Pueblo County, Colorado
Contributed by Karen Mitchell and Jean Griesan. Photo by Floyd Kelling.
John Hildreth, a Kentuckian by birth, spent the last 25 years of his colorful life as a Pueblo County resident. He died of a short illness on February 18, 1894, a few days before he would have been 70 years old. Hildreth, with his father and brother, participated in the California Gold Rush in 1849. He and his brother purchased a ranch near Fresno and entered into the cattle business. In 1858 Hildreth returned to his old home in Missouri and married Miss Angeline Simms. Hildreth took his bride to California where they lived for several years before going to Texas. They lived in San Antonio for a year. They purchased 5,000 head of cattle and started for California in 1869. The party came through Pueblo and at Canon City one of the children became seriously ill. The Hildreths returned to Pueblo where they remained. Hildreth operated a horse ranch on Turkey Creek. A traveler noted that Hildreth lived in a log house worth $31 and carried a $500 gold watch. Hildreth sold the ranch and went to California in 1876. His family had given him up for dead when he returned a year later with a herd of 2,000 broncos. This venture didn't turn out well. In 1881 Hildreth was appointed to the Pueblo Police Department where he was employed as a policeman or jailer until his death. Hildreth spoke the Mexican language and was conversant in several Indian dialects. He was the father of eight children. Reportedly, on one of his early jaunts to California he traded a knife for a small Digger Indian boy. The child grew to manhood and remained under Hildreth's care until he died in 1890.
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