Pueblo County, Colorado
Contributed by Carol Snow-Barnes
1898 Pierpont/Hyde article - Chieftain, Pueblo, Colorado
Transcribed by Carol Snow-Barnes from a newspaper article pasted in a scrapbook. Carol is a Great Great Great Granddaughter of Henry Pierpont. Date written: Circa 1898 (written one year after wife passed, in his obituary it is reported she died on May 4, 1897)
Centenarians in Pueblo [None as yet, but a few years will find two hearty pioneers who have lived to be 100 years old.] Author Unknown
Someone once said, “Gray hairs and old age are marks of distinction.” This saying is exemplified each day of the year in nearly every city in the United States. The youth of the land takes off his hat to the aged and the experience and wisdom which they have acquired in their long years of life finds in the youth of today an exceptionally fertile spot for the germination of ideas which in future years may be of inestimable value in more ways than one. The pleasures, the hardships, the inexhaustible energy which characterizes the “old timer” of today is not only of interest to the general public, but the experience thus acquired by the many years of practical living is of value not only to the youthful mind but those who are more experienced in the ways of the world may find in them some points which they could use to advantage.
Although Bacon said, “The World’s a bubble, and the life of a man less than a span an that span is dear to all and when the deep winter of life has been reached one can look back upon the many mistakes of his career in a reminiscent mood and recall countless de which, had he the privilege of living over, changes would be made for the better. It is all very plain after the incident has transpired and, “Oh, if I could have only live over one year of my life I would be satisfied,” is the expression of many a life miss-spent heard upon every hand.
A centenarian is looked upon as a sort of being living an existence apart from the balance of the populace. He is given the sidewalk when he passes down the street and every courtesy is shown him. It is as though he had come from another world entirely. His opinion on nearly any subject is regarded as a sort of prophecy and if possible the advice given is followed out to the letter. It is not only good judgment acquired from years of experience but is usually feasible in every detail. And so it will be until the end of time. Although this is considered the age of youth the judgment of he ???? has learned from actual experience will always be of value and thankfully received.
Although Pueblo’s contribution to the list of “old timers” cannot be truthfully called centenarians they are so near it that the experiences and history of their lives are of interest. Not only do they tell of a long life lived well but the hardships overcome teach a lesson of which can only be learned by experience. There are two residents of Pueblo and both are active and vigorous going about their daily avocation as they did thirty years ago the only perceptible changes being that they are slightly weaker and cannot stand as long or as hard a days work as in former years.
Henry Pierpont was sitting in the little parlor of the daughter’s home on the south side when the writer called to ask him about his life. Henry Pierpont, Jr. a lad of eight years was standing by his side while the old gentleman stroked the chestnut brown head as he told him of some of the hardships he was compelled to undergo when he was a lad about his age. The boy was all attention, and that the story had its effect upon him was expressed in the open eyed wonder with which he listened, sympathy being written upon every line of his face.
Henry Pierpoint (or Pierpont as it is more often spelled) was born a few miles from Baltimore, Maryland, February 14, 1812. When he was about 12 years old his parents moved to Ohio and finally settled near Zanesville. His father died shortly after moving to Zanesville and then it was that Henry was brought face to face with the hardships of the world. He was only about 16 years of age at that time, but he at once secured a position on the Ohio canal which was then being dug and worked at that for about two years. In 1825 he went to Greenup county, Kentucky, and worked in the iron furnaces for about two years and returned to Ohio where he worked in various parts of the state until he reached the age of maturity.
The canal had been completed by this time and he secured a position on one of the canal boats which he held for about two seasons. He then went back to Zanesville and went to logging. It was during this time that he met the young lady who shortly after became his wife and who was his counselor and advisor until about a year ago when she died in this city. He was married to Miss Katherin Mosier on August 13, 1837. He purchased considerable property around Zanesville after his marriage, and lived in contentment for sixteen years. The roving spirit then predominated and after disposing of all of his property he moved to Cascanade county, Missouri. Here he purchased a farm and settled down again for two years. He then sold it and moved to Clark county where he secured another farm.
In 1862 Mr. Pierpont enlisted in the Federal Army, company B, Second regiment, Missouri state militia, but after nine months service was mustered out on account of age when the First and Second regiments were consolidated and sent to the seat of the war in the south. Upon retirement from the service he took his family and moved to Keokuck, Iowa, where he stayed a short time and, securing a tie contract on the Union Pacific which was just then building into Denver, he went to Wyandotte, which is now Kansas City, Kansas.
In the spring of 1857 during the Pike’s Peak excitement he came to Denver, which was then only a small borough containing perhaps 50 or 60 log cabins and innumerable tent and wagons belonging to gold hunters. Indians were plentiful then but had not yet gone on the war path. Flour was $10 per hundred weight, all kinds of meat was 25 cents per pound and all other provisions were proportionately high. Gambling of all kinds was at its height and the limit was the size of the “roll” the player carried. There was no law, everyone being a law unto himself. Everyone carried at least one revolver all the time and sometimes two or three were insight. An insulting remark often meant death to the one who was the slowest in drawing his gun, and murders were nearly an every day occurrence.
His party stayed in Denver about a month then went back into the mountains in what is now known as South Park. Gold did not seem to stick out on very ledge of rock, however, and after about two weeks prospecting in that part of the state they went back to Denver and in a few days started for home. In 1881 he moved to Pueblo and has remained here. Shortly after arriving here he purchased a ranch in Vineland, and about a year ago sold this and has since made his home with his daughter, Mrs. Anna Harris.
Mr. Pierpont in recounting his experiences and some of the hardships he has undergone had no word of complaint whatever, he says he is comparatively strong and hearty and “thanks the Lord for that.” He has raised a family of 13 children, four boys and nine girls, six of whom are living, five of them making this city their home. Napoleon Pierpont is living in Oklahoma City, O. T. The other son, Harrison and four daughters, Mrs. H. P. Lull, Mrs. Hanna Shepler, Mrs. Sarah Young and Mrs. Anna Harris live in Pueblo.
Mr. Pierpont holds to the opinion that he is distantly related to J. Pierpont Morgan who he claims was his father’s cousin. Governor Pierpont of West Virginia was also a cousin of his father’s. All were born in the vicinity of Baltimore and he thinks are the offspring of three brothers who came to this country before the revolutionary war, one of whom was his grandfather. “I have always been quite fortunate in the affairs of life,” observed Mr. Pierpont during the interview. “To be sure I have had my share of hardships and have seen all phases of life. I have been on the frontier practically speaking all my life or at least ever since I was two years old. But there are no more frontiers now and I am almost lost in a big city like this. It doesn’t seem natural at all to look over there and see that great cloud of smoke arising from those smelters and houses on every hand. Some people call that living but it is different with me.
“I saw the first engine that ever struck Denver. I was at the dock when it was unloaded from the ferry boat at Wyandotte and was standing within a few feet of it when a cable broke and the engine was precipitated into the Missouri river, where it rested for about two weeks. It was one of the greatest curiosities anyone ever saw at that time and was considered a monster, although it would not be much more than a watch charm by the side of one of the engines of the present day.
I will never forget the first wagon I ever saw. I was about five years old and one day my father came driving up to the house in a wagon. We had always used sleds up to that time and we thought that the wagon was about the most curious thing we had ever seen. We disected its every point, climbing over it and under it and finally after the horses were unhitched two or three of us took the tongue and began pulling it around the house. I believe it was the hardest work any of us ever did but it was “fun” anyway.
“I have lived for weeks at a time on boiled wheat and wild game when father was at the mill getting wheat made into flour. In those days it required sometimes two weeks to get the wheat ground, there being so many at the mill that would line up and wait their turn for days at a time. Wild game was very plentiful then and it was a common thing for us to go out in the woods and bring in a wild hog or two, a deer, two or three wild turkeys and pigeons, a sufficient supply to last several days.
Mr. Pierpont cast his first vote for President Harrison and has always been a Republican in national politics, although in local and state matters he has been bound to no political party. He is in sound bodily health and looks forward to the time when he can say, “I am 100 years old,” and from all present indications he will see that age and pass it. He has lost only two teeth in his life, the balance of them being sound and the terrors of tooth ache never bothered him in the least. His eye sight is good and the use of spectacles were never found to be necessary, even in the later years. His hearing is slightly impaired and aside from occasional lapses in memory, he is “good as he ever was excepting a little weaker, that is all.”
“Oh you wouldn’t want anything about me,” said Elias Hyde, when asked to tell something of his early life. “I’m just one of those old hangers on and the history of my life is of no consequence to anybody.”
With his legs crossed, his hat on his knee and the wind blowing his gray locks in the wild abandon about his head he looked into the face of his questioner with half a smile hovering around the corners of his mouth. He was silent for a moment and as he looked over the beautiful lawns that surround Mineral Palace his face assumed a reminiscent expression and finally looking up again he motioned to a chair at his side and said:
“Well, if you think it will be of any interest I will tell you a little about my life but remember I don’t want to see any of it in print. I don’t like newspapers much anyway, but I will tell you a little just to help you out.”
Assured that his kindness would be appreciated he leaned back in his chair a recrossed his legs began:
“I was born June 29, 1913, in Ogdensburg, St. Lawrence county, New York. When I was 14 years old I left home and went to Jamestown. I stayed there about three years and went to Chicago. In 1821 I went to Joliett, Ill., stayed in that vicinity about 15 years. I farmed for a while and was foreman of the carriage and iron department in the penitentiary at Joliett for four years. In 1859, during the stampede to the west, I went to California, but the gold nuggets were not as plentiful as I was led to believe so I did not stay there long.
“I saw Pueblo for the first time in 1872. What was it then? Why it was only borough with not over 1,000 people in it. I did not stay here long at that time, and finally went to Dakota. I don’t know whether you remember the big flood on the Missouri river in 1881 but I do, for I was in it. Warm weather out of season was the cause and the snow melted so rapidly above us that the waters of the river came down in such quantities that nearly everyone living on the rivers got caught unawares. There was a great deal of stock lost in it, but I don’t remember hearing of any lives being sacrificed. People lived on their housetops for several days, though and the experience was something I will never forget as long as I live. Vermillion, eight miles above where I was, completely washed away and the property loss was something appalling.
“Soon after this I came back to the Arkansas valley and settled at Rocky Ford. It did not suit me there, however, and in 1887 I moved back to Pueblo and have been here ever since,
“Was I ever married? Well I don’t believe I would have lived as long as I have if I hadn’t been married. Yes, I was married to Sarah Bertha Woodward in Jamestown, N. Y., in 1883. Six children born to us, two sons of whom are now living in this state. J. Lawrence living in Canyon City and William H. living in Pueblo, and three daughters.
“Yes I’ve seen considerable hardship, but take it as a whole, I guess I’ve been pretty lucky. At the time of the big Pike’s Peak excitement I came west with a number of others who thought the gold was laying in the shade of the tree for them to pick up and I’ll tell you there were a great many disappointments and heartaches over the result of their long trip out here. Some of them had sold everything they had in order to get here, and when they arrived and did not find the gold as plentiful as they thought the scenes which were enacted were heartrending. I have seen big strong men, who looked as though nothing could daunt them, sit down on the ground and covering their faces with their hands, weep as though they had lost everything.
“I’ve been what they call a kind of world’s unaccountable. I guess I’ve been in nearly every kind of business that was ever thought of, from carriage making to contracting on public works. I never had a real sick day in my life that I can remember, and have always felt well and hearty. I am nearly a hundred now, and unless all signs fail I will live to be that age and probably several years longer. I never knew what a father’s love meant, as my father was killed in the war of 1812, three months before I was born. I have drank whiskey all of my life, but I can truthfully say I was never drunk in my life. I have chewed tobacco ever since I was 12 years old and smoked nearly all my life. This talk you hear of tobacco shortening your life—there is nothing to it at all.
“Well I have lied to you enough and told you too much so I guess I will quit and go to supper. Now remember I don’t want to see anything I have told you in print and if I do the next time I see you it won’t be at all healthy for you. Oh, yes your welcome. Good by.”
Pueblo Chieftain Original clipping is undated but would have been published between August 1909 and March 1910.
Oldest Registered Voter in the State Passes Away.
Henry Pierpont, aged 97 years and said to be the oldest registered voter in the state, died at 10 o'clock yesterday morning at the home of his daughter, Mrs. A. L. Harris, 714 east Abriendo avenue. Mr. Pierpont is survived by fifty-five descendants and was the father of thirteen children, six of whom are now living and are residents of Pueblo. One of his descendants is a great-great-grandchild, who lives in Seattle.
Physically Mr. Pierpont was a remarkable man. He was hale and hearty until four weeks ago, when he fell and dislocated one of his hips. His extreme age was against him and he never recovered from the effects of the accident. Mr. Pierpont never needed glasses and until almost the day of his death he was able to read newspaper print without artificial aid. He had also never lost a tooth. Until five years ago Mr. Pierpont followed his usual occupation that of the transfer business. On election days he was a familiar figure, as he was proud of the fact that he was Pueblo's oldest voter and never lost an opportunity to cast his ballot.
Mr. Pierpont was born in Baltimore, Md., March 21, 1812. When an infant of 14 months he was taken by his parents to Zanesville, Ohio, where he grew to manhood. He was married there to Miss Catherine Mosher, Aug. 13, 1837. His wife died May 4, 1897, in Pueblo.
In 1853 Mr. Pierpont moved to Missouri, where he remained during the greater part of the Civil war. He served in company D, Second Missouri state militia, as he was then past the active service age. In 1863 he went to Wyandotte, Kas., where he lived for many years, and in 1881 came to Pueblo. In this city twenty-two years ago, Mr. and Mrs, Pierpont celebrated their golden wedding anniversary.
Since the death of his wife, Mr. Pierpont had made his home with his daughter, Mrs. Harris. He is survived by the following six sons and daughters, all of who reside in Pueblo: N. B. Pierpont, H. W. Pierpont, Mrs. H. P. Lull, Mrs. H. Shepler, Mrs. S. C. Young and Mrs. A. L. Harris. His other descendants are twenty grandchildren, twenty- eight great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
The funeral services will be held at 2 o'clock Sunday afternoon from the residence of Mrs. Harris, 714 east Abriendo avenue and will be under the auspices of the G.A.R., which is the only order to which Mr. Pierpont belonged. Rev. Milton Fish, pastor of the Mesa Baptist church, will conduct the services. Interment will be in the G.A.R. plot at the North Side cemetery.
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