Homesteaders Claimed the Arid Prairie

The Homestead Act of 1862 brought the first wave of settlers to the Little Thompson Valley in the late 1860s. James Eaglin paid $10 to file a patent on a 160-acre homestead in 1866 was the first to “prove up” by remaining for the required five years. Others who followed quickly relinquished their claims but as the 1880s drew to a close the valley was filled with pioneer families that had carved productive farms from the raw prairie.

Lewis Cross, an arrival to the Colorado Territory in 1860, became the father of the community when he staked one of the first homestead claims on the banks of the Little Thompson River in 1873. Across the creek from his homestead dwelling Cross built a small log cabin that served as the community’s first school and church and anchored a tiny settlement that became the shipping point for the farmers’ wheat.

When railroad officials requested the settlement on the Cross homestead be relocated from the river bottom to higher ground, the tiny burg was moved a short distance north to a new town site platted on Peter Turner’s homestead.

Among the other early homesteaders of the Little Thompson Valley were Patrick Burnside, Carey Culver, W.R. Blore, Charles Meining, Stephen Preffer, S.S. Osborn, Simon Bennett, Davis Baxter, C.V. Stryker, James Bradley, Chalmon Wray, C.R. Skinner, William Flora, Mary Cole, C.C. Clark, Abner Sanderson, W.H. McCormick, Andy Fairbairn, H.K. Hankins, A.A. Knott, J.H. Welty, Fred Bein, O.J. Smith, Phebe Knapp, C.F.W. Beeler, James Taylor and George Wilson.