Margaret Coel was born Margaret Speas on October 11, 1937, in Denver, Colorado, to Samuel F. Speas and Margaret (McCloskey) Speas. She earned a bachelor’s degree at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she met her future husband, George W. Coel. They married on July 22, 1962, and had three children, William, Kristin, and Lisa.
Coel began a career as a journalist in 1960, reporting for the Westminster Journal in Westminster, Colorado. She worked for the Boulder Daily Camera in Boulder as a feature writer from 1972 to 1975. She then continued writing as a freelancer and, over the years, occasionally served as a writing instructor and lecturer at the University of Colorado and other institutions.
Coel’s interest in Western history grew out of her family background. A fourth-generation member of a pioneer family, she has given credit to her father, who worked for a railroad, for her early interest in history and Native Americans. Her father’s stories about railroading in the West led to a collaborative effort between daughter and father, Goin’ Railroading: A Century on the Colorado High Iron (1986). Several years earlier, she had published her first book, Chief Left Hand: Southern Arapaho (1981), about a chief who was mortally wounded at the Sand Creek massacre in 1864 in Colorado.
Deeply interested in the history of the Native Americans of Colorado, Coel has explained that her...
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