William Hanford Clark, the First Mayor of Globeville

Mary Lou Egan

The Jan. 25, 1920, issue of The Denver Post proclaimed “‘Uncle Billy’ Clark, pioneer, still lives in squatter cabin” and is “hale and hearty at the age of eightyfour years.”

The article continued, “His reminiscences of the early days are most interesting.”


Imagine visiting with a man born in 1835, who’d left his home in Ohio at the age of 19 to work in a quarry in Iowa. Then, at the age of 20, he served as a sheriff in Nebraska. He soon followed the gold strikes to Colorado and arrived at the collection of tents and shacks that would become Denver on October 28, 1858.

At the age of 25, William Hanford Clark built his own cabin in a remote area north of Denver and hunted wild game to survive. Clark’s neighbors were the Arapaho and the Sioux tribes, who were camped about 300 hundred yards from his front door amid a few other settlers.

Clark’s cabin at 5041 Pearl St. Photo courtesy of the Denver Public Library special collections.

At the age of 47, Clark married Miss Mary Dornbush, whose family had a homestead nearby. When their daughter Leona was born, the couple moved into a five-room cottage he built next to his original cabin. Clark was active in the growing community, serving on its first school board, which was responsible for the Argo School, several little country schools, and the newest school at Garden Place.

In 1891, he led the movement for Globeville to incorporate and then served as Globeville’s first mayor. After his term ended in 1894 Clark returned to his small farm. Known to everyone in Globeville as “Uncle Billy,” he was recognized as a pioneer and, at 59 years old, was an old-timer by the standards of the day. Clark’s wife Mary died in 1908, and his daughter had married and was living in Cripple Creek, leaving him alone in the small cabin he built in 1859.

On June 26, 1921, he was found dead in his cabin of “advanced age” and laid to rest under the auspices of the Society of Colorado Pioneers and the Pioneer Ladies’ Aid Society on June 28, 1921. His grave at Fairmont Cemetery is in section 7, lot 82, block 62. There is no marker.

47th Avenue and Clark Place. Photo by Mary Lou Egan.

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