It’s time to say happy birthday to someone important to the history of Cañon City, someone who is turning 198 years old! It’s the birthday of Anson Rudd, one of the first settlers in the area who lived in both the log cabin and the house right here behind the museum.
Anson Rudd was born on July 12, 1819 in Erie County, Pennsylvania. He became engaged to Harriet Spencer in 1837 at the age of 18. Harriet was just a year older at 19 but the pair did not marry for quite some time. Anson joined the gold rush in California but never struck it rich and it wasn’t until 1857 that he finally married Harriet. She must have been exceedingly patient! The Rudd’s stopped in Cañon City in 1860 while on their way to California but Harriet liked it so much the pair stayed. It was here in Cañon City they built the log cabin that still stands behind the museum today.
That cabin was the first cabin in the area to have wooden floors, and in June of 1861 their son Anson Spencer Rudd was born. The Rudd family lived in the cabin throughout the Civil War and longer. When war broke out in 1861, most men moved back east to fight for both sides of the conflict and Cañon City was all but deserted. The Rudd family was one of the few to stay. It is thought the population dropped to as low as only a dozen people. Despite this, Rudd held on to the belief the town would grow again.
Although a blacksmith by trade, Rudd held a variety of positions throughout his life. He was elected as the first territorial lieutenant governor although he never served because the election was overturned. He was the first sheriff of Fremont County and served two terms as county commissioner. He even served as the warden of the Colorado Territory Penitentiary for a short time.
It was in 1881 that he built the stone house that resides beside the log cabin. It was three stories and held four bedrooms. Anson and Harriet resided in the house until 1904 when they moved to Boulder, and soon after, Louisville. Anson died in 1907 and Harriet in 1910 and are both buried in the Fairmount cemetery in Denver.
As one of the early settlers of Cañon City, Anson holds a special place within our history. He was instrumental in building the town back up after the Civil War and left us a wonderful chance to learn about life in early Cañon City with both the cabin and the house that sit on the museum property. So happy birthday Anson Rudd! Stop by and visit us to explore the cabin and learn more about the Rudd family and their life in Cañon City!
The information presented within this article has been compiled with research conducted by the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.