Biography of William R. Lee

Mr. Lee, who is one of Colorado’s most active and prominent promoters, conducts a ranch of two hundred and forty acres located eight miles west of Rifle, and also is proprietor of the Glenwood Hotel, is a native of Dresden, Muskingum county, Ohio, where he was born on September 9, 1856, and is the son of John N. and Eliza (Rittenhouse) Lee, the father born in West Virginia near Harper’s Ferry and the mother in Ohio, but both descended from Virginia families. The parents located in Ohio in early life and remained there to the end of their days. They were members of the Christian church, and the father was a successful merchant in business and an active Democrat in politics. They had eight children, four of whom have died, George in 1866, Charles A. in 1881, Frank M. in 1888, and Edward in infancy. The three of these who grew to maturity all fought in defense of the Union in the Civil war. The father died in 1864 and the mother in 1865. The four living children are: John J., who lives at Leeton, Missouri; Albert, a resident of Colorado; William R., the immediate subject of this paper; and Howard T., who lives in Denver and is interested in the Daily Sentinel which is published at Grand Junction. William R. Lee was educated at the public schools, and had but limited advantages in them, as at the age of thirteen he was obliged to make his own living, which he did by working on the farm at eight dollars a month and his board. In 1875, at the age of nineteen, he came to Colorado, and after passing a short time at Las Animas, wintered at Pueblo. In the spring of 1876, he moved to California Gulch, now Leadville, where he followed mining and engaged in other pursuits for two years. He was then interested for a time in real estate deals, and in 1887 settled at Glenwood Springs, where he occupied himself in ranching and raising stock, especially cattle, which proved both interesting and profitable. Here he also dealt in real estate to an extent, buying and selling several properties. He now owns a fine ranch of two hundred and forty acres, of which one hundred and twenty-five acres can be easily cultivated and the rest is good grazing ground. His principal crops are hay, grain and fruit. He owns the water rights to his land, and has excellent springs near the dwelling for domestic purposes. The ranch is on the south side of Grand River, about eight miles west of Rifle, as has been stated, and is admirably located for its present uses. Mr. Lee, however, lives at Glenwood and is the proprietor of the Glenwood Hotel. But prosperous and well-to-do as he is now, his life in the West has not been wholly free from privations and hardships. He made the journey to Aspen on foot with his blankets packed on his back. There he located a number of mining claims which he subsequently sold, but was not very successful in mining. On February 2, 1878, he was married to Miss Otelia Grant, a native of Ottumwa, Iowa, the daughter of John M. and Lucinda L. (Lewellyn) Grant, the former a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, and the latter of Bowling Green, Kentucky. The mother died at Colorado Springs on September 12, 1876, and the father at Leadville in 1880. The father was a civil engineer and came to this state with the Horace Greeley colonists. He assisted in laying out Colorado Springs, and was a successful man in all his life work. In politics he supported the Republican party. Three children were born in the family. One of them, Mrs. Alice Pomeroy, died in 1880. The two living are Mrs. Lee and her sister Jane, the wife of Henry Guyll, who lives in Newcastle, California. Mr. and Mrs. Lee have had eight children, three of whom died in infancy. The five living are Francis A., of Glenwood Springs; Vera M., the wife of William J. Toepfer, of Glenwood Springs; Alice, Ethel, and Gladdys. Mr. Lee has been an active member of the order of Odd Fellows during the last twenty-five years. He also belongs to the Elks and the Woodmen of the World. He is an active man in Republican politics and one of the leading factors in the progress and development of the Western slope, being earnest and zealous in every commendable enterprise involving the welfare of the section or the comfort and convenience of its people. Coming among this people an unknown boy, with almost nothing in the way of worldly wealth except the clothing on his back, he has shown an enterprise and public spirit that have raised him to consequence and given him a high place in the regard of every element in the community, of which he is an honored and much esteemed citizen, widely known on all sides for breadth of view, wisdom in counsel, energy in action and a genial and gracious manner which helps to soften the asperities of life for others and add to its sunshine.


Source: Bowen, A. W. Progressive Men of Western Colorado. Chicago: A. W. Bowen & Co., Publishers. 1905.


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