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The Colorado town of Greeley is named after a famous American newspaperman, Horace Greeley (1811-1872), who founded the New York Tribune newspaper in 1841. Later, he stood unsuccessfully for the United States presidency.

We learned of this in an email from our friend TV Hagenah (that's his real name), editor of the twice-weekly Quay County Sun, in Tucumcari (population 7000), New Mexico.

TV's narrative was so interesting that we asked him if we could post it in this e-book. He replied: "You are welcome to do so if you wish. I have not researched it. It was just the ramblings of a small town editor who got the paper out before 2 a.m. and didn't get enough sleep."

Here is TV Hagenah's story:

The town of Greeley was founded by an obsessive fan of Horace Greeley. When Greeley said, "Go West young man, go West," Nathan Meeker just knew he was talking to him. So he gathered a group of idealistic educators and business people around him and headed to the plains of Colorado to build a city based on the teachings of Greeley.

Meeker was one of those guys that just knew his idol was keenly aware of everything he was doing. It was far from the case. Meeker was sending daily letters to Greeley about the progress of the community and initially Greeley would read them, but as time went on he ordered his secretary to trash them.

Anyway, Meeker repeatedly begged Greeley to design the flag of the Greeley Tribune, named after Greeley and his New York newspaper. By this time Greeley was so sick of the guy he just wrote out in script the words "Greeley Tribune." And that was the Greeley Tribune flag for about 100 years.

Sometime in the 1980s (I believe) the owners of the paper decided the handwritten flag looked a bit silly and designed a modern "hip" masthead. They got so much grief about that from the locals, they ran the old flag superimposed on the new one. Now they've added another kind of flag (the Stars and Stripes) and demoted and reduced the size of Horace Greeley's original masthead.

Now a bit more history of Meeker. As I said, he was an obsessive. He was also something of a blue stocking. He allowed no "evil" influences to contaminate his community. There is still a law on the books in Greeley that if a woman shows her ankles in public she will be arrested. It is no longer enforced, but it is still there.

He also outlawed all liquor sales, dancing and general carrying on in Greeley, so a town grew up just on the edge of the utopian city to provide all those illicit pleasures to individuals who might want a periodic break from the purity of Greeley.

To combat this, Meeker had an eight-foot tall solid wooden fence built around the city separating it from Evans (the evil community). I am told that one of the hottest items in Greeley at that time were maps of the fence showing which slats were fixed so people could go through.

After a while, the people of Greeley eventually got sick of Meeker and ran him and some of his more fanatical followers out of town. He once again called upon Greeley to help him out, and Greeley got him a job as an Indian agent. In those days being an Indian agent was a sinecure and basically all you had to do was collect your pay, skim as much money from the tribes as possible and never go near the reservation.

Meeker would have none of that. He, his wife, his children and a handful of loyal followers actually went to the reservation to make sure the heathens were treated well. The Utes were a hunter/gatherer type tribe and he tried to convert them to farming and Christianity, basically not giving them supplies unless they did planting, went to church, dressed conservatively and the like.

Things went well until he tried to stop horseracing and betting by the Utes on those races. Apparently he had a crop planted on the racetrack and when they continued to race over the crop he punished those involved by withholding supplies and, I have heard, beating a young man involved with a whip.

The young men rose up and killed off all of the white men including Meeker. They were very polite to the women. That was the Meeker massacre. Soldiers came in and killed a number of the Indians and moved them out to a more isolated and desolate area. The town of Meeker now stands not far from the reservation site.

We first contacted TV Hagenah three years ago, when he was editor of the Fowler Tribune in Colorado. We asked him if TV was his real name. He replied: "My name is indeed TV Hagenah. I worked my way through high school and university as a radio disc jockey and it was during the 'crazy '60s' so every DJ had to have a crazy name, and since T and V were my initials, the station manager at my first station came up with the idea of 'TV on the Radio.'

"The name has stuck. No matter where I went someone seemed to know 'TV'. I had my name legally changed about 25 years ago. It has come in handy when trying to get jobs in newspapers too. If it comes down to me and another fellow going for the job, I have been told that bosses have said, 'What the hell, at least it will look good as a byline.'

"I had been working on big city dailies when I decided that it would be fun and less stressful to buy a percentage of a small weekly and edit it. I figured it would be something of a working retirement.

"Boy was I wrong. It's the hardest I have ever worked in my life. I not only edit and layout the paper but generally write most of the stories and take all the photos. And the stress....Don't even ask about the stress.

"Don't get me wrong. I love it, but I sleep at the office far too often and I really wonder what my house looks like in the daylight. But I can tell you about judging cattle, why the sewer plant is backing up, who fathered Miss X's child and... you get the idea."

FEEDBACK: In western Kansas, there exists a Greeley County; the county seat is Tribune and there is a hamlet a mile west called Horace. Greeley, Colorado, is about 310 miles northwest (driving distance).
-- Charlie O'Reilly.





After this story was first posted, we received this feedback:

In western Kansas, there's a Greeley County; the county seat is Tribune and a mile west is a hamlet called Horace. Greeley, Colorado, is about 310 miles northwest (driving distance).

I'm a county collector. My idea of a cool way to see the United States is to visit as many of its counties as I can. Including boroughs and census divisions in Alaska, parishes in Louisiana, and independent cities in several states, I have visited 2100 of the 3141 U.S. counties and county equivalents (a shade over two-thirds). These counties represent 89.6% of the U.S. population as of the 2000 census.

I have passed through Weld County, Colorado., although I haven't been to Greeley. I've never been to Greeley County, Kansas, but I discovered it when I was plotting a potential trip to pick up some additional counties in the Plains.

Greeley, Colorado, is pretty big -- it has about 77,000 people. On the other hand, Greeley County, Kansas, has a population of just 1,534 -- 835 of whom live in Tribune.

There is also a Greeley County in Nebraska, pop. 2,714. Its seat is also named Greeley, pop. 531. It's about 50 miles north of Grand Island.
Charlie O'Reilly.

Then TV Hagenah replied:

I went to college in Greeley, Colorado when there were three girls for every guy at the college. That was a very pleasant experience for a young single male. I worked on the Tribune for a while. Then I lived just north and later just east of Greeley County, Kansas. I often passed through it.

I thought it humorous that "Tribune" was the county seat of "Greeley" County. Tribune High School's mascot is great. They are the Fighting Jackrabbits. I love it.


Story first posted June 2004

Copyright 2004

Eric Shackle

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