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The Atwood Colony

by Naomi Johnson, 2013
The first time I heard about Atwood was during a Jewish Genealogical Society of Colorado meeting several years ago. The group was asked if anyone had information they could share with the library in Sterling, Colorado about this Jewish colony that was located in Atwood, Colorado in the late 1890s. Atwood is about 120 miles northeast of Denver; 90 miles east of Greeley, or about 7 miles southwest of Sterling. It is thought that all the Jewish settlers left that area in the early 1900s due to lack of assets with which to successfully farm there.
My interest was piqued and I started to delve into researching this project through resources I could obtain through UNC’s Michener Library (where I work) and information procured from any descendants of these settlers.
My first contacts, Alan Gass of Denver and Nina Judd of Boulder provided me with many connections as well as did Jeanne Abrams and Thyria of the Jewish Historical Society at Denver University.The information comes from newspapers, books, pamphlets and from personal accounts that were either written or audio that was recorded.
I do plan to eventually visit the area and delve into documents from the Logan County Courthouse and to visit the cemetery at Atwood. It states in one of the sources that a Jewish cemetery exists behind the school house in Atwood. I do plan to eventually visit the area, and see if this cemetery still exists and to delve into documents in the Logan County Courthouse.
Since there were no formal records kept from this colony, and the personal accounts are quite contradictory, I welcome anyone with more information to send me corrections to my email and I will rectify errors or add information. Even the newspaper cannot be relied on, since one reporter erroneously calls the town “Edward” throughout the article! Early accounts say that there were about 200 settlers in Atwood, but my cumulative accounts can name only about 20. It would be wonderful to add names to the list so that more can be accounted for.

Atwood Colony: A Historical Compilation
Atwood Colony: Excerpts from newspapers and publications
Atwood Colony: Historical Research
Atwood Colony: Personal Narratives