Synchronize with the table of contents  INTRODUCTION



Collection acquired as a gift from Alice Maercklein and Laurena Evans.


The collection is open for research.


The Senter Family Papers are the physical property of the Denver Public Library.


All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.


[Identification of item], Senter Family Papers, WH988, Western History Collection, The Denver Public Library.


Number of Boxes: 68

Number of Oversize: 28

Number of PhotoBoxes: 10, 1 PhotoOVBox, 1 PhotoOVFF




Ellen Zazzarino

Jo Anne Lee

Joseph Buhrer

Jan Simmons

Kathy O'Sullivan

Art Lee

Marian Bakken

May 2003


Ann Brown


Cynthia Rand

July 2004

Roger L. Dudley

AV only 2017


Ellen Zazzarino

Abby Hoverstock


Gano Senter was born in 1890. His parents, Frank and Eleanor Everett Senter, came to Denver in 1898, where they established a dairy farm and later a bakery in north Denver. Gano and his siblings, Ben, Frank, Clive and Grace, were orphaned in 1904. The elder Frank Senter shot and killed his wife and then turned the gun on himself. Two years later, Frank Jr. died of a nosebleed. His fiancé was so distraught that she committed suicide.

In order to make ends meet, Gano, Ben, Clive and Grace sold the bakery. Then the brothers worked for Palace Bakery. They also rented their house to the John R. Hodges family, who had a daughter named Laurena, born in 1895. John Hodges and his wife Sarah were national officers of the American Order of Protections and traveled to the mining towns organizing fraternal chapters for insurance.

Clive and Gano Senter moved to San Francisco after their parent's deaths. At the age of fourteen, Gano signed on to work as a ship's mate. Instead, Gano was shanghaied for slave labor by the infamous Shanghai Brown. The latter sold Gano as crew to the ship, The Agenor. Gano attempted to jump ship several times but was unsuccessful. When the ship reached Alaska, he escaped only to be taken captive by the Tlingit Indians who sold him to the tribe of Kake.

Gano's captivity with these Native Americans resulted in his adoption by one of the chiefs, who named him Kawoo Ketchtooyack. He remained with the tribe for two and a half years. In 1907, Gano escaped on a ship. He spent the next three years working on ships. His experiences in Alaska were later related in his published memoirs Kawoo of Alaska and the unpublished Yesterdays, which also told of his experiences and the history of Denver.

Gano returned to Denver in 1910, to find Laurena Hodges (the girl he remembered from his youth) and to join his brother, Clive in the pie business. Gano worked with Clive, who owned the Senter Pie Company. Several months later Gano opened a small steak house at 826½ 15th Street. He subsequently owned several other restaurants including: the Barton, the Dutch Mill, the Portland and the Radio Café.

In 1911, Gano married Laurena Hodges. Her father objected to the marriage because of their ages. Gano was only twenty while Laurena was sixteen when they eloped.

In the years following, Gano became involved in numerous business enterprises. He began a farming operation in 1916. Gano did so well in the beginning, that he and Clive organized the Master Hand Farming Company and bought 3,220 acres of land. After a few years of less than satisfactory business, the Senter brothers auctioned off their land. The Senters subsequently moved back to Denver and bought back their former restaurant, the Radio Café.

During the early 1920s, Gano and Laurena began their association with the Colorado Ku Klux Klan (KKK), which was steadily becoming one of the most powerful KKK groups in the nation. The KKK had considerable political influence in Colorado through the governor's and the Denver mayor's offices, as well as through the legislative branches of government. In 1924, Gano gained the title Great Titan of the Province of the North, which included the Denver area. Laurena became the Imperial Commander of the Women of the Ku Klux Klan of Colorado.

In 1924, a power struggle developed between the Colorado KKK, headed by John Galen Locke, and the national organization. The Colorado KKK membership split their loyalty resulting in the secession from the national KKK of Locke - controlled splinter groups, called the Minutemen and Minutewomen. Laurena and Gano initially supported Locke but soon became disenchanted with him. Gano failed to receive as high an office in the new organization as he had hoped, and Laurena mistrusted Locke after allegations of corruption within the organization began to surface.

The Colorado women's group, meanwhile, formed a separate organization and operated independently of the national order for approximately one and a half years. Various units slowly drifted back to the national order. The national organization filed suit against the Colorado women’s splinter group for an accounting of funds. The judge ruled that while the Colorado organization was not responsible for payment, it could not operate as a unit of the KKK. The women, led by Laurena Senter until approximately 1929, subsequently changed their name to the Colorado Cycle Club.

For a brief nine-month period in 1926, the Senters relocated to Borger, Texas, where Gano established a successful restaurant in a booming oil town. After selling the business, they returned to Denver. Once back, Gano became Vice President of the Colorado Restaurant Association. He also established the Denver Sales Company, which distributed vending equipment.

Gano began another enterprise in 1931. The Mills Novelty Company appointed Gano as a five-state distributor for the Mills Counter Ice Cream Freezer. A decade later he became the distributor for Panorams, a coin operated three-minute motion picture machine. Thereafter, Gano continued to distribute restaurant and vending equipment as well as Evercharge batteries. He established Dairy King and owned equipment franchises through his umbrella corporation, Denver Sales Company.

In addition to these businesses, Gano was also involved with the Protected Check Company and the Front Range Oil and Uranium Company. In the early 1960s, he retired from an active business life. Shortly afterwards, Gano and Laurena established Senter's Art Center in their home. It served as an art gallery and gift shop. The Senters gathered items to sell in their shop while on their travels around the world.

Laurena had an extensive career as a professional parliamentarian. As such, she consulted for more than 150 clubs and organizations and taught parliamentarian classes at the Emily Griffith Opportunity School. Laurena wrote or revised club by-laws and/or acted as the parliamentarian at conferences and conventions. From the 1940s through the 1970s, she served as the president of numerous clubs and organizations including the Colorado Federation of Women's Clubs, Colorado State Federation of Garden Clubs, and the Woman's Club of Denver. In addition to being an active member, Laurena served on the council for many of the clubs. Laurena joined numerous clubs including art, study and garden clubs, and other fraternal and panhellenic organizations.

Laurena's hobbies included singing, painting, and collecting thousands of ornaments to display on their celebrated Christmas tree. For 30 years, the Senters allowed public viewing of this tree until 1967 when Kathie's Import Chalet bought the tree for permanent display. Laurena painted and exhibited her paintings at art shows in the region and sold many through Senter's Art Center. Gano became involved in fewer clubs, but was an active member of the Masons and Shriners. As a member of the Music Box Society, Gano collected and sold music boxes.

Gano and Laurena had two daughters, Laurena (Toodie), born in 1912 and Alice, born in 1913. They remained married for more than seventy years until their deaths in 1986, when Gano and Laurena were in their 90s. As longtime residents of Denver, their influence, especially Laurena's, on Denver and Colorado was significant. They were both in powerful positions when the KKK was at its peak period in Colorado. Furthermore, the extent of Laurena's involvement with the clubs and panhellenic organizations in the state is probably unmatched by anyone. She was the consummate clubwoman of Denver, serving as an officer and writing the by-laws for many of the organizations in the region. As such, her influence on Colorado was especially important.


The Senter Family Papers span the years 1875 - 1986. The collection provides documentation on the numerous businesses, organizations and personal interests of Gano and Laurena Senter. Records for the businesses Gano Senter operated substantiate the life of an entrepreneur in Denver, Colorado from the 1930s until the late 1970s. The company records include: Denver Sales Company, Mills Novelty Company, Protected Check Company, Front Range Oil and Uranium Co. and a few smaller enterprises. The records generated by the Mills Novelty Co. contain information about coin-operated machinery from the 1920s to the 1940s, which comprises documents on player pianos and violanos (mechanical violin). Additional papers record the operations of the Dairy King, restaurant equipment franchises such as the Broaster, and the Senter Art Center, all of which were under the Denver Sales Company umbrella.

Laurena Senter's role as a professional parliamentarian is well represented in the collection. The papers produced from her parliamentarian work includes: by-laws and articles of incorporation, organizational records, correspondence, yearbooks, meeting minutes, newsletters, printed material and programs, membership rosters, financial records and newspaper clippings. Her clients encompass clubs, fraternal and panhellenic organizations, and professional groups. Examples of Laurena's clientele include: the Woman's Club of Denver, Colorado Art League, Colorado Federated Garden Club, National Association of Parliamentarians, Beta Sigma Phi, Cinema Study Club, Order of Eastern Star and the Order of the White Shrine of Jerusalem. Laurena became a member of the organizations she worked for or visa-versa. At times, it's hard to differentiate. The collection contains a large volume of material generated by these organizations that provides insight into women's club histories, Denver and Colorado clubs and organizations, or parliamentary procedures.

The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) records span approximately 1923-1945. Particularly noteworthy is the correspondence and the minutes of the women's KKK later known as the Colorado Cycle Club. These files illustrate the relationship between the Senters and the KKK and the breach between the national and state organizations. Two of Laurena's diaries created in 1925 and 1930 (box 44 FF8) contain her reflections about the years she was involved with the Colorado Women's KKK and the lawsuit by the national KKK organization against Laurena and the Colorado group. The collection also contains the garments worn by the Senters at the KKK meetings.

The manuscript drafts of Gano's memoirs - Kawoo of Alaska, Yesterdays, and several shorter reflections offer insight into his tumultuous youth. The collection also contains the Senters' personal papers, which consist of biographical information, diaries, appointment books, scrapbooks, memorabilia, correspondence and household records. The papers of a few family members and close friends are included. Wire recordings, reel-to-reel and cassette audio tapes, phonograph records, and 8mm and 16mm color and black & white films document family gatherings, the Senter Christmas tree and their travels in the United States. The contents of the audio-visual material is partially derived from viewing and listening combined with the handwritten notes on the item. The only items which were not confirmed as to content are the wire recordings. They are too volitale to risk playing unless a recording is being made at the same time.


Numerous publications and organization yearbooks and directories were transferred to the Western History for monograph cataloging or inclusion with the clubs and organizations periodicals.

1945 News Parade edited by Eugene W. Castle - Victory Over Germany Castle Films: 16mm, b/w film

1936 The Coronation of their Majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth edited by Eugene W. Castle, copyright 1937 Pathegrams Inc.: 16mm, b/w film

SERIES 1 GANO - BUSINESS 1924-1982 BOX 1 - 10(FF17) :

Business correspondence, financial, printed material (advertisements, catalogs, manuals, bulletins) legal documents, meeting minutes, merchandise records and inventories, personnel, newspaper clippings form the series. Businesses represented include the Denver Sales Company, Mills Novelty Company, Protected Check Company, Dairy King, Radio Café and the Front Range Oil and Uranium Company. The bulk of the records pertain to the Mills Novelty and Denver Sales Company. The series conveys Gano Senter's entrepreneurship and his proficiency as a salesman.

SERIES 2 GANO AND LAURENA - BUSINESS 1930-1983 BOX 10(FF18)- 11(FF11) :

The Senter Art Center established by Gano and Laurena operated under the umbrella of the Denver Sales Company, but also tied into Laurena's art and their extensive travels. Laurena managed the business on a daily basis while Gano kept track of the company's financial transactions. The records consist of invoices, orders, correspondence and brochures. Gano and Laurena would travel worldwide seeking merchandise for their shop. Laurena also sold her paintings through the business. The records shed light on a small family company, which offered its customers original artwork, reproductions and collectibles.

SERIES 3 LAURENA - BUSINESS 1924-1971 BOX 11(FF12)- 24(FF15) :

This series documents Laurena's extensive career as a professional parliamentarian. As a consultant, she wrote or revised club by-laws and/or acted as the parliamentarian at conferences and conventions. A portion of the series contains her handouts, quizzes, lesson plans, correspondence and records from the parliamentarian classes Laurena taught at the Emily Griffith Opportunity School. Her attendance at the National Panhellenic conferences is documented by the reports, minutes, programs, agendas and notes. Her membership in the American Institute of Parliamentarians is also acknowledged. The bulk of the series contains records of her parliamentarian work for sororities, clubs and professional organizations. Laurena established a clientele in Denver and throughout Colorado. Her clients include the Beta Sigma Phi; Delta, Delta, Delta; Colorado Federation of Music Clubs; National Association of Insurance Women; and the National Secretaries Association. The client files are organized alphabetically.


Laurena's involvement with the clubs as a parliamentarian led to her participation in many of the organizations. Her active involvement and diverse interests conveys the numerous organizations geared for the clubwoman from the 1920s until the 1970s. Papers document her tenure as the president of numerous clubs and organizations including the Colorado Federation of Women's Clubs, Colorado State Federation of Garden Clubs and the Women's Club of Denver. The clubs in this series are arranged alphabetically. Although her membership for the most part was personal, she did participate in composing parliamentarian procedures. Records include: correspondence, reports, brochures, minutes, yearbooks, agendas and newspaper clippings. Laurena's involvement with the Women of the Ku Klux Klan, later the Colorado Cycle Club from 1923 to the early 1930s is documented with correspondence, membership lists and cards, minutes and by-laws. Although limited in quantity (less than one box), the records capture the doctrine of the organization.


Gano and Laurena both participated in the Musical Box Society and the Order of the White Shrine of Jerusalem. This series consists of by-laws, correspondence, yearbooks, meeting minutes, newsletters, and printed material and programs. Gano also joined the Shriners and Masons, although limited; these records consist of newsletters, correspondence, invitations and programs.

SERIES 6 GANO - MANUSCRIPTS 1915-1982 BOX 38(FF29)- 40(FF24) :

Series contains manuscript drafts of Gano's memoirs Kawoo of Alaska and a copy of the published book. Also included are manuscript drafts of Yesterdays, several short stories and correspondence regarding his manuscript and its publication. The series also contains the papers from the Senters trip to Alaska to visit the tribe Gano lived with for several years.

SERIES 7 PERSONAL 1908-1986 BOX 40 (FF25)- 53 (FF14) :

The bulk of the series comprises material on their numerous trips, the famous Christmas tree, finances and family. The series contains thank you notes, newspaper articles and scrapbooks documenting the celebrated Christmas tree. The series also contains extensive correspondence between family members and friends. Material includes correspondence, diaries and appointments, financial records, insurance, legal documents, scrapbooks and newspaper clippings.

SERIES 8 FAMILY MEMBERS 1875-1981 BOX 55(FF15)- 57(FF19) :

The series includes the papers generated by family members and a few close friends. Sarah Hodges Pearce and John Pearce (Laurena's parents), Alice Senter Maercklin (Gano and Laurena's daughter) comprise the bulk of the series. Material includes: newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, correspondence, diaries, and the personal papers of various family members and friends.

SERIES 9 EPHEMERA ca. 1920-1983 BOX 57(FF20)- 60 :

Most of the ephemera originates from the numerous organizations Laurena joined. The series includes: steel printing plates, plaques, gavels, rubber stamps, mass spectrometers, Klansmen figurines and the Women of the Ku Klux Klan's corporate seal.


The series consists of audio recordings and films of the Senter's travels, family gatherings and events, especially their Christmas Tree that featured 4,000 ornaments and hundreds of lights. Recordings of speeches, radio programs, and Gano's readings of his poetry and books are included on the cassette tapes, wire recordings and vinyl records. Many of the films were spliced together by the Senters onto 400 foot reels and some of the segments have been reversed so they are backward. Some items were removed from this collection because they do not fall within the scope of the Western History Collection criteria. These include their travels to Europe and other foreign lands and the eastern United States.

SERIES 11 OVERSIZE OVBOX 1-24 1925-1981 :

The bulk of the oversize items comprise travel scrapbooks containing photographs, brochures, memorabilia, newspapers clippings, pamphlets and postcards. A few scrapbooks on the Woman's Club of Denver and White Shrine of Jerusalem are included. The remaining items consist of Ku Klux Klan and Shriner's garments, metal sign for Kozy Klean Kafe, certificates and awards and an American flag (48 stars) used at Klan meetings.


Ranging from 1880 to 1981, the photographs portray the Senter family in all aspects of their lives. The early black-and-white photographs include images of grandparents, siblings and other relatives of Gano and Laurena Senter. The bulk of the color slides dating from 1950 to 1980 reflect their travels both nationally and abroad. Houses, businesses and organizations of the Senter family are also depicted.



  • Senter, Gano E., 1891-1986 -- Archives.
  • Senter, Laurena Hodges, 1895-1986 -- Archives.
  • Peace, Sarah Hodges -- Archives.
  • Senter family -- Archives.
  • Denver Sales Company -- Archives.
  • Mills Novelty Company -- Archives.
  • Protected Check Company -- Archives.
  • National Panhellenic Conference -- Archives.
  • Ku Klux Klan (1915-) -- Denver -- Colorado.
  • Businessmen -- Colorado -- Denver.
  • Societies -- Colorado -- Denver.
  • Personal papers.
  • Photographs.