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The first child born in Glenwood had a short but rich life

Frontier Diary
Willa Kane
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Photo Courtesy Frontier Historical SocietyThis photograph of Harry Landis appeared with his obituary in the Glenwood Post newspaper Dec. 8, 1900. The son of early Glenwood Springs settlers, Harry had the distinction of being the first child born in Glenwood Springs.
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Being an only child and losing both my parents at an early age, I have found that the friends I have made over the years are the people who help me get through life, good times and bad.

– Fannie Flagg

In the early morning hours of Jan. 9, 1883, the cries of a newborn child could be heard coming from a cabin near the confluence of the Roaring Fork and Colorado Rivers. The first child born in Glenwood Springs – a boy – was a long awaited and welcome addition to the community.



This new little person was born to proud parents James and Dollie Landis. James and Dollie personified the pioneering spirit of the community. James Landis came to what would become Glenwood Springs in 1880, and settled on the west side of the Roaring Fork River near today’s Cowdin Drive. Within two years after his settlement, James brought his bride, the former Dollie Barlow, to Glenwood Springs and established their home.

The addition to the Landis household, as well as this monumental event in Glenwood Springs’ history, required official recording. Since birth certificates were not issued in 1883, the Barlow and Landis families took the monumental step of recording the birth in Garfield County’s record books. On Page 148 of Book 7, the proclamation reads, “Know ye that James Garfield Landis, son of James M. and Dollie A. Landis is the first child born in the town of (Defiance) or Glenwood Springs born Tuesday at 3 o’clock 15 minutes a.m. January 9th A.D. 1883.”



Harry’s relationship with his father was cut short by the death of James Landis in 1885. Although his father was gone, Harry had the guidance of his mother and maternal grandparents. In the late 1890s his mother met circus man Al G. Barnes. Dollie married Al Barnes in the summer of 1900, partly financed his circus, and left Glenwood Springs to assist with the business. Dollie entrusted Harry’s care to her mother.

Harry grew into a young man of promise, and his ease in making friends made him very popular. As a high school student he was well respected, and he counted among his friends students of many different ages. So, when Harry fell ill in early December 1900, concern was raised regarding his well-being.

The concerns were well founded. Local physicians determined that Harry was suffering from appendicitis and required surgery. Three local doctors as well as a skilled surgeon from Salida were called to performed the operation, but it was apparent that the condition, even with surgery, was one from which Harry could not recover. Glenwood Springs’ first child died on Dec. 3, 1900, at the home of his maternal grandmother.

Affection for Harry Landis was shown by the community through the large attendance at his funeral. The Glenwood Post newspaper reported that “the pulpit was a mass of flowers, emblematic each of the young life departed.” Fittingly, this son of pioneers was buried in Linwood Cemetery next to his father and maternal grandfather.

Harry Landis’ short life was made fuller by the support of his friends, his family and his community. A good life is not necessarily measured in hours, days or years, but instead through the relationships we build and cherish.

Willa Kane is former archivist of and a current volunteer with the Frontier Historical Society and Museum. “Frontier Diary,” which appears the first Tuesday of every month, is provided to the Post Independent by the museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Winter hours are 1-4 p.m. Monday and Thursday through Saturday. For more information, call 945-4448.


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