Pueblo County, Colorado

Contributed by Karen Mitchell.

Few of those men who came out in the early days of Colorado have been more successful, or become more identified with the business interests of the country than John A. Thatcher. He was born August 25, 1836, near Newport, Penn., where he was raised and educated. In 1857, he came West to Holt County, Mo., where he lived about five years. In 1862, following the " Star of Empire," he came to Denver, Colo. After remaining there a few months, he went to Pueblo, where he located, and has lived for nineteen years, growing up with the place from its very infancy. At Pueblo he first engaged in the mercantile business, which he continued himself until the spring of 1865, when his brother, M. D. Thatcher, joined him, becoming a partner with him. Since then, his interests, and those of M. D. Thatcher, have been identical. In January, 1871, they instituted a bank at Pueblo, which was operated as a private bank until the following June, when it became a national bank, taking the name of " The First National Bank of Pueblo." The capital stock of the bank was originally $50,000, but in 1874 it was increased to $100,000. The bank is owned and managed entirely by the Thatcher Brothers, M. D. Thatcher being the Cashier, and John A. Thatcher, President. Having amassed great wealth, the firm of the Thatcher Brothers now constitute one of the strongest and most influential in Southern Colorado. The First National is the principal bank, and is doing a large and increasing business. John A. Thatcher was married to Margaret A. Henry April 17, 1866, and is now surrounded by an interesting family.   History of the Arkansas Valley, Colorado O L Baskin & Co., Chicago, 1881 

The name of Thatcher is an honored one in Colorado. It is inseparably interwoven with those events which have made history in the state, for John Albert Thatcher and his brother, Mahlon D., were among the most prominent merchants and financiers of Colorado, while their brother. Henry Calvin Thatcher, was the first chief justice of Colorado. Each in his own way bore a most important part in furthering the work of progress and development in the west. Possessing broad, enlightened and liberal-minded views, faith in himself and in the vast potentialities for development inherent in his country's wide domains and specific needs along the distinctive lines chosen for his life's work, the career of John A. Thatcher was a most active one, in which he accomplished important and far-reaching results, contributing in no small degree to the expansion and material growth of the nation and from which he himself derived substantial benefit.

Mr. Thatcher was born in Pfoutz Valley, near Miller's Town, in Perry county, Pennsylvania, on the 25th of August, 1836, his parents being Henry and Lydia Ann Thatcher, whose family numbered seven children, of whom John A. was the eldest, the others being: Elvina; Mahlon D.; Mrs. Frank G. Bloom, now of Trinidad, Colorado; Mrs. M. H. Everhart, of Martinsburg, Blair county, Pennsylvania; Henry Calvin; and Dora. Of these, Elvina, Henry Calvin, Dora and Mahlon D. are all deceased.

John A. Thatcher acquired his education in the public schools of Tuscarora, Juniata county, Pennsylvania, in the Tuscarora Academy and in the Airy View Academy, conducted by Professor David Wilson at Port Royal, Pennsylvania. His father would have given him the privilege of attending college, but he preferred to go west and start upon a business career instead of going to college. On the 1st of April, 1855, the family removed from Newport, Perry county, Pennsylvania, to Martinsburg, Blair county, and in the fall of the following year John A. Thatcher took up the profession of teaching there in connection with a rural school in Lorberry township, Schuylkill county, Pennsylvania. Attracted, however, by the opportunities of the west, he made his way to Holt county, Missouri, in 1857 and for five years was engaged in clerking, thus acquiring comprehensive knowledge of mercantile life and methods. At the time of his arrival there Oregon, the county seat of Holt county, and Forest City, on the Missouri river, were both flourishing towns, but with the outbreak of the Civil war they were made the subject of raids by organized bands of thieves and desperadoes and the resulting conditions led John A. Thatcher to make a change in 1862. Accordingly he packed his stock of merchandise in a mule wagon and started for Colorado.

It was on the 15th of September, 1862, that Mr. Thatcher reached Denver, where he remained until December of that year and then took up his abode in Pueblo, where he spent the winter. In the spring he again went to Denver but after a few months returned to Pueblo, having dissolved partnership with his former business associate, James H. Voorhees. They divided their stock of merchandise and with his share loaded in a wagon drawn by ox teams Mr. Thatcher started for Pueblo on the 14th of August, 1863. He was a resident of his adopted city for exactly fifty years and his life work was one of intense activity, constituting an important element in the growth and progress of the state in which he lived. He opened the first general store in what is now Pueblo and three years afterward was joined by his brother. Mahlon D., who entered into partnership with him. Their business relation was maintained for many years and they extended their efforts into various fields, which made their name a conspicuous one in connection with the substantial business development of the west. In 1870 they organized a private bank and after conducting it for eight or nine months converted it into the First National Bank of Pueblo on the 17th of April, 1871, capitalizing the institution for fifty thousand dollars. Three years later, or in 1874, the capital stock was increased to one hundred thousand dollars, the Thatcher brothers personally holding the majority of the stock. The bank steadily grew and is still controlled and managed by members of the Thatcher family. Further extending his efforts, John A. Thatcher became an officer and director of the Pueblo Savings & Trust Company, was also interested in the First National Bank of Denver, and in the International Trust Company of Denver, besides various other financial institutions and mercantile enterprises in Otero and Bent counties, in Trinidad, in Lake City and points in southern Colorado. He became one of the organizers and incorporators of the Grand Opera House block in Pueblo and he made extensive investments in real estate, ranking for many years as one of the largest taxpayers of this city. He was also closely connected with the live stock interests of the west, having vast ranches in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico, upon which he pastured great herds. The Trail, the official organ of the Society of the Sons of Colorado, said of him at the time of his death: "John A. Thatcher was a most vital factor in the making of the Pueblo of today. To tell of his life would be to write the history of that city. From the day of his arrival to the present time his genius was discernible in every forward step which the 'Pittsburgh of the west' has taken. In securing capital for local enterprises, in establishing factories and foundries, in developing agriculture and stock raising in the Arkansas valley and in successfully completing irrigation projects he devoted his time and invested his money with immense returns both for himself and for the community in which he lived. . . . The secret of his financial success lay in his close application to business and his love for hard work. It is safe to say that no clerk in his employ kept longer hours, devoted his time so absolutely to the routine of his duties, or had so sure and so keen a grasp upon the work before him as had this veteran banker. On the hottest summer day he might have been seen at his desk in the First National; ou the coldest day in winter he arrived at the bank ahead of his clerks and got to work long before they put in an appearance. He lived a life of unremitting industry. He won his wealth by his own shrewdness and ability, frugality and thrift. Could he have lived but a few months longer he would have seen the greatest fruits of his success in the opening of the handsome new bank building at the corner of Fifth and Main streets in Pueblo."

It was on the 17th of April, 1866, that Mr. Thatcher was united in marriage to Miss Margaret A. Henry, the second daughter of Judge John W. Henry, a distinguished jurist of Colorado of the early days. They became the parents of five children, Lenore, John Henry, Lillian, Albert R. and Raymond Calvin, but the elder daughter and the second son have passed away. Mrs. Thatcher is a very active worker in the Red Cross and in other movements which are claiming public attention at the present time, and associated with her daughter, Mrs. Forest Rutherford, and sons, John Henry Thatcher and Raymond C. Thatcher, she presented a fully equipped field ambulance to the Fifteenth Ambulance Corps in memory of her husband on the 10th of September, 1917.

Mr. Thatcher was devoted to his family and found his greatest happiness at his own fireside, counting no personal effort of sacrifice on his part too great if it would promote the welfare of his wife and children. He built what is perhaps the most beautiful residence in Pueblo, occupying an entire block of ground, Mrs. Thatcher giving to the place the name of Rosemount. He passed away on the 14th of August, 1913, after a residence of more than a half century in Colorado. He was a man of generous impulses and possessed a kind, charitable heart. He was very loyal to his old-time friends and associates and was always ready to lend a helping hand wherever needed. In spite of the demands made upon his time and thought by the exactions of his multitudinous business interests, he found it possible to keep in touch with his former companions, and, in his quiet way, relieved many a case of suffering and rendered timely aid to many an old pioneer. He had a happy faculty of saying a kindly word at the right time, of offering assistance when most needed, and of smoothing out rough places in the paths of those less capable of withstanding misfortune than himself. John A. Thatcher was the most approachable of men but was not easily imposed upon. He had sound common sense to an eminent degree and was quick to detect fraud. But his experience in the world of finance and public affairs did not harden his sensibilities Few of the wealthy men of today possessed so large a circle of friends and acquaintances, and fewer still were so well liked by all with whom they associated. In the course of his fifty years of continuous residence in Pueblo, John A. Thatcher made a record that will endure the closest scrutiny, and it is much to be doubted if he made a single enemy. While his memory is honored as that of one of the foremost hankers and business men of the state, it is cherished by his associates because of his friendly spirit and his many likable qualities. He was a man of quiet tastes, systematic in all that he did, never seeking publicity but faithfully performing his duties day by day. He was a devoted member of the First Presbyterian church, a valued representative of the Southern Colorado Pioneers' Association, a member of the Sons of Colorado and a member of the Pennsylvania Society of Colorado, of which he was honorary president at the time of his death. Well may his life record serve as a source of encouragement and inspiration to others, and for years to come his memory will remain as a blessed benediction to all who were closely associated with him. History Of Colorado Illustrated Volume III Chicago The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company 1918

“Margaret Thatcher, 1848 – 1922.
John (Thatcher) married Margaret A. Henry, the second daughter of Judge John W. Henry, on April 17, 1866, at the home of her parents on Chico Creek. Their modest wood structure home on Santa Fe Avenue consisted of five rooms. Mrs. Thatcher hired Irish servants to assist with her household duties, a practice she continued when the family moved to Rosemount. They became the parents of five children.

Lenore (1867 – 1890) attended public school until the age of fifteen, when she went to Mountain Seminary in Birmingham, Pennsylvania. She also attended the Ogoutz School for Girls in Ogoutz, Pennsylvania. She died of spinal meningitis at her paternal grandmother's home in Pennsylvania.

Lillian (1870 – 1948) was their second child. She also attended the Mountain Seminary after attending Centennial Grade School. Lillian completed her education at Mrs. Sutton's Home School for Girls in Philadelphia. She was twenty-three when she moved into Rosemount. In 1915, Lillian married Forest Rutherford, who was superintendent of the Copper Queen Smelter in Douglas, Arizona. Later she returned to Rosemount. A street merchant named Parliapiano recalled he had a small hand pushed cart that he sold vegetables from and slept underneath at night. At the end of the day, his last stop was Rosemount and he always hoped that Lillian would open the door. If he was lucky and (she) did, she would purchase what was left on the cart.

John Henry (1872 – 1928) attended public schools and at Shortlidge Military Academy in Media, Pennsylvania. After graduation, he went to work in the family bank. Within a short time, instead of banking, he took over the management of the family cattle ranch in Boone and was the president of the Colorado State Fair for many years.

Albert R. (1874 – 1877) died as a baby.

Raymond Calvin (1885 – 1968) also attended Centennial Grade School. From there, he went to St. Paul's Preparatory School in Concord, New Hampshire, and in 1909 he graduated from Yale University. When Raymond returned to Pueblo, he became involved in the family bank. Twelve days after his father's death, Raymond was elected to the bank's board of directors in 1913. In 1916, he was elected vice president and chairman of the bank's board. He served in that capacity until his retirement in 1951. The Irish housekeeper that he had known as a child continued in that capacity. Her handmade quilts were used on his bed.”

John Albert Thatcher, 1836 - 1913.
    The eldest of seven children, John Thatcher was born August 25, 1836, in Perry County, Pennsylvania.  John was educated in the public schools, the Tuscarora Academy, and the Airy View Academy.  After the family moved to Blair County in the fall of 1855, John taught at the school for the Lorberry township, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.  In 1857, he moved to Holt County, Missouri, where he learned the clerking business.  Working first in a Central City tannery, John arrived in Denver September 15, 1862.  James H. Voorhees employed him as a clerk.  In December of that year Voorhees and John became partners in a store in Pueblo.  John drove a wagon of goods to Pueblo with an ox team.  The store was a small log cabin located on the south side of Second Street, between Santa Fe Avenue and Main Street.  In the spring, John returned to Denver, and the partnership was dissolved.  John started for Pueblo on August 14, 1863, where he opened the first general store in Pueblo.  In the fall of 1864 or 1865, John Thatcher needed to travel to Denver to bring back a new stock of goods.  He asked Steve Smith to take charge of his store and run it for him while he was gone.  A snow blockade stopped the wagons on the divide in the vicinity of Palmer Lake, and John was several months getting back.  In the meantime, some fellows from New Mexico came along and wanted to buy the stock of goods.  There was a total value of $400 or $500 in the store at the time.  Steve Smith sold it to them for $800.  He then "speculated" with this money, how he never said, and increased it to $1,600.  When John came back he wanted to know where was his store?  Steve told that he didn't have any, but he "gave him $800 and all was lovely."

to the Pueblo County Index Page.

Please e-mail comments and suggestions toKaren Mitchell.
© Karen Mitchell