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Las Animas in Bent County, Colorado — The American Mountains (Southwest)
 

Welcome to Bent County

 
 
Welcome to Bent County Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, June 27, 2018
1. Welcome to Bent County Marker
Inscription.  
This region was once buffalo hunting grounds for the Cheyenne, Apache, Arapaho, Kiowa and Comanche. Tribes followed the buffalo throughout the plains and controlled the land. During this time, everything south of the Arkansas river was Mexico and trappers and traders lived peacefully amongst the tribes. It was here that the buffalo made their last stand.

In 1830, brothers William and Charles Bent partnered with Ceran St. Vrain to establish Bent's Old Fort just west of here. It became one of the greatest trade posts in the west. Indian trade was welcome at the fort and William Bent established a strong relationship with both the white emigrants and the five tribes of this region.

Boggsville, established in 1862, was the first settlement in Southeast Colorado that was not military. The families of Boggsville included Thomas and Rumalda Boggs, John and Amache Prowers, the John Hough family and Kit and Josepha Carson. Boggs ran sheep and Prowers ran cattle. They established the first school, ran a trading post and a stagecoach stop. They used irrigated farming to serve the region with great success.

Territorial Bent County was created in 1870 and was about 9,000 square miles. Boggsville became the first county seat that same year.

Thomas Boggs served as Bent County sheriff and John Prowers
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was one of the county commissioners who appointed Sherriff Boggs.

Customarily, the first railroad tracks were laid to avoid established communities allowing railroad barons to control all the land near their tracks. Selling off choice parcels close to the new train station made them new fortunes. With the coming of the railroad, the city of Las Animas was platted in 1873. The new Las Animas became the center of business and replaced Boggsville as the county seat in 1875. Bent County was then partitioned into several smaller counties to include Cheyenne, Lincoln, Kiowa, Otero, and Prowers.

Bent County Courthouse
Bent County Courthouse is the oldest functioning courthouse in Colorado and has been in continuous use since 1889. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. The Courthouse cupola blew off in the first years and was rebuilt in 2009. Bent County Jail, the two-story brick building pictured next to the courthouse, was built in 1912 and closed in 2000.

The old Bent County courthouse burned to the ground in 1888 at the time the new courthouse was already under construction. It was built and furnished for $58,429 and took from 1886 to 1889 to complete. Contractors M. F. Reilly and B. Bradley, architects the Holmberg Brothers and furniture maker A. H. Andrews and Co. designed and built the courthouse. The cornerstone for the building was laid by the King Solomon Lodge No. 30 of the Masonic order on July 4, 1887. Furniture for the upstairs courtroom, a jury room, and six downstairs offices were of antique
Welcome to Bent County Marker - marker is on the far right by stairs. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, June 27, 2018
2. Welcome to Bent County Marker - marker is on the far right by stairs.
oak most of which is still in use today in the courthouse.

Ken Gates (stage name Ken Curtis) and his family lived in the bottom half of the jail. His father was Bent County Sheriff. Ken Gates started the Las Animas Santa Fe Trail Parade in 1934, known as the longest continuously running high school event in the United States. Ken Curtis went on to co-star in the long running TV series "Gunsmoke" playing the role of "Festus".
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Forts and CastlesNative AmericansRoads & VehiclesSettlements & Settlers. A significant historical date for this entry is July 4, 1887.
 
Location. 38° 3.86′ N, 103° 13.251′ W. Marker is in Las Animas, Colorado, in Bent County. Marker can be reached from Carson Avenue (Colorado Route 101) north of 8th Street, on the right when traveling north. Located at the steps to the Bent County Courthouse. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 756 Carson Avenue, Las Animas CO 81054, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 7 other markers are within 12 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. From Trail to Town (approx. 1.6 miles away); Welcome to Boggsville (approx. 1.6 miles away); Boggsville (approx. 1.6 miles away); Santa Fe Trail (approx. 2.8 miles away); At Home in the Valley (approx. 11.2 miles away); Sheer Abundance to Near Extinction (approx. 11.2 miles away); A Ribbon Across the Plains (approx. 11.3 miles away).
 
Also see . . .  History of Bent County. Colorado Encyclopedia website
The old Bent County jail in Las Animas, where Ken Curtis (Gates) lived as a boy image. Click for full size.
Billy Hathorn (CC BY 3.0), July 31, 2010
3. The old Bent County jail in Las Animas, where Ken Curtis (Gates) lived as a boy
entry (Submitted on July 23, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.) 
 
The Bent County Courthouse with marker on right side. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, June 27, 2018
4. The Bent County Courthouse with marker on right side.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on April 9, 2024. It was originally submitted on July 23, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 377 times since then and 130 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on July 23, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.

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Jul. 20, 2024