Monday, August 22, 2022

A Couple Who Left Their Mark

 Post by Doris McCraw aka Angela Raines

Photo property of the Author

In the early days of Colorado Springs William S. and Helen (Hunt) Jackson were quite the couple. William, as the majority owner of the El Paso County Bank, treasurer of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, and later the receiver of the same company when it went into bankruptcy, was a major influence on the financial health and confidence in Colorado Springs. Helen (Hunt) was already an established author when she arrived in Colorado Springs. Her writings about the area were responsible for the view many Easterners and those from Europe had of the region.

How did these two come to achieve this status? Perhaps it will help to have a bit of background on the two individually.

William Sharpless Jackson

Born in Pennsylvania to Caleb S Jackson and Mary Ann Gause Jackson. His parents were involved in the Underground Railway, their home being a stop on that historical line, in Kennett Square, Chester County, Pennsylvania. His parents were also Quakers, the faith that William Jackson Palmer, one of the founders of Colorado Springs, also belonged to.

Helen was born Helen Marie Fiske on October 18, 1830, in Amherst Massachusetts. Her father Nathan Fiske was a teacher at Amherst College. Her mother Deborah Waterman Venal Fiske, taught Helen and her younger sister Anne at home whenever possible. There were two other children born to the Fiskes. Both were boys and died in infancy. Both of Helen's parents wrote. Her father wrote adult books and her mother wrote children's stories.

Helen came to Colorado in 1873 at the request of her doctor. She had been having fevers and sore throats. It was thought that the climate in Colorado would help Helen heal. She first arrived in Denver but did not like the town. It was suggested that she try Colorado Springs which was a few miles south of Denver.

Her doctor had said she needed to come to a warm, dry climate. When she arrived in Colorado Springs in the late fall it was snowing, overcast, and cold. She had thought that it might be best to go back to the east coast. To her Colorado Springs was raw, new, and not very welcoming. Helen felt the mountains were foreboding and the plains flat and ugly.

Helen H Jackson
from Wikipedia

Helen agreed to give Colorado one month. During that time, the sun came out again and Helen had a chance to see so many wonderful things. She soon fell in love with the area and over time traveled over a lot of Colorado. She wrote about what she saw and many of her essays were published in magazines back East. These essays described Colorado so well that people wanted to see what she wrote about.

While in Colorado Springs Helen met many people and one was William Sharpless Jackson. He worked for the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad and also was involved in banking. The two spent time traveling around the area and both loved the mountains and outdoors.

In October of 1875, Helen and William were married. This was Williams's first marriage and Helen's second. Helen was eight years older, but that did not seem to make any difference to William, or as Helen called him Will.

Williams's work kept him traveling a great deal; sometimes Helen would accompany him and sometimes she would stay in the home he had bought for them or travel on her own.

To Helen, Cheyenne mountain was the most beautiful mountain in the world. She and Will had spent much time around the mountain. Their favorite spot to 'camp' was an area in South Cheyenne canyon where it overlooked the city and the stream that flowed through the canyon.

Helen continued to write and travel. Sometimes she traveled without William and sometimes with him. Still, she kept writing her stories, essays, and poems. She would also return to the east coast where her sister Ann and family lived.

Up until Helen's death in 1885, this couple followed their own rules, and in the process did much that benefitted many. They both left a lasting legacy.

Doris McCraw

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