Red Feather Historical Society erects historic site marker

Local history is coming alive one project at a time thanks to the efforts of the volunteer members of the Red Feather Historical Society. In 2012 they researched the Log Cabin School where classes, Sunday school and church services were held between 1908 and 1930.The society provided an historic sign identifying the building which stands to this day.

In 2013, thanks to information provided by current owner Eric Jensen of Fort Collins, the society placed a historic site sign at the Mary Ayres’ homestead. While the building no longer exists, remnants of the walls and floor mark the exact location of the homestead.

Jensen provided a detailed history of the property he owns, now 174 acres. Beginning with the Arapaho Indians, the first settlers on the land, he lists the Ayres and Weaver families, the Robinson, Straub and Jensen families, and finally the U.S. Forest Service, as owners of parts of this land.

James and Emily Ayres and their four grown children came from Columbiana County, Ohio to Manhattan with their horses and cattle in 1880. In 1887 son Frank homesteaded a 160-acre parcel directly east of the present Jensen property along Elkhorn Creek. Five years later, Frank had proved up on his claim. Members of his sister Mary’s family probably helped to prove up on the land by constructing a small cabin on Elkhorn Creek and building a fence and ditch.

In 1901, Mary sold the land her brother had proved up, plus half-interest in the Frank Ayres ditch. Eric Jensen spent considerable time and money rectifying a legal “descriptive” error made in 1901 at the time the land changed hands and was eventually able to claim land that was rightfully his.

In 1915, Mary Ayres quit claim deeded her interest in the homestead on Elkhorn Creek for $10 and after 35 years the Ayres family disappeared from the area.

While only a few boards of the Ayres cabin remain, George Jensen, Eric’s father, drew a diagram of the lap-sided frame structure and wrote a five-page historical narrative which keeps it alive in imagination at least.

The historical society is developing a self-guided walking tour from the historic Robinson cabin site to an outdoor park. They continually seek structures built before 1950 for historic designation and also welcome donations of old farming, mining or logging equipment.

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