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Family summers in a vacation home in late 19th-century Manitou Springs | Bob Loevy | News

5 min read
Family summers in a vacation home in late 19th-century Manitou Springs | Bob Loevy | News

The Manitou Springs Archive Team has begun a search for stories and photographs concerning the history of Manitou Springs, the city just to the west of Colorado Springs in the foothills of Pikes Peak. Here is my contribution to that search:

My great uncle, Archibald Llewellyn Williams, lived in Topeka, Kan., but loved the Colorado mountains. Starting around 1880, he bought or built a vacation home in Manitou Springs.

Of classic wooden Victorian design, the home was named Llewellyn Place after Archibald’s middle name. It stood on a high hillside northwest of the intersection of Ruxton and Pilot Knob avenues.

Similar to many persons who summered in Manitou Springs in the late 19th century, Archibald Llewellyn Williams was a person of accomplishment.

As a youth, he had campaigned for Abraham Lincoln in Illinois in the presidential election of 1860. In the Civil War, he joined the Union Army and helped to successfully resist a Confederate force trying to invade Kansas.

As a young lawyer, he was elected attorney general of Kansas. After that, he became the principal attorney in Kansas for the Union Pacific Railroad.

Archibald Llewellyn Williams and his family often vacationed in Manitou Springs with Archibald’s brother, John Hamilton Williams of Quincy, Ill., and his family.

Meanwhile, Hannibal A. Loevy, my grandfather, was a young self-taught lawyer in St. Louis. He was suffering from a lung ailment and was advised to spend some time in the mountains of Colorado to help him recover his health.

He traveled to Manitou Springs and picked out a mountain location above the town as the best place to pitch his tent and begin sleeping out in the cool dry mountain air. At that time — the late 1800s — towns such as Manitou Springs in the high Rocky Mountains were popular destinations for people with lung diseases. That cool dry mountain air could lead to a cure.

It so happened that the property on which Hannibal Loevy was camping was adjacent to Llewellyn Place and belonged to Archibald Llewellyn Williams.

At the time Hannibal began his sojourn on the mountainside, the vacation home was empty. A few days later, however, the Williams family from Topeka, Kan., and the Williams family from Quincy, Ill., arrived at Llewellyn Place to begin a joint vacation.

Hannibal Loevy described the situation this way: “When I first arrived there, the house was dark and closed up and lonely. Then, all of a sudden, the house lit up and was bustling with noise and human activity.”

When Hannibal Loevy observed that Llewellyn Place was now occupied, he came down from his campsite and asked for permission to continue camping on the property. Permission was given, and in the course of the encounter Hannibal Loevy met one of the family daughters — Caroline Hamilton Williams — from Quincy.

Romance blossomed there in the Rocky Mountains. Hannibal A. Loevy and Caroline Hamilton Williams spent the summer socializing and falling in love. They were married on Jan. 13, 1886, at her parents’ home in Quincy.

All that was just the beginning of the summer association of the Williams and Loevy families with Manitou Springs. For 25 years, through the 1880s and the 1890s and into the first decade of the 20th century, they escaped the heat and humidity of Topeka, Quincy, and St. Louis by relaxing at Llewellyn Place and additional homes they rented in the community as needed.

One of the children, Annabel Loevy particularly remembered the fun of walking to downtown Manitou Springs and, in the late 1890s, hanging out at the Cliff House Hotel and playing on the big front porch with its many chairs.

Another fun time was when she and her sister and her cousin were photographed together sitting on a mule, all looking like they were about to ride up to the top of Pikes Peak. Alas, there would be no mountain climbing — only a classic Manitou Springs summer vacation photograph.

A treat for the children was when each of them was given a souvenir teaspoon with “Manitou” engraved on the bowl of the spoon.

Archibald Llewellyn Williams also owned a rustic cabin on the east side of Pikes Peak close to the halfway point on the Pikes Peak cog railroad. The area was known as Mountain View. Archibald Llewellyn Williams and John Hamilton Williams supposedly retreated to this high mountain getaway, leaving the women and children and the accompanying noise and activity down the mountain at Llewellyn Place.

A family story told that one day Archibald L. Williams and John Hamilton Williams were up at the rustic cabin on Pikes Peak when August Busch, with a group of friends, rode by on mule back. August Busch was a member of one of the families that owned the Anheuser-Busch company in St. Louis that brewed and sold Budweiser beer.

Because Archibald L. Williams and John Hamilton Williams were on a mountain vacation, they were dressed in old clothes. They had no trouble recognizing August Busch, as he and his wealthy family were quite famous. The August Busch party had gotten lost on their mule ride up Pikes Peak, and they politely asked Archibald Llewellyn Williams and John Hamilton Williams for directions.

After the directions were given, August Busch reached in his pocket, pulled out a quarter of a dollar, flipped it to one of the Williams brothers, and said: “Thank you, my good man.”

Of course, August Busch had no idea he was flipping a quarter to Archibald Llewellyn Williams, one of the top attorneys for the Union Pacific Railroad, and to John Hamilton Williams, a successful lawyer and at one time a district court Judge in Quincy.

Both of the Williams men thought August Busch’s gesture was funny rather than insulting.

August Busch was not the only mountain tourist to encounter Archibald Llewellyn Williams when he was at his rustic cabin halfway up Pikes Peak.

Near the trail leading to the top of Pike’s Peak, Williams had converted a tree stump into an armed chair. One of his favorite diversions was to sit in the stump-chair and have brief chats with the passing tourists walking up and down the Peak.

His old slouch hat and careless manner of dress gave him the look of a hobo. Tourists from the world over were amazed by the affable and informed conversations they would have with a man of such shabby appearance.

Archibald Llewellyn Williams died on Aug. 28, 1907, at his rustic cabin at Mountain View, halfway up the side of Pikes Peak. He had come out to Colorado in hopes of finding relief from an illness. He died just a few days before his 67th birthday.

His body was taken down Pikes Peak by a special train on the Pikes Peak cog railroad and then returned to Topeka on an eastbound railroad train.

As they aged, the younger members of the Williams and Loevy families spoke frequently with great affection about their wonderful summer vacations in Manitou Springs. Surely, there were many families throughout the United States who had the same pleasant memories about summering in Manitou Springs.

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