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Keota Colorado Townsite - Ghost town

Appropriately named. Keota in the Indian language means "the fire has gone out". The town never had a population bigger than 150 but it served a farming community of 1250 homesteads. That is how it supported a high school, a newspaper, church, fire station and even a Doctor and a Lawyer.

I really liked this old town. Much to see including a cemetery a short distance from town. I had been here several years ago. Not much changed since then. Off the beaten path but worth the trip if you are in the plains of Colorado. Make sure you find the cemetery as there are several unique gravesites like the one for Edith Grace Steiger.

Photos courtesy of Mike Sinnwell 2005

A viewer writes - I just got back from Fort Collins, Colorado where a friend lives. He drove me out to Pawnee Grasslands and then we toured the area and stopped at the Keota cemetery, then drove around the town. I hit google search as soon as I got home as I wanted more info on this very unique spot. While I was there, I had the strangest feeling that "something" was calling to me to investigate this town more! Wow..then I found your very informative website. Thank you so much for your info, I will continue my search. Tannya Albuquerque, NM

A viewer writes - Just came across your website today and realized that it was about Colorado ghost towns. Last May I was at Keota for a Stanley family reunion. My second cousin was raised in Keota. Our grandfathers were brothers. We had a great time viewing the Pawnee Buttes and visiting the Keota cemetery where I had the privilege of being warned off by a rattlesnake while trying to take a picture of a gravesite. Had lots of fun there. Lots of great history there concerning the Stanley's. Thanks, Evelyn Stanley

A viewer writes - Hey Mike, I came across your website after spending a day out at Pawnee Buttes and finding the graveyard there. I was touched by the stone for Edith Grace Steiger and went on the web to find out more. Up came your website. I haven't fully explored your site yet but I am moved by the love and energy you put into it. I recently moved to Colorado from Massachusetts and I am wanting to learn more about this fascinating place. Thank you for all your good info. Best to you and your family, Lydia, now of Longmont

A viewer writes - Enjoyed the Pictures of Keota,Colo. I was born and raised at Keota and own the Farmers and Merchants Bldg (red brick bldg) in your pictures. My family homesteaded North East of town in 1910. My uncle Was a US Commissioner there during the homestead days. He processed homestead patents for those who settled in the area. He was also a printer and newspaper man and published the Keota newspapers. James Michner visited my uncle many times while researching for his book "Centennial". In the book, Keota is portrayed as Line Camp 1.

A viewer writes February 24, 2009 - Thought I'd add a bit about the origin of the Keota name. There are many Keota towns in the USA. Name comes from Sac & Fox tribe, which was relocated to Oklahoma, with its headquarters [Where else?] in Keota, south of Tulsa. Keota or Kee-O-ta, effectively means "Safe to leave camp" or "Safe to go to bed" [because] "Campfire is now cold" which is summarized by "Fire ALL Out." I was amused by Greeley Tribune newspaper article claiming differently, associating name as conjunction of Keo and Ta for neighboring [white] areas in another state with the same named town. Such anti-Native American efforts are always lame from my perspective, since I have Chikasaw ancestors. Noticed email regarding Sligo, north of Keota, also built along the CB&Q RR. It was settled by Irish RR workers' families, from County Sligo, Ireland. A visit to the graveyard on the high ground above Sligo will reveal lots of children's graves, who died from the Spanish Flu in the teens. Sad to see. - Regards, Charlie Keota Pioneer

Mike, Thought I'd add: I also own much of the town of Keota, especially the site for the old hotel, stone bar/jail and entire RR depot parcel. I gave Steve some maps and permission to explore my land there as well. However, most of Keota has been well searched, except for the outhouses behind the hotel. Might produce something. I tried to preserve Keota years ago, with a walking trail, with stops along the way showing photos of the old buildings and a brief history. Had good support from UNC and CSU, also Colorado Historical Society, but couldn't get the absent land owners of several historic sites to cooperate. Regards, Charlie Keota Pioneer

A viewer writes - February 22,2009 - I visited Keota and its cemetery on Sunday, February 22, 2009. Edith Grace Steiger's tombstone caught my eye so I searched her name this morning and found your site. Do you have information about the Sligo Cemetery and the town of Sligo?  My email is lhenk@frii.com Thanks, L. Henk

A viewer writes - March 6, 2009  Hi Mike, I was up in Keota this morning and it was pretty much as you said and not alot different from the images you have posted on your site. There is a mobile home parked there now and I'm guessing they own the land around there.  I knocked to ask permission to shoot but nobody answered.  I appreciate your site.  It gave me some extra information I didn't have.  I included a couple images.  Thanks again for the site - Regards Terry

 

A viewer writes - April 12, 2009 - My Gradma is Floa May Steiger and they homesteaded a few miles outside of Keota.  She had 8 children, the one you have the name on the grave, Edith, who went far for a women of those days,  She had a PHD in Economics, wrote a book about WWII where she meant many important people.  Worked in a high positions at Revlon and much more  My mother passed at the age of 92 in Okla where she lived her last two years with me and my husband.  I still have an uncle that lives in Texas, but have lost contact and don't know if he is living. We lived in Cheyenne Wyoming when I was growin up and went to the homestead to visit my grandmother weekly...even then not too much left of Keota.  So many memories.

A viewer writes September 2009 -  Enjoyed the pictures of Keota. My brother and I visited the cemetery on 9/2/2009. Appears many children died between 1914-1918 probably the result of the flu epidemic? Tom, Appleton, WI.

A viewer writes October 2009 - Hi- Saw your website and photos of keota, maybe you or a viewer might know the missing word(s) on this sign. Pesky burro! Regards, Dave.

 Rocky says - This is a good place to see Dave's 17 pictures of Keota in the early 1900s.
http://s466.photobucket.com/albums/rr27/surly357/keota/?action=view&current=16-22.jpg

A viewer writes November 11th 2009 - Rocky asked - Do you know any of the people in the photos? mike- short answer- no. but- i'm workin' on it........any of my living relatives who visited their relations in keota did so in the late 30's when they were small children. my understanding is that 3 siblings (2 aunts and an uncle of my grandfather dan eipper) rose, eliza (sp?) and ? durbin each homesteaded a (contiguous) section of land. i see on google there is a 'durbin windmill' location near pawnee buttes. may just be a coincidence. my dad remembers the buttes being a short hike from their ranch (but he was only 8....) so that sort of fits. they were instructed to carry a hoe whenever they left the house in case they came upon a rattlesnake! the only real reason i know of any relations in the keota area is because when i was a little kid my grandmother's basement in illinois had a finished room/apartment- that was always referred to as 'aunt rose's room'. i guess she lived there for a few years (late 40's- early 50's) i know her married name was andrews, her husbands name may have been charles. i don't know if he was a local keota area man or where or when they were married. that was the name i originally thought i would be tracking down, but now i know it was the durbins who actually had the property i'm most likely interested in finding! rose taught school for a number of years and was famous in the family for picking up a new car and not knowing how to shift, driving it back to keota in first gear..... i can only guess that the 2 women in the 'snake' photo are rose and eliza. i believe the woman in the white dress posing w/the posthole digger is my grandmother ruth (skelton) eipper. i believe she is also in the 'cave' photo wearing the big hat and holding my grandfather's colt 'lightning' .22. i have the rifle and the camera used to take the photos. apparently they also took a trip to rollins (corona) pass. like i said, i'm workin' on it......:) Dave Eipper [bworkshop@hotmail.com]

A viewer writes  Wednesday, December 09, 2009 - I tried to enter something  and will try again. My dad. Ray Jobbins grew up in Keota, CO and I went there with him as a teenager and found his mom's grave. I wonder if it is still identifiable. he died quite a while ago but i was wishing he could see this site! We visited that little store and the man had an album with pictures of my dad as a little boy and knew who he was right away!

A viewer writes Wednesday, December 09, 2009 - I did another entry about my one time visit to my dad's hometown of Keota, CO, but if anyone knows history on my dad's family (Ray Jobbins - or any of Clifford Jobbins family) or has memories or pictures that would be of that family I'd love to hear from them. Email me at monkaof10@yahoo.com if you know about any Jobbins from Keota, CO Thanks!

A viewer writes - Friday, January 15, 2010 - Found this site researching my step fathers family history. He was born in Keota.  Randy Gray rgray@wamail.net

A viewer Writes - Tuesday, May 04, 2010   -- Anyone interested in Keota and especially quilting should read the book "The Quilt That Walked to Golden".  Pages 90-95 delves into the lives of the Keota Quilters, great photo's of ladies and stories about the Keota Quilt Retreat.    Carolyn Katzoff, Castle Rock Colorado

A viewer writes - Wednesday, June 16, 2010 - My husband and I visited Keota on May 23, 2010 after my genealogy research for his side of the family revealed this is where his grandmother & her siblings were raised. 

His grandmother was Barneatta “Barney” Speaker (1924-2005), daughter of Conrad Speaker (1896-1957) & Frieda Hart (1906-1999).  She was the oldest of seven children, five of whom are still living.  It is my understanding that she played basketball in Keota during high school and I estimate she graduated in 1942.  We visited two of her sisters in Greeley and learned that all but a couple of kids at the school were related, so we know that it was quite small.  Does anyone happen to have records of the students who attended there or copies of yearbooks? 

Also, while we were they we were quite surprised to find that there was a very nice looking home on the northeast corner of Co Rd 390 & Roanoke.  Additionally, there appeared to be at least two businesses (most likely with residences) operating.  We found it humorous that the outhouse had a fresh roll of toilet paper in it and the old buildings are currently being used for storage. 

    

This begs the question, is Keota still a “ghost town”?

Our final stop was at the cemetery where my husband’s great-great grandparents (John Hart & Louisa Gerlach) on his father’s side are buried.  As some of the other viewers to your website & folks we ran into who were visiting the cemetery on the way to the Pawnee Buttes noted, we were very surprised at how many children died in the late 1910s.  It seems that his grandmother grew up during a very difficult time in Keota. 

 

Any information anyone might have about the Speaker or Hart families from Weld County (previously from a German settlement in Russia) is much appreciated.  Please e-mail joanne.jessee@gmail.com.  Thank you, JoAnne near Peoria, IL

A viewer writes - Sunday August 8th - I just responded to a posting on the Keota area site about a yearly reunion that is held the first Saturday in August every year at the Briggsdale school.  It is a Hart/Speaker Family and Keota School reunion.  If anyone else is interested in more information for next years reunion they can contact me Sue Ewing at suekewing@yahoo.com.  I am a Hart descendent and we are working on a family tree so more information is always appreciated.

A viewer writes - Saturday, August 14, 2010 My husband is a descendent of Conrad R. Haak who homesteaded in the Keota Area 1912 to 1919. The George Andrew Haak buried in the Keota Cemetary was an uncle.  Unfortunately George died at age 5 after being kicked by a horse. We visited Keota in July 2010. The historians at the Greeley Museum were very helpful with genealogy of my husband's family and others in Weld County. We definitely recommend the museum to people interested in the history of Weld County.

 

The old historical Photos Provided by Dave Eipper. - THANKS Dave -  Did you see the one with the Ladies playing with a rattle snake??

 

 

 

 

A viewer writes Saturday, December 04, 2010 - Love the information on Keota!  My grandfather was born and raised there until they left the area to farm in Wyoming during the Dust Bowl.  I toured the cemetery last May and finally got to see my great grandmother's marker.  She died there when grandpa was 6 years old and I remember seeing the marker in pictures of the funeral.  It gave me chills to see that marker where my grandpa had posed by it as a child!  Dan Schisel Rawlins, Wy

A viewer writes - Saturday, November 12, 2011 -- I lived in Keota in 1944-1945. I was a freshman in the two story highschool. Mrs. E. Fae Oram was our teacher. There was 12 in high school that year. My name is Marion Cole. We lived in the parsonage that year, my dad Glen Cole drove the school bus and was janitor at the school. My uncle and aunt were Cecil and Maxine Plowman who lived on the homestead about 5 miles west of Keota. I have pictures to share of the students there at the time and noticed a message from Evelyn Stanley. I would love to hear from anyone who was there at the time. Margaret & Evelyn Stanley, Vera, Leona, Wayne Hart. Clyde & Dee Jay Shull. Kinnisons, Benners, Weiss, Rohns & others.  catchone1@live.com

 

Rocky writes - Marion - You may not be aware but the Colorado Historical Society is planning an exhibit of Keota when they open their new center in April of 2012. Here is a brief write up. I was lucky enough to have a very small part in this.  

Destination Colorado

A 5,000-square-foot exhibit introduces visitors to the 1920s dry land farming town of Keota, a place residents called “the Arcadia of the West.” Designed especially for families, this exhibit invites visitors to enroll in the town high school, ride down a dusty road in a Model T, share town news in a homestead kitchen, climb into a hayloft and swap eggs at the general store. 

I hope this is of interest to you.

A viewer writes - Wed 3/21/2012 --  I just found your website that had various references to Keota, Colorado. It's really very nice. Excellent Photo's. Are you still collecting information regarding this ghost town? YES

My Grandmother, Grace Taylor, was 'the' school teacher there in 1927 to 1930's. It was a one room school house with my mother and aunt, as 2 of Grandma's pupils. Perhaps I remember her saying there were about 12-15 students at that time.

My Grandfather, Arthur A. (Buck) Taylor, had a ranch near there. He was a Keota cattle rancher until he lost the ranch during the depression. Does anyone recall Keota during this time frame?

I did tour Keota with Grandmother and my mother in about 1959 or 1960. I was told 14 people lived in Keota at that time. We did visit the Post Office which was 'busy' for such a small town. The Post Office woman was proud that Keota's Post Office held a high designation. I can't recall why, but this little Post Office handled a large amount of mail for some larger nearby business entity or govt. Does anyone know how this could be?

Rocky says- The Post Office opened in 1909 and closed in 1973. So it is possible you met the Stanley’s. The Post Office and General store were run by Clyde Stanley and his sister Fae. Clyde Stanley was instrumental in much of the research and background information for James Michener’s novel – Centennial. The Book was also dedicated to him. His house still stands, barely, on the corner of one of the main streets.

We did run into some military people, while out looking for the old ranch foundation. Does anyone know about that? 

Thanks, Peggy 

A viewer writes - Sunday May 13th 2012 -- Supposedly my Great-Grandfather, Sheman Wolfe ran/owned the Hotel in Keota in the early 1920's.  How could I verify that?  My grandmother remembers roller-skating in the halls of the hotel.  But that's all the information I have.

Rocky Replies - Contact the Colorado Historical Society as they have just reopened and the featured exhibit is the city of Keota. Great exhibit so if possible go see it ASAP.

A viewer writes - Tuesday, August 07, 2012 -- I was born in Longmont and lived in Colorado up until I was 16 and I do not ever remember visiting the ghost town of Keota until my brother, whom lives not to far from Pawnee Buttes, took me to the Buttes to take pictures.  We drove through the remains of this town on the way.  Very interesting history. Carla, Solon Iowa

A viewer writes - Friday, September 21, 2012 -- I live in Keota, Oklahoma. Been here all my Choctaw life. There is no tribal headquarters here, the population is less than 600. we don't even have a grocery store. one writer suggested that the Sac and Fox were headquartered here. Incorrect !

A viewer writes - Saturday, November 24, 2012 --  I took my wife through Keota today on our way to Pawnee Buttes.  I noticed at least one missile silo on the road, I would guess that explains the military that you saw.

A viewer writes - Tuesday January 22nd 2013 -- We found this picture (below) of the Mr. and Mrs. A J Hansford's home in Keota Colorado.. The Photo was found in our Grandmothers things. Her name was Mary O'Brien Davenport. I hope you are able to identify the place or people referenced.  Sincerely Mr. and Mrs. Roger Havens.

Rocky Says - Unfortunately I can't but perhaps some visitors can??

A viewer writes - Wednesday 7/10/2013 -- My mother’s (Irene Winkler Vanatta) family homesteaded in Keota in the early 1920’s.  Her dad’s name was Albert Winkler, and she had two brothers (Dick & Ray).  They all went to school at the Glennada School.  I have some pictures of main street Keota from about 1927 and the school bus they used as well as some of the kids playing at school.  Is there a way to post them to your site?  My mom is now 102 and her brother Dick is 97.  We will be taking them out to visit the town site in a couple of weeks and see if we can find their old homestead.   I have pictures of it as well.  Thanks, Walt Vanatta

A viewer writes - Monday, July 29, 2013 -- My grandparents and 8 child homestead there near Keota CO. My mother went to school there and also taught there in the white school house. My great uncle Curt Foley had the grocery store. the homestead is still standing and I go up to there every now and then. My Aunt Edith Steiger is in Keota cemetery. My mothers name was Esther Steiger. Thank you for having this sight on internet. Donna Neely

A viewer writes - Sunday Feb 2nd 2014 - - Dear Michael,  I visited your Keota site tonight and reminisced about living in Colorado (Boulder) a few years back. I had only lived there for 3 years but I had visited Keota and the plains 2 or 3 times and really enjoyed exploring that area. The last time I visited probably back in 08 or 09 I met a man (photo attached) who had spent some part of his life living in Keota. I have a picture of him and thought maybe you would be interested in it or know who this man is. The man whose name is slipping my mind right now was 93. I think his cousin owned the yellow house in town that at that time seemed to be maintained. He may have mentioned that one of his relatives worked in the post office long ago. He said that he went back to the area every year for a reunion and this year his wife didn't join him because she was getting a bit old for the trek. This man and I chatted some and he mentioned that he served in world war II in Iwo Jima I believe.

 

I just wanted to share that story with you in case you found some relevance in it for your site. I really enjoyed your site and am happy to have stumbled upon it once again. Thank you very much! And I am sorry that the Broncos lost the Super bowl on you all. Kind Regards,  Tracy

A viewer writes - Sunday, February 09, 2014 -- I went through Keota on my way back to Ft. Collins after visiting the grasslands.(Oct.2013)  I live in upstate NY. Found the graveyard very interesting but am wondering why all the stuffed animals and dolls put on the graves? >dalear@netzero.com<

Rocky says - Keota cemetery is not unlike many others in the area. Often small items are left on the graves of individuals by family members, friends or admirers. Many cultures and religions around the world have done this in various fashion over thousands of years. A great example is the Egyptians and even the Native Americans. People of the Jewish faith also placed items on the graves of their relatives. Those are just some of the cultures that have this practice. In these remote cemeteries, unlike big city cemeteries, there is often no one to maintain the cemetery. So an item that is left behind may have been there for years. For example my parents are buried in a cemetery in Mesa AZ. On a daily basis someone goes thru the cemetery and picks items up and removes old dead flowers etc. That doesn't happen in Keota.  

Keota cemetery also happens to be the burial site of  Edith Grace Steiger Philips. That helps to draw people to the cemetery. You can read her obit here. http://www.fold3.com/image/53419543

A viewer writes - Sunday, August 17, 2014 -- We drove through Keota today and stopped at the cemetery. We noticed a large number of graves dated 1918 - wondering if that was due to the flu epidemic.  It was very interesting and made us want to learn more about the people who once lived there.  

Also - the previous poster asked about the stuffed animals. I think they were trying to point out that these did not appear to be remembrances left at graves at different times by family members, but that they all seemed to be left at the same time at the graves of all the children - they were all very similar stuffed animals with about the same amount of decay from the elements. It appears that someone took a large number of those to the cemetery at about the same time.

Rocky says - very observant. There was a Spanish flu epidemic in 1918. Also is it very possible the stuffed animals were left during one of the annual Keota Celebrations. That would explain the timing. (only a guess on my part)  

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