Pueblo County, Colorado
WILLIAM W. STRAIT
Contributed by Karen Mitchell.
He whose name forms the caption of this history was born April 3, 1839, in Sylvania Township, near Troy, in Bradford County, Penn., on his father's farm. When he was seven years old, his father moved to Centerville, Lake County, Ind.; two years after, to Pleasant Grove; and, in 1852, being elected Sheriff, he moved to Crown Point, the county seat, where he engaged in the mercantile business, and attended to the duties of his office. In 1855, he sold his business, and bought 1,000 head of stock cattle, and moved to Scott County, Minn. William W. was then sixteen; he had clerked a short time at Crown Point and at Shakopee. An opportunity to break prairie land at a price he could lay up considerable money occurring, he broke from 1855 till 1858. His school advantages were not the best, but he made the most of them, and observation and study after leaving school has made him a business scholar. He again began clerking, in 1859, for his father, and remained with him until 1862. At the residence of his bride's father, eight miles from Shakopee, with Miss Amanda Hawkins, he entered into a contract of marriage, June 18, 1861. He had saved, in 1862, enough capital to do business for himself. Jordan, in the same county, was selected by him as a place where merchandise could be turned fast and with profit. He opened a general merchandise store there, and sold it in 1864, to start a livery, which he continued in till 1867. In partnership with his brother, the Hon. H. B. Strait, who was sent to Congress from the Second Congressional District of Minnesota, in 1872, he recommenced merchandising at Jordan, and sold goods there till 1876, when he and his brother sold their store, and he came to South Pueblo. He was appointed Postmaster at Jordan, Sand Creek Post Office, in 1862. One of the most exciting times of his life took place that year, in August, when Yellow Medicine and Red Wood Agencies were massacred by Indians, and Fort Ridgely besieged. For safety, he sent his family to the county seat, then left his business in charge of a boy clerk, and joined a company of mounted Independents, made up mostly of business men, and went to the relief of the fort. They scouted from Henderson to St. Peter, in advance of the volunteers, made a short halt at the latter place waiting for ammunition, and in face of expected ambush, pushed on through the ravines to Fort Ridgely. All the settlers west of the fort were killed, and he witnessed a spectacle of the mutilation of the dead as is seen only where Indians have been on the war-path and held might in their grasp. The Indians were apprised of the coming of the company, and left the imprisoned defenders of the fort to peacefully and joyfully welcome the arrival of the would-be self-sacrificing company who had saved them from massacre. Hearing of the beneficial effect the climate of Colorado has on invalids, he accepted of the verdict of the many, and brought his invalid wife to the State, without even first making the journey to ascertain if the reports were corroborated by the cure of those who had preceded him. Like hundreds of others had done, she gained her health, and rather than risk a change, he bought the Grand Central Hotel, one of the largest in the city, intending to make Colorado the future home of himself and family. In the spring of 1878, he leased the hotel to a renter, and spent the summer visiting relatives and friends in Washington, D. C., returning to Colorado in the fall. He has built four cottages in " The Grove," and was one of the projectors of the mineral-water artesian well, and is now, by developing the mineral resources of the State, attesting his readiness to increase the wealth of the State as much as his has been increased by it.
History of the Arkansas Valley, Colorado
O L Baskin & Co., Chicago, 1881
to the Pueblo County Index Page.
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