Lewis and Laura Ames

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Lewis and Laura Ames were very early homesteaders in the Littleton area. After trying his luck at mining from 1860 to 1865 in Black Hawk, Lewis purchased a 120-acre farm just south of Richard Little's claim in Littleton and began farming.

Portrait of Lewis and Laura Ames
Judge Lewis B. Ames and Mrs. (Laura) Ames, date unknown.

At the time a great question was debated all along the Colorado Front Range of whether this land would support farming. Lewis Ames proved that farming could be successful. He raised many fruit trees on his land, supplying the local residents with apples, pears and plums, while from other crops he grew grapes, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, cherries, gooseberries and currants.

Lewis traveled to Illinois to marry Laura H. Larawa on January 31, 1865. They returned to Littleton immediately to begin their married life. The couple served as Littleton's first school teachers. Lewis taught at the first school for a salary of $40/month. John Bell built the one room log cabin school in 1865. A few years later, Laura taught at the first frame school on the east side of the Platte River at a salary of $50/month. She had three pupils. In between these two schools, the first frame schoolhouse was constructed on the west side of the Platte in 1868. For many years Lewis taught school in the winter and farmed in the summer.

When the Rio Grande Railroad extended its service southward, the railroad tracks divided the Ames farm in half. So the Ames simply donated land on one side of the tracks to the town as a cemetery. Littleton Cemetery is one of the oldest cemeteries in Colorado, and serves as the final resting place for most of Littleton's pioneers, including Laura and Lewis Ames.

Lewis was elected Justice of the Peace in 1868 and served in that position until 1882. He was known as "Judge Ames" in Littleton and was considered the town encyclopedia by many residents. If someone had a question about Littleton, Judge Ames could usually provide an answer.

Life was not always good for the Ames. Their first son died at the age of 15 in a drowning accident at the City Ditch in 1885. Their second son died of an illness, possibly diphtheria, at age three. But the couple carried on, helping others whenever called on, attending church every Sunday, raising crops, and being part of the community of Littleton.

Laura passed away of a stroke in July, 1897, and was buried in Littleton Cemetery.

Judge Ames passed away at 87 in 1913. In 1963, a new elementary school was named in the Judge's honor, the Lewis B. Ames Elementary School, located at 7300 S. Clermont St.

Today, the Ames farm is in the vicinity of Heritage High School and the surrounding homes between Windermere and Gallup streets, Briarwood Ave. and W. Geddes Ave.

Bibliography

Littleton Independent. Littleton, Colo.; The Littleton Independent Publishers, 1888-.

Littleton Museum.  Biographical File:  "Ames."

Littleton Museum:  Photograph Collection:  "Bio:  A-F."

McQuarie, Robert J. and C. W. Buchholtz. Littleton, Colorado, Settlement to Centennial. Littleton, Colorado: Littleton Historical Museum and Friends of the Littleton Library and Museum, 1990.

Portrait and Biographical Record of Denver and Vicinity. Chicago: Chapman, 1898.

Photographs courtesy of the Littleton Museum unless otherwise noted.  To order copies, contact the museum at 303-795-3950.

 

Compiled by Rebecca Dorward

Edited by Phyllis Larison and Lorena Donohue

Updated May 2017