Malinda Maxwell is the earliest known woman to be associated with the Loomis Addition. She was a shareholder of the property that is now encompassed by Shields, Laporte, Whitcomb and Mulberry streets. She had an interesting, early-pioneering life which has been pieced together thanks to old newspaper articles and a few stories from her descendants who still live in the area.
Malinda Kelly (also sometimes spelled Kelley) was born in Independence, Missouri in 1838. When she was twenty years old, she married Thomas Maxwell, an intrepid 26 year old that was good friends with her older brother, Hiram (“Hi”) Kelly. Though Tom had grown up in Mississippi, he was a stage line superintendent from 1852 – 1858 for the line that ran from Independence to Santa Fe. Tom and Hi were also involved in freighting from Atchison, Kansas, through Wyoming, to Salt Lake City. In 1858, due to the “sorriness of both mules and weather” the two young men were forced to winter at Fort Laramie, which is likely how they came to have a love for the land and people that later drew them to move westward permanently.
In 1860, Malinda gave birth to their first child, Charles. Though he’s listed on the 1860 census, little Charles appears to have died within the next few years. Malinda went on to have four more children, two of whom also died young: Alice (1861-1867), Anna (1864-1935), Lula (1869-1931) and Jessie (1875-1876).
The couple moved around a lot in the beginning of their marriage, likely following Tom’s jobs. But in 1873, they settled down in Wyoming along Chugwater Creek. Malinda’s older brother, Hi Kelly, and her younger brother, Benjamin Kelly, had moved to the area before them and the couple settled on 40 acres right in the midst of the brothers’ holdings. There they briefly tried their hand at raising dairy cattle, but frequent Indian raids put the kibosh on that. So they decided to run an inn and store instead. Hiram also built a stage station on his neighboring property. It was Chugwater station on the Cheyenne and Blackhills Stage and Express Line. (To learn more, visit the Wyoming Tales and Trails website.)
In November of 1878, with painful rheumatism and recent financial setbacks, Tom Maxwell bought some strychnine from the chemist in Cheyenne. It was common for cattlemen to purchase the poison in order to kill predators attacking their herds, so the chemist thought nothing of it. Tom then checked himself into the Dyer hotel and killed himself.
Malinda and her daughters, Anna and Lulu, remained in Chugwater, running the hotel. Malinda’s younger brother, Benjamin, moved in and helped to run the hotel.
During their time as hotel keepers, Malinda entertained Sitting Bull, Old Black Joe, Butcher Phillips, Jack Hunton, Calamity Jane, Portugee Phillips, and Thomas’s friends General Sheridan and Buffalo Bill. It’s even said that Custer camped there on his way heading north.
The route was also often traversed by cattlemen passing through to buy or sell cattle, so Fort Collins cattlemen such as Abner Loomis often stayed in the hotel when they were in the area. Abner was a friend of Hi Kelly’s ever since Hi spent the winter of 1865 in Fort Collins while waiting for spring weather so that he could move freight again. Abner would have taken the opportunity to stop and visit Hiram and his family every time he was in the area.
In 1881, Hiram decided to buy some property in Fort Collins. He was often visiting the area to contract business with Joe Mason, E. W. Whitcomb, and Abner Loomis (among others). And his son, Frank (also known as “Chug”), as well as his niece, Anna (Malinda’s daughter), were both going to be attending the Colorado Agricultural College that year. He purchased two houses on the 200 block of Remington as well as a store downtown (at the corner of Jefferson and Pine). His mother and his sister, Louisa, both moved into one of the houses. In July of 1882, Malinda sold the Maxwell Ranch to her brother Hiram, and she and her daughter’s moved to Fort Collins as well.
In February 1886, Abner Loomis and Hi Kelley partnered to buy a section of land (one square mile or 640 acres) that had previously belonged to John Sheldon (of Sheldon lake in City Park). The very next year, Hi turned around and sold his shares in a quarter section of that property to his sister, Malinda. The quarter share includes all of the land that is currently bounded by Laporte Avenue to the north, Whitcomb to the east, Mulberry to the south, and Shields along the west side (though it’s not entirely clear if those streets existed at the time… at least not west of the original town site).
With the land now owned by Abner Loomis and Malinda Maxwell, Abner subdivided the half adjoining the townsite, creating the Loomis Addition. They also continued to hold the other half in partnership, and the newspapers of the late 1880s and the 1890s mention grain harvesting and lamb feeding on the “Loomis & Maxwell Ranch.”
Malinda’s daughter, Anna, was very close in age to Jane and Abner Loomis’s daughter, Lelia. They were frequently mentioned in the newspapers as having attended social events together. In fact, they were such good friends that, in June of 1888, Anna Maxwell married A. W. Scott and Lelia Loomis married Thomas H. Robertson in a joint wedding ceremony.
In 1892, Jane Loomis passed away, leaving Abner Loomis a widower. Four years later, Malinda and Abner were married in a quiet ceremony. According to the Fort Collins Express:
“The people of Fort Collins were not less surprised than delighted on Tuesday to learn of the marriage of Abner Loomis and Mrs. Malinda Maxwell. The happy event occurred Monday afternoon at the residence of the Rev. S.R. Willson, pastor of the Christian church, on Myrtle street, and was a very quiet affair indeed, the members of the two families being, with one or two exceptions unapprised of the proposed nuptials. In fact Mr. Loomis and Mrs. Maxwell, the afternoon being fine indeed, took a walk as has been their custom in days past to talk over matters of business in which they are mutually interested and casually dropped in to the Rev. Willson’s residence and had the knot tied with neatness and dispatch. They then returned to their respective homes and but few were the wiser. The members of the two families went to the opera in the evening, leaving Mr. Loomis and wife playing cards at the latter’s residence and were not fully apprised of the marriage until the following morning.”
Malinda took Loomis’s last name, but the ranch that they owned in common continued to be referred to in the newspapers as the Loomis & Maxwell farm up until 1902 when it was sold to Malinda’s son-in-law, A. W. Scott and others. Before the sale, they grew cattle fodder, raised lambs, and planted 4,000 assorted fruit trees west of the Loomis Addition along “the road to the cemetery” (which we would now refer to as Mountain Avenue).
It’s hard to tell how much Malinda was involved in the formation of the Loomis Addition or in any of her other financial affairs. The newspaper simply doesn’t make mention of her involvement other than listing her as a part owner in the properties. Based on the description of her wedding to Abner, it does appear that she took an interest in their business affairs and that she contributed ideas during their walks (at the very least).
Abner Loomis passed away in 1904 and, on August 31, 1913, Malinda followed him. Her obituary in the newspaper was long and eloquent and is worth including here in its entirety.
“MALINDA MAXWELL LOOMIS JOINS THE SILENT MAJORITY
At 3 o’clock on Sunday afternoon, August 31st, the dark-winged angel of death snipped the brittle thread of life that bound the immortal spirit of Mrs. Malinda Maxwell Loomis to its tenement of clay and bore its precious burden, to the realms of the blest. Mrs. Loomis had fulfilled her mission on earth, had run the Christian race, had fought the good fight and had won the victory and was therefore ready to join loved ones on the other side. The parting of soul and body came quietly and peacefully without the twitching of a muscle or the suggestion of pain, just as one falls asleep at the close of the day, while her loved ones, bathed in tears, stood about her bedside. Thus ended the long, well spent years of a woman whose pathway through life had been strewn with good deeds and of whom it can well be said the world is better because of her having lived in it.
Mrs. Loomis was a true and loyal Christian woman, an affectionate wife and mother and a devoted friend, and though she had passed the allotted three score and ten years, she will be greatly missed in the family circle, in the church to which she was devotedly attached, and in the community at large of which she had been a cherished member for nearly a third of a century. Mrs. Loomis was a woman of domestic tastes and gave but little attention to affairs of a social nature. She loved her home and found her greatest pleasure in providing for the comfort and contributing to the happiness of her family and loved ones. Before the burden of years had weakened her body and lessened her activities she went about doing good in a quiet , unostentatious manner, not letting her right hand know what her left hand was doing. She was truly a Mother In Israel, an encourager of the weak and faltering, an example of Christian fortitude and a loyal servant of the Most High. Malinda Kelly was born September 30th, 1838, at Independence, Missouri. At the time of her birth Independence was on the frontier and opportunities for acquiring an education and for social advancement were limited but such as they were she wisely improved. On December 12th, 1859, she was joined in marriage with Thomas A. Maxwell at Independence. Two daughters were born of this union, Anna B. and Lula M., the first named being now Mrs. A. W. Scott, and the last named Mrs. F. D. Abbot.
Mr. and Mrs. Maxwell came to Colorado In 1872 and after remaining a year in Denver, moved to Chugwater, Wyo. Mr . Maxwell died November 13 th, 1878, in Cheyenne, Wyo., and in 1882, Mrs. Maxwell and her daughters came to Fort Collins, which had since been her home. On December 21st, 1896, Mrs. Maxwell was united in marriage with Abner Loomis, a Fort Collins pioneer and president of the Poudre National bank. Mr. Loomis died August 23rd. 1904. Mrs. Loomis was a stanch and loyal member of the First Christian church of Fort Collins and led a true, consistent Christian life. She was one of the leaders in the movement started to build the present house of worship for the Christian denomination, devoting her means, time and energies to the accomplishment of that object, her efforts being crowned with success. The two daughters mentioned, Mrs. A. W. Scott and Mrs. F. D. Abbott, a brother, Mr. H. D. Kelly and a sister, Mrs. Telitha Hoover, both of Denver, and a sister, Mrs. Polly Ann Shortridge of Fort Collins, of her immediate relatives survive an affectionate mother and a loving sister. Her surviving step children are Mrs. T. H. Robertson, Mrs. Chas. Golding-Dwyre, Jr., Mr. Leonidas Loomis, Mr. Jasper Loomis, all of this city, and Mr. Guy E. Loomis of Berthoud.
Funeral services for Mrs. Loomis will be held at 2 o’clock on Wednesday afternoon, September 3rd, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. F. D. Abbott, 230 Remington street, and burial will be In Grandview cemetery. Rev. J. D. Garrison, pastor of the First Christian church, will preach the funeral discourse.” (September 5, 1913 Weekly Courier)
Newspaper research was conducted using Colorado Historic Newspapers.
Photo at the top is of the Maxwell Ranch in Wyoming.