With the westward expansion of the late 1800s and early 1900s, many people moving to Colorado were separated by long distances from close family members. People who came west to Louisville left behind parents, grandparents, siblings, nieces, and nephews. Local newspapers in the late 1800s and the 1900s reported on trips taken back and forth so that families could visit one another and maintain close relationships, such as a trip by Louisville’s Bertha Oberding and Anna Kluge who in 1896 traveled together with their young children back to Illinois to visit their families.

For the many Louisville residents who had emigrated from other countries, it was much more difficult to travel back home to visit family. Most never went back. Some of the barriers to going home were the high cost, the length of time needed for such a trip, the loss of income, and the possibility of the head of the family not having a job to return to after an absence of several weeks.

Some, however, did return to the old country to visit family. It’s difficult to imagine all of the planning that would have been necessary for such a trip in the early 1900s (not to mention the emotions felt by those who went back). It typically would have involved making a trip by rail to New York City, followed by a transatlantic voyage by ship and further rail travel in Europe. One essential task, for those who had gone through the naturalization process to become American citizens, was to obtain a U.S. passport. Due to passport applications from the early 1900s having been digitized and made publicly accessible on genealogy websites, it is now possible to find information about Louisville residents traveling back to their villages in such countries as Italy, England, and Belgium to visit family. In many cases, these trips took place many years after they first came to the United States.

by Bridget Bacon, Museum Coordinator

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