Since taking the helm of the Highlands Ranch Historical Society seven years ago, Caroline Smith has always insisted on one thing.
“It’s not the Caroline and George Historical Society,” she’s been fond of saying, referring to her husband, George, who has been instrumental in helping run the club every step of the way.
It may not have been that, but the monthly meetings and presentations no doubt grew immensely in popularity under Smith.
From Amelia Earhart to Ben Franklin impersonators to authors such as Kate Chenery Tweedy, whose family owned the 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat, Smith discovered the right balance with national and local history presentations to keep Highlands Ranch residents intrigued.
“I was impressed with Caroline right from moment number one,” said her recently named successor, Nancy Linsenbigler, who has been involved with the organization since 2008. “She’s dynamic, involved, and you can tell she really cares. She was always so genuinely grateful to those who came. She and her husband certainly have grown (the society). The membership has more than doubled since I’ve arrived.”
For Smith, though, the time has come to pass the torch. And while she plans on staying involved and helping out in any way she can, she also plans on taking some time to write a book and tell her own history, which started as a youth born in New York City and raised in Lexington, Ky.
After meeting George as a young lady, while he was stationed near Lexington in the Army, it was on to Illinois where she worked as a reporter for the Naperville Sun. The couple later moved to New Jersey, and have spent the past 13 years in Highlands Ranch where Smith has served on the Douglas County Preservation Board, been involved with the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Littleton Newcomers Club, and started the Highlands Ranch Garden Club.
A direct descendant of the governor of the Mississippi Territory, who was a dear friend and confidant to Presidents George Washington and John Adams, Smith sees history happening each day and as something for all generations to be engaged with.
“History is not just a big book with a lot of little words and boring dates you have to remember,” Smith said. “What we really need for the younger generation to understand is that history is fun. They are making history. Everything is history, and they need to learn to be excited about it.”
Linsenbigler is hoping to take that philosophy and run with it, as she has plans of attracting more young people to the events and setting up a Facebook page for the organization in the near future.
The next event for the historical society is coming up on May 21 as the group will welcome in Richard Marold as Nikola Tesla at 7 p.m. at Southridge. As with all events put on by the HRHS it is free, yet an RSVP is requested to reserve space. To RSVP call Smith at 303-471-5611.
For more information, visit www.HighlandsRanchHistoricalSociety.org.