Dr. William Abraham Bell, Founding Father of Manitou


  • 1867- Came to St. Louis from England on a pretext of studying anew theory of medicine.
  • 1871- Colorado Springs was laid out.
  • 1872- Villa lots were platted for Manitou. Streets were laid out in graceful curves to conform to the irregular topography of the valley.
  • Soon after William's friends from England arrived and invested in property in both resorts- giving the name "Little London".

William and his partner Palmer began to erect a hotel, which was named Manitou House.

  • May 8, 1872- William married Cara Georgina Whitmore Scovell.
  • July 17, 1872- Cara and William arrive at the Log Cabin Station in Manitou from England. Also arriving with them was Mrs. Fussell, a devoted patient of William Bell. Also there was Ellen whom was Cara's maid.

William showed his new bride and guests Glen Eyrie, Garden of the Gods, Sacred Springs at Manitou, and his sheep farm in Monument.

Cara loved the adventures; the only person who ever complained was her chef Antonio Manasteriotti.

  • 1872- William and friends set up a dairy operation in Wet Mountain Valley and they market cheese. Rocky Mountain News reports they sold 5000 pounds of cheese that year. Tragedy struck when the manager of the dairy farm, Reginald Weave, was murdered by a visiting Englishman on a drunken bout
  • Autumn 1872-William and Cara built a home by the Fountaine-qui-Bouille which was name Briarhurst.
  • Jan. 26, 1874- Bells' first child, Rowena was born. Cara had promised that all of the children they had would be born on English soil- no matter the difficulties encountered to get to England. Rowena at 3 months was taken by a wetnurse to Dr. Bell's parent's home in Eastbourne, England. William and Cara set sail for America.
  • Date unknown- Baby Rowena arrives at the Briarhurst. Later joined in the nursery by Lily Solly, infant daughter of Edwin Solly, a young British Doctor.

William and Edwin were convinced that the mineral waters at Manitou had recuperative powers for invalids. They made a pamphlet claiming it healed pneumonia, bronchial problems, and derangement of the liver, kidneys, and spleen. Attacks of the gout, and alcoholism. Together they built a bathhouse and mineral bottling plant.

  • Jan. 1875-Bells left for England. William left Cara with her parents for the summer.
  • Sept. 1875- Second child Margaret was born.
  • 1879- Baby Rosita died.
  • Unknown date- Fourth daughter was born; Hyacinth followed by their only son, Archie.

During the economic depression periods, investors would grow to be none.

Worst of episode of Bell's and Palmer's career was the war over the Royal Gorge. The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe railroads all fought to have the right away through the scenic canyon. Bell and Palmer won the fight for the Royal Gorge.

  • 1880-Gen. Ulysses. S. Grant and wife visit the Briarhurst.
  • 1886- Briarhurst burnt down. Bells went to England again. Upon return they lived in the Mellen House while the new Briarhurst was being built.
  • March 22, 1887-They had a cornerstone ceremony.
  • Spring 1888-The new Briarhurst was ready.

New Briarhurst was made of pink stone and topped with slate roof resplendent with gargoyles and mythological stone heads.

Outer walls were 23 inches think and there were 12 chimneys to serve various fireplaces.

Schoolroom was of the entry hall.

Second floor contained Cara's prayer room (Oriel room).

Beyond the library was the Cloister.

Numerous guestrooms were added to the second floor.

The Third floor was the attic.

In the English kitchen was a large twelve-burner stove with two warming ovens and a hearthstone. Near the kitchen was the butler's pantry and to the wine cellar and mushroom beds.

One Irish cook named Bycroft refused to return to Ireland at retirement. When she died 10,000 dollars was found in her trunk.

Ferdinand Schneider, whom was the gardener, arrived in America by escaping the clutches of the German military. He hid in a haystack to get across the border. He came to America with Gen. Palmer. Once established at Glen Eyrie he had his sweetheart Amalia join him.

Amalia was able to make extra money by reading tea leaves and make predictions.

  • March 1909- Gen. Wm. Palmer died.
  • March 1920-William and Cara paid last visit to Briarhurst and their Manitou resort.
  • June 6, 1921-Bell died at the age of 81 of a heart condition.
  • 1938-Cara died at the age of 85.