The Denver Post

Monday, March 30, 1914

Henry Lee, 73, Father of Denver’s Park System, Dies of Injuries

Unconscious Three Weeks After Being Struck by An Automobile.


Pioneer, Ardent Democrat And Useful Worker in State’s Advancement.


Without having recovered consciousness from the time that his body was dragged from under the wheels of an automobile at Sixteenth and Curtis Streets three weeks ago today, Henry Lee, pioneer resident of Colorado and the father of Denver’s magnificent park system, died at St. Luke’s hospital early this morning.  Death, in the opinion of the attending physicians, was due to blood clot on the brain.  Mr. Lee had been gradually sinking for several days and his death was not unexpected.  Several days ago his physicians and relatives abandoned all hope for his recovery.


Mr. Lee had been a resident of Colorado since 1864.  He was born Oct. 30, 1841, in Iowa, and followed an elder brother to Colorado.  This brother had engaged in gardening in Jefferson county, a short distance from Denver, and Henry Lee, for several years after his arrival in the state, sold fresh vegetables, raised on his brother’s land, to the men in the mining camps in Gilpin.  Clear Creek and Park counties.  He prospered and with his savings began to purchase land in Jefferson County.



Impressed with the great future of farming in this section of the country, Mr. Lee brought the first chilled steel plow ever seen west of the Mississippi river into Colorado.  He had no trouble disposing of it.  This gave him the idea of engaging in the farming implement business.  For many years he sold farming implements, the last firm he was connected with being the Lee-Kinsey Implement Company, which went out of business about a year ago.


Always interested in politics, Mr. Lee was twice elected to the House of Representatives and twice to the senate of the state legislature.  It was while a member of the third general assembly that he succeeded in starting the Denver park system.  He was chairman of the committee on public lands and introduced a bill which provided for the sale of two sections of school land at a nominal price to the city of Denver for park purposes.  One of the two sections comprised what is now City Park, while the other was situated partly in Denver and partly in Edgewater, comprising what is known as Sloan’s Lake.


There was considerable opposition to the bill, but Mr. Lee managed it so well that he brought about the passage of that part of it which provided for the purchase of the City Park site.  He managed to get the bill in its original form through the house, but the senate killed the section which provided for the Edgewater Park.



Lee always took a great interest in the park and, although a resident of Jefferson County, always looked after the park.  Being an expert on trees and shrubs and flowers, he gave much valuable advice in the layout out of the park.  Later, when he had moved from his Jefferson county ranch into the city, he was appointed park commissioner.  He held this office under Mayors Johnson and Speer.  While a member of the park commission he suggested, and put through, the deals for the purchase of Berkeley and Jefferson parks and caused the city to build the big pumping station in City Park which made that park independent of the Water company.


Many years ago Mr. Lee realized that some day the city and farmers east of the Rockies would require the water west of the continental divide.  More than twenty years ago he and a few friends acquired the water rights in the Williams Fork country and employed an engineer to locate a site for a tunnel to bring the water from Western slope to the plains on the eastern side.  In order to preserve the water in the Williams Fork country he caused the establishment of a large forest reserve by the United State government.



In politics Mr. Lee was a Democrat.  But for the fact that he refused re-nomination, after twice serving in the House of Representatives and in the senate, he could have remained in the legislature as long as he wished.  He enjoyed the confidence of his fellow residents of Jefferson County to the fullest degree.  Fifteen years ago he made the race for state treasurer on the Democratic ticket.  He ran ahead of his ticket, but was beaten along with the other Democratic candidates. 


At the time of his death Mr. Lee made his home upon his magnificent ranch of 300 acres in Jefferson county, a short distance from the city limits on West Twenty-ninth Avenue.  He had lived in North Denver for a number of years, but about two years ago he erected a pretty bungalow on the ranch and moved out of the city.  His home was a short distance from Crown Hill cemetery.  The latter was part of the original ranch that Mr. Lee had taken up.



Mr. Lee is survived by his wife and two children, Murray A. Lee, a mining engineer, and Miss Jessie Lee, a school teacher.


Mr. Lee’s body was taken in charge by Deputy Coroner Bostwick.  The latter will hold an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death and later an inquest to place the blame for the accident which caused the injury.  William K. Melton, 3322 Pecos Street, who drove the machine which ran down Mr. Lee, was arrested at the time, but released upon his personal recognizance.  He may be re-arrested pending the verdict of the coroner’s jury