This is the story of the Ramstetter family, who started as the “poorest of the poor” German immigrants nearly 140 years ago, but have grown to be prominent members of the Golden community …
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This is the story of the Ramstetter family, who started as the “poorest of the poor” German immigrants nearly 140 years ago, but have grown to be prominent members of the Golden community to this day.The family’s Golden story began in the 1880's with Henry Ramstetter and Matilda Koch.“Henry was all over the place,” said modern day Mary Ramstetter, who married into the family through her husband, Charles. But, “he eventually settled in Golden Gate Canyon.”According to John Rufener, a descendant of the Ramstetters who has done a lot of genealogy research on the family, in the early 1880s, Henry Ramstetter immigrated as a young man from what was then called Prusse in Germany to Colorado. In Germany, the Ramstetters raised vineyards, but the area was war-torn, and a lot of land was lost.Once here, a disposed Henry ended up meeting Matilda Koch, the daughter of a homesteader who was working as a maid at the Gilpin Hotel. Like Henry Ramstetter, the Kochs immigrated “dirt poor” from Germany, hailing from the Bremen coast. As soon as Henry saw Matilda, described as a “big, strong woman,” he knew she was the one for him.They married on July 29, 1885, in Central City.The two resided on a ranch located in Gilpin County, west of what today is the Golden Gate State Park. Around 1900, the two moved to the Eight Mile stagecoach stop — also known as the Eight Mile House and the Half-Way House — built in 1868 and served as a busy stage stop on the toll road from Golden to Central City.Thus begins the rich history of the Ramstetters in Golden.“It’s always fun to talk about Ramstetter history,” Mary Ramstetter said, and added she feels fortunate to have married into a family of homesteaders.The Ramstetters have been instrumental in the ranching and mining industries, and have been local business-owners, city councilors and even “helped build the infrastructure in Jefferson County,” Rufener said, because Henry, at one time, was a roadbuilder and established some of the county’s roads still used today.One of Henry and Matilda’s grandsons, Charles W. Ramstetter, 77, was born in the Eight Mile House to Bertha and Otto Ramstetter. He married Mary Geneva Acers, who also grew up in Golden. She is the daughter of Owen Acers, who worked as an electrical contractor and was one of the founders of the Golden Thespians; and his wife Geneva, who worked as a payroll clerk for Jefferson County.Mary and Charles married in 1983, but the two have known each other about all of their lives — Mary and Charles’ sister, Arlene, have been best friends since they met in the eighth grade in 1947, the 81-year-old Mary said.For 23 years, until her retirement in 1981, Mary was employed as the Colorado School of Mines’ Department of Humanities and Social Sciences’ secretary.Charles joined the U.S. Army when he was 17, but transferred to the Air Force in 1965. He retired in 1979 as a Master Sergeant and returned to Golden Gate Canyon to carry on the family tradition of raising cattle. He and Mary run a commercial cow-calf operation with a registered Colorado cattle brand read by brand inspectors as “c lazy three.” A portion of their ranch on Guy Hill has been in the family since 1860 from the Koch family.Being the first person to do excavating in Golden, Gordon Ramstetter “was like the bulldozing king,” Rufener said.“It’s kind of odd that they do excavating,” Rufener said, because the Ramstetters “have been playing in the dirt” since the old times when they built terraces in Germany.Gordon, a son of Matilda and Henry, started Ramstetter Excavating in 1957, and much of the work he did was for city contracts. Gordon died in late 2015, and Ramstetter Excavating is now run by his son, David. Also in the excavating business is Gordon’s brother, Richard, who owns R. M. Excavating in Golden Gate Canyon.Another business-owner was Edward K. Ramstetter, former owner of the Golden Mill, 1012 Ford St. However, he is most known for the seven years he spent representing Ward 3, District 2 on the Golden City Council in the 1970s. Part of that time, he also served as mayor pro tem. Edward was born on Feb. 19, 1946, and died on his birthday in 2003.“Eddy was very active with the city council,” Mary Ramstetter said. In fact, she added, he has a marker on the Ford Street Bridge to remember his contributions.Jennifer Ramstetter, a granddaughter of Henry and Matilda’s from their son Ernest, was also a contributor to the city’s goodwill.Jennifer Ramstetter donated the face of Mt. Zion, a popular area for hang gliders and where the Colorado School Mines’ M is located, to Jeffco Open Space. She also gifted the large pasture between Highway 93 and North Table Mountain to Jeffco Open Space."Think of yourself on the trail, looking north," Mary Ramstetter said. "Open Space has that because of Jennifer. She enhanced the view."There’s an old saying, Mary Ramstetter said, that goes, “a man’s got to live somewhere,” and “by-and-large” the Ramstetters have stayed in the Golden area through the generations. She believes it may be because of Golden’s economy.“This is a thriving community,” she said. “People can thrive here, so they stay here.”
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