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Sunday, February 3, 2019


I return to the First Ladies Series with a piece written by my friend and Queen Palmer expert, Dianne Hartshorn.  If you wish to see the prior posts in this series, you can find them here:

Elizabeth McAllister
Cara Bell
Grace Greenwood

Lucy Maggard

Helen (Hunt) Jackson

Imagine you are a new bride of twenty one who finally received word from your husband to join him at your new home on the Colorado frontier. The reunion, however, is not at all you’d planned. Your dear husband is nowhere to be found; however, he did ask a business partner to meet you at the train. By the way, did I also mentioned, you were accompanied by your father, stepmother and several of your step-siblings? In addition, it's a March Spring day, which in the high desert plains where you’re new home is, usually means miserable snowy weather.

What would you do? Would you step back on that train and return home to your comfortable home in Flushing New York, or would you accept the challenge of the adventure?
Mary 'Queen' Lincoln Melon Palmer
as a young woman
Imagine asking yourself those questions. Mary Lincoln Mellon Palmer, who could be considered the First Lady of Colorado Springs, may have asked herself those very questions, as she stepped off the train at the Denver and Rio Grande Depot in March of 1871. It was a dismal spring day, snowing, cold and downright miserable. William Jackson Palmer, her husband, founder of Colorado Springs, the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, and responsible for a great deal of development of Colorado's front range, was nowhere around. He had been detained on a survey expedition in the mountains. Most young ladies might have purchased a return ticket home, but not our Queen.

Mary Lincoln Mellon was born March 24, 1850, in Prestonsburg KY. to William and Isabel Clark Mellon. Isabel’s parents, Charlotte and Nathan Clark were pioneers on the Minnesota Frontier. The story is, Isabel’s sister, Charlotte, was the first white child born in MN.

Charlotte, Mary’s grandmother, is the one to bestow the nickname ‘Queen’ to Mary while still a child. Isabel, unlike her mother Charlotte, did not inherit that strong pioneer constitution. When “Queen’ was only four, her mother, Isabel, died at the age of twenty-five. When Isabel’s husband, William, remarried it was to Isabel’s younger sister, Charlotte. Through this union, Queen was blessed with seven step-brothers and sisters.

Queen’s father, a prominent player in Washington politics, served as an agent for the treasury department during the Civil War. When the war ended, Mr. Mellon traveled a great deal seeking investment opportunities. As the eldest child, Queen would accompany her father on many of these business trips. One on particular trip, she and her father made the acquaintance of the charming and dashing Civil War hero, and empire builder, William Jackson Palmer. The two fell in love and married a year later.

Pikes Peak in the Springtime
photo property of Doris McCraw
It was an exciting time for those involved in building the Fountain Colony, associated with the now Colorado Springs, located at the foot of Pikes Peak. Queen understood how important her role was, not only to her husband’s dream, but to the community as well.
Queen’s father, Mr. Mellon, was also an intricate part of the expansion of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. He was deeply involved in the establishment of South Pueblo, in addition to being a significant investor in Palmer’s Denver and Rio Grande Railroad.

Queen didn’t wait for things to happen, she made things happen. She’d had the opportunity of a good education and realized the success of the colony depended on its children, and their education. She started the first school, serving as its first teacher. The family lived in a beautiful estate nestled in the canons off of Camp Creek about an hour from the new town. So each school day was a two hour trip for Queen, which she gladly did.

She also worked tirelessly along with other women in the new colony. She was aided by the energy of Rose Kingsley, a friend from England. Rose's brother Maurice served as the treasurer for the Colorado Springs Land Company. Together, Queen and Rose, would put on concerts and other entertaining events to bolster the spirits of the colony’s inhabitants. She encouraged the donation of books for the colony’s reading room. One of the donors was author, Helen Hunt Jackson. Queen was also responsible for the first Christmas party.

Garden of the Gods- Near Queen's Canhon
Photo property of Doris McCraw

As you can see, Queen had a zest for life. She enjoyed sharing the beauty of the region by escorting guests on hikes and carriage rides. Many of these trips included Queen’s Canyon, Manitou Springs, and the nearby vicinity.

In early 1872, she and Rose Kingsley accompanied General Palmer and other gentlemen into the wild’s of Mexico. It was just prior to this trip that Queen learned she was expecting their first child.

Like her mother, Queen also did not inherit the strength of her pioneering grandmother. She suffered her first heart attack at the age of thirty, on a return trip from Leadville, CO. It was several months later that the Palmer’s welcomed their second child.

In the hope of regaining her health, Queen moved to England. She wanted to watch her daughters grow into young women. General Palmer frequently visited England, to see his wife and their three daughters. Despite her wish to live in the town she helped create, and to watch her daughter grow to young women, it was not to be. In December of 1894, shortly after Christmas, Queen died. She was only forty-four years old.

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in

Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet
For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Photo and Poem: Click Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here


  1. I love reading about these fearless brave women. Queen was a force of nature, for sure. Thanks for an other interesting post.

    1. You are most welcome. I love women's histories and enjoy sharing the stories. Doris

  2. An amazing article. I never heard of any of these historical figures and what they did for the state of Colorado. I am afraid I would have gotten that return ticket back home unlike Mary "Queen". LOL Thank you for the great information.
    All the best to you, Doris.

    1. You are welcome Sarah. I know there are so many stories that are important to certain regions, but they don't always get shared with the rest of the world. I'm hoping to change some of that with this series. I bet there are some amazing people where you live also.

      I don't know if I would have returned. I'm just stubborn enough to stick it out and say 'I told you so' LOL Here's to continued success for you also. Doris

  3. Thanks again for helping us remember these women. I love that picture of Queen. She must have loved her husband very much and have a tremendous spirit to step off that train.Luckily she wasn't alone.

    1. Queen has long been maligned for going to England when she realized she couldn't live in Colorado with her husband. Many forget that she loved and believed in him long before she became ill.

      I'm glad you enjoyed Queen's story, Patti. Doris

  4. Doris,

    I am in awe of these pioneering women. I'm so thankful you share their stories with us.

    1. They were pretty amazing. I just want their part of the story remembered. I'm glad you've been enjoying the posts. Stay warm and hope to see you soon. Doris

  5. I've never heard of Queen. What an interesting post, Doris.

    1. I think because she had to leave early in the development of the city, some have tended to forget her. In addition there was some negative press during the 50s that didn't help. She really was a fascinating person. Doris