Since Elizabeth Hickock was 22, she was able to read and write, which was rare for a women of her day. Her first husband, Dr. Robbins, ran a small medical practice and Elizabeth tended a family that grew to eight children. In 1840, the Robbins family moved to Illinois where Dr. Robbins founded several public schools.
After her first husband died, she migrated to the Minnesota prairie country and married widower “Judge” Lewis Stone. After the Sioux uprising, the couple moved from St. Louis to Colorado, where they ran a hotel, before moving to Camp Collins, Colorado Territory near the Cache la Poudre River, a military post consisting of a scattering of log cabins and tents. She was the only white woman in town. at 63 years old, she was embarking on a career on the western frontier. Lewis obtained permission to build a two-story log cabin to serve as their home and the officer’s mess. Within a month, the Stones had finished building their cabin and were ready to welcome officers. The men started calling her “Auntie Stone” due to her pleasant disposition.
In 1866, Lewis Stone died. Widowed for the 2nd time, Elizabeth again became the sole support of her family. After the Camp Collins became decommissioned by the military, Elizabeth opened the town’s first hotel in her home and lodged travelers along the Overland Trail. She served as the fort’s only midwife as well.
Elizabeth had formed a business partnership in 1867 with Henry Clay Peterson, a gunsmith. The two built a three-story flour mill after watching the region’s growing wheat farms thrive. It was the town’s tallest building and the only the second flour mill in Northern Colorado. The Cache la Poudre River helped power the mill. It was still in use in 1997, rebuilt into a feed store.
By 1870, Elizabeth and her partner Henry turned to making bricks, after deciding the town of Fort Collins would be given an more permanent appearance by using brick. The partners opened and operated the first brick kiln in the region. Elizabeth built the first brick building, which she called the Cottage House Hotel and ran that until she was eighty-one.
Elizabeth cast her first vote when she was 93. She died in December, 1895 when she was 94. Her originally cabin was moved several times, and ended up in the enclosed yard of the Pioneer Museum in downtown Fort Collins.