The townsite is the only remaining Colorado example of the national African-American colonization movement inspired by Booker T. Washington. It was one of fourteen colonies, or rural towns, established in the West to provide Americans of African descent with the opportunity to own and work their own land. By 1917, sixty African-American families worked its 15,000 acres.
The town boasted a boarding house, numerous stores, a concrete block factory, a blacksmith shop, churches, and its own telephone service. The Great Depression and the Dust Bowl brought hard times, and many of its residents moved on. Oliver Toussaint Jackson, an African-American leader and entrepreneur in Colorado from the early 1900s until his death in 1948, founded Dearfield in 1910 when he filed a homestead claim for the initial 160 acres of land.