The Sopris Sun

Shindig returns to Thompson House after 125 years

Historic tours, music, BBQ and more

By Lynn Burton

Sopris Sun Staff Writer

Here is how an 1889 Aspen Weekly Times article covered what might have been Carbondale’s last official “shindig.” The headline read “An Old Time Shindig,” with a “Special correspondence” byline and “Carbondale, Jan. 26” dateline. The article read:

Last night the social hop given at their pleasant home by Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Holland proved to be one of the most successful social events of the season. The dancing hall was beautifully wreathed in evergreens. The entertaining couple proved to be adepts (sic). The supper was superb, with all the delicacies from home and abroad. Davis Harris’s string band furnished the music. Dancing continued until six in the morning, when breakfast was served, after which the finishing dances were had.

Among those in attendance were:

Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Fravert, Mr. and Mrs. Alex Thompson, Mr. and Mrs. E.D. Hill, Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Sewell, Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Holland, Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Campbell, Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Alcorn, Mr. and Mrs. M.H. Dean, Mrs. Rogers and Mrs. Harris; Young ladies: Nellie Alexander, Cora Camp, Edna Denmark, Bertha Perham, Jennie Wald, Lottie Thompson, Norise Moriarity, Nevad Alexander, Lura Tucker, Mabel Nurnberg, Lizzie Woodward, Anna Wald, Verne Cox, Sadie Nicols, Allie Barber.

Although not acknowledged in the article, Hattie’s great-nephew, Lew Ron Thompson, is confident that young men also attended the party. “She (Hattie) was a matchmaker,” Thompson told The Sopris Sun last Saturday, while he and Mt. Sopris Historical Society Director Beth White spruced up the 129-year-old brick house for this Saturday’s official Shindig. “That’s one reason they had these parties.”

The Mt. Sopris Historical Society’s inaugural Shindig takes place at the Thompson House Museum from 6 to 9 p.m. on Aug. 9.

A partier from 1889 would probably feel comfortable at the 2014 Shindig. Thompson will start a fire early on Saturday in a brick-lined pit on the grounds, then load in plenty of beef, cover the pit with its heavy steel top, then spread sand on top – just like pit barbecue was cooked in the Old West. With the sand sealing the pit, the fire soon goes out but the heat is retained, which cooks the beef (or whatever else is in here) “just right.”

The Thompson House lawn, kept alive and thriving with untreated irrigation ditch water, is thick and green, and probably looks much like it would have when Oscar, Hattie, their family and friends walked on it 125 years ago. At Saturday’s Shindig, there’ll be lawn games and tents in case it rains. Much of the property’s original wrought iron fence still rings the property. The stage will be set up in the northwest corner of the lawn, just this side of the fence, with tables in front of that. The musical lineup features Steve Skinner & the Thompson Dividers, the Carbondale Rhythm Collective, Valle Musico, Sharon Young and Dory Light, and Jack Lanning.

Throughout the evening, Bill Kight will stroll the grounds as Jasper Ward, a Colorado pioneer who moved to the state as a freighter, then went on to become a town marshal in Tincup, saloon owner and preacher, and in there somewhere became the first settler in what is now the New Castle area. On stage at 8 p.m., Kight will tell Ward’s story the way that Ward himself would tell it.

Throughout the evening, the MSHS will conduct guided tours of the downstairs and upstairs of the historic Thompson House. The home’s furnishings are original to the house and many date back to the time of its construction. On the back porch, there’s even what was back then a new-fangled device – a washing machine.

After Oscar’s death in 1920, Hattie continued to run Pleasant View Ranch, which covered more than 1,000 acres of what is now River Valley Ranch and parts of south Carbondale. She also traveled the world and brought home many treasures. To honor Hattie and Carbondale-area women, the MSHS will also present its inaugural Hattie Thompson award to a recipient who embodies her spirit.

The Thompson House Museum is technically located at 633 North Bridge Dr. at the north end of River Valley Ranch. The driveway is located immediately west of the River Valley Ranch tennis courts parking lot.

Next steps

What: The Shindig

When: 6 to 9 p.m. on Aug. 9

Where: Thompson House Museum

How much: tickets are $75 each at 963-7041 or at the Pour House on Main Street.