Cool Off with this Brief Local History of Ice and Ice Cream

Did you know that ice cream was once considered a luxury? Or did you know that in early Greeley, it would have probably been enjoyed in the winter?

Ice cream is such an iconic summertime treat, that it is hard to imagine someone would go to great effort and expense to have some during a Colorado winter. This was due to the difficulty of harvesting and storing its most essential ingredient, ice.

Although ice houses may have been used as far back as 4,000 years ago in Mesopotamia, storing ice was difficult before the advent of electric refrigeration. Therefore, the creation of frozen treats took centuries to take off and anything resembling America’s most popular dessert did not appear until medieval times. At that time, Persians and Turks sipped on sharab or sharabt, what you might know as sherbet.

The trend soon picked up in Europe, and Italians became exemplary producers of the concoction, often spiking them with wine or spices. In the 17th century, Antonio Latini was credited with writing down the first sorbetto recipe.

By the 18th century, people enjoyed these expensive treats in stylish shops throughout France and Italy. In 1775, a book by a Neapolitan physician promoted eating frozen desserts for your health: cinnamon-flavored would help with pain, lemon could sooth you stomach, and chocolate might improve your mood. This still seems like sound advice and perfectly legitimate reasons to go enjoy a scoop.

With the popularity of ice cream rising and also reaching the American colonies, freezing methods improved.

In 1843, Nancy Johnson received a patent for a mechanical ice cream machine. Prior to Johnson’s ‘artificial freezer’, the pot freezer method was used. Cooks would place sugar, cream, and flavorings into a container fitted into a pail filled with an ice and salt mixture. The cream was shaken up and down while beating it and scraping it from the sides. This difficult process took a few hours to make ice cream.

With Johnson’s process a crank turned a ‘dasher’ which scraped and churned the cream, making ice cream in mere minutes.

Where did all of this ice come from? Ice harvesters cut ice blocks from lakes and ponds during the winter months. In 1886, at the peak of the natural ice boom, over 25 million tons of ice were harvested in the United States.

In Greeley, most ice was harvested from Seeley Lake and stored in ice houses insulated with straw or hay. In 1871, Captain Abbott of Greeley claimed to store 200 tons of 16-inch-thick ice in a structure insulated with a 2-foot thickness of hay.

According to the Greeley Tribune, having plenty of ice was necessary since “no greater insult can be offered to a temperance man than to offer him warm water to drink.”

In 1898, the Greeley Ice and Storage Company opened its factory doors. Their slogan, “Artificial Ice, Absolutely Pure”, advertised the purity of its ice due to their thorough filtering process. This marketing tactic aimed to compare its product with ice from Seeley Lake that was sometimes brown with chunks and contaminates.

By the 20th century, and with the advent of electric refrigeration, ice cream soda fountains popped up in department stores and cafes around the country, including in Greeley.

Here’s one of Greeley’s very own ice cream places:

Eberle’s Ice Cream Store circa 1960. The storefront was located at 1718 9th Street.







Written by Nicole Famiglietti, Curator of Exhibits

Revival of a Centennial Village Museum Classic: 2018 Tea Party Scheduled

Revival of a Centennial Village Museum Classic: 2018 Tea Party Scheduled

FOR RELEASE: Centennial Village, 1475 A St., announces the return of a longtime museum tradition, its annual tea party. The Afternoon Tea Party at Centennial Village is scheduled for Friday, June 15, from 2 to 3:30 p.m.

The Victorian-styled event will feature refreshments, musical entertainment and, of course, tea. Attendants can expect to be dazzled with the elegant amenities that create an atmosphere of class and sophistication known to the society of the late 1800s.

Staff at Centennial Village are excited by the homecoming of this once popular event, and anticipates success similar to that of other re-heralded events.

Tickets are $25 a person. Seating is limited and tickets must be purchased prior to the event, call 970-350-9220 for more information.


For more information, contact:
Scott Chartier, Curator of Historic Sites

2018 Centennial Celebration Scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend

2018 Centennial Celebration Scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend

FOR RELEASE: The City of Greeley is proud to begin Centennial Village’s 2018 season with Centennial Celebration, scheduled for Saturday, May 26, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, May 27, from noon to 4 p.m.

Events held throughout the two-day celebration include blacksmithing and print shop demonstrations, and tours of the historical Stevens-Reynolds, Carpenter and Bolin Houses. The Buffalo Soldiers’ performances will be held at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Centennial Village provides an audio and visual mobile phone tour, available in both English and Spanish, which includes photos and additional information. Individual carrier data rates may apply. Printed tours, also available in multiple languages, can be picked up at the front desk.

Admission to Centennial Celebration is $8 per adult, $6 per senior and $5 per child ages 3 and up. The museum has a special family rate of $18 for a group of five.

Located just south of Island Grove Regional Park in Greeley, Centennial Village Museum is northern Colorado’s 8-acre outdoor living history experience. The museum preserves life in the Colorado high plains region from the last 150 years and is open to the public from the end of May until the beginning of September, with several special events planned throughout the year.

For more information about Centennial Village and the Centennial Celebration event, visit or call 970-350-9220.


For more information, contact:
Scott Chartier, Historic Sites Curator

Severance Vigilantes Act Out Against Pro-German Sentiment

Severance Vigilantes Act Out Against Pro-German Sentiment

On April 6, 1917, Congress declared war on Germany and America entered World War I. At this time, several thousand Germans-from-Russia lived in Weld County, many having arrived after 1902 to work as “stoop laborers” in the sugar beet fields. These immigrants were descendants of Germans recruited by Catherine the Great of Russia to settle and farm in autonomous colonies along the Volga River and other places in Russia starting in 1762.

For almost 100 years, the German colonists enjoyed the protections promised by Catherine the Great, including exemption from military service and cultural autonomy (German language, customs, and religion were preserved). However, Czar Alexander II instituted “Russification” programs starting in the mid-19th century that imposed radical changes on the German colonies and the freedoms they once enjoyed. In addition, several periods of drought and famine forced many Germans in Russia to immigrate to Canada, South America, Mexico, and the United States.

These hardy and hard working people–German by culture and language, but Russian by nationality–quickly became indispensable as laborers who tended thousands of acres of sugar beets in Weld County’s irrigated districts. But, not all residents understood or approved of them, derogatorily called them “Rooshins” or “dirty Rooshins,” and were perplexed by their habits and customs. For example, they snacked on sunflower seeds, which locals called “Rooshin peanuts.”

Greeley’s East Side between the railroad tracks and the sugar factory saw an influx of Germans-from-Russia and by 1905 the area was nicknamed “Little Russia.”

Anti-German sentiment across the country intensified in the months following America’s entry into World War I. In Weld County, people of German ancestry were regarded as potential threats to national security and their perceived lack of allegiance to the U.S. or their opinions about the war efforts could have dire consequences.  In January 1918, Weld County Judge Herbert M. Baker and District Attorney Harry B. Tedrow issued an edict to ministers and teachers in parochial schools that German language classes would not be tolerated. German clergymen in Windsor closed their parochial schools at this time, as did pastors in other districts.

National security was of tantamount importance, and throughout Weld County vigilante societies had been quietly organizing and arming themselves to root out and confront the “pro-German peril” lurking among them.

At midnight on April 4, 1918, the first raid in Weld County by anti-German vigilantes occurred at the Tinsman ranch a mile north of Severance, CO. David Meier, a 40-year old tenant lived there with his wife and five children. Meier had repeatedly made disparaging remarks about President Woodrow Wilson, Red Cross drives, and the Liberty Loan program and was considered a rabid “pro-German”. Wasting no time, four vigilantes entered Meier’s dwelling, yanked him out of bed and hauled him into the barnyard where he was instantly surrounded by 30 armed men sporting a kettle of boiling tar and a bag of feathers.  His captors ripped off Meier’s nightshirt and while his terrified wife and children watched, the half-clad, trembling farmer dropped to his knees, screamed for mercy, cursed Kaiser Wilhelm, and offered to kiss the American flag.

Eventually, “out of consideration for the children,” Meier’s tormenters opted for a humane solution and spared him the indignity of a coating of hot tar and feathers. He was released under the condition that he pack his belongings and leave in 10 days . . . or be hanged.

The following evening, Mr. Meier attended a Liberty Loan meeting at Severance and purchased $500 in Liberty Bonds. The Greeley Tribune reported that he “. . . took the oath of allegiance to the United States, offered to make a statement to his fellow Russian-Germans to be published in the newspapers and persuade his neighbors to buy Liberty bonds.” The Liberty Loan workers at Severance pleaded for the vigilantes to annul their demand for Meier’s departure, as he was now a very willing voice who could easily persuade other Weld County “Russian Germans to see the light and become bona fide Americans.”

Word of the Severance vigilantes spread quickly.  Public officials praised the Severance vigilantes for the “moderation” they had shown in this first successful campaign to stamp out pro-German sentiment in Weld County.

Written by Peggy Ford-Waldo, Development Curator

Kids Delight in 2018 Baby Animal Days, April 19-29

Kids Delight in 2018 Baby Animal Days, April 19-29

FOR RELEASE: Are you ready for baby animal cuteness overload? Check out Baby Animal Days at Centennial Village, 1475 A St., Thursday, April 19 through Sunday, April 29, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day.

During the event, families can interact with various baby animals such as pigs, lambs, chicks, ducks, goats and rabbits. Some of the animals reside in the museum’s Centennial Barn throughout its regular season, and some of the animals are visiting just for this special event. The annual event happens rain or shine and admission is $3 per person, ages three and older.

New this year, visitors can also enjoy wagon rides, weather permitting, April 21, 22, 28 and 29.

Baby Animal Days takes place in the western portion of Centennial Village and although the historical buildings are closed, visitors are welcome to meander the Village’s paths, check out the museum’s cell phone tour and enjoy the gardens.

“We have a lot of families and daycares who will pack a picnic and spend quite a bit of time with the animals,” said Museum Educator Sarah Lester. “It’s a delightful experience for families to enjoy the day together.”

Agfinity, a local agricultural cooperative, is Centennial Village’s season sponsor and provides feed for the animals throughout the season.

For more information about this event, call 970-350-9220 or visit


For more information, contact:
Scott Chartier, Historic Sites Curator