Lafayette Public Library history rooted in 1890s public reading rooms

First Congregational Church from an early 1900s post card. The town’s first public library opened in the church in 1923.

The Lafayette Public Library’s history and origin traces back to town founder Mary Miller, who established a reading room in Lafayette sometime between 1888 and 1891. The town’s public library — a place where anyone could take a book off the shelf and read it at home, then bring it back — started in Lafayette in 1923.

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Reprints: 1897 – Killed by Poisonous Roots

June 14, 1897. LeRoy Kail, the 10-year-old son of the Editor Kail of the Lafayette Sun, and Martin Cornelius, 8 years of age, son of C. Cornelius, a coal miner working at the Simpson Mine, were both found dead this evening, probably as a result of eating poisonous roots which they had dug up. The body of the young Kail was found in a ditch on the Ranch of Frank Prince [at Nine Mile Corner] about two miles north of town this evening. It is supposed that he had been in the water all afternoon. He was found lodged in a barbed wire fence that crosses the ditch. The body was brought to town. The Kail boy is supposed to have fallen off the bank of the ditch, a distance of about 10 feet, and was carried down the stream about 100 feet, when he caught the fence. The body of Kail was located by the parties seeing his dog, which was standing on the bank nearby. The body was found by Sam Abernethy, one of the several parties who were searching for the boys.

The body of Martin Cornelius was found about 8:30 o’clock this evening about a quarter mile from where the body of young Kail was found. He had his clothing on and was not wet. He had not been in the water at all. He was lying flat on his back in a dry irrigation ditch on the ranch of the Wallace Brothers. It is supposed that they both died from eating some poisonous roots which they dug up, perhaps wild parsnips. They left town about 8 o’clock this morning to hunt prairie dogs. The Cornelius boy was found by Duncan Stobs, a boy about 12 years old.

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National Homes structures in Lafayette Heights a collection of hidden gems

Two dozen homes manufactured by National Homes were assembled in Lafayette Heights from 1954 to 1958.

An interesting and unique Old Town neighborhood is Lafayette Heights, located west of Public Road and south of Kimbark Street. The neighborhood was established in 1954 and is Lafayette’s first subdivision containing mass-produced homes.

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The Jerkwater Train and Lafayette’s First Black Residents

Two Denver & Interurban trollies, left, share tracks with a Colorado & Southern locomotive that originated in Lafayette, Colorado circa 1918. The location is confirmed as Louisville, Colorado although the original caption for the image describes it as “Louisville Junction” which was about 3 miles south of Louisville.

The local Colorado and Southern (C & S) train depot was a beehive of activity in the 1920s, as hundreds of daily commuters hopped on the “Jerkwater Train” to make their connection to trollies headed to Denver.

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Notable Citizens: Swan Edison, Lafayette’s Toughest Mayor

Swan Edison and friends on the porch of old city hall at 201 E. Simpson Street in Lafayette, Colorado. The right photo is how the structure appears in 2022. Black and white photo is courtesy Lafayette Historical Society.

The circa 1910 photo above shows the front porch of the old town hall at the northeast corner of East Simpson Street and Harrison Avenue, which currently houses the East Simpson Coffee Company. The first man standing (from the left) is Swan Edison, one of the most prominent and dedicated civil servants in Lafayette’s history. More about him in a bit. The man with the mustache to right of Edison is (likely) Alfred “Pete” Peterson, known as Petey the Iceman.

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