History of Parker, Colorado

Anna Lucas, Staff

The first inhabitants of the Parker area were a group of ancient (prehistoric) Indians, called the Plains-Woodland Indians. However, by the 1800’s Parker and its surrounded areas began being used as hunting grounds for Indian Tribes such as the Cheyennes, Arapaho, and Utes. But, by the beginning of the nineteenth century, white colonists took the land from the Native Americans, and began to use it for trading, trapping, ranching, and gold mining.

The white colonists began to create trails that leaded to different ranches, and gold mines. These trails worked so effectively that a lot of them are still around today, such as Cherokee trail, Smoky Hill trail, West Cherry Stage Road, and Denver-Santa Fe stage road. Gold was discovered here in 1858, and that was when we began to boom.

By 1859, over 100,000 people used those same trails to come to Colorado in hopes of striking gold, and becoming rich. During this time, a man named Alfred Butters build a tiny, one room house as a refuge for travelers. It was named Pine Grove, and was given to a man named George Long. However, in 1864 he traded Pine Grove to a man named Mr. Goldsmith, for a yolk of Oxen, and moved into a larger house with 10 rooms, and a second story ballroom, on what is now mainstreet. Since this structure was roughly 20 miles from Denver, the building was named the 20 mile house.

Although the dates aren’t exact, historical evidence shows that in 1869 Mr. Long traded the 20 mile house to Nielsen and Susan Doud, and then on September 15th, 1870, it was sold to a man named James Parker. Under Parker’s ownership, the 20 Mile House grew and grew. A blacksmith shop designed to shoe oxen, and a general store, were added to the house. Later, it became Pine Grove’s first post office on December 8, 1870. James Parker payed, and built structures for future roads, telephone lines, and eventually a Railroad.

Later, when his daughter, Edith Alice, reached school age, he built the first schoolhouse across the road from the 20 Mile House. He also paid the teacher’s salary for the first year and provided her with a house. Then, in 1874, the first, and only, town cemetery was created after Parker’s son Charlie, died. His second son Bela soon followed in 1882, later his wife Mattie, in 1887, and James joining them in 1910.

Those 3-acres were donated by Parker to be the town’s first cemetery. And, In 1885 the four people known to have been buried in the original cemetery were re-interred in the new one. Title to the cemetery was transferred by James Parker’s heirs to the J.S. Parker Cemetery Association in 1911.

Everything west of highway 83 was owned by Parker, but on the east, James’ brother George added to the town. George established a saloon and was very happy in seeing that other businesses began coming to the growing town. The railroad provided a lot of citizens, and by the turn of the century Parker had hotels, post offices, two blacksmith shops, a water tower, three general stores, a dry goods store, a saloon, a livery stable, a brick works, a stockyard, a creamery, a barber shop, a school, and a few miscellaneous dwellings. And, in nearby Newlin Gulch, gold was found in the mid 1880s.