Skip to main content


Identifier: WH1201


The J.K. Mullen Foundation papers are divided into two main series, administration and philanthropy. The first series relates specifically to the daily administration of the Foundation. It is divided further into the following sections: administration, financial and investments. Included in investments are the Foundation's real estate transactions, stock trading, financial investments, and the Shorego Mining Company.

The second series relates to the philanthropic actions of the Foundation, specifically grants given to external charitable institutions. Included with these materials are a large group of grant proposals submitted to the Weckbaugh Foundation in 2001. The Mullen Home for the Aged and the Mullen Home for Boys/Mullen High School are also included in this series as they were most extensive programs funded by the Foundation. Many of the items in this series relate specifically to the physical and financial maintenance of the two programs, as well as meeting minutes, correspondence, finances, and reports.

The third and fourth series consist of oversize items and architectural drawings. These items relate to both the administrative and philanthropic series mentioned above. Included in Series 3 are maps, newspapers, and accounting ledgers. Organization follows those above. Series 4 relates directly to the remodeling of the Mullen Home for the Aged and contains only architectural drawings.


Contains materials relating to the administration, correspondence, financial, and organization of the J.K. Mullen Foundation. This series is divided into four sections: administration, Board of Directors, finance, and investments. Topics include general administration, facility maintenance, lawsuits, meeting minutes, correspondence, bank statements, financial reports, tax returns, stock investments, real estate purchases, and the creation of the Shorego Mining Company. Some financial records have been restricted.

Shorego Mining Company items cover the administration of the Matchless Mine and include correspondence, inquiries to and leasing of the Matchless Mine, financials statements, tax returns, company stocks, stock holders, and correspondence. Some materials reference Elizabeth "Baby Doe" Tabor, her involvement with the Matchless Mine and the legal actions brought against her. Two black and white photographs of the Matchless Mine are also included


Materials in this series document the philanthropic activities of the J.K. Mullen Foundation. Papers document the approval, discussion, applications, and correspondence with outside programs requesting funding. Materials are organized by the grant seeking organization’s name or service type. Included in this section are requests for funding made to the Weckbaugh Foundation. The Weckbaugh Foundation, working in conjunction with the J.K. Mullen Foundation, provided funds to many of the same recipients. This section covers almost exclusively between October and December 2001. Materials found in this section include correspondence, grant applications, brochures, and meeting minutes.

The papers also represent the Mullen Foundation’s continued support of the Mullen Home for the Aged and the Mullen Home for Boys/Mullen High School. The majority of materials in this section involve the administrative, financial, and maintenance of the institutions. Included are materials related to real estate, construction and expansion, correspondence, meeting minutes, facility maintenance, invoices, and receipts.


Consists of oversize items related to Series 1 and 2. Most of the items in this series directly relate finance, investments, the Mullen Home for the Aged, Mullen Home for Boys/Mullen High School and the Shorego Mining Company. Materials include survey maps, tax returns, newspapers, floor plans, accounting ledgers, and mining claims.


Consists of a set of architectural drawings for the remodeling of the Mullen Home for the Aged.


  • TBD


The collection is open for research.


Records are the physical property of the Denver Public Library.


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.


The J.K. Mullen Foundation, formerly the Denver Catholic Charitable and Benevolent Society, was established on May 19, 1924 by Denver businessmand John Kernan (J.K.) Mullen and family. John Mullen was born to Dennis Mullen (1806-1886) and Ellen Mulray (1818-1888) on June 11, 1847 in Ballinasloe, Ireland. It is unclear when his middle name was added, as it was not used until later in life. Dennis and Ellen Mullen immigrated to the United States in 1856 after the birth of their seventh child, Ella. The family settled in Oriskany Falls, New York. At the age of fourteen, J.K. Mullen formed a strong aversion to alcohol, signed a temperance oath, and left school to begin working in the Oriskany Falls Flour Mill. Mullen quickly learned the mill’s operation, becoming manager by the age of twenty. In 1867, Mullen migrated to Kansas where he worked in a few small flour mills. When he arrived in Colorado in 1871, he found employment digging irrigation ditches. Soon after he became a junior miller at Denver’s Merchant’s Mills, and then the mill’s manager in 1873.

In 1874, Mullen volunteered to teach a boys Sunday school class at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Denver, Colorado. There he met fellow teacher Catherine Smith. They were married on October 12, 1874 in Denver, Colorado. Together the couple had five daughters: Ella Theressa (1876-1971), Mary “May” Rose (1877-1952), Katherine (1879-1930), Frances Edith (1881-1967), and Anne (1884-1888).

By 1900, Mullen had founded the J.K. Mullen and Company, and had become General Manager of the Colorado Milling and Elevator Company. His investments were then estimated around $1 million. J.K. worked in the flour industry until 1924, when Catherine’s declining health forced him into semi-retirement. By this time he had accumulated a total of 300 mills, warehouses and grain elevators in eight states. He also experienced the death of this youngest daughter, Anne, in 1888, several life threatening illnesses, the “Black Panic” of 1893, failed investments, family feuds, assault, the marriages of his four surviving daughters, and became a well known philanthropist.

Some of Mullen’s earliest financial contributions were made in 1902 to a variety of charities and civic programs. His private donations went to several Catholic institutions, the University of Denver, Illiff School of Theology, Denver Public Library, Regis University and the Catholic University of America. He also contributed financially to the construction of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, and the installation of statues in Denver’s Civic Center Park.

Mullen established the Denver Catholic Charitable and Benevolent Society as a way to preserve a legacy for his descendants. The first meeting was held at the Mullen home in May, 1924. Family members served on the Board of Directors and donated shares and stocks from various companies to finance the foundation. Catherine died on March 23, 1925 in Denver, Colorado. Later that year, the Denver Catholic Charitable and Benevolent Society changed its name to the John K. and Catherine S. Mullen Benevolent Corporation. Between 1924 and 1926, the Benevolent Corporation donated approximately $9,000 to twelve organizations, the first of which funded student scholarships to the Catholic University of America from 1926 until 1996.

In 1926, J.K. continued to work part time with the Colorado Milling and Elevator Company, while frequently providing financial and physical support to community groups and individuals. One of the most famous was his 1926 business deal with Elizabeth “Baby Doe” Tabor, in which Mullen purchased the Matchless Mine near Leadville, Colorado, and established the Shorego Mining Company. When Mullen passed away in Denver, on August 9, 1929, his estate was valued at over $6 million.

The Mullen family continued to operate The Benevolent Corporation. The Mullen Home of the Aged and Mullen Home for Boys became two of their largest supported programs. Established in 1918, The Mullen Home for the Aged provided support for the elderly of Denver. The Little Sisters of the Poor managed the home, while the Benevolent Corporation maintained the finances, facilities, and overall administration. As of 2013, The Mullen Home is still operated by the Little Sisters of the Poor and provides low-income housing for the elderly.

The Mullen Home for Boys officially opened its doors in 1932. Established to teach farming skills and provide a home for orphan and foster boys, it was operated by the Christian Brothers of St. John Baptist de La Salle. When the school began, there were few students and three clergy. The Home continued to grow until the 1950s, when tuition-paying students were allowed to attend. Slowly the Home expanded and transformed into a private school, officially becoming Mullen High School in 1965. In 1980, the Benevolent Corporation transferred ownership of the school to the Christian Brothers. The school continued boarding students until the late 1980s. By 1989, the school was no longer providing a home for orphans, and became a private co-educational day school which is still in operation as of 2013.

Much of the funding for the Benevolent Corporation is generated by a variety of investments. In 1985, the Benevolent Corporation changed its name to the J.K. Mullen Foundation. Since the late 20th century, it has continued grant funding for education, addiction recovery, religious institutions, and homeless shelters. While working closely with other foundations, such as the Weckbaugh foundation, J.K. and Catherine’s descendants remain involved in the development and distribution of resources. In 2011, the J.K. Mullen Foundation granted over $75,000 to a variety of institutions.


7 Boxes (7 linear feet)

2 Boxes, 3 File Folders, 5 Folios


This collection was donated to the Western History/Genealogy Department in 1996, 2009 by the J.K. Mullen Foundation.


The Western History/Genealogy Department has additional collections with material related to J.K. Mullen Foundation including:

John K. Mullen and Oscar Malo Collection: WH259

Elizabeth "Baby Doe" Tabor Papers: WH398

Temple Hoyne Buell Architectural Records: WH1397

William C Muchow Architectural Records: WH1288


Genealogy materials have been removed and added to the J.K. Mullen and Oscar Malo Collection.


Number of Boxes: 7 (7 linear feet)

Oversize: 2 Boxes, 3 File Folders, 5 Folios




Sally McDonald

September 2013


Abby Hoverstock

Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

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

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