Ingrained into the very fabric of the county is its much more noble beginnings. Taking the name of the third U.S. president Thomas Jefferson, the county was formally organized in 1861 by the Colorado Territorial Legislature.
The need for an organized local government began in the late 1850s when droves of gold-seeking settlers came West. In 1858, when gold was discovered in the Rocky Mountains, there were fewer than 200 settlers in the area. An influx of nearly 35,000 people arrived two years later, lured by the glitter of gold.