History is a story always unfolding. Learn the latest discoveries about Anne Evans', the Evans Family's, and others' contributions to Colorado's Cultural Development.

Barbara Sternberg's Book about Anne Evans

Welcome to Anne Evans News - May/June, 2013
by Barbara Edwards Sternberg

Anne Evans News – In this Newsletter I will be discussing some interesting developments in the news that tie into into Anne Evans' life and activities, along with those of some of her family members. I also want to keep you informed of events related to my historical biography of Anne Evans. 

Book TalksOn Thursday, April 9, I spoke about Anne Evans and the Evans Ranch, and signed books at a delightful event called Tea with Barbara at the Humphrey Memorial Park and Museum of Evergreen. The Humphrey Park and Museum website states that the "Museum represents one of the finest examples of ranching life in late 19th and early 20th Century Colorado." Thanks to the energetic, creative Executive Director, Angela Rayne, for a magical afternoon of tea and homemade goodies, and for her inspired leadership in developing a fascinating a fascinating array of programs at the Museum. On Sunday, June 23 at 6:00 PM please join me at West Side Books on 32nd Street in the Highlands for a brief talk and refreshments. If you have not had the pleasure of perusing the aisles of floor-to-ceiling new and used books at West Side Books, you are in for a treat.

Anne Evans BlogYou may now automatically receive my blog posts via RSS feed. My recent blogs are about another article by Anne Evans, which surfaced after the biography was published. This article, titled John Wesley and the Methodists, was published in 1909. It was about the life and teachings of the founder of Methodism, that religious denomination so fervently embraced by her parents, Governor John Evans and his wife, Margaret. Click here to see my blog posts.

Sand Creek: the Still Unhealed Wounds

Different aspects of the Sand Creek Massacre - which figured so largely in the life of Anne Evans' father, John Evans, costing him the governorship of Colorado Territory - are again in the news:

  • in the discussion about the future of old Fort Lyon

  • in the poignant controversy over History Colorado's current exhibit

  • in new attempts to come to a just assessment of Governor Evans' responsibility for the massacre.

In my book about the life of Anne Evans, I found it necessary to write about Sand Creek (Chapter 5). This was partly to help readers understand an important event in her family background, and partly to enable me to discuss the airy assumption I sometimes heard stated - with authority, but no documentation – that the reason why Anne Evans spent so much of her time promoting the art of Native Americans was because of her feelings of guilt over her father's role in the Sand Creek Massacre.

Fort Lyon
There was much discussion - in the Denver Post and in the just-finished session of the Colorado Legislature - over the future of old Fort Lyon.

Now near Las Animas, Fort Lyon (originally Fort Wise) was in a somewhat different location when Colonel John Chivington arrived late in 1864 with his "Thirdster" regiment, ordered Fort Lyon commander Major Scott Anthony to accompany him, along with a large contingent of regular troops, and set out to massacre the occupants, mostly women and children and elderly men, of a peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho encampment at Sand Creek. Their leaders had surrendered to the military at Fort Lyon, as recommended by Governor Evans, and were flying both a United States flag and a white flag.

At that time, Fort Lyon consisted of part of the second Bent's Fort, along with additional structures built in the Arkansas River bottoms nearby. In 1867 this site was abandoned, after flooding on the Arkansas River, and replaced by a new Fort Lyon near Las Animas. This was used as a base by the U.S. Army during the period of Indian wars unleashed by the Sand Creek Massacre. Understandably, this event virtually destroyed any confidence, on the part of the Indian tribes, in the sincerity of federal or Territorial peace initiatives.

After the long chapter of the Cheyenne and Arapaho presence in Colorado was ended, tragically - they were decisively defeated, and removed from Colorado to other locations - Fort Lyon was abandoned. It was burned by Indians after the army left. In 1906, the U.S. Navy opened a tuberculosis sanatorium on the Fort Lyon site. It was turned over, in 1922, to the Veteran's Bureau, which became the Veteran's Administration in 1930. Three years later, the VA designated it a neuropsychiatric hospital, operating it until 2001. The site was then given to the State of Colorado, which used it as a minimum security prison until 2011.

The 1913 session of the State Legislature, in its last weeks, apparently settled the issue of what comes next for old Fort Lyon, by now a National Historic Site. It is destined to become a residential substance abuse treatment and job-training center for the homeless. Governor Hickenlooper was one of the chief proponents of this new use for Fort Lyon, but it faced vociferous opposition, both for its cost, and on the grounds that it is too far removed from the larger Colorado cities where most of the homeless are located.

The Denver Post, in a May 12 editorial headlined, OK, GOVERNOR HICKENLOOPER, FORT LYON IS YOURS NOW, was frankly skeptical about the chances for the project, "If it fails, voters will know where to place the blame. And if it succeeds, we will be the first to credit the governor for his commitment to the idea."

THE COLLISION: History Colorado's Exhibit about the Sand Creek Massacre

History Colorado

I first saw this exhibit - one of seven "Colorado Stories" on the second floor of the Museum building - shortly after the opening of History Colorado's new home. I found the exhibit quite incoherent. Thinking that perhaps the whole display had not quite come together yet, I resolved to return later and spend more time on it. I had not yet managed this when I read Patricia Calhoun's two-page article on the subject, in the February 14-20 issue of Westword. She wrote about the highly critical attitude of Northern Cheyenne tribal members towards the content of the exhibit, and their anger and frustration at the failure of History Colorado to involve them in any meaningful way in the process of it's development.

Shortly thereafter, I went with my daughter Francesca to a lecture at the Museum by Ari Kelman, about his new book, A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling over the Memory of Sand Creek. This is the story of the long campaign to create the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, administered by the National Park service, which finally came into being in 2007. During the question period, I asked Prof. Kelman if he had any comment to make on the controversy over History Colorado's Sand Creek exhibit. He diplomatically referred the question to State Historian Bill Convery, who, he said, would be happy to meet with anyone interested after the meeting. A few of us assembled around Convery, who assured us that he had met with tribal representatives, heard their grievances, and made modifications to the exhibit accordingly. He said that History Colorado was not willing, as requested by tribal members, to close the exhibit during any further discussions.

Having gathered from another article on the subject, in Westword's April 25-May 1 issue, that the controversy is not fading away but gathering steam, I realized that it was time for me to revisit the exhibit and come to my own conclusions. So earlier this week I, armed with archaic pencil and notebook, and Francesca, with her phone/camera, toured COLLISION once more.

While this is not the place for an exhaustive blow-by-blow critique, I will say that overall, I found the exhibit seriously deficient in conveying the depths of the horror that was the Sand Creek Massacre, and its bitter consequences. I will give just a few examples to support this opinion. The title, COLLISION, seems willfully misleading - a gratuitous insult to the encampment's innocent victims. To me, the word collision implies some balance of forces on each side. Its use seems like a conscious effort to mitigate the stigma of the event. Instead of being the subtitle, THE SAND CREEK MASSACRE should be the exhibit's name.

On the large exhibit panels describing the event, there is only one word, "mutilated," that refers to the treatment of bodies after the massacre. It is completely inadequate to explain the butchery at Sand Creek. In two little boxes, which seem like an afterthought, are one reproduction each of letters from Silas Soule and Joseph Kramer, soldiers who refused to take part in the massacre. They describe, in vivid detail, the unbelievably merciless killing of women and children and old men, and the taking of scalps and body parts for trophies. But how many people will take the time to stop and read the small print?

Then there is an older video of tribal members, quietly describing exactly what was done to their ancestors at Sand Creek. There is room for three people to sit and watch this video, but we were the only ones who did so while we were in that area. It is placed awkwardly, near the end of the exhibit, amid a strange combination of sounds, and intermittent illumination of objects hidden behind curved white shrouds of draperies, onto which words are infrequently projected. This part of the exhibit seems to me like a brave experiment that just doesn't work.

In 1865, after the damning reports on Sand Creek from both military and Congressional investigations, a promise made that the U.S. government would pay reparations. Not a cent was ever received by the tribes, and they have long ago given up hope that this promise will ever be redeemed. But apparently, they still passionately wish that one day, the complete and true story of the Sand Creek Massacre will be told - and heard. Then perhaps the healing of this still open historic wound can proceed.

Universities Re-evaluate Governor John Evans' Role in Sand Creek
Ever since President Andrew Johnson secured Governor John Evans' resignation over the Sand Creek Massacre on August 1, 1865, there has been intermittent controversy as to the degree of the Governor's responsibility for the event. This year, the matter will apparently be investigated at both of the universities of which Evans was a major founder: Northwestern University and the University of Denver.

In February, 2013, an official news release from Northwestern University announced that a committee had been formed "to review and report on the history of John Evans." A committee of four faculty members from Northwestern and three scholars from other institutions "will examine the nature of Evans' involvement in the Sand Creek Massacre...and Evans' later involvement with Northwestern." The committee was formed at the request of students and University supporters. It will report to the Provost by June 1914, and will be made public at that time.

At the University of Denver, a committee is working on a statement assessing Governor Evans' relationship to the Sand Creek Massacre. It expects to issue this statement at the beginning of 2014, the 150th anniversary of the University's founding.

Sternberg, Barbara E., Jennifer Boone, and Evelyn Waldron. Anne Evans – A Pioneer in Colorado’s Cultural History: THE THINGS THAT LAST WHEN GOLD IS GONE. Denver: Buffalo Park Press and The Center for Colorado and the West, 2011. 67-80.

Auraria Campus Library


There have been exciting developments since our April, 2013 Newsletter, relating to these two vital Colorado library resources.

Good News for Auraria

On April 29, we were delighted to receive the following bulletin from Mary Somerville, University Librarian and Director of the Auraria Campus Library:

"It is with great pleasure that I announce the Auraria Library will be funded in the amount of $4 million by the Colorado Long Bill, which will support the overall building design, in addition to helping finance a number of renovation projects. The Colorado State House and Senate voted in favor of our much-needed renovation plans and Governor Hickenlooper signed the bill this morning.

Being granted with funding enables the Library to move forward on the following important projects:

·      Second floor restroom remodel
.      A portion of the "Main Street" project, including addressing ADA and accessibility needs
.      Relocation of Special Collections
.      Way-finding signage on the first floor
.      A portion of new shelving

These projects allow us to meet the current and changing needs of the faculty and students on the Auraria Campus and continue us on the path to being a 21st century academic library." Congratulations to Mary Somerville and the Auraria Library! Francesca and I look forward to a tour of the new elements when they are completed.

To learn more about these exciting developments go to the Auraria Library Website.

D.U.'s Anderson Academic Commons an Immediate Hit with Students and Faculty

Anderson Academic Commons

Shortly after it's opening, my daughter Francesca and I were privileged to attend a meeting in Denver University's stunning version of what constitutes a 21st University Library.

Before briefly describing our impressions of the facility, I would like to clarify an incorrect impression I may have left in the April 13 coverage. In writing that Auraria would have to settle for a stage-by-stage transformation, because of the nature of State funding, I perhaps implied that D.U had been able to go for a complete new building. This is not so. The new Anderson Academic Commons has retained all the existing structure of the original Penrose Library, except for a walkway on the west. We entered through the main southern entrance, which has an entirely new facade. From that perspective it would be easy to conclude that the whole building was new. What did happen at D.U. was that, in order to remove every trace of asbestos, the entire building had to be gutted, all partitions removed, so that it was necessary to close the facility until all the new construction was finished.Anderson Academic Commons - DU


Since the D.U. Librarian insisted that there be no downtime in access to library materials for students or faculty, a storage facility - named the Hampden Center - was acquired away from the campus, and efficient transportation of needed materials was provided. In the reconstruction, a clerestory was thrust up through the roof of the atrium, flooding the main structure with light and allowing for the creation of an ingenious loft/classroom.

Anderson Academic Commons

The new Academic Commons has an amazing variety of study spaces: individual study rooms, carrels for those needing long-term spaces, group study facilities of different sizes and degrees of privacy, places for comfortable relaxed reading with quiet views over the attractive campus. Everywhere of course there is easy technological access and plenty of well-trained staff to facilitate study. To get some perspective on the offerings of this extraordinary new facility, it is worth checking the Denver University website and its lively list of "Forty Things to Love about the Anderson Academic Commons." And unless you are far more up-to-date on modern library construction than we are, we think you will be as astonished as we were at how they have managed to compact "nearly eight miles of books” into a relatively small space in the building.

Anderson Academic Commons


Book Cover



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