|Other Finding Aid||For location information, refer to the Denver Public Library Catalog.|
Harold Kountze donated approximately 25 boxes for the Kountze Family and Colorado National Bank Collection in 1975. After an inventory was conducted in 1975, the Kountze family removed a number of items; primarily stock certificates, certificates of mining claims, personal checks and a few other items of interest. Harold Kountze donated four additional boxes in 1985. The Colorado National Bank donated 11 boxes and numerous ledgers in 1993.
The collection is open for research.
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[Identification of item], Kountze Family and Colorado National Bank, WH902, Western History Collection, The Denver Public Library.
Number of Boxes: 32 (32 linear feet)
Number of PhotoBoxes: 1 (1 linear foot)
Oversize: 26 ledgers, 6 boxes, 2 folios, 1 folder
REVISED AND ENCODED BY:
Merrie Jo Schroeder
Augustus, Luther, Herman and Charles were four of the twelve children born to Christian and Margaret Kountze, who had seven sons and five daughters. Two of the seven sons died early in life and a third son died later. Early on the remaining four brothers made a pact that allowed one to invest for all four.
In 1857, Herman and Augustus opened the Kountze Brothers Bank in Omaha, Nebraska. In 1862, Luther volunteered to open an office in Denver, Colorado. He relocated to Denver in November 1862 and by December Luther opened up the Kountze Brothers Bank, Denver. In 1863, they converted the bank in Nebraska to the First National Bank of Omaha. In 1864, Charles joined his brother, Luther, in Denver. In June 1866, the brothers converted their bank in Denver to the Colorado National Bank. Luther served as the first president of the bank, but in 1866, he left to tour Europe. Augustus became the second president in 1869, but he continued to reside in Omaha and New York.
In addition to these two banks, the Kountze brothers operated banks in Central City, Colorado and Cheyenne, Wyoming. They enlisted their brother-in-law, William Lewis Bart Berger, to help manage the bank in Cheyenne. In 1862, William Berger married their sister, Margaret Kountze. In 1867, after returning to Denver, Luther became one of the incorporators of the Denver Pacific Railway. The Colorado National Bank became the main financier for the railway company. In 1868, Luther left for New York City, where he opened a small private bank on Wall Street. On Sept 1, 1870, it became Kountze Brothers, New York.
In 1874, Augustus relinquished the presidency of Colorado National Bank to Charles, who had been managing the bank since 1866. During September 1871, Charles married Mary Estabrook. They had four children, Lina Bell (November 14, 1872), Mary Louise (September 3, 1874), Florence Margaret (January 15, 1876) and Harold (September 2, 1885). William Berger and his family relocated to Denver so that Berger could work at the Colorado National Bank. The bank financed its new building, which opened in 1882, at 17th and Larimer Streets.
Through the Colorado National Bank, Kountze Brothers, Denver and the Kountze Brothers, New York, numerous investments were made in real estate, mining and businesses. In addition Charles invested and became involved in these areas (see business chronology section). William Berger, a family member by marriage, who worked with Charles at the Denver bank, also was involved in the various Kountze companies and investments. Berger served as cashier at the bank from 1874 until his death in 1890. Left with seven children, Margaret Kountze Berger’s situation brought the Bergers and Kountzes closer both personally and financially. Due to the companies numerous investments and Charles’s personal ones, the financial records and operations became complex.
Augustus died in 1892 and Herman in 1906. Charles died of Bright’s disease in his home on November 18, 1911, leaving Luther the only surviving brother. Luther died on April 17, 1918. Charles’s estate was complex due to the numerous companies and investments. George Bart Berger, Sr., a cousin, succeeded Charles as president of Colorado National Bank. He presided over the bank from 1911 to 1934. After Charles’s death in 1911, the realignment of the bank created two new positions for vice-president. Harold Kountze (Charles’s son) and William Berger (brother of George Bart Berger) filled these positions. William remained in this position until his death in 1931. In addition to these positions, Charles’s estate brought about the creation of the Kountze Investment Company to manage all holdings and businesses.
The construction of a new building for the Colorado National Bank was one of Charles’s last wishes. Harold oversaw the construction of a new bank building on the corner of 17th and Champa. The new building opened in September 1915. In 1926, an addition to the bank was completed. In 1931, due to the Great Depression, the New York Stock Exchange suspended the Kountze Brothers, New York for insolvency, thus ending 52 years of business. In 1934, Harold became president of the Colorado National Bank. George Berger, Jr., who began working for the bank in 1929, was promoted to vice-president in 1935 and in 1939 he was elevated to the board of directors. George Berger, Sr., continued to report to the bank daily until he died in 1939.
George Berger, Jr., convinced Bruce Rockwell to join the bank in 1953, as director of advertising and marketing. In 1955, George Berger became president of the bank. Harold Kountze retired in 1957. A heart attack killed George Berger in 1957. His older brother, Merriam Berger, became president of Colorado National Bank, serving until 1961. In January of 1962, Merriam Berger turned the presidency over to Melvin Roberts. Harold Kountze died in 1965. Harold, Jr., (Harry) worked at the bank, eventually becoming one of the vice-presidents.
Bruce Rockwell had been promoted to vice-president in 1958. Peter Grant joined the bank in 1958. Rockwell, Roberts and Grant worked closely until Roberts retired in 1975. Will Faust Nicholson, Jr. followed Roberts as bank president. In 1992, Colorado National Bank was sold to First Bank System of Minneapolis. Harry Kountze died on March 10, 1994.
|SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE||
The Kountze Family and Colorado National Bank Collection contains material on the numerous businesses owned and operated by the family and the bank. The Kountze brothers Augustus, Herman, Luther and Charles managed numerous businesses in several states. Companies they owned, managed or invested were located in Colorado, Texas, Nebraska and New York. In addition to the businesses, the Kountze brothers owned property primarily in these states but also held real estate in other areas. The Kountze brothers operated mines, ranches, real estate firms, financial institutions, stock and investment firms, railroads, oil companies in addition to numerous small investments in businesses and real estate. Papers from all of these ventures are included in the collection.
The collection spans 1852 to 1989. Material provides information on the formation, daily operations, management, ownership, consolidation and demise of the businesses. The bulk of the collection contains documents from the Colorado National Bank and the companies operated or financed with assets from the bank. Material includes: business correspondence, financial ledgers and statements, deeds, certificates, reports, newspaper clippings, articles, and personal papers. The Kountze brothers shared the management and operation of these numerous businesses. They operated under the motto “all for one, and one for all.” Due to this business philosophy, the complexity of the collection is significant. Many businesses operated under the various companies owned by the brothers or were held jointly. In addition, Charles Kountze owned and managed numerous businesses independent of the bank. To provide insight on the number of businesses operated by the Kountze brothers, a list of primary businesses and the companies is included.
|Chronology of Businesses||
|SELECTION OF RELATED MATERIAL||
Madison Orchards Ranch map (n.d.)CG4314.W4 1921 .C5
|SERIES 1 COLORADO NATIONAL BANK 1863-1983 BOX 1-17||
The series includes the bank’s business papers, which consist of ledgers, correspondence, annual reports, statements of condition, articles, documents from construction of the buildings and financial accounts. The account records consist of business and personal accounts and escrows. In addition to the papers that document the bank’s operations, the series contains material from the numerous companies owned or controlled by the bank. The bank opened as the Kountze Brothers Bank, Denver in 1863. In 1866, the Kountze brothers received the second national bank charter in Colorado. They renamed the institution The Colorado National Bank. It operated numerous mining companies, an oil company and owned extensive real estate throughout Colorado and the West.
Two businesses that operated under the bank include the Northern Coal and Coke Company and the North Texas Oil Company (box 8 and 9). Charles Kountze participated in the reorganization of the Northern Coal and Coke Company in 1894. In 1900, this company was incorporated and acquired most of the Northern Fuel Company property. In 1911, the bank, under the guidance of Charles Kountze sold the Northern Coal and Coke Company to the Rocky Mountain Fuel Company. Colorado National Bank and Charles Kountze had numerous investments in mining operations. It’s often difficult to ascertain the specific ownership of the mines. The numerous mining operations and lodes were consolidated under Brewer Mining Company (box 9-15) after Charles’ death in 1911
|SERIES 2 KOUNTZE BROTHERS COLORADO 1860-1911 BOX 18||
The Kountze Brothers, Colorado series contains papers relating to the company’s real estate investments and two of its operations. The two organizations it controlled are the Union Real Estate and the Livestock Investment Company (FF 46-48). Material in the series includes payroll books, deeds, agreements, correspondence and financial records. The Kountze Brothers, Colorado operated concurrently with the Colorado National Bank. The brothers founded the company for their real estate holdings in Colorado. The holdings of the Kountze Brothers Colorado were consolidated under the Kountze Investment Company in 1911.
|SERIES 3 CHARLES KOUNTZE 1861-1913 BOX 19-20||
The series is broken down into three sections, Charles Kountze' business operations, personal and estate. Charles owned, controlled and operated numerous companies. These businesses consisted primarily of mining, real estate, ranches, railroad and farms. Charles’s commercial dealings were intricate. Establishing which companies fell solely under him, or the Colorado National Bank or the Kountze Brothers is difficult to ascertain. The vast operations held by Charles created multifaceted estate records. The family created the Kountze Investment Company to oversee all of these businesses and investments. Several of the companies Charles owned or invested include the Davidson Coal and Iron Mining Company, Davidson Ditch Company, Kountze and Reynolds Real Estate and the Madison Orchard Company (box 18). The Madison Orchard Company consisted of 760 acres located northwest of Denver at West 52nd Ave. and Sheridan Blvd.
|SERIES 4 KOUNTZE BROTHERS OMAHA 1863-1948 BOX 20-23||
The series contains material on their real estate investments and companies. This company owned land primarily in Colorado, Texas, Nebraska and Chicago, Illinois. Several companies operated under Kountze Brothers Omaha. The businesses include: East Texas Land Improvement Company, Texas Land and Cattle Company, South Texas Land Company, Sabine Land and Improvement Company and United Real Estate and Trust Company Material comprises meeting minutes, deeds, correspondence, agreements, financial records, reports, maps and stock certificates.
|SERIES 5 KOUNTZE BROTHERS PARTNERSHIP, NEW YORK 1877-1945 BOX 23-26||
The operations of the Kountze Brothers in New York dealt primarily with real estate and oil investments in Texas. The companies include the East Texas Oil Company, East Texas Land Company, East Texas Pine Land Certificates and the Humble Oil and Refining Company. Material includes meeting minutes, deeds, correspondence, agreements, financial records, reports, stock certificates and bond offerings.
|SERIES 6 KOUNTZE INVESTMENT COMPANY 1897-1964 BOX 26-30||
The Kountze Investment Company developed from the estate of Charles Kountze. This organization primarily oversaw the mining interests and real estate located in Colorado. Albion Realty and Securities Company and Atlas Realty and Securities Co (box 25-27). also operated under this organization. These companies primarily owned coal properties in Boulder County along with farmland. Other businesses operated under the Kountze Investment Company include Black Diamond Fuel Company, Farmers Highline Canal and Reservoir Company and Farmers Reservoir and Irrigation Company. Material includes correspondence, reports, agreements, deeds, financial records, meeting minutes and stock certificates.
|SERIES 7 HAROLD KOUNTZE 1911-1960 BOX 30-31||
The series contains Harold Kountze’s business and personal papers. He owned stock in several companies and oversaw the investments for several family members. His papers include correspondence, financial record books, agreements and memos. Harold’s service papers from his stint in the U.S. Naval Reserves during WWI are included. The series also contains the papers from the construction of his house, located at 935 Washington St., Denver, Colorado.
|SERIES 8 KOUNTZE FAMILY 1874-1953 BOX 31||
The family material includes several folders containing the papers from Augustus Kountze’s estate. Also included are papers from the estates of Adeline, Mary and Clara Kountze and Florence Kountze Best.
|SERIES 9 EPHEMERA 1907 BOX 31-32||
The series consists of hand stamps used at the Colorado National Bank during the 1907 panic, a leather pouch and a large, metal box.
|SERIES 10 PHOTOGRAPHS -1987 PHOTO BOX 1||
The series contains numerous photographs that document Colorado National Bank's history through depictions of construction projects, staff receptions and parties, employee awards and executive portraits. Additional photographs record activities and events surrounding the bank's one hundred twenty-fifth anniversary celebration and exhibit in 1987. Limited photographs of Harold Kountze complete the series.
|SERIES 11 OVERSIZE 1862-1959 OVLEDGER 1-26, OVBOX 1-6, OVFOLIO 1-2, OVFOLDER 1||
The oversize items consist primarily of financial ledgers from the Colorado National Bank and the companies operated under the bank or one of the Kountze brothers companies. In addition, oversize photographs from the exhibit on the bank are included.