On a bleak December day, Mr Foster and Mr Fleming were at a lodge club on Linden Street drinking beer. A terrific snow storm was raging. About midnight, Ed and Russell left the club for their homes. They made their way through two feet of snow for a block from the club to College and Mountain Avenue, then another block south on College to Oak Street; then they floundered through the snow west on Oak three blocks, which brought them directly across the street from Russell’s home. Here, for the twentieth time, they stopped for a breather.
When Russell caught his breath and could speak, he exclaimed, “My God, we are never going to make it. We are going to have to go back to the club.” –Murder and Mirth, Fancher Sarchet, 1956
Murder and Mirth is my favorite book about Fort Collins, past or present. Sarchet was a prominent trial lawyer who wrote about hunting, drinking, women in the courts, and sundry trials in Fort Collins from about 1903 to 1956.
His children, grandchildren, and great grand children still live in town.
Although the book is full of intrigue, most historians especially recall the drive by shooting that took out Sarchet’s eye and the bitter oilman thought to be behind the crime. Very serious stuff.
Of course some family members remember a different Sarchet. ”I remember when I was little,” says his great nephew John Tobin. “He scared the crap out of me when he took his glass eye out in his room at the Brown Palace in Denver. ”
That was Sarchet being funny. “He pulled the glass eye out and cupped it in his hand then opened his hand slowly …”
I recommend this for every fan of Fort Collins history. You can find it at the library, or used copies online (I use Abebooks.com).
Are you familiar with Rachel Hope Sykes’ “Second hoeing”? Residents got so upset with her portrayal of “Germans from Russia” that she ended up leaving town. The library has her name as Hope Williams Sykes, so perhaps my memory is lapsing, but I was so sure…
And a favorite of mine, Dan Robinson’s “After the fire,” partly because I know the houses near Mountain and Loomis that he used for the setting, not to mention the cemetery, Mason St. RR tracks, etc.
Hi Susan, No, I don’t know those books. Thanks for the recommends.
Someone told me recently that the townsfolk called the German Russians “Dutchmen” as a kind of pejorative. Dutch is kind of like Deutsch, which means German, and, hell, that’s close enough.
Children of the Volga were Germans who came from the old country with Catherine the Great when she married Peter of Russia. They settled in the valley of the Volga River and pretty much kept to themselves. The idea was they would show the Russian farmers the new and better German techniques and bring better marketing into the area…It did not work and they were sorely resented. When Catherine died and other rulers came into power, they ran off these children of the Volga. Many went to Siberia and most of those died. Others sought freedom in America. They came in clumps to the same areas…Minnesota, Nebraska, Windsor Co and a big bunch in Fort Collins. Many were related and they still stayed together. The Russian immegratns still resented them and it carried on in the new country.
It was a slur to the Russian Immigrants to be called Deutschmen and to the children of the Volga, it was exasperating. The book goes into some detail of the life of such in Fort Collins, but there were some very industrius, hard working and faithfully good people there. The last immigrant of the group who settled in Windsor just passed away. Marie was born just before they left Russia and died among her many children, grandchildren, neices and nephews living in Windsor yet.
I never had the pleasure of knowing Marie but was lucky enough to know and love her uncle and fellow Russian born Volga Deutsch. I also helped photograph the cemetery where most of the family was buried. (By the way, this man’s daughter married the son of a Russian from St. Petersburg…and I love them too!)
L. Neil Smith came into the comic shop I managed once or twice. We briefly theorized about collaborating on a comic, which came to nothing. His first science fiction novel started out in Fort Collins, which excited me to no end, though it quickly moved to an alternate version of it. It didn’t even stay there for too long, heading off into space. Pity, I thought. I just wanted to read about The Fort.
Would love to read it. I couldn’t find an online version, so maybe I’ll read yours when the train brings me to FC.
Noe, My copy is on loan from Doris, Fancher’s 92-year-old daughter. So, you will have to come with me to her house and ask to borrow it. She’s the coolest lady….
Thanks for reminding me of the book I actually got my copy out today and started reading it again– Auntie Do is one of the biggest wealth of knowledge that is left in Ft Collins — I sat with her going through some photos that I had found at my parents house and it was the best 5 hours I have spent with anyone in a long time!! Fanch and Nellie lived on W Mountain and then Doris moved into that house now I think Margi ( doris’s youngest daughter Lives there now — I remember many holiday dinners and get togethers at the house- thanks again for your excellent write ups
I grabbed a copy off Amazon.com as soon as I read this entry. Fancher had even signed it. I’m looking forward to reading it. Then I’ll have to add it to my budding Fort Collins history collection, which is currently only Swanson’s Fort Collins Yesterdays.
My uncle Fanch wrote this book and I have read it about 10 times. At first it is a very slow moving article-however as you get through the book you realize the time frame and get into the writing. unforunately he never published or finished? his second book. I have searched the library for additional local books and have found 2 worth the read. The first being from Provost to Brinks by Rose Brinks a very interesting read. The second being In my mummy’s eye? Do you have any additional suggestions? I would appreciate anything written locally.
Hi Captain Bevo,
So far, Sarchet is still my favorite. I’m interested in reading Second Hoeing, which Susan suggests above. I didn’t know about From Provost to Brinks, how did I miss that?
Among newer books, I recall that A horse Can’t Buck in the Sand has some good parts in it. But I loaned it out and never got it back. (To get it back, I would have to return Case’s The Poudre to its rightful owner, and I’m not ready to do that yet.)
Who has the unfinished manuscript from Sarchet’s second book? Do you know?
I would assume that my auntie doe (doris sarchet atkinson bice) would have his notes. Fanch made mention in M&M about writing another book surrounding a case (dont remember which one). I will ask doe if she knows anything about it.
I am Joe VerStratens great niece and am writing a memoir some of which is set on Uncle Joe’s farm. He was not a very nice person even to a young child. Anyone that has any recollections…probably second hand since he died in the early 1950;s please contact me. My mother’s maiden name was Margaret Ver Straeten. It was her father that Joe sent packing back to Iowa as mentioned in Fancher Sarchet’s book.Thanks!
I’m also looking for any descendants of Judge Stover as I believe that he had some papers from my Aunt Nellie…Joe VerStraten’s wife. Perhaps they are still around somewhere in the Stover family. I need for research and will return or happy with a scan. Thanks
Susan Stover was in my mother’s day care along with Mr Tobin. She would be the Judge’s descendent if I remember correctly. I am not sure where she is now but you might check with the records from FCHS or reunion committees.
Ourhands-U recommend that you first start by going on the fort collins history link-Judge Stover was quite a guy-there are other places to go – email me at captainbevo @yahoo.com and I will share what research sites you can go to I love this site lost and its a shame it is going away-if you are a facebooker you can join do you remember fort collins its kind of fun and you may get some old folks who knew of the judge
sorry the first letter in my reply should have been I-not U- oh by the way that dang old captainbevo-who the heck is he-LOL-for Cats sake
I have done further research regarding Joe VerStraten and can’t verify that he was in the Maybray gang as stated in Murder and Mirth…but I think it is much more likely than the story I always heard and that was in his obit that he worked for the circus for 25 years. He is nowhere that I can find documented in circus history nor news.
Ellen, try the census and I think it was in LaPorte. The 1940 is out now and available at familysearch.org