Genealogy and History of Pioneers
I correctly realized, as early as 1995 that the Internet itself had spurred many a person interested in their ancestors into net-assisted genealogical research. Genealogy Societies, meetings, groups were springing up every where. One growing group even started using our History Center's large room on Mondays when we were closed to the public. And they were not interested in any Colorado City pioneer's history, but just their own.
That national trend started showing up on our historical Web site when I started getting email from descendants of one Colorado City or another pioneer asking questions or correcting errors of ours (like name spellings). I began to realize that the always-connected web site of the society could gather new history as much as it could distribute the history we had.
The routine was always the same. The distant person, looking for their ancestor, would go out on the net, enter their kin's name, see what came up, then add to the search words like 'colorado city' or 'pikes peak' or 'colorado springs' and they would come across our 'history.oldcolo.com' web site, which they would search, and then, as often as not send an email - all of which I read since nobody else around the history center was interested.
One example was the Anway name and family. A woman emailed me asking whether I knew something called "The Anway Fort" I answered, but said there is a monument on Pikes Peak Avenue named 'The Fort' but I knew that there had been an 'Anway Hotel' there too. But we knew little about that 'Hotel' who Anway was or of information about the proprieter.
She - Joanne James - was thrilled. She was the Great, great, granddaughter of Henry Anway, had a manuscript written in 1937 written by her great grandmother Ella Anway about the whole family history. Since she lived in Colorado, I invited her to come down to visit us personnally with the manuscript, and I could not only tell her what we knew about The Fort, the Indian scares, the fortifying the hotel to become a refuge for the women and children in case of another Indian raid like the 1868 one which killed three Colorado City children. And I would take her to see the Colorado State Marker at 2816 West Pikes Peak that was put there in 1936 commemorating those events. Here she beside the marker, Harvey Anway and his daughter Ella. All added to our web site
Joanne got a lot of information from us about what her family went through in Colorado City in those days - 1860s - we got and archived family pioneer information we never would otherwise, and through our web site our members and the general public got new looks at old history.
Repeated Web Contacts and Historical Payoffs
There is not room enough here to detail the volume of information - in the form of long manuscripts, photographs, maps - all sent to us via the Internet from Alabama to California - and England that we were not only able to post directly on our public web site, and add to our archives, but they became the invaluable stuff for research by me and our members - which we used to more fully tell the history of the region, not only online, but printed for and mailed to all our members in our 10 newsletters a year, whether they had a computer and access to the net, or not.
Just a few - the family of Dr James Garvin, who built the still standing 1859 Cabin, the decendants of Judge Stone, the English family - in London - of Charles Stockbridge, and the large family and gravesite of Jacob Schmidt, Beer Hall owner - whose line we thought ended when he committed suicide in 1916 after Colorado City voted dry in 1913, and the English family near London of Charles Stockbridge - who became mayor of Colorado City, and even the Montana descendent of Lucy Maggard the controversial owner of the first - 1860 - hotel in town.
Not only did our Web site, which David Jr designed and I populated, become a valuable historical resource itself, many of those descendents signed up - remotely - to become dues paying Society members even though they lived far away, some took $150 Life memberships, and flew to Colorado to be here, and donate substantially, to our Sesquicentennial Colorado City monument.
No less than 15 such descendants, who do NOT live in Colorado, are active Society members!
The payoff to the Society in terms of History, Membership, and Income has been great. We have only begun to tap that potential - with web cast presentations, interactive realtime interviews of distant relatives of the person we have a program on, and other uses continues to grow. We could end up with a Virtual Society as well as a Physical Society.