52 Ancestors, Week 29: Mary Isabel (Belle) Vernatti

Lindell Hotel at 11th and Larimer, by Richard Herndon,
Published in the Rocky Mountain News, 8 Sep 1940
Denver Public Library Western Art Collection

... continued from last week

Mary Isabel (Belle) Vernatti was born 3 Feb 1845 in Monroe County, IL  (southeast of St Louis, MO).

Belle’s mother Nancy Barclift had two husbands:
  1. Timothy Walton who died in 1841 (age 31) leaving her with 4 children, ages 10, 8, 3 and 1.  
  2. Jacob Vernatti (Belle’s father) who died in 1857 (age 45) leaving her with children ages 26, 24, 19, 17, 14, 12 (Belle), 10, and 2.  There is an interesting story about Jacob Vernatti: 
click within image to enlarge

"A man came from Kentucky with two young boys on horseback. He had relatives in Illinois, so he left his sons Jacob (Belle's Father) and Allan with them, and went back to Kentucky and was never heard from, think perhaps he met with foul play. The children too small to spell, so Vernatti seemed to be the way, but I wonder if it might not be Van Etta."  --Grannie Finkbiner (1)

So anyway, Belle’s father dies when she is about 12, in 1857 and around that time, TW Blanchard travels as a young man from North Carolina to Illinois to stay with family.  There may have been many family members living in Illinois, but one of them was his Aunt Nancy (Belle's mother).  His Uncle Timothy had died in 1841, as noted above.

TW was in Illinois briefly and then volunteered to serve in the Civil War.  When he got home he married his step-cousin Belle.  Their early married life was described in last week's blog.  So here is where we continue TW and Belle’s story. They had left Missouri and went to Colorado, (probably on the train).

"Timothy Walton Blanchard came visiting the Vernatti's for he was a relative of Isabel's mother's [Nancy Ann Barcliff Walton] first husband (Timothy Walton) and married Isabel (my mother). They lived in Missouri for sometime and the west looked good to father [Timothy Walton Blanchard] so they came to Boulder." --Grannie Finkbiner (1)

On 7 Jun 1880, Belle (35), TW (45) and their five children (12, 9, 5,3 and 10 months) lived at the Lindell House in Auraria, Colorado.  The Lindell House was a rooming house full of mostly single men with only  a few families living there.   (The Auraria neighborhood of historic buildings was demolished in the 1960s to make way for the College Campus that resides there today)  TW was listed as a miner.

On 1 Jun 1885, the family was living in Boulder.  TW (48) was a miner, Belle (40), their son Charles must have passed away (he would have been between 3 and 8 when he died).  Their other children are ages 17, 14, 10, 5 and their daughter Gertrude was born in Boulder in 1882 and was age 2.

"TW went into mining and was always very interested in the mines, he farmed tho & eventually bought the home in Boulder Canyon where we lived and raised cattle. "Blanchard Ranch", finally in time "Blanchard Lodge" as it still is." --Grannie Finkbiner (1)

In 1887, their daughter Elizabeth (Bess) is born.

Belle and TW Blanchard

"Looking down on the Blanchard Lodge"

On 10 Jun 1900, they were still in Boulder: TW (64) a miner, Belle (55), Anna (25), Walter (20), Gertrude (17) and Elizabeth (12).

Belle Blanchard with her
grandson Bayly in about 1913.

In 1917, Belle and TW celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.  This newspaper clipping was in with other family memorabilia:

March 12, 1917, unknown newspaper
In 1918 TW and Belle were listed in the Boulder City Directory.

TW (82) died 21 May 1918.

Blanchard Lodge along Boulder Creek

“Blanchard Lodge took its name from the ranch upon which it was situated, homesteaded by Timothy Blanchard.  The lodge was built and operated by John C Dougherty, who had learned the resort trade in Maine and had come out to Colorado in 1919 to recover from a bout of influenza.  That next spring he took a job in the small resort that rancher Blanchard had operated on his property.

Blanchard Lodge in Boulder Canyon

In 1927, Dougherty married the youngest Blanchard daughter and both of them worked to expand the resort building cabins, expanding the log  and stone lodge, putting in landscaping.  Upon completion the lodge could house 40 overnight guests and feed 150 people.  Blanchard’s became a popular place for Boulderites to take out-of-town visitors.  The lodge radiated a distinct Rocky Mountain flavor in its stone and log construction, its large fireplace, its wicker and leather furniture and its home-style fare.

Note 1: "I wanted you to see how the dining room looked when you were at the Lodge."
Note 2: Bayly lived at the Lodge when he went to College.
He washed dishes for Aunt Bess for his room and board."  

John Dougherty died in 1947, after which his wife passed local operations onto a local couple she hired. She maintained overall supervision and was assisted by her son Neil and a staff of CU students.  Her son Neil Dougherty was killed in Korea in 1951.  Four years later the Boulder Chamber of Commerce built a park in John Dougherty’s memory, just east of Boulder Canyon Tunnel.  The Red Lion Inn opened at Blanchard’s Resort in 1963 under Christoph and Heidi Mueller.  The name Blanchard’s slowly dropped from their advertisements but the homey architecture, furniture, and atmosphere has remained the same.”  --The Interpreter, Archives, University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries, Number 59, David M Hays, Archivist.

Belle Blanchard
In 1920, Belle (74) was living with her youngest daughter Elizabeth (32), who is listed as a rancher.

In 1930, Belle (85) was living with Elizabeth (43) and her husband John and son Neil.

Belle died on 15 Apr 1931 at age 86.


  • (1) excerpt of letter written by Gertrude Finkbiner, Fall 1963 posted by Kristen Finkbiner
  • 1850, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1920, 1930 United States Federal Census
  • 1885 Colorado State Census
  • US City Directories, 1821-1989


  1. Great to trace the families' origins and connections to Denver's sister city Auraria and later on to Boulder's historic landmark, The Blanchard Lodge. These photos, Illustrations and articles are a treasure for both family and historic record.

  2. Amazing photos of the family and the ranch. LOVED the article on their 50th wedding anniversary--so descriptive, and with great genealogical information. I posted it to my Ancestry site for Belle and Tim. Thank you so much for maintaining this blog!


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