News from Bent’s Fort Chapter Boggsville Settlement

 

When the 2021 Symposium of the national Santa Fe Trail Symposium occurs at Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site and La Junta, Colorado, Sept. 22 – 26, 2021, a wide variety of informative and entertaining events are being planned to take place. Among these events are scholarly talks about the history of the 200 year old trail, banquets, living history activities involving period clothing, tools, games, and dances at the fort, enactors of a variety of personages of the Fur-Trade Era at the fort, and bus tours to Santa Fe trail sites in the southeastern corner of the state.

Highlighting one such tour, and other times available for exploration by SFTA members, is the 160-year-old town of Boggsville, the oldest settlement in southeast Colorado, located today a short distance south of Las Animas on U.S. Highway 101. It was founded in 1866 on the Purgatoire River.

” Boggsville was a multicultural settlement, bringing the old into the new,” says Larry Bourne, native of Las Animas, who has for the last seven years been at the forefront of the rehabilitation and reinvigoration of the once-flourishing community. It was a “very progressive” farming-ranching center that attracted Indians, Germans, Mexican-Americans, Anglos, and African-Americans sometimes in the person of Buffalo Soldiers after the Civil War, says Bourne. Kit Carson and his family lived here briefly before his death. His wife Josefa died here. One-time Bent’s Fort employee and prominent sheep rancher, Thomas Boggs built an adobe structure for their family. Cattle rancher John Prowers also built a home for him and his Cheyenne wife, Amache that bridged time between the Fur Trade Era and the Gilded Age. Both dwellings stand today to welcome visitors to Boggsville.

Billed as “the self-proclaimed Mayor of Boggsville,” Larry Bourne saw much of the world over 26 years in the Navy. Armed with degrees in business management and computer information systems, he joined the Navy as a diesel mechanic, a profession he also followed before and after his service years. Retired from employment for the Bent County Cemetery and then as site manager of Boggsville, Bourne is prominent in promoting the Santa Fe Trail Association and the local Bent’s Fort Chapter of that association, of which he is a member, particularly its connection to Boggsville.

While site manager of Boggsville and president of the Bent County Historical Society, he has been active in securing state grants to stabilize Boggsville buildings, and in holding “Boggsville Days” that have included chuckwagon suppers, music, Hispanic dancers, cemetery tours, arts and crafts; gunfights; tours of the old town, and old-fashioned gatherings of neighbors. He has also worked “to keep the site mowed and shipshape, to give kids a learning experience, to explore fund raising methods, and to promote public relations.”

With the coming of the 2021 SFTA Symposium one year away, he has already completed arrangements to have two large buses that will carry history buffs on three days of tours to Santa Fe Trail-related sites east to the Kansas line and southwest following the Mountain Branch of the trail.

The 2021 symposium is a commemoration of the most important route for commercial travel from Independence, MO, in the United States to Santa Fe, Mexico, 200 years ago. For further information visit the website 2021sfts.com.

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