newcomers were encamped. As both Smith and McGaa now appeared to
have lost interest in the St. Charles enterprise and were not disposed to
assist in the work of constructing a building upon the town site, Nichols,
having failed to obtain help from any one else, turned to an expedient that
had often been employed in eastern Kansas to hold land â€” that of the
"four-log improvement", made by placing four logs upon the ground in cob-
house fashion, and which in theory was held to be the beginning of a cabin.
But, as we shall see presently, this "improvement'' did not afford much
protection to the interests of St. Charles.
Immediately after the incoming of the large company of Missourians,
Kansans, and Nebraskans, which arrived on October 24th and increased the
HISTOEY OF COLORADO 229
number of people assembled on the westward side of Cherry Creek to nearly
one hundred, it was proposed that all hands join in organizing a town
company and founding a "city" upon that ground. Several citizens of Mon-
tana City also had become members of the new community, and construction
work on a few cabins had been started. Public notice was given on October
S7th that a "mass-meeting-" would be held on the 30th to organize a town
company and otherwise to prdvide for effecting the purposes of the propo-
The records of the organization which was formed at that time and that
actually laid the foundations and made the beginning of the city of Denver,
are possessed by our State Historical Society, the first entry in the "minute-
book" being the following report of the proceedings of the initial meeting :
"October 30, 1858."
"At a meeting of the Citizens of the South Platte for the purpose of selecting
a suitable site for a town, Wm. McFadding was appointed as chairman, and A. J.
Smith as Secretary of said meeting. The President stated the object of the meeting.
"On motion of Mr. Hutchins a committee of five was appointed to select said
site, with power to examine into any and all previous claims. The chair appointed
the following, viz: Hutchins, Dudley, Dr. Russell, J. S. Smith and Rooker.
"The Committee reported that they were not able to report at this meeting
and asked further time. Permission being granted.
"On motion of A. J. Smith a Committee of five was appointed to draft a Con-
stitution, and by-laws, to govern the Town Company. The Chafr appointed the
following, viz: A. J. Smith, J. H. Dudley, Wm. McGaw [McGaa], L. J. Russell, and
S. M. Rooker.
."On motion Wm. McFadding was added to the Committee.
"On motion meeting adjourned to Oct. 31, 1858."
"A. J. Smith, Secretary."
Of the second meeting of the "Citizens of the South Platte", which was
held in accordance with the adjournment of the first, the record says :
"October 31st, 1S58."
"Meeting met pursuant to adjournment, Mj. McFadding in the Chair.
"Minutes of Meeting 30th inst. read and approved.
"The Committee to whom the selection of a town site was referred reported
the Following, which was adopted, viz:
" 'The Committee that they have selected a town-site upon the following lands.
A tract having Cherry Creek for the Easterly line and the South Platte for the
northerly line, and extending west and south sufficiently to include not less than
Six hundred and forty acres. The claimants to said portions being present and
acquiescing. Reserving and excepting for the Benefit of William Mc Gaw [McGaa]
and John S. Smith the privilege of a ferry landing within the river boundary of
the town lands.'
"The Committee appointed to draft a Constiution and By-laws reported on
the Constitution and By-laws, which were adopted with the following amendment,
viz: To the 9th article of the Constitutionâ€” When it becomes necessary to lay a tax
for any improvement upon the town site it shall be the duty of the Board of
Directors to call a meeting, notifying the Stockholders to that effect. A majority
of the quorum always being necessary to levy such tax.
"On motion adjourned."
"A. J. Smith, Secretary."
The "claimants to said portions" which the committee had selected for
the site of the proposed town were the traders. Smith and McGaa, who, by
virtue of their relations with the local tribes of Indians, had set up some
rights of ownership in the land when they saw that a settlement was to
230 HISTOKY OF COLOKADO
be made upon it. They had now abandoned St. Charles to its fate and
were actively participating in the rival enterprise.
According to the Secretary's record of the proceedings on October 31st,
the constitution and by-laws were adopted on that day, but the preanable of
the former states that they were agreed to on November 1st. The explana-
tion of tliis unimportant conflict of dates probably is that both were given
a second consideration. The following is a co^y of them :
"Constitution of Auraria Town Company."
"We, the Citizens of the South Platte, have assembled on the First day of
November, A. D., One thousand. Eight hundred and fifty-eight, and agreed to asso-
ciate ourselves into a Company to be known and distinguished as the Auraria Town
Company, and by which name we hold ourselves liable to sue and be sued, and to
transact business as an individual and legal body.
"This Company shall be known and distinguished as the Auraria Town Com-
"There shall be elected by the Stockholders of said Company a President, Vice
President, Secretary, Treasurer, and One Director, who shall hold their offices for
the term of one year from the date hereof, at the expiration of which term there
shall be a new election.
"In case of any failure of such election at the expiration of said term of One
year, or should a vacancy occur through resignation, death, or absence, a majority
of the Board may direct a meeting of the Stockholders to be called and elect others
in their places.
"It shall be the duty of the President to preside over the meetings of the
Board, to preserve order, and likewise to sign all certificates of shares, and to dis-
charge all the duties usually devolving upon the President of meetings and of
"It shall be the duty of the Vice President in case of death, resignation, or
any absence from any cause, of the President, to discharge all the duties required
of the President.
"It shall be the duties of the Secretary to keep the books and accounts of said
Company, to record all meetings of the Stockholders, or of the Board of Directors;
likewise to sign all shares and transfers of shares and record the same. Keep a
record of all documents and papers relating to Town property, and to notify stock-
holders of all assessments and when to be paid.
"It shall be the duty of the Treasurer to take charge of all monies which the
Board of Directors may place in his hands, and receipt for the same; to collect all
assessments which the Board may make, and receipt for the same; and shall upon
an order from the Board disburse any funds belonging to said company, and shall
submit a statement of his proceeds in office at any meeting of the Board when called
upon to do so by said Board.
"The President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and One Director shall
constitute a Board of Directors, all to be chosen from the Stockholders of said
"It shall be the duty of the Board of Directors to superintend the surveying,
platting, lithographing or mapping, of the Town Site. Printing or writing shares
of stock, superintending all company improvements, and hold all Company property
in trust for the benefit of said Company. And also â€” when it becomes necessary to
levy a tax for any improvements upon the Town Site, it shall be the duty of the
HISTOEY OF COLOEADO 231
Board of Directors to call a meeting notifying the stockholders to that effect. A
majority of a quorum always being necessary to levy such a tax."
"All shares donated by said Company shall be improved in such manner as the
Board of Directors may contract, within Sixty days after the day of Donation. But
if such specified improvements be not made, then the title of such person or persons
to whom such donation shall have been made is null and void.
"The election of Officers shall take place on the first Monday in November in
Each year, the vote shall be cast by ballot, and two-thirds of the vote cast shall be
necessary to a choice.
"Each stockholder shall be entitled to one vote at the first election. At every
succeeding election each stockholder shall be entitled to one vote for every share of
stock as originally issued, provided all anearages of assessments are paid.
"Thirty days shall be allowed for payment of assessments, and if not paid
within said thirty days the Secretarj' shall advertise the same for thirty days addi-
tional, and if not paid within said time the Secretary shall cause such share or
shares to be sold to pay such assessments.
"The owner or owners of any stock sold as above provided to pay assessments,
by paying, within 90 days after such sale as aforesaid, the purchase money and fifty
per centum added thereto, shall be entitled to redeem such stock.
"Each member of the Board of Directors shall be held under bond for the
faithful discharge of his duties as such member, the sum of which bond not to exceed
the sum of Twenty-five hundred dollars and not less than Two thousand dollars.
"There shall be set apart four hundred shares for the use and benefit of the
Stockholders, the remaining two hundred shall be set apart for donation, public
improvements, &c., and it shall be the duty of the Board of Directors to take charge
of such donations, and all profits arising from such donations shall be set apart for
the benefit hereafter of said Company.
"The number of Original Stockholders shall not exceed the number of One
himdred. In the absence of any stockholder he may appoint an agent to cast the
vote or votes to which he may be entitled, and to act as proxy, generally.
"No transfer of stock shall be considered legal unless such transfer be signed
and recorded by the Secretary in the books of the company at the time of making
"Shares of stock shall be issued to each and every stockholder when such
Stockholder shall have, or caused to have been, constructed within the City Limits a
house not less than Sixteen by sixteen feet, to be approved by the Board of Directors.
Such improvements to be made and completed on or before the first day of July,
A. D. 1859, or the shares become forfeited to the Company.
"This Constitution and By-Laws thereunto annexed may be revised and
amended at any general meeting of the Company by a vote of Two-thirds of the
Stockholders of said Company."
Of the resxilt of an election to choose the first complement of officers
for the company, and which was held on the next Monday, the record con-
tains the following :
"November 6th, 1858."
"At a meeting of the Stockholders of the Auraria town Company an election
of Officers took place at which
232 HISTOEY OF COLORADO
"William McFadding received 84 votes for President.
"J. H. Dudley received 84 votes for Vice President.
"L. J. Russell received 84 votes for Secretary.
"John S. Smith [the trader] received 84 votes for Treasurer.
"Henry Allen received 84 votes for Director.
"Whereon the above named were declared duly elected for the term of One year."
"A. F. Graeter,
Clerk of Election.
"John J. Shanley,
Clerk of Election."
"W. M. Slaughter
Judge of Election."
The name of the company's first President appears in the record as
"WilUam McFadding"' and as '^Villiam A. McFadding', but both apply to
the same man, who was one of the several members of the Lawrence party
who had removed from Montana City to the mouth of Cherry Creek a few
days before the initial meeting was held.
The Aurarians made use of this opportunity also to elect a Delegate
to the United States Congress and a Eepresentative in the Legislative
Assembly of Kansas Territory, of which ambitious proceedings some particu-
lars appear elsewhere in this volume.
The record contains no reference to circumstances connected with the
choice of a name for the town, the first appearance in it of '-Auraria"
("Gold Town") being in the title of the constitution. However, the name
was one of two which were suggested by Dr. L. J. Eussell, who, as stated
in the record of the first meeting, was a member of the committee that
drafted the constitution and by-laws. Concerning the choice, the present
writer received the following definite information from that distinguished
"I submitted two names to the meeting: 'Dahlonega', which was and is the
name of the county seat of Lupkin County. Georgia: and 'Auraria', the name of
my home town in the same county. The latter was chosen. I very much preferred
the name 'Dahlonega' (in Cherokee, 'Tau-lau-ne-ca'), which means in the Indian
dialect 'Gold', or 'yellow money'. It was said at home that the name 'Auraria' was
conferred on our little village by John C. Calhoun, of South Carolina, and that its
meaning w-as 'golden head'. This story, it is evident, was wholly mythical. However,
the name 'Auraria', regardless of its meaning, was chosen by our new town company
on the South Platte."
Next after the entry of the constitution and by-laws in the record,
a-ppears a "List of the Stockholders of the Auraria T. Co., Nov. 1st, A. D.
1858", containing the names of one hundred men. But not all of those
who thus figure as "stockholders" were at the mouth of Cherry Creek at
that time. The names of some of the absent, as in the case of William G.
and J. 0. Eussell, were entered by friends present; and as the names of
others, who arrived upon the gi-ound at various times in November, also
appear in the list, it is evident that additions were made to the original roll
imtil the specified number of one hundred "Original Stockholders" was
Auraria was the first pioneer "city" that arose at the mouth of Cherry
Creek, and the actual beginning of the present metropolis; it was the
cradle of business life in the "new gold-fields" ; within its limits the first
newspaper in the Eock-y^ Mountain country north of New Mexico was
printed; the first Protestant church and the first Sunday School in the
HISTORY OF COLORADO 233
land of our State were organized and nurtured in Auraria; and in one of
its cabins the first secular school within Colorado's domain was established.
While the Aurarians were organizing their town company, Charles
Nichols, the solitary custodian of the St. Charles town site, and who had not
been taken into the Auraria corporation, watched with increasing appre-
hension the proceedings of these rivals of his association. Moreover, he saw
that should there be further additions to the Cherry Creek community be-
fore the rigors of winter set in he would find it difficult to prevent later
comers from occupying more or less of the land to which he and his asso-
ciates had laid claim and regardless of St. Charles' "rights". Of Nichols'
condition at that time, and of an effort made to assist him in holding his
town site, I quote the following account from reminiscences contributed to
my History of Denver by Colonel Samuel S. Curtis, one of our prominent
pioneers of 1858, as well as of later times, and who arrived upon the scene
on October 30th of that year :
". . . Six members of the [St. Charles] company had returned to the States,
leaving Charles Nichols to protect the town-site; four logs, crossed, being the
only improvement. He was without money or food, and dependent on friends for
support Courtright and I helped to take care of him, as also did old .John Smith
[the trader] and 'Jack Jones' [William McGaa].
"I represented to Nichols that he must do something on his town-site or it
would be 'jumped', and he agreed that I should have an interest in the town of
'St. Charles' if I would help him hold it. I turned out our cattle to haul logs, and
with Courtright and others from our camp we built a cabin of logs to about six feet
high and put on part of the roof. By an arrangement with Nichols, it was afterward
finished and occupied by Hank Way, as a blacksmith's shop. It must have stood
near the Blake street crossing of Cherry creek."
Other Denver pioneers of that autumn of whom the present writer made
inquiries confirmed the location of the cabin as having been near the creek
and between Blake and Wazee streets. Therefore it was outside the limits
of the square-mile town site, but was upon the additional land that Smith
and McGaa were to have secured for the St. Charles Company, between the
west line of the survey and the creek and the river. Colonel Curtis and his
friends did their work on the cabin in the latter part of the first week of
November and early part of the second.
Among the comers to the mouth of Cherry Creek during that month
was a company of pioneers in which were several men who became leaders
in primitive Denver, and whose names and services are conspicuously identi-
fied with the early histon' of the city, as well as with that of Colorado at
large. This organization was a union of two bands formed in eastern
Kansas, and wliich had traveled most of the way independently.
One of these parties was organized at Leccmpton, at the end of the
summer of that year, and among its members were Hickory Rogers, H. P. A.
Smith, and Edward W. Wynkoop, each of whom was well and favorably
known by James W. Denver, then Governor of Kansas Territory. The rosy
reports that had come recently from Pike's Peak, and the preparations of
energetic and enthusiastic men to go to the reputed gold-fields in the
western extremity of his Territory, had not escaped Governor Denver's
attention; and already he had anticipated the rise of a new Territory in
the West, for which he proposed the name "Slioshone'' â€” that of one of the
great families of western Indians. Believing that in the meantime there
should be some representatives of civil government among the people in
234 HISTOEY OF COLOEADO
the "Pike's Peak gold-fields'', but overestimating the number that he
thought would be occupying them before the end of the j^ear, the Governor
appointed Smith "Probate Judge'', Eogers "Chairman of the County Board
of Commissioners" (which consisted of Eogers and two others), and Wyn-
koop "Sheriff", of the nominal County of Arapahoe, but which was nothing
more than a name attached to the mountain-end of Kansas. Armed with
their credentials of office, these "county officials'' with a few associates set
out for -the Peak".
The other division, which hailed from Leavenworth, and became famed
in Denver's early annals as the "Leavenworth partr', consisted of Folsom
Dorsett, M. M. Jewett, General William Larimer, Jr.; the latter's son,
William H. H. Larimer, who was in his eighteenth year; Charles A. Law-
rence, and Eichard E. Whitsitt. Some sixty men originally were enrolled
in the party, but when the starting-tinie came only these six were ready and
determined to go. Leaving Leavenworth on October 3d, with an outfit of
one large wagon, four yoke of oxen, and a saddle-pony for each person, they
struck across to the Arkansas river. About five weeks later they
reached the site of the city of Pueblo, where they found encamped Governor
Denver's county officers and the others who constituted the Lecompton
â€¢ party. The two bands, having joined forces and fortunes, arrived at Aura-
ria City on November 16th.
These men had come from a section of the West in which little had
been left to learn about the business of laying out and exploiting frontier
"cities". On the day after their arrival at the mouth of Cherry Creek, they
spied out the land on the eastward side of that stream and resolved to make
it the site of a competitor of Auraria. As they were men of action, they at
once allied themselves with E. P. Stout, P. T. Bassett, William Clancy, and
several others, including the two traders. Smith and MeGaa. Beside Mr.
Stout and the traders, there were some other members of the Auraria
Company among these allies, who were to engage in the good work of
extending the settlement at the mouth of Cherry Creek.
In the evening of that day (November 17th), this combination of pro-
moters met in McGaa's cabin, in Auraria, and there held their first formal
meeting to organize the "Denver City Town Company" for the purpose of
taking possession of the land on tlie eastward side of tlie creek and laying
out a "city" upon it. The proceedings of the gathering were mellowed by
the influence of a pot of robust whiskey-punch, provided by the host, and
in whioli that shifty pioneer was said to have indulged over-freely. Charles
Nichols, the custodian of the St. Charles town site, also was present at
the meeting. He had protested loudly against the intended "jumping" of
his associations staked-off square-mile, but, according to information I
received from Mr. Stout, had been quieted by a notification "that at his
next attempt to make trouble a rope and noose would be used on him".
Concerning some circumstances connected with that meeting, I quote the
following from the reminiscences with which Colonel Curtis favored me
for use in my History of Denver:
"About the middle of November, the Leavenworth party arrived with commis-
sions from Governor Denver as county officers, and commenced negotiations with
Nichols for interests in 'St. Charles', agreeing to make it the county seat, etc. He
had a meeting with them at which he gave up to them the control of the 'St.
Charles' town-site. I was not at the meeting, but Nichols and old John Smith agreed
HISTOEY OF COLORADO 235
to see that I should have an interest in the new company. I slept on the earth
floor of old John's cabin that night with his half-breed son, young Jack, who was
later killed at Sand Creek. Old John came home about twelve or one o'clock, and
told me that Courtright and I were members of the new town company. I think it
was at that meeting that the name of 'Denver' was adopted. I drew the first plat
of the City of Denver [the Denver Town Company's Denver City'] and staked out
Larimer and Blake, E and F, and a few other streets, in November and Decem-
The Denver City Town Company's minute-book, which our State His-
torical Society also has in keeping, contains no record of this meeting, our
knowledge of its time, place and results being derived from other sources.
The first official entry in the book is as follows :
"Denver City Company adopted their Constitution on the 22 Nov 1858. and
Elected the following Board of Directors and Officers
"President E P. Stout
"Treasurer Wm Larimer Jr
"Secty H P. A Smith
"Recorder P. T. Bassett
"E P. Stout
"Wm Larimer Jr
"J [William] McGaa
"C. A. Lawrence
"P. T. Bassett
"The Board of Directors appointed Wm Larimer Jr Secty of the Board and
also Selected the Same to donate lots under the instructions from the Board
"Under a previously appointed Committee of Messrs Rogers, Bassett McGaa
Lawrence & Larimer the[y] secured the services of Curtis [Colonel Samuel
S. Curtis] on the 22nd Inst and laid out one principle Street and further the Same
Committee Set posts and bounded two miles square for a town Site. Called
"Wm Larimer Jr
"Secty of the Board."
"22 Nov 1858"
It appears from the foregoing that a committee had \xeiL appointed at
a previous meeting, probably at that of November 17th, to draft a "consti-
tution" ; and it is probable that more than one preliminary meeting had been
held. H. P. A. Smith was Secretary of the company, proper; but no
records of his making, if any he made, have been preserved. The surviving
minutes of the organization's transactions during the first twelve months
of its existence were written by General Larimer in his capacity as Secretary
of the Board of Directors, and who was also Treasurer of the company.
The Denver City "constitution" does not apj^oar in the record. A short
series of by-laws, which were not adopted until January 10, 1859, is
entered; but these rules contain nothing of especial interest, as in the main
they consist of definitions of the officers' duties, which were about the same
as those of the officers of the Auraria Town Company.
The new town company and the new "city" were named in honor of