Here in Cañon City, many of our street names are named after pioneers and past residents. One such street is a short branch off the east side of 9th Avenue between Ussie Avenue and Park Avenue. It is named after Thomas Prescott, a pioneer who moved to the area soon after the Civil War.
Prescott was born June 2, 1830 in England but came to the United States at only 4 months old. Until 21 years of age, his home was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He moved to Illinois and married his first wife of three. His second wife was the daughter of Thomas Ripley of Cañon City and his third wife was Mrs. Mary Biles from South Cañon.
Prescott came to Colorado in 1860 and joined the First Colorado Volunteer regiment for the duration of the Civil War. After his service, he settled in Cañon City and became a fruit grower along the street that now bears his name. According to his obituary in the Cañon City Clipper on December 31, 1901, his property was primarily an orchard and he was one of the most enthusiastic growers of fruit in the county. He was a charter member of the Methodist Church and part of the Grand Army of the Republic post in Cañon City.
According to his obituary, Prescott had quite the encounter with a bear while serving during the Civil War:
…He came to Colorado in 1860, and at the breaking out of the civil war he was a resident of Park county, and there enlisted in Captain Ford’s company of the First Colorado regiment. The company came to Canon and camped in the old stone building in the west part of town and from here proceeded south. The company started away from here ahead of him and he started in pursuit. His feet got sore and he took off his boots and traveled barefooted. Just before he reached camp, he met a bear and they had a tussle. The noise of the conflict was heard at camp and when some of his comrades reached him they found him beating the bear over the head with a boot…Cañon City Clipper, Dec. 31, 1901
Prescott passed away on December 28, 1901 at the age of 71 years.
The information presented in this article is compiled using research conducted by the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.