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Churches and Religion

What do these photos tell you about how their churches looked like?

A Greeley Church

This was the first Trinity Episcopal Church in Greeley, Colorado. The church had just been built when this photo was taken. The size of the young trees in front are evidence of that.

A Greeley Church

Photo: Colorado Historical Society

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The early settlers brought their religion with them to Colorado. They held their first religious services in their homes, in schoolhouses, and even in grocery stores. It usually took several years to raise the money to build a fine brick church like the one in the photo.

Their Own Words

"Our first Sunday school and church was held in a grocery store. We had no building and wanted church services, and the grocery man kindly offered the use of his store. We would hold the services, then whenever 'church' was over, the grocery man began selling his wares to whoever wanted to buy."

Source: From Angelina Fuller (1934), CWA Interviews, Doc. 350/38, Colorado Historical Society.

A Gillett Church

This is a photo of a Catholic church in Gillett, Colorado.

A Gillett Church

Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

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Many of the early churches built in Colorado were small, like this church in Gillett. The size of this church also indicates that few Catholics lived in this community.

Their Own Words

“I done it. I’d maybe work till midnight sometimes. I’d be ironing till midnight before we could go to church. Otherwise, they’d [her 19 children] put on something without ironing to go do things outside. But I’d iron everything so we’d have it nice to come to church. We’d have to come on the wagon, you know. We’d leave up there at the ranch about five in the morning, to get down here for ten o’clock mass. . . . No, we didn’t have church in the winter. Just summertime.”

Source: Julia Biskup Kawcak quoted in Julie Jones-Eddy, ed. Homesteading Women: An Oral History of Colorado, 1890-1950, (New York: Twayne, 1992): 48.

An Adobe Church

This is a photo of Our Lady of Guadeloupe church at Conejos in the San Luis Valley.

An Adobe Church

Photo: Colorado Historical Society

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The Spanish-American town of Conejos was one of the first towns founded in Colorado. Although the settlers were poor, they wanted to have a fine church. They began building Our Lady of Guadalupe church in 1858. It took them several years to complete it.

Their Own Words

"Work on the new church [at Conejos] was commenced early in July 1858. . . . Work progressed slowly, for the parishioners were poor and much of their time was needed tending their fields and flocks. However, the structure was completed, and in June 1863, Bishop Lamy returned to consecrate the church and to dedicate it to Our Lady of Guadeloupe, who was, and still is, the patron saint of the community."

Source: From Charles E. Gibson (1934?), CWA Interviews, DOC. 349/2, Colorado Historical Society.