Elizabeth Kickok Robbins Stone

Elizabeth Hickok was born 1801 in Hartford, CT and married Ezekiel Robbins at the age of 22 in Watertown, NY. In 1828 Ezekiel, Elizabeth, and two babies made the 1,000 mile journey with other family members to St. Louis, Missouri which was then known as the Fur Capital of the West. They moved to Chester, Randolph Co., Illinois ten years later with eight children. Ezekiel died in 1852 leaving Elizabeth with a large family to support. By the time his large estate was settled, all the children had left home. Elizabeth returned to her old home in New York state for about a year. The pioneer spirit that dominated her wouldn't allow her to be idle for long. She decided to try her luck on the prairie section of Minnesota. There she met and married Lewis Stone in 1857. The Indians began making trouble for the settlers, and the Stones decided to leave Minnesota to try pioneering farther west.

Their long journey led them over vast country, unpopulated except for game and herds of peaceful buffalo and Indians who hunted the animals for food. With courage, they endured the monotony of the wearisome, creaking noises of their covered wagon drawn by two milk cows. The yoked cows pulled the wagon all day and grazed at night. The Stones had fresh milk, some of which was allowed to sour for butter, as the churning motion of the "prairie schooner" was enough to produce it without the aid of a churn.

They arrived in 1862 at Denver, "the Queen City of the Plains". Their first view of the snow-capped Rockies after weeks of weary travel was breath-taking. There was a feeling of joy after experiencing the rugged outdoor living which brought them safely across the Plains. Mrs. Stone could not restrain her tears-she wept with happiness.

The Stones left Denver and moved to Camp Collins which was a frontier post that consisted of tents and a few log houses. Soldiers were stationed there to protect the white settlers. Shortly after their arrival, the Stones applied for a permit to build a structure to be used for an officer's mess and their home. This was a new venture for them-opening a boarding house on a raw frontier border, but Mrs. Elizabeth Stone was a resourceful person and had been on other frontiers. She had no fear of hardships for she had endured many in her 63 years of life. She was the first white woman in Camp Collins and the only woman there for nearly a year. Little did the Stones realize that this mess house would be the first dwelling house erected in what is now the city of Fort Collins, and that it would become a historic structure.

Lewis Stone died in 1866 leaving Elizabeth a widow for the second time. She was faced with the decision to remain on the rugged frontier or go back to her home in the east. Elizabeth stayed. At the age of 64, she became known to the officers and men of the post as "Auntie Stone". She became a legend in the new town which was growing. In 1868 Elizabeth with H.C. Peterson as a partner built a flour mill, the second such mill in northern Colorado. In 1870 the two of them built a kiln-the first to be put into operation in that section of the country. From this kiln came the bricks for the first brick house in Fort Collins. She expanded the use of her mess house to that of a hotel, the first to be opened and operated in Ft. Collins. Auntie Stone's cabin still stands today at Ft. Collins as a reminder of the early days of pioneering and as a monument to Elizabeth Stone who had the vision and courage to start new industries in a new country on a dangerous frontier. The old cabin is a tribute to the common, everyday things of life, to loyalty and integrity, and the old-fashioned way of living which can never be forgotten or ignored.

One last story about her stamina and fortitude: On her eighty-first birthday, in 1882, she attended a dance at the Masonic Hall and was the belle of the evening. Auntie Stone was a graceful dancer and always fond of attending dances. Four generations of her family were present. A group of young men conspired against her and took turns to see if they could dance her down. The conspiracy boomeranged. At five o'clock in the morning, "Auntie" was still dancing. She then went home and cooked a breakfast for a full house. Auntie Stone remained active until her 89th year when she became unable to walk and was confined to a wheel chair. This did not keep her from being intensely interested in the affairs of the city of Ft. Collins. She cast her vote in the municipal election of 1894, sitting in a wheel chair. Her last vote was cast the following year; she voted the Prohibition ticket.

Elizabeth Hickok Robbins Stone died December 4, 1895. Her life spanned almost a century. As she was laid to rest in Mountain Cemetery, the bell in the old firehouse tolled ninety-four times, once for each year of her life, while the people of Ft. Collins stood with uncovered and bowed heads.

Excerpts from "The Saga of Auntie Stone and Her Cabin" by Nolie Mumey. Excerpts from newspaper article written by her great, great, grandaughter Marilynn Van Brunt Chapman.

If anyone recognizes this family
please e-mail Patricia Robbins Long.
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