On the north end of Lamar a neighborhood of “row houses” popular at the turn of the last century stood along the Lamar Canal, proving housing for some of Lamar’s finest families. These tiny apartments often housed large families, proud families who worked hard, provided well and saved until they had enough to invest in property located in other areas of the community. Today, descendants of these citizens are among some of the most well known in the community.
Current City Council member, Kirk Crespin had family in the Colonies in 1908, according to a Census review and an article in The Prowers Journal. According to Crespin, his family trickled in from various parts of the United States to this site along the Santa Fe Trail, over the next several years and still resides predominantly in the Lamar area.
After we spoke by phone to get a few more facts, Kirk sent me a message and corrected some of the details he’d given me. Those corrections are here in the quoted message, the story is below (corrected).
I checked my Ancestry.com site to verify info… Pete Torrez was my Grandfather who passed away 1982 and is buried at the Riverside Cemetary in Lamar, Jacinto was my Great Grandfather who passed away in Las Animas and is Burried in Las Animas… and (Jose) Joe Torrez was my Great Great Grandfather who passed away 1942 in Lamar at the approximate age of 107 and is buried at Riverside Cemetary.
They arrived in Lamar in 1908 according to the US Census Data. I’m not sure exactly where they resided – however, my mother Alice Torrez’s birth certificate from 1941 states her birthplace as “Mexican Colony, Lamar, Colorado.” Which was interesting to find on a legal document such as a birth certificate.
Crespin’s Great Grandfather, Jose (Joe) Torrez, who arrived here in 1908, was buried at Riverside Cemetery when he passed in 1942 at the tender age of 107 years.
A road, along the front of the former site of The Colonies was recently renamed, Colonia Avenida. The project of renaming the street came up after the demise of a local bus company that left Lamar, after the street had been named Auwarter Drive after the founding owner of Neoplan. Supported by Voices Unidas, a small group of people who promote diversification in the community, the Prowers County Historical Society submitted the request, initiating the new name of the street in memory of The Colonies and the immense historical impact the site had on the community.
The colonies last provided homes for citizens of the community in 1954, according to documents found at the Big Timbers Museum. Buildings have since been removed as other construction and businesses replaced them along this commercial drive. Although each family has moved onward, to home ownership and business development within the community, the memory of their homes along the canal remains dear.