Pueblo County, Colorado

Contributed by Jean Griesan.

Doctor Battled Corruption - A Look Back at Pueblo County - Abraham Lincoln Fugard was a medical doctor in Pueblo in the latter part of the 19th and early 20th centuries. His efforts to clean up corruption in the city make an interesting story. In 1900, one of Pueblo's great tragedies occurred. Fugard was serving as coroner at the time, being elected in 1897. A mulatto cook at the Fries Orphanage on Fourth Avenue was accused of molesting and then killing two girls at the institution. The suspect fled to Denver where he was apprehended and returned to Pueblo. An angry mob met the train at the Eighth Street Depot. He was dragged to Eighth and Santa Fe and hanged. Fugard, who was the coroner at the time, called a coroner's jury to investigate the deaths of the two girls. Investigators determined that the care and protection of "inmates" of the institution was inadequate. The result was establishing Sacred Heart Home and McClelland Home to care for Pueblo's homeless children. At the time, gambling and prostitution were rampant. There were more than enough saloons to meet the needs of any neighborhood. Apparently, both political parties would vote the dead in order to win an election. A reporter, writing about the year 1904 in Pueblo, said: "The sheriff's office and police department failed to do a thing. It was so bad that when a gambler came to town, the police met him at the train and secured him a place to work, got a 40 percent rake-off and they kept a man on the job to watch the play." In 1904, Judge John H. Voorhees bypassed Sheriff J.L. Beaman and requested coroner Fugard to summon a 12-man grand jury to investigate city politics and procedures. A number of Republicans were charged with irregularities, but the charges eventually were dropped. The Republicans did not nominate Fugard for another term. In his last days as coroner Fugard came down hard on gambling, but it was an uphill battle. It was believed that in addition to Fugard and all the preachers in town, local gamblers were on the side of law and order. They wanted to run out a bunch from El Paso who were cutting into the local scenes. Fugard's next try at politics came when he was elected mayor in 1909. He appointed contractor Cornelius C. Sullivan to be chief of police. It soon was charged that Sullivan and some of the officers were spending too much time in the establishment of Etta Murphy, the town's leading madam. Fugard refused to fire Sullivan, who eventually moved to California for his health. The Chieftain noted that Fugard kept most of his campaign promises, except that he did not appoint a black man to the fire department. In 1911, Pueblo voters approved a commission form of government. Pueblo Chieftain 11-17-1991

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