Elizabeth Stone's portrait is above at left. At right is a photograph thought to be Stone's cabin in 1866 at the original Fort Collins military post. People are identified as [left to right] Mr. Boulware, Mr. Fisk, Mrs. Gaylord, Dr. Van Stine, Nell Smith, Little Larry, Elizabeth "Auntie" Stone, Mrs. Forbes, Captain Lakehart, Lizzie Chamberlain, Mrs. Dr. Smith (probably the wife of Dr. T.M. Smith, the fort's surgeon) and baby Katie (in door), Mrs. Chamberlin, Mr. Frankfort, Mrs. Elizabeth Keyes, Will Keyes, and Johnnie O'Brien.
Known as the "Founding Mother" of Fort Collins, Elizabeth "Auntie" Stone is one of the most beloved figures in our community's history. In 1864, when she was 62 years old, Elizabeth journeyed to the Fort Collins military post with her second husband Judge Lewis Stone to run the officers' mess hall. Her good humor, hearty cooking, and generous hospitality earned her the affectionate nickname of "Auntie" from the officers and enlisted men.
Judge Stone died in 1866 at which point Elizabeth took over the operation of the officers' mess. She converted the building to a public hotel when the army left Fort Collins in 1867. Also in 1867, with Henry Clay Peterson, Stone built and operated the first grist mill in Fort Collins. In 1871, she started the first brick yard in Northern Colorado, and ran the Blake House (later renamed the Metropolitan Hotel) from 1873-1879 and the Cottage House Hotel until 1881.
Elizabeth Stone's cabin was also known for serving as the first school house in Fort Collins. In 1866, Elizabeth Keyes (also spelled Keays), Auntie Stone's niece, became the first schoolteacher.
Elizabeth Stone was known for her boundless energy. On her 81st birthday, townspeople and four generations of the Stone family held a dance in her honor at the Masonic Hall. The younger men failed in a conspiracy to "dance her down," and Elizabeth further astonished the party goers by leaving the dance at 5:00 a.m. to go home and cook breakfast for all her guests.
An ardent supporter of women's suffrage, Elizabeth Stone voted for the first time in a municipal election in 1894 at age 93, stating "I have waited a lifetime for this privilege." When she passed away one year later, all businesses in Fort Collins suspended operation during her funeral while the bell in the firehouse tower tolled 94 times in honor of each year of her life.
Preserving the history of Fort Collins, Colorado & the Cache la Poudre region