The history of tea in Fort Collins with the FoCo Founders

By Kathy Bush, Discovery Agent

Many are familiar with the story of the Boston Tea Party, but when did tea start coming out to Colorado? As early as 1859, when Colorado was still a territory, trains across the nation were importing tea to Aurora. When A. A. Edwards and Franklin Avery, pioneering founders of Fort Collins, first came over to the Cache La Poudre land in the 1870s, they would have seen in the Fort Collins Standard an advertisement from the Big Thompson Dry Goods department store for tea, along with other goods. The price for gunpowder green tea was $1.25 per pound and it was $1 for three pounds of Oolong tea in 1874. The currency was gold, not paper. In terms of inflation, one pound of gunpowder green tea would cost $32.49 by today’s prices.

The 1880s was a very popular time for tea in the United States. Besides department stores, an alternative form of buying tea in Colorado was mail orders. Mail orders for tea would come from warehouse shipping centers based in big cities like New York. One advertisement in 1881 declared that one can buy five pounds of tea at the rate of 25 – 40 cents per pound. These mail orders often added perks to the order – from Indian ink portraits to collectable Chinese tea boxes. Mail order tea became so popular that people became concerned over the quality and purity of the tea, fearing that companies were adulterating – adding substances that do not belong in teas – to add bulk to their orders. This concern became so real that in 1883 a bill was passed forbidding the adulteration of tea sold within the U.S.

Franklin Avery married Sara Edson in the late 1870’s and A.A. Edwards married Phebe Edson in early 1880’s. Both started and raised their families in Fort Collins. The sisters would purchase tea for their homes as well as for their volunteer work with their local Methodist church. Tea parties were a popular way to entertain guests at home as well as for charity work with the community.

Wedding gifts often included a tea set of Chinese pounded silver. In 1894, the Fort Collins Courier published one of the first advertisements of an individual tea ball strainer, a tool that was still quite new back then. Tea parties often had cultural elements in addition to tea drinking itself, from music and poetry to learning about other cultures. For example, the YWCA at Colorado State University hosted a tea party in 1895 that shared Japanese culture while the guests were enjoying their tea.

In 1908, a newspaper advertisement showed the first strictly tea and coffee store in Fort Collins. The Ceylon Tea Store was at 150 Linden Street in 1908 and in 1909 it was at 126 South College Avenue. Today, 150 Linden Street is Old Town Square where pedestrians can walk around a goose water fountain and statues, and 126 South College Avenue is the Blue Harvest Apparel store. The Ceylon Tea Store stayed in business up to 1914 when it was sold to new management. Mrs. Sara Avery and Mrs. Phebe Edwards may have gone to the Ceylon Tea store to stock their kitchens during this time. In 1905, they would have expected to buy English Breakfast tea at 20 cents per pound and gunpowder tea at 50 cents a pound.

At the beginning of the World War One in 1914, the prices of all food items rose soon after as a byproduct of the war. Meat went up by five cents per pound and tea went up by 25 cents per pound from the original prices. To ration foodstuff at home to support the troops fighting overseas and because of the diminished food production in Europe, the U.S. had to focus on increasing food production. One action President Woodrow Wilson took was to ban using grains to distill alcohol. When the Great War was coming to an end in 1918, consequences of food rationing, along with anti-German sentiment, meant that Prohibition was gaining support in the government. In 1917, tea consumption was connected to the Prohibition movement and there was some suspicion that Japan was supporting the movement in order to secure its tea exportation with American businesses. An article from the Weekly Courier in 1918 stated that tea consumption was outpacing production because tea had become the popular social substitute for alcohol consumption.

Unidentified children at a tea party in Fort Collins, from the 1880s or 1890s.

By the 1920s, the Avery’s would be in their last years of life and the Edwards’ would have been in their 60s and 70s. Tea had changed very much since the 1880s. Tea quality was standardized by the United States Board of Tea Experts by 1921 and more readily available once the country recovered from the Great War. Tea was more expensive than coffee in the 1920s, which most likely is a result of the Great War and the increase in standardization of quality and importation. Tea rooms were becoming popular in the 1920s as a form of socializing, lounging, and dancing, which was not a business model back in the 1880s. CSU even had its own tearoom called the Domino Tea Room. By the late 1920s, a small trend was emerging among young college ladies who were now considering a career of being a tearoom manager. As Fort Collins grew from being a frontier town into more a cosmopolitan college town, pioneers like the Averys and the Edwards would have seen many great changes and played a part themselves in developing the town into what it is today.

The Rocky Mountain Collegian – CSU Fort Collins, Volume XXXVII, Number 8, November 2, 1927.

If this whets your appetite for a hot cup of tea or more history, come by Fort Collins Museum of Discovery’s Café to see a photo gallery of the Avery family and the Edwards family while enjoying our local tea blends from Happy Lucky’s in Fort Collins. The museum also has an archive for anyone wishing to do Colorado-based research in tea or anything at all.

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The Story of Telstar and Fort Collins

By Barbara Cline, Archive Assistant – Processing, Fort Collins Museum of Discovery

Is there anything special about July 12, 1962?  I imagine there are several reasons for that date to be special.  According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration article on their website, it was “The Day Information Went Global.”  It was the day that the world first witnessed communications via satellite.

On July 10, 1962, the first active communications satellite, Telstar, was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, aboard a Thor/Delta 316 rocket. 

A Thor/Delta 316 launches with the Telstar 1 satellite launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 17B, July 10, 1962. Courtesy: NASA

The first transatlantic television signal was relayed via Telstar two days later on July 12, 1962, from Andover Earth Station, Maine, to Pleumeur-Bodou Telecom Center, Brittany, France.  Maine and France had the two tracking stations for Telstar.

Bell Laboratories – A Telstar 1 satellite, courtesy Bell Laboratories.

Though only operational for a few months, the Telstar satellite transmitted images from President John F. Kennedy’s press conference, short clips of sporting events and images of an American flag and Mount Rushmore.

The first telephone call via Telstar was between Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson and Fred Kappel, President of AT&T. 

“Good evening, Mr. Vice President,” Kappel said. “This is Fred Kappel calling from the Earth Station at Andover, Maine.  The call is being relayed through our Telstar satellite as I’m sure you know.  How do you hear me?”

“You’re coming through nicely, Mr. Kappel,” said Vice President Johnson.

Courtesy, The Coloradoan, 9/29/64

So, we see the beginning of the information age.  But what is the connection between Fort Collins and Telstar, you ask?  Let me tell you!

Telstar 2 was launched by NASA on May 7, 1963 and remained active for two years.  As part of a Memorial Day-Centennial event on May 21, 1964, Myron “Mike” M. Braden, president of the Fort Collins Rotary Club and Rotary district governor in Sweden, Percy Hallencruetz, spoke via Telstar 2.  By using the satellite, the Swedish Rotarian was able to express congratulations on the occasion of Fort Collins’ Centennial anniversary.  Mr. Hallencruetz tied the Centennial slogan to the use of Telstar in making this phone call:

“This is probably why we are making this call the way we are.  But I didn’t tell you, Mike, that this call is taking place by way of Telstar.  The most advanced means of communication in this fast-moving world of ours.  This is our way of helping you make your Centennial slogan come true:  Past Achievements Challenge the Future.  It’s an excellent slogan, and I cannot think of any better way to challenge the future, nor to fulfill the dreams of the past than to speak to you on this historic occasion through the reality of today’s modern communication achievement, the Telstar satellite.”

You can listen to the recording and see a transcript on our website

Courtesy The Coloradoan, May 24, 1964.

When you use your cell phones and other handheld devices, laptops, and televisions, you can proudly note that Fort Collins was at the forefront of the use of satellites.  And as you ponder this piece of local, national, and international history, you can listen on YouTube to “Telstar” by the Tornadoes.  Inspired by the first of the famous satellites, the pop song went to number one on the charts in both the United States and the United Kingdom.

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From the Archive – Gems from a Local Diary

By Lesley Struc, Curator of the Archive at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery

I spent some time recently reading Fort Collins local Mary Hottel’s diary from Book I (1901-1906) of the Hottel collection.  Her work shares life experiences that are over 100 years old, giving us a glimpse of what it was like to be the daughter of Fort Collins’ first millionaire.

Her father Benjamin Hottel’s life is quite a story too, but one of starting up. He came to Fort Collins from Virginia in 1877 and worked in milling and developed a sugar factory, later becoming the president of Poudre Valley National Bank.

I only made it about halfway through this first book and found these gems from Mary’s life. They are insightful and humorous all these years later, so I’ve included some of my favorite quotes.

This collection is such a treasure trove, offering a personal look of the life of a very busy woman in Fort Collins at the turn of the 20th century. So far volunteers have scanned five dairies and transcribed seven – there are 14 in all, covering the years of 1901-1925.

The Poudre Valley National Bank, pictured in 1930

Thursday, December 11, 1902

Chick [Charles Davis, her boyfriend at the time] & I strolled downtown, then made fudge on our return – he had an old sweater on and was afraid to come in until the family went away.

Saturday March 21, 1903

Chick & I got in a big crowd at the Columbian musical tonight – The program was fine – Coming home

in the wash – ahem!!

we struck a regular blizzard & nearly froze stiff – Through pure ackwardness, [sic] while making fudge I spilled a lot of it on Chicks coat & felt too cheap for words – Hope it will all come out

Saturday, May 27, 1904

Went to the H.S. Alumni dance at Odd Fellows Hall tonight with Aida Ault & Ethel Avery. There was some sort of a programme first & then during the dance Roy came – So Mary Ann had an escort home – Considering the scarcity of men we had a real good time.

Odd Fellows Block, at 111 East Mountain, circa 1903

Friday, October 13, 1905

This afternoon Warren Bristol called & we had a good chat over old times. Tonight Bob Tedmon & I ploughed through mud & rain galore with  Anna Tedmon & Mr Baker of New York to the college dance at Odd Fellows. Had a corking time & just giggled continually. Lets pray I’ll still have a few more good times before I die.  [Mary was 22 years old at the time of this writing]

Tuesday, November 7, 1905

After I made seven calls this afternoon, Roy stopped in for a long chat & to inform me had to work so hard wouldn’t be down until Sunday. Oh he is the worst tease & his ability  seems to be on the increase Anna Tedmon appeared this noon with an invitation for me to accompany acrowd of ladies to see the play “Wyoming” tonight [at the Opera House]. But upon discovering that the party was to be composed almost entirely of married women, I refused.

The Opera House business block, from 1908

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National Beer Day

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing Assistant.

National Beer Day

It’s #NationalBeerDay and there is no better place to celebrate this holiday than our home – Fort Collins, Colorado!

History of National Beer Day

National Beer Day is celebrated annually on April 7. This day marks the signing of the Cullen-Harrison Act. The signing of this act led to the 18th Amendment being repealed, with ratification of the 21st Amendment to the constitution. This enactment took the first step toward ending the prohibition. Beer drinkers rejoiced as they were able to purchase beer again for the first time in 13 years!

Beer is now the world’s most widely consumed alcoholic beverage. Following water and tea, it is the third most popular drink overall. This was not a “sour” move to make!

Fun fact: April 6, the day before National Beer Day, is also known as, New Beer’s Eve.

Local Beer History

Fort Collins is sometimes referred to as the “Napa Valley of Beer.” Although alcohol arrived with the first settlers in Fort Collins, prohibition hindered the growth of the industry until 1969.

In 1980, the large beer company, Anheuser Busch, made a bid to open a brewery in the city. It took 8 years to get the city on board for the first brewery in Fort Collins. The plant began construction in 1988. In 1990, Doug Odell opened Odell Brewery Co. Soon after, New Belgium opened in 1991. Other breweries opened soon after these leaders in the industry. Fort Collins was one of the first to latch onto the craft beer movement. By 2010, a new generation of breweries, like Funkwerks & Equinox Brewing, emerged. According to Visit Fort Collins, the city is now home to over 20 local craft breweries!

The craft beer industry, with its emphasis on local breweries, plays a vital role in the communities economy and culture, this goes hand in hand with the outdoor recreation that is popular in Colorado.

How YOU can celebrate!

Celebrate today with a pint of your favorite local brew. Even if you are stuck at home, no worries! You can order beer from your favorite breweries in Fort Collins (please check the preferred brewery website for updated hours and delivery options).

Cheers! ?

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Women of Fort Collins: Carmen Johnson

Women of Fort Collins: Carmen Johnson

Get inspired!

For the 4th year in a row, the Collections and Archives staff of Fort Collins Museum of Discovery are sharing stories and photographs of notable Fort Collins women. Discover the paths of many local luminaries with inspirational video presentations full of historic images, audio recordings, and fascinating information!

This Episode: Carmen Johnson

Carmen Johnson spent twenty-three years as Larimer County’s Home Demonstration agent for the Extension Service. This presentation talks about her life and just what home demonstration was.

Ready for more? You can learn about other amazing people of Fort Collins and Northern Colorado in the Archive at FCMoD! Visit fcmod.org/research for more information.

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Women of Fort Collins: Betty Herrmann

Women of Fort Collins: Betty Herrmann

Get inspired!

For the 4th year in a row, the Collections and Archives staff of Fort Collins Museum of Discovery are sharing stories and photographs of notable Fort Collins women. Discover the paths of many local luminaries with inspirational video presentations full of historic images, audio recordings, and fascinating information!

This Episode: Betty Herrmann

Betty Herrmann left a legacy at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery through her work, donations, and the impact she had on the people there.

Ready for more? You can learn about other amazing people of Fort Collins and Northern Colorado in the Archive at FCMoD! Visit fcmod.org/research for more information.

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Women of Fort Collins: Elfreda Stebbins

Women of Fort Collins: Elfreda Stebbins

Get inspired!

For the 4th year in a row, the Collections and Archives staff of Fort Collins Museum of Discovery are sharing stories and photographs of notable Fort Collins women. Discover the paths of many local luminaries with inspirational video presentations full of historic images, audio recordings, and fascinating information!

This Episode: Elfreda Stebbins

Elfreda Stebbins, graduate of the library school at the Drexel Institute in Philadelphia, became our city’s first librarian in 1903. Throughout her 28-year career, she served as a force for literacy and culture in Fort Collins.

Ready for more? You can learn about other amazing people of Fort Collins and Northern Colorado in the Archive at FCMoD! Visit fcmod.org/research for more information.

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Women of Fort Collins: Isabelle Knopf

Women of Fort Collins: Isabelle Knopf

Get inspired!

For the 4th year in a row, the Collections and Archives staff of Fort Collins Museum of Discovery are sharing stories and photographs of notable Fort Collins women. Discover the paths of many local luminaries with inspirational video presentations full of historic images, audio recordings, and fascinating information!

This Episode: Isabelle Knopf

Fort Collins native Isabelle Knopf worked at Heart Mountain Japanese Internment Camp during World War II. As a single mother, she had various jobs before having a long career with the U. S. Department of Agriculture.

Ready for more? You can learn about other amazing people of Fort Collins and Northern Colorado in the Archive at FCMoD! Visit fcmod.org/research for more information.

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Women of Fort Collins: Virginia Corbett

Women of Fort Collins: Virginia Corbett

Get inspired!

For the 4th year in a row, the Collections and Archives staff of Fort Collins Museum of Discovery are sharing stories and photographs of notable Fort Collins women. Discover the paths of many local luminaries with inspirational video presentations full of historic images, audio recordings, and fascinating information!

This Episode: Virginia Corbett

Virginia Corbett came to Colorado Agricultural College in 1900 to teach literature and history. She was a passionate advocate for college women for over 30 years and taught briefly at Ginling College, Nanjing, China in the 1920s.

Ready for more? You can learn about other amazing people of Fort Collins and Northern Colorado in the Archive at FCMoD! Visit fcmod.org/research for more information.

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#ArchivesBlackEducation

#ArchivesBlackEducation

Every month Fort Collins Museum of Discovery participates in a themed #ArchivesHashtagParty on Twitter. This month’s theme is #ArchivesBlackEducation in honor of Black History Month.

What is an #ArchivesHashtagParty you ask? That’s a great question! This article from the New York Times, The Record Keepers’ Rave, helps explain just that. Started by The National Archives and Records Administration of the United States, participating archives, museums, and libraries tune in to share a treasure trove of photos, stories, collections, and more.

For #ArchivesBlackEducation, the museum shared the following on Twitter (@focomod) of our local history from the Archive & Collections at FCMoD.

Let’s get started, shall we?

This #ArchivesHashtagParty we’re exploring local African American history with #ArchivesBlackEducation. Pictured here is Ella Mae Cook, Fort Collins Resident from about 1931 to 1944.

Grafton St. Clair Norman was the first Black student to attend and graduate from CSU, then Colorado Agricultural College. He became the 2nd lieutenant in the Army and teacher in Kentucky. This photo appeared in the 1896 CAC yearbook.

Charley Clay arrived in Colorado in 1864. By the early 1900s, the Clay home was a center of Black social life in Larimer County, hosting groups such as the local chapter of the Paul Laurence Dunbar Literary Society.

William Clay, son of Charley Clay, served with the Fort Collins Volunteer Fire Department in the 1890s and was a member of the State Champion Hose Team in 1897.

As a child, Academy Award winning film star Hattie McDaniel briefly lived in this home on Cherry Street in Fort Collins and attended Franklin School. She would later move to Denver on her way to Hollywood.

In March of 1939, Mattie Lyle sued the owner of the State Theater in Fort Collins for discrimination and won damager. Her daughter Joyce, pictured here, served as a witness to her mother’s testimony.

During the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s, Charles and Mamie Birdwhitle’s home on Oak Street in Fort Collins was a gathering spot for Black gospel groups, jazz orchestras, and scholars visiting Northern Colorado.

Virgil Thomas was a star left tackle – and the only Black player – for the Fort Collins High School Lambkins in the late 1930s.

In 1969, members of the Mexican-American Committee for Equality & the Black Student Assn. demanded more recruitment of minority students and faculty. Shown here is a protest they held at the home of college president William Morgan.

That wraps up this month’s #ArchivesHashtagParty! Explore more Black history with a walking tour from our friends at the Fort Collins History Preservation Department.

Thanks for tuning in! We’ll share next month’s #ArchivesHashtagParty content with you back here on the blog.

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