Pueblo County, Colorado
Pathbreakers and Pioneers
Contributed by Karen Mitchell.
Pathbreakers and Pioneers of the Pueblo Region
A History of Pueblo from the Earliest Times
MILO LEE WHITTAKER
The Franklin Press Company
To have been permitted to write the story of the evolution of the Pueblo region from a barren expanse
of prairie, teeming with bison and red men, to a magnificent district containing the metropolis of the southern Rocky Mountain region, is a rare privilege indeed.
For the past year the writer has trapped with Kit Carson, explored the head waters of the Arkansas with
Fremont, fought Indians with Chivington, and engaged in city building with Pueblo pioneers. During
this time many long forgotton trails have been rediscovered and new ones have been blazed. The weariness
and discomfort of the trail have been more than compensated for by the pleasing companionship with those
who travel thereon.
But after all, this was pioneering by proxy; it was
smelling the rose without feeling its thorns. The real
pathbreaker and pioneer, however, well knew the difficulties which infested the trail of the thorns which
lay hidden among the flowers, yet, knowing of these
things, was undaunted by them. Inured to hardships
and privations, he and his good wife boldly faced the
grave problem of home-making in this western land
with a bravery and strength of purpose unequaled in
the annals of frontier development.
Much that might have been written about the development of the Pueblo region, and the men instrumental in its development, has been omitted in the
interests of a greater condensation. It is hoped, however, that the story is sufficiently complete to serve as
a guide to him who would familiarize himself with the
early history of the Pueblo region, as well as with
those influences which have brought about the evolution
of the city of Pueblo.
In that part of the work relating to the growth of
Pueblo proper, i. e., chapters four and five, the writer
has made no attempt to show the influence of individual
pioneers upon the development of the town ; these chapters are rather a chronology of what transpired than an
attempt to give credit to individuals who were instrumental in the making of Pueblo.
It is a pleasant duty to acknowledge the assistance
and co-operation of those who have so kindly aided in
the preparation of this work. The writer is especially
grateful to the following persons and organizations:
Judge Wilbur F. Stone, ex-Governor Alva Adams,
Stephen S. Smith, Eugene Weston, Col. I. W. Stanton,
Col. M. H. Fitch, Supt. J. F. Keating, The Southern Colorado Pioneers' Association, The Pueblo Commerce
Club, and The Pueblo Chieftain.
M. L. W.
January 15, 1917.
Chapter I At the Branching of the Trail
Chapter II Trappers and Traders of the Valley Region
Chapter III The City on the Boiling Fountain
Chapter IV The Battle With the Wilderness
Chapter V The Battle Won
Chapter VI Indian Adventures in Valley and Plain
Chapter VII The Romance of Railroads
Chapter VIII Industrial Pueblo
Chapter IX Public Education in Pueblo
Chapter X Around the Camp-Fire
CHAPTER I. AT THE BRANCHING OF THE TRAIL.
Were it possible to turn back the wheels of time a
brief space of sixty years the view presented to us by
the upper Arkansas would be strange indeed. Where
now rumbles the locomotive there would be seen the
wagon train wending its weary way westward to some
point in Colorado or New Mexico or even to far away
California. Where now chugs the automobile upon a
graveled road, then the buffalo and antelope had their
paths or the Indian his trail. Instead of groves and
green fields there would be presented to the eye of the
traveler an endless expanse of prairie, broken only by
bluffs and arroyos. Here in this garden spot of the
West the Indian and the bison were in undisputed control with only the appearance of an occasional trapper
or freighter to remind both that their reign in this vast
western empire was about to be contested.
It was in this valley that many of the stirring
events which came to typify western life, were enacted.
It would be impossible to go back to the time when the
Arkansas valley was not used as a trail. The first
introduction to this locality occurred probably in the
16th century at which time the Spaniards made intermittent attempts to secure a foothold in this region.
It was not until the year 1740, however, that they succeeded in establishing anything of a permanent nature
in the Arkansas valley. During the years 1740-1750
they maintained a trading post on the Huerfano river,
not far from its mouth. Ruins of houses, remains of
irrigation ditches, both of Spanish origin, have been
found for a distance of thirty or forty miles below
Pueblo. This seems to indicate that the Spaniards had
made serious attempts to settle this region. It is extremely unlikely, however, that any permanent settlement could have been maintained here at this early
date, owing to the exposed condition of this region to
marauding bands of Indians.
The French became a source of much trouble to
the Spaniards in their attempts to control the Arkansas
valley. Upon at least two occasions Spanish expeditions were sent out from New Mexico into this region
to drive out these French invaders.
In the year 1714, it was reported to the Spanish
authorities in New Mexico that French settlers from
the region of the Mississippi had traversed the
Arkansas, or Napesta, as it was then called, to its
source. Fearing that attempts would be made by the
French to secure a foothold in this region an expedition
of one hundred five Spaniards with thirty warriors of
one of the Pueblo tribes, set forth from Santa Fe to
punish these invaders. From a description of their
route, it is probable that this expedition entered the
Arkansas valley by way of the Sangre de Cristo Pass.
This being the case the expedition very likely passed
over the present site of Pueblo. They continued their
journey as far north as the present site of Colorado
Springs and may have crossed the divide into the valley
of the Platte. Although the Spaniards came into contact with some Apache Indians who bore fresh gunshot
wounds inflicted by the French, no other trace of them
could be found.
Again in the year of 1720 a military force of about
two hundred men accompanied by 1,200 or 1,300 colonists set out for the north. Although their destination
has always been in doubt, they probably followed the
same route taken by the former expedition as far as
the Arkansas. Turning east their course led down the
river where they were led into a trap by the Indians,
the entire body of soldiers and colonists being massacred, a priest alone, by the name of Father Juan
Pino, being allowed to live.
After this disaster no further attempt was made by
the Spaniards to keep the French out of this region.
The French continued their activities in the Arkansas
valley until their final downfall in America, which
occurred in the year 1763.
According to General Amos Stoddard, who represented the Government of the United States in the
transfer of the northern part of the Louisiana Purchase
to this country, and who, some years later, wrote a
book entitled "Sketches of Louisiana," some French
traders came up the Arkansas with a quantity of
merchandise and erected a trading post not far from
the base of the Rockies. This occurred before the year
1762. The Spaniards deeming this an invasion of their
territory, arrested these traders, seized their goods and
demanded the punishment of the adventurers. The
prisoners were eventually liberated and their goods restored on the grounds that the trading post in question
was within the boundaries of Louisiana. A further
description of this French trading post indicates that
it was located on the present site of Pueblo, on the east
bank of the Fountain river.
If the assumption is true as to the location of this
French trading post, Pueblo becomes the location of
the first building of permanent nature, not only in
Colorado, but also in the entire Rocky Mountain region
north of the Spanish settlements in New Mexico.
Although the Spanish inhabited this region for
several decades and the French explored it during their
supremacy on this continent, yet neither of these nations left any mark of their presence in the way of
mission or trading post or settlement of any kind.
With the transfer of this region north of the Arkansas
to the hands of the Spanish in 1762, the French
abandoned the Arkansas valley entirely and the Spanish seem to have done nothing in the way of exploring
it during the thirty-eight years in which its legal title
rested in that nation.
In the year 1803, in a manner unprecedented in
American history, that almost limitless region lying
between the Mississippi and the crest of the Rockies,
and north of the Arkansas fell into the hands of the
United States. Scarcely had the vast domain come
into our possession than plans were made for sending
a government expedition into the interior, for purposes
of exploration. In 1804 Lewis and Clark, both of the
army, were sent into the Northwest and two years later
Lieutenant Zebulon M. Pike was sent up the Arkansas.
This expedition of Pike's, which was to give the
nation the first semi-authentic report of the southern
part of our new acquisition, left St. Louis on July 11,
1806. His little command consisting of twenty-three
men, departed with apparently no intention of remaining away until the opening of winter, as their clothing
was wholly inadequate for extended exposure to cold
weather; but scant preparation had been made for an
extended journey, even in warm weather. Neither
had the leader of the party provided himself with such
geographical data as an explorer could easily have obtained concerning the region to be explored. But, in
spite of this, as well as of Pike's inability to chart his
own route with any degree of accuracy, the report of
the expedition, inadequate though it was, gave to the
nation its first real knowledge of the Arkansas valley.
We are interested for the present only in that part
of Pike's expedition which took him through the Pueblo
region. When this little band entered the upper
Arkansas valley there was not a human habitation
throughout its entire extent and he encountered no human being in this region except the Indian. True he
came upon traces of Spaniards, but they had been sent
into the valley for the purpose of preventing Pike from
exploring this region. It should be remembered that at
this time, Spain and the United States were at the point
of war with each other, hence Pike was obliged to move
with the utmost caution to prevent falling into the
hands of the military expedition which had been sent
out to apprehend him. In fact he did finally wander
into Spanish territory and permit himself to be captured by the Spanish authorities.
Pike crossed what was for the first time designated
as "The Great American Desert," and entered Colorado
by what was later known as the Santa Fe trail. He
describes his first view of the Rocky Mountains as follows : "About two o'clock in the afternoon I thought I
could distinguish a mountain to our right which appeared like a small blue cloud; viewed it with a spyglass and was still more confirmed in my conjecture,
yet only communicated it to Dr. Robinson, who was in
front of me, but in half an hour they appeared in full
view before us. When our party arrived on the hill,
they, with one accord, gave three cheers for the Mexican
Thus did Pike, for the first time, look upon that
massive mountain which was ever afterwards to be
the monument commemorating to succeeding generations the heroism of this courageous man and his band
of faithful followers who struggled, half clad, through
snow and ice as they explored the head-waters of the
On November the 21st Pike and his party entered
the present boundaries of Pueblo County, and camped
a short distance below the mouth of the Huerfano
river. At this point he discovered the camp of a body
of Spanish troops and also the tracks of two men who
had ascended the river the day before. This discovery
caused him to take every precaution to prevent being
surprised and captured.
Pike's introduction to Pueblo County was anything
but pleasant. In the vicinity of Avondale he encountered a band of Pawnee Indians. The adventure is
described in Pike's own words : "November 22. Marched
at our usual hour and with rather more caution than
usual. After having marched about five miles on the
prairie, we descended into the bottoms, when Barony
cried out: 'Voila un Savage! We observed a number
running from the woods toward us; we advanced to
them, and on turning my head to the left, I observed
several running on the hill as it were to surround us,
one with a stand of colors. This caused a momentary
halt; but perceiving those in front reaching out their
hands, without arms, we again advanced; they met us
with open arms, crowding around us to touch and
embrace us. They appeared so anxious I dismounted
from my horse; in a moment a fellow had mounted him
and was off. I then observed that Baroney and the
doctor were in the same predicament. After some time
tranquility was so far restored, they having returned
our horses all safe, as to make us learn they were a
war party from the Grand Pawnees, who had been in
search of the Tetans (Comanches); but not finding
them were now on their return. An unsuccessful war
party on their way home are always ready to embrace
an opportunity of gratifying their disappointed
vengeance on the first person whom they met."
There were about sixty warriors in all, some with
fire arms and the remainder with bows and arrows. A
circle was arranged and the pipe was brought forth.
Pike ordered presents distributed, consisting of knives,
fire-steels and flints. The Indians demanded kettles,
blankets and ammunition but were refused by Pike. It
was some time before the Indians consented to smoke
the peace-pipe, but according to Pike the party was
"presented with a kettle of water and drank, smoked
and ate together." The presents were distributed but
some of the Indians contemptuously threw them away.
The little band was soon encircled by the Indians who
began stealing their tomahawks, blankets and other
articles of value. When the chief was appealed to his
only reply was that "they were pitiful." Becoming
desperate, Pike ordered his men to place themselves in
position to give battle and at the same time informed
the Indians that he would kill the first one that touched
his baggage, whereupon the savages filed away, having
stolen a tomahawk, a broad-axe, five canteens and
sundry other smaller articles.
On November 23, 1806, the expedition arrived at
the present site of Pueblo. The complete entry in
Pike's diary for this day is as follows: "Marched at 10
o'clock; at one o'clock came to the third fork, (St.
Charles) on the south side and encamped at night at
the point of the grand forks, (confluence of Fountain
with the Arkansas). As the river appeared to be dividing itself into many small branches, and of course must
be nearing its extreme source, I concluded to put the
party in a defensible situation and ascend the north
fork, (Fountain river), to the high point of the blue
mountain, (Pike's Peak), which we conceived would
be one day's march; in order to be enabled, from its
pinacle to lay down the various branches and positions
of the country. Killed five buffalo."
The next morning, November 24th, very early in
the morning, Pike caused fourteen logs to be cut and
with them erected a breastwork five feet high on three
sides and the other thrown against the river. The fact
is worthy of our attention that this crude breastwork
here on the banks of the Arkansas was the first habitation in the present limits of Colorado to be erected and
occupied by Americans. No trace of this temporary
fort has ever been found, but since it was so near the
bank of the river it is quite probable that the floods of
summer washed away the logs and obliterated all other
evidences of it.
Pike left a part of his command at the fort and
with two or three others took a little side trip up the
Fountain river with the intention of scaling Pike's
Peak. In true tenderfoot style he departed at one
o'clock in the afternoon intending to camp near the
base of the peak that evening. Much to his surprise,
after marching all afternoon and the entire day following, was he able to camp only at the base of what he
supposed was the great peak. But again he was deceived for, after he had spent two days more struggling
up the mountain side through snow waist deep, and
going without food or baggage during this entire time,
he found to his chagrin that he had reached the summit,
not of the great peak, but of a smaller one, probably
Cheyenne mountain, and that the summit of Pike's
Peak appeared some fifteen or sixteen miles away. Pike
declared that, "It was as high again as what he had
ascended and it would have taken a whole day's march
to arrive at its base, when I believe that no human
being could ascend to its pinnacle. This, with the condition of my soldiers, who had light overalls on and no
stockings, and were in every way ill provided to endure
the inclemency of the region, determined us to return."
The party arrived back at the camp on the Arkansas
on the afternoon of November 29, and the next day
abandoned the breastwork, the entire force moving up
the Arkansas in the midst of a severe snow storm.
Following Pike's expedition very little is known of
the Arkansas valley for nearly twenty years when
Jacob Fowler made his famous journey to the present
site of Pueblo, an account of which will appear in the
Following the report of Pike's expedition the attention of traders was drawn to the Arkansas valley as
a possible route to Taos and Santa Fe. In 1812 a party
of traders composed of twelve men under the leadership
of Robert McKnight, James Baird and Samuel Chambers, set out for Santa Fe by way of the Arkansas valley
and the Sangre de Cristo pass. Again in the year 1815
August Chouteau and Julius De Munn traversed the
Arkansas river route to the Spanish settlements by way
of Taos. Chouteau established a camp at the mouth
of the Huerfano river near the present town of Boone.
His party spent the entire winter hunting and trapping
on the head waters of the Arkansas. After accumulating a large quantity of furs and just on the eve of
Chouteau's departure for St. Louis, the entire party
was arrested and taken to Santa Fe.
William Becknell conducted the first successful
expedition to Santa Fe over what became the Santa Fe
trail, and to him belongs the honor of being called the
father of this most famous of western highways. Becknell left the Missouri river with a company of some
seventy men for the purpose of "trading for horses
and mules and catching wild animals of every description." His route was up the Arkansas to the present
site of Pueblo and crossing the river near the present
Santa Fe Avenue the trail extended south and west
past the present location of Lake Minnequa in the
southern edge of the city, and thence in the direction of
the Greenhorn range. Crossing the range at the
Sangre de Cristo pass the trail entered the Rio Grande
valley and led from thence to Taos and Santa Fe.
It is usually stated in sketches of the Pueblo region,
that Stephen A. Long visited the present site of Pueblo
in the year 1819. In fact Long himself believed that
he was at the point where Pike had erected his log
fort several years before, but a careful reading of
Long's diary is conclusive proof that, while he believed
that he was descending the Fountain river, he was in
fact descended Turkey creek and was many miles from
the present site of Pueblo.
About the year 1823 John McKnight ascended the
Arkansas and erected a small trading post near the
present site of Pueblo. The most that is known of
McKnight is that a short time after his trading post
was erected he was found dead near it, having been
slain by a band of Comanche Indians. The Bent
brothers, Charles, William, Robert and George, of St.
Louis were the first to make a serious attempt to establish themselves permanently for trade in the Arkansas
valley. Others had traversed this region, hoping to
reap financial reward by a brief sojourn here but Bent
brothers were the first to see the advantages of the
Arkansas valley for purposes of trade. Their keenness
of discernment forsook them, however, when it came to
selecting the exact location for a trading post. In 1826
they built a trading post on Adobe creek in the Hardscrabble region, a few miles above Pueblo. Ceran
St. Vrain, a young man of French parentage, was associated with them in this enterprise. Finding that
they had gone too far west to be in the main line of
travel, they abandoned their fort in 1828 and established themselves near the mouth of the Las Animas
river. Again they made the mistake of passing by
the mouth of the Fountain river which, as subsequent
events proved, was the only logical location for a trading post.
In 1830 a French trader by the name of Maurice
Le Doux, erected a trading post above Pueblo, near the
one abandoned by Bent brothers two years before. Le
Doux was soon surrounded by a group of Mexicans who
engaged in farming on the Hardscrabble. Two years
later two fur traders, Blackwell and Gantt entered this
region and erected a trading post about six miles below
the present site of Pueblo on the north bank of the
Arkansas. How long they remained at this place is not
known, but the location of their trading post is made
certain by means of an old government map.
About this time a few Mexicans settled on the
Greenhorn and Huerfano rivers, but did not seem to
prosper in their farming efforts and soon disappeared.
Bent brothers returned to a point near their former
post on Adobe creek in 1840, but abandoned it in 1846.
By the year 1840 the trails of southern Colorado
had become well established. As has already been
pointed out, the main trail which connected this region
with the Mississippi and Missouri river regions, entered
the present boundaries of Colorado, by way of the
Arkansas valley, proceeded directly to the mouth of the
Fountain and from thence extended southwest to Taos
and later to Santa Fe, by way of the Sangre de Cristo
pass and the Rio Grande valley. One important branch
of this trail extended up the Arkansas to the present
site of Canon City where it turned northward and
entered South Park. Another branch of even more importance extended north from the present site of
Pueblo up the Fountain river, crossing the divide into
the region of the Platte river.
This branching of the trail in three directions at
the mouth of the Fountain, making easy communication
with all parts of the Rocky Mountain region, is of
special significance in studying the causes underlying
the later development of Pueblo. The courses of these
trails were in general the same as the courses of the
railroads in later years.
Although the Santa Fe trail originally passed
through the present site of Pueblo, as the trade with
Santa Fe assumed larger proportions a more direct
route was demanded. At this time a cut-off was established up the valley of the Las Animas river from Bent's
fort and across the mountains by way of Raton Pass.
Another branch was also established, leaving the main
trail at Fort Larned, Kas., and traversing the valley
of the Cimmaron river.
Just when and under what circumstances the old
Pueblo fort was established is and perhaps always will
be shrouded in mystery. The most reliable records
indicate that it was established in 1840 by George Simpson and two associates, Barclay and Doyle, although
the notorious James Beckwourth, whose veracity is as
doubtful as his parentage, claims to have established it
himself in the year 1842. Some writers have confused
Fort Pueblo with Fort El Puebla, situated five miles
west of Bent's Fort. The annals of this last named
fort are brief, indeed. It belonged to a company of
American and Mexican trappers, who, wearied with the
dull routine life of Bent's Fort had withdrawn and
established Fort El Puebla. These men were engaged
in raising grain, vegetables, horses and mules for the
various trading posts of the Arkansas valley. The
description of this trading post and its inhabitants
sounds strangely similar to that of Fort Pueblo proper
indeed, so much resemblance exists that it seems a
fair assumption that the inhabitants of Fort El Puebla
being located too close to Bent's Fort were obliged to
change their location and at the close of the year 1839
or early in 1840 abandoned the site near Bent's Fort in
favor of the more promising one at the mouth of the
Fort Pueblo was located on the west side of what
is now Union Avenue a short distance south of the
Santa Fe depot. For many years after Pueblo had developed into a city, the foundation of the old fort was
plainly visible. The fort was inhabited by a more or
less roving group of trappers, consisting of both Americans and Mexicans. A description of this historic
building has been passed down to us by one who saw it.
Ruxton, a trader and trapper, who passed through here
in 1847, gives the following description of it: "It was
a small square fort of adobe with circular bastions at
the corners, no part of the walls being more than eight
feet high, and around the inside of the yard or corral
are built some half dozen little rooms inhabited by as
many Indian traders and mountain men. They live
entirely upon game, and the greater part of the year
without even bread, since but little maize is cultivated.
As soon as their supply of meat is exhausted, they start
to the mountains with two or three pack animals and
bring them back in two or three days loaded with buffalo and venison. In the immediate vicinity of the fort
game is scarce, but is found in the mountain valleys,
particularly in the Bayou Salado," (South Park).
Fitzpatrick, United States Indian agent, located at
Bent's Fort, gives the following description of "the Pueblo": "About seventy-five miles above this place and
immediately on the Arkansas river, there is a small settlement the principal part of which is composed of old
trappers and hunters; the male part of it are mostly
Americans, Missouri French, Canadians and Mexicans.
They have a tolerable supply of cattle, horses, mules,
etc., and I am informed that they raised a good crop of
wheat, corn, beans, pumpkins and other vegetables.
They number about one hundred fifty souls, and of this
number about sixty are men, nearly all have wives and
some have two. The American women are
Mormons, a party of Mormons having wintered there,
and on their departure for California, left behind them
two families. These people are living in two separate
establishments near each other, one called Pueblo and
the other Hardscrabble. Both villages are fortified by
a wall twelve feet high, composed of adobe. These villages are becoming the resort of all idlers and loafers.
They are becoming the depots for the smuggling of
liquors from New Mexico into this country."
Fremont visited the Pueblo settlement in July,
1843, and again in 1848. He described it as a "pueblo,"
composed of "mountaineers who have married Spanish
women in the Valley of the Taos." In the summer of
1846 Francis Parkman and Quincy Adams Shaw visited
Pueblo and gave a somewhat lengthy description of the
The population of the little village rose and fell
during succeeding years because of the uncertainties
attending the lives of the inhabitants. On Christmas
Day of the year 1854 the seventeen occupants were
massacred by a band of Ute Indians. A full account of
this massacre will be found in a succeeding chapter.
It is of interest to note in closing this chapter, that
of all the attempts to establish trading posts in the
upper Arkansas, by far the most of them were in the
Pueblo region, and that those that were not at the confluence of the Fountain and the Arkansas, merely indicate an unconscious groping for the strategic spot;
that spot, as subsequent history proves, was at the
"branching of the trail."
CHAPTER II. TRAPPERS AND TRADERS OF THE VALLEY REGION.
The story of the Rocky Mountain trapper and his
influence upon the destiny of this land beyond the Mississippi has never been written, nor has the debt, which
the nation owes this brave man, ever been fully appreciated. It is true, as has been pointed out by other
writers, that these western trappers were in many respects reduced almost to savagery and that "all the
romance and most of the poetry (about these trappers)
are the creation of highly imaginative people who know
very little about them," but to dismiss the whole subject
by characterizing them as a class of men who "built
nothing, founded nothing, and with the exception of a
trading post here and there, left no trace of anything
that could lead to the betterment of mankind," and that
they were "marauders, bent only upon pillage," is to
fail utterly to comprehend or to appreciate the character of these trappers or their profound influence upon
the development of our western frontier.
These men would surely fail to measure up to our
standard of morals or to meet our present day requirements in etiquette. They would make a mean appearance in our social circles of today, but in the
fundamentals of character in loyalty, in faithfulness
to friend, in honesty of heart these men as a class
were not wanting. Robbery or theft were of rare occurrence; very seldom would they rob even an avowed
enemy. Willful murder was very unusual and occurred
usually as the result of their drunken debauches which
took place whenever liquor was smuggled in from the
states by representatives of the great fur companies.
The fraternity of trappers possessed a code of morals
which was straightforward and simple. The person
who violated this code was summarily dealt with.
It was the trapper and the trader who were the
real discoverers of the great West, yet posterity has
erected no monuments to their memory. It was the
trapper and not the government official who knew the
geography of the West and to whom appeal had to be
made when boundary lines were in dispute, yet he was
never pensioned or his services in any other way recognized. It was the trapper and hunter who had well-
nigh taken possession of this western empire before the
nation had gained a title to it, and a part of which was
in possession of Mexico, and the remainder in the disputed possession of Great Britain. It was the trapper
who led the military expedition through the mountain
passes to Santa Fe in 1846. When gold was discovered
in California a continuous highway to that region had
already been established, not by any government action
but by the trapper. "Finally, the nation owes a debt
of gratitude to those resolute pioneers (the trappers),
who, single handed and alone, stood their ground
against their British rivals between the Great Lakes
and the Rocky Mountains. Their valiant bearing prevented in a large degree those international complications which so often threatened the peace of the two
nations along other portions of the frontier."
The beginning of western development is so intricately related to the fur trade as to make any discussion
of the former impossible without a comprehensive
review of this industry. In the early part of the nineteenth century practically every stream of any considerable size, from the Gulf to the Pacific, abounded in
fur-bearing animals of many varieties, especially the
beaver, and the woods and prairies were well peopled
with mink, fox, deer and buffalo. There were three
common methods of procuring furs. The first and by
far the most fruitful source was from the Indians. The
trader had only to resort to the Indian village, laden
with such cheap trifles as would touch the fancy of the
Indian. The red man usually placed a very small value
upon his stock of furs and he could never understand
why the trader was willing to part with wares of such
value for articles of such trifling worth as beaver skins.
The second means of obtaining the much-sought-after
furs was by means of paid trappers and hunters. These
men were employed at a fixed salary and their term of
service was usually for a year or even longer in some
cases. The third method consisted in purchasing the
furs from what were known as free trappers and hunters, i. e., men who were not connected with any fur
company but who came and went at will, disposing of
the product of their efforts, either at a "rendezvous,"
or by taking them to St. Louis, the great fur market
for the entire West.
The lives led by these trappers and hunters affected
them in a very pronounced way. Their lives of solitude
were broken only by an occasional meeting with one
of their kind, and it was not unusual for a trapper to
go for weeks without seeing a human being. For this
reason he was gruff in demeanor and of few words.
His life was in constant peril as he went about his
daily tasks. He never knew at what moment he might
be ambushed by some treacherous band of savages.
His living depended upon his ability in pitting his wit
against the keen instinct of the beaver, but his life depended upon his being able to outwit the wily savage.
All this made of him a bold but silent man. His eye
was keen, his nerve tense, his mind always alert to anything that betokened danger. Sometimes a savage would
follow him for days or even weeks, awaiting an opportunity to ambush him. Although many a trapper lost
his life at the hands of these savages, it more often occurred that the trapper was more than a match for his
His life of physical hardship influenced his appearance in a marked degree. He was gaunt and brown,
with matted hair, and skin as dark as the savage. His
brow was deeply furrowed and his countenance bore
evidence of the life of danger and exposure to which
he was subjected. Largely through necessity, the trapper adopted the garb of the Indian. He soon found that
the costume of civilization was useless in his rough life
in the wilderness.
The presence of the Indian caused the fur industry
to take on a character that it would never otherwise
have assumed. Had it not been for the presence of
these savages no permanent forts or posts would have
been erected in the West, but all furs would have been
collected and transported at once to the fur market.
The enmity of the savage caused trappers to move in
groups, thus establishing definite trails. To more effectively protect themselves against their enemies, the
trappers were obliged to give a more careful and painstaking scrutiny to the country surrounding them. Thus
it will be observed that the enmity existing between the
trappers and the aborigines, while it resulted in the
loss of many lives, was nevertheless a definite influence
in the development of the West.
It was around the trading post that much of the
so-called romance of early western life had its center.
But as has already been intimated, the romance of the
trappers life existed largely in the imagination of
those who knew very little about him. The two most
famous rendezvous of the Arkansas valley were Bent's
old fort and Fort Pueblo. Here, at the close of the
season, came hunters and trappers laden with skins
and furs, the result of many months of arduous toil; to
these places came the Indians also, with the results of
their season's labor, while waiting to meet them was
the trader with an adequate supply of currency and
supplies for the white trappers and plenty of trinkets,
consisting largely of beads and vermilion, for the Indians. A liberal supply of liquor was always on hand
in spite of a prohibitory law against its importation
into Indian territory. If we add to this assemblage
another person who, although not a necessary part of
the group, was nevertheless an important actor in the
scene about to be described, our cast is complete. Remember that these trappers and hunters have been in
seclusion for the greater part of a year and have been
separated from such luxuries as gambling and liquor,
also that they have in their possession from $1,000 to
$5,000 in money or its equivalent; one can now see
that an ordinary police reporter, and not a poet, would
be required to describe the scene which would usually
be enacted. After the furs had been sold and accounts
settled, the gambling and drinking began and for a
period of many days, in fact as long as money and
liquor lasted, debauchery and drunkenness ensued.
After the trapper had squandered all of his possessions
he shouldered his pack and once more turned his face
toward the hills for another year's work, having saved
barely enough to purchase a small quantity of sugar,
tobacco and a supply of powder and bullets. Often
rifles, saddles, horses and even clothing were staked
and the trapper returned to his work, in debt for the
very outfit in his possession. Year after year these men
returned penniless to the hills to earn a few more dollars by trapping a few more beaver, only to squander
it all, sometimes in a few hours, but at best in a few
days, at the trading post. Yet in what way did they
differ from many other men of their time? Only that
their "sprees" were more extravagant and prolonged
because they occurred with less frequency, their pay
day occurring yearly instead of weekly or monthly.
It should not be understood that all trappers indulged in such excesses as have just been described.
While it is probably true that such was the general
rule there were many notable exceptions. The annals
of the hunters and trappers contain the names of many
who were temperate in their habits, and who died leaving fortunes of considerable size which they had accumulated in their occupation.
An entire volume might easily be devoted to the
stories of the lives of these hunters and trappers, and
the adventures in which they were engaged. The foremost among these was the far-famed Kit Carson,
trapper, hunter, Indian fighter, scout and, above all,
a true western gentleman. Kit, as a lad of sixteen, had
been bound out to a Missouri saddlemaker, but in the
year 1826, as a party of traders was passing the home
of his master, he decided to run away. Although but
sixteen, his restless spirit impelled him to leave the
humdrum of existence in the shop and seek a more exciting life in the West. Accordingly he joined the party
of traders which was bound for Santa Fe. The following notice appeared in the Missouri Intelligencer
immediately following the boy's disappearance:
"Notice: To whom it may concern: That Christopher Carson, a boy about sixteen years old, small of
his age, but thick set, light hair, ran away from the
subscriber, living at Franklin, Howard County, Mo.,
to whom he had been bound to learn the saddler's trade,
on or about the first day of September last. He is sup-
posed to have made his way to the upper part of the
state. All persons are notified not to harbor, support
or subsist said boy under penalty of the law. One cent
reward will be given to any person who will bring back
the said boy." (Signed) DAVID WORKMAN, Franklin, Oct. 6, 1826."
This was the beginning of a long career in the
West, for he never saw his home again and did not even
return to his native state for sixteen years. With the
restless energy of his young manhood he traversed
every section of the great West; we see him now hunting in New Mexico; again we get a glimpse of him
trapping in the Grand Canyon of the Colorado; he is
next heard of in California with Captain Ewing and a
party of American trappers, operating on Spanish soil
without a license, barely saving the trappers from arrest by his prompt action in getting them under way
and out of the forbidden territory before the authorities
could apprehend them. Soon after this adventure we
hear of him in the employ of the newly organized
Rocky Mountain Fur Company, a deadly rival of that
better known organization, The American Fur Company.
Carson engaged himself to this new company, not
as a hired trapper, but by merely agreeing to sell his
furs to it. His party left Taos in the fall of 1830 and
passed over the usual trail of the trapper to Bent's
Fort, and from there up the Arkansas to the Fountain,
and from thence north to the Ute pass. The party
very likely passed through this vicinity by easy stages,
trapping as they went, as beaver abounded both in the
Fountain and the Arkansas at that time. Again we
hear of this intrepid trapper, at the age of twenty-one,
in the great Northwest, trapping on the Snake river
in the region occupied by the dreaded Blackfeet Indians. Once more, unable to curb his restless spirit, he
severed his connection with the Rocky Mountain Fur
Company and joined a party bound for Taos. They
pushed directly south from the Laramie plains to South
Park, over one of the most rugged regions of the entire
range, and entered the Arkansas valley at the present
site of Canon City. Passing down the river the party
went into winter quarters not far from the present site
of Pueblo. It was at this place that an adventure with
the Crow Indians took place, an account of which appears in Chapter VI.
In 1842 he engaged as guide to Fremont, upon
the latter's first expedition into this western region.
Again in the following year he met Fremont at the old
Pueblo fort, at which time he rendered an important
service to the noted explorer. Fremont had started
south from Fort St. Vrain, his destination being Taos
and his purpose being to purchase horses and mules for
his expedition. Upon his arrival at Pueblo, Fremont
found that all trade with New Mexico had been forbidden. Fortunately he met Kit Carson at this place
and prevailed on him to go to Bent's Fort and endeavor
to procure the needed animals for him. Carson
rendered the service requested of him by Fremont,
meeting the explorer at St. Vrain's fort with the horses
and mules which he had succeeded in procuring at
In 1846 we find Carson once more in the far west;
this time he is a member of that famous military force
under Fremont, taking part in that important expedition which made California a part of America.
Once, as Kit Carson was traveling the Taos trail,
an incident occurred which illustrates not only the
alertness of this famous hunter, but also indicates, in a
measure, his mercy to his enemies: Carson and four associates were taking a number of horses from Santa Fe
to Taos and had just entered the Kiowa country, when
several warriors of that tribe rode into their camp.
Carson had been away from that vicinity so long that
the younger generation of savages did not recognize
him, or it is highly improbable that they would have
hazarded an attack of the kind which they had planned.
Carson, understanding their language, soon learned
that they intended to fall suddenly upon the party and
murder them; the signal for the attack was to be the
passing of the peace-pipe for the third time. Carson
immediately apprised the other members of his party of
the murderous intentions of the Indians and instructed
each one to be ready to shoot the moment he gave the
The circle was formed and the peace-pipe was
passed according to the usual custom; just as it was
started for the third time around the circle the Indians
suddenly threw off their blankets and brandished their
weapons, but Carson and his men were too quick for
them for, as the Indians sprang to their feet, they
found themselves facing the rifles of those whom they
had planned to kill. Carson addressed them in the
following words: "You red dogs! You thought you
could murder us; do you know who I am? I am Kit
Carson! Take a good look at me before you die." The
Indians dropped their bows in astonishment. "Go,"
said Carson to them as they slunk away, "go and tell
your cowardly tribe that you have looked upon Kit
Carson and he let you live. Take your bows and arrows
with you, for you might have to protect yourselves
against the rabbits on your way home."
Kit Carson's long and eventful life came to an end
at Fort Lyon, near Las Animas, Colorado, in 1868.
Scarcely an event occurred from 1830 to the time of
his death, the influence of which made for the development of this western region, that did not bear the imprint of his hand. As guide to government expedition,
as soldier in the Mexican and Civil wars, as Indian
agent and as pathfinder and scout in the trackless West,
his service to his country was of the highest order.
We record with pride the fact that Pueblo and vicinity
was the scene of some of the most interesting and
thrilling experiences of this illustrious man.
One of the most picturesque of these western trappers was Jacob Fowler, to whom reference has already
been made. An account of his journey up the Arkansas
is given here, not because of any vital influence exerted
by him upon the region which he traversed, but because
the record of this expedition gives us one of the earliest,
as well as one of the most accurate views of the Pueblo
Jacob Fowler and a company of trappers, of whom
Colonel Glenn was the leader, set out from Fort Smith,
Arkansas, "thorsday, 6th September, 1821," according
to the diary kept by Fowler. His was the first party to
traverse the Arkansas river from that point to the
Pueblo region, and was among the first to traverse the
trail from Pueblo to Taos by way of the Sangre de
Fowler kept a very careful diary in which he recorded the daily events of the expedition. His spelling
and punctuation are a wonder to behold totally unlike
anything on the earth or in the sky or in the waters
under the earth, so far as is known. Bits of this diary
will be inserted from time to time as the account of this
interesting journey is presented.
This party had no sooner entered the Colorado
region than a serious accident befell them, which resulted in the loss of one of their members. It was while
passing a point near the mouth of the Purgatoire river
that one of their men was attacked by a bear, and, before assistance could be rendered, was so badly injured
that he died. The unfortunate man was buried on the
banks of the Arkansas, near the place where he met
The remainder of the party continued up the valley
and camped near the mouth of the Huerfano river.
Here they were joined by a large band of Kiowa Indians, from whom Fowler endeavored to procure some
additional horses. At this point of his diary appears
the very improbable statement that these Kiowas, together with a band of Arapahoes, who had joined them
here, had in their possession about 20,000 horses. Although these Kiowas were almost destitute of anything
else, the trappers experienced the greatest difficulty in
persuading them to part with a few of their horses.
On reaching the mouth of the St. Charles, about
seven miles below Pueblo, the party came upon a band
of about sixty Spaniards, who had come into this region
to trade with the Indians. Fowler tried to purchase
some corn from them, but found the price, ten dollars a
The following interesting paragraph from the
diary gives a glimpse of an interesting New Year's
incident of the camp :
"Jan. 1, 1822. this being a holaday With our
nibours We lay by all day Haveing about two pounds
of bacon Which I Head kept as a Reserve I Here Shewed
it to the Indeans the Cheaf asked What kind of anemel
maid that meat When He was told a Hog He Requested
the shape of it to be maid on the Sand When that was
(done) all the Indeans said the(y) Head never seen
Such an animal and appeared to Wonder and think it
Strange that the(y) Head never Seen the like soposing
them Selves to Have seen all kinds of Anemels "
Fowler observed that the location of his camp here
on the St. Charles was somewhat dangerous, as they
were in the heart of the Indian country and directly in
the path of war parties against other tribes, as well as
against the Spaniards, with whom the Indians seemed
to be at war. In order to more effectually defend themselves against the depredations of these war parties,
they erected at the mouth of the St. Charles, a "hors
pen" and "a Hous with two pens four logs High Which
maid part of the Horse pen Which Was so Strong that
a few Indeans cold not take the Horses out With out
Choping Some of the logs." Fearing that some attempt
might be made by the Spanish authorities to take them
prisoners, Fowler decided, after making a thorough
reconnoisance of the surrounding country, to remove
his camp to a more defensible location. He selected a
site at the mouth of the Fountain river, not far from
the spot where the old brewery building now stands.
The camp had no sooner been removed to this place than
a war party of Crows passing by, stopped, and under
the guise of friendship, began stealing anything they
could lay hands upon. Their experience was similar to
that of Pike's party a few years before. Fowler
showed a more militant spirit, however, than Pike did
under similar circumstances, for we read, "on fellow
came into my tent threw down his old Roab and took a
new one I took it from him and toled him to take his
own and on his takeing it he took my Saddle Bagg al
so I took it from Him and Pushed him out of the
Tent." One fellow, coming back, "Presented his gun
at Simpson on which We were All ready for Battle
In an Instent". The Indians made no further attempt
to intimidate the party, and soon filed away, but not
without stealing a few small articles, such as blankets,
knives and shot-pouches.
Immediately after this episode the trappers began
erecting a house. This house contained three rooms,
with but one outside door, and was built so near the
horse pen that it would be impossible for the Indians
to take horses out of the pen without the knowledge
of the owners. This house was built, "seven logs high
and well chinked." Fearing that the Indians would
return that night and drive off their horses, of which
they had thirty-eight, they chopped down trees, letting
them fall across the gate to the pen. The Crows gave
them no further trouble at this time, but on their return
trip the same scene was enacted as before.
It should be noted that this little house, erected by
Fowler's party, was the first permanent building
erected on the present site of Pueblo, of which we have
any definite record. This building was probably near
the foot of "sugar loaf" hill, the summit of which
Fowler used as a lookout to prevent being surprised by
the "Indeans." The party remained here until January
30, when they broke camp, abandoned the little cabin
and took up their march toward the Greenhorn mountains.
These two sketches represent two extreme types
of hunter and trapper. Carson was one of the class
whose love of the wilderness life far outweighed his
desire to gain financially from the profits of his labor.
He took far greater delight in leading an expedition
safely through the enemy's country or in playing the
gallant in a spectacular rescue of a friend from danger,
than he did in all the beaver skins he was able to accumulate, yet he was a successful trapper. Fowler was
of the prosaic type, whose only love for the wilderness
consisted in a desire to exploit its products the beaver
and buffalo, and whose forward trail always lay where
furs were most abundant and whose back trail was a
straight one ending at the fur market.
Two factors, the influence of which seemed to begin
simultaneously, spelled the doom of the fur trade. One
was the growing use of the silk hat, which began to
supersede the beaver hat, and the other was the gradual
disappearance of the beaver from western streams, as
no attempt was ever made to conserve this vast resource
of the wilderness. As early as 1832, John Jacob Astor
prophesied the destruction of the beaver fur industry
because of the growing use of the silk hat. Two years
later Sillman's Journal stated as follows: "It appears
that henceforth the fur trade must decline. The advanced state of geographical science shows that no new
countries remain to be explored. In North America
the animals are slowly decreasing, from the persevering
efforts and the indiscriminate slaughter practiced by
hunters, and by the appropriation to the use of man of
those forests and rivers which have afforded them food
and protection. They recede with the aborigines, before the tide of civilization; but a diminished supply
will remain in the mountains and uncultivated tracts
of this, and other countries, if the avidity of the hunter
can be restrained within proper limitations."
With the receding of the aborigines and the beaver,
began the disappearance of that most picturesque of
westerner the trapper. His tribe is now extinct and
his sturdy deeds and sterling character remain alive
only as a fond memory of the days that have gone by.
While few monuments have been erected to the memory
of these heroic men, yet posterity has given them more
fitting monuments than any that could be erected by
man, in naming, in their memory, nature's landmarks,
her rivers and mountain peaks the most fitting monuments that could be erected to the memory of nature's
CHAPTER III. THE CITY ON THE BOILING FOUNTAIN.
The search for gold exerted a greater influence
upon the early map-making of America than any other
activity in which the early inhabitants ever engaged.
The existence of the Spanish power in Mexico, the
English in Virginia, the organization of the great state
of California and its segregation from the slave holding interests, all were the direct results of the quest for
gold. The political map has been influenced more profoundly, however, by the search for gold than by its
It is to a group of gold seekers that the present
City of Pueblo owes its origin. It came about in the
following manner: In 1849 a band of Cherokee Indians, living at that time in Georgia, hearing of the
gold strike in California, decided to visit that region
and prospect for gold. Not finding things to their liking they returned. On this westward expedition they
passed through the Cherry creek region and discovered
strong indications of the presence of placer deposits.
Some of their band desired to stop there and make a
careful investigation. These Cherokees never forgot
this location and in the year 1858, being located then
in Southern Kansas, they determined to visit it again
and make careful investigation as to the source of these
placer deposits. Word was sent to some of their
friends, living in Georgia, inviting them to accompany
In this way, Green Russell, a restless citizen of the
South, learned of this proposed expedition and asked
permission to join it with a group of his comrades. The
request being granted, Russell and his party joined
the Cherokee expedition, overtaking it forty miles
west of Pawnee Forks in Kansas. The Indians were
led by one of their number, George Hicks by name, an
Indian of remarkable character. Accompanying this
expedition was a Philander Simons, who is responsible
for the details of this account. Green Russell was not
the leader of the party, as has so often been stated, but
occupied a subsidiary position under Hicks.
The party wended its way up the Arkansas river
past Bent's fort and to a point near the mouth of the
St. Charles river, but at this point the course was
northwest, traversing what from that time became
known as the Cherokee cut-off which connected with
the Fountain river some ten miles north of Pueblo.
Immediately upon their arrival at Cherry Creek
these prospectors, whites and Indians alike, began
washing for gold. After three days work with but a
small quantity of gold to show for their labors, a cloud
of gloom settled over the camp. The Indians, being
averse by nature to hard work, soon abandoned the
purpose which had led them there and began hunting
antelope and deer on the present site of Denver. The
white members of the party soon scattered in various
directions and continued their search for gold. Being
unable to locate the source of the placer deposits, most
of these prospectors drifted back to the states, Russell
remaining, however, throughout the year, "keeping up
the excitement by reporting great discoveries and big
strikes, which were never made."
The unprecedented discoveries of gold in California had prepared the minds of the people for belief in
the most fantastic tales of newly found wealth, hence
the stories of Green Russell spread abroad in the Missouri river region, to the effect that a rich strike had
been made and that this field could be reached without
the dreaded journey across the mountains and the Great
Basin, electrified the entire country. During this same
year six quills of gold were exhibited in Omaha, which
tended to confirm these stories, and in a short time the
migration to the Pike's Peak region had begun.
Our interest centers in a certain party which left
St. Louis in the summer of 1858, bound for the gold
fields of the Rockies. This party was composed of
Josiah F. Smith, Otto Winneka, Frank Doris and
George Lebaum. These men took the Santa Fe trail
route and followed the Arkansas to the mouth of the
Fountain river, at which place the trail forked, one
branch extending south over Sangre de Cristo pass and
the other extending up the Fountain and across the
divide to Cherry creek. These men arrived at a point
on the Fountain river, near its confluence with the
Arkansas, on the 15th of September and finding it a
pleasant location with plenty of grass and firewood,
decided to halt for a time and rest their animals. Here
they were joined by Captain Wm. H. Green, Wm.
Kroenig, Charles and George Peck, Robert Middleton,
J. D. Miller, Stephen S. Smith and a few others.
Finding that there was grave doubt as to the
authenticity of the reports from Cherry creek, and
fearing that they would not reach that region in time
to make adequate preparation for winter, the party
decided to pass the winter on the banks of the Fountain.
Strange as it may seem, by the time spring arrived
the little band had lost all desire to move on, the gold
fever having in a great measure subsided. About thirty
cabins had been erected of logs and adobe. Two Missourians, named Cooper and Wing, came and opened
a store while two engineers, named Shaffer and Brown,
who arrived at the same time, were employed to survey
the site of the new town which it had been agreed to
establish. The site was duly surveyed and platted by
these gentlemen, and the name Fountain City was given
it The town was situated just east of the Fountain
river, the main street running east and west near what
is now known as Damson street. Eighty lodges of
Arapahoe Indians were camped near by during the
winter and carried on a trade in furs, skins, etc.
The two years, 1858 and 1859, gave birth to a notable group of towns in the Pike's Peak region, namely,
Denver, Boulder, Idaho Springs, Golden, Nevada City,
Central City, El Paso later called Colorado City and
Fountain City, which was soon to give place to Pueblo.
The Pike's Peak region was roughly bounded by the
Arkansas river on the south and extended as far north
as any one cared to extend his prospecting endeavors,
which was seldom beyond Clear creek, but in some instances as far north as the head waters of the Cache la
The river, upon which the new town was situated,
had been known from the earliest times by the French
and Spanish, and later by trappers and traders, as the
Fontaine qui Bouille, or the Boiling Fountain, its name
being derived from the carbonated waters which issue
from its source at the present town of Manitou.
The region at the mouth of the Fountain river had
been long known to the Indians and Mexicans as highly
suited for agricultural pursuits. The inhabitants of
the old Pueblo fort had carried on farming operations
at this place and had, according to reports, succeeded in
raising a considerable supply of corn, Mexican beans,
pumpkins, etc. It is not surprising, therefore, that the
founders of Fountain City were attracted by the promise of rich returns from this little valley and that they
chose to remain here and engage in agricultural pursuits, rather than to engage in that more hazardous
occupation of gold-seeking.
In the spring an old irrigation ditch, which had
been formerly used by the Mexicans, was repaired and
a small tract of land in the immediate vicinity of the
settlement was placed under irrigation. This ditch was
taken out of the Fountain near what is now East 12th
street and extended south almost to the present site of
the old brewery. Later it rounded the point and furnished water for the Goldsmith ranch.
A large acreage of vegetables and some corn were
planted, which experiment proved a real "bonanza"
to these erstwhile prospectors. The season in the
Arkansas valley being about two weeks earlier than in
Denver, gave these newly-arrived agriculturists of
Fountain City a very decided advantage over the farmers of the Cherry creek region. The products of their
gardens were hauled to Denver where they arrived
ahead of similar products in that locality and fabulous
prices were received. Much of their produce, however,
was sold to gold-seekers passing through the town on
their way to Denver.
It is singular that these men were contented to
remain here on the banks of the Fountain when there
was a constant stream of humanity passing by, bound
for Denver. The explanation offered by one of the
founders of Fountain City to the writer may help to a
better understanding of their action. "It was so easy
to live in those days," said he, "that there was no desire
on our part to push on. Buffalo, venison and fish were
so plentiful that very little effort was required to procure meat; corn and vegetables were raised with ease,
and as for clothing, there were plenty of canvas sacks
to be had, which, with a little ingenuity, could be
fashioned into crude clothing. Our land and houses
cost us nothing and our living being assured, we were
not anxious to leave this place for the hurly-burly of
a mining camp."
These men were not at all times immune to the
gold-fever, however, for in the spring of 1860 when
the secret of the great strike in California Gulch, now
Leadville, was disclosed, the temptation was too strong
for these farmers to resist and a grand exodus from
Fountain City took place. But the announcement of
the discovery of fabulous wealth at that place was premature by a period of seventeen years, hence these
Fountainites along with about 6,000 others silently
withdrew, wiser but not wealthier. Most of those who
left Fountain City at this time returned in the fall.
It is difficult to form any adequate conception of
the seething mass of humanity that started pell-mell
across the plains when the Pike's Peak excitement was
at high tide. During the summer of 1860 there occurred one of the largest migrations that ever took
place in the history of the country. During the month
of May it was estimated that there were 11,000 wagons
on their way to the gold regions of Colorado, vast numbers of which moved by way of the Santa Fe trail and
the Fountain river.
The soil upon which Fountain City was located
was a part of Kansas Territory, but the people of the
entire Pike's Peak region soon began to take steps looking toward a more effective government than could be
given them from the almost unorganized territory of
Kansas. These hardy pioneers, led by a small group
of men in Denver, decided that a new territory should
be organized embracing this new region. Accordingly,
in the fall of 1859, even before there was any assurance that there was anything in this region to support
a permanent population, and when there were not more
than two thousand people in the entire Pike's Peak
region, an election was held to form a provisional government and to select a set of officers for the new Territory of Jefferson. It is stated by an early writer
that so enthusiastic did the citizens of Fountain City
become over the possibility of "home government," that
although there were but twenty-five legal voters in the
town, when the ballot box was opened there were 1,500
ballots cast, all for one set of candidates.
Much as the citizens of the Pike's Peak region desired to form a government of their own, it was not
until 1861 that Congress gave heed to their importunities and authorized the organization of the Territory
These people, soon numbering high in the thousands, would have been left practically without a government, had not that ancient Anglo-Saxon instinct for
self-government asserted itself. It was not possible
for these hardy pioneers to await the slow action of the
federal government to provide a code and a set of duly
appointed officers, but with the true colonial spirit inherited from their pre-Revolutionary ancestry, these
men stood ready to substitute what was lacking in the
general code. People's courts sprang up in every locality, meting out stern justice to law breakers and
effectively safeguarding the rights of society. It is
true, that in some instances the hand of lawlessness
held sway for a short time, but eventually law and order
prevailed. Probably no other people on the face of the
globe could have met under similar circumstances and
have established law and order so effectively and with
such apparent ease as did these resolute frontiersmen.
The stern purpose of these men is indicated in the
following extract from the constitution of a nearby
town, organized in 1860 :
"Whereas, it sometimes becomes necessary for
persons to associate themselves together for the purpose of such as the protection of life and property ; and
as we have left the peaceful shades of civilization
left friends and homes for the purpose of bettering our
own condition, we therefore associate ourselves together under the name of the Arkansas Valley Claim
Club and adopt the following constitution."
The serious determination of these men would
brook no interference in their endeavor to establish
such institutions here in the west as would guarantee
them the same happiness as had been theirs to enjoy
before leaving "the peaceful shades of civilization."
Their emergency courts were not harassed by the
technicalities of our modern courts of justice and from
their decisions there was no appeal.
The principle which governed these men of the
Pike's Peak region, and which was the basis of action
of the Oregon pioneers and the California gold seekers,
was set forth by W. N. Byers in one of the earliest
numbers of the Rocky Mountain News: "We claim that
any body or community of American citizens, which
from any cause or under any circumstances is cut off
from, or from isolation is so situated as not to be under
any active and protecting branch of the central government, have a right, if on American soil, to frame a
government, and enact such laws and regulations as
may be necessary for their own safety, protection and
happiness, always with the consideration precedent,
that they shall at the earliest moment when the central
government shall extend an effective organization and
laws over them, give it their unqualified support and
No clearer or more logical statement of the rights
of the people to inaugurate democratic governments
could be made, than that quoted above.
Fountain City is described by Stephen S. Smith,
one of its founders, as consisting of a group of houses
composed mostly of adobe, situated on one single street
extending directly west from the base of what is now
known as "Sugar Loaf" hill, which was the "washed
rock" of Fowler's description. This historic landmark
known as "Sugar Loaf," deserves to be better known to
Pueblo citizens than it is. It was probably very much
higher almost a century ago when Jacob Fowler camped
at its base, as its formation indicates that it is undergoing rapid erosion. Fowler often used it as a lookout
post to guard his camp against attacks by the Indians.
He suggested that the table land nearby would be an
excellent location for a fort. The residents of Fountain
City used this rock for an entirely different purpose,
according to Mr. Smith. A board would often times be
hung on the west face of its summit as a target and
the idlers on the streets would try their skill with long range rifles, often shooting from as far west as the
banks of the Fountain. Mr. Smith assured the writer
that there were not a few among their number who
could "hit the bulls eye at 400 yards."
Fountain City, the "oasis of the desert," refused
to grow; with the opening of 1860 its population began
to dwindle, and although a few of its original inhabitants lingered on for several years, the town was
doomed to an early death and in a few years it existed
as a mere memory in the minds of Pueblo citizens, the
constantly overflowing of the Fountain river having
obliterated the last vestige of this "City on the Boiling
The first street was Santa Fe Avenue, the cross street Fourth Street.
The following are indicated by figures on the picture:
1. In this building Kastor and Berry had started a store, but at the time
this picture was taken they had moved to the building marked (14). Several
persons kept stores here, among whom were Cal. P. Peabody and Jake Wildeboor. 2. James Rice's store for sale of cigars and small articles. 3. Hiney
House or "Planters Hotel." 4. Pueblo Flour Mills, completed in 1866 by
O. H. P. Baxter and Thatcher Brothers on the ground now occupied by the
Federal Building, southwest corner of Fifth and Main Streets. The mill ditch
can be seen to the right. 5. O. H. P. Baxter's house, southeast corner Fifth
and Main Streets. 6. House of "Governor" G. A. Hinsdale. 7. J. E. Smith's
house. 8. J. D. Miller's house. 9. Law office of H. C. Thatcher and A. A.
Bradford. 10. Thatcher Brothers' warehouse, northeast corner Fourth and
Santa Fe, where Pueblo Hardware Company now is. 11. Thatcher Brothers'
store, on the southeast corner of Fourth Street and Santa Fe Avenue. 12. W. D.
Burt's restaurant. 13. Dr. P. R. Thombs' Drug Store. 14. Kastor and Berry's
store, see (1) above. 15. Thomas Waggerman's store. 16. Log house of a
gambler, F. Y. Howe. 17. Dr. J. W. O. Snyder's book and shoe store. 18. National House. 19. Lampkin's Livery Stable. 20. This lot at the southwest
corner of Fourth Street and Santa Fe Avenue was covered in 1870 by a two story brick building, which included two store rooms, that in the corner being
occupied by the First National Bank, established in 1871 by Thatcher Brothers,
the adjoining room by James Rice's store. The United States Land Office was
on the second floor over this store. 21. Joseph Hart's Harness Shop.
22. House of Henly R. Price. 23. "Bill" Carlile's Livery Stable.
(Reproduced by permission of Sociological Dep't of the C. F. & I. Co.)
CHAPTER IV. THE BATTLE WITH THE WILDERNESS.
Ever since the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers on
our eastern coast, there has been waging a battle with
the wilderness. In this struggle, the usual measure of
a man education, wealth and social position were
put at naught by those more virile qualities of strength,
physical bravery and aggressiveness. Our frontier
population has always been composed of the flower of
our civilization ; not in the sense that it represented the
culture and the education of the times, but because it
stood for the strength, the courage, the virility of society.
It has always been true that nations have been
obliged to give their best blood in the defense of their
frontiers not only in war but also in times of peace.
Men of muscle and brawn, of courage and determination, men who were self-willed and strong in initiative
have always been the ones who pushed forward into the
firing line, either in war or peace and became the framers of the nation's destiny. If perchance a weakling
was carried forward by the tide of battle, he was speedily destroyed or was forced to retire.
The men who composed the vanguard of our Colorado civilization were no exception to the rule. In the
struggle to gain the mastery of the "last American
frontier," the men were composed of the best blood
and courage to be obtained from the Missouri river
region, who in turn were the best of successive waves
of westward immigration extending back to our first
frontier, the Atlantic sea board.
No danger could daunt these men as they faced the
Unknown West and stood ready to enter with their families, this almost trackless region for the purpose of
establishing themselves on the soil as farmers or on
the river banks as city builders. The call of the West
has ever been irresistible to the real red blood of America; bad roads could not stifle it, dense forests were
unable to hold it in check, blood-thirsty savages were
ineffectual in stemming the tide. "A steady procession
of pioneers has marched up the slopes of the Appalachians, across the trails of their summits, and
down the various approaches to the Mississippi valley."
The frontier lying beyond the great bend of the
Missouri, which was reached in 1821, proved to be the
most stubborn of all and for almost forty years refused
to yield to the determined assaults of the hardy pioneers. A new difficulty confronted the immigrants at
this point. Heretofore, all frontiers had been conquered by following the navigable rivers, but at the
western line of the state of Missouri, the friendly course
of the river forsook the travelers, compelling them to
strike out across the prairie. This, being a new experience, necessitated a considerable period of delay,
and for a period of nearly forty years the enemy successfully resisted all attempts at invasion.
In 1858 the enemy weakened and by the year 1860
the great tidal wave of western immigration advanced
into the enemy's territory. The wilderness was possessed but not conquered.
Pueblo received her quota of men such as have
been described above. Here, to the forks of the river
at the crossing of the trails, came men whose blood
was hot with the ambition of youth, whose souls were
stirred by the possibilities offered in this western land,
whose spirits were undaunted by the dangers and
hardships with which they were confronted as they
came with their families to hew out their fortunes in
the valley of the Arkansas.
In addition to solving the problem of establishing
homes for their families and providing sustenance for
them, these men found time to bear arms in defense of
this western region against the Indians and against the
forces of disunion; they found time to lay the foundation of a great city and not a few found time to become
a dynamic force in the building of this great commonwealth. These men were truly a band of nature's
We have told the story of Fountain City, how it
was established by a group of men who came west as a
part of that vast tide of gold seekers how they stopped
at the mouth of the Fountain river and surveyed the
City on the Boiling Fountain. We shall now record the
beginning of the city of Pueblo. It often happens that
the original location of a town is not in the place where
nature intended it to be. This was true in the case of
Pueblo. There were many factors which prevented
Fountain City from becoming the nucleus from which
should grow the city of Pueblo. In the first place
Fountain City was situated upon low ground which was
in constant danger of overflowing during the summer
months, yet there seemed to be no good reason why the
town might not have been laid out on the higher ground
in the region now occupied by the residence portion of
East Pueblo. Again, the character of its population
led to the ultimate failure of the original town. There
had drifted into Fountain City, during the summer and
fall of 1859, a class of undesirable citizens men who
were the direct antithesis of the original settlers. In
order to avoid the influence of these undesirables, a
group of citizens, composing the better element, decided to lay out a new town. Another factor which
was a vital force, not only in the location of the new
town, but also in its ultimate success, was the location
of the trail from the north and of the ford across the
Arkansas. This trail followed the Fountain river down
its east bank until it reached the vicinity of the present
site of Woodcroft where it crossed over to the west bank
and proceeded to the ford of the Arkansas, which was at
the foot of the present Santa Fe Avenue. It was at this
point that the new town had its beginning. In the
winter of 1859 and the early spring of 1860 two or
three cabins had been erected in the vicinity of First
Street and Santa Fe Avenue, but it was not until late
spring of 1860 that any definite action was taken toward laying out a new town.
On the 22nd of May, 1860, a meeting was called
for the purpose of considering the organization of a
According to the records of the Southern Colorado
Pioneers' Association, the following persons were present at this meeting: Jack Allen, John Kearns, Albert
Bercaw, W. H. Ricker, Dr. Catterson, Wesley Catterson,
Ed Cozzens, A. C. Wright, Mrs. A. C. Wright and Mrs.
Mary Simms. These records further state that it was
on July 1, 1860, that the town was formerly "laid out"
and named Pueblo in honor of the old fort which had
stood for so many years on the opposite bank of the
Arkansas, a single prophecy of "things yet to be."
The town site was surveyed by Buel and Boyd, two
surveyors from Denver. These surveyors presumably
had a vision of a great city judging by the extent of
the original survey. In the words of an early writer, it
was encompassed by the following boundaries, "from
the river back (north) two or three miles toward the
divide, and from the Fountain on the east to Buzzard's
ranch on the west. Near the mouth of Dry Creek was
an extensive city park, filled with serpentine drives and
walks, rare shrubbery and exotic flowers, amid which
the alkali dust was gently subdued by the spray of a
dozen refreshing fountains."
It has caused keen disappointment to those who
have attempted to record the development of Pueblo
during its first decade of existence, to find that no records exist to corroborate many of the events which took
place during this embryonic stage of the city's growth.
Even the date of the formal laying out of the townsite
is somewhat in doubt, although the date of July 1 is
generally confirmed by pioneers still living.
The rich gold strike in California Gulch, now Leadville, in the spring of 1860, was a fortunate event for
the newly born town. First indications pointed to a discovery which would rival that of the Clear creek
region, hence it was very reasonable to suppose that Pueblo would probably become the metropolis of the
entire Pike's Peak region. It soon became evident, however, that if Pueblo's only hope of growth was dependent upon the success of the gold strike in California
Gulch, she was doomed to an early death, for in a short
time the hopes of the prospectors went glimmering, and
an exodus of people took place which seriously affected
For seven long years Fate seemed to be against
this struggling little village. During the years 1861
to 1865 the Santa Fe trail became almost impassable
and during 1864 was practically abandoned, owing to
Indian outbreaks and to bands of Confederate guerillas
operating in the Kansas region. Thus Pueblo and the
entire southern part of the state were almost entirely
cut off from communication with the east. This condition together with the general exodus of disappointed
gold seekers from the entire Pike's Peak region, was a
serious blow to the prosperity of the town.
As late as July, 1864, one of these guerilla bands,
composed of twenty-one Texans under one Reynolds, a
former resident of Colorado, caused great excitement
in the Arkansas valley. After robbing several wagon
trains on the Santa Fe trail, in the eastern part of the
state, the band proceeded up the Arkansas, and leaving
Pueblo unmolested, entered South Park where they
began plundering ranches throughout that entire
region. They were pursued by a band of determined
citizens who succeeded in killing four of the band and
capturing the others. The prisoners were sent to Denver where they were turned over to the military authorities. From Denver they were ordered sent to Fort
Lyon under a heavy guard. In a short time the entire
military guard returned, stating that the prisoners had
been killed while attempting to escape. The fact was
that the prisoners were taken to the head of Cherry
creek and killed by the guard in order to be relieved of
the journey to Fort Lyon.
The necessities of life commanded fabulous prices
during this period of isolation and only such food as
was raised in the region could be purchased at any
price. Flour brought $50 a barrel while corn and other
grains were sold regularly for ten cents a pound. Eggs
sold for $1.00 to $1.50 a dozen and butter at $1.00 to
$1.50 a pound with other supplies in proportion. Strenuous measures were often adopted to procure the necessities of life. Judge Stone, for many years a resident of
Pueblo, recounts the following incident which occurred
during this time:
A certain Pueblo citizen, Squire Fowler by name,
had loaded his ox-wagon with Mexican corn, which he
had raised on the Fountain, and having hauled it to
Joe Doyle's mill on the Huerfano had it ground into
meal, intending to take the meal to California Gulch,
which place was facing a famine through their inability
to purchase supplies. The usual trail to that place led
through Canon City, which was entirely out of both
flour and meal. Certain citizens of Canon City, learning of the contents of the Squire's cargo, halted him in
the middle of the street and demanded that he sell his
entire load of meal in their town, threatening to take it
by force if he refused. Fowler gladly sold his entire
load at a good figure and returned to Pueblo where he
loaded his wagon as before and proceeded to California
Gulch. At this place the Squire sold his load of meal
for almost its weight in gold dust.
The temporary abandonment of the southern trail threw all western traffic into Denver by way of the
Oregon Trail and the South Platte, and as all arrivals in Denver were told that "there was nothing worth
seeing south of the divide," the isolation of Pueblo became complete.
After Pueblo was laid out Fountain City ceased to prosper and by autumn of 1860 its population was less than it was the year before. In spite of the death blow which had been dealt it by the new town, however, its inhabitants continued their agricultural efforts, bringing under irrigation a constantly increasing area from which very profitable returns were realized. Although the greater part of its population gradually drifted away, a few families continued to reside in the vicinity of Fountain City for several years.
Judge Stone arrived in Pueblo in the winter of 1861-62. At that time he remembers seeing but three cabins, that of Jack Allen at the foot of Santa Fe, on the banks of the river. The principal business of Jack was "the sale of bacon, flour, coffee, Mexican frijoles and Taos lightning." Jack also kept a tavern, his guests being required to provide their own blankets, the landlord furnishing space on the dirt floor for their beds. There was also an adobe cabin, built by Col.
Albert Galletin Boone, a grandson of Daniel Boone of Kentucky, and on the east side of Santa Fe Avenue near Second or Third Street was a two-room cabin of cottonwood logs. Aaron Simms was the first postmaster and Daniel J. Hayden was the second one.
As has already been intimated, the growth of Pueblo during the sixties was very slow. Its population was
constantly shifting. In 1867 there were only twenty or thirty houses, but during the next three years its
population showed a substantial increase as the United States census of 1870 credited the town with a population of 666. An interesting account was given the writer by Eugene Weston, who, as county clerk took the first county census. This census was taken in 1866 and showed a population in the county of 800 persons. Mr. Weston states that out of this entire number there were but six unmarried females over fourteen years of age and four of these were Mexican girls.
Uncle Dick Wooten was one of the historic characters of Colorado long before Pueblo had its beginning. Having given up his former life as a trapper, he settled at the mouth of the Huerfano river in 1853, where he engaged in farming. He removed from this place eight years later, according to his "autobiography," and located on the Fountain nine miles above Pueblo where he continued his agricultural pursuits until floods and grasshoppers caused him to abandon the farm for more lucrative employment. On leaving Pueblo he took up his abode south of Trinidad on the Raton Pass where
he built a wagon road, the toll from which provided a comfortable income for him during the remainder of his life.
Mr. Wooten built two houses in Pueblo in 1861, in one of which he conducted a mercantile business. Uncle Dick had been quite familiar with the Pueblo region for a great many years, having traversed it before there were any evidences of civilization in this locality. His own story of the "buffalo farm," which he conducted on the present site of Pueblo is interesting and well worth recounting even though one chooses not to believe it.
In 1840, when Uncle Dick was engaged in supplying meat to Bent's Fort, he succeeded in capturing two buffalo calves, whose mothers had been killed. He placed the two orphans in a corral with a milch cow but "bossy" stoutly protested against any such abuse of her motherly office although she finally was induced to submit. The calves thrived and grew to maturity. This gave Uncle Dick an idea; he began capturing buffalo calves wherever he could procure them, his entire accumulation amounting to forty-four. He then built a corral at the present site of Pueblo, in which were placed a sufficient number of cows to minister to the physical wants of these little strangers. According to his story his experiment was entirely successful, the calves soon becoming so tame that they could be turned out on the range with the cows. He kept them until they were three years old when they were sold to New York parties to be placed in zoological gardens and in traveling menageries. He drove them overland to Kansas City, and two of the buffalo being hitched to a wagon at the start were well broken by the time their destination was reached.
Pueblo County was organized in 1862 and included
the entire south-eastern part of Colorado, embracing
in addition to its present territory, the counties of Bent,
Baca, Otero, Prowers, Huerfano, Las Animas and
Crowley. The first Board of County Commissioners
was composed of R. L. Wooten, W. H. Chapman and
O. H. P. Baxter, Mr. Wooten being chairman. The
first meeting of this board was held on February 17th
and its most important action was the formal location
of the county seat, the selection of a site for a court
house and adopting specifications for a county building.
These specifications called for a log house 18 feet
by 24 feet and 10 feet high, with a roof composed of
three inches of mortar covered with four inches of dirt.
The contract for this pretentious edifice was awarded
to Aaron Simms for $300. The most interesting fact
about this building is that it was never erected. The
county records are silent as to the reason for failure to
erect this building although it is probable that funds
were not available and that the amount of county business was so insignificant as to make any expenditure
of money for a building, unnecessary. Rooms were
rented for office purposes until 1866, when the building
now standing at Third and Santa Fe, known as No. 228
N. Santa Fe, was purchased from Stephen Smith. This
building was occupied until 1872 when a new and very
imposing brick structure was erected on the present
Court House Square.
Many people have wondered why the old court
house building at Third and Santa Fe was built in the
street. Mr. Smith, its original owner and builder, gave
the writer the following account of its erection:
Not long after the organization of the new town,
lots were assigned to those who were instrumental in
laying it out. Although Mr. Smith was one of the first
residents of the town, his claim to a lot was overlooked
owing to his absence from the town at that time. Finding, upon his return, that the desirable lots had all
been assigned and that nothing remained for him, he
erected this building in the middle of Third Street.
The first revenue of the new county was derived
from a license tax of $2.50 to $5.00 a month levied on
all business firms. The first regular tax levy which
was made some months later was as follows: "3 mills on
the $ levied on all property assessed for territorial purposes. Also that there shall be a tax of 1 mill on the $
for county purposes, also 1/2 mill on the $ for school
purposes." At this time Col. A. G. Boone, grandson
of the famous Daniel Boone, was chairman of the board,
one of the original members having resigned.
Following are some interesting extracts from the
county commissioners' records:
"August 10, 1862, Resolved: That the clerk be empowered to rent a certain house known as William
Kroenig's, at a rent of not more than $10 a month, to
be used for County purposes."
"September, 1865, Resolved: That the room occupied by the County Clerk in the house of P. K. Dotson,
be rented for County purposes at $10 per month."
"July, 1866, Resolved: That Messrs. Keeling and
Thomas be ordered to procure a license for running
their ferry boat across the Arkansas river, and that the
fee be placed at $25."
In October, 1867, the records disclose the fact that
the county sheriff was ordered to procure a load of wood
for the use of the county during the October term of
On July 7, 1869, the commissioners received a communication from the Arkansas River Ferry Company
asking the county authorities to fix rates of toll across
the river. In accordance with this request the following rates were established:
For foot passengers $0.25
One or two horse vehicles 1.00
Four horses or mules 2.50
Three yoke of oxen 2.50
An interesting picture of Pueblo as it appeared to
a traveler in 1866, is found in an old volume, long since
out of print. "The town is composed of some fifteen or
twenty houses, three stores, a tavern, and an immense
sign board which has evidently seen better days in some
more metropolitan locality. The sign in question bears
this 'strange device': EL PROGRESSO.
"Behind and under it is a saloon, making the prospective 'progress' for Pueblo of a dubious and questionable character, landed on the south bank (of the Arkansas), we camped near a magnificent grove
of large cottonwoods one of them measuring sixteen
feet in circumference."
If the writer of the above lines were to visit Pueblo
now he would doubtless be pleased to note that after
fifty years of the "El Progresso" type of prosperity,
she has finally abolished the "big sign" and the "strange
device" from her midst and that her prosperity is based
upon a higher type of business than that mentioned
On November 25, 1867, the board of county commissioners, consisting of G. H. Puntenny, J. P. Murray
and P. D. Moore, passed a resolution which was of far
reaching importance, financially to the county. This
was a resolution authorizing Mr. George A. Hinsdale,
(the name of Mr. Mark G. Bradford being substituted
later), acting as trustee for Pueblo County, to make
application to the Federal Land Board at Denver, for
a quarter-section of land lying between what is now
7th Street and 15th Street, the proceeds of this land to
be used for a county building. This action was taken
under the federal statutes permitting counties to preempt land not otherwise appropriated, the proceeds to
be used as stated above.
This venture proved unusually successful. As the
town began to grow, several public auctions of lots were
held by the commissioners, the total proceeds, up to the
sale of April 13, 1872, amounting to $35,225. Other
sales were held by the commissioners subsequent to
this, and quite a number of lots were sold during the
year 1876, while Charles Henkle was chairman of the
Before 1862 there was no regular mail service to
Pueblo, the only means of receiving mail being through
the more or less irregular arrivals of parties from Denver. Although Denver enjoyed daily mail service as
early as the summer of 1860 it was not until two years
later that a government route was established in the
Pueblo region, the service being weekly. Later the
service was extended to three times a week, Mr. A.
Jacobs of Denver being the carrier. Mr. Jacobs at the
same time put into operation a fine stage line between
Denver and Trinidad. Mr. Jacobs was succeeded by
Barlow and Sanderson, who in 1870 inaugurated a
daily service between the above points which was maintained until the building of the Denver and Rio Grande
railroad in 1872.
During the summer of 1863 a company of the
First Colorado Cavalry was stationed at Pueblo for the
purpose of escorting the stage up and down the valley,
a regular stage line having been established between
Kansas City and Fairplay, via the Santa Fe trail, by
Barlow and Sanderson. Mr. Charles Henkle, one of the
oldest residents of Pueblo, was a member of this company, and states that their headquarters were at the
present site of Lannon's foundry, which was then south
of the river.
The federal government at this time was straining
every nerve in its struggle against the forces of disunion and as a consequence the troops were withdrawn
from Pueblo, thus leaving the trail unprotected.
According to their usual custom the Indians who
had been on the war path, signed a treaty of peace as
winter approached and were given the usual government bounties of food, blankets and ammunition. The
murderous savages were thus placed in comfortable
winter quarters and provided with a liberal supply of
ammunition for another campaign in the spring and
all at government expense.
Again, true to their usual custom, with the opening
of the spring of 1864, the plains Indians went on the war
path, keeping the entire region from Denver to Pueblo
in constant terror. Details of the threatened attack of
Pueblo by the Indians and the erection of a stockade
and block-house, will be given in a subsequent chapter.
In 1862 the first flour mill was erected in Pueblo.
Eugene Weston, now of Canon City, secured the assistance of an Illinois company, the machinery being
brought to Pueblo only by the greatest difficulty. The
timbers which composed the lower part of this three-story structure, were hauled from Mace's Hole in the
region of what is now known as Beulah, the sawed lumber being hauled from a sawmill on the divide near
Palmer Lake. This mill, which was located about thirty
or forty yards south of the present asylum grounds, was
looked upon as a thoroughly modern structure. It
seemed for a time that there was to be added to Pueblo's
industries one that would be of vital importance to the
entire region, but Fate had decreed otherwise, for no
sooner had the building been completed and the machinery installed than the entire structure took fire and
burned to the ground. The plant was a complete loss.
No further steps were taken to establish the milling industry in Pueblo until 1865, when Mr. Jewett
erected the mill that stood for so long a time on the
present site of the Federal building. The old mill ditch
will be remembered by pioneers as running through
the property where the Rood Candy Company's plant
now stands; traversing that section of town lying just
south of the Hinsdale school, it ran in a southerly direction after leaving the mill and joined the river near the
vicinity of First and Main Streets. It should be remembered that at that time the river approached the city to
the vicinity of Eighth and West Streets at which point
it took a bold turn south to First Street. It crossed
First Street at about the place occupied by the Traction
Company's Triangle Block.
The flour mill was purchased the following year by
O. H. P. Baxter and later was operated by the firm of
Thatcher and Baxter. This mill became the Mecca for
farmers in all directions from Pueblo, wheat, in some
instances, being hauled a distance of seventy-five miles.
CHAPTER V. THE BATTLE WON.
The victor who stands upon a summit and views a
conquered city wrested from the enemy by a fair fight,
has feelings akin to those of the pioneer who looked out
over this vast area of western territory and beheld the
receding forces of nature withdrawing from the combat.
The battle with the wilderness was a fair one, but
with odds somewhat in favor of the wilderness. This
advantage was due to two things over which the pioneer
had no control. In the first place the wilderness was in
undisputed control and in the second place it had enlisted as an ally, that dreaded foe the red man.
Against this combined foe thoroughly entrenched, the
pioneer was compelled to charge. It seemed for a time
that this combination was too strong for the pioneer to
cope with successfully, but his indomitable perserverance, his undaunted courage, his unparalleled bravery
finally won for him a lasting victory.
Three events occurred in the year 1868 which not
only indicated the progress of the town but also gave
promise of its permanence. They were the building of
the telegraph line to Pueblo, the establishing of a weekly newspaper, The Colorado Chieftain, and the building
of the first church.
In the fall of 1867 the United States and Mexico
Railway and Telegraph Company was organized in
Denver for the purpose of building a railway and telegraph line to Mexico via Pueblo and Santa Fe. In May
of the following year their telegraph line entered
Pueblo, thus making the first permanent link in that
chain which was to bind the town to eastern civilization.
The Colorado Chieftain, the first issue of which
appeared on June 1, 1868, was the pioneer newspaper
of Southern Colorado, and for some time continued to
be the only paper published between Denver and Santa
Fe. This paper, now known as the Pueblo Chieftain,
has had a somewhat remarkable career, never having
missed an issue or changed its location since it began
nearly fifty years ago. Its files are complete and contain some of the most valuable historical material to
be had anywhere in the west. The paper was established by Dr. M. Beshoar. A year or two later Dr.
Beshoar removed to Trinidad and sold the Chieftain to
Samuel McBride, who later sold it to Captain J. J. Lambert. George A. Hinsdale and Wilbur F. Stone were its
editors. The subscription price of the paper was $5 a
year and 25c a copy. It continued its weekly publications until 1872 at which time it became a daily.
Among the business firms who advertised in the
initial issue, the following will be of interest to the
older residents of the city: C. D. Peck, meat market;
Henry Hiney, Planters Hotel; James Rice, cigars and
tobacco; Rettberg and Bartels, groceries; Thatcher
Bros., dry goods, groceries, hardware and clothing;
Leonard and Dotson, saw mill at Mace's Hole. The
following professional cards appear in the same issue:
P. R. Thomes, M. D. ; A. A. Bradford, attorney-at-law;
Wilbur F. Stone, attorney-at-law; George A. Hinsdale, attorney-at-law ; Henry C. Thatcher, attorney-at-law.
The first issue of the Chieftain contains a notice
of the death of Kit Carson, and a memorial tribute to
the famous pioneer by Wilbur F. Stone.
The following are interesting news items selected
from the first issue of the Chieftain :
"The railroad prospects for Southern Colorado are
growing brighter every day. Three different routes
through the southern part of the state have been surveyed or examined by the U. P. R. R. Co., from which
to select for the main line of their road. The third
route is up the Arkansas through Pueblo."
"Several of our boys have just returned from a
prospecting trip about the headwaters of the
"M. D. Thatcher received nineteen heavy wagon
loads of freight on Friday last. He has now a splendid
stock of goods."
"Messrs. Wildeboor & Gilman have placed a row of
pine boughs in front of the awning of their popular
restaurant. They make a delightful shade. The idea
is a capital one."
"We note that a good many hogs are running at
large in our streets in violation of the statutes. Their
presence in the streets is a nuisance which ought to be
abated. Why is not the law enforced?"
"Among the improvements lately commenced in
our town we notice a large warehouse for M. D. Thatcher, Esq., at the corner above Thatcher's store."
"H. C. Thatcher, Esq., is also erecting a new office building on Santa Fe Ave."
"J. E. Smith is erecting a capacious blacksmith
shop on the first cross street above Anker's."
An account of the Democratic County Convention,
held on May 13, 1868, is given in this first issue of the
Chieftain. The names of the following persons appear
as delegates to the state convention : M. Anker, Wilbur
F. Stone, J. M. Branneman, P. K. Dotson, M. Beshoar,
Lewis Barnum and others.
An account of the Republican Convention, which
was held a little later, shows the following men as
prominent in political circles: M. G. Bradford, J. D.
Miller, H. C. Thatcher, A. A. Bradford, O. H. P. Baxter,
M. D. Thatcher and C. J. Hart.
The following stage schedule published in the
Chieftain gives a vivid picture of the splendid isolation
of Pueblo before the coming of the railroad:
Schedule of Mail Stages.
Pueblo to Denver Tues., Th., Sat
Pueblo to Canon City Mon., Fri.
Pueblo to Santa Fe via Ft. Garland Thursday only
Pueblo to Bent's Fort Tues., Th., Sat.
The article quoted below, from the Chieftain, gives
a glimpse of the development of the Pueblo region
during 1867 and 1868:
"A glance at the products of Pueblo County for the
last year (1867), will indicate faintly some of Pueblo's
resources. There were produced during the past year
in Pueblo County, 300,000 bushels of corn, 100,000
bushels of wheat to say nothing of oats, buckwheat
and barley. There were owned in the county, 12,000
head of cattle, 20,000 head of sheep and 2,000 hogs.
"Eight months ago there were scarcely 75 inhabitants in Pueblo; now its population is but little less
than 500 souls. Pueblo stands forth today with bright
prospects of a permanent and prosperous future."
In 1871 the "Pueblo People," a weekly paper, made
its first appearance, with Mr. Hinsdale as editor. It
continued its existence until 1874 when the plant and
equipment were taken over by the Chifetain.
In 1874 the Pueblo Republican was established
under the management of J. M. Murphy. After a short
life it was purchased by Dr. Hull and brother of Missouri and in 1876, after a change of name and principles, it emerged as the "Democrat," and still later
became the "Daily News," under the ownership of
In April, 1868, steps were taken toward the erection of the first church building. Church services had
been held by various denominations in the old court
house at Third and Santa Fe. The Episcopal Church
continued its efforts until the organization known as
St. Peter's Church, had been effected and sufficient
funds raised to warrant the erection of a church building. The project was placed in charge of the following
committee : George A. Hinsdale, Wilbur F. Stone, H. C.
Thatcher, J. W. Snyder, F. W. Walker, Jas. Rice and
Klaas Wildeboor; the building committee being composed of Messrs. Hart, Young and Weston. The building was constructed of adobe bricks and still stands at
the corner of Seventh and Santa Fe. At the time it was
erected it was in the outskirts of the town, there being
but two buildings beyond it.
A tower, ten feet square, was erected upon the
church from which was suspended a bell. A member of
the committee states that on a certain beautiful Sunday
morning, when for the first time the old bell pealed
out in clear tones its call to worship, tones which were
strange, indeed, to the ears of these isolated westerners tears came to the eyes of more than one person
whose soul was stirred by the memory of a little church
back in the "states," from which he had been separated
for so many years.
In 1868 another serious Indian outbreak occurred.
The Indians remained on their good behavior for some
time after their Sand Creek lesson, but the spring of
the year just mentioned saw them on the war path
again, and during that summer they kept the inhabitants of the Fountain valley and Monument creek in
El Paso County, in constant terror, many atrocious
murders being committed by the savages. Fortunately,
the Pueblo region was again spared, no depredations
being reported from this section. Much apprehension
was felt for the settlers in the more remote sections of
the Pueblo region, however, and many of them loaded
their belongings upon their wagons and taking their
families, came to Pueblo to remain until the Indians
were ready to sign another "treaty of peace."
The following clippings from the Chieftain of
September 10, 1868, speak eloquently of the situation:
"Quite a number of families have moved into town
for the purpose of being safe from the Indians."
"The Indians took, on Saturday last, 29 head of
horses belonging to Jacob Geil. The horses were taken
from a place near Terrils on the Fountain, 30 miles
"Owing to the Indian dangers along the route from
Denver to this place, the coaches on the Denver and
Santa Fe stage line will run only once a week until it
becomes sufficiently safe to replace the stock at the
stations on the route."
The danger in which the Pueblo region was placed
by the Indian outbreak was greatly augmented by the
removal of the troops from Forts Reynolds and Lyon.
The inhabitants of Southern Colorado had by this time
become indignant beyond bounds at the failure of the
government to protect its citizens from the savages.
The government not only failed to provide adequate
protection to its frontier population, but it persisted in
the pernicious practice of issuing arms and ammunition
in large quantities to the Indians, presumably for their
use in hunting buffalo. In many instances the Indians
were better armed and possessed greater quantities of
ammunition than the settlers.
In the year 1869, the business men of Pueblo and
vicinity realizing the benefit to the city of united action
in advertising the resources of this region, organized
the Board of Trade of Southern Colorado, their primary
object being to publish and distribute literature advertising the Arkansas valley hoping by this means to
attract the Union Pacific railroad to this region. From
this pamphlet the following information is gleaned:
The population was slightly less than 800. The moral
tone of the town was pronounced by the editing committee as "good," the tangible evidence offered in proof
of this assertion being the fact that the town had two
church organizations, the Episcopal and the Methodist.
The location of Pueblo, "at the crossing of the great
routes from the east and between New Mexico and
Colorado, brought a throng of people to its public
houses." This report shows further that during the
year 1868 the value of merchandise sold was $390,980,
and the total value of manufactured goods, consisting
largely of leather goods, furniture and agricultural implements, aggregated $35,600, and, finally, that during
the same year one million pounds of freight had been
received in Pueblo.
Of the many "colonies" establishing themselves in
Colorado during the early seventies, one is of special
interest to us in view of the fact that it located in
close proximity to Pueblo.
In 1869 a group of Germans living in Chicago were
desirous of securing a location in the west. The advertising pamphlet of the newly organized Board of
Trade of Southern Colorado, having fallen into the
hands of one member of the group, it was decided to
send a committee to the Arkansas valley to reconnoiter.
The final result of this investigation was a recommendation that the colony be brought to the Wet Mountain
valley, some fifty miles west of Pueblo.
Accordingly, in the spring of 1870, the colony, consisting of about 350 persons with a full equipment of farm implements and machinery for grist mills, etc., embarked from Chicago under the leadership of Carl Wulstein, one of their own countrymen. They were obliged to make the journey overland from the terminus
of the Kansas Pacific Railroad, which was at that time in western Kansas. The United States government cooperated freely with the colonists in this enterprise. Their goods were hauled by government wagons, they were given the use of government tents and it was even asserted that provisions for the journey were provided at government expense.
A grand reception was held for these colonists
upon their arrival at Pueblo. The usual round of addresses of welcome and responses were given by citizens
and leading members of the colony. The travelers
camped just outside the town, and, upon their departure
the next morning, halted on Santa Fe Avenue in order
that their caravan, consisting of some seventy wagons,
might be viewed by the populace.
From Pueblo the party moved on to the Wet Mountain valley where all who were eligible took up homesteads. Soon afterwards the town of Colfax was laid
out. Lacking a motive either political or religious, it
was inevitable that there could be no permanent coherence and in consequence but a short time had
elapsed e'er the process of disintegration set in. Although most of the colonists remained in the valley and
became prosperous farmers, the organization itself soon
The Central Colorado Improvement Company,
though often referred to as the "South Pueblo Colony,"
was not a colony in the strict sense of the term. Although it was responsible for the establishing and the
developing of South Pueblo, it acted more in the capacity of a townsite company, drawing people to its
project by means of advertising the resources of this
locality. The most characteristic feature of the "colony," namely the simultaneous movement of a group
of settlers into a region, was lacking. The history of
this organization will be considered more in detail in a
On March 22, 1870, Pueblo became an incorporated
town with the following persons as trustees: George
A. Hinsdale, M. G. Bradford, James Rice, H. C. Thatcher, and J. D. Miller as clerk, and Z. G. Allen as constable, all receiving their positions through appointment by the Board of County Commissioners. On April
4, following, an election was held, the following persons
being elected: George A. Hinsdale, Lewis Conley,
O. H. P. Baxter, Sam McBride and C. P. Peabody, with
August Beech as clerk and J. F. Smith as constable.
At this election 110 ballots were cast.
While the federal census of 1870 recorded the population of Pueblo as 666, the county census at the close
of that year gave the town a population of 1002 and
that of the county 2323.
Other events which indicated the rapid and substantial development of the town at the close of this
period were the securing of a daily mail service from
Denver, the creation of the Arkansas Valley Land
District, together with the opening of the land office
in Pueblo, the abandonment of the old toll bridge, which
was made possible by the erection of a new county
bridge across the Arkansas, and the erection of the new
court house, these events occurring within the space of
During the first ten years of her existence, Pueblo
was obliged to content herself with nothing better than
a tri-weekly mail service, but in the winter of 1870,
through the influence of Pueblo's territorial delegate,
A. A. Bradford, a daily service was secured between
Pueblo and Denver.
Pueblo had long felt the need of more adequate
facilities for entering public lands, the nearest office
being at Denver. By the most patient and painstaking
efforts of our territorial delegate, the office at Pueblo
was secured with M. G. Bradford as the receiver and
Ed. Wheeler as register.
Early in the history of Pueblo a private bridge was
built across the Arkansas at the foot of Santa Fe Avenue, and for many years W. H. Young enjoyed the
exclusive privilege of collecting tolls from all those who
preferred to cross the river with dry feet. The question
of a county bridge had been agitated for some time but
through the influence of the owner of this private
bridge, definite steps toward the building of a free
bridge were postponed from time to time.
Finally, however, matters had proceeded so far
that the private monopoly seemed in imminent danger
of being swept away by the progressive spirit which
had taken hold upon the community, whereupon, Young
threatened to institute injunction proceedings to prevent the erection of the bridge or to bring suit for damages against the county in case the bridge was built.
Another controversy arose over the location of the
proposed bridge. One faction wished the bridge to be
located at the foot of Main Street, while the other faction stoutly insisted that it should be on Santa Fe. The
Main Street faction raised a bonus of $1600 to secure
the bridge on their street, and, although the Santa
Fe-ites secured a bonus of only $1525, the commissioners decided in their favor and built the bridge on
In April, 1872, the contract for building the bridge
was awarded to the firm of Redfield, Smith & Co. The
commissioners, fearing legal difficulties with Young,
required of those citizens interested in having the
bridge built, a guarantee bond to protect the county
against any judgment that might be secured by Young.
The bond was presented by Wilbur F. Stone and was
signed by Bartels Bros., John A. Thatcher and sixteen
others. So far as the records show no damages were
In October, 1872, the first annual fair was held by
the newly organized Agricultural Society of Southern
Colorado, although it was not until November, 1886,
that the present State Fair Association was incorporated, at which time fifty acres of ground near Mineral
Palace Park was purchased for $3,000, some $5,000
being expended for improvements. The first fair was
held in the fall of the next year. Land values increased
so rapidly that in 1890 the association was able to sell
its property for $48,000. Soon after this the present
location, comprising 100 acres on the mesa, was purchased for $30,000.
The Pueblo Public Library Association was founded in 1873. This was a stock company which issued 200
shares of stock at $50 each. The stock was quickly
purchased by public spirited citizens and articles of incorporation were duly filed by the committee consisting
of G. Q. Richmond, J. O. Jordan, A. P. George and C. J.
Reed. In May of the same year the Pueblo Library and
Reading Room was formally opened by an address by
Mr. George A. Hinsdale. This first library was located
on the west side of Santa Fe Avenue, just below Fourth
On May 9, 1871, the Board of County Commissioners voted to call for the submission of plans for a
new court house and for bids for the erection of the
same, the building to be erected upon the ground which
had been secured by pre-emption. All of these years
court had been held in the little adobe building on
Santa Fe, but now it was proposed to erect such a building as would be adequate for many years to come.
There were in the treasury something over $35,000,
the aggregate receipts from the sale of the county land.
This made it possible to erect this magnificent building
without adding a cent to the tax levy. This building
served the county for nearly forty years and was torn
down to give place to the largest and most costly county
building in the state.
With the completion of the court house and the
coming of the Rio Grande railroad, Pueblo took her
place as the recognized metropolis of Southern Colorado. Its rapid growth is indicated by the fact that
on March 26, 1873, the town trustees passed an ordinance, declaring that Pueblo, having exceeded the required population of 3,000, should become the City of
Pueblo, it having been originally incorporated as the
Town of Pueblo. Its population at this time was nearly
In the same year a bond issue of $130,000 was
authorized by a vote of the people for the purpose of
installing a system of waterworks and on June 24, 1874,
the present water system was completed. Business
houses were closed and with impressive ceremony, conducted by the Masonic lodge, the water works building
was dedicated. Probably no other single improvement
had as much to do with the subsequent growth of Pueblo
as did the building of this water system.
The coming of the railroads into Colorado affected
profoundly the destiny of the state, the most important
result being the hastening of statehood through the
rapid increase of population and wealth. The history
of the struggle for statehood is an interesting one, so
interesting, in fact, that the writer almost yields to the
temptation to turn aside and devote some time to its
consideration. Since it is not properly a part of this
book, however, its discussion must be omitted. Suffice
it to say, that Pueblo was a vital force in shaping the
future welfare of the state, during the period of constitution-making, through her two most excellent and
able delegates, Hon. Henry C. Thatcher and Hon. Wilbur F. Stone.
The Centennial celebration of 1876 was observed
by Pueblo and due regard was had for the fact that it
was also the celebration of Colorado's admission as a
state. Upon this day, under the cottonwood tree near
the old Baxter mill, where the Federal building now
stands, Judge Stone delivered a historical sketch of
Pueblo. This sketch was later forwarded to the national capital and deposited in the archives of the
Library of Congress.
The gold discovery in Leadville, in the year 1877,
proved a bonanza to Pueblo. During the seven years
following this date her population was increased threefold. Other mining camps sprung up in the vicinity
of the headwaters of the Arkansas, all of which increased the carrying trade and other forms of business
of Pueblo, this being the chief and practically only
distributing point for the entire region of the headwaters of the Arkansas.
Under this stimulus many new business blocks
were erected and new firms entered the field to capture
a share of the lucrative business which had sprung
up as a result of these various mining enterprises.
Two interesting bits of history not generally
known by the younger generation of Pueblo citizens deserve mention here, not so much because of
their importance as on account of their interest.
On January 1, 1874, a bill was introduced in the
territorial legislature for the removal of the state's capital to Pueblo. A strong array of facts was presented
by the Colorado Chieftain in support of the bill. A
forty-acre tract of land was to be provided and a cash
bonus was to be raised by Pueblo citizens to reimburse
the state for certain expenses incident to the removal
of the offices to Pueblo. This bill passed the house by
a vote of 16 to 5, but was lost in the senate through the
"perfidy" of a certain senator from the southern part
of the territory.
The other incident was the proposed secession of
Southern Colorado and the organization of the state
of San Juan. This occurred in the year 1877 and was
the result of the influence of certain men in this section,
who felt that Denver and the northern part of the state
were securing more than their share of the political
honors of the state. A memorial was prepared to be
presented to Congress pleading the right of the citizens
to organize a new state, using as a precedent the case
of West Virginia.
In the height of its popularity the movement suddenly collapsed through the influence of a newspaper
article written by E. K. Stimson of Pueblo, holding the
whole movement up to ridicule.
CHAPTER VI. INDIAN ADVENTURES IN VALLEY AND PLAIN.
It is difficult for us to get the point of view of the
frontiersman in regard to the Indians and how best to
deal with them. He was not in position to apply any
finely spun theory regarding the rights of the "poor
Indian," or how to make him over into an American
citizen. He was facing the stern fact which none knew
better than he, of kill or be killed, and that in the very
nature of things he could not live side by side with these
Indians without his life and the lives of his family
being in constant jeopardy. His logic was that the
only trustworthy Indians were the dead ones. Nor
had the hardy pioneer arrived at these conclusions by
the study of any long drawn-out "reports of committees
on Indian affairs." He had been driven to this way of
thinking by bitter experience.
Undoubtedly, much injury was done, not only to
the frontier settlers in the useless loss of hundreds of
lives and millions of dollars worth of property, but to
the Indian himself, by the sentimental attitude of the
government in dealing with these aborigines. The
whole problem resolved itself into this fact which is
universal in history and biology, that the weaker and
less developed life, whether human or animal, must
give way before the onset of a stronger and higher
developed one. Any attempt to make the outcome
otherwise, is but a fruitless endeavor to stem the tide
of evolution. It were better by far that we should
forget that chapter of American history which treats
with governmental dealings with the Indians.
The adventures recorded in this chapter are the
most typical ones gleaned from early records and
given by word of mouth by pioneers who lived in the
Pueblo region when its possession was disputed by the
red men. They are true in-so-far as the writer has been
able to determine their truth, and being true they may
be lacking in that "thrill" which is typical of the "made-
to-order" adventure. They possess a sufficient amount
of interest, however, to have held spell-bound the juvenile members of a certain family upon many a star-lit
evening as they were told and retold even to the point
of being worn threadbare by repetitions. It is more
on account of their interest than because of their historical value, that they are made a part of this book.
The most notable Indian massacre occurring in the
immediate vicinity of Pueblo was the one which took
place on Christmas Day, 1854, when the entire population of the old Pueblo fort was massacred.
The Utes who occupied the foothills region west of
Pueblo, had been restless for several days before the
date above mentioned and had begun wandering away
from their usual confines out into the valley. Uncle
Dick Wooten, who lived down at the mouth of the
Huerfano, had been out on a hunting expedition to the
Hardscrabble region above Pueblo. Noticing indications that an Indian outbreak was imminent, he put
out immediately for home to make ready for a visit
from these savages. This was the day before Christmas, and as Wooten passed the Pueblo fort, he stopped
and warned its inhabitants not to permit any Utes to
come within the fort. From this place he hastened on
to his home on the Huerfano to make ready for the expected attack.
Unfortunately, the inhabitants of the fort did not
take this warning seriously as we shall see. On the
afternoon of Christmas a single Indian was seen galloping his horse up the trail to the fort. Upon his arrival
he met the men with a friendly greeting and suggested
to Sandoval, who was in charge of the fort, that they
set up a target and try their skill as marksmen. Sandoval, believing that no danger could possibly arise
from the presence of one Indian within the enclosure,
permitted him to enter. A target was set up and with
the entire group of men standing by the shooting began.
Sandoval fired first and was followed immediately by
the Indian; whereupon, two more Utes appeared riding
up the trail. Upon their arrival they greeted the group
with a friendly "How" and took their places among
the other spectators. The next time four shots were
fired and four Indians appeared. It was evident that
the firing of the shots was a signal for more Indians
to appear. The shooting was resumed and in a short
time the entire band of Indians, fifty in number, had
arrived and were intently watching the contest.
Blanco, the Ute chief, requested food for his followers, whereupon the entire group entered the fort. Food
was given them as well as a liberal quantity of "Taos
lightning." Suddenly, at a given signal the entire band
of savages fell upon the occupants of the fort and began
Against such odds these men were unable to contend and in a few minutes they were all killed except
four, one woman, the two sons of Sandoval, seven and
twelve years old, and one man who was shot through
the cheek and left for dead. The woman was killed at
a spring near by as they were leaving the fort but the
boys were kept as captives, but were finally restored to
their people after peace was made.
The Indians passed on down the Arkansas, bent
on further bloodshed, but finding their other intended
victims at Wooten's ranch, so well prepared for them,
they did not risk an attack but returned to their camp
far into the mountains.
The old fort remained deserted ever after this
massacre, the superstition of the roving trappers of
this region preventing their ever occupying the place
again. Ghost stories of "hair-raising" type soon sprang
up around the memories of the old adobe building which
deterred even the most stout-hearted from ever taking
up his abode there again. The "dobies" composing its
walls were removed later, some being used in erecting
the first buildings in Fountain City, and the remainder
being placed in the walls of the first buildings of Pueblo
The redoubtable Kit Carson was the chief character in an adventure with the Crow Indians which
occurred in this vicinity some time before the occurrence just described.
Carson and nine associates were just returning
from an extended trapping expedition into the northwest and had established a camp on the Arkansas near
the present site of Pueblo to await the return of one
of their number who had gone on to Taos to dispose
of their furs. It was late in November when they arrived at the Arkansas and they had no sooner established themselves at this place than a wandering band
of Crows passed through the vicinity of their camp and
drove off several of their best horses and escaped under
the cover of darkness.
Early the next morning Carson and his band made
preparations to take up the pursuit of the thieves, but
the situation was complicated by the falling of a light
snow during the night and later by a large drove of
buffalo crossing the already dim trail. With the instinct
of the born hunter, Carson stuck to the trail and followed it throughout the entire day with the tenacity of
a savage. Their route lay in the direction of the divide
where a heavy snow covered the ground.
As night came on the party camped in the edge of
a clump of cedars, when preparations were made for
building a fire for protection against the frosty night.
They had no sooner began these preparations than they
perceived smoke arising only a few hundred yards in
front of them. A careful reconnoissance revealed the
presence of the Indians whom they were pursuing, apparently unsuspicious of the presence of their pursuers.
Not daring even to build a fire, the group made themselves as comfortable as their situation would permit
and patiently awaited the coming of darkness.
Under cover of night, while the savages were celebrating their successful escape by giving a war-dance,
Carson and his men approached stealthily to the vicinity of the Indian camp and finding their stolen horses
tethered near by, actually removed them to their own
camp without being detected. The majority of the
party was in favor of returning at once to their camp
on the Arkansas with their recovered property. Carson, however, insisted stoutly that the thieves should
be punished. His influence prevailed and a bold attack
at daybreak was agreed upon. Just as light was beginning to break in the east, Carson and eight of his
men marched boldly up to the sleeping camp and opened
fire. Taken by complete surprise, the Indians were at
first terror-stricken and lost heavily at the first fire, but
soon rallied and from behind trees and rocks sent forth
such a galling fire that the attacking party was forced
to retreat. Being reinforced by one of their number,
whom they had left in charge of the horses, they made
another charge but were unable to dislodge the Indians,
although several of the savages were killed. Back and
forth they wavered throughout the entire forenoon.
Finally, however, neither side being able to win, Carson
and his party withdrew, their only casualty being a
slight flesh wound, received by one member of their
party. With their recovered property they took up
the return march and arrived without further incident
at their camp on the Arkansas.
Mr. David Proffitt, who has been a resident of
Pueblo and other points in Southern Colorado for the
past sixty years, remembers many lively tilts with
the Indians which occurred during the time he was
engaged in freighting from Kansas City to Fort Garland. His route lay over the Santa Fe trail, through
Pueblo and south over the Sangre de Cristo pass. The
adventure which is here given was told the writer by
Mr. Proffitt himself and occurred upon one of his homeward trips from Fort Garland.
For safety three trains had united in making this
journey across the plains, two trains of the Proffitt
brothers and one belonging to a man named Miller,
their wagons all being loaded with wool. There was
accompanying them a man named Spencer, who had
been permitted to avail himself of the protection of the
train on his way back to the States. During all these
journeys their vigilance was never permitted to abate,
all the men being under strict military regulation. During this entire journey they were constantly watched
by marauding bands of Indians. It was a strict rule
that no person should separate himself from the train
because of the presence of hostile Indians, but in spite
of this rule, as they were passing along one day about
eighty rods from the Arkansas river, it was suddenly
noticed that Spencer had separated himself from the
party and was approaching the river for the purpose of
filling his canteen with fresh water. No sooner was
his dangerous position discovered than a shot rang out
and Spencer was seen to fall. The train was halted and
the call to arms was given, as it was certain that a
band of Indians was in ambush near by and that an
immediate attack would probably be made.
An order was immediately given for a detachment
of forty men to go to the rescue of Spencer. An arroyo
extended to within a hundred yards of where Spencer
lay wounded. Proffitt led the rescuing party safely to
the point where the arroyo ended and on emerging to
the open plains the landscape seemed suddenly to become alive with savages. A large band of savages
charged the rescuing party while a still larger one attacked the wagon train, thus hoping to prevent an assistance from that quarter while they made a desperate
attempt to cut off the rescuers from retreat. Proffitt
and his party fell back to the arroyo and from that
point sent forth such a terrific fire into the midst of the
red-skins that they were compelled to withdraw, but the
retreat was only temporary for in a few moments they
emerged again and pressed the attack more furiously
than before. The rescuing party was well nigh overwhelmed by the furor of the second attack, one of their
best men being wounded. It was only through the fearless action of Proffitt, who at the most critical moment
in the fight bravely mounted the bank and with a six-shooter in either hand, began dealing death to his murderous assailants, that the utter rout of his party was prevented. His action gave such courage to his comrades that they succeeded in repelling the second attack. As the Indians began to withdraw the party rushed forward to the place where Spencer lay wounded, and found that he had been shot in the hip. Proffitt raised him to a sitting posture and had just asked him whether he was badly hurt when the wounded man was again struck by a bullet which resulted in instant death.
Their return to the wagon train was even more
hazardous than their advance had been. A determined
assault was made upon them this time by the combined strength of the savage forces, several hundred in
number, the attack upon the wagon train having been
abandoned. At this critical moment, however, the forces
guarding the train, being relieved by the withdrawal of
the Indians from that quarter, were able to make a
flank attack which dealt such destruction to their savage foes that they withdrew, carrying some forty of
their dead with them.
Another incident which occurred in this same vicinity and to the same party illustrates the danger to
which these freighters were constantly exposed.
The train had halted at the river bank one afternoon somewhat earlier than usual. The oxen were
"turned loose" and the men were taking a swim, their
usual precautions having been taken to prevent a surprise by the Indians. It was noticed that a part of the
oxen had strayed somewhat farther from the herd than
usual and one of the men, whose name was Reed, started
after them. Having reached a distance of several hundred yards from the river, a lone Indian mounted upon
a pony, suddenly bore down upon him. Reed, being
unarmed, was at the mercy of his antagonist. As the
Indian approached nearer preparatory to firing, Reed,
in desperation, caught up a handful of gravel which he
threw directly into the face of the pony, causing it to
swerve suddenly to one side. This caused the savage
to miss his victim. The Indian turned and bore down
upon him the second time. Reed had in the meantime
taken from his pocket a small knife which he threw
full into the face of his fiendish assailant, striking him
in the forehead and inflicting a wound which bled profusely. Being blinded by the blood from his wound, the
Indian in his confusion halted his horse for an instant,
whereupon Reed suddenly caught him by the arm, and
dragged him to the ground. There ensued a terrific
struggle for the only weapon, the pistol. Reed proved
the stronger and wrenching the gun from his antagonist, felled him with one blow upon the head and before
assistance arrived the Indian had been killed and his
pony was galloping away across the prairie.
In the summer of 1864 there occurred one of the
most serious Indian outbreaks that this region had yet
experienced. In fact the uprising was so general as
to include most of the tribes of Colorado as well as of
Kansas. Because of the defenseless condition of the
settlers, the lives of hundreds of families in the region
extending from Pueblo north beyond Denver, were
placed in jeopardy. The fighting force of the Indians
being so much greater than that of the settlers, placed
the latter at a serious disadvantage. From the foot
hills almost as far east as the Missouri river, these
roving bands of savages held sway throughout that entire summer, while settlers in scattered groups were
attempting to occupy a narrow strip of territory close
to the foot hills. These brave-hearted men and women
were truly "an island of civilization in a vast sea of
The Indians had planned a simultaneous attack
along this entire front, hoping to rid themselves once
for all of the presence of the settlers. To Elbridge
Gerry, of Revolutionary ancestry, is due the everlasting
gratitude of the entire frontier populace of the state
for his timely warning of the impending attack.
Gerry had lived for many years on the Platte
river some seventy miles east of Denver with his Cheyenne wife, and had enjoyed the confidence of the various
Indian tribes of that region. One night, long after the
Gerry household had retired, two Cheyenne chiefs arrived and warned the occupants that the attack would
take place on the morrow. The plan was to send one
hundred warriors to the valley of the Platte, two hundred fifty to the head of Cherry Creek and about four
hundred fifty over the divide to Colorado City and down
the Fountain valley to Pueblo. Upon being informed
of this intended attack, Gerry immediately saddled his
swiftest horse and stole quietly away and as soon as he
was at a safe distance from the house, put spurs to his
horse, never stopping until he drew rein in front of the
governor's residence in Denver. Governor Evans, upon
being apprised of the danger by which the foot-hill population was confronted, immediately dispatched swift
couriers to warn the settlers of the impending attack.
The arrival of this courier in Pueblo caused intense
consternation. The settlers in the remote districts of
this region, being notified by couriers sent out from
Pueblo, hastily loaded their possessions in farm wagons
and came into town, where they remained until the
danger subsided. The excitement was greatly augmented by the information that a band of Indians had
been seen a few miles above Pueblo on the Fountain.
An adobe block house was hastily built on Tenderfoot
Hill and a stockade was erected near Third Street. The
stockade, which was one hundred ten feet long and
twelve feet high, was built of logs furnished by Eugene
Weston, to whom the writer is indebted for the details
of a part of this incident. School was closed, public
gatherings were dispensed with and everyone was in an
intense state of suspense. A squad of men did sentry
duty day and night and for many days men scarcely
slept, the attack being momentarily expected.
But the attack never materialized. The entire plan
failed, due to the warning sent out by the governor.
Wherever the Indians planned an attack they found that
the settlers either were ready to give battle or that their
houses had been abandoned and their valuables removed. Only three persons lost their lives in this attempted wholesale massacre. These persons lived on
Cherry creek and had for some reason failed to heed
the warning sent out by the governor. Although the
general attack failed, the Indians continued on the war
path throughout the entire summer and until late in
the autumn. They were brought to terms only after the
most severe chastisement ever administered this
"scourge of the prairies," by an enraged populace.
One of the most fiendish crimes ever perpetrated
by the savages occurred on the Santa Fe trail, a few
miles below Pueblo in the late summer of 1864. Jack
Smith, a half-breed Cheyenne, with a band of Indians,
attacked a government wagon train on its way up the
valley. Although the train was being escorted by a
small group of soldiers, the attack was so fierce and so
well planned that the entire party was soon overwhelmed and captured. Among those taken prisoners
were a blacksmith, his wife and two boys. The wife
was compelled to witness the horrible death of her husband by burning. The two boys were declared to be
in the way and were killed by being dashed against one
of the wagon wheels. After being repeatedly outraged
by her fiendish captors, the woman succeeded in stealing stealthily from her bed in the middle of the night
and with a leather thong committed suicide by hanging.
The government finally, but with inexcusable
tardiness, authorized the organization and equipment
of a regiment for one hundred days service for the purpose of punishing these Indians who had been spreading
terror throughout the entire Colorado region. Under
this authority the Third Regiment of Colorado Volunteers, with Col. George L. Shoup in command, was organized. Company G of this regiment was recruited almost entirely from Pueblo, the following persons being
officers of the company : 0. H. P. Baxter, Captain ; S. J.
Graham, First Lieutenant ; Andrew J. Templeton, Second Lieutenant. Among other members of the company, the following names have been preserved : Chas.
D. Peck, Joseph Holmes, John W. Rogers, Jas. O'Neil,
Abe Cronk, W. W. McAllister, John Bruce, John C.
Norton, John McCarthy, Wm. H. Davenport, Jessie W.
Coleman, H. W. Creswell, Henry B. Craig, Joseph W.
Dobbins, Tom C. Dawkins, A. A. Johnson, L. F. McAllister, H. H. Melrose, F. Page and Eugene Weston.
The company was brought up to its full quota by the
addition of ten or eleven men from El Paso County,
and on August 29, 1864, was mustered in at Denver as
a part of the United States Army.
Company G was sent into camp at a point about
five miles east of Pueblo. Here the company was
obliged to wait two months for equipment. In October
a snow nearly two feet deep covered the entire southern
portion of the state. Roads were blocked, traffic ceased
and all supplies were cut off. The little company of
volunteers was facing starvation when the order was
given by the commander to disband temporarily with
instructions for each man to go to his home to remain
until the weather would permit the sending of supplies
to their camp. Within two weeks the roads became
passable and supplies and equipment were forwarded
from Denver, whereupon the company were reassembled.
The main body of troops had been encamped in
Denver while awaiting equipment from the government. In November the entire regiment under Col.
John M. Chivington, began moving south from Denver
and in due time annexed Company G of Pueblo. Their
course was down the Arkansas, although no one, not
even the soldiers themselves, knew their destination.
Leaving Pueblo on November 25, they moved by forced
marches, allowing but six hours rest out of twenty-four, and in three days arrived at Fort Lyon, much to
the surprise of the garrison at that place. Absolute
secrecy as to the destination of this regiment had been
maintained; every person encountered along the trail
from Pueblo to Fort Lyon had been held a prisoner lest
the presence of the troops should become known to the
It was known that the Indians who had been terrorizing the settlers, had gone into camp some distance
north of Fort Lyon. It was also believed by many that
the relations between the garrison at Fort Lyon and
these Indians was of such character as to preclude the
hope of securing any assistance from this source in a
further prosecution of the purpose of the expedition.
Subsequent events proved the semi-treasonable intercourse which had existed between the garrison and the
Indians as well as the indifference of the commandant
as to the success of this campaign against the savages.
Halting only long enough to procure food and
water the order was given for each man to prepare
rations for a three days' march and to be ready to move
at 8 o'clock. Their course was due north and after an
all-night's march over a difficult trail they came in
sight of a large Indian village just at the break of day.
The regiment immediately opened fire upon the
Indians, who fled in panic, but soon concentrated their
forces along the banks of Sand creek, upon which
stream the Indian camp was situated. The battle lasted
from early morning until three or four o'clock in the
afternoon. The fighting forces of the Indians met almost complete annihilation. In all about 500 Indians
were killed, while the troops had ten of their number
killed and forty wounded.
This, briefly, is an account of the famous Battle
of Sand Creek. Few incidents in western history have
been bolstered up by such an array of misstatements
and absolute falsehood as has this famous engagement.
Even at the risk of being accused of reviving a controversy long since settled, the writer can not refrain
from deviating from the purpose of this chapter long
enough to state the facts concerning this battle.
The following statements are based upon a discussion of this battle and the events leading up to it by
Irving Howbert, who presents convincing documentary evidence in support of his statements.
The three chief accusations of the government
against Colonel Chivington and his troops were that
they had massacred a body of friendly Indians, who
were under the protection of the government, that defenseless women and children were massacred under
the instructions of Colonel Chivington and that Chivington acted without authority in taking such extreme
measures against these Indians. The facts as presented
by Mr. Howbert are as follows:
First, these Indians, far from being friendly, were viciously hostile, having been on the war-path the entire
summer. They had in their possession at the time of
the "massacre," property identified by some of the
troops as belonging to residents of Pueblo and El Paso
Counties. Fresh scalps were found in their tepees,
some of which were those of women and children.
Second, there was little, if any unwonted killing
of women and children, although it was impossible to
avoid the killing of some of these owing to the fact that
they were present in considerable numbers during the
battle, the squaws in some instances taking an active
part in the engagement.
Third, Major-General S. R. Curtis himself had instructed Col. Chivington to pursue these Indians regardless of district boundaries and to wage a war of extermination against them.
It is unfortunate that the so-called investigation
instituted by the government in connection with this
battle could not have been carried on in the interests
of truth and that the right of Col. Chivington to an
impartial hearing could not have been accorded him.
Had it been so, the military record of this man, who
never acted more safely within his rights or more
nearly according to instructions, would not have been
left with a cloud hanging over it.
CHAPTER VII. THE ROMANCE OF RAILROADS.
One of the most romantic chapters in the history
of the West is the one dealing with its railroads. It is
a story of achievement by great men men of keen insight, of prophetic vision men with unbounded faith
in the ultimate greatness of the West, whose faith was
evidenced in many instances by the investment of the
last dollar of the accumulated funds of a lifetime in
From the time in the early fifties when the dream
of a transcontinental railroad first began to take
definite form, down to the present time when those
magic steel bands extend to almost every nook and corner of the great west, the story of their progress is as
attractive and enticing as the most fantastic novel.
The emigrant had no sooner left his abode in the
Missouri river region to make his home in this western
land, than he began to clamor for some regular method
of communication with friends and relatives whom he
had left behind. As early as 1849 government stage
lines were established to form regular routes of communication with these isolated colonists, but it was
not until the late sixties that the overland stage assumed the gigantic proportions which caused it to be
looked upon as one of the wonders of the western world.
One of the most interesting episodes in connection with governmental attempts to solve the question of the
conquest of the prairies, occurred in the year 1856, at which time the War Department, then being administered by Jefferson Davis, sent one of its representatives to Arabia for the purpose of purchasing camels.
The idea was prevalent at that time that the only way
successfully to cope with the problem of western transportation was by the oriental method. Under an appropriation of $30,000 by Congress, seventy-five camels
were imported and sent to Texas to become acclimated.
By the next year, however, Congress seemed to have
outgrown the camel idea, and demanded something
more speedy than the "ship of the desert." Accordingly,
the postmaster-general was authorized to call for bids
to establish a subsidized fast mail service from the
Mississippi river to Sacramento. What became of the
camels, history fails to record.
The first overland mail contract directly to the
Pacific coast was let to a company headed by John Butterworth. Under this contract, the company was to
maintain a semi-weekly service from St. Louis and
Memphis to the Pacific coast via Preston, El Paso and
Fort Yuma, the journey to occupy not more than
twenty-five days. The company was to receive annually
from the government, the sum of $600,000.
On September 15, 1858, stage coaches left opposite
ends of this newly established line. The distance, which
was 2,795 miles, was traveled in somewhat less than the
This was but the beginning of numerous stage lines
which began to penetrate to the remotest sections of
the newly-discovered West. The discovery of gold in
the Pike's Peak region soon brought the stage to Colorado to minister to the needs of the myriads who came
pouring in. On June 7, 1859, the first stage coach of
the Pike's Peak Express arrived in Denver, bearing the
distinguished personage of Horace Greeley, who was
making a tour of the west in the interests of his paper,
By the year 1860 the stage company operating
from Kansas City to Santa Fe began sending some of
its coaches up the Arkansas into Southern Colorado, but
constant Indian outbreaks caused this service to be
suspended at intervals until after the close of the Civil
By far the most picturesque outgrowth of this
overland mail service was the famous "Pony Express."
In 1860 W. H. Russell, who was connected with the
Pike's Peak Express Company, startled the country by
announcing that on a certain date he would begin carrying letters between St. Joe and Sacramento in nine
days. The best time that had been made up to this
date had been twenty-one days. The charge for carrying letters was to be $5 each for letters weighing two
ounces or less. The mail was to be carried by pony
riders, who would make the distance between stations
with as great speed as possible, the mail being passed
to another rider, mounted on a fleet pony, who was
waiting ready to dash on to the next station. Some two
hundred of these stations were scattered along the route
at convenient locations. Mere boys were employed as
riders because of their light weight. Wm. F. Cody,
"Buffalo Bill," was one of these. He showed his great
endurance by riding 320 miles without rest.
The experiment of the "Pony Express" excited
great interest throughout the country. At the first trial
the riders started simultaneously from each end of the
route, one rider upon a jet black pony of magnificent
appearance, while the other was mounted upon a white
one of splendid form. The initial trip was made in
eight days and four hours, this time being subsequently
lowered to somewhat less than eight days.
For a period of eighteen months the "Pony Express" continued to render valuable service to the western country during the opening stages of the war, but it
went out of existence with the establishing of the Continental telegraph, which was accomplished in 1861. The
expense of operating this line was so great that it was
run at a loss from the beginning, the venture bringing
ruin upon Russell and those associated with him.
Ben Holiday became the great power behind the
overland stage business in the sixties, and after disposing of his interests to the Wells-Fargo Express
Company, he put his indomitable energy into the building of railroads. Mark Twain illustrates Holiday's
reputation throughout the West as a manager of stage
lines in the following anecdote : A young man from the
West was traveling in Palestine and vicinity with his
teacher. On one occasion he was being told in glowing
terms of the wonderful skill of Moses who led the people
of Israel safely through the wilderness for a period of
forty years, leading them in all a distance of 320 miles.
"Forty years? Only 320 miles!" said the young
westerner in astonishment. "Why, Ben Holiday would
have fetched them through in thirty-six hours."
Holiday not only conducted the main stage lines
extending into the West, but he also controlled many
spurs extending into most of the Rocky Mountain
states. He developed the stage business into a huge
system almost perfect in its mechanism, but the slow
but sure encroachment of the continental railroad into
this territory caused him to accept the inevitable and
dispose of his business before the crash came, for by
May, 1869 much earlier than his successors, Wells-
Fargo and Co., anticipated the overland stage business was at an end, the last named company losing
heavily because of its early termination.
With the completion of the Union Pacific railroad
there came to an end an institution which constituted
the greatest business enterprise that the country had
seen up to that time, many millions of dollars being
invested in the stage and freighting business. At Fort
Kearney it is stated that in a period of six weeks, in
1865, trains comprising in all 6,000 freight wagons
passed, on their way to the West. Russell, Majors and
Waddell, during the height of their business, owned
6,250 wagons and 75,000 oxen.
After more than a decade of petty quarreling and
bickering, much of which was due to sectional jealousy
between the North and the South, Congress finally authorized the building of a transcontinental railway,
subsidizing it heavily with public lands. This enterprise was scarcely under way e'er a corporation of
energetic men was organized in Denver for the purpose
of building a branch line from that place to Cheyenne,
the nearest approach of the transcontinental road.
No group of men ever undertook a project in the
face of greater discouragement or faced difficulties of
greater magnitude than did the people of Denver when
they undertook the building of the Denver Pacific Railroad. The success of the enterprise was finally assured
by the voting of a half million dollars in county bonds
and work was begun at the Denver end of the new
road on May 18, 1868. On June 15, 1870, the first railroad train to enter the Colorado region, steamed into
Denver. Two months later the Kansas Pacific Railroad
also completed its line to the same point.
With the coming of these two roads, a new epoch
in the development of Colorado was ushered in. Events
transpired with a rapidity that was astounding. Railroad talk was heard on every hand and new lines were
projected in every direction from Denver, but with
such men as W. S. Cheesman, D. H. Moffat, J. B.
Chaffee and W. J. Palmer and others of like character
back of these movements, it was not at all surprising
that many of these projects resulted in substantial
On October 27, 1870, articles of incorporation of
the Denver and Rio Grande Railway Company were
filed, the incorporators being W. J. Palmer, A. C. Hunt
and W. H. Greenwood, the board of directors being
composed of W. J. Palmer, A. C. Hunt, both of Colorado, R. H. Lamborn of Philadelphia, U. P. Mellin of
New York and Thomas J. Wood of Ohio. The capital
stock was fourteen million dollars, and bonds at the
rate of ten thousand dollars a mile were issued for construction purposes.
The faith, and the almost prophetic vision evidenced by General Palmer and his associates in projecting this enterprise and carrying it through to
completion, is almost beyond belief. The original plan
of the company was to build a road from Denver to
El Paso, a distance of eight hundred and fifty miles.
Although being confronted by financial difficulties
which were almost insurmountable, and being obliged
to divide territory and traffic with competing roads,
the latter fact being unforeseen in the beginning, and
being obliged to fight almost every inch of the way from
Pueblo, before the close of the year 1883 the Denver
and Rio Grande had pierced the chief mountain passes
of Southern Colorado and New Mexico, and had almost
reached the western border of the state, its direction
having deviated from the course originally planned.
A more unpromising territory for a railroad which
was to depend upon its immediate earnings for running expenses, than that through which this new road
was to extend south of Denver, could scarcely have been
found anywhere in the West. There was no town of
any size along the entire line contemplated by the promoters, with the exception of Pueblo, and it was regarded as being too far to one side to really be considered in the territory to be pierced by the new road, the
plan being to extend the line directly from Colorado
City to Canon City and thence to Raton Pass.
On the 27th of July, 1871, the first rails were laid
on the new road, and in October of the same year the
track had been laid to the newly born town of Colorado
At this juncture the critical moment in the destiny
of Pueblo arrived. Pueblo had hoped to secure the
transcontinental line of the Union Pacific, and at one
time it seemed that there was some ground for this
hope. On July 9, 1869, the Congressional Committee,
having in charge the preparation of a report on the
southern branch, arrived in Pueblo on a tour of inspection. The committee proceeded to Denver from
this point and from there a part of the committee extended their tour to California while the others returned to Washington. The hope of securing a railroad
from this source soon faded away into a hazy mist,
leaving Pueblo to secure railroad connections from
some other source.
As was stated in the preceding chapter, a commercial organization had been perfected for the purpose
of attracting the Union Pacific railroad to Pueblo. Its
eastern division had been completed into western Kansas and there seemed strong ground for the hope that
the road would traverse the Arkansas valley to Pueblo
and Canon City. This Board of Trade was organized
on January 30, 1869, with the following officers: President, M. D. Thatcher, vice president, George A. Hinsdale; B. F. Rockefellow, of Canon City, secretary, and Wilbur F. Stone as treasurer.
On the afternoon of the day on which the commercial organization was perfected, a mass meeting
of Pueblo citizens was held in the old court house on
Santa Fe, where the first campaign was inaugurated
to secure a railroad for Pueblo. But as has already
been stated this organization failed to interest the
Union Pacific in the Arkansas valley route, hence
Pueblo was obliged to turn her attention elsewhere.
The opening gun in the campaign to secure the
Rio Grande Railroad for Pueblo was fired by the Colorado Chieftain six months before the road had commenced laying rails from Denver. In January, 1871, the Chieftain set forth in an admirable manner the
reasons why a railroad into the Pueblo region would
be a paying venture. The argument in brief was as
follows : By situation and natural advantage Pueblo is
destined to become the chief distributing point for
Southern Colorado. It is already the business center of
the rich agricultural and stock regions of the Arkansas,
the Huerfano, the St. Charles, the Greenhorn, the Cucharas, the Chico and Turkey creek. Pueblo is the
headquarters of the Southern and Eastern stage lines,
and Pueblo is the richest county and comprises the most
thickly settled district south of the divide.
Soon after this article appeared, agents of the Rio
Grande appeared in Pueblo and intimated to certain
citizens of that place that if the county would vote
bonds and subscribe to a liberal amount of railroad
stock, the route of the new road would be changed so
as to include Pueblo. A mass meeting was held at the
old court house on February 4, 1871, to deliberate over
the matter. Among the leading citizens of Pueblo who
were present at this meeting were Hon. Geo. M. Chilcott, Chas. D. Peck, R. M. Stevenson, J. D. Miller, 0. H.
P. Baxter, M. H. Fitch, P. K. Dotson, M. L. Blunt, J. N.
Carlile, John A. Thatcher, L. Conley and C. J. Hart.
There followed in rapid succession a meeting of
the committee with the railroad officials, the calling
of another mass meeting, the appearance in Pueblo of
representatives of the Rio Grande to confer with the
people, and a proposal from the Kansas Pacific which
was rapidly completing plans to extend its line from
the western border of Kansas up the Arkansas valley.
The appearance of the Kansas Pacific officials in
Pueblo with a definite proposition to extend their road
to this place, seriously complicated the situation. Theirs
was to be a broad gauge road, while that of the Rio
Grande was to be of the narrow gauge type. These
men urged the people of Pueblo to consider carefully
whether they wished to have direct communication
with Kansas City or to tie themselves to the Rio Grande
and thus surrender the destiny of their town into the
hands of Denver.
Grave doubts existed in the minds of many as to
the financial ability of the Kansas Pacific road to extend its line into this region, even with the assistance
that might be rendered by Pueblo. Several weeks of
discussion ensued, the final result of which was an
agreement to petition the County Commissioners to call
a special election for the purpose of voting bonds in aid
of the Rio Grande project. The proposition presented
by the officials of this road called for the purchase by
the county of $100,000 in stock of the company, the
same to be paid for by 30-year bonds bearing 8% interest. The road was to be completed to Pueblo within
one year and a depot was to be established within a
mile of the court house.
On June 9 of the same year the election was held,
which resulted in a large majority in favor of the
bonds. A total of 679 votes were cast, 576 of which
were in favor of the bonds. By this act Pueblo County
committed itself to a policy of bond voting which did
not end until a million dollars in bonds had been voted
to aid the various roads that desired to extend their
lines into Pueblo. Some $450,000 of these bonds went
by default, however, owing to the failure of some of the
roads to fulfill the conditions under which the bonds
On February 1, 1872, a further issue of bonds,
amounting to $50,000, was voted to aid the same company in the construction of a branch line to the coal
fields of Fremont County.
Work on the line from Colorado Springs to Pueblo
was soon begun and in the spring of 1872 the road began to approach Pueblo. It is impossible for those of
later generations to have any adequate conception of
the feelings of a people when the first railroad reaches
the land in which they have established their homes.
On May 30 of this memorable year, the Chieftain contained the following comment on the near approach of
"The track layers are crossing Sutherland's ranch,
twelve miles north of town, and the rails are said to be
arriving as fast as they can be spiked down. A large
water tank is nearly completed at Sutherland's and on
Monday next trains will come down to that point, leaving only twelve miles for the stage. Verily, the gap
grows smaller and beautifully less." On June 19, at
7 p. m., the last rail was spiked down at the depot near
the east side of the present Mineral Palace Park, and
the railroad to Pueblo was an accomplished fact.
On July 2 a grand excursion from Denver to
Pueblo was given in honor of the new road, and an imposing reception was held in the new court house, which
had just been completed. A special train arrived from
Denver at one o'clock, bearing one hundred ten invited
guests. From the depot the guests were escorted in
carriages to the court house, where an elaborate banquet was served by the ladies, music being provided by
the Pueblo Cornet Band. After addresses, fitting to the
occasion, had been delivered by G. Q. Richmond, Geo.
W. Chilcott and Wilbur F. Stone, of Pueblo, and replies
by some of the Denver delegation, the guests were taken
on an excursion to the principal points of interest in the
vicinity of Pueblo. The celebration ended with a grand
ball at the court house in the evening.
The readjustment of business and of the customs
of the people, due to the advent of the railroad, must
have been remarkable. Having habituated themselves
to the slow and expensive method of transportation
which had held sway for so many years, these people
had well night ceased to travel. During the last year
the stage was in operation between Denver and Pueblo,
it carried an average of less than three passengers a
day, while during the second year that the Rio Grande
operated between the same points it carried a daily
average of nearly one hundred people.
Although the year 1871 had seen the population of
Pueblo nearly double, the year immediately following
the advent of the railroad witnessed a veritable boom.
As noted in a statistical sketch of the town published in
January, 1873, one hundred seventeen buildings had
been erected in 1871 at a total cost of $215,750, while
in 1872 the total number of buildings erected was one
hundred eighty-five, the total cost being $621,700.
During the autumn of 1872, the East Pueblo addition
was laid out by Lewis Conley, who, with about twenty-five others, began building operations in that section.
By far the most important result of the coming of the Rio Grande railroad was the founding of South
Pueblo. The Central Colorado Improvement Company,
which was an adjunct of the Rio Grande Railroad Company, had purchased a large tract of land lying directly
south of Pueblo and known as the Nolan Grant. This
was one of the famous Mexican grants, the title to
which was guaranteed the owners by the treaty of 1848.
This grant originally contained some 400,000 acres and
extended six and a half leagues up the Arkansas from
the mouth of the St. Charles river, and south to the
Greenhorn range. In July, 1870, title to 48,000 acres
of this grant was confirmed by Congress, and the Nolan
heirs immediately sold the grant to Charles Goodnight
and others who, in turn, sold it to the Rio Grande.
Under the name of the Central Colorado Improvement
Company, plans were soon begun to place the entire
tract under irrigation and to divide it into small tracts
which were to be sold on easy terms to settlers. A
ditch was surveyed, extending from the western border
of this grant to its extreme eastern limits.
In the month of October, 1872, work was begun
on the first buildings in South Pueblo, and within a
month some fifteen or twenty houses had been erected.
The town, as laid out, began immediately south of the
river and extended far back upon the mesa, the first
buildings being located on the low ground near the
river. A vivid description by an eye-witness is quoted
"Very quietly, almost imperceptably, without any
flourish at the hands of real estate owners or speculators, a new town has sprung into existence on the south
side of the Arkansas, and unheralded and almost unthought of, is moving forward to commercial prosperity with the force and momentum of an avalanche.
A few weeks ago the resident of Santa Fe Avenue found
his vision obstructed only by one or two dwellings on
the other side of the river. He now is surprised to
behold roofs of dwellings and broad, well arranged
streets, while his ears are assailed by the din and clatter
of saws and hammers. The construction of a branch railway to the coal fields of Fremont County was the enterprise which awoke to life
the addition on the south side of the river."
The second chapter in the railroad history of
Southern Colorado opened in September, following the
arrival of the Rio Grande, when the Kansas Pacific,
organized in Colorado as the Arkansas Valley Railway
Company, requested a subscription from Pueblo County to stock in their company to assist in building their
road from the eastern border of the state to Pueblo.
Receiving sufficient encouragement from leading citizens, the Commissioners called a special election to vote
on the question of issuing bonds.
At this juncture there appeared on the scene the
representatives of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe,
acting in this state under the corporate name of the
Kansas and Colorado Railroad Company, and proposed
to build a road to Pueblo and to complete it in much
less time than was promised by the rival road, whereupon there ensued one of the most exciting scenes that
had ever been enacted in the town. The voting population seemed utterly unable for several weeks to determine which of the two roads should receive their support. Wild stories of Santa Fe money being used
freely to purchase favor were circulated throughout
the entire county, much credence being given these
stories by the sudden action of the Commissioners in
postponing the election in behalf of the Kansas Pacific
road and placing the date for the Santa Fe proposition
one week before the Kansas Pacific election. The Santa
Fe proposition was voted upon on January 15, 1873,
and that of the Kansas Pacific on January 22, and
greatly to the surprise of every one, both propositions
carried, thus adding $400,000 in railroad bonds to the
$150,000 already voted.
It should be noted at this point that neither of
these bond issues were ever made, as the Kansas Pacific
road soon became involved in such financial difficulties
that it was utterly unable to make any further extension
of its line and the Santa Fe soon united with the Colorado and New Mexico Railway, the Pueblo and Salt
Lake Railway and the Pueblo Arkansas Valley Railway, and participated in a bond issue of $350,000 which
had been voted in March, 1874, to the Salt Lake road.
By this consolidation of the various competitors for
the Arkansas valley route, the long sought for eastern
road to Pueblo was assured. The new road was completed to Pueblo on February 26, 1876, and formally
opened on March 1st by monster excursions from Denver and points in Kansas.
The Rio Grande road had not anticipated any competition in the region into which its road was to extend,
and it looked upon the Santa Fe as an interloper, but
the latter road soon not only began to plan extensions
that would parallel the Rio Grande, but that would also
control the chief mountain passes of Southern Colorado.
The conflict between these two roads resulted in one of
the most spectacular, and at the same time most disgraceful railroad wars ever witnessed in connection
with the building of American railroads. The Rio
Grande had planned an extension through Raton Pass
and another through the Royal Gorge, but its wily antagonist hastily gathered a force of men and secured
possession of Raton Pass, thus effectually blocking the
former road. In April, 1878, the Santa Fe began grading from Pueblo to Canon City, its intention being to
parallel the road of its enemy to Canon and also to
extend its operations far enough into the Gorge to
prevent the Rio Grande from occupying that important
In some manner the intention of the Santa Fe to
occupy the Royal Gorge became known to the officials
of the Rio Grande, who immediately began to take steps
to prevent it. The Santa Fe, learning that their intentions had become known to their rival and that steps
were being taken to thwart their purpose, immediately
dispatched their chief engineer, William R. Morley, who
was at that moment at La Junta, post haste to procure
a force of men and hold the gorge against the enemy.
Morley secured an engine and made a record breaking
trip to Pueblo, but upon applying to the Rio Grande
for a narrow gauge engine with which to continue his
journey to Canon City, was met with a prompt refusal. This occurred at 3 a. m., at which time Morley
also learned that Palmer was ready to send a force of
one hundred men to the Gorge early that day. Baffled
in his attempt to secure an engine, Morley at once hired
a swift horse and started on a forty-five mile race to
Canon City, hoping to arrive there ahead of Palmer's
A wild race ensued with odds slightly in favor of
Morley, owing to his early start, but just before reaching Canon City his horse fell dead from exhaustion. It
looked now as if the Rio Grande would win, but the
intrepid Morley immediately resumed the race on foot.
He arrived in Canon City where he immediately gathered a force of one hundred fifty men and rushed them
to the mouth of the Gorge, where he awaited the coming
of his disappointed rival.
The Rio Grande apparently defeated on every
hand, and having incurred heavy burdens of debt because of its southern extension, was on the verge of
bankruptcy when announcement was suddenly made
that it had leased its entire system to the Santa Fe.
The details of the lease were rapidly completed and on
December 2, 1878, the Santa Fe took possession under a
thirty year lease. This movement stopped the war but
immediately started another one.
It soon became apparent that the ultimate purpose
of the Santa Fe was to build up the trade of its own
main line from Kansas City, using Pueblo as a center
and the Rio Grande lines as feeders. Since this would
sacrifice the prestige of Denver and seriously cripple
the development of the Rio Grande, a strenuous remonstrance was filed in court. This was followed by
a court order requiring the surrender of all the Rio
Grande property to its owners.
At this juncture both parties flew to arms, the Rio
Grande officials demanding the possession of their
property and the Santa Fe stoutly refusing to surrender. Judge Bowen instructed the sheriffs located
at4;he various points along the Rio Grande, to see that
the order of the court was carried out. At Pueblo
the sheriff telegraphed the governor that an armed
mob had taken possession of the Rio Grande depot and
had refused to surrender. Governor Pitkin refused to
take part in the impending war, and instructed the
sheriff that he must act upon his own discretion. With
a body of deputies the door of the dispatcher's office
was forced. Several shots were fired, but no one was
hurt. A. C. Hunt of the Rio Grande arrived on the
scene about dark with a force of two hundred men, having secured possession of all Rio Grande property between Denver and Pueblo. Hunt proceeded to Canon
City and soon secured possession of the company's
property in that place.
In the meantime the Santa Fe had appealed the
case to the higher court.
The events just narrated occurred on June 11th.
On the 12th of June Judge Hallett reversed the decision
of the lower court, stating that Judge Bowen had erred
in issuing the dispossessing order in favor of the Rio
Grande. He ordered the property restored to the lessee
and suggested that the only recourse of the Rio Grande
was to contest the lease.
It was some time later than this that the suit filed
in the Royal Gorge case was decided in favor of the Rio
Grande. After fighting until their strength was exhausted, these two roads learned the lesson which all
railroads have learned and found so valuable since that
time, namely, that co-operation and not competition
brings the greatest assurance of ultimate success.
It would be interesting to follow the history of the
railroad stock owned by the county and to recount the
various refundings of the county bonds, but space will
permit but a brief statement concerning this matter.
On July 1, 1885, bonds to the extent of $225,000
were refunded at 6%, the original bonds bearing 8%.
Again, on January 1, 1897, a refunding took place, new
bonds to the extent of $350,000 being issued; this included all outstanding indebtedness up to that date.
This issue of 1897 was again refunded at 4% in 1911,
thus saving a large amount annually in interest.
In 1877 the Santa Fe officials approached the County Commissioners and offered to purchase the stock of
the Santa Fe Railroad Company, then being held by the
county to the amount of $350,000, for the cash consideration of $50,000. The commissioners, through the press,
gave notice that unless protests by at least fifty tax
payers were filed with them before a certain date, the
stock would be disposed of at the price stated above.
Some 190 tax payers filed a remonstrance, whereupon
an election was announced by the commissioners for
April 23, to determine what action the people desired
the county officials to take in the matter. So unpopular
did the Santa Fe's proposal become that they requested
the matter to be dropped without permitting it to come
to a vote. Charges and counter charges were freely
made and "fraud" and "swindle" were directed at many
of those concerned in the attempted sale of this stock
at a price far below its real value. Shortly after this
episode the stock was placed on the market, through
Messrs. Ballou and Co., of Boston, and was sold at 63
cents on the dollar, $50,000 worth being sold at par.
Instead of receiving $50,000, as was originally offered
by the Santa Fe, the county received a total of $239,000.
In the course of time there came other railroads to
Pueblo, attracted thither by the ever increasing carrying trade of Southern Colorado, but the history of none
of these contain the romantic elements in such degree
as characterized the early history of the two roads already discussed, nor was their influence upon the development of the Pueblo region as marked as was the
influence of these earlier roads.
With the coming of the railroad to Pueblo, came
also the dimming of the trail. No more would the
wagon train be seen struggling up the dusty valley or
across the treeless plains ; never again would the Indian
have such opportunity for plunder and murder. The old
has passed away a new regime is being ushered in, for
the whistle of the engine resounds down the valley.
CHAPTER VIII. INDUSTRIAL PUEBLO.
One of the most remarkable occurrences of the
nineteenth century was the unprecedented growth of
American cities. At the beginning of that century the
United States had but six cities of 8,000 inhabitants or
more ; in 1880, there were 286 and in 1900 the number
had grown to 545. In 1800, less than four per cent of
our population lived in cities ; at the present time this
percentage has increased to nearly fifty. The fundamental causes of this rapid increase in our urban population the substitution of mechanical for muscular
power, the application of machinery to agriculture, and
the development of railroads are such as promise its
continuance for an unlimited time in the future. The
most vivid imagination can scarcely conjecture what
the present century will bring forth in the way of the
growth of American cities. During the decade from
1900 to 1910, sixty-three cities in the United States of
over 10,000 population, increased more than 100 per
cent in population, while out of more than six hundred
cities of this class but twenty-three showed any decrease during the same period. In view of these facts
it behooves every city in the land, our own included,
to lay broad foundations for the future.
Pueblo presents an interesting case for the study
of the development of cities. In the brief space of one
generation her population has increased from less than
1,000 to more than 50,000. In the fifteen years from
1870, at which time the town was considered as well
established, its increase in population was 1,700 per
cent; the next fifteen years saw an increase of 243
per cent. From 1900 to 1910 the increase was in excess of fifty per cent to be exact, 57.7 per cent, and
it is extremely probable that the present decade will
experience an increase even greater than that of the
previous one. This is a remarkable record when our
attention is called to the fact that this growth has been
attended by but very little of "boom" or "wild-cat"
speculation, such as has characterized the history of so
many of our western cities. In the face of three serious
national panics, Pueblo has forged steadily forward,
never having received a serious set-back during the entire period.
The reason for this unusual record of growth has
its foundation in Pueblo's geographical situation, which
has brought to the city the most substantial industries
and the most complete and efficient transportation
facilities of any city in the entire Rocky Mountain
region. The story of the industrial development of
Pueblo is, indeed, a "tale of two cities" Pueblo proper
and South Pueblo. In fact, modern Pueblo is composed,
not of the union of two cities alone, but of four distinct
municipalities. The present strength of the city is due
in a great measure to this combination of forces.
As has already been shown, Pueblo proper had its
beginning in the spring of 1860, and on the north side
of the Arkansas. South Pueblo was laid out some
twelve years later, its first business houses being located in the bottoms near the bluffs, while the first
residences were erected on the mesa in the vicinity of
what is now known as Mesa Junction. This town on
the south side of the Arkansas was incorporated October 27, 1873.
There was a large tract of land lying between
these two towns which, in a sense, was a sort of "no
man's land." Because of the periodic overflowing of
the river, this tract was first upon one side and then
upon the other of the river. It was largely occupied by
"squatters" in early days, but, as the course of the
river gradually came to be controlled, this land assumed
considerable importance and finally a town, Central
Pueblo, was established and on June 21, 1882, was
On March 20, 1886, by a popular vote of the three
municipalities the union of forces took place. The
town of Bessemer, which was laid out in 1880, was the
child of the present Colorado Fuel and Iron Company.
The town was incorporated in July, 1886, and in March,
1894, Bessemer was annexed to Pueblo.
Pueblo, being situated at the head of one of the
richest agricultural valleys in the state, supplies the
agricultural wants to a vast population in this valley
and also ministers to the wants of one of the most extensive mining districts of the Rocky Mountain region.
In its wider aspects, Pueblo is the trade center, not only
of the entire southern part of the state, but also of New
Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Western Nebraska
and Kansas and the northern parts of Oklahoma and
Texas, comprising a region whose natural resources
have scarcely been touched and the possibilities of
whose industrial development is just beginning to be
The location of Pueblo, in the midst of the greatest
Coal producing section of the West, assures forever her
prestige as a manufacturing center. Of the 1,800
square miles of coal lands in Colorado, the greater
part is adjacent to Pueblo. When we remember that
the city is so situated with reference to these coal
lands, as well as to the sources of all raw materials
produced in the West, that they may all be hauled to
Pueblo on a down grade, we easily see what a profound
influence its location will exert upon its future growth.
If any other proof is needed of the certainty of the
brilliant future in store for Pueblo, it is found in the
fact that it is situated at the gateway of the only
natural passage in the state, from the Mississippi valley to the Pacific coast.
The Honorable William D. Kelly of Pennsylvania,
an expert on the production of pig iron, delivered an
address in Pueblo in 1882, which not only illustrated
his keen insight into the possibilities of Pueblo's location, but also expressed in clear language the basis of
Colorado's greatness. He said in part, "There are three
causes which create great and enduring states. First,
the possession of immense masses of precious metals.
This it was that called together the people of California,
Australia and of Colorado when it was announced that
there was gold at the foot of Pike's Peak. Another,
that some part of the state and some of the cities shall
lie on a great line of inter-state travel, and furnish
points for the exchange of commodities or in plain
language, have facilities for the establishment of commercial centers. My third proposition is that the
possession of the materials for the production of iron
and steel, and adequate fuel and fluxes for working
them, will give prominence and prosperity to a state."
A few days later in Leadville, Mr. Kelly stated : "The
production of iron and steel, and establishment of every
branch of industry dependent upon the production of
these metals, may be established more advantageously
at Pueblo than at any other place I know of on the
face of the globe."
A further advantage enjoyed by Pueblo, because of
her geographical situation, is her most equable climate.
The city is in a latitude low enough to escape many
of the extremes of winter temperature and yet not too
far south to experience the extremes of southern heat.
As these lines are being penned, although it is in the
midst of winter, the city has enjoyed an almost unbroken winter of sunshine and warmth, while during
this same period, the entire northern part of the state
has been in the grip of snow and ice. Comparative
statistics from the Federal weather bureau indicate
that there are few cities whose variation from the
normal in temperature, wind and rain-fall is as slight
as that of Pueblo. Pueblo's climate has been one of
the important factors in the development of its industries; health and comfort go hand in hand with
As has been pointed out in a previous chapter,
Pueblo's growth dates from the coming of the Rio
Grande railroad in 1872. Other roads soon saw the
strategic value of gaining a foothold in this region and,
within slightly more than a decade, three other roads
had pierced this territory, making at the present time
four trunk lines, the Denver and Rio Grande, the Santa
Fe, the Colorado and Southern and the Missouri Pacific
centering in Pueblo. In addition to these there are
other local lines radiating from the city.
This complete railroad system makes possible, not
only the bringing in of raw materials to our factories,
but it also provides a perfect system for their distribution throughout all local territory as well as to all
eastern points. Pueblo has grown to be the largest
railroad center in this western region and receives "a
greater tonnage of freight than is received by any
city between the Missouri river and the Pacific coast.
An army of nearly five thousand men, living in Pueblo,
receive employment from the various railroads entering
the city. Jay Gould once said of Pueblo : "It holds the
key to the railroad situation in the West."
The smelting industry of Pueblo dates from the
year 1880, when Mathers and Geist erected the first
buildings of the plant then known as the Pueblo Smelting and Refining Company, but now known as the
American Smelting and Refining Company. Somewhat
later than this the United States Zinc Company erected
its plant three miles east of the city and established
the suburb of Blende. This plant has the distinction of
being the largest of its kind in the United States. The
two concerns provide employment for more than a
Since the steel industry constitutes the backbone
of Pueblo's prosperity, it is fitting that more attention
be paid to it than to other industries of the city. The
development of the stuponduous industry of steel production has been so sudden and so spectacular as to
fairly daze the intellect of him who attempts to grasp
its significance. Fifty years ago the steel industry, as
it is known at present, was not even dreamed of. "If
this unparalleled development had been the result of
centuries, it would still be wonderful enough; but it is
practically the result of one generation's sowing. There
is not a chapter of ancient history in the Story of Steel.
Any one who visits the little Pennsylvania town of
Bethlehem may still see John Fritz, who might almost
be called the father of the steel mill. In Louisville still
lives the little white-haired old lady, the wife of William
Kelly, the original inventor of what is called Bessemer
The story of William Kelly, the Irish inventor of
our present Bessemer process of steel manufacture, is
the same old story of intermittent success and failure,
disappointment, bankruptcy, humiliation and final victory, that has attended the development of many of
our most important industries. Interesting though
the story of steel may be, we must omit that part of it
which does not have a direct bearing upon the development of that industry in the city of Pueblo.
The history of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company reads like a romance. The battle between John W.
Gates and J. C. Osgood, father of the institution, and
the victory of the latter, the titanic struggle between
Osgood and E. W. Harriman, a second victory for Osgood, but at a terrible cost, are stories that have never
yet become a part of written history. Osgood, being
in desperate straits during the attack of Harriman, received two deliverers with open arms, but, like the
Briton of old, these two men, John D. Rockefeller, Jr.,
and George J. Gould, whose assistance he had asked,
proved to be his Hengest and Horsa, for, although he
succeeded with their assistance in defeating his antagonist, he no sooner threw himself free from his grip
than he found himself overshadowed by his allies, to
whose influence he was obliged to succumb.
The present Colorado Fuel and Iron Company had
its beginning on January 23, 1880, and was organized
by the same forces that brought the Denver and Rio
Grande railroad to Pueblo. Foremost among this
group of men were General William J. Palmer, Robert
M. Lamborn and William A. Bell. Three small concerns, The Central Colorado Improvement Company,
The Southern Colorado Coal and Town Company and
The Colorado Coal and Steel Works Company, were
united on the date above mentioned to form the Colorado Coal and Iron Company, with more coal than iron.
A. H. Danforth supervised the making of the first
iron at this place. Work on the plant was commenced
in February, 1880, although no iron or steel were manufactured until the next year, the first furnace being
blown on September 9, 1881. "The foundry and the
machine, carpenter and pattern shops were the only
other structures then standing on the site of the now
Minnequa Works, which was at that time far out on a
desolate cactus-strewn waste, over two miles from any
well settled part of Pueblo. April 7, 1882, the first
steel was made in the converter. About this time, the
Colorado Coal and Iron Company started to build the
puddling mill and nail mills."
In the year 1892, a further consolidation of companies was effected, the result of which was the organization of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company,
with J. C. Osgood at its head. Osgood was an unusual
man, and the early success of the new company was due
in a great measure to his rare ability. His keenness in
judging men made it possible for him to surround himself by a coterie of business and political advisors of
unusual merit. The success of this new company soon
drew the attention of eastern capitalists and precipitated the fight to which reference has already been
made, and which resulted in the resignation of Osgood.
No blame seems to attach to any one for Osgood's retirement ; he simply became overshadowed by his partners and preferred oblivion to a position of dependence.
In resigning he declared that he refused to be a "hired
man, no matter who his employer might he."
Grave doubt existed in the minds of eastern steel
men as to the possibility of making steel rails in Colorado ; Osgood's answer to his doubters was the sale of
an order of rails to the Santa Fe Railroad on condition
that they be laid in Joliet, in front of the plant of the
Illinois Steel Company.
Osgood had selected, as his business associates,
three personal friends, Julian A. Kebler, Alfred C.
Cass and John L. Jerome. These men, known as the
"big four," controlled the destiny of the company for
a decade, but upon Osgood's retirement, his three
friends and business associates all died within a brief
space of five months.
While Osgood's management of the company had
been along broad and constructive lines, a serious
handicap had been experienced on account of a lack of
funds, but with the change of ownership came the unlimited backing of the Gould and Rockefeller millions.
Under this new management, therefore, the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company began a period of expansion which has made of Pueblo the real "work-shop
of the west," and the end is not yet, for with the unlimited resources of this western region and the ever
increasing demand for iron and steel products, this
industry will continue to exert a most important influence upon the future development of the city. This
company now employs more than six thousand men at
the Pueblo plant, and maintains a pay-roll of more than
a half million dollars a month, to say nothing of the
vast army of men employed in its coal and iron mines
throughout the Rocky Mountain region.
Pueblo possesses fifty or more smaller manufacturing concerns which provide regular employment for
more than a thousand men throughout the year. Two
of these establishments deserve more than passing
notice. The saddle industry in Pueblo has been brought
to such a high state of perfection as to attract attention in foreign countries. Pueblo saddles are being
shipped throughout various parts of the world. The
other industry to which reference should be made is
that of the manufacture of tents. Pueblo tents not only
reach every part of the United States, but a regular
trade has been established with the United States Government, Mexico and Canada. The Northwest Mounted
Police of Canada are supplied with Pueblo made tents.
The total pay-roll of Pueblo amounts to more than a
million dollars a month.
Pueblo is the third largest city in a vast region
comprising nearly 900,000 square miles, being surpassed in population only by Denver and Salt Lake
City. It is already the greatest railroad center as well
as the manufacturing center of this region, and is
destined to become the metropolis in point of population as well as in its industrial strength. The reasons
for this view are, briefly, as follows :
resent metropolis of the Rocky Mountain
region gained its prestige through the creation of a
temporary and wholly artificial situation in the northern part of the state. It is shut from the Pacific coast
by a solid wall of granite more than two hundred miles
in extent, and for this reason is most awkwardly situated, geographically, to be able to maintain its leadership indefinitely. When the 900,000 square miles of
territory, comprising the Rocky Mountain region,
reach a more complete state of development, all artificial barriers will be swept away and natural trade
laws will assert themselves. When this time arrives it
will be seen that, of the three leading cities of the Rocky
Mountain region, Pueblo alone has the proper location
and other facilities to give her the industrial leadership
of this vast area.
It is scarcely probable that the present generation
will live to see the fulfillment of this prophecy, although
on our western coast events far more improbable have
transpired within the span of one generation. It is
also true that New York City was obliged to wait for
mote than a century to be recognized as the metropolis
of the United States, and after it had been in existence
175 years its population was but 33,000. Yet there is
no one now, who cannot easily point out the forces
which made New York City the metropolis of the nation.
In like manner it may require a wait of many generations to bring about the readjustment of industrial
conditions in the West along natural lines. Artificial
conditions may cause a temporary suspension of the
laws of nature, but it should be remembered that in the
end the laws of evolution are inflexible in trade development as well as in other kinds of growth.
Pueblo is just entering a period of greater growth
than it has enjoyed at any time during the present
century. It is probable that the next fifteen years will
see its population reach the one hundred thousand
mark, and what the century may bring forth, in the
way of increased population, no one can guess.
It has been pointed out by Casson, as well as by
McCrary, that Pueblo's location is unique for beauty.
Casson writes as follows : "Of all the iron cities of the
world, Pueblo has the most picturesque location. It
stands three-quarters of a mile above the level of the
sea, at the foot of the red crags of the Rockies. Its
smoke is blown against the hoary head of Pike's Peak,
fifty miles northward. To the east stretch a thousand
miles of level field and mesa, across which come five
busy railroads." From McCrary's report we read that,
"Pueblo's site is a picturesque one at the junction of
the Arkansas and Fountain rivers. Unlike most cities
of the plain, the face of the earth here has a good many
bumps, which prevent monotony through the city, and
which are at once the city's great assets for beauty."
A definite opportunity presents itself to Pueblo, on
the eve of its greater development, for laying the foundations of a great city along modern lines. It has been
a cause for keen disappointment to those now occupying
our large cities that the past generation failed to plan
definitely for the greater growth of these cities, as well
as to regulate and direct their development along lines
that would result in a higher degree of civic beauty as
well as greater comfort to those now occupying them.
Pueblo must not make this mistake. The present generation faces the opportunity now, of inaugurating a
system of civic improvements in this city which will
not only attract people from all over the country, but
will also cause future generations to "rise up and call
CHAPTER IX. PUBLIC EDUCATION IN PUEBLO.
When one views the progress made by our American public schools in the last fifty years, he stands
amazed that an institution of such magnitude and
possessing such a high degree of efficiency could be
developed in so brief a time. True, the origin of our
free public schools dates farther back than fifty years
ago, but it is equally true that it has been much less
than fifty years since our free schools seriously set
themselves at the task of educating the public.
If any one should have prophesied, at the close of
the Civil War, that in fifty years every city of three
thousand or more inhabitants in the United States
would have a college which every young person in the
community might attend without cost, he would have
been declared insane, but this is exactly what has transpired. Today, every young person in this broad land,
who lives in a city large enough to support a modern
high school, has an opportunity to secure an education
equal to that offered by the colleges of fifty years ago.
Such historic institutions as Harvard, Princeton and
Yale, whose work has always been above high school
grade, should be excepted from this comparison.
In this brief space of time an equal advance has
been made in elementary schools. Fifty years ago
it was assumed that any one was qualified to
teach in elementary grade. It was quite the custom to give the school, which was usually conducted
for three or four months during the winter, to most
any needy person in the community the chief requirement being that he be needy. Less than a quarter of
a century ago the writer taught in a middle western
state with an education equal to not more than that
offered in a sixth grade at the present time. How different do we find the situation today, when practically
every youth in this great nation is under the instruction
of a trained teacher, selected because of his special
qualifications for educational work.
In other features of educational work the progress
has been equally marked; this is particularly true of
two features, namely the equipment of school buildings
and the wide range of subjects taught. When we add
to this the movement of our state universities in bringing a real university to the various sections of the
country, the statement, made in the opening sentence
of this chapter, is justified, that one "stands amazed"
at the magnitude and high degree of efficiency of our
system of public schools.
The history of the development of the public
schools of Pueblo, were it to be written, would contain
all that is remarkable and wonderful in the development of our American public schools at large. Beginning in a one-room cabin of small dimensions, there
have been developed in the city of Pueblo, within one
generation, two of the most efficient school systems to
be found anywhere in the West. A few persons are yet
living in Pueblo who have witnessed the evolution of
our schools from their embryonic stage back in the
early sixties. These schools represent the flower of
which the little cabin on Santa Fe Avenue was the seed.
In every American community there has been a
definite order in which its institutions have been established ; first the general store and the lodging house,
and after these the school and the church, established
either simultaneously or one at a time, in the order
named. This chapter makes no pretense of giving a
complete history of the Pueblo schools, but is rather a
record of their early development.
One of the first legal acts of our board of county
commissioners, at their first meeting, held on February
17, 1862, was the levying of a tax of one-half mill for
school purposes. The income derived from a half-mill
tax in Pueblo county at that time was very small
too small in fact to make possible the opening of a
school without other assistance. The first school building which was erected, therefore, was paid for largely
by private subscriptions.
This building was completed and ready for use in
the fall of 1863. Its location was on Santa Fe Avenue,
about where the rear end of the building at 421 North
Santa Fe now stands. It is stated, by one who attended
school in this building, that it was a frame structure
about sixteen by twenty feet. This diminutive building
served the community for all school purposes until the
erection, in the year 1869, of the "Adobe School," at
Eleventh and Court streets. Two members of the first
board of education were Jack Thomas and Captain
Wetmore; the name of the third has been lost in the
hazy mists of the past.
The person having the distinction of being the
first school teacher in Pueblo, was George Bilby. Mr.
Bilby came to Colorado in the late fifties and was, by
occupation, a miner, having taken an active part in the
California Gulch excitement in 1860. He spent practically all of his life in Pueblo county, being at one time
under sheriff and again, city marshal. Mr. Bilby has
a son, George F. Bilby, and two daughters, Mrs. Ollie
Stewart and Mrs. Clara Barr, who still reside in
Among those who attended school in this first
building, the following are still living in Pueblo:
M. Scott Chilcott, P. T. Dotson, Jeff Steel and H. E.
Steel. Some interesting and exciting accounts are
given by Mr. Bilby's "scholars" of their teacher's ability in wielding the rod. There is a rumor also to the
effect that some of his pupils objected so strenuously
to his castigations that certain articles of school furniture were badly demolished e'er the question of
mastery was settled.
The summer of 1864 was an interesting one for
the school. Miss Clara Weston, a sister of Eugene
Weston for many years a resident of Pueblo, was
employed to teach a summer term. She, with her sister,
lived at the home of A. A. Bradford, on the east side
of the Fountain river. Miss Weston adopted a method
of crossing the river which, to present day members
of her profession, would be pronounced at least unique.
For four months this young teacher removed her shoes
and waded that stream twice a day in going to and
from school. Since there was no bridge, the only other
method was to cross on horse back, but in true pioneer
style Miss Weston resorted to the primitive method.
During this summer, the school was closed for
several weeks, owing to a threatened attack by the Indians. At this time practically every woman from
Beaver creek on the west, to a point twenty-five miles
below Pueblo, was crowded into the stockade built for
the defense of the populace. A serious salt famine occurred at this juncture, the situation finally being
relieved by securing a quantity of this indispensable
article, the price paid being a dollar a pound.
Miss Weston, now Mrs. McCannon, is still living,
her home being in Denver. Among others who taught
in the old building were George Peck and E. A. Jamison.
It was during this early period that some of the
more serious difficulties of the district occurred. A
county superintendent absconded with school funds to
the amount of $652.97, which amount was collected
from his bondsmen, N. Paquin and G. M. Chilcott.
In 1866, C. H. Kirkbride filed his bond with the
county commissioners as the first county superintendent of schools, and in that same year School District
Number One was organized. It should be remembered
that it was several years after the organizing of the
first school before it became necessary to extend the
school system beyond the settlement at Pueblo. The
income from the school tax continued small. We note
from the county records in 1868 that the tax levy for
school purposes was five mills, and that it yielded an
income of $2,043.78. If we assume that the assessed
valuation of property in 1862 was as great as in 1868,
we see that the first school tax levied would have
yielded an income of barely more than $200. It was
not probable that the valuation at this earlier date
would have been half as great as in 1868, hence the
income with which to inaugurate the school system of
Pueblo in 1863 amounted to the munificent sum of $100
The school report, which is given below, tells more
of the early school on Santa Fe Avenue than it would
be possible to give in an entire page of description:
"Report for the week ending Friday, December, 18, 1868.
The following were constant and punctual in attendance at school for the week ending, Friday, Dec.
Average daily attendance 39
E. A. JAMISON, Teacher."*
By the year 1869 the school population had increased to such extent as to require the erection of a
larger school building. Accordingly, a site was purchased at Eleventh and Court streets upon which the
adobe building was erected and for twenty years it
occupied the south-east corner of the block upon which
the Centennial building now stands. Before the erection of this building the old Methodist church, which
still stands at the corner of Seventh and Main streets,
had been rented for school purposes, the board paying
$15 a month for its use. This school building was completed in March, 1871.
The complete itemized report of the erection of this
building was published by the school board in the Chieftain under the date of April 30, 1871, and contains
items of sufficient interest to warrant its publication in
full. The report is as follows :
Amount paid for south half of Block 20, $100 ;
deed $3 $ 103.00
P. Craig's bill, stone for foundation 180.00
Do. sand, etc 15.75
Lewis Conley, plan for house 25.00
Mariana Gormez, making adobes 207.00
R. N. Daniels, lime 35.00
G. B. Schidmore, lime 15.30
Z. G. Allen, laying foundation and walls 540.00
Do., material furnished 28.25
M. Huese, hauling sand 8.00
Eichbaum & Co., for water 8.80
Gomer, for lumber 885.53
Ferd. Barndollar & Co., lumber 190.00
Thomas Owen, carpenter's bill 875.00
Thatcher Bros., material furnished 102.28
Jacob Schipper, painting and glazing 60.00
William Edmundson, plastering 218.39
Steinberger & Co., paints and oils 18.80
H. E. A. Pickard, brick for chimney 6.30
Stove for school house 30.00
E. M. Smith, for building privy 28.50
Do., leveling yard, etc 16.00
Benches and fasteners for windows 11.75
Bal. Due $963.30
This building consisted of two rooms and stood
facing east. In striking contrast to the more modern
and expensive furnishings of school rooms, is the item
referring to the expense for benches for a two-room
The item of $8.80 for water will recall to the
minds of pioneers, Pueblo's water system prior to 1874.
All family and other regular consumers of water were
provided with barrels for receiving water from the
water wagon, which made regular daily trips much the
same as our milk wagons do at the present time. The
water was taken directly from the Arkansas river with
perfect fearlessness for, as some one has remarked,
"there were no germs in those days."
The board of education, under whose direction this
building was erected, was composed of M. G. Bradford,
P. Craig and C. G. Allen. Among other members of
the various boards of education during the early period,
the following names have been handed down: L. R.
Graves, H. C. Thatcher, D. Sheets, Eugene Weston and
Charles Peck. The early teachers in this building
were Mrs. E. S. Owen, Mrs. S. J. Patterson, Mrs. William Ingersoll, Miss Hillock and Miss Lottie Meyer.
The salaries for teachers in those days ranged from
$75 to $80 a month.
No sooner had this building been completed, than
additional quarters were required to house the increasing school population, a building on Main Street being
rented for this purpose. This adobe building continued
to serve as a part of the growing school system of District Number One until 1889, when it was torn down.
The next step in the development of Pueblo's
schools was the organization of District Number
Twenty, in South Pueblo. This new town, which was
laid out in the autumn of 1872, was growing with
great rapidity and immediate steps were taken to erect
a school building. It was largely through the activity
of Alva Adams, now one of our honored ex-governors,
that this new district was organized.
The first school building was erected in 1873 on
South Union Avenue, on the top of the bluff directly
north of the McClelland Library. It was demolished
and removed only a few months ago to make room for a
gravel pit. The first teacher in District Twenty was
Mrs. William Ingersoll, known at that time as Miss Lou
Stout. This building being located on the bluff, was
difficult to approach. Mrs. Ingersoll recounts many a
scramble in stormy weather to reach the heights upon
which South Pueblo's educational center was situated.
Following Mrs. Ingersoll came Theodore F. Johnson,
now Dr. Johnson of California, who was a boyhood
friend of ex-Governor Adams, and who came to Pueblo
at the latter's invitation.
This building served the needs of the district until
1882, at which time a new building, the Central, was
erected. This was South Pueblo's first high school, and
was opened in 1883, with C. W. Parkinson as principal.
The next year, Mr. Parkinson was elected the first superintendent of schools of South Pueblo. In addition
to Mr. Parkinson, the following persons have served
as superintendents in the past thirty-three years : F. B.
Gault, P. W. Search, H. E. Bobbins and J. F. Keating
who for almost a quarter of a century has superintended the educational interests of District Number Twenty,
and has brought the schools of this district to their
present high state of efficiency.
The first class graduated from Central High School
in 1886. Many members of this class of '86 are well known residents of Pueblo. The class was composed
of the following persons : Grace Guernsey, Ralph Jones,
Clara McCann, Alice McDonald, Charles McVay, Harlan Smith, Mable Stonaker, Nannie Walker and Frank
A fact which is well worth recording in connection
with the development of the schools of District Number
Twenty and which illustrates the progressive spirit
which has always dominated the board of education of
that district, relates to the introduction of manual
training into the schools. In 1889, this course was
established in the Central building, District Number
Twenty being the first school district west of the
Missouri river to introduce manual training as a part
of the curriculum, with the exception of the city
of Omaha, where it was introduced at the same
time as in Pueblo. Two of the wood lathes forming a part of this original equipment are still in a
good state of repair and are being used in the manual
training department in the new Central High School.
Another fact worthy of mention concerns the tenure of
office of two members of the board of education of this
district W. L. Graham recently resigned from the
board with a record of twenty-four years of continuous
service, while Dr. R. W. Corwin will have served continuously for a somewhat longer period upon the completion of his present term of office.
The story of the erection of the Centennial building in District Number One is of more than ordinary
interest. In 1874, the question of a new school building
was brought before the people, in the form of a proposal to issue $30,000 in bonds for the purpose of
erecting a modern school building. It should be remembered that at this time the town was experiencing
a rapid growth, owing to the recent coming of the Rio
Grande railroad. For some time prior to this date a
building on Main Street had been rented for school
The bonds were voted by the district and were sold
at twenty per cent below par. The board of education
was composed of Judge Wilbur F. Stone, Col. I. W.
Stanton and Sam McBride. The building was well
on the way to completion when the board was suddenly apprised of the fact that their treasurer, Sam
McBride, had absconded with more than $14,000 of
money belonging to the district.
This was a serious blow to the enterprise which
had been undertaken by the community, and it was
only through the heroic efforts of the board of education that it was made possible to complete the building.
Bills were falling due, labor must be paid for, and still
more bills must be incurred in the completion of the
building. In the face of all this, the treasury was
empty. The difficulty was finally bridged over by
issuing interest-bearing warrants, payable in one, two
and three years. In this manner the building was completed in 1876 and was named Centennial.
The district was unable to collect from the bondsmen of the absconding treasurer because of some technical flaw in the bond, the entire loss to the district being $14,392.32.
The Centennial building was built of brick and
contained eight rooms. It was looked upon as the most
up-to-date school building in the state. School was
opened in this building in the autumn of 1876, with
Isaac Dennitt as superintendent of schools and principal of the new building. Mr. Dennitt served as
superintendent until 1879, when he accepted a position
at the state university. Mr. Dennitt was succeeded by
J. S. McClung, who has had a remarkable career as city
superintendent, serving for a period of twenty-six
years continuously, with the exception of a few months
in 1887, during which time Judge J. H. Voorhees acted
as superintendent. During Mr. McClung's administration of twenty-six years, the foundation of a broad
educational system was laid, and when in 1905 this energetic superintendent passed on the reins of government to his successor, no more efficient system of
schools could be found anywhere in the West than the
schools of District Number One. The following persons
have held the office of superintendent since that time:
George W. Loomis, Milton C. Potter and Frank D.
Slutz, the present superintendent.
In 1878, the school census showed 449 children of
school age within the district, the appropriation for
school purposes being $2,126.26. East Pueblo comprised what was known as District Number Nineteen,
but in 1879 this district was added to District Number
One, thus increasing the school population to 720. The
amount expended for teachers' salaries in 1880 was
$675 a month. This amount seems insignificant when
compared with the monthly budget for the same purpose at the present time.
In June, 1884, occurred the first graduation from
Centennial High School. The Chieftain of that date
published a full account of this first graduation exercise ever held in the city. This was back in the time
when custom required each graduate to deliver an oration. Many of the names of the members of this class
are familiar to a vast number of Puebloans at the
present day. Following is a list of the graduates, with
the subject chosen for the commencement oration:
Loren M. Hart, "Growth"; Geniveve Hinsdale,
'Germs"; Nellie Corkish, "Old Wine in New Bottles";
John W. Collins, "The Coveted Goal"; Ella Hart, "Nota
Bene", (Mark Well) ; Ella Shepard, "The Marble Waiteth" ; Rebecca Nathan, "Dangers of the Republic."
The exercises were held at the First Baptist
Church, the address to the graduating class being delivered by Judge Wilbur F. Stone, who was then living
in Denver. During the course of his remarks he announced that he would offer a prize of ten dollars for
the best poem written by a student of Centennial.
District Number One, like her neighboring district
beyond the river, has been extremely fortunate in the
selection of her superintendents, there having been but
five different persons appointed to this office during a
period of more than forty years.
The public schools of Pueblo are today looked upon
by impartial educators as standing for all that is sound
and at the same time progressive in the educational
world. The only step required to place them in the fore
front as the leader in public education in the entire
Rocky Mountain region, is the union of the two districts.
CHAPTER X. AROUND THE CAMP-FIRE.
One who chronicles the leading events of a people,
a state, or a nation, is said to have written their history.
Those who have read the chronicle of these events believe that they are acquainted with the people whose
history they have read. This is far from the truth. To
know a people it is necessary to brush elbows with them
off the stage behind scenes between the acts. The
real life of a people is composed not of events, but of
An attempt is made in this chapter to record a few
of the many incidents which gave color to a life that
would have been dreary and colorless without them.
The most interesting and important of these incidents
occurred in the struggle of those orderly and peace loving pioneers to establish good government. The
West had more than its share of "undesirable citizens"
especially of that class who were obliged to seek a
change of climate "for their health." It was the presence of this class of refugees that made the problem of
government a serious one. Those organizations known
as "peoples' courts" and "miners' courts," which sprang
up in every frontier settlement, administered justice
with a strong arm, and being unhampered by any legal
technicalities, made the miscarriage of justice almost
impossible. The only escape of the wrong-doer lay
either in flight or fight, for if he was once apprehended
his fate was sealed. It sometimes occurred that a
desperado of the Charley Dodge type, whom we shall
describe presently, would be successful in holding the
entire forces of law and order at bay for quite an extended period.
The penalties of these "courts" were few in number
but were inflicted without mercy. For serious crimes,
such as horse stealing or highway robbery, the penalty
was death, while for crimes of a less serious nature
the culprit was often banished from the settlement
and forbidden to return on pain of death. These
"courts" administered justice in their crude way in our
frontier towns for quite an extended period in many
sections before the regular governmental machinery
could be put into operation. There were no "palatial
halls of justice," in those days, the court more often
convening on a street corner or in a saloon. One of the
most serious cases ever handled by a "people's court"
had its hearing in the back yard of a hotel, with the
chief actors sitting upon the wood-pile.
One feature of these "courts" which distinguished
them from regular tribunals of justice was that men
were permitted in a great measure to settle their own
disputes and difficulties with their fellows. If in the
course of settling a controversy it became necessary
for one person to shoot the other, no action was taken
by the "court," provided public opinion justified the act,
hence every man was in a large measure the defender
of his own rights.
A BATTLE WITH "MISSOURIANS."
One of the first incidents in this region that resulted in bloodshed occurred in the fall of 1859. The
Settlers of Fountain City had raised their first crop of
corn and were in high spirits over the prospects of its
sale at a price ranging from $6 to $8 a bushel, when
one evening there appeared in the town a group of Missourians on their return journey from the Cherry creek
region. Being disappointed because of their failure to
make a stake in the gold region, they were in just the
proper mood for trouble. Noticing the fine corn field
nearby they immediately unyoked their twelve hungry
oxen and turned them into the corn field, refusing to
give any heed to the remonstrances of the owners. The
settlers, being unable to prevail upon the ruffians to
desist, gave fair warning to them and then opened fire.
A lively battle ensued in which several of the
Missourians were killed. The oxen were finally rounded
up and driven into a corral by the irate citizens, where
they were held until ample damages were paid for
destruction to their crop. The defeated Missourians
were allowed to remain over night, being kept under
heavy guard and the next morning were piloted out
around the base of old "Sugar Loaf" hill and sent down
the trail, a wiser but sadder group of men.
THE DOINGS OF CHARLIE DODGE.
One of the most noted desperados of the Pueblo
region was Charlie Dodge. Charlie "was small of
stature touch as gentle as a woman's, of pleasing address, an eye which seemed to penetrate in all directions
at once. He could never be caught off his guard. True
to his friends, he observed his word with a sacred regard, but when he made up his mind to kill, the deed
was performed without compunction of conscience. He
killed no less than three men in Pueblo." His first
exploit occurred while returning from California Gulch.
Charlie and his "pal," on their way to Pueblo,
overtook a miner who was returning to the states with
a fortune in gold dust which he had made in the mines.
Although the man was well armed, he was captured and
hanged and his fortune confiscated by the two desperadoes. His dead body was then cut down and
dragged by a lariat a quarter of a mile down the river,
where it was thrown into a ditch and covered with a
small amount of dirt, the toes of his boots being visible
to passers-by throughout the winter.
Charlie soon arrived in Pueblo, where he shot the
Mexican marshal named Taos on account of a fancied
insult. He soon jumped a claim at the old Goldsmith
ranch just east of Pueblo, then owned by a man named
Fred Lentz. Dodge sold the claim to a third party,
whereupon Lentz laid the matter before the People's
Court at Pueblo. Returning from town on this day,
Lentz was met by Dodge and Bercaw, his associate.
Dodge immediately opened fire upon Lentz, shooting
him five times in the back, although Lentz had thrown
up his hands and surrendered. As Lentz's friends
raised his head from the pool of blood in which he was
lying, he looked at Dodge and said, "Charlie I call this
taking advantage of a man." Dodge merely replied,
"Oh well, never mind. Die like a man." In a few moments Lentz was dead.
Dodge and Bercaw gave themselves up, but in this
instance the People's Court was unable to measure up
to the occasion. The two men stood trial with their
six-shooters on their laps. When a vote on the fate of
the prisoners was called for not one person was found
willing to risk his life by voting "guilty." Thus, "six-shooter logic" dominated over justice. The grand jury
later indicted Dodge for this crime, but no one could
be found who would attempt to arrest him. Dodge
moved westward to escape the advance of civilization.
He finally died of smallpox at Fort Hall, Washington.
"TEX AND COE."
A settler living up the Fountain river had three
fine horses stolen. He secured the services of Templeton,
the noted trailer and thief hunter, and these two after
trailing the thieves almost to Pueblo, lost the trail. Coming on into town they learned that during the night two
men had attempted to force their way across the Toll
Bridge over the Arkansas. They were halted, however,
and compelled by the vigilant owner to pay the usual
toll before being allowed to proceed. Templeton feeling
sure that these were the men for whom they were
searching, immediately took up the trail and after riding for several hours in a southerly direction overtook
the two men with the stolen horses. The men begged
piteously to be allowed to go on their way by surrendering the horses, but in spite of their plea they
were handcuffed and compelled to return with their
On account of the lateness of the hour when they
arrived in Pueblo, they secured permission to lodge
their prisoners in the town jail. About eleven o'clock
that night the two men appeared and asked possession
of their prisoners, saying that they had decided to continue their journey during the night as it would be
cooler. The prisoners were turned over to them as
requested and the quartet disappeared. The next morning the inhabitants of Pueblo were horrified to discover
the bodies of the two thieves hanging to a telegraph
pole not far from the jail.
It was learned that these two men were the noted
desperadoes "Tex" and "Coe," who had been operating
in Southern Colorado for an extended period prior to
One of the interesting characters of the Pueblo
region in early times was Juan Trujillo, who, because
of his diminutive stature, was called Chiquito, meaning
"small." Juan was a Mexican of unsavory reputation
and had lived in the vicinity of Fountain City long before any Americans had taken up their abode in that
place. He was described to the writer by an old
freighter, who first knew Chiquito in the fall of 1859.
The old Mexican was at this time in temporary retirement, because of a wound which he had received in an
encounter over some horses which he had stolen. He
was dark of skin and of sullen disposition and was
looked upon as an outlaw by those who knew him.
Juan Chiquito gained fame and the everlasting admiration of the more gallant of the populace of Fountain City by an incident in which he was the chief actor.
It seems that he had been attracted by a young damsel
living at the Mexican settlement at Doyle's ranch on
the Huerfano, and not being received kindly by her
parents, had been in the habit of meeting her in a
clandestine manner. It was finally agreed by these
two lovers that Juan should meet her at a certain time
at an appointed spot and would bear her away on his
pony to his adobe hut on the Fountain.
Their plans were consummated according to schedule, but the eloping lovers were no sooner on their way
than their purpose was discovered and the irate father,
with a group of his Mexican friends, was soon in hot
pursuit. In spite of the determined pursuit by the
father, this young Lochinvar succeeded in eluding him
and in a few hours arrived safely at Fountain City with
his bride. But his troubles had just begun. The determined parent, with a large band of armed Mexicans,
soon arrived and demanded the surrender of his stolen
daughter. Juan, in true knightly style, refused to give
up his treasure and barricading his door, prepared to
give battle. His enemies immediately opened fire upon
his adobe hut, but they might as well have aimed their
guns in the air or against the side of "Old Sugar Loaf
hill nearby. The party soon learned that it required
much heavier artillery than they possessed to have any
effect on the adobe walls which surrounded the object
of their attack.
But the valiant Chiquito, using the one small window as a loophole, struck terror in the ranks of his
enemy. All day long the battle raged, but the wary
Juan did not give his enemies any opportunity to do
effective work with their bullets and finally, being
wearied with the uselessness of continuing the battle,
they withdrew, deeply chagrined at their failure.
THE ESPINOSA BROTHERS.
In the spring of 1863 there occurred a series of cold
blooded murders, so shrouded in mystery that the entire
populace of the upper Arkansas was terror stricken. In
the brief space of a few weeks more than twenty of
these mysterious murders were committed, and in no
case could any clue as to the whereabouts of the murderers or reasons for their actions be discovered.
The first murder that occurred was of a soldier at
Conejos, the next on the Hardscrabble, just above
Pueblo, when an old man was murdered and robbed.
They next appeared in Park County, where they murdered two persons, Brinkley and Shoup. In quick succession the bodies of murdered men were found in various parts of the region extending from Canon City to
the Little Fountain near Colorado City. Upon the find-
ing of the dead bodies of two prominent citizens of
California Gulch, a call was made for volunteers, and
a determined campaign was inaugurated for the purpose of running down the murderers. After forced
marches, night and day, in which the volunteers
scoured every nook and corner of the entire region in
the vicinity of California Gulch, they came suddenly
upon two horses tied in a secluded spot. Being sure
that they had followed a continuous trail from the place
where the murdered men had been found they immediately surrounded the spot and orders were given to
shoot the murderers on sight. Soon a man appeared,
moving cautiously towards the horses. Just as he
stooped to remove the hobbles from one of the horses
the posse opened fire upon him. Although wounded at
the first fire, the murderer dropped upon his knee and
prepared to give battle, but before he could fire he was
struck squarely between the eyes and instantly killed.
The other murderer appeared, but, before a shot could
be fired threw himself over a precipitous bank into a
ravine and was lost to sight.
In their camp were found articles belonging to
twelve of the men whom they had murdered, and also a
diary which showed that the total number of murders
up to that time was twenty-three. This diary also indicated that the two men, Espinosa by name, were
fanatics bent on revenge for some fancied wrong.
The Espinosa that escaped made his way into the
San Luis valley, where he engaged a relative to assist
him in the continuance of his murderous career. Their
lives were brought to a sudden end, however by Tom
Tobin and a squad of soldiers, who tracked them into a
canon and killed them both.
STOCK THIEVES OF SOUTHERN COLORADO.
During the sixties the southern part of the state
was infested by a gang of stock thieves who for a long
while defied capture. Very few of the stolen animals
were ever recovered, such an efficient organization being maintained, extending from California Gulch
through Canon City, Pueblo and Trinidad and on to
Taos, that the thieves and their booty were safe from
One of these had its headquarters on the Dry
Cimmaron and operated in Southern Colorado and New
Mexico under the leadership of William Coe. In the
spring of 1868 a flock of 3,000 sheep was found in their
possession stolen from New Mexico. The gang was
arrested by a sheriff from Trinidad and sent to Fort
Lyon for safe keeping. Within two weeks they had all
escaped, but five of them with their leader were subsequently recaptured and turned over to the authorities
at Pueblo. Shortly after being incarcerated in the
Pueblo jail a squad of "soldiers" forcibly took the leader of the gang from the jail and hanged him. This
drastic action effectually broke up the gang.
THE KNIGHTS OF THE GOLDEN CIRCLE.
At the beginning of the war for the Union there
was grave doubt upon which side the influence of Colorado would be thrown. In the Arkansas valley region
fully one-half of the population sympathized with the
South. Arms, ammunition and other supplies were
gathered from various sections of this region and
secretly passed on to the South for use in the Secessionist army. The Knights of the Golden Circle maintained
an organization near Pueblo, where considerable activity was shown during the early part of the war.
On July 4, 1862, an armed clash between the two
factions in Pueblo was barely averted. The circumstances were as follows: A grand barbeque was being
held, the settlers from the entire Pueblo region being
in attendance. An arbor of boughs, nearly two hundred feet long, had been built on the bluff facing Santa
Fe avenue. Under this arbor the tables, groaning
with luxuries, had been spread for the feast. All went
well until it was suggested that, as this was the Nation's birthday, the Stars and Stripes should be displayed. The Southern sympathizers objected to this
and declared that if any flag was to be displayed it
should be the Stars and Bars. The noted Jack Allen
had been busy throughout the morning dispensing his
famous "Taos lightning," until a great number of both
factions were ready for trouble in fact were anxious
for it. Every man, who had a gun or could procure
one stood ready to participate in the impending conflict This strained situation lasted for several hours,
without any shots being fired, however. Finally saner
council prevailed and the conflict was averted but not
until the Stars and Stripes had been raised.
"ZAN" HICKLIN AND MACE'S HOLE.
Lying some thirty miles southwest of Pueblo is
the beautiful valley in which the town of Beulah is
situated. The early trappers of this region designated
it by the somewhat ferocious title of Mace's Hole, so-called because of its having once been the rendezvous of
a desperado by the name of Mace.
During the year 1860-61 Mace's Hole became famous as the headquarters of Col. John Heffiner, who
was attempting to raise a Confederate regiment. His
purpose was first to capture Fort Garland and then
join the Conferedate forces in New Mexico. At one
time there were some six hundred Confederates secreted in this locality, some of whom were fairly well
equipped with uniforms and arms.
"Zan" Hicklin, who, according to legend, was living on the Greenhorn when the coyotes and prairie dogs
came to Colorado, succeeded, during the time Heffiner
was carrying on his operations in Mace's Hole, in successfully "carrying water on both shoulders," by guiding Federal troops by day and driving beef cattle to
the rebels in Mace's Hole by night. Hicklin continued
to act in this dual capacity until the rebel regiment at
Mace's Hole was dispersed by Federal troops. Upon
one occasion he was arrested on the charge of being
disloyal, but so clever was his defense that he was released upon his taking the oath to support the constitution.
Hicklin was famous for his practical jokes. One
evening, as he and his man were returning from the
prairie, where they had been hunting, they noticed that
two men had arrived at the cabin to stay over night.
One was a man whom Hicklin did not like, so he
planned a huge joke upon him. Before permitting
themselves to be seen, Hicklin contrived to procure a
white sheet from the cabin and with this wrapped the
carcass of an antelope, which they had shot. With
feigned secrecy they stole into the cabin with their mysterious burden, all the time being viewed by the two
guests. That evening as supper was being prepared
Hicklin was heard to remark in a loud voice, "Why
did you shoot this tough old Arapahoe? Don't you
know that they take more lard than they are worth?
Why didn't you shoot one of those nice young Utes?"
His guests were speechless with amazement when they
beheld their host bring in from the kitchen and place
before them a hind quarter of this, "tough old Arapahoe." In a way which their host could not understand,
their appetites fled, neither being able to eat a bite, but
sat silently by while Zan and his man gorged themselves with nice juicy antelope. The travelers remained until morning, but departed before breakfast,
declaring that they wished "to get an early start and
couldn't stay to eat."
Upon another occasion two well-dressed young
men were at the Hicklin ranch, expecting to stay over
night. After they had retired for the night, Hicklin
remarked in a voice easily audible to his guests, "I
don't believe we had better kill them. These well-
dressed fellows never have any money anyway." Hicklin chuckled with delight when a few minutes later the
two strangers were seen to steal quietly out of the
house, mount their horses and ride swiftly away.
My quill is worn blunt and the oil in my lamp is
running low; these are unmistakable omens that it is
time to cease writing, but I am loath to close this volume without a special tribute to those bold and fearless
pioneers, the makers of Pueblo. I might have dedicated
this book to them, but that in itself would be but empty
The present generation has little conception of the
hardships, the privations and the sacrifices of these
pioneers who first entered this barren region for the
purpose of establishing their homes. When I think
upon these things when the scenes of olden times flit
by me one by one, I am constrained to ask, "Could men,
mere men, achieve these things in the face of such difficulties and hardships?" Then I am reminded that,
"there were giants in those days," and had it not been
for those "giants" in brains and brawn, in heroism and
courage, Pueblo could not have been.
It is, therefore, in a spirit of reverence, almost akin
to worship, that, as a representative of a younger generation, I record this tribute to those brave men and
women who "planted the trees in this valley of delight."
Especially do the names of our noble pioneer women
deserve a place in the Western hall of fame, because
the hardships and dangers of pioneer life fell most
heavily upon them. Without their patient and true-hearted co-operation, the very frame work of our
Western civilization would have fallen to the ground.
All honor to the pioneers, who wrought out the beginnings of this great commonwealth, in sacrifice and
blood; who made possible our presence in this great
green valley, teeming with its abundant harvests, its
happy homes and its loyal men and women.
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