The Collom name was well known in Moffat County at the turn of the 20th century, thanks to Arthur Collom, a prosperous pioneer living in Axial basin, and Charles Collom, a Craig businessman who partnered with Lewis Breeze to open a mercantile business.
Charles later became part owner of the Collom, Goddard and Company mercantile store in Craig.
Somewhat less well known was Charles' sister, Mattie, or Martha, Collom. Living in Northwest Colorado for a decade around the turn of the last century, she left an imprint on the region as an area schoolteacher, giving pioneer children an education at a number of schools across the county.
Craig School - 1892
Research by the staff at the Museum of Northwest Colorado recently has uncovered some facts and photographs from the Stoddard collection detailing a portion of the life of Mattie Collom as a schoolteacher.
Museum director Dan Davidson said one photograph is especially important to Northwest Colorado history.
"This is the only photograph of the inside of the schoolhouse in that period," he said. "It was Craig's first real building, after the early log buildings. It was built in 1892 and was almost identical to the schools built in Hayden and Steamboat Springs."
A bond issue was passed to raise funds for building the school, and it was widely thought there would never be enough children in the area to fill the four-room structure.
The building operated as the Craig School until 1916, and, like other teachers of the time period, Mattie Collom was typical of individuals hired for teaching the children, Davidson said. She was single and had family in the area that she could stay with.
The 1900 U.S. Census lists Mattie J. Collom as 33 years old, born about 1867 in Colorado.
Mattie likely moved from her parents' Golden home to live with her brother Charles and his wife, Mary, in Axial in what was then Routt County during the late 1880s.
The History of Rural Schools of Moffat County lists Mattie as a teacher at the Upper Elkhead School and the Slater School in the early 1890s. She also taught at the Emerson School in Lay about 1900.
Mattie Collom appeared in newspaper photos describing a local play in 1894, and the Craig Girl's Tennis Club in 1899.
Collom is listed as teaching school in Craig between 1898 and 1902 in District 5 of the Routt County School District.
A souvenir card given to students for the 1901-02 school year features a photograph of Mattie Collom and a list of her students. A museum photograph shows the teacher in her classroom, a drawing of Lincoln on the blackboard and a flock of stuffed birds for teaching aids.
A Routt County Courier article published in 1903 announces that Mattie married Reverend J. H. Singleton in Golden on December 13, 1902. The bride is listed as a Craig schoolteacher, and the groom as pastor of the Congregational Church of Hayden.
About that same time, Collom was offered a teaching position for the fifth and sixth grades at the South Golden School, which she accepted, leaving Northwest Colorado behind her.
By the 1910 census, Mattie Collom is once again listed as single, and she died July 14, 1925, in Jefferson County.
Dan Olsen can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 207, or firstname.lastname@example.org.