods store, and other miscellaneous dwellings.
Article by Parkglenn Self Storage Located in Parker.