Saturday, April 19, 2014

Victor, Colorado

I have always said I wanted to write a post about my mothers cousin Margaret Tekavee who was a Teller County  Judge in the Victor, Colorado. The letter "V" is the perfect timing! Some stories are from my late mothers memory bank and others from an article I read . Here is a story about Victor, Colorado and my mothers cousin "the Judge".
Margaret T. Tekavee was born in Austria in 1912.  She was the oldest of three daughters and when she was three years old her family migrated to Victor, Colorado.  Her father worked as a gold miner. Margaret was not a founding partner of a mega law firm. She never won a famous case. She was not an attorney and she was a high school graduate. Margaret had an incredible personal story and that is what set her apart . Victor was part of the Cripple Creek Mining District.
In the early 1900s Victor, Colorado was a boom town.  with a population of 50,000 and many dance halls,gambling halls and saloons. The Broadmoor Hotel and many other mansions in the north end of Colorado Springs were built with Cripple Creek gold. For Margaret's family, the mine paid her father about $3 a day. Her father Frank was able to purchase a home for his family, which stands today on North Fourth Street.  This is how Margaret grew up. When she was attending the first grade she spoke not one word of English. She was a quick learner and learned quickly from her younger sister and her classmates.  She was considered a good student although quiet and respected by her classmates.
In 1937 Margaret's father passed away and along with her mother they continued to raise the family. Her mother received some government assistance and with  Margaret's income from her job helped support the family. Her mother eventually moved to Cleveland, Ohio to be close to her sister, worked for National Carbine and passed away in the 1960s.
This is the lobby of the Victor Hotel along with other google images of Victor and Cripple Creek, Colorado. I do not have any personal photos of Margaret.  Her road to success began when she graduated from high school in 1932.  In those days employment opportunities for women were scarce. She had no family funds for higher education so she went to work for the Department of Agriculture  as a clerk in Cripple Creek. She rode the stagecoach from Victor everyday. Later she was employed by the Department of Social Services, Welfare Division, which was located in the Teller County Court House.  She was employed there for the next thirty years.
This is the Teller County Courthouse and as a child I do remember taking a trip to Cripple Creek and Victor and visiting my mothers cousin here. Margaret never married but my mother told she that she had a special friend, someone named Ben and he went off to WWII and never returned.  During the war she heard of a job opening and was hired by then Teller County Judge/Justice of Peace, Vince Ryan. Margaret learned a lot from the judge and studied the law day and night. She was a voracious reader.
Lowell Thomas was a resident of Victor and he was a well known  American writer and broadcaster. This is the Lowell Thomas Museum in Victor.
Here is Lowell Thomas boyhood home.
My mothers cousin Margaret was a fair person. Probably because of her lack of formal education, she was able to deal with small town problems easily. She was always honest and fair and was well loved. Margaret was an avid outdoors woman. Her passion was fly fishing. In her earlier years she was also a game hunter, hunting both elk and deer. She hiked Peaks Pike often with her sister Mary, a nurse who resided in Denver. Margaret collected arrowheads and also mine memorabilia.  She had mine certificates and the "gold" buttons that were remains of the gold bars after they were molded. Margaret loved the great outdoors but she was an excellent cook. When her mother was living they would cook holiday dinners, often for many guests. Margaret made her own horseradish. She was a terrible driver and once, on her way to to work the sheriff followed her, lights flashing and sirens blaring. She had been speeding and upon arriving at the courthouse she got out of her car,  saw the sheriff and smiled and waved and said "Good morning." The sheriff didn't have the heart to tell her she was speeding and by the end of the day the story had circulated throughout the courthouse.
Cripple Creek.  is five miles away from Victor which  sits at an elevation of 9,780 feet above sea level.  Victor was founded in 1891 shortly after Winfred Scott Stratton found gold. Battle Mountain which sits just above Victor  had the largest and most prolific mines in the mining district and the town became known as "City of Mines".  The mining district hit its peak in 1900.  Victors fame was overshadowed by Cripple Creek . Many of the best mines in the Cripple Creek mining district were located in Victor.  Stratton's Independence Mine and Mill and the Portland Mine.  Half of Battle Mountain's gold was extracted by the Portland Mine. Heavy weight  boxer William Harrison "Jack " Dempsey was a "mucker" in the Portland Mine.
Judge Tekavee was an honorary member of El Paso County Bar Association. She was a member of St. Victor's-St. Peter's Faith Community. She led the choir. She was named Teller County Woman of the Year in 1986 . She was a director of the Balke Trust, president of the Victor's Women's Club, and a member of the Gold Camp Fishing Club. Her life was the law and she was required to retire at age 72 , serving as Teller County judge for nearly thirty years. She loved the law and breathed it, drank it and read it her entire life! She was once asked if a formally educated attorney had ever tripped her up.  She said it would happen, but only once! Margaret passed away February 25, 1999. She would have wanted to be remembered as a kind , fair and good person. The towns people fondly called her "Our Judge".

Before closing this "V" post and sending you to visit Ms. Jenny and the Alphabe Thursday gang, I wanted to share a final item about Victor, Colorado. This calendar is from 1927 and belonged to my mother. It is from the Victor Lodge No. 403 and the vintage photos are beautiful. I am posting the first two months of the calendar. In February 1927 my mother, who was 13 years old, lost her father Joseph and her older brother Tony in the gold mines. There was a cave in and they never made it out.

John 14:1-4 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”


Little Wandering Wren said...

Wow - this post would have taken a huge amount of work. What a lovely tribute to "your judge". I would have loved to meet the horseradish maker, crazy driver who had such an impact on Victor.
Happy Easter to all your Phamily!
Wren x

Annesphamily said...

Hello, my first commenter! I truly love your blog but I don't see any commenting so I came back to my blog to say hello. Love, love, love listening to your stories. I loved traveling to NYC and would go back in a moment! But driving there, yikes! YOu are one brave woman! Thank you for stopping by.

Denise said...

Very interesting. Hope you enjoyed your Easter.

Karen @ Beatrice Euphemie said...

How interesting your relative's life was and a true trail blazer of her time. I love that she was a self-made woman and dearly loved by her town. She lived a long and influential life - a proud history for your phamily!
Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed this post. I live in an old coal mining town. xo Karen

Lola said...

Such an interesting post - hope you had a lovely Easter too!

Intense Guy said...

Such interesting photos to go along with a person who lived a fascinating life! I hope you find a photo of her someday - you never know what might turn up!

Intense Guy said...

There is a photo of her here:

Anonymous said...

pretty nice blog, following :)

NanaDiana said...

Wow- Annie girl- THAT is like a research project. You did a lot of work to put this together! What an interesting post. For some reason you keep dropping off my reading list. I put you on my sidebar AGAIN so I don't miss any post. Happy Tuesday to you. xo Diana

Unknown said...

To those out there, my mom knew judge Margaret tekavee and her house was next door to my uncle and aunt house, if I remember correctly. We were living in wichita, ks and when I was growing up, starting around 7, my mom, dad, brother and I, with maybe 1 or 2 sisters sometimes would go to victor during the summer with my aunt and uncle. This continued as I remember to my early years of high school going to victor on a regular basis. Wonderful times I will always cherish. Seems like a small world at times. I am now 53 years old