Women’s stories figure prominently in the early frontier days of Florissant. Charlotte Hill homesteaded here in the 1870s. Married at age 13, she raised seven children, ranched with her husband Adam, and pursued her avocation of collecting fossils. She is credited with finding many of Florissant’s first described fossil species from a site near this stop. She was visited in July 1877 by the Princeton Scientific Expedition, and a month later by paleoentomologist Samuel Scudder and geologist Arthur Lakes. Both parties received many fossils from Mrs. Hill.
Charlotte Hill kept a small museum of fossils and minerals in her house, which was located somewhere in the meadow beyond this stop. Arthur Lakes’ geologic map drawn in 1878 showed the Hill’s house.
Quotes from the Past
“Professor Scudder went over to the Hill’s ranch to see about some fossil insects Mrs. H. had been collecting for him…[she] had boxes upon boxes of…most perfect insects of various descriptions.” From the field journals of Arthur Lakes, teacher and early geologist, 1877.
“Only two miles from the Florissant post office are the quite famous petrified stumps. They are situated on a ranch owned by Adam Hill, and are the pride of his wife, Mrs. Charlotte Hill, who has turned naturalist, and has displayed at her home an elegant array of geologic specimens.” The Fairplay Flume newspaper June 17, 1880.
“The specimens of Florissant were … made by Mrs. Charlotte Hill, the proprietress of the land where are exposed the banks containing the richest fossil shale.” From a publication on Florissant’s fossil plants by paleobotanist Leo Lesquereux 1883.
This fossil was collected by Charlotte Hill and later became the type specimen of Rosa hilliae, named in her honor by paleobotanist Leo Lesquereux, in 1883.
Last updated: December 8, 2021