Publisher’s Letter: Fort Collins’ Only Lynching Sewed the Seeds for Prohibition!


Many of our neighbors join us in celebrating the First Annual Collins Week commemorating the 50th year anniversary of the repeal of prohibition in Fort Collins. Visit the website of Visit Fort Collins for participating locations including The Reserve by Old Elk on Linden Street and Social on Mountain Avenue.

Select locations will be donating to the Food Bank for Larimer County throughout the seven days that make up Collins Week. For example, The Reserve by Old Elk Distillery will be donating a $1.00 from every Collins cocktail purchased to help fund future meal projects. The amount raised collectively, will be donated to the Food Bank for Larimer County as a community.

But did you know that Fort Collins was a dry town well before nationwide prohibition and remained a dry town decades after nationwide prohibition ended? And if you knew — did you ever wonder why?

From 1896 to 1969 Fort Collins was dry but it can be argued that one of the public outcries that sewed the seeds for this long, thirsty period began well before.

Read for yourself the Fort Collins Courier of April 5, 1888:

“Are those who, against protest after protest and wifely appeals, sold James Henry Howe, the brutal wife-murderer, the liquor which crazed his brain and nerved his arm to make that fatal thrust, entirely guileless? Could a stronger argument for the total destruction and utter annihilation of the liquor traffic be advanced than that presented in the city by the terrible, soul-sickening events of the past twenty-four hours? These are questions for all good citizens to ponder over and reflect upon.”

(via and Meg Dunn of

History tells us that James Howe, a skilled craftsman, was also a drunk and wife beater who on Wednesday, April 4, 1888 came home exceedingly drunk to find his wife and 5-year old daughter packing up to leave him. In a rage he began beating her but she found her way out the door where he publicly and fatally stabbed her in the neck. Townsmen were so enraged that even though he was summarily jailed to await trial they broke into the jail, dragged him out and hung him!

We know from our nation’s history that Prohibition led to bootlegging, criminality, and a host of health-related calamities from imbibing forms of alcohol never intended for human consumption.

But as we celebrate our freedom to choose to drink responsibly, we do hope that especially our students who just turned 21 will learn how alcohol affects them, and will select a designated driver or use the MAX or the Gold Bus that runs late night weekend service from Old Town Fort Collins to Campus West.

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Blaine Howerton


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