Family Visit: Schrocks and Smiths

Yesterday I had a nice get-acquainted visit from three descendants of two pioneer Morrison families. Since the Heritage Museum closed, people don’t find us as easily, but we always appreciate hearing from people who grew up in Morrison or folks who are researching family histories or have something to share. Now that we’re primarily online, please post your comments on any page here, or send an email to info AT historicmorrison.org.

We first heard from Jonas Henry Schrock (III) a few months ago, and that historic name got my attention! Yesterday, Jonas and I met for the first time, and he brought along cousins Karl and Mark Smith. The Schrocks and the (Henry*) Smiths are two of Morrison’s handful of early families whose stories are woven into the town’s history and who have many descendants in the area. Mark and Karl’s father, Bill Smith, had visited several years ago to share stories.

Jonas I came to Morrison in 1874 and homesteaded on Mt. Fischer. In 1888, he married Elnora Cleveland, and they began raising a family, ultimately seven children in all. Jonas II, born in 1899, was known as “Joe,” and, of course, was the father of Jonas III. Mary Schrock later married Henry Smith, of the Baker & Smith Garage, a long-time Morrison enterprise on main street where today the Morrison Carworks continues to provide similar services. They are the grandparents of Karl and Mark Smith.

The original Schrocks bought a home in town in 1906 and, as the gentlemen reminded me, sold the mountain property to John Brisben Walker, who later renamed the mountain “Mt. Falcon” and built a tourism empire in nearby Red Rocks.

Jonas Schrock ran, at various times, a meat market, liquor store, and saloon in Morrison. The latter is best remembered, and was the scene of an infamous double murder, the result of a quarrel between patrons in 1889. Jonas was considerably older than Elnora, and when he fell ill and later died, she was forced to sell some of the property to support her family. At this, she was obviously very successful, as her family grew and prospered as part of Morrison’s story. Like so many Morrison pioneer women, Elnora was hardy and capable and did what needed to be done!

More on the Schrock saga, along with the Smith story, will appear here later.

* Morrison’s other Smith heritage is in the Jeremiah-Robert Smith line.

Historic Happenings in Morrison

Tucked behind the hogback at the edge of the Great Plains, along the banks of Bear Creek 20 miles west of Denver in Jefferson County, Morrison is known as “the nearest faraway place.” The spectacular sandstone outcrops of adjacent Red Rocks Park, with its amphitheater built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, draw visitors from around the world to the tiny community with a population of 430. Morrison is known for the 1877 dinosaur discoveries of the first Stegosaurus, Apatosaurus, and Allosaurus, as well as the annual Mile-High Nationals drag race at nearby Bandimere Speedway. Survival has been the watchword throughout Morrison’s 140-year history, including disastrous floods and fires, the arrival and demise of the railroad, the economic ups and downs of tourism and mining, as well as the present-day pressures of urban growth. This website commemorates the willpower and pioneer gumption to survive that have been handed down through the families and businesses of this untarnished gem.

Morrison’s stories are accompanied by selected vintage images, collected by the Morrison Historical Society. Many were gathered in the 1970s by pioneer historian Lorene (Reenie) Horton. New images shared by local families supplement her work, along with selected photographs from other archives.

Cider Fest 2010

September 25 from 10 a.m. to Dusk
Grounds of Bear Creek Nursing Home,
Highway 8 and Summer Street
Morrison, CO, 80465

Free- make your own cider on “Apple Annie’s” historic cider presses —bring your own apples and empty beverage containers; bake sale by Red Rocks Elementary; horsehoe contest (register by 10:30am) by VFW Post 3471; car show by gocatspeedshop.com; ; live music at 2, 4 and 6 by Morrison Town Band and The Barley Bros./Holiday Bar.

Vendors include food by the Blue Cow, Smokin Yard’s BBQ, Pizza Casa, the Town of Morrison, Morrison Liquors, and the Morrison Action Committee; and a beer tent by VFW Post 3471.

And more: jumping castle by Mutual Of Omaha Bank; pedal tractors by Red Rocks Baptist Church; hay rides by Bear Creek Stables/Holiday Bar; climbing wall by the National Guard; massage by Lynn Downer’ Wood Art; women’s clothing by “Giddy Up” and others; wool purses by Susan; aprons and jewelry by Sally & Laurie; Beauty Control Cosmetics; Teddi’s Creations & Collectibes; Loose Ends Fiber Farm; and more!

Thanks to our Corporate Sponsors: Mutual of Omaha Bank, Canyon Tack & Feed, Bandimere Speedway, Aggregate Industries, Café Prague, Flights Wine & Coffee Bar, Morrison Natural History Museum Foundation, Morrison Carworks, Morrison Holiday Bar, West Chamber/Rooney Valley, Billfest Leonard, the Town of Morrison, and Others.

Also we wish to acknowledge the following the following for their generous in-kind contributions: Bear Creek Stables, VFW Post 3471, Bear Creek Nursing Home, Red Rocks Baptist Church, Chambers Consulting, Maja Stefansdottir Agency, Billy’s Home Cooking, Bear Creek Development,
Morrison Liquors, Budweiser Beer, Scramble Campbell, Kathy Wages, gocatspeedshop.com, Red Rocks Elementary School, The National Guard, the Morrison Action Committee, the Morrison Town Band, and all of the Ciderfest volunteers.

Let’s Go Antiquing!

The longest-running business in Morrison today is El Mercado, an antique store owned and operated by Linnie Curran since 1968. On March 16th, members of the MHS presented Linnie with a certificate and a complimentary copy of the Morrison calendar created by the Society. A photo of the store’s front porch, courtesy of Mary Jordan, appears in the calendar for the month of October. (Photo: Jamee and Gus Chambers with Linnie, center.)

YourHub reporter Karen Groves was on hand for the presentation, and the moment was captured in the print edition on March 25th, as well as an online version. Linnie shows Karen a few of her wares in photo, right.

Once El Mercado shared Morrison’s main street with several other stores of the antique and vintage persuasion. Even the Morrison Inn once housed an antique emporium. Today El Mercado is one-of-a-kind, harking back to a time in the far-away days of the 1960s-80s, when ladies came to Morrison to shop for treasures and have an elegant luncheon at the Deacon’s Bench Tea Room. Why, on Friday, January 7, 1966, when the Deacon’s Bench was featured prominently in the Rocky Mountain News, the reporter had this to say:

Mention the town of Morrison and women’s faces brighten. The tiny atmospheric town has come to be known as an antiquary’s browsing spot, with several shops offering a wide range of collectors’ trivia (and not so trivia). … Morrison is attracting other interesting businesses—art studios, special effects designers and, most recently, Thee Deacon’s Bench.
In actuality, there was but one art studio (Art Gore Photography) and one special effects designer (Special Effects Co., profiled in Empire magazine in 1964); perhaps it seemed like more. In those days, a visit to “tiny atmospheric” Morrison apparently provided a sure antidote for a slow news day downtown.

Later, on August 27th, 1972, the Denver Post’s Empire Magazine brought models to Morrison and the Deacon’s Bench for a photo shoot. One young lady was even gracefully posed on the remains of Morrison’s old hanging tree! That article featured a hand-drawn map of Morrison’s antique stores, including El Mercado (of course!), Little Bits of Yesterday and Today, Lila’s, Western Trail Antiques, and Around the Corner to Yesterday. All now forgotten except El Mercado.

Speaking of models, that role also appears on Linnie’s extensive resumé, along with clown and bartender, among a host of others. She’s a woman of many stories, great to visit with, and now, celebrated for her long dedication to doing business in Morrison. Thanks, Linnie, and congratulations on 42 years!

What a Party!

We’re happy to report that Saturday night’s Cabin Fever Dance was a huge success! This event, instigated by Gus and Jamee Chambers and the Morrison Town Band last year, has all the makings of a new town tradition. At one point the dance floor and the entire hall was Standing Room Only, as residents and visitors greeted each other and caught up on the news.

The band, expanded to nine for this occasion, rehearsed mightily and worked up a terrific new set of songs to add to their previous repetoire. The “mix” throughout the evening was just great and seemed to appeal to dancers and watchers alike. Your contributions to MAC (Morrison Action Committee) and MHS (Morrison Historical Society) were so generous that they enabled us to give the musicians a small stipend in recognition of their efforts, energy, and the great entertainment they provided.

Early in the evening, a number of the more youthful contingent showed off their dance moves with their elders. Unfortunately, most of them moved too fast for the camera. Can anyone put names on these two dancers for us?

Lila Horton, resplendent in a black leather outfit with fringed and beaded vest, taught a class in the Cowboy Cha-cha to a lineup of willing students. They practiced their new skills throughout the evening.

Previously well trained by Lila, Shari got together with her teacher and a few other daring souls in a Very Fast rendition of the Electric Slide.

Thanks to all who contributed food, mountains of which appeared as if by magic to refresh dancers, hard-working band members, and wallflowers alike.

As for the new calendars, we sold more than half of our stock, paid off the initial investment, and have a few more available. Preview, or purchase individual copies, at the link above. Spread the word—we’d love to have to reorder!