In 1901 the citizens of Colorado Springs placed essays, photographs, a wax recording cylinder, and more into a time capsule for 100 years. The large steel-riveted box stood sealed until opened during a ceremony January 1, 2001. The contents were dedicated to the descendant of those early city inhabitants. One brief letter exemplifies the hopes shared by many of the boxes contributors:
My dear descendants,
You are verily dear to me, and over the span of a century my love goes out to you.
In the pressure of my engagements I was compelled to dictate the body of my letter to you, but I want to add a few words on a subject too sacred to admit of dictation to a stranger ear. When I returned from Europe in the fall of 1870 and entered the store of Ehrich & Co. I found a girl of fifteen seated in the cashier’s desk; petite but of perfect figure, eyes large and dark, of beautiful face, strong mind[?], expressive mouth, fine teeth, and with two long braids of hair. This is your ancestress. Her father, having lost whatever money he had, had moved from Newbern, N.C. to New York, and after failure in the running of a dyeing-establishment, had accepted employment with some relatives. Henrietta was too proud to remain at home inactive, and had accordingly accepted the position of cashier, receiving six dollars a week as salary. We soon developed a fondness for another, gradually ripening into love, into an engagement in 1872, and into marriage in 1874. Henrietta was born in New York City, August 16, 1856. Our married life has been immensely happy and blessed. The terrible strain which overtook us with the coming of my illness in 1878 and which threatened to wreck all our hopes, happily passed away. The violent death of our beautiful, noble first-born, which took place when the ocean separated us, left a sear in our lives, — more especially in the hear of his mother, who grieved bitterly for him for many years. Time has assuaged the sorrow, and has brought so many consolations in the fine growth and development of our other children. Our home-life has always been fine and sweet. Our hospitality is wide, and valued guests are often seated at our table. Our acquaintance embraces the best Americans of our time. Our lives, based on deepest mutual love and respect, have been singularly joyful.
May all possible blessings rest on each one of you! May each of you set his or her life on so high a plane that, in spirit, I shall be proud of you! May you cherish a loving memory of Henrietta and
Louis R. Ehrich
Immediately after opening the box, historians and librarians began scanning and indexing the contents. Transcripts and copies are available through the special collections department of the Colorado College’s Tutt Library. The entire contents of this historical collections can be found on the library’s websites.
Contributors included both town leaders and local citizens. In a addition, there is a letter from visiting dignitary, then Vice President, Theodore Roosevelt. Here is a copy of his brief, yet poignant letter:
Aug 4th 1901
I have come here partly to speak at the quarter centennial of Colorado as a state, partly to meet the men of my old regiment, the 1st USV cavalry, or Roughriders, at whose head I fought in the Spanish War. They are a splendid set of men, these grim hunters and miners of the mountains, these wild riders of the plains; with many and grave faults, but essentially men; fearless, steeled to the endurance of fatigue and hardship, resolute and hardy, loyal, and for all their ferocity in fight, yet gentle to women and children. I hope that a century hence their descendants, though gaining in all humanizing ways, though gentler and more refined, will not lose the whipcord fibre, the iron strength and courage of these pioneers and sons of pioneers. We cannot in the long run afford to have our people less than men; nor yet can we afford to have them other than good men.
I have with me the Memoirs of Marbot, the Saga of Burnt Njal, and Longfellow’s poems; and I am about to start with the grayhounds for a wolf hunt. May you who chance to read this enjoy life as much as I have enjoyed it; and work as hard!
Vice President USA
President Roosevelt was inspired by courage. He hoped for a future of quiet courage, a “gentler” time. The citizens of Colorado Springs had their own hopes, dreams, and memories which they put into pictures and writings for their descendents. In celebration and dedication to their efforts, the same steel box was carefully resealed on April 20, 2001 with the memories and personalities of a new generation. CDROMs, DVDs, letters, pictures, and other items were placed into the time capsule and resealed for another 100 years. The people of 1901 wished their descendants to open the box in a new, stronger, happy world. I am sure the citizens of Colorado Springs hope the same for their descendant in 2101.
Visit the Colorado Century Chest website and enjoy a look into the lives and dreams of some of our forefathers. Maybe you will find the story of one of your ancestors in the mix.