Pueblo County, Colorado

Contributed by Karen Mitchell.

The subject of this sketch died January 15, 1874. To those who knew him long and well, an extended essay upon his character would seem but tame reproof to their memories of his life. For those who knew less of him we pen a brief history. Mr. Hinsdale was born at the village of Hinesburg, in Vermont, December 21, 1826. He was a son of Hon. Mitchell Hinsdale, an eminent lawyer, and once a member of Congress from the State of Vermont, and who moved to the State of Michigan when the subject of this sketch was but seven years old. He was educated in the University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor, and graduated in the classical course in 1849. He studied law in his father's office, but subsequently turned his attention to civil engineering, and was for several years in charge of the works of a Cannel Coal Mining Company on the Ohio River, near Hawesville, Ky. Here he became acquainted with, and, in 1856, married, Miss Josephine Sebastian, of Kentucky. A year or two later, with his young wife, he came West, and settled in Dakota, Neb., where he engaged in the practice of law. In 1859, he was elected, and served, as a member of the Nebraska Legislature from the Dakota District. He had been troubled with asthma for many years, and had hoped the climate of Northern Nebraska would benefit him; but in this he was disappointed, and suffered so much, that, in the spring of 1860, he determined to join in the rush to Pike's Peak, in the bare hope that the Rocky Mountains would afford relief from his disease. As was the custom, he outfitted with an ox team and wagon, and with his brave and devoted wife and infant boy, crossed the plains and became a pioneer in a new and strange land. His asthma left him almost entirely soon after he reached the mountains, and only seldom returned in brief attacks during his life in Colorado. He first engaged in mining in California Gulch, and in the fall of 1860, went down to Canon City, which had just been laid out as a wintering town for miners, built one of the first dwellings, and during the winter he assisted in framing a code of laws and organizing the first people's court for the government of that district. In 1863, he settled in Pueblo, when there were scarcely a dozen families living there, in the rudest of huts. In 1864, he moved to San Luis, in Costilla County, where he lived nearly two years, during which time he acquired a thorough knowledge of the Spanish language; and in the summer of 1866 he moved back to Pueblo, where he ever afterward resided, and engaged in the practice of law. At the election upon the adoption of the State Constitution in 1865, Mr. Hinsdale was elected Lieutenant Governor upon the Democratic ticket, being the only Democrat elected on the State ticket; and as such he presided over the joint session of the State Legislature, which was held in Denver, in December, 1865, and which elected Gov. John Evans and Hon. J. B. Chaffee, United States Senators under the Enabling Act for State admission, the bill for which passed Congress, but was vetoed by President Johnson. In 1868, he was elected a member of the Territorial Council, and at the session of 1870 was chosen President of that body. He was a member of the first Board of Trustees of the town of Pueblo after its incorporation, and at the time of his death was President of the City School Board, and County Attorney of Pueblo County. He filled numerous offices of public trust and honor, and was ever identified with the history and growth of Southern Colorado. In politics, he was always a Democrat of the firmest type, and, as one of the leaders of the party in Colorado; he ever held the respect of his political opponents by his ability no less than his sincerity, fidelity and conscientious integrity. As a lawyer, he was a profound thinker, forcible in logic of argument, zealous in the interest of his client, and one of the most successful criminal lawyers of his judicial district. As a scholar, he had few equals in the Territory, and was one of the most forcible, graceful writers for the press. When the Chieftain, as the first newspaper in Southern Colorado, was started in Pueblo, Mr. Hinsdale became one of its editors, and for over two years assisted in contributing gratuitous services to this means of promoting the development of Southern Colorado. He was afterward one of the leading organizers of the Pueblo Printing Company, publishers of The People, and, until about one year previous to his death, was one of the editors of that paper. He was President of the Public Library Association of Pueblo, and took an active interest in fostering that, one of the most creditable institutions of the young city. We estimate the need of such men in communities by their loss. They are the men who rule the world for good, and hold a rein upon its evil course. In all that was good in the development of his community and of the Territory, Mr. Hinsdale was an element. He could read the history of Colorado, whose every mountain and valley he loved, and in the fabric of whose civic life he felt the pride of a builder, and might be well entitled to exclaim: Omnia vidi et quorum pars fui! His life of unostentatious good should ever be an example to those who have outlived him. History of the Arkansas Valley, Colorado O L Baskin & Co., Chicago, 1881

Puebloan Helped Build Railways, Communities Puebloans were stunned on the morning of Jan. 15, 1874, to learn that their well-respected fellow townsman George A. Hinsdale had died at age 48. The beloved former lieutenant governor had been ill for about two weeks with what was believed to be cerebro spinal meningitis. The last person he recognized was his wife, who gave birth to the couple's third child a few hours after Hinsdale's death. Hinsdale was born in Vermont on Dec. 21, 1826. The family moved to Michigan in 1833. Hinsdale was graduated from the University of Michigan in 1869. He studied law in his father's office, but was more interested in civil engineering. For several years he was in charge of the works of a cannel coal mining company on the Ohio River. He married Josephine Sebastian in 1856. A year later the couple went to Dakota, Neb., where Hinsdale practiced law. He was elected to the Nebraska legislature in 1859. Finding no relief from asthma in northern Nebraska, he joined the Pike's Peak gold rush in 1860. He and his wife and their infant son crossed the plains in a wagon pulled by an ox team. They first went to California Gulch and in the fall of 1860 went to Canon City to spend the winter. While there he and Wilbur F. Stone, a young lawyer whom he had met in Nebraska, assisted in framing a code of laws and organizing the first People's Court for government in the district. In 1863 the Hinsdales settled in Pueblo, a village with barely a half dozen families living in the rudest of huts. The next year the Hinsdales moved to San Luis where they lived two years and he learned the Spanish language. They returned to Pueblo and in 1867 built a two-story adobe dwelling office on Fourth Street between Main and Santa Fe. The house had a shingled roof and was a real curiosity in this frontier town. George W. Hepburn, who later became probate judge, laid the adobe walls. The house later was occupied by a Chinese laundry and was razed in 1893. Hinsdale was elected territorial lieutenant governor in 1865, the only Democrat to win on the state ticket. In 1868 he was elected to the Territorial Council and was president of that body in 1870. In an address to the legislature on the subject of women's suffrage his conclusion was that it was not in the best interest of women to allow them to vote. He also was a member of the first board of town trustees and at the time of his death was president of the school board and county attorney. When Michael Beshoar established the weekly Pueblo Chieftain in 1868 Hinsdale was one of the editors. Later he helped establish the Pueblo Printing Co., publishers of the People, and was editor until the year before his death. Hinsdale in 1873 was elected president of the Colorado branch of the Missouri Valley Life Insurance Co., formed to provide a source of capital for building in the territory. A Pueblo elementary school and a Colorado county were named after him. Pueblo Chieftain Monday, February 11, 1991

to the Pueblo County Index Page.

Please e-mail comments and suggestions toKaren Mitchell.
© Karen Mitchell