Pueblo County, Colorado
Contributed by Jean Griesan.
The title of generals of finance has been aptly bestowed upon those men who, marshalling the peaceful hosts of industry, conquer new realms of commerce and widen the reach of business activity. Of this class the subject of this sketch is a notable representative, his financial operations assuming breadth and scope, which indicate the determination, persistence, sound judgment and power of combination which distinguish the born leader of men. Coming to Pueblo County in moderate circumstances, he has made his way to the front rank in business affairs, and this success is made still more emphatic by the broad and generous interest that he shows in all that concerns good citizenship.
Mr. Grant was born October 29, 1841, at Morris, Grundy County, Ill., on the Rock Island Railroad, sixty miles west of Chicago. His father, Colquhoun Grant, was a native of Edinburg, Scotland, and probably belonged to the same family as Gen. U. S. Grant, as their ancestors came from the same section in Scotland. Prior to 1861 he followed farming and stock-raising in Illinois, but later successfully engaged in the practice of law and served as judge of Grundy County, that state, for several years. In his family were three sons, besides our subject, who entered the Union army during the Civil War. William was a member of General Banks' staff, and is now a practicing attorney in New Orleans; Peter served through the war, and now follows farming in Missouri; and Walter S., also one of the boys in blue, came to Pueblo, Colo., in 1880, was chief clerk for our subject eight years, and later engaged in the wholesale meat business in Pueblo until his death.
Reared on the home farm, Robert Grant received his education in the district schools of his native county, which he attended only during the winter months, but he made the most of his advantages and studied at home in the evenings. At the age of seventeen he was qualified for teaching, and for one year taught a school near his old home. In 1862 he enlisted in the Sixty-ninth Illinois Infantry, and served four months under Col. James Tucker, being honorably discharged in the spring of 1863. He had studied law in his father's office with the intention of following the legal profession, but the war interfered with these plans, and when mustered out he came to Colorado, locating near the present town of Boone, Pueblo County, May 10, 1863. His neighbors were John Ross, George Gilbert and B. F. Kidwell, all of whom settled in the same section about that time, and are represented elsewhere in this volume. Denver was then the closest railway point; Pueblo was only a small trading station; and it was twenty years before the Santa Fe and Missouri Pacific Railroads were built. Great changes have since taken place, and now on all sides are seen fine farms, supplied with plenty of water from the Arkansas River, which traverses this section.
Mr. Grant remained upon his ranch, engaged in farming and stock-raising, until 1871, when he removed to Pueblo, where he was interested in the wholesale meat business for sixteen years, shipping the first car load of dressed beef to Chicago ever sent from Pueblo County. He was very successful in this, as in other enterprises with which he has been connected, and after selling out gave his attention for a few years to the care of his real estate in the town and county. He now makes his home upon his ranch, twelve miles east of Pueblo, where he has sixteen hundred acres of valuable land, nearly all improved. His ranch is a part of the old Fort Reynolds' reservation. Through the place runs the Bessimer ditch, which is one of the largest in this section of the state, and has done more to build up Pueblo County than any other one enterprise, although it is only seven years old. Mr. Grant was one of the promoters of the ditch, has always been officially connected with the company, and is now serving as its president. He has another farm of four hundred acres on the north bank of the Arkansas River, that stream running between the two places. He has an elegant residence, surrounded by fine orchards, shrubs and ornamental trees, making it one of the most attractive homes of the locality. He is one of the largest stock raisers in the county, or, in fact, this section of the state, and has for the past fifteen years been president of the Southern Colorado Stock Growers' Protective Association. For several years he was a director in the Stock Growers' National Bank, and when it was consolidated with the American National Bank, under the name of the Mercantile National Bank, he was made vice-president of the latter, which position he still holds, his time and attention being divided between the bank and his large ranches. He usually has about six to seven hundred head of cattle on hand. At one time he had as high as two thousand head. He raises on the ranch sufficient corn, oats and hay to feed his stock, besides selling large quantities of hay annually.
On the 24th of January, 1875, Mr. Grant was united in marriage with Miss Sarah Josephine Waggoner, who was born in Shelby County, Ill., and is a daughter of Stephen M. Waggoner, a farmer, who moved to Pueblo at an early day and engaged, in the stock business, but now lives near Flora Vista, N. M., forty miles from Durango, Colo. Mrs. Grant is a lady of culture and refinement, and presides with gracious dignity over their beautiful home. She was educated in Pueblo, as she came with her parents to this state when a child of ten years, and for some time they lived on the St. Charles River, where she attended school. Our subject and his wife had a family of ten children, namely: Gertrude M., who died at the age of eighteen years; Edwin; Margaret and Lois, who are attending the high school in Pueblo; Lawrence Colquhoun; Wallace Stewart; Wilbur E.; Jenny; Donald, who died in infancy; and Edna, at home. The sons were educated in Pueblo, and assist their father upon the ranch.
Politically Mr. Grant has been a life-long Republican, but he has never cared for the honors or emoluments of public office. He is a fine-looking man, and in appearance much resembles General Grant, and while the latter was a born leader in war, our subject is a born leader in financial and business circles. He has been remarkably successful in his career, but is broad minded, liberal and generous, and from his door no one is turned away hungry. He is pre-eminently public-spirited, and few men have done more to advance the interests of the county than Robert Grant.
Extracted from "Portrait and Biographical Record of the State of Colorado," published by Chapman Publishing Company in Chicago in 1899.
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