Avon’s Hahnewald barn debate has yielded a small treasure: a historic photograph of barn-builder Albert Hahnewald, sent by a great-great nephew Brent Baca to the ECHS. For the first time, we have an image of this Avon rancher, and can piece together his story.
This is a classic Eagle County pioneer tale. Born in Germany in 1867, Albert immigrated to the United States in 1881, seeking adventure and opportunity. He landed in Fredericksburg, Texas, a German immigrant town in the hill country where he met his wife, Frances. By the mid 1890s, the Hahnewalds and their three children were living in Leadville, Colorado, undoubtedly drawn by the silver mining excitement. Albert and his four brothers discovered a rich ore lode and developed several productive mines.
Typical of the multi-tasking pioneers of the era, the brothers also owned the Colorado Bakery in Leadville, selling groceries and baked goods to the miners. Additionally, Albert worked as a saloonkeeper and served two terms as a town alderman.
Sometime around 1908, Albert and Frances relocated to the Eagle River Valley, in the Avon area. Records indicate that Albert’s father likely acquired the 160-acre homestead, and bequeathed the land to his sons. The Hahnewalds built a log home and large barn. The “Hahnewald Land & Livestock Company,” raised prize-winning Herford cattle and grew crops of grain and hay. Albert acquired an additional 900 acres of land near Edwards and ran 1,000 head of cattle in the country between Gore Creek and Red Canyon (east of the Wolcott Springs Golf Course).
In November 1915, Albert sold the Avon property to another German immigrant, Paul Kroelling, for $15,000. The Hahnewalds apparently headquartered on their Edwards land, but also maintained a home in the Park Hill area of Denver. Their oldest son took over the management of the ranch, but left to serve in the United States Army during World War I.
Albert Hahnewald was on a cattle-selling trip to Kansas City in December 1918, when the Spanish Influenza epidemic caught up with him. Very sick when he returned to Denver, he died before the New Year at the age of 51. He is buried in the historic Fairmount Cemetery in Denver.
The recently submitted photo is the only image of Albert Hahnewald that we have seen. Photo notations indicate that Albert was painting a bridge at Avon. Archival records indicate the first Avon bridge crossed the Eagle River near the Avon railroad stockyards (adjacent to the current Burger King location). The family would welcome information about the bridge or Albert. Send information to ECHS@eaglecountyhistoricalsociety.com.