By Julia | July 15, 2015
Those of you who have visited us at 506 E. Mulberry St. in Fort Collins know that the office occupies a remodeled house that was originally built in 1904 by W.T. Early. This historic home and its original occupants have always sparked our interest, so recently Jim asked G. Sam Foster of Trees and Trees Ancestry to look into the history of W.T. Early and his family. Sam did a fantastic job compiling a timeline of the Earlys for us and we thought it would be fun to take this opportunity to let you know what he found out.
Most of the information regarding William Thomas Early comes from census reports. The first appearance of Mr. Early was in the 1861 England Census. He was listed as born in 1861, Southwark, Surry, England. At the time of this census, W.T. Early was listed as living with his father, William Early (born 1827 in Southwark), mother, Jane (born 1822 in Lancaster) and sister, Ada (born 1858). The family residence was recorded as St. Peter Walworth Sub-district, Newington St. Mary Parish, Surrey, London. In the 1871 England Census, all the Early Family’s demographic information remained the same, except that they had moved to St. Giles in the Fields Civil Parish, London. The Earlys must have been a family of some means, because W.T. Early had the ability to travel. Between the 1871 and 1881 census, he seems to have come of age and started striking out on his own. In July of 1878 he took a trip to Paris, France and later in 1878 and again in 1879, he traveled to Holly Hill in England. (Just as an aside, Holly Hill still seems to be a tourist destination. We know of his travels because of a travel diary that survived and is currently housed in the Archives and Special Collections Room of the Morgan Library at Colorado State University. By the 1881 census, Mr. Early was living on his own as a lodger at 19 Ernest St, Bermondsey Civil Parish, London. His occupation was listed as Journeyman Carpenter and his birth year was listed as 1856. It is about here in Mr. Foster’s report to us that you start realizing that record keeping in the 1800’s was not as accurate as it could have been and that keeping track of your birth year wasn’t as big a deal as it is now. This census lists Mr. Early a full five years older than the previous censuses.
The travel bug bit Mr. Early again in a big way in 1886. In the previously mentioned travel diary, W.T. Early records his trip from Fort Qu’Appelle, NW Territory (now Saskatchewan) to Fort Collins, CO. Personally, I’d like to know how he got to Saskatchewan, but his diary does not mention this journey. His trek to Colorado from Canada was quite the adventure rife with flooded rivers and horse thieves and you can read about it here if you’d like. Mr. Early doesn’t mention why he came to Colorado or what he did here, but Fort Collins must have made quite an impression on him, because he eventually moved back, but not right away. The 1901 England Census has Mr. Early listed as a lodger at Edinburgh Chambers, Spitalfields Civil Parish, London. His birth year this time is 1854. (See what I mean about not needing to keep track of your birth year?)
Back to Colorado
Sometime between the 1901 England Census and September 1902, Mr. Early came back to Colorado. On Sept. 3, 1902, he married Sina Mary Myers in Denver. The Reverend H.M. Hart presided over the ceremony.
From the little bit we know about them, Sina and her family must have been some interesting people. Sina was born on April 3, 1866 in Franklin, IA to Dr. Joseph Myers and Sarah Cline Myers. Dr. Myers was a medical doctor and served as an army physician for the North during the Civil War. His profession as a physician must have allowed the Myers family to have a little more social standing than your average family at the time.
It is interesting to note that Sina Myers Early and W.T. Early, after their marriage, purchased property at 430 Whedbee (now 506 E. Mulberry) in order to build a house. The Warranty Deed for the property was issued to Sina Early and not her husband on November 1, 1902. With W.T. Early being a carpenter, he started building a house for himself and Sina at the 430 Whedbee location sometime during 1904 and most likely finished construction during 1905. Probably not a moment too soon for Sina since she and W.T. Early welcomed their first and only child, Walter Thomas Early into the world on December 10, 1904.
From this point on, it looks as if the Earlys spent some quiet years living in Fort Collins. In the 1910 US Census, W.T., Sina and Walter are listed as living in Ward 4, Fort Collins, Larimer County, Colorado. W.T.’s year of immigration was listed as 1865 and his occupation was listed as contractor/carpenter. In the 1920 US Census, the Earlys are listed as living at 510 Maberly (Mulberry). We’re not sure if this is an error, or if the Earlys actually did move into the house that sits just to the east of this one on Mulberry. This time, W.T. listed his birth year as 1858 (ahem), his year of immigration as 1886 and his year of naturalization as 1912. His occupation was still carpenter and the census indicates that he owned his home “free” of mortgage. The 1920 census is the last one in which W.T. Early appears. He passed away sometime in 1921 and is buried in Grandview Cemetery here in Fort Collins. (His birth year is listed as 1856 on his headstone, by the way.)
According to a 1925 city directory, sometime after W.T.’s death, Sina moved to 618 S. Meldrum St in Fort Collins. Records indicate that she remained at this address until at least 1933. Between 1933 and 1940, Sina moved away from Colorado to be with family. In the 1940 US Census, Sina is listed as living with her brother-in-law, Charles Luber and his family at 223 N. Johnson St., Kahoka, Clark County MO. Sina passed away in 1946 (location unknown) and she was brought back to Fort Collins and laid to rest with her husband in Grandview Cemetery.
We’re thankful to the Earlys for the house we now occupy and since we appreciate being grounded in the past with an eye to the future, we’re grateful to have the chance to know more about them and their lives in Fort Collins. We hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little more about the folks who built and lived in the home our office is now in. If you’d be interested in finding out more about the history of your own family, you can contact G. Sam Foster at Trees and Trees Ancestry, (970) 420-9166 or firstname.lastname@example.org.