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Identifier: WH60

Scope and Contents

The collection spans 1834 to 2008 and primarily documents Farrington R. Carpenter’s personal and professional life, with particular emphasis on his ranching career, work with the Division of Grazing, and autobiography Confessions of a Maverick. The collection also chronicles members of the Carpenter family, particularly Farrington’s son, Edward F. Carpenter, who was an engineer, Colorado State Representative, and musician.

Correspondence, speech scripts, articles, and clippings make up the bulk of the collection. Other materials in the collection include advertisements, agendas, albums, articles of incorporation, biographical histories, booklets, brochures, contracts, deeds, a film, flyers, forms, invitations, ledgers, lists, maps, meeting minutes, memos, notes, obituaries, oral history interview transcripts, photographic negatives and prints, planners, poems, reports, schedules, and scrapbooks.

Series 1 FARRINGTON R. CARPENTER 1855-1980, BOX 1-8

This series documents the personal and professional life of Farrington Reed Carpenter. Correspondence, speech scripts, articles, and clippings make up the bulk of the material found within the series. The series has been arranged chronologically.

The Family subseries contains mostly correspondence between Farrington and his parents, with letters from 1918 through 1919 offering detailed depictions of Farrington’s Army service during World War I and the 1918 influenza pandemic. The subseries also briefly documents Farrington’s first wife, Eunice; children Rosamond and Willis; second wife Rosamond; and relatives through articles, clippings, family Christmas cards, birth and wedding announcements, and obituaries. The Personal subseries primarily documents Carpenters’ involvement in his community, orator activity, and life story through clippings, articles, correspondence, speech typescripts, and oral history interview transcripts.

The Career subseries documents Carpenter’s lifelong involvement in ranching, as well as his legal work; military service; directorship of the Division of Grazing, the Colorado Department of Revenue, and the University of Denver’s Department of Development; and his term serving as in the Colorado House of Representatives. The bulk of the material in the series relates to ranching, the Grazing Service, and Carpenter’s ongoing interest in grazing and land policy after his departure from the Division of Grazing.

Carpenter’s ranching career is primarily documented through correspondence, land ownership records, financial records, and advertising materials. The subseries also contains Mountain Meadows Research Project reports; articles and clippings; agricultural-related speeches given by Carpenter; and meeting minutes, reports, and memos of Carpenter’s Better Beef, Inc. Records of Carpenter’s work directing the Division of Grazing include correspondence, memos, meeting transcripts, speech scripts, clippings, reports, bulletins, and maps. His involvement in grazing and land policy issues after leaving the Division of Grazing is evident in speech scripts, writings, and collected articles.

Series 2 EDWARD F. CARPENTER 1834-2008, BOX 8-17

The series documents the personal and professional life of Farrington Carpenter’s son, Edward Farrington Carpenter, and is comprised mostly of correspondence, clippings, and articles. The series has been arranged chronologically.

The Family subseries primarily chronicles Edward’s familial relationships, with the bulk of the material pertaining to his father, Farrington Reed Carpenter. Correspondence makes up the bulk of the subseries. Edward’s interest in genealogy is also documented through family group sheets, pedigree charts, notes, and the 19th-century ancestral correspondence that he collected.

The Personal subseries relates to Edward’s education, friendships, travels, and involvement in organizations. Personal correspondence and planners make up the bulk of the subseries.

The Career subseries documents Edward’s engineering work; his political involvement, including his terms in the Colorado House of Representatives; his interest in agriculture, water rights, and land conservation; his music career; and the writing and publication of his book, America’s First Grazier. The subseries is comprised mostly of clippings and correspondence.


This series details the years of work that went into producing the book Confessions of a Maverick: An Autobiography by Farrington R. Carpenter. The series has been arranged to reflect the stages of the project, including early collaboration between Farrington Carpenter and Carl Riblet, subsequent collaboration with Marshall Sprague, book chapter drafts, and the publication of the book after Farrington Carpenter’s death in 1980. Materials include articles, clippings, correspondence, manuscript drafts, notes, and reviews.

Series 4 AUDIOVISUAL 1976, BOX 18

The series contains one 8mm color film reel, which documents a cattle sale on the Carpenter ranch in 1976.

Series 5 PHOTOGRAPHS 1864-2005, PHOTOBOX 1-3, PHOTO OVFF 1

This series is arranged into three subseries: Farrington R. Carpenter, Edward F. Carpenter, and Oversize. The series has been arranged chronologically. The Farrington R. Carpenter subseries primarily contains portraits of Farrington from infancy through old age, as well photographs of Farrington’s immediate family and relatives dating from around 1864 through 1976. The subseries provides visual documentation of Farrington’s ranching career, as well as his legal work, Army service, and years spent employed with the Division of Grazing, the Colorado Department of Revenue, and the University of Denver.

The Edward F. Carpenter subseries contains mostly portraits of Edward and his immediate family, but also includes images taken of The Asheville School; Stanford University marching band; the Carpenter Ranch in Hayden, Colorado; and Edward’s 1984 Colorado House of Representative campaign and subsequent terms of service. The subseries also contains copy negatives and photographs used to Edward’s book America’s First Grazier.

The Oversize photographs subseries contains one black-and-white aerial photograph of the Winter Park Ski Area believed to date from around 1975.

Series 6 OVERSIZE 1930-1972, OVBOX 1-2, OVFF 1-2

The Oversize series contains a scrapbook, ledger, and maps mostly relating to Farrington R. Carpenter’s work in ranching and grazing policy.


  • 1834-2008
  • Majority of material found within 1910-1980

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.


All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis. All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.

Biographical / Historical


Farrington Reed Carpenter was born on August 10, 1886, in Evanston, Illinois, to Mary Belle Reed (1860-1960) and Edward Farrington Carpenter (1852-1928). Edward worked as a shoe salesman in Chicago and later built a shoe factory in Holland, Michigan, with the company Guthmann, Carpenter and Telling, Inc. Farrington’s siblings included older sister Ruth and younger siblings Kenneth, William, and Marian.

Around 1899, Farrington’s mother feared her children would suffer from tuberculosis as her deceased brother Arthur had and took them to a health resort in Colorado Springs for the winter. Farrington returned to the West in 1901 to recuperate after a bout of blood poisoning. He regained his health at the G. A. Whitney Ranch near Raton, New Mexico, and soon began working on the ranch. He left the Whitney family in 1902 to work on John B. Dawson's ranch in Dawson, New Mexico.

Farrington made his way back to Illinois to attend Evanston Township High School in the autumn of 1903. He returned to the Dawson Ranch in New Mexico during the summer of 1905 and was admitted to Princeton University in the fall. The following summer, Farrington traveled to Colorado to work on John B. Dawson's newly-acquired 2,000-acre cattle ranch in Routt County. In the summer of 1907, Farrington traveled back to Routt County and filed two 160-acre land claims; one under the Homestead Act of 1862 and the other under the Desert Land Act of 1877. Farrington named the 320-acre homestead Oak Point. In 1908, Farrington and Jack White purchased 25 purebred Hereford cattle and joined the American Hereford Association under the name Carpenter and White.

Farrington graduated with a Bachelor of Letters degree from Princeton University in 1909. Shortly thereafter, he attended Harvard Law School and graduated in 1912. Farrington returned to Hayden, Colorado, and set up a law practice in a bowling alley, where he handled mostly land and water rights disputes. He was soon appointed town attorney.

Beginning in 1917, Farrington served as the General Secretary of the Farmers’ War Council of Routt County, which served as a clearinghouse for the effective distribution of available seed and land. The council had formed in response to President Woodrow Wilson’s appeal for systematic efforts to increase food supplies. Farrington entered the U.S. Army (Infantry) on October 2, 1917, at Camp Funston, Kansas, as a private in the 64th Company, 164th Depot Brigade. He was promoted to First Sergeant in November 1917, and was moved to Camp Gordon, Georgia, in May 1918. Farrington was relocated to Fayetteville, Arkansas, and became a Second Lieutenant in June 1918. In September 1918, he was made First Lieutenant and oversaw the Student Army Training Corps (SATC) at Howard Payne College in Brownwood, Texas. Farrington was made Captain in March 1919, before being honorably discharged.

Farrington married Eunice Pleasant on August 28, 1920, in Craig, Colorado. The couple had three children: Edward Farrington (1922), Rosamond (1923), and Willis Vincent (1929).

From 1920 through 1928, Farrington served as Routt County Attorney. He was District Attorney for the 14th Judicial District of Colorado (Routt, Moffat, and Grand Counties) from 1928 until 1932.

Beginning in 1926, Farrington leased the Dawson Ranch in Routt County from the Victor-America Fuel Corporation. He rented the land for several years and purchased the property in 1946. He retained the property until his death in 1980.

In 1934, United States Secretary of Agriculture Harold Ickes chose Farrington to serve as the first director of the Division of Grazing. Implementing the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934, Farrington managed the regulation of grazing on public lands, organizing 180 million acres of land into grazing districts in 10 Western states. By establishing advisory boards in the districts, he was able to promote communication and cohesion between herders and the federal government. Farrington left the Division of Grazing in 1938, but the policies and practices he created influenced federal government public land administration for the next several decades. Farrington’s interest in land policy continued, and throughout his lifetime he researched and lectured on the topic.

Colorado Governor Ralph Carr appointed Farrington as Director of the State Revenue Department on July 1, 1941. The newly-formed department was tasked with reducing tax collecting forces and costs; changing methods of tax collection; and reorganizing several types of taxes including income and sales, service and use taxes. After 20 months of service, Farrington was dismissed from his position when the Colorado State Senate denied his confirmation on March 1, 1943.

In 1944, Morrison Shafroth, chairman of the Board of Trustees at the University of Denver, asked Farrington to study the financial assets of the institution. Farrington served as the University of Denver’s Director of Development until 1948. In 1952, Farrington Carpenter was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives as a Republican representing the 39th District. He lost re-election in 1954.

On December 8, 1954, Farrington’s wife, Eunice Pleasant Carpenter, died unexpectedly. He married Rosamond Underwood on January 4, 1956.

Farrington returned his attention to ranching during the 1950s. Beginning in the early part of the decade, an experimental seeding program was conducted on the Carpenter Ranch under the direction of Forrest M. Willhite, a researcher with Colorado State University Agricultural Experiment Stations and the Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This program, called the Mountain Meadows Research Project, experimented with nitrogen fertilization and tested a variety of crops at high altitude.

An original advocate of performance tested cattle and genetic improvement in the beef industry, Farrington served as president of the Performance Registry International and was active in the Colorado Beef Cattle Improvement Association (BCIA), and the Total Performance Records program of the American Hereford Association. Colorado State University named Farrington “Stockman of 1967,” and the following year, he founded Better Beef, Inc., an organization with the aim of “getting a fair share of meat value of beef animals back to the producer.” Farrington was a proponent of bovine ova transplants and the adoption of superior carcass standards.

During the 1970s, when Farrington was in his 90s, he became interested in writing an autobiography. He collaborated with writer Carl Riblet, and later, Marshall Sprague on developing manuscripts. Farrington Reed Carpenter died before the book was finished. He passed away at his Hayden, Colorado, home on December 12, 1980. His autobiography, Confessions of a Maverick was published by the State Historical Society of Colorado in March 1984.


Edward Farrington Carpenter was born on January 27, 1922, in Hayden, Colorado, to Farrington Reed and Eunice Pleasant Carpenter. He was raised on the family ranch with his two younger siblings, Rosamond and Willis, and attended local schools until high school. He graduated from the Asheville School in Asheville, North Carolina, in 1940. He attended Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, beginning in 1940, and was a member of the Kappa Alpha fraternity.

Edward registered with the U.S. Selective Service on May 7, 1943, while attending Stanford University. Beginning on December 24, 1944, he served as First Lieutenant, Ordnance Department, on Shemya in the Aleutian Islands. He was transferred to Ladd Field and served as Lieutenant in the 3061st Ordnance Service Company from December 1945 to August 1946. The company mainly performed truck and vehicle repair. Edward left Alaska in August 1946 and returned to Stanford University. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering in 1947. Upon college graduation, he opened a civil engineering practice in Palo Alto which focused on water-related projects.

Edward Carpenter married Gerrie DeLong in 1948. The couple had two children together, John and Evan (1952-1992). Gerrie and Edward eventually divorced, and Edward married Martha Cross (1927-2016) in 1959. Together they raised four children: Dan, Amy, Jean, and Jan. The family moved from Sonoma County, California, to Grand Junction, Colorado, in 1974, where Edward continued to work in the field of civil engineering with the firm Western Engineers. He formed his own company, Plateau Engineering Company, in 1975.

In April 1984, Edward announced his Republican candidacy for a seat in the Colorado House of Representatives, District 54. Edward won the 1984 election, as well as re-election in 1986. Many of the bills Edward introduced during his two terms related to water issues, including storage projects, dam sites, irrigation districts, salinity control, allocation of ground water, and funding to correct water pollution. He resigned from office on July 1, 1988, and returned to civil engineering consulting. He remained engaged in local politics and the Republican Party.

From the 1980s until 1992, Edward was active in the Colorado Hay and Forage Association, where he advocated for educational programs for members and more promotion of the industry. Edward, along with his siblings Rosamond and Willis, kept their father’s Hayden, Colorado, ranch operating through the 1980s with the production of hay. In 1993, the siblings signed a two-year option to sell their ranch to The Nature Conservancy. The sale was finalized 1996.

Edward was active in Rotary Club, Panorama Improvement District, Redlands Water and Power Company, the American Society of Civil Engineers, Colorado Cattlemen's Association, Club 20, and the First Presbyterian Church. A guitarist and vocalist, Edward had an interest in Western folk music and participated in Cowboy Poetry Gatherings beginning in the late 1980s. He entertained at club and church meetings throughout Colorado and released several albums.

In 2004, Vestige Press published America's First Grazier: The Biography of Farrington R. Carpenter: Cattleman, Lawyer, Administrator, Politician, Educator by Edward F. Carpenter. Edward had begun work on the book in the late 1990s.

Edward F. Carpenter died at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado, on September 1, 2009.


18 Boxes (18 linear feet)

3 photo boxes

1 PhotoOVFF

2 oversize boxes

2 Oversize file folder

1 photo envelope

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Farrington R. Carpenter, 1950s-1972. Gift, Frank H. Shafroth, 1998. Gift, Rebecca Kourlis, 2000. Gift, William C. Bradford, 2011.

Related Materials

Earl D. Sandvig Papers, CONS69
Farrington R. Carpenter Oral History, OH51
Farrington R. Carpenter Oral History, OH132-6
Memories of Isadore Bolton, OH52

Katie Rudolph
February 2019
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy Repository

10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy
Denver CO 80204 United States