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Colorado Genealogy

The main physical feature of Colorado are the Rocky Mountains. The plateau and mountainous regions provide abundance of rich national resources such as silver and gold. Most of the croplands are east of the Rockies.

The land has been part of Spanish and Mexican holdings in the 17th century and into the early 1800s. In its earliest settlements, the San Luis Valley was the site of the first permanent white settlement with the town of San Luis being founded in 1851. The Santa Fe Trail was an important route from the eastern states to California and Oregon. Most people then just passed through Colorado, choosing to settler further west.

With gold discovered near Denver in 1858 new settlers came permanently to Colorado. Then in 1859 a second gold rush at Pike’s Peak increased new arrivals. As a territory of the United States in 1861 the population of Colorado was approximately 34,000, mostly males. Most of the new residents originally came from Ohio. Also people left Illinois, Missouri and Indiana to resettle in Colorado is important to note for Colorado genealogy.

The native Indians of the region were the Ute, Apache, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Sioux. In February 1861 the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes ceded their lands near Pike’s Peak over to the United States government. All Ute lands east of the Continental Divide were given up in 1864. By 1881 the Ute Indians completed moving from the western part of the state into Utah, and large sections of Colorado became open for additional settlement.

With the expansion of the railroad in the 1869, a huge influx of population occurred in Colorado as those from the war-torn east wanted a fresh start. Between 1870 and 1875 the population of Colorado tripled. The two biggest economic activities centered around mining and agriculture. It became a state on August 1, 1876.

New settlers came from New York, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Iowa. Colorado was also popular destination with foreign-born individuals, an aspect important to note in Colorado genealogy. Coming from Germany, Russia, Ireland, Sweden, Canada, Scotland, Italy and China were additional populations settling in Colorado. Nearly 20 percent of Colorado’s population in the 1880s were born in a foreign country. A massive onset of German immigrants settled in eastern Colorado in the 1890s.

In 1900 the population for Colorado had reached 539,700 residents. By 1930 the number had nearly doubled to 1,035,000 citizens. Presently the state of Colorado is about 5 million, most living around the city of Denver region.

In the southern end of Colorado is a high percentage of those Hispanos, those descendants of the early Mexican settlers of colonial Spanish origin. In and around Denver are those of Hispanic heritage, which make up 20 percent of the state’s overall population. The Asian-American population is also high with ethnic groups of Chinese, Japanese, Filipino and Korean represented. Still the largest cultural group at 22 percent in Colorado, dating back to the late 1800s, are those of German descent.

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