Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Haunted Holidays! Oops, we mean Happy Holidays from Haunted History After Dark! Thank you so much to all of our wonderful and courageous guests and supporters and we wish you all the best for the new year!
Below enJOY the story of Fort Collins first documented murder which happened on Christmas Eve 130 years ago this Saturday!

The Holiday Season is alive on the streets of Fort Collins. Talented carolers who wander from business to business singing the classic Christmas jingles rouse the Tiny Tim in all of us. Retail stores in full seasonal regalia stir the incessant need for a Red Ryder Bee Bee Shooter like Ralphie's obsession in A Christmas Story. The holiday lights on the trees surrounding Old Town, kept lit with the generous donation of a contributor, make one feel as if they are in a scene from Frank Capra's 1946 classic "It's a Wonderful Life".

Old Town Fort Collins
Capra's fictitious Bedfort Falls
But nothing ignites the Holiday Spirit more than a good old fashioned Christmas Eve brothel murder. And Fort Collins may be one of the only towns in the nation to be able to add this to its claim to fame. This story involves a well- known old “house of ill fame”, a wayward drifter, and a very unfortunate Christmas Eve party goer.

The date was 1881. With the event of the Colorado and Central Railroad coming through town just four years earlier, the population in the city had grown exponentially from roughly 450 to 1500 and some change. The city was taking on a new character. The Commercial Hotel (now the Northern Hotel) was accommodating early travelers with fifty self-heated rooms. The Opera House Block had been completed just ten months prior and was featuring some famous names such as Harry Beresford (who would later become a very famous silver screen actor), and well-known vaudeville comedian Ezra Kendall. Jefferson Street was the heart of the city with visitors arriving by train and stage daily. This once almost forgotten ghost town was now the “Jewel of the Frontier”.
Business was also thriving in the brothel industry. Houses of “ill repute” were not illegal at this time yet. They wouldn’t be subject to revocation until a few years later by the passing and enforcement of Ordinance #17. But, they were definitely frowned upon. This didn’t stop newcomers or even some of the town’s most prominent residents. Some of those early patrons would have been the railroad workers, the miners heading up to Manhattan Creek west of Red Feather, and those cowhands coming off the very famous Texas longhorn outfit the Goodnight-Loving trail (1865-1890).
Other customerss of these establishments were locals such as Albert Sherwood. Sherwood was an African American cook at the very famous Tedmon Hotel. This hotel had been built in 1880 and with three floors of rooms and 19 bathrooms was touted as the “most elegant hotel north of Denver.”
Now on Christmas Eve 1881 cook Mr. Sherwood had been let out early, had a little money in his pocket and he knew exactly how he was going to celebrate this most precious night. He thought a little Holiday cheer at Lizzy Palmers bawdry house would lift his spirits from working for “the man” and let him cool off some steam a bit. Sherwood left the Tedmon on this frigid night and held his tattered coat close as he walked the approximately five blocks to the establishment of his discretion. This particular place was located on the 300 block of north Meldrum Street (now a vacant lot). He was warmly welcomed.
Sometime in the evening a drifter who called himself “Tex” entered the structure. Tex introduced himself, was kind and polite as he was offered a hard drink. He watched the party from the doorway for a while and graciously took another adequately liquored beverage offered to him from one of the “soiled doves” and employee of the home. He then settled back into a small couch and watched as a piano player cornered in the small dance floor banged out tunes prominent at the time such as Gilbert and Sullivan’s Away, Away! My Hearts on Fire and Oh Far Better to Live and Die.  As Tex put his glass down on a table crowded with others, his eye caught the frame of one of the workers encased in the arms of man with a tattered coat. The couple moved closer and as they did, the woman looked over her temporary lovers shoulder and smiled a red-painted, inviting and flirtatious grin at Tex. Tex took the invite and attempted to smile back, but the couple soon swayed to the other side of the small room. She never saw his rejoinder.
Involuntarily rejected Tex put his glass to his lips and took a long swig. The hand burrowing into the back of his duster and tickling his uncut hair didn’t persuade him to find affection in his new admirer who had abruptly and aggressively stumbled her way onto his lap. His eyes were focused on the white slip and maroon gown that was increasingly getting farther away in the hands of the man with the tattered coat.
Coupled by the rousing lyrics of Efrida Foulds tune Blow the Man Down !” coming from the enthusiastic piano player “…a pretty young damsel I chanced for to meet. Give me some time to blow the man down…” and his third round of firewater, Tex put his glass down, removed the woman from his waist and shoved his way through drunken Christmas Eve revelers to find the smile that would make his long way from Kansas to this frontier town worth the trip.
The rest of this story made history as the documented first murder in Fort Collins history as recorded below in the Fort Collins museum archive.
MUSEUM (GLENDURA) SCRAPBOOK (Christmas eve, 1881)
Fort Collins' first murder took place in a brothel on North Meldrum in 1881. On Christmas Eve "Tex" Lindeville shot Albert Sherwood, a black employee of the Tedmon House. Lindeville pleaded self-defense and was acquitted.
"Brawl resulted in First Murder." "Pistol shots--a dozen or more--shattered the silence of Fort Collins' west side about 10 p.m. A man called "Tex" gave himself up to Lundy, the Justice of the Peace. He was registered at the hotel as William Lindville. Tex was a hard character, a tough cowboy with his face cut and bleeding. He turned his weapons over to Lundy. The next morning (Sunday) a wagon pulled up at the Tedmon House. It carried the body of Albert Sherwood, the Tedmon's black cook, a bullet hole above his left eye--clearly alive. Just before noon Sherwood died, becoming Fort Collins' first murder victim. The brawl had been at "Lizzie Palmer's" mansion--a house of ill repute. Fight between Tex and Sherwood. Tex testified that he didn't know how he came about having guns in his possession. Sherwood had jumped Tex (armed with a razor or a pistol). Conclusion: "The jurors do say Albert Sherwood came to his death, Saturday night, December 24, A.D. 1881, from a pistol shot fired from a pistol in the hand of William Lindville--"Tex"--without felonious intent."
Albert Sherwood left the Tedmon Hotel on a Saturday night Christmas Eve as alive and joyous as the holiday spirit and returned at midnight in the grips of the Grim Reaper. He died at noon the next day on Christmas Day. In light of the events, when Justice of the Peace Lundy was asked why he didn’t send Tex Lindeville back to Kansas on an arrest warrant (which Lundy was aware of), Lundy replied that the “reward money was less than the amount of cost to send him back to Kansas!”
This Christmas Brothel Murder was brought to you by Haunted History After Dark. Hope it gets you in the "spirit", just like it did poor Albert Sherwood.
And as a historian I want to ring out the Christmas spirit in the very George Bailey way, “Merry Christmas, movie house! (Opera House Block) Merry Christmas, Emporium! (Linden Hotel) Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan!” (Avery Block)!
 We at Haunted History After Dark are so thankful for all the people in our lives who helped make this venture happen. Haunted History After Dark wants to wish everyone a very joyous and happy Christmas. We send tremendous amounts of gratitude to all that have taken our tours up to now and have supported us. We love what we do but most especially love all the guests who have courageously taken our ghostly adventures through Old Town Fort Collins. Below are some awesome photos of some of those guests.

All research, writing and copyright to this story was completed by Suzy Riding.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Paranormal in Fort Collins, CO

This cute little guy, Porter (left), may have broken a record for the being the youngest Haunted History After Dark tours enthusiast. He was so adorable he also broke a few hearts when he had to leave. This very young ghost buster joined our tour this last Saturday with mom Kathy and equally adorable brother Dillon . Porter and Dillon are the youngest of the proprietors of the new and very popular Pateros Creek Brewing Company located at the corner of Pine and College Avenue. When I first saw this brewery going up I was excited to see the name. I knew this group had done their history. Even before Antoine Janis’ (pronounced Janeey) family had hidden their cache on the banks of the now Poudre river in the late 1830’s, another Frenchman had already traveled this route searching for the most opportune locations to place beaver traps. His name was Pateros. Hence, the original name of the Cache La Poudre River long ago was, Pateros Creek. That name in these waters runs deep. All of Pateros Creek Brewing Company beers are named after early residents, some that we even talk about on our tours. Local historians love this stuff! Definitely check this brewery out. They have done a phenomenal job connecting early Fort Collins history with their involvement in the community while providing an inviting environment to enjoy their many original brews.
Look at this awesome and courageous crowd! Dillon center with caretaker, Lauren, above. Thanks so much you very brave Haunted History After Dark guest!

The location of Pateros Creek Brewing Company was the site of an early corral and stable before the turn of the century. Many folks looking for horses and/or wagons to purchase would have accumulated in this spot to barter. Early writer, Isabella Bird, arrived in Fort Collins in 1879 on her way to see the Rocky Mountains with explorer, Mountain Jim Nugent. Her adventures from early Fort Collins to her travels as the first woman to climb Longs Peak, which she chronicled in “A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains” most likely could have begun at or near this location.
A newly formed Northern Colorado Ghost Hunters Meet-Up Group also joined us this week for a ghostly adventure on the streets of Old Town. We were so honored to have this group on our tour. Coordinator, Rose, said that, “They had looked at other ghost tours and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be guided by a ghost whisperer.” Haunted History After Dark tour guide and medium, Grace Cooley, provided this group with intimate information regarding many spirits on our tour including a top-hatted ladies’ man that appears to people on an elevator (he has also been known to shove and play with the hair of guests on our tour), to a victim of a horrendous and early tragedy who altered the future of Fort Collins forever.
Guests to this tour included Tim and Teresa from Masonville, Colorado. This couple related that in the past they have had family and visitors relate paranormal experiences in their historical circa 1890’s home, which was once a stage stop. On this night Teresa did say that while on our tour she saw a figure peering at us from a window at one of our most haunted locations.
While conducting our tours for Haunted History After Dark we have had the wonderful opportunity to talk to so many residents and visitors that have experienced the paranormal in Fort Collins. The tales are fascinating and endless. One of the most often asked question we get is, “Why is Fort Collins SO haunted?” On our tours we have heard so many accounts of apparitions, unexplained growling sounds in both homes and businesses, channeling, and possessions. Why is Fort Collins so haunted?
Grace and I have discussed comprising a book of the stories and experiences of the paranormal from the many tales of our guests. If you have a story you would like to share about a haunted or paranormal experience please contact us at
 Come walk with the spirits who are dying to meet you…
Take the Haunted History After Dark tour to learn more about Old Town Fort Collins haunted and historical past.
Contact for more information. Cost is 10 big ones per courageous ghost buster or 35 clams for an extra brave group of four. Cash only please.
 Stephen Stills begged Suite Judy Blue Eyes long ago, “Will you come see me…Thursdays and Saturdays…” What a coincidence! That’s when our tours are.  Will you come see us…Thursdays and Saturdays.  Or by reservation. 7:30 p.m.  Tours start at 136 W. Mountain Avenue home of Boutique Bravo and Mother Lode Gallery where owner Kate has been in business for a whopping 33 years! Check her out. And remember...YOUR HAUNTED JOURNEY STARTS AT DUSK!

A newly formed Northern Colorado Ghost Hunters Meet-Up Group also joined us this week for a ghostly adventure on the streets of Old Town. We were so honored to have this group on our tour. Coordinator, Rose, said that, “They had looked at other ghost tours and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be guided by a ghost whisperer.” Haunted History After Dark tour guide and medium, Grace Cooley, provided this group with intimate information regarding many spirits on our tour including a top-hatted ladies’ man that appears to people on an elevator (he has also been known to shove and play with the hair of guests on our tour), to a victim of a horrendous and early tragedy who altered the future of Fort Collins forever.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Our awesome and courageous Halloween guests!
For many of us the end of the Halloween season means hanging up the white sheet and stuffing the "Jason" mask back behind a cobwebbed corner of our garage or crawl space for another 365 days. But, for the spirits of Old Town Fort Collins this is a full-time job. 24/7/365. And on the Haunted History After Dark Halloween tour on Monday the ghosts of Old Town really got into the "spirit". For this tour we conducted our "Old Town" route which visits places such as the old Opera House and the Northern Hotel. Local ghost whisperer and tour guide, Grace Cooley, picked up on many new entities in the Opera House. She even related to us about a beagle who was inhabiting this structure. We have researched atleast one death that occured at the Opera House during its construction in 1881. This was a man who was hired to complete the framing of the interior. He died at the site in September of that year in a very horrific accident involving a makeshift elevator that he was using to haul brick and mortar to the third floor of the building. The elevator collapsed and he was sent plunging to his death. His funeral was held the next day at the old Methodist church. And for those of you who like to enjoy one of many of Coopersmith's Billiards awesome Flight C scotches while attempting to put an "A railer through the Ash", you might want to give a quick homage to this man as this is the location where his funeral took place. In fact, many funerals took place here including that of very famous early resident Joe Mason, who Mason street is named after. His funeral at this location was attended by hundreds of residents
in February of 1881 after his fatal accident involving a kick in the head by a young colt.

 While on this Halloween tour I noticed a guest waving to me at one of our most haunted locations. When I approached her she said that something had pushed her and was also playing with the hair of the woman next to her. No doubt! One of the many spirits who inhabits this structure is reportedly a centuries old womanizer. He appears to many in a top hat and, as he did when he was alive, is always on the prowl for a "fresh supply", as Grace says. Although he is benign, he definitely gives some our guests a "goose" or two. He is a favorite on our tour.
One Walt Disney enthusiast said "You made my day. I look at Old Town so different now!", when we talked about the not-so-haunted but very extraordinary history of Old Town Fort Collins and the connections with home town boy Harper Goff and his work creating Main Street USA in Disneyland in the 1950's.

Very brave November 3rd guests. You are amazing!

This courageous group was the first of our November season. We have to give HUGE kuddos to them. They not only braved the many spirits of Old Town but 29 degree weather to take our tour on Thursday November 3rd. You guys rock! For this group we did the "Old Post Cemetery" tour. At our first location a tour participant picked up a mist on his camera while Grace talked about early residents who were the victims of a horrific tragedy at this site. Then at the place of the very first cemetery in Fort Collins in the 1860's, another guest caught strange orbs hovering over the building we were talking about. Most of our guests pick up evidence of paranormal activity at this location. (I have to tell you that as the historian, and not the ghost whisperer, some of the evidence picked up around us still gives me the creeps! It's amazing.)
Happy Cynthia
When we got to our last location tonight, one of our awesome guests who was visiting from Missouri, Cynthia, asked if pets go to the "other side". Grace said that "yes they do", and related the presence of the beagle at the Opera House. Cynthia raised her arms in excitment and said, "Yes,!" She obviously was an owner of a very loved and fortunate pooch. We were excited that Cynthia was very happy at knowing this.
Haunted History After Dark looks forward to many more evenings this year with our awesome guests discovering the haunted and history of Old Town Fort Collins with you. We can't wait to share what we have discovered and hear your stories as well.

Grace Cooley at left connecting to spirits of Old Town

Some of our guests tonight questioned tour guide and medium, Grace, about personal readings. If you would like to book a session with Grace please contact her at Grace is increasingly being recognized as one of the most well known psychics in the nation. She has been giving accurate and insightful psychic readings for twenty years and is regarded as one of the most gifted in the area as well as the U.S.
The "other half" of HHAD Stephen and Mark.
Thank you so much to all of our very courageous and enthusiastic guest tonight! You were amazing!
If you would like to catch evidence of spirits in Old Town or learn about the haunted history of Fort Collins contact Cost is 10 big ones per courageous ghost buster or 35 clams for an extra brave group of four. Cash only please. 
 Stephen Stills begged Suite Judy Blue Eyes long ago, “Will you come see me…Thursdays and Saturdays…” What a coincidence! That’s when our tours are.  Will you come see us…Thursdays and Saturdays.  Or by reservation. 7:30 p.m.  Tours start at 136 W. Mountain Avenue home of Boutique Bravo and Mother Lode Gallery where owner Kate has been in business for a whopping 33 years! Check her out.


Monday, October 31, 2011

...he told me that when the lights went out he immediately felt like someone was standing right next to him. But, he was the only clerk on duty that night.

 Haunted History After Darks wants to give a HUGE thank you to all of our courageous guests this last week. We enjoy all your enthusiasm and insightful questions. During this Halloween season our tours have grown tremendously with the presence of both human and ghostly residents and visitors of Fort Collins.
This last week one brave ghost buster asked if the spirits are scared away by so many people coming into structures and locations where they inhabit and where we go. What we have learned from our tours and the evidence by photos is that it is quite the opposite. It seems that a congregation of humans attracts more entities and they seem to multiply in numbers according to the volume of the crowd. Local ghost whisperer and tour guide, Grace, adds that the reason people are picking up so much evidence of mists and orbs on our tours recently is because some entities may be already attached to some of the guests on our tour. And basically, they are just coming along with us. These spirits that include themselves could be family members or friends that have passed away and are already a part of that particular tour participant’s energetic circle.

Generously contributed by awesome tour guest Eileen Sake
So, orbs and mists picked up on equipment on our route doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a past historical resident that we talk about, which many are, but could also be a contemporary protective spirit surrounding a person on our tour. And with good reason! Our tours are filled with stories of the paranormal and historical events in early Old Town Fort Collins.

Many residents come to Grace and me with their own experiences and stories of the paranormal. Recently, I was at a convenience store on my route home from the tour. I mentioned to the clerk that I had noticed a day or two ago that the store was completely dark and asked if the power had gone out. The clerk behind the counter indicated that it had because of Tuesday’s storm. Then he took a deep breath and smiled and said, “Something weird happened that night.” He related to me that when the lights went out he immediately felt like someone was standing right next to him. But, he was the only clerk on duty that night. It happened at 1:30 am. He went on to say that the feeling of a presence standing over him was so intense and real and frightening that he fled the store and waited in his car for 4 hours with the engine running until a co-worker showed up for the next shift. He also mentioned that when they wash the glass door of the store there are always and inevitably small hand prints that show up near the bottom. He has no explanation.

“Dust in the Wind”. This last weekend while driving through country roads just 10 miles from Cheyenne on my way home from my regular job I heard this song by the very famous 1970’s band Kansas. I used to feel complete fear and anxiety of this particular song and would change channels immediately if it came on.  In the past, to me, it was a message of impending doom and sadness and despair and nothingness because of an event that happened to me while I was in my early twenties. In the spring of 1989, while in a little apartment in Salt Lake City, Utah near the University of Utah where I was attending school, I got a call in the early morning hours that my mother had suffered a life debilitating heart attack. I was told that she had died twice in the ambulance. That she had been brought back, but was not expected to live through the night. I was told to get on the next plane to Reno, Nevada where she was in a hospital in the ICU department, to say my goodbyes. She was only 54 years old. My entire life changed at that moment. In a bewildered fog I made arrangements. An hour after the call I got in my little yellow Toyota pick-up alone to make the trip to the airport and turned on the radio. This is the first thing I heard.

It slips away, and all your money won’t another minute buy.
“Now don’t hang on, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky.
Dust in the wind. All we are is dust in the wind. “ -Kansas
My mother a year before her heart attack

My sadness was immense.  Although I hated the words I was hearing, I continued to listen hoping to get some solace, some message from the song that would help me cope. But, it was just too despairing. My mother meant more to me than just “dust in the wind”. I turned it off.
Even though the ICU surgeons told us her heart had literally exploded, somehow miraculously my mother survived.  Whether it was the intense love for her four children, her faith in God, her passion for art, or the strength from the “good stock” she always tells her children they came from, she lived.  She now is in her 70’s and is living happily in Las Vegas, Nevada. But, her experience changed all of us forever. Even until recently though, I have had a very hard time listening to this song. Then I met Grace.
Before a tour this last week, Grace told me about a friend of hers who had recently and suddenly passed away. A man she was very close to. She was very sad and said that she had energetically connected to this man in the spirit world. She said that he was depressed when he died and kept that depression with him in the afterlife.  Grace added that he had gone to a place that was so dark that she was unfamiliar with it and asked for benign energies or angels to help get him out of that space he had created.  With help and encouragement from her, after much hesitation her friend finally made the decision to go to the “Light. “
I have listened and observed and watched so many of these stories from Grace since I’ve had the opportunity to know her. From her I know now that even in the darkest of places HOPE lives and survives and has much more strength than even our darkest depressions, fears, and anxieties. That the will of the human spirit to experience PEACE outweighs its need to continue in pain.
Now, when I have the opportunity to listen to this song, even on my long drives from my work, I celebrate what the amazing authors were so brilliantly trying to convey in these lyrics.  I know that our time here on this planet is so short and what we make here for ourselves follows us. Our physical bodies are just “dust in the wind” but our spirits live forever. The friends that we make, the positive connections  and LOVE we share here last more than a lifetime.  And it’s ever changeable. Even in the afterlife we can accept and love ourselves and others. Death is not the end.  Thanks for hanging in there Mom.
…And  thanks for hanging in there Joe Mason, and Frank Stover, and Franklin Avery and all the early residents who we will never consider “dust in the wind”.  Thank you so much to these gentle spirits who have so generously let us bring their stories  alive for our Haunted History After Dark guests.
Enjoy photos from this last week below. Thank you also to the Fort Collins Zombie Stroll participants who allowed me to photograph and blog their photos.

Check out the orb directly on top of the guest near the center and top of the photo.

Gorgeous crowd!  October 22nd.
(The guest third from left is Alice Ashmore. Alice is a celebrated Texas journalist who is most famous for covering the Baby Jessica story in the 1980's Colleen, in direct center with blue coat on, recently lost her home in the California fires. She moved to FC just a few months ago and loves it. Fort Collins loves YOU Colleen!)

Grace in a snow shower October 25th.
Front row: Treloar, Tiffany,Collin. Back row: Amy, Rhonda, Bob, Starr.
Treloar, Tiffany, Amy and Starr are from the Fort Collins museum. Rhonda is a ranger with the City of Fort Collins Natural Area. She brought along her husband Bob and son Collin.

Fun October 22nd  guests
Wendy and Jim Abbott. Jim's Fort Collins roots run deep. His ancestors ran the Commercial Bank and Trust, which is now known as the "Vault". This was the first bank started by outside investors after the boom of the Sugar Beet industry and the event of the Union Pacific Railroad coming into town. The bank replaced Emma Malaby's grocery store which was moved to Meldrum Street. Haunted History After Dark was so honored to have these guests on our tour. Suzy was so excited she would have rolled out the red carpet for the Abbotts. To her they are like royalty. Thank you so much for taking the tour.

Madame Marie! We are here! We have cash! The awesome crowd from Oct. 29th. (City of Fort Collins Natural Area ranger Norm Keally and his beautiful wife DJ are in the center.