"Many of them were children of slaves," Dr. George Junne said. "Black people said, 'That's OK, we'll build our own communities.'"
It is the kind of long, intriguing story that can be shared between friends, maybe over a beer.
It was while drinking a beer that Junne, a professor of Africana Studies at the University of Northern Colorado, had an idea. He wanted to create a beer based on the town of Dearfield. It was Colorado's first all-black settlement.
It was a good idea to Jeff Crabtree.
"I didn't have to think about it much," he said.
Crabtree does not just like beer, he makes beer.
"George disclosed a lot of the history and opened my eyes to a couple of things. And I didn't realize that just in our backyard, history was here," Crabtree said.
Dearfield was founded in May of 1910 about 30 miles east of Greeley.
"The drive and passion to win their own land and produce their own needs really hit home because in my business, that's how I feel," Crabtree said.
So, the four-year-old Crabtree Brewing Company set out to capture the flavor of a 100-year-old town.
"They had two churches. They also had a school; a post office," Junne said.
If you were to visit Dearfield today, there is not much left.
"They were famous for melons and pumpkins, strawberries and wheat," Junne said.
Those were all things Crabtree used to make the beer. He believes it is the same way the people of Dearfield would have used them.
"If someone approached me and said, 'Could you really have done this?' I can say, 'Yes, I really could have done this,'" Crabtree said.
It took four different recipes - normally he just does one, but in the end, he came up with Dearfield Ale.
"It has soft tones of strawberries to it," Crabtree said.
The town founder, O.T. Jackson is on the label so it can double as a history lesson.
"With the inscription that's going to be on the label itself, people will be able to read about Dearfield, not just drink the ale. But read about the history of that. So the word about Dearfield is going to spread," Junne said.
A portion of sales will also go toward restoring the town. Crabtree says the first bottles should be ready next month in plenty of time for the 100th anniversary celebration in May.
"The town itself is over with, but the spirit of Dearfield lives on," Junne said.
(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)