‘The Chatfield Story’ to be told at Bemis Library

Posted 5/26/10

Many engaging stories about families involved in Littleton’s history are told through the Littleton Museum archives and several books. A listing in …

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‘The Chatfield Story’ to be told at Bemis Library


Many engaging stories about families involved in Littleton’s history are told through the Littleton Museum archives and several books.

A listing in the history section of the city website includes some information about the extended Chatfield family, a history that is greatly expanded with publication of “The Chatfield Story,” about Civil War Private Edward L. Chatfield, of the 113th Illinois Regiment, and his extended family for whom the park, road and dam are named.

Authors Terry M. McCarty and Margaret Ann Chatfield McCarty will appear at 7 p.m. June 8 at Bemis Library, 6014 S. Datura St., Littleton to speak about history gleaned from the letters and diaries of Edward L. Chatfield. (The diaries are in the Littleton Museum collection). Terry McCarty says that the Chatfield Ranch at one time included a portion of Highlands Ranch.

Margaret Ann Chatfield McCarty is a descendent of Edward, a great grandniece, who was entrusted with Civil War letters Edward wrote to his family by her cousin Endaline, Edward’s only child, in 1964, when Terry and Peg were about to marry. Peg is the great granddaughter of Edward’s brother James.

The ensuing research and book project took on a life of its own, leading the McCartys, who reside in Texas, on a journey that followed Edward’s travels (a map is in the book), four years, hours of research. Terry figures that about 8,000 hours were involved before publication. The book is now in a second printing and they are traveling to various Civil War sites to promote it, in addition to the Littleton visit. (It’s available at Amazon.com).

Edward Chatfield enlisted in the Union Army and was captured at Brice Crossing, following a disastrous encounter with the Confederates, who operated under different rules and strategies than those the Union generals had learned at West Point and other military academies. He was captured and spent time in the dreaded Andersonville and other prisons.

There is a 10-month hiatus in Edward’s letters and diary entries, which the authors have filled in with a narrative covering the war, his escape and eventual return to his Ohio grandmother Lucy, then to the family home at Kankakee, Illinois. During his ordeal, he dropped from 156 pounds to about 90 due to starvation and illness. He did recover, return to complete his service and finally head west to Littleton, where he had a ranch.

Prior to Edward’s journey to Colorado, his cousin Isaac and wife Eliza had traveled to Denver, eventually to a ranch at the intersection of the South Platte River and Plum Creek in about 1871. Edward visited there and the two found an acreage for him that was bordered on the east by what is now South Platte Park, including a portion of the South Platte River that is now the spillway for Chatfield Dam.

Edward’s parents Nathan and Margaret had determined, following family tradition, to provide each of their children with land. Edward married Anna Bates of Ohio in 1877 and they returned to the family farm until 1879, when six Chatfields moved to Littleton: the parents, Edward and Anna and siblings Mary and Charles., Later they were joined by brother James and his wife and brother Newton and his family. The brothers were active in Littleton affairs, leaving their stamp on the growing agricultural community.

The McCartys, who will, appropriately, camp at Chatfield State Park while in the area, have several other engagements: 6:15 p.m. June 9 with the Columbine Kiwanis Club; 6 p.m. June 10 with the Rocky Mountain Civil War Round Table at Columbine United Church; 7 p.m. June 12, Chatfield State Park Amphitheater.

If you go:

“The Chatfield Story” lecture will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 8 at Bemis Library, 6014 S.


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