Three Sobey generations in Wildcat Mountain’s shadows
Born in Lostivefel, England in 1844 during the reign of King Edward VII, Frank Sobey was raised in Dubuque, Iowa, where his parents had immigrated. Against their wishes and merely 15 years of age, Frank joined the Union Army. His family immediately disowned him. Despite his youth, he vindicated himself with great bravery at the battle of Chickamauga, subsequently promoted to sergeant prior to reaching the age of 20.
Migrating later to Denver, Frank obtained a typesetter’s position at a fledgling newspaper, the Denver Tribune. He met and wooed Elizabeth Montieth, though she was eight years his senior. They married in 1869 and moved to Fort Collins, even though Frank was in poor health. Their first child, Hattie Maria, was born there, but their other five children were born in Sedalia, raised on land homesteaded west of Wildcat Mountain.
Frank’s health declined precipitously, and a decision was made to sell the homestead to Mortimer Penley. In 1880, before the sale closed, Frank died a violent death, thought to be food poisoning. A widow with six children, Elizabeth remained domiciled in the shadow of Wildcat Mountain until 1884 when the family moved to another homesteaded parcel in Lehigh (Douglas County coal country). There she opened a boarding house.
Several years later, she married miner and geologist John Lewis. With his help, they also ran cattle on Sobey land for several decades. In later years, they moved into the town of Sedalia, co-managing a small sundries store, specializing primarily in sweets for the locals.
Robert Thomas Sobey, Elizabeth’s first son, was born on their Wildcat Mountain Ranch. Living a nondescript life in our county, he regularly attended church in Denver. There, a city girl, Ermine Maude Rauch, tugged his heartstrings; they married and together raised five children.
These Sobeys were driven by a restlessness to enjoy and explore their state and its nature, moving often based on job opportunities. From trolley conductor to reformatory guard, apple farmer, forest ranger and then lumber company superintendent, the family moved often and happily to Buena Vista, Grand Valley, Red Cliff, Oak Creek, Edwards, Castle Rock and then Littleton for retirement.
Robert Emmet was born in Parachute, the fourth child in that family. Exposed to a rustic life, he matured during the family’s lettuce growing chapter in Edwards. Building lettuce crates from scratch with wood and nails, he was a strong man. Arm wrestling and boxing followed, and Bob and his brother Avert once believed they could become Golden Glove Champions. This led to a pusillanimous streak that generated aspirations far too high, unattained by both.
Bob was not just strong but devilishly handsome. He spent his early earning years in heavy industrial occupations with local railroads and the Ford Motor Company. Unfortunately, he was also beset by health problems issuing from uremia, a form of blood poisoning caused by intermittent kidney shutdowns.
Married at 25 after courting Eva Curtis, the couple settled down in Sedalia, raising two children. In 1935, Eva became a deputy commissioner of Douglas County. After that they moved to Castle Rock, where fate struck the family a cruel blow. On one of his frequent hikes to the top of Castle Rock, Bob fell to his death.
By Joe Gschwendtner; photo courtesy of Our Heritage: People of Douglas County