As a professional historian and tour guide I often encounter historic sites that†exist on private or restricted property.† We work closely with property owners as well as Indian Reservations, BLM, National Forest, and State Lands managers to obtain permission to traverse and photograph those sites.† It is very important that legal access be maintained for all such sites.† Not only does public access insure continued assessment of the condition of the sites but tends to encourage others to research and write about treasured locations.† Our national character is based upon knowledge of our past.† †
I urge you to maintain public access to County Road 43F.
It is my understanding that you have a petition before you to close County Rd. 43F to the public. Consider this email request as not being in favor of the closure, and if the decision has already been made, please consider this as an official request to reopen the original request due to extenuating circumstances and facts that were not brought into the record when the request was made.
My Great Grandfather, Seymour Leach once owned the Overland Stage line on that road, and my Great Grandmother is buried there.
I understand that many of the current residents have been fighting against the preservation of the stageline, and perhaps this may be a tactic to prevent the public from a very important historical site. Be that as it may, I don't believe they have the right to destroy a historical place where other residents are not alive to defend themselves.
Since I am a blood relative of Mr. & Mrs. Seymour Leach, please consider my voice as the voice of the people who were residents and perhaps would have been proud to think their home would be a part of history.
I believe that no one has the right to desecrate or take away my right to visit my Great Grandmother's grave, and that no one has the right to take away anyone's right to pay respects to any grave anywhere, anytime. I don't know if the state of Colorado has a law protecting historical cemeteries, but other states do.
If you allow the road to be closed, I believe given the attitude of the residents nearby, the station and grave sites will be deliberately destroyed to prevent public interest.
It has taken me more than 20 years to find my Great Grandmother. I hope that you will consider the ramifications of closing a road that would give me and the rest of my family access so that we can pay our respects whenever we want to.
Please keep me informed of your decision and any other thing I need to do in order to further the process along.
Sept 5, 2002
Dear Larimer County Commissioners: †
As a former resident of Mesa County and an avid Western Historian, I resent your attempt to put an illegal embargo on access to the Historical Virginia Dale Stage Station.† This belongs to all the PEOPLE of the West not ONLY some itsy bitsy Special Interest Group.† My ancestors who passed thru the Station saw the surrounding hills and I would like to look out at the same view and share their feelings, without trespassing locked gates.†
It has come to my attention that the Larimer Colorado County Commissioners have allowed the closing of County Road 43F by a gate which leads to the Virginia Dale Stage Station. Currently this gate is locked. This violated the word of the law, as well as the intentions of the Larimer County pioneer, Mr. Fred Maxwell. †
We don't lose our FREEDOM in one fell swoop.....we lose it one small bit by one small bit.††† I object to the closing of this road and the manner in which it was done. I urge you to take steps to remove the locked gate immediately, and to take no further steps to prevent the public from viewing this historic site, and also honoring those buried there. †
Thanking† you in advance,
Bernie Rhoades, Architect
Dear County Commissioners:
It has come to my attention that the Larimer Colorado County Commissioners have allowed the closing of County Road 43F by a gate which leads to the Virginia Dale Stage Station. Currently this gate is locked. Larimer County pioneer, Mr. Fred Maxwell, donated the land to the Virginia Dale Community Club with the specific intent of its public use. His will states that this site be used for "public enlightenment and education"and that he deeded the Stage Station "to the community for their use, thus preserving for posterity a most historic building."
Furthermore, there is a $30,000 grant of public monies at stake with respect to this historical structure. The community obviously recognized the intent of the Maxwells to make this a publicly-accessible property, because they applied for and were granted $30,000 in stabilization monies from the Colorado State Historical Society in 1996. The entire history of the stage station has been oriented entirely toward public use, yet there is now a locked gate that successfully denies access to the very people it was intended to serve and those whose efforts have saved the structure from complete deterioration. If used the way Mr. Maxwell intended, it would be available to anyone with an interest in the history of the overland trail. Unless it was turned into a major "interpretive center," however, it wouldn't likely bring the busloads of visitors that nearby ranchers fear it would bring. It would simply be accessible, as intended.
I object to the closing of this road and the manner in which it was done. I urge you to take steps to remove the locked gate immediately, and to take no further steps to prevent the public from viewing this historic site, and honoring those buried there. We have so few treasures of those early days remaining, it is shameful to even consider hiding one of them away.
Dear County Commissioners:
I was horrified to see that County Road 43F was possibly going to be vacated. This is just another ploy by a few vindictive old ladies of the Virginia Dale Community Club to deny access to the Stage Station to the general public.
In 1996 the State of Colorado via the State Historical Society donated $36,000 to the Virginia Dale Community Club in order for them to stabilize the foundation of the historic building. It was my understanding that those monies were conditional on the Stage Station being always accessible to the public.
Also as part of the (501)3c status of the Virginia Dale Community Club, the building must be made available to the public, and not just by invitation only. Currently the only way the public can even view the building is due to the fact that it is on a public right-of-way. Very rarely is it possible for the general public to actually look inside of the building.
I would be very much surprised if more than 50 or so tourists per year drive on that road to view the stage station. The marker out on US 287 is not clear as to where the station is, and the property next to it is marked with "No Trespassing" signs, so that discourages many to try to find it.
Surely the county does not spend much money on maintaining that road. There is no snow removal. But a few years ago the county did spent a lot of money installing a cattle guard, and that only for the use of the ranch owner adjacent to the stage station.
Have there been public announcements as to the vacating of this road? Have the various historical groups in Fort Collins and Larimer county been made aware of this? I'm sure that if it was known, there would be a lot of public outcry against this action.
Please let me know what is going on with regards to this issue, as I no longer live in the area.
Former Resident of Virginia Dale
We have been informed that the Virginia Dale Community Club, together with several local residents have attempted to, or have already, blocked County Road 43 F, and access to the Virginia Dale Stage stop and its graves.† Of those buried there are May Leach Misters of the Misters families of Wales.† My great grand mother was Sophia E. Misters of that family.
My family has already suffered from such unwarranted action when my great grand parents Reynolds graves, along with those of many other Oregon pioneers, were plowed under and the land used for a supermarket and highway, without opportunity of removal and relocation of those buried.
Thanks to many volunteers throughout this great country, cemeteries all over are now being walked, inventoried, and photographed to preserve their historical and genealogical information.† And that information provided on various state web sites for all to share.† Yesterday while view one site, I found the grave of a great-great uncle.† From that information I was able to order a death certificate, and may just possibly find his obituary.
I have been one of those volunteers for my family members in what was at one time the Territory of Minnesota, Nebraska, and Oregon. Finding one's ancestors is no longer just a matter of a census record or deed, marriage or death certificate, but involves funeral records, burial instruction, and photos of the headstone if one exits, if not the general burial place.
One such preserved grave site is that from the Platte County Church in Nebraska. There not only the grave site is preserved, but the 1880 church and its documents.† One of those documents contained information desired by a Welsh member of our family.† We were able to preserve it on a digital camera and send its .JPG image by email to him in Wales.
As a family genealogist I am not only interested in preserving my heritage but am currently engaged in providing the Minnesota Web site with information from documents collected on township records of death in the 1880's and from certain cemetery plot information that came to me covering 13 Hennepin County cemeteries.† In exchange for records sent I have also submitted biographical information to the Western Hennepin Co. Pioneer Assoc., Long Lake, Itaska Historical Society, Itaska, MN, and to the Historical Society of Bayview, Lincoln Co., Oregon.† It is only through the exchange of information that one's family history may be accurately portrayed.
We therefore urge you to take immediate action to preserve this burial ground and to keep the County Road open.† In the event the road must be closed for any reason, provision should be made that would allow a member of the local Historical Society or Misters family, or both, access to the cemetery so that an accurate inventory of our family members and others buried there might be made, as well as photographs taken of the site and the grave stones, in order that this genealogical and historical information might be preserved for future generations.
Eugene V. Barnes
Costa Mesa, CA
To the Larimer Colorado County Commisioners,
Shame on all of you, as it has come to my attention you have allowed the closing of County Road 43F by a locked gate which leads to the Virginia Dale Stage Station, which is in violation of the law, as well as the intentions of the Larimer County pioneer, Mr. Fred Maxwell who donated the land to the Virginia Dale Community Club. His will states that this site be used for "public enlightenment and education" and that he deeded the Stage Station "to the community for their use, thus preserving for posterity a most historic building."
I object to the closing of a public road and the manner in which it was done. I urge all of you to obey the law & to take immediate steps to remove the illegally locked gate, and to take no further steps to prevent the public from viewing this historic site, and honoring those buried there.
I have recently learned of your apparent support of the Virginia Dale Community Clubís request to vacate the public road that leads to the land upon which one or more of my ancestorís graves can be found. I am also indignant that the members of the Virginia Dale Community Club has taken it upon themselves to remove the headstones from my ancestorís graves. I would appreciate knowing upon whose authority this was done and would also like to make contact with those individuals (and am requesting their names and addresses). I have also followed all of the exchanges that have taken place between the involved parties, including my Aunt Linda Thompson Baker, the VDCC, the commissioners themselves, and Elizabeth Lawrence. I must say that Iím taken aback by the commissionersí seeming support for the VDCCs request to vacate the public road that leads to the site of my ancestorís burial.
As a 4th Generation Natrona County Pioneer, a Wyoming Native, an Eagle Scout, a History major, and a DeMolay, I urge you to reconsider your support for that asinine request, not only based upon the historical value of the site to the general public but also by appeal to our common humanity. How would you feel if your ancestorís graves had been desecrated by an organization with a fictively historical interest based upon their own paternal and patronizing whims?
If it is legally permissible for you to allow that the road leading to the site be vacated (thereby preventing our access to the graves of our ancestors), I would think you would then become liable for the costs of exhuming their remains, locating and retrieving their headstones, and transporting both to us in Wyoming. I would think the same would be true for all of the other descendents of ancestors buried in that graveyard. And if such liability is not incumbent upon such a decision, I would guess that our relatives would see to it that such costs be legally transferred to you through civil measures. I implore you to think about the potential costs to your community in the short and long term regarding your prevention of our access to our ancestorís graves.
I also would think that because this site is registered as a National Historic Site, there are also public access issues that cannot be preempted by a paternalistic decision from the county commissioners. I also believe that the Virginia Dale Community Club should be brought up on charges of fraud and perjury by the grant-issuing bodies who stipulated public access to the site as a condition of receiving and using those funds.
In the end, I only ask you to refuse the Virginia Dale Community Clubís request to vacate the road and to support us in our quest for mandating the access to our ancestorís graves that would be expected by anyone.
If you support the Virginia Dale Community Clubís request, I believe that you can expect further publicity regarding this issue and your decision (locally, regionally, and nationally). I would also not expect our family not to protest that decision using any means available to us. For the sake of an amicable resolution, I would hope that you do not side with a club whose leadership and membership have already engaged in fraudulent and criminal activity and would side with historians, descendents, and the position I am guessing your constituents would take were they aware of your apparent support for the VDCC and all of the issues and facts involved (especially that they have already engaged in criminal/fraudulent activity in violating stipulations of substantive grants they received to upkeep and maintain the site). Believe our promise to bring this home to the voters of your county should you side with the VDCC, an organization that has already clearly engaged in criminal/fraudulent behavior, in preventing any access to these graves.
We eagerly await your final decision.
I am a family memeber of the Leach family that owned the Overland Stage company there in Virginia Dale. Please do not close County Road 43F this is the only way we can see our family graves and the area my Great Great Grandpa and Ma lived in as well as see her grave. They lived and she died there, it is a part of out heritage. Don't close the road and make them take the lock off of it.
Susan C. (Thompson) Cerullo
Dear Mr Gibson,
I have received a copy or your email to Linda Baker and definately approve of your stand on NOT closing any county roads. But the road in question is more interesting than most. About three years ago I went to the county to get a copy of a map showing the road as it was in the time of the active stage station. I wanted to see how the road was as a result of talking to several "old timers" and what they had told me about the area. It seems that the rancher next door to the stage station has already closed part of the road and built a building and put up a fence on the road and I was trying to verify what had happened since several people had told me about seeing the old maps. But alas the old maps are missing from the county.
Old photos and drawings of the stage station when it was active show that the road was somewhat as it is now. But the stage station was at the end of the road and the road was a large circle at the end to allow the stage to turn around. The circle is what I was trying to verify and this is where the rancher has aparently closed the road and I believe that to be illegal. I became interested in the stage station when I lived in the area and still own property there but have moved temporary to NM.
Since the short time I first discovered where my great great grandmother was buried (and perhaps one of her babies), I have heard many stories and assurances about going there.
Fact 1: Even though there is a proposal to vacate road 43F which leads directly to my grandmother's grave, someone has been allowed to place a gate and lock on the road. I know this because I went there and saw it for myself and have it on video tape.
Fact 2: In order to get past the gate, you have to hope somebody answers one of the 2 phone numbers posted there, and that they aren't busy eating a late lunch so you have to wait until they show up. I know this because I called the numbers and the one lady who answered lives too far away to open the gate, and the lady who's number was given to me by the first lady isn't one of the listed numbers, and she was having a late lunch, so we had to wait for her.
Fact 3: The tour of the station was nice, but graves are what we came for but nobody knows where they are. Shirley Moen was nice but she went out of her way to keep my from going in the direction of the graves, so i did not get to see them. I know this because I was there and it happened to my mother, sister and myself. Also, the ex-treasurer (Gladys Ellerman) told me that Shirley knew exactly where the graves were. I also heard that at one time Gladys admitted that she had taken the headstones to the graves down so that no one could see them. I wonder where they are now?
If there is a statute that protects graves in the state of Colorado, I think the District Atty and Sheriff should be checking this situation out. As a blood relative, I want the graves put under some kind of protective order, and I want the headstones put back too, along with as much access as I want at any time I want.
I have also found out that this place is on the National Register, and received state funds to keep it in repair. By all appearances, the social club that controls the stage site will do just about anything to keep the place a secret and the road closure is the final controlling factor, which is in your hands.
I want to ask all of you if your relative was buried there, would it be OK with you if your rights as a family member were denied?
There is no "right" about the way this has been handled and now you have the opportunity to set it right.
Again, on behalf of my family, do not close the road, and do not allow my Great Great Granmother Leach's grave to be closed of and/or destroyed by the Virginia Dale Community Club Members.
I would appreciate hearing from you on your decision as soon as possible.
Dear Larimer County Commissioners and other officials,
I recently found out that the public road to the Virginia Dale Stage Station has been closed by means of a locked gate, with no public hearing to discuss the issue. Since I have been involved in fund raising to help preserve the Stage Station, this is extremely distressing to me.
The Colorado State Historical Society donated a considerable amount of money for the restoration of the Stage Station, with the express condition that the Station remain open for viewing by the public. In addition, Fred Maxwell, who donated the Stage Station land to the Virginia Dale Community Club, stated in his will that the site was being donated "to the community for their use."
Clearly, the intent of the previous owner of the land, and the intent of all historians who know about the Stage Station, is to maintain the Station's access for the general public. I urge you to deny the petition to vacate County Road 43F, and to remove the locked gate from the road, so that the public can see the Stage Station from the road.
Send comments, suggestions or inquiries: Overland Trail
Overland Trail | Links
Created and maintained by Elizabeth Larson
Copyright © 1996-2002