Dearfield, Colorado was a colony made up of African-Americans.
The name Dearfield came from Dr. Westbrook because he said that the colony "will be very dear to us." It was founded in 1909. The colony was founded on the ideas of Booker T. Washington.
O.T. Jackson filed the first homestead in 1910.
Other settlers moved to Dearfield in 1911. Only two families could afford to build their houses. Five families lived in tents or in holes dug in the hillside.
Dearfield saw steady growth.
In 1920, 700 people lived there. Dearfield had two churches, a school and a restaurant. A canning factory and college were planned. It was a successful colony.
In 1929, the Great Depression started. The Dust Bowl came to Weld County.
Farming was much harder, and people moved away. The growing town was dying. By 1940, only 12 people lived in Dearfield.
O.T. Jackson died February 18, 1948, in Greeley.
He had a dream of what Dearfield could become. This is a letter that he wrote encouraging African-Americans to come help settle the town.
"We are building the Townland Settlement of Dearfield in Colorado and we solicit your cooperation to establish a municipality owned and controlled by colored people to prove that we can control, govern and administer as a part of the state government the same as other people.
We want 10,000 good farmers, truck gardeners, poultry, dairy and hog raisers, business men and women to join in this race undertaking in Colorado ... so that we can have a school of government to learn all the principles of government before leaving for Africa, or any other foreign country, to teach people something that we have no knowledge of ourselves.
The Dearfield program is a home for every family and every man and woman working out of his or her own problem by creating a future for his or her old age and a job for their children.
There is no better location in the U.S. than Colorado to try on a garment of self-government. Dearfield has laid a foundation for your building. ... We are soliciting all real, honest-to-goodness race-loving and -talking people to join in some way to build up the Dearfield community. There is plenty of work, talk and occupation for everyone. ...
There will be other enterprises promoted as the population increases. Every dollar invested in 100 lots and 10 tracts that we are now selling will be reinvested in the initial improvements of the town so that your $1 will have double value from the beginning of your purchase. ...
Now will you call or write today and select your lots or tract. Do not wait to see how Dearfield is coming out, but get yourself busy in helping Dearfield come out to the pride and credit to all people of this state. Dearfield is not a paper proposition. She is a going proposition and has stood the test during the most trying times of farming experiences in Colorado.
The Dearfield agency and promotion of the canning factory and other enterprises have opened offices ... in Denver. E.W. Miller is in charge of the office and will be glad to serve you. ...
Invest now and let the good work go right along. Dearfield must have a population of 2,000 in 1924."
Dearfield was placed on "Colorado's Most Endangered Places" list in 1999.
It is still in danger of being lost because people are not able to fix the remaining buildings. There are many people involved today in perserving the town and its history.
In 2010, a celebration was held in Dearfield for its 100 year anniversary.
Many important people were there including two brothers who lived in the community. A monument commemorating the town was unveiled as the final celebration. The Black American West Museum helped sponsor the day.
There were Buffalo Soldier demonstrations. There were talks by Dr. George Junne and small tours led by both Dr. Junne and Albert Groves. Albert spoke of learning to drive on the dirt road in Dearfield. His father would also travel to Denver for business, and left the boys on their own for the weekend. It was a long trip to Denver back in those days even by car.