Deep Roots


Gathering up her long dress, Mrs. D. Russ Wood hurried toward a room near the center of town. It was early evening and the grey shadows of the newly planted cottonwood trees stretched thin across the streets. In La Font’s livery stable, the horses knocked against their stalls. Carpenters and brick masons had quit for the day, leaving their tools inside the half-finished cottages and large brick homes taking shape on Nevada and Cascade avenues. Mrs. Wood knocked lightly and then entered a room. In the gloom, she made out the shape of a young man sitting on a low box and surrounded by “all manner of rubbish.” There was no table, no chair, no bed. The man’s eyes shone with fever and his emaciated body swayed on the low wooden box. He told her he was a schoolteacher and had come to Colorado Springs in hopes of regaining his health so he could resume his profession. When he got off the train at the depot, he was met by a man who knew of a place to rent. He had paid the man and this squalid place is where he had been left. Glancing around at the miserable surroundings, Mrs. Wood felt a wave of pity. “I saw the poor young man must be cared for immediately, as he showed unmistakably that his hours were few,” she would later write. Read full excerpt