Charles Emmett Stephenson

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1938 Charles Emmett Stephenson
Charles Emmett Stephenson, c.1938.

As Houstoun Waring once wrote, Littleton "was Emmett Stephenson's town." Charles Emmett was born in Silverton, Colorado in 1888. His father passed away when he was two and his mother moved to Denver where she opened a boarding house at 16th and Welton Streets (later, Fontius Shoes would locate there). Her business turned a profit and soon she relocated the boarding house to a mansion at 16th Ave. and Pennsylvania Street. When Emmett was a teenager, he got a job with George Leyner's machine shop on Blake Street in Denver. A few years later, George moved his operation to Littleton. Emmett's mother decided to retire and move with Emmett to Littleton. They moved into a new brick house near the courthouse in 1905. Emmett continued making good wages as a machinist. Soon he was promoted to foreman of the machine shop. In 1912, he went to work for Jake Goehring, who specialized in bicycles and motorcycles. Emmett enjoyed working with vehicles. In 1914, Emmett bought out Jake Goehring and went into a partnership with the Ford dealer, I.W. Hunt, to operate the garage division of the dealership. In 1917, Emmett bid for and won the Dodge dealership for Littleton. He located it in the Batschelet Block where he remained in business until 1941.

Ruth and Emmett Stephenson, probably at the time of their marriage, October 11, 1916
Ruth and Emmett Stephenson, probably at the time of their marriage, October 11, 1916.

Emmett married a local girl, Ruth Edgerton, in her family home on October 11, 1916. An old-fashioned chivaree (a parade for newlyweds accompanied by a discordant mock serenade of pans, kettles, etc.) was given by the "hose boys" (volunteer firemen) and the bride and groom rode to Main Street on the old hose cart. The minister, Rev. George Edmundson, walked beside the cart to keep things from getting out of control. Emmett and Ruth honeymooned in Longmont.

Ruth Edgerton was born in Lake City, Colorado in 1890. The family moved to Littleton in 1904 so that Ruth would get a good education. She began high school at the converted creamery on Alamo Street. Soon after, the new Rapp Street School was opened for all grades. The first home for the family was on Ridge Road and Spotswood. They had many cherry and plum trees on the property. Later, they built a house at 5900 Bemis Street. Ruth graduated from Littleton High School in 1908 and continued her education at the University of Denver College of Music. She graduated in 1910 and became a music teacher.

Advertisement for C.E. Stephenson Motor Company in the Littleton Independent, c. 1938
This photo appeared with an advertisement for C.E. Stephenson Motor Company in the Littleton Independent, c.1938.

During World War I, Emmett decided to enlist. He was sent to Texas for basic training; however, the war ended before he could be sent overseas.

The Stephensons built a house at 5909 S. Bemis Street in 1921. The young couple had two children, Ruth Lorraine, who was born in the Edgerton house across the street, and Marylyn, who was born at the Stephenson house.

Emmett followed O.C. Hoffman as mayor of Littleton from 1926-29. During his term a new concrete reservoir was built along Gallup Street to assist the water shortages that plagued all the towns along the Front Range. The reservoir replaced an old round steel water tank located "in back of Mrs. Annie Nutting's home."

1918 Emmett and Ruth Stephenson
Ruth and Emmett Stephenson before he left for the service, c.1918.

In 1942, Emmett sold his car dealership and joined the war effort. During World War II, he worked for the government, spending time at Camp Hale in the Colorado mountains. After the war ended, he went to work with Coleman Motors. Emmett enjoyed a long career with Coleman, retiring at the age of 75.

Emmett served as a volunteer fireman for 32 years, working on fires at Wolhurst, Blakeland, Red Comet, the Methodist Church and at his own garage where 27 cars were burned. He was affiliated with the Littleton Optimists Club, the Presbyterian Church and the Weston Masonic Lodge.

On August 23, 1977 at the age of 89, Emmett passed away at Littleton Manor, the retirement home where Emmett and Ruth had moved 16 days earlier. Emmett was buried at the Littleton Cemetery, close to the Edgertons.


Arapahoe Independent. Littleton Independent Publishers, 1888-

Littleton (Colo.) Independent. The Littleton Independent Publishers, 1888-.

Littleton Museum. Oral History file: Stephenson.

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 April 2021 by Phyllis Larison