Manitou, Colorado, was founded in 1872 by Gen. William Jackson Palmer and Dr. William Abraham Bell. It quickly became so popular that Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, and Kansas visitors established Manitou colonies.


In 1909, a local newspaper reported that the 400 Oklahoma families, comprising 1,500 members who were annual visitors, were considering purchasing home sites there. Some visitors spent a week in Manitou; others spent up to four months.


In addition to the scenery, hiking and social life, the resort area boasted local healing waters touted by the Ute Indians - and, of course, fishing and hunting were popular.


Abner England of Durant visited Manitou in 1910, as did Judge John Olliphant of Tulsa, a dozen couples from Altus, Helen Dudley of Tishomingo, and 10 people from Muskogee.


R. D. Weir and T. J. Sandford had 60 rustic cottages planned, as well as a reservoir to meet their water needs. Tony Abbott purchased eight acres to add to the 22 lots he already owned. There were several grand hotels, with more planned. Jeanette E. Bromley, James G. Kezeler, Mrs. Ardilla Hughes, and Mrs. Inez Taylor invested in property and hoped to make the summer of 1911 the most profitable ever.


William Bliss wrote a lengthy article about the Manitou colonies for the Aug. 5, 1911 issue of the Denver Post. He seemed particularly impressed by the "Oklahoma Club of Manitou," which boasted 2,350 registered members.


There were many millionaires among them. As proof of that, Oklahoma City was in danger of losing a new terminal for two railroads because it couldn’t raise the bonus money required by the railroads. Lacking $25,000, it sent Frank A. Stone and George B. Stone to the colony to ask for help. They quickly and easily procured the money and assured the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce that the funds were on the way.


Colony residents were great boosters of their home states. They socialized together, attended carnivals, entered parades and enjoyed local attractions. There were 200 Oklahoma automobiles in the 1911 colony and 162 of them participated in the opening day parade. C. M. Crawford of Shawnee, president of the Oklahoma Club, was happy to accept the gold cup for the "largest state representation." Colony leaders met at the Soda Springs pavilion every Tuesday to discuss activities.


The "nearly perfect" condition of the roads between Oklahoma and Colorado were a major factor in the number of Oklahomans making Manitou their summer home. Frank Stone drove the 645 miles from Oklahoma City in three days, without having to "use a wrench for repairs at any time."


The Oklahoma colony boasted 15 bankers, including A. B. Dunlap, president of the Lawton National Bank.


Other prominent Oklahomans registered in 1911 included W. W. Kendall, G. B. Stone, F. A. Stone, Mrs. George C. Naden, Mrs. H. L. Stronah (Oklahoma City), S. C. Blessing, Mrs. S. D. Blessing and Mrs. Warfield Parks (Muskogee); Mrs. Pike Baker (Shawnee); T. H. Rogers (Oklahoma City); Miss Aloysius Larch-Miller (Shawnee; a major suffrage leader); J. W. Harreld, Mrs. J. W. Harreld (Ardmore); Miss Helen L. Crawford, Miss Ruth L. Crawford, Miss Mary C. Crawford (Shawnee); J. D. Scott, M. H. Scott, H. R. Saum and wife (Muskogee); Mrs. W. B. Dennis (Pauls Valley); Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Sharkey (Enid); and Miss Kate Knight (Ada).


Bryan County History is a weekly feature contributed by members of the Bryan County Genealogy Library and Archives in Calera. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group. Is there a historic event or topic you want to read about? Contact the library at P.O. Box 153, Calera, OK 74730.