ELIAS MILTON AMMONS, father of Colorado Governor Teller Ammons (1937-1939), was known as a reformer throughout his career. He was born near Franklin, North Carolina, on July 28, 1860. In 1871, he moved with his family to Colorado. He graduated from East Denver High School in 1880 and worked in a variety of odd jobs. After he contracted a severe case of the measles that permanently impaired his eyesight, Ammons was forced to leave the newspaper industry and pursue another line of work. He embarked into a successful career in the cattle industry and was influential in the founding of the National Western Stock Show and the Colorado Cattle and Horse Growers’ Association. He also served as vice president of the Board of Agriculture, was the clerk of the District Court of Douglas County in 1890 and helped in the organization of the First National Bank of Littleton. Ammons was elected as a Republican to the Colorado House of Representatives and served from 1890 to 1896. He served as speaker from 1894 to 1896, and then was elected as a Democrat to the Colorado Senate, where he served from 1898 to 1902. He ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 1904, and 1906. On November 5, 1912, Ammons was elected Colorado’s nineteenth governor, and on January 14, 1913 he was sworn into office.
During his tenure, he advocated education improvements, he endorsed increased highway construction, and he initiated a state parks system. The state was reapportioned for congressional districts, and the election of Colorado’s U.S. Senators was changed to a popular vote. Also, during his administration the civil service system was fortified and laws pertaining to public utilities, banking, and insurance issues were improved. Ammons’ most challenging issue was the Ludlow Massacre, a coal miners’ strike, which ended in violence when the National Guard was called to out vacate miners from company property. Nineteen people were killed in the disturbance, and the strike was officially ended in December 1914. Ammons left office on January 12, 1915 and retired from public service. Governor Elias Ammons died on May 20, 1925 and is buried at the Fairmont Cemetery in Denver.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.