Recalling the stories of the past was a talent of Grace Norcross Allen. Her efforts as a journalist offered the residents of Greeley insight on the experiences of their predecessors through her series in the Greeley Tribune. Grace produced several series for the Greeley Tribune about life in Weld County, including “Weld County Frontier Life”, “Pioneer Days in Greeley”, “Old Houses of Greeley”, “Our Pioneer Neighbors” and “Cow Country Recollections”. Each article is written as a recounting of a favorite memory, intertwining details with personal recollections.
Born to William R. Norcross and his wife Mary, in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, Grace Norcross arrived in Greeley, Colorado in September of 1870, and remained here until her death in March of 1948. She showed an interest in writing while still in high school by joining the Greeley High School Literary Society in 1884 before graduating in 1886. After graduation, Grace became a teacher at the Pleasant Valley schools for two years before returning to Greeley and teaching at East Ward elementary school. Throughout her life she would teach in different schools in Greeley including Horace Mann and Greeley High School, but her real passion was writing, specifically as a journalist.
Grace was given the opportunity to write professionally by the Denver Republican when she became a Weld County correspondent for the newspaper. In 1900, she began writing for the Weld County Republican and later the Greeley Tribune, where she remained until 1948. After suffering from heart trouble for five years, Grace passed away in her home, attended by her son, John Henderson and friend Miss Alice Hopkins. She passed before completing her final work; a series about cowboys, which she had entitled “Cow Days”.
As a woman remembered for her recollections of the past it is only fitting to share one of her anecdotes, from one of her many series. From her series “Pioneer Days in Greeley,” Grace recalls those “terrific electrical storms which usually followed long periods of drought.” She began her article with an incident that occurred when she was about nine years old. Her parents had left Grace to care for her younger siblings while they attend the funeral of Mr. and Mrs. Humphrey; a young couple who had tragically died when their house was struck by lightning during an electrical storm. During the funeral service another electrical storm arose, leaving the Norcross children frightened. Grace, having heard that feathers were a non-conductor of electricity, sandwiched her siblings and herself between two feather mattresses to wait out the storm. They waited and waited until their parents returned home to find their children sandwiched between two feather mattresses, trembling with fear and sweltering in the heat, for the storm had passed and the sun was shining.
Originally published in the Greeley Tribune on June 10, 2013
Written by Melissa Gurney, former Archives Assistant