Longmont, Co is rich in history and dates well beyond its 148yr inception date and even written history for that matter.
“American Indians traveled through the area where Longmont is today for thousands of years.” Harsh weather conditions made the area uninhabitable for 1000’s of years as well. “The first Europeans to come into the northern Colorado area were explorers and adventurers. One of the first American explorers was Major Stephen H. Long, an Army officer. The most prominent mountain in northern Colorado, Longs Peak, named for Major Long. Trappers, traders and miners followed the explorers. They set up crude settlements such as Boulder City, (now known simply as Boulder)”
In the late 1800’s a few Chicago based business men conceived and strategically carried out an the idea for a new Western city designed much like other cities throughout the country, in 1 square mile grid boxes, but because of the “rich soil” and the planning of irrigation canals designed to efficiently move fresh water from the Mountain runoff fed rivers to the Front Range farming communities, Longmont developed into one of most picturesque and successfully farmed cities of Northern Colorado and among all of the cities along the foot of the Rocky Mountains.
By the early 1900’s, farming from Longmont to Ft. Collins was becoming the dominant industry in the area. There were now immigrants coming from all over Europe and the push was on to expand the west. “Go West Young Man”, became the mantra through out the land and Longmont and Boulder were now prominent areas to set up a family; good jobs, land, a well planned city, access to fresh food and room for growth. The government was still offering large swaths of land for very low prices if you were willing to stay and farm the land.
This brings us to Sunday July 21, 2019 and my seemingly simple enough trip to the grocery store until I came across a large gathering of people in the Boulder County Fairgrounds picnic area. One for wanting to stay informed about what is happening in our neighborhood combined with missing a great looking kids festival at our local church; I felt compelled to stop by and see if it was something we could bring the kids to.
I pulled up to a nice young lady and asked what was happening a she said “the 51st Annual Schlagel Family Reunion”. I looked at the large crowd of people about 50 people or so and exclaimed, “WOW! Now THAT is AWESOME! I introduced myself and asked if I could come in and take a few pics for our site and was greeted warmly and led in.
Almost immediately, I was introduced to Ruth Schlagel a woman in great health & vitality in her 80’s that offered to take me around. Ruth was a very gracious host and obviously the Matriach answering all my questions and taking me on a history of Longmont tour I could have never have expected.
It turns out that the Schlagel family help settle Longmont in it’s early days. They were the original German Immigrants from Russia who helped Longmont become a large industry player in the Sugar Beet Industry. The family settled here and began developing strong roots along what is now the Northern Stretch of I-25. These original immigrants eventually became farm owners, doctors, lawyers, teachers and the backbone of Northern Colorado communities from Longmont to Windsor, to Berthoud and many more along the Front Range. After watching people laughing, smiling, hugging, telling stories and making birth and death announcements, and participate in a family prayer in a massive circle to officially kick off the event. Then came the FOOD! And they had lots of it!
People were genuinely happy while reminiscing through oral and written history and photographs. (some pictured) While kids were playing volleyball and various other games all while being in the shade of their ancestors who helped lay the land of what we have all come to love about small cities. What a beautiful family and a great location and now my 1st generation Native Coloradoan twins will grow up with even deeper appreciation of how Longmont became Longmont.