Grandson of Frisco founding father dies |

Grandson of Frisco founding father dies

FRISCO – The grandson of one of Frisco’s founding fathers died recently – the last of the miners from a pioneering Summit County family.

Henry F. Recen, the grandson of Henry A. Recen Sr., died of complications from Parkinson’s disease Feb. 28 at age 70.

Henry A. Recen was a stonemason who came to Colorado in the late 1800s from Sweden, said Mary Ellen Gilliland, the local author-

historian who wrote “Frisco! A Colorful Colorado Community” and “Summit – A Gold Rush History of Summit County, Colorado.”

Henry A. built the foundation for Central City’s Opera House before striking it rich at Idaho Springs’ Elephant Mine. Soon after, he returned to Sweden, where he married Catherine Matsen. He returned to Colorado with Matsen and two of his brothers, Andrew and Daniel.

In Summit County, the Recen brothers became rich, very successful and well-known miners, Gilliland said.

Henry A. Recen was Frisco’s first resident and built the town’s first cabin at the junction of North Ten Mile and Ten Mile creeks on Ten Mile Island.

“It was his cabin where the Indian scout passing through carved the words “Frisco City,'” Gilliland said, adding that where the name Frisco came from is a matter of debate. According to the Recen family, the name “Frisco” was a joke related to San Francisco, said Sharon Recen, wife of Henry F. Sharon never had the chance to meet Henry Sr., but she remembers his sons; Henry A. Recen Jr. and Albert Recen.

“They were total opposites,” she said. “Henry A. did everything fast and clipped and was thin. He liked to wear suits.”

“People said he walked so fast, you couldn’t keep up with him,” Gilliland said, adding that Henry Jr. became one of Summit County’s best-known citizens. He was a longtime local mayor and a county commissioner, she said.

“Albert was heavier and wore slacks with suspenders and was very laid-back,” Sharon said.

Albert Recen worked for the Colorado and Southern railroad, which ran from Denver to Summit County through Como. He met his wife, Margaret Sullivan, in Como, Sharon said. He later became sheriff of Breckenridge – during the 1920s and ’30s.

Henry F. – known by friends and family as Buddy or Bud – was the youngest of the couple’s children, born after the family moved to the Denver area, Sharon said.

The Recens’ mining history ended with Henry F.’s generation, she said. Henry F., his brothers, father and uncle “worked down in Denver and every weekend they’d go up and mine. Probably half the holes in (Ten Mile) canyon are due to (the Recens).”

Though Sharon doesn’t know if her husband inherited any of the original Henry’s characteristics, there are signs of his brother Andrew in her son, Brett. Brett is brown-haired like Andrew. And like his great-uncle’s, Brett’s beard has flecks of red and white – in the very same pattern.

“It’s spooky – exactly the same, two generations later,” Sharon said of the similarity. “It kind of jumped a generation.”

Henry F. and Sharon had been married since 1953. He worked more than 30 years for Public Service Company of Colorado before retiring. The couple had two children, Brett and Leslie. Henry F. was survived by Sharon; his sister June Ann; his children; his grandson, Christopher Tracy, and his step-grandchildren, Dan, Dave and Justin Ehmer.

Lu Snyder can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or

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