Another Brick in the Wall

In the early years of Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility when it was still known as the Colorado State Penitentiary, things were different than they are now. For one, many inmates had jobs in town and would return to the prison at the end of the day. For some, that job was creating bricks at the Catlin brickyard. Each morning the inmates would troop over the First Street Bridge to begin their work.

The Catlin brickyard was owned by William C. Catlin and his bricks graced plenty of the buildings in the town including his own home at 1012 S. 2nd Street and the Catlin Block at 302-304 Main Street. Catlin was born in Lincolnshire, England on December 8, 1825 and was married to Mary Pilmore with whom he had six children. The family immigrated to the United States in 1850 spending time in both Ohio and Nebraska before settling in Colorado by 1860. The family, having settled in Cañon City in 1861, was one of the few that remained during the American Civil War. In 1865, their cabin, currently behind the museum, was filled to the brim with the 12 families invited to share in Christmas dinner. The entirety of the town at the time was at the Christmas dinner!

Along with brickmaking, Catlin was involved in farming, cattle raising, and the transport of goods to and from the markets in Denver (known as a freighter). He was also very involved in the community, helping Anson Rudd and Benjamin Griffin establish a school district in Fremont County. At the time of his death, Catlin had been a member of the school board for 15 years. In 1876, Catlin donated 10 acres of land for a cemetery which became known as Greenwood Pioneer Cemetery.

William Catlin passed away of pneumonia in 1896 “full of years” and, according to his obituary in the Cañon City Record, around 200 hundred school children along with their instructors and another 200 citizens attended the funeral procession of the beloved Cañon City pioneer. He is buried in Greenwood Pioneer Cemetery.

Happy Birthday William C. Catlin!

William C. Catlin, ca. 1870; Copyright Royal Gorge Regional Museum & History Center

William C. Catlin, ca. 1870; Copyright Royal Gorge Regional Museum & History Center

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