SILVIA PETTEM
THE BOOK LODE, LLC

Historical Research & Writing

ARTICLES

I have been writing for the Boulder Daily Camera since 1977, starting with historical features, as well as a food column. From 1984 to 1988, I wrote historical features for the Longmont Times-Call. From 1996-1998, I wrote a history column for the Boulder Planet. During this time, I also contributed to the Coloradan (the University of Colorado's alumni magazine) and have freelanced for a number of national and international publications from the California Mining Journal and Evidence Technology Magazine to the British magazine Cornish World.

In 1998, I returned to the Camera as history columnist. Compilations of some of my history columns are in my books Only in Boulder: The County’s Colorful Characters and Boulder: A Sense of Time and Place Revisited (see Books page). I still write a history column for the Camera, sharing the position with long-time friend and colleague Carol Taylor.

Below are links to a couple of my recent history columns.

Three members of the Jamestown Community Church posed on its steps in 1938.

Roots run deep for Jamestown Community Church

Camera, June 30, 2017

A 13-year-old girl living in the Boulder County mountain town of Jamestown at the time of the 1894 flood was interviewed, years later, about what she had witnessed. Of the community's only church, she stated, "That second morning (of the flood), the creek commenced cutting the ground out from under it. Sometime between 11 and 12 o'clock it went down. I'll never forget that bell. It tolled as the building slid down into the water."

Worshippers regrouped, at first in a residence, and life continued. On Saturday, Aug. 19, the Jamestown Community Church will be celebrating its 100th anniversary. But church records are sketchy, and the congregation's roots go further back in time..… Read more

Jamestown Community Church

This photo of the 1200 block of Pearl St. is the oldest-known photo of Boulder.

Detailed look at earliest-known photo of Boulder

Camera, August 27,, 2017
Lots of photos exist from Boulder's early days, including many taken by Joseph B. Sturtevant between 1884 and 1910. However, an 1866 photo of Pearl Street clearly bears his name, and it wasn't taken by him at all.

On March 20, 1889, the editor of the Boulder County Herald wrote, "In the rubbish, at a second-hand store, Joseph Sturtevant found an old photograph which he would not sell for $20. It was taken in Boulder in 1866.” Sturtevant re-photographed the image, then wrote his name on his own glass plate negative. Although his action confuses today's historians, the prolific photographer did us a service by allowing us to peer into the past. Read more

Boulder’s Oldest Photo

Rex Lee Douglas was a pastor in Lyons, Colorado.

Rex Lee Douglas –– Missing since 1984

Camera, August 16, 2017

On a Sunday morning in February 1984, a police officer attended the Old Stone Congregational Church in Lyons, in northern Boulder County, where he told the worshippers that their 61-year-old minister, the Rev. Rex Lee Douglas, had not returned as expected from a business trip to Missouri.

"We told them that we were doing everything we possibly could," the officer explained to a newspaper reporter. "They just sat there. Some started crying.” After 33 years, Douglas' whereabouts are still unknown, and his missing person's case is filled with unanswered questions.… Read more

Rex Lee Douglas –– missing

A century ago, oil industry excited the locals

Camera, July 2, 2017
In 1901, Isaac Canfield drilled for oil on the McKenzie farm near today's Boulder airport. Many years later, in 2002, the city of Boulder landmarked the site. The pump jack and tank (from a later date) are still in place in the median of Colo. 119 (the Diagonal) near its intersection with Independence Road.

Until the recent upturn in activity in Boulder County's oil and natural gas production, most residents didn't give the industry a second thought. But, the situation was different in 1902. Canfield had hit "black gold," and the locals could hardly contain their excitement. …. Read more

Oil Industry




Edward Baker’s grave has finally has been recognized, as documented in the Buffalo Soldier story. Below, in the first row, are a few photos from October 11, 2016 when members of the Buffalo Soldier Organization assisted Jack Box in setting the stone.

When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
Sherlock Holmes (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

RESEARCH SPECIALTIES:
Long-term missing persons
Unidentified remains
Cold case homicides
Boulder County, Colorado, history