The Elbert County Courthouse, a small brick structure, was built in Kiowa in 1912. I thought it interesting that the cornerstone was laid by a local lodge (see photos).
From 1930 -1970 the Elbert County Library, was housed in the basement of the courthouse. It was later moved into the old facility of St. Ann's Mission Catholic Church, which was built in in Kiowa in 1903.
A small stone monument and a historical marker on the Elbert County Courthouse lawn in Kiowa are a reminder that it was not too long ago that this area was the wild frontier. The monument, erected in 1939, honors the memory of pioneer settlers - men, women and children - who were massacred nearby in 1864 by hostile Indians. Two seperate incidents in Elbert County have come to be know as The Hungate Family Massacre and the Sand Creek Massacre.
The larger interpretative display tells a bit more of the county's history. Hordes of Fifty-Niners streamed through this area on their way to Pike's Peak, which can be seen rising majestically above the plains many miles to the west. The Smoky Hill Trail through Elbert County was the shortest route to the gold fields but also the riskiest. It came to be known as the "Starvation Trail".
The first white settlers to the area of Elbert county were attracted by the large forests of Ponderosa pine growing along the divide, recognized as a source of lumber for the mushrooming town of Denver. Several sawmills were established within Elbert County in the early 1860's.
Homesteaders staked their claim to land here in the mid to late 1800s, and today there are several farms and ranches in Elbert County that belong to the the descendents of those same families. The railroad also played a vital role in Elbert County's growth.
Elbert County History