The development of the Fort Collins Mormon community during the twentieth century
McGehee, Linda C.
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Separated by the formidable Rocky Mountains from Brigham Young's Utah stronghold, the northern Colorado town of Fort Collins was not numbered among the western settlements founded by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Nevertheless, followers of this sect would be drawn to Fort Collins in ever-increasing numbers. Early Mormons in the town lacked the well-established religious traditions of their Utah counterparts and struggled to define their group identity. Later, the growth of the L.D.S. congregation paralleled the increase in Fort Collins population, as the rapid expansion of Colorado State University attracted large numbers of Latter-day Saint students and faculty after the second world war. The Fort Collins Mormons gathered often for religious and social activities. They gradually formed a community that fit the definition given by Thomas Bender, who describes "community" as a deeply meaningful social network, bound together by close emotional ties, solidarity and communion with other members of the group. Fort Collins Latter-day Saints found a sense of connection through three major influences: shared religious beliefs, development of strong emotional ties, and organizational structure provided by the church headquarters in Salt Lake City. Utilizing primary source material from church records, local newspapers and personal interviews, this thesis traces the history of the Latter-day Saints in Fort Collins, examining ways in which church members created a close-knit, identifiable Mormon community in this northern Colorado city.