History and Significance of Dearfield
Dearfield, Colorado is located in Weld County, thirty miles east of Greeley. Dearfield holds historical significance as an early African American agricultural colony founded in the early 20th century. It was established in 1910 by Oliver Toussaint Jackson, an African American entrepreneur and former Colorado state legislator. Jackson envisioned Dearfield as a self-sufficient, all-Black farming community where African Americans could achieve economic independence and escape the racial discrimination prevalent in other parts of the United States.
The town thrived for a brief period, with a peak population of around 700 residents in the 1920s. Dearfield had its own school, church, gas station, and other community facilities. Residents engaged in farming, primarily cultivating sugar beets and producing various agricultural products. Despite initial success, the Great Depression, coupled with drought and the Dust Bowl conditions of the 1930s, took a toll on Dearfield's agricultural productivity and economic stability.
The decline continued through subsequent decades, exacerbated by factors such as limited irrigation, economic challenges, and a declining population. By the 1950s, Dearfield had significantly diminished, and many residents had left in search of better opportunities. The town gradually became a ghost town, with only a few structures remaining as reminders of its past.
In recent years, there has been renewed interest in preserving the history of Dearfield, and efforts have been made to document and recognize its significance. The site has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and there are ongoing initiatives to preserve the remaining structures and educate the public about the unique history of this African American settlement in Colorado. Dearfield stands as a testament to the aspirations, challenges, and resilience of African American pioneers in the early 20th century.
Learn more about Dearfield, Colorado by checking out these resources!
National Park Service