Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol. XVI., December, 1880 online

. (page 1 of 20)
Online LibraryVariousLippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol. XVI., December, 1880 → online text (page 1 of 20)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Janet Blenkinship and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1880, by J.B.
LIPPINCOTT & Co., in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at






[Illustration: GOING TO THE JUDGE'S.]

The day might have graced the month of June, so balmy was the air, so
warmly shone the sun from a cloudless sky. But the snow-covered
mountain-range whose base we were skirting, the leafless cottonwoods
fringing the Fontaine qui Bouille and the sombre plains that stretched
away to the eastern horizon told a different story. It was on one of
those days elsewhere so rare, but so common in Colorado, when a summer
sky smiles upon a wintry landscape, that we entered a town in whose
history are to be found greater contrasts than even those afforded by
earth and sky. Today Pueblo is a thriving and aggressive city, peopled
with its quota of that great pioneer army which is carrying civilization
over the length and breadth of our land. Three hundred and forty years
ago, as legend hath it, Coronado here stopped his northward march, and
on the spot where Pueblo now stands established the farthermost outpost
of New Spain.

The average traveller who journeys westward from the Missouri River
imagines that he is coming to a new country. "The New West" is a
favorite term with the agents of land - companies and the writers of
alluring railway-guides. These enterprising advocates sometimes indulge
in flights of rhetoric that scorn the trammels of grammar and
dictionary. Witness the following impassioned utterances concerning the
lands of a certain Western railroad: "They comprise a section of country
whose possibilities are simply _infinitesimal_, and whose developments
will be revealed in glorious realization through the horoscope of the
near future." This verbal architect builded wiser than he knew, for what
more fitting word could the imagination suggest wherewith to crown the
possibilities of alkali wastes and barren, sun-scorched plains?

A considerable part of the New West of to-day was explored by the
Spaniards more than three centuries ago. Before the English had landed
at Plymouth Rock or made a settlement at Jamestown they had penetrated
to the Rocky Mountains and given to peak and river their characteristic
names. Southern Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona have been the theatres
wherein were enacted deeds of daring and bravery perhaps unsurpassed by
any people and any age; and that, too, centuries before they became a
part of our American Union. The whole country is strewn over with the
ruins of a civilization in comparison with which our own of to-day seems
feeble. And he who journeys across the Plains till he reaches the Sangre
del Cristo Mountains or the blue Sierra Mojadas enters a land made
famous by the exploits of Coronado, De Vaca and perhaps of the great
Montezuma himself.

In the year 1540, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado was sent by the Spanish
viceroy of Mexico to explore the regions to the north. Those
mountain-peaks, dim and shadowy in the distance and seeming to recede as
they were approached, had ever been an alluring sight to the
gold-seeking Spaniards. But the coveted treasure did not reveal itself
to their cursory search; and though they doubtless pushed as far north
as the Arkansas River, they returned to the capital from what they
considered an unsuccessful expedition. The way was opened, however, and
in 1595 the Spaniards came to what is now the Territory of New Mexico
and founded the city of Santa Fé. They had found, for the most part, a
settled country, the inhabitants living in densely-populated villages,
or _pueblos_, and evincing a rather high degree of civilization. Their
dwellings of mud bricks, or _adobes_, were all built upon a single plan,
and consisted of a square or rectangular fort-like structure enclosing
an open space. Herds of sheep and goats grazed upon the hillsides, while
the bottom-lands were planted with corn and barley. Thus lived and
flourished the Pueblo Indians, a race the origin of which lies in
obscurity, but connected with which are many legends of absorbing
interest. All their traditions point to Montezuma as the founder and
leader of their race, and likewise to their descent from the Aztecs. But
their glory departed with the coming of Cortez, and their Spanish
conquerors treated them as an inferior race. Revolting against their
oppressors in 1680, they were reconquered thirteen years later, though
subsequently allowed greater liberty. By the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo
in 1848 they became citizens of the United States. From one extreme of
government to another has drifted this remnant of a stately race, till
now at last it finds itself safely sheltered in the arms of our great

Such is the romantic history of a portion of our so-called "New West;"
but it was with a view of ascertaining some facts concerning occurrences
of more recent date, as well as of seeing some of the actors therein,
that we paid a visit to Pueblo. We found it a rather odd mixture of the
old and the new, the adobe and the "dug-out" looking across the street
upon the imposing structure of brick or the often gaudily-painted frame
cottage. It looked as though it might have been indulging in a Rip Van
Winkle sleep, except that the duration might have been a century or two.
High _mesas_ with gracefully rounded and convoluted sides almost
entirely surround it, and rising above their floor-like tops, and in
fine contrast with their sombre brown tints, appear the blue outlines of
the distant mountains. Pike's Peak, fifty miles to the north, and the
Spanish Peaks, the Wawatoyas, ninety to the south, are sublime objects
of which the eye never grows weary; while the Sierra Mojadas bank up the
western horizon with a frowning mountain-wall. A notch in the distant
range, forty miles to the north-west, indicates the place where the
Arkansas River breaks through the barriers that would impede its seaward
course, forming perhaps the grandest cañon to be found in all this
mighty mountain-wilderness. Truly a striking picture was that on which
Coronado and his mail-clad warriors gazed.


A motley throng compose the inhabitants of Pueblo. The dark-hued
Mexican, his round face shaded by the inevitable _sombrero_, figures
conspicuously. But if you value his favor and your future peace of mind
have a care how you allude to his nationality. He is a Spaniard, you
should know - a pure Castilian whose ancestor was some old hidalgo with
as long an array of names and titles as has the Czar of All the Russias
himself. Though he now lives in a forsaken-looking adobe hut with dirt
floor and roof of sticks and turf that serves only to defile the
raindrops that trickle through its many gaps - though his sallow wife
and ill-favored children huddle round him or cook the scanty meal upon
the mud oven in a corner of the room - he is yet a Spaniard, and glories
in it. The tall, raw-boned man, straight as a young cottonwood, whose
long black hair floats out from beneath his hat as he rides into town
from his ranch down the river, may be a half-breed who has figured in a
score of Indian fights, and enjoys the proud distinction of having
killed his man. There is the hungry-looking prospector, waiting with
ill-disguised impatience till he can "cross the Range" and follow again,
as he has done year after year, the exciting chase after the
ever-receding mirage - the visions of fabulous wealth always going to be,
but never quite, attained. The time-honored symbol of Hope must, we
think, give place to a more forcible representation furnished by the
peculiar genius of our times; for is not our modern Rocky-Mountain
prospector the complete embodiment of that sublime grace? His is a hope
that even reverses the proverb, for no amount of deferring is able to
make him heartsick, but rather seems to spur him on to more earnest
endeavor. Has he toiled the summer long, endured every privation,
encountered inconceivable perils, only to find himself at its close
poorer than when he began? Reluctantly he leaves the mountain-side where
the drifting snows have begun to gather, but seemingly as light-hearted
as when he came, for his unshaken hope bridges the winter and feeds upon
the limitless possibilities of the future. Full of wonderful stories are
these same hope-sustained prospectors - tales that are bright with the
glitter of silver and gold. Not a single one of them who has not
discovered "leads" of wonderful richness or "placers" where the sands
were yellow with gold; but by some mischance the prize always slipped
out of his grasp, and left him poor in all but hope. And in truth so
fascinating becomes the occupation that men who in other respects seem
cool and phlegmatic will desert an almost assured success to join the
horde rushing toward some unexplored district, impelled by the
ever-flying rumors of untold wealth just brought to light. The golden
goal this season is the great Gunnison Country; and soon trains of
_burros_, packed with pick and shovel, tent and provisions, will be
climbing the Range.

Pueblo has likewise its business-men, its men of to-day, who manage its
banks, who buy and sell and get gain as they might do in any
well-ordered city, though, truth to tell, there are very few of them who
do not sooner or later catch the prevailing infection - a part of whose
assets is not represented by some "prospect" away up in the mountains or
frisking about the Plains in herds of cattle and sheep. But perhaps the
most curiously-original character in all the town is Judge Allen A.
Bradford, of whose wonderful memory the following good story is told:
Years ago he, with a party of officers, was at the house of Colonel
Boone, down the river. While engaged in playing "pitch-trump," of which
the judge was very fond - and in fact the only game of cards with which
he was acquainted - a messenger rushed in announcing that a lady had
fallen from her horse and was doubtless much injured. The players left
their cards and ran to render assistance, and the game thus broken up
was not resumed. Some two years later the same parties found themselves
together again, and "pitch-trump" was proposed. To the astonishment of
all, the judge informed them how the score stood when they had so
hurriedly left the game, and with the utmost gravity insisted that it be
continued from that point!

On a bright sunny morning we sought out the judge's office, only to
learn that he had not yet for the day exchanged the pleasures of rural
life across the Fontaine for less romantic devotions at the shrine of
the stern goddess. Later we were informed, upon what seemed credible
authority, that upon the morning in question he was intending to sow
oats. Though cold March still claimed the calendar, and hence such
action on the part of the judge might seem like forcing the season, yet
reflections upon his advanced years caused us to suppress the rising
thought that perhaps some allusions to _wild_ oats might have been
intended. Hence we looked forward to a rare treat - judicial dignity
unbending itself in pastoral pursuits, as in the case of some Roman
magistrate. "A little better'n a mile" was the answer to our
interrogatory as to how far the judge's ranch might be from town; but
having upon many former occasions taken the dimensions of a Colorado
mile, we declined the suggestion to walk and sought some mode of
conveyance. There chanced to be one right at hand, standing patiently by
the wayside and presided over by an ancient colored gentleman. The coach
had been a fine one in its day, but that was long since past, and now
its dashboard, bent out at an angle of forty-five degrees, the faded
trimmings and the rusty, stately occupant of the box formed a complete
and harmonious picture of past grandeur seldom seen in the Far West. Two
dubious-looking bronchos, a bay and a white, completed this unique
equipage, in which we climbed the _mesa_ and then descended into the
valley of the Fontaine. The sable driver was disposed to be
communicative, and ventured various opinions upon current topics. He had
been through the war, and came West fourteen years ago.

"You have had quite an adventurous life," we remarked.

"Why, sah," he returned, "if the history ob my life was wrote up it
would be wuth ten thousand dollars."

While regarding the valuation as somewhat high, we yet regretted our
inability to profit by this unexpected though promising
business-opportunity, and soon our attention was diverted by a glimpse
of the judge's adobe, and that person himself standing by his carriage
and awaiting our by no means rapid approach. He was about to go to town,
and the oats were being sown by an individual of the same nationality as
our driver, to whom the latter addressed such encouraging remarks as
"Git right 'long dere now and sow dat oats. Don't stand roostin' on de
fence all day, like as you had the consumshing. You look powerful weak.
Guess mebbe I'd better come over dere and show you how."

[Illustration: THE JUDGE.]

Judge Bradford's career has been a chequered one, and it has fallen to
his lot to dispense justice in places and under circumstances as
various as could well be imagined. Born in Maine in 1815, he has lived
successively in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Colorado, and held almost
every position open to the profession of the law. From the supreme
bench of Colorado he was twice called to represent the Territory as
delegate to Congress. In 1852, when he was judge of the Sixth Judicial
District of Iowa, his eccentricities of character seem to have reached
their full development. He exhibited that supreme disregard for dress
and the various social amenities which not infrequently betray the
superior mind. Never were his clothes known to fit, being invariably
too large or too small, too short or too long. As to his hair, the
external evidences were of a character to disprove the rumor that he
had a brush and comb, while the stubby beard frequently remained
undisturbed upon the judicial chin for several weeks at a time. The
atrocious story is even told that once upon a time, when half shaven,
he chanced to pick up a newspaper, became absorbed in its contents,
forgot to complete his task, and went to court in this most absurdly
unsymmetrical condition. But, despite these personal eccentricities, a
more honest or capable judge has rarely been called upon to vindicate
the majesty of the law. Upon the bench none could detect a flaw in his
assumption of that dignity so intimately associated in all minds with
the judiciary, but, the ermine once laid aside for the day, he was as
jolly and mirthful as any of his frontier companions. Judge Bradford
was no advocate, but by the action of a phenomenal memory his large
head was stored so full of law as to emphasize, to those who knew him,
the curious disproportion between its size and that of his legs and
feet. These latter were of such peculiarly modest dimensions as to call
to mind Goldsmith's well-known lines, though in this case we must, of
necessity, picture admiring frontiersmen standing round while

Still the wonder grew
That two small feet could carry all he knew.

The judge's mind is of the encyclopædical type, and facts and dates are
his especial "strong holt." But his countenance fails to ratify the
inward structure when, pausing from a recital, he gazes upon your
reception of the knowledge conveyed with a kindly smile - a most innocent
smile that acts as a strong disposer to belief. Whether it has been a
simple tale of the early days enlivened with recollections of
pitch-trump and other social joys, or whether the performances of savage
Indians and treacherous half-breeds send a chill through the listener,
it is all the same: at its close the judge's amiable features wear the
same belief-compelling smile. Under its influence we sit for hours while
our entertainer ranges through the stores of his memory, pulling out
much that is dust-covered and ancient, but quickly renovated for our use
by his ready imagination and occasional wit. With a feeling akin to
reverence we listen - a reverence due to one who had turned his face
toward the Rocky Mountains before Colorado had a name, who had made the
perilous journey across the great Plains behind a bull-team, and who
has since been associated with everything concerned in the welfare and
progress of what has now become this great Centennial State, toward
which all eyes are turning. Not without its dark days to him has passed
this pioneer life, and none were more filled with discouragement than
those during which he represented the Territory in Congress. He
describes the position as one of peculiar difficulty - on one hand the
clamors of a people for aid and recognition in their rapid development
of the country, while on the other, to meet them, he found himself a
mere beggar at the doors of Congressional mercy and grace, voteless and
hence powerless. Truly, in the light of his experience, the office of
Territorial delegate is no sinecure.

No one has more closely observed the course of events in the Far West
than Judge Bradford, and his opinions on some disputed points are very
decided and equally clear. Many have wondered that Pueblo, which had the
advantage of first settlement, had long been a rendezvous of trappers
and frontier traders, and lay upon the only road to the then so-called
Pike's Peak mines, that _viâ_ the Arkansas Cañon - that this outpost,
situated thus at the very gateway of the Far West, should have remained
comparatively unimportant, while Denver grew with such astonishing
rapidity. But, in the judge's opinion, it was the war of the rebellion
that turned the scale in favor of the Queen City. The first emigrants
had come through Missouri and up the Arkansas, their natural route, and
as naturally conducting to Pueblo. But when Missouri and South-eastern
Kansas became the scenes of guerrilla warfare the emigrant who would
safely convey himself and family across the prairies must seek a more
northern parallel. Hence, Pueblo received a check from which it is only
now recovering, and Denver an impetus whose ultimate limits no man can

Many strange things were done in the olden time. When the Plains Indians
had gathered together their forces for the purpose of persistently
harassing the settlement, the Mountain Utes, then the allies of the
whites, offered their services to help repel the common enemy. Petitions
went up to the governor and Legislature to accept the proffered
services, but they were steadily refused. Our long-headed judge gives
the reason: The administration was under the control of men who were
feeding Uncle Sam's troops with corn at thirteen cents per pound, and
other staples in proportion, and the Indian volunteers promised a too
speedy ending of such a profitable warfare.

Thus eventfully has passed the life of Judge Bradford. During his
threescore-and-five years he has moved almost across a continent, never
content unless he was on the frontier. Long may he live to ride in his
light coverless wagon in the smile of bright Colorado sunshine, honored
by all who know him, and affording his friends the enjoyment of his rare
good presence!

[Illustration: OLD ADOBE FORT.]

Thirty years ago this whole Rocky-Mountain region, now appropriated by
an enterprising and progressive people, contained, besides the native
Indians and the Mexicans in the south, only a few trappers and frontier
traders, most of them in the employ of the American Fur Company. These
were the fearless and intrepid pioneers who so far from fleeing danger
seemed rather to court it. Accounts of their adventures - now a struggle
with a wounded bear, again the threatened perils of starvation when lost
in some mountain-fastness - have long simultaneously terrified and
fascinated both young and old. We all have pictured their dress - the
coat or cloak, often an odd combination of several varieties of skins
pieced together, with fur side in; breeches sometimes of the same
material, but oftener of coarse duck or corduroy; and the slouched hat,
under whose broad brim whatever of the face that was not concealed by a
shaggy, unkempt beard shone out red from exposure to sun and weather.
The American Fur Company had dotted the country with forts, which served
the double purpose of storehouses for the valuables collected and of
places where the employés could barricade themselves against the
too-often troublesome savages. For such a purpose, though not actually
by the Fur Company, was built the old adobe fort the ruins of which are
still to be seen on the banks of the Arkansas at Pueblo. How old it may
have been no one seems to know, but certain it is that for long years,
and in the earliest times, it was a favorite rendezvous. Here was
always to be found a jolly good party to pass away the long winter
evenings with song and story. Here Kit Carson often stopped to rest from
his many perilous expeditions, enjoying, together with Fremont and other
noted Rocky-Mountain explorers, the hospitalities of the old fort. Many
times were its soft walls indented by the arrows of besieging Indians,
but its bloodiest tragedy was enacted in 1854, when the Utes surprised
the sleeping company and savagely massacred all.

While these events were transpiring at the old fort a party of Mexicans
had journeyed from the south, crossed the Arkansas River and formed a
settlement on the east side of the Fontaine. A characteristically
squalid and miserable place it was, with the dwellings - they scarce
deserved the name of houses - built in the side of the bluffs very much
as animals might burrow in the ground. Part dug-out and part adobe were
those wretched habitations, and the shed-like parts which projected from
the hill were composed of all conceivable and inconceivable kinds of
rubbish. Sticks, stones, bits of old iron, worn-out mattings and
gunny-sacks entered more or less into the construction of these dens,
all stuck together with the inevitable adobe mud. The settlement
extended some distance along the side of the bluff, and the sloping
plain in front was dignified as the _plaza_. Perhaps the dark-hued
immigrants expected a large town to spring from these unpromising
beginnings, and their plaza to take on eventually all the importance
which a place so named ever deserves in the Spanish and Mexican mind.
But the Pike's Peak excitement, originating in 1852 with the finding of
gold by a party of Cherokee Indians, and reaching its culmination in
1859, brought a far different class of people to our Rocky-Mountain
outpost, and a civilization was inaugurated which speedily compelled the
ancient Mexican methods to go by the board. Thus, Fontaine was soon
absorbed by the rising town of Pueblo, though the ancient dug-outs still
picturesquely dot the hillside, inhabited by much the same idle and
vagabond class from which the prosperous ranchman soon learns to guard
his hen-roost.

The growth of any of our Far Western towns presents a curious study. In
these latter days it frequently requires but a few months, or even
weeks, to give some new one a fair start upon its prosperous way.
Sometimes a mineral vein, sometimes the temporary "end of the track" of
a lengthening railway, forms the nucleus, and around it are first seen
the tents of the advance-guard. Before many weeks have elapsed some
enterprising individual has succeeded, in the face of infinite toil and
expense, in bringing a sawmill into camp. Soon it is buzzing away on the
neighboring hillside, and the rough pine boards and slabs are growing
into houses of all curious sizes and shapes, irregularly lining the main
street. Delightfully free from conventionality are matters in these new
towns. Former notions of things go for naught. Values are in a
highly-disturbed state, and you will probably be charged more for the
privilege of sleeping somewhere on the floor than for all the refined
elegancies of the Fifth Avenue. The board-walks along the street, where
they exist at all, plainly typify this absence of a well-defined dead
level or zero-point in the popular sentiment; for the various sections
are built each upon the same eccentric plan that obtains in the
corresponding house. The result is an irregular succession of steps
equally irregular, with enough literal jumping-off places to relieve any

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Online LibraryVariousLippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol. XVI., December, 1880 → online text (page 1 of 20)