In 1894, David E. Severance applied for a post office for a community of approximately 50 families, to be named Tailholt. However, because Mr. Severance put in for the post office it was erroneously named Severance. A promotion began in the early 1900s to persuade farmers to raise sugar beets so a sugar factory would be built in neighboring Windsor. The necessary acreage was pledged and the Windsor factory was built in 1903, becoming the Great Western Sugar Company in 1905. Severance became a sugar beet receiving station on the Great Western Railway, operating until 1985.
Severance was founded by Bruce Eaton, the son of Governor Benjamin Eaton in 1906 and by 1920 the town had enough residents to incorporate, with 40 votes for and zero against. Although it was not until 1920 that Severance became an official “municipal incorporation”, it was a thriving little community long before that. In fact, it was the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 that was the real beginning of it all.The 530,000,000 acres stretching from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains that President Jefferson purchased form France contained what was to become Weld County and, eventually, Severance within Weld County.
In the hundred years or so after the Louisiana Purchase, countless little towns in the West sprang up for some of the same reasons that Severance did. The discovery of gold, the Homestead Acts opening up ranching and farming possibilities, the coming of the railroads and irrigation all contributed to the settling of the Great American Desert. In 1858 gold was discovered in the Rocky Mountains. That event brought Benjamin Eaton, among others, to the Pikes Peak Region. Mr. Eaton was to have a profound effect not only upon this area, but also upon the development of the entire territory that was to become Colorado.
The Homestead Act of 1862 provided several methods for pioneers to acquire land. They could live on the land for five years and improve it, they could pay all of $1.25 an acre rather than meeting the five-year residency, or they could obtain land by planting ten acres of trees on 160 acres and own the land after five years. After the Civil War the United States Government was eager to have the West settled. It took several actions to speed up the process. Not so many people took advantage of the original Homestead Act of 1862 as had been hoped. The government increased the number of acres that could be homesteaded. Many acres in the Severance area were homesteaded, some by tree claims.
The Andrew Law family, including son Lorenzo Dow, headed West from West Virginia in search of farm and grazing land. Andrew Law was a farmer and a stock raiser. In 1875, choosing to follow in his father’s footsteps, L. Dow Law filed a tree claim for 160 acres and homesteaded 160 acres, making up the south half of Section 26, Township 7, Range 67 (one mile north and west of Severance). He established a sheep ranch and was the first settler under the Eaton Ditch in Weld County; in fact, he took up his abode upon his place before the ditch was surveyed.
There was not one bit of timber on his land nor any improvements. The land was open range. There was a watering place, known as five-mile water hole and a spring for stock just below where the house was built. The creek (Black Hollow Creek) which flows through there now was a dry wash until the land was put under irrigation. Settlers arriving in the nineteen sections of what was to become School District 52 found rolling prairie land covered with buffalo grass, other native grasses and cactus. L. Dow Law and his brother John grazed their sheep on their prairie land and over the open range to the north until that land was settled.