Weston Arthur Goodspeed.

The province and the states, a history of the province of Louisiana under France and Spain, and of the territories and states of the United States formed therefrom (Volume 4) online

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iam, George, Charles and Robert, and Ceran St. Vrain, built a
stockade on the north bank of the Arkansas, about half way
between the present sites of Pue))lo and Canon City. They soon
discovered that they had located too far ui) the stream, and in
1828 moved to a point some distance below Pueblo. There they
built a more j)retentious fort, which was named Voxi William
after William Pent. Later it became generally known as Bent's
"old" h'ort. Ill 1852 this fort was blown \\\> by William Bent,
and th.- foil. uHif year luiil's "new" I'ort w.is est,dilishe(l near
where the t.io 11 of Koliinsoii now stands. The new foit was used
as a trading post until |85(> whni it was leased to the IJnitid

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States government, llent reniovinp;- to a new location just above
the mouth of the Purgatory river. In i860 the name was changed
to Fort Wise, and after the battle of Wilson's Creek, AIo.,
August 10 ,1861, it was named Fort Lyon, in honor of Gen.
Nathaniel Lyon, who was killed in that engagement. The fort
was undermined by the wash of the river in the spring of 1866,
and being deemed unsafe it was removed about twenty miles far-
ther down the river.

A trader named Louis Vasquez erected a post, in 1832, on the
Platte river at the moutii of Clear creek, then called Vasquez's
fork. Not long afterwartl Fort Sarpy was established, five
miles down the Platte from the X'asquez post, and not far from
the present town of Henderson. Twenty miles farther down
the river Fort Lancaster was built by Lupton, the place after-
ward taking the name of the founder. Fort St. \''rain was located
at or near the site of the present town of Platteville, and another
post was established where Drighton now stands.

But trading posts were not settlements. With the disappear-
ance or scarcity of fur bearing animals they were speedily aban-
doned for more promising helds. CJne j)Ost, established about
this time, partook somewhat of the nature of a permanent set-
tlement. That was the post of \i\ Pueblo, a few miles above b'orl
William. The buildings were arranged as those of the trailing
posts, but while the others were engaged in traflicking with
the Indians, the occupants of 1^1 Pueblo devoted their time and
energies to agriculture, raising vegetables and live stock to sup-
ply the. trading [)osls. The soil was irrigated with water from
the Arkansas river and for a time the little colony flourished. But
as the ranks of the fur traders became decimated by the incur-
sions of hostile Indians or by reuioval to other localities, it sank
into insignificance. The place was visited by Fremont in 1844,
who described the inhabitants as "a number of mountaineers,
princi])ally Americans, who have married Mexican women, and
occu])y themselvi'S in farming and carr)ing on a desultory trade
with the Indians." Dining the winter of 18.^6-47 some Mor-
mon families were quartered at Pueblo, and several children were
born there, but in the summer of 1847 they left the place and
joined the main body of Mormons at Salt Lake.

Up to 1850 n<; military posts had \>(-i-\\ eslablislifd within the
pre.s>iil boimdaries of C'olorado. In that \ear ImmI iMassaclui-
setts >•• IS built on \'w creek, on tlie west side ol" the main divide,
not lar from the .Sangre de Crislo pass. It was aiiaiidoned in
1857, the troops and stores l)eing removed t(^ Wni C.irland. In

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lOiDojij-, I.


1854 Lafayette Head, an American, established a cfjlony of Mex-
icans at Conejos.

The actual settlement of Colorado dates from the finding of
gold within the present state limits, and there has been some
controversy as to who is entitled to the credit of making the
discovery. Mention has been made of the prusi)ecting tours of
Onate, in the San Louis valley, as earl\' as 15<)5, and of the reports
he circulated to the effect that he had found gold there. At
some places in that part of the state the ground has the appear-
ance of having once been mined, but the lapse of more than two
centuries from CJnate to the fiu" traders makes it difhcult to say
whether such ])laces are abandoned mines or natural formations.
While IJeulenant I'ike was a captive at Santa h^e in 1807, he
met a Kentuckian named James I'urcell who showed nuggets
of gold that he claimed to have found in the South Park. Pur-
Cell also vouchsafed the information to Lieutenant Pike that the
Spaniards at Santa l-\- had urged him to disclose the location
of the mines, but, being an American and knowing that the ter- '
ritory belonged to the United States, he had steadfastly refused.
A Frenchman named Duchet claimed to have found gold dur-
ing the palmy days of the fur trade, and numerous stories were
told of hunters and trappers carrying nuggets of the precious
metal around in their shot pouches during the tliirlies. In all
these stories there doubtless was more or less truth, but it was
not until after the discovery of gold in Califtjrnia that they were
given credence.

The argonauts of i8.|() and the wars innneiliately succeeding,
while jtassing lluongh Ihe 1 'ike's Peak country, as Colorado was
then called, seized every opportunity to prospect along the Platte
river and its tributaries. A party of Cherokee Indians from Geor-
gia, wdiile en route to California, found gold in Cherry crieek
and other small streams in the vicinity. When they returned
to Georgia they began to talk of organizing an expedition to the
gold fields (jf the Rocky mountains. In this undertaking they
were aided by W. Green Russell, a white miner of Dahlonega,
Ga., and on February 9, 1858, the expedition left Georgia bound
for Pike's I'eak. Wlien they reached the country of the Osage
Indians some of the Cherokees became dissatislied and aban-
doned the exi)editi(jn. Twelve while men under the leadership
of Ivussell, and thirty Indians under George Hicks, a Cherokee
lawyer, wuit on, and on the first day of June reached the place
on ("lieii\ reek when' the fornni' Georgia parU' had found
gold. Al ;i,i; their trail the report spread that f^old had been



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found at Pike's Peak, and in a short time other companies were
on their way to the mountains. One of these parties was made
up at Lawrence, Kan., and left that city in May. July 4, they
celehrated the national anniversary near the present city of
Pueblo, the first time that Independence day was ever observed
on Colorado soil.

The Russell-Hicks party prospected aloni; the Platte river six
or seven miles to the mouth of Little Dry creek, but not find-
ing gold in sufficient quantities to satisfy their ilesires, crossed
the country to the North IMatte and Green rivers. After about
three months of wandtrin;:;-, they came back to try the deposits
on Little Dry creek, and in a little while had washed out several
hundred dollars' worth of j^old dust. While they were thus
cngagXHl, the Lawrence party l.ud out a town wdiere Colorado
City is now located, and named it El Paso, because of the prox-
imity to the Ute [)ass. After wailing for some lime for purchas-
ers of lots, and none coming, the town site was vacated and (he
comijany moved over to the Platte to about five miles above
wdiere the city of Denver n(jw stands, where they laid out another
town, naming it Montana. Here they built a number of cabins,
but the young city failing to prosper, the company was disbanded.

Part of them went on down the Platte until Uiey came to the
mouth of Cherry creek and there on the east side laid out the
town of St. Charles, claiming two sections of land as the town
site. September 24, 1858, the following, action was taken by the
founders of the town of St. Charles:

"Upper waters of the South I'latte River, at the mouth of
Cherry Creek, v\rai)alu>e count)', Kansas Territory, September 24,
1858. This article of agreement witnesseth that T. C. Dickin-
son, William McGaa, J. A. Churchill, William Smith, William
Hartley, Adnah French, Frank M. Cobb, J. S. Smith and Charles
Nichols have entered into the following agreement wdiich they
bind themselves, their heirs and administrators, executors, assign-
ees, &c., forever to well and truly carry out the same."

Then follows a long agreement, l)y-laws, etc., in which it is
set forth that the parties have agreed to lay out six hundred
forty acres for town pur])oses anil that each member of the com-
pany was to have one hundred lots. They evidentl)' had some
misgivings as to the success of the enterprise, and coupled with
these nil ;.;ivings were shown something of the hind i;i alibiii)^'
proi)eji nirs lh;il were so often mimifestcd in the si'lllenu'iit of
new l..,dili.-s at Ih.il d.iv. A provision w;is iiieorpoi.tUd in (he
;i.;n-(iih 111, IJKil "if liic eoiiiilrv rvn .■mioiinicd (,> ,111 s ilimj;" John


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I'.Aia.Y uriiSTS IN COLOR. mo.


Smith and William McGaa were to "separately claim the frac-
tional or west side .section of the creek, and nse their inlluence
to sec that it cventuall)- hecomes part of tiie proi)erly of the com-

Shortly after the ori^anization of the St. (."harles Town Com-
pany the (ieor_L;ians relnrncd to the month of Cherry creek', and
heini;- nnahle to join the settlement at St. Charles on satisfactory
terms, crossed over to the we>l side ni the creek and started one
of their own. Ahoul a week later the}' were joined Ijy a party
from Iowa, among' whom was a snrve)or nametl 1 lenry Allen.
C3ctobcr 29, John Smith sold the Cieorgians his interest in the
section west of the creek, a comj^any was organized, and the
town of Anraria was laid ont. The place was named after a
little village in Lnmpkin connty, ("la., from the neighborhood
of which the founders had come, ddie town plat was surveyed
by Henry Allen, lots were selected by individuals and the work
of building' cabins was begiui. Agents of the new settlement were
sent to iMontana, hve miles up the J Matte, and the settler^ there
were induced to remove their bel()ugings to Auraria. During
the late autunm several small parties arrived and most of them
joined the settlement on the west side. Thus Auraria flourished
while St. Charles languished. The founders of the latter j-lace
becanie discouragcil and all but a few left. Some returned to
Lawrence and others went to Tneblo.

When, about tlie middle of No\ ember, another party of Kau-
sans, under Cien. William Larimer and Richartl E. Whitsitt,
arrivcil they found St. Charles desertetl. The Larimer party took
possession, tM'gani/ed a new l()\\n company, and on Xovember 17
changed the name to Denver, in honor of James W. Denver who
was at that time aciing governor of Kansas Territory. f Lor
the next live days all the energies of the newcomers were directed
toward the erection of cabins. November 22 a meeting was held
and a constitution for the government of the Denver Town Com-
pany was adopted. K. P. Stout was elected i)resident; William
Larimer, Jr., treasurer, ancl 11. L. A. Smith, secretary. The
board of directors was made up of E. P. Sttnit, William Lari-
mer, Jr., R. E. Whitsitt, C. A. Lawrence, William McGaa,
Hickory Rogers, William Clancy and 1'. T. ISassett. On the






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last day of the month a contract was made with Curtis & Lowry
to survey the town site of six hundred fort) acres and lay out
the main streets. Each of the forty-one sliareholders (jbHgated
himself to build on one or more of his lots within ninety days.

John Smith, as agent for Elbridge Gerry, opened the first
trading establishment in Denver. He was soon followed by Blake
& Williams, and on Christmas day Riciiard Wooten and his
brother arri\ed with se\eral wagon l^ads uf guods, making the
third store in the town. They were the last immigrants to arrive
that season. By the first of January there were fifty cabins in
Auraria and twenty-two in Denver.

Little of importance occurreil iluring the winter, but with the
return of spring both towns began to show signs of activity.
Doyle & Salomon arrived early with twelve wagon loads of
goods and opened in Auraria. Their stock consistetl of gro-
ceries, provisions of various kinds, boots and shoes, and niiners'
tools and supplies. A large warehouse was erected and Auraria
became a formidable rival of Denver for the trade of the com-
munity. By the first of April there were about a thousand peo- .
pie at the mouth of Cherry creek. Among the early arrivals
in the spring of 1859 were D. C. Oakes and William N. Byers.
Oakes brought with him the first saw-mill ever in the Pike's
Peak country. It was located about twenl)- miki, south of LX'u-
ver, on a little stream called I'lum creek, ^vhere timber was plen-
tiful, and on April 21 the first wagon load of lumber was taken
to Denver. While W. N. Byers was at Bellevue, Neb., on his
way to the Peak, he heard (jf a ])rinting press for sale at C^maha.
He bought it March 8, and took u with him to Denver, arriving
there Aijril JO. The second ^tory of Wooten'.-, ^t.)re was
quickly vacated for a newspaper ofilce, and on the _'_'d was issueil
the first number of the Rocky Jlluniilaiii News, the first paper 10
be published in what is now Colorado. An hour or so later,
another printer, named Jack jMerrick, issued the Cherry Creek
Pioneer. No second number of the Pioneer ever made its appear-
ance, for within a day or two Merrick sold his cnitfit to Thomas
Gibson, who was associated with Byers, and the i);iper was con-
solidated with the News.

Meantime the poi)ulation of both Demer and Auraria kept on
growing with almost marvelous rajjidity. Scarcely a d:i}- passed
that did n(jt bring a fresh body of inmiigrants, eager to try their
fortunes :.i the new gold fields. Nearly every one felt the great
need of ■ .me method of conimunicalion with the older settle-
ments faillier ea.st, and the friends left in the States. Hie near-

.dziVv.YZ 'WW



est post oftice was Fort Laramie, two luimlied miles distant.
In lliis emergency Henry Alien established a surt of private mail
route, and on the first of May dispatched a messenger from
Denver for the mail, lie returned with a nuile load of letters
and newspai)ers. W hile he was yxme on his mission, ihe first
overland coach of the Leavenworth and Pike's Peak Express Com-
pany arrived, bringing the first mail. The rates charged were
twenty-five cents for letters and fifty cents for ne\vsi)apers. The
coach made the trip from Leavenworth, a distance of 6S7 miles,
in ten days.

While these events were taking place at the mouth of Cherry
creek, ex];lurations were being made and settlements in'ojected
in other localities. Amung the first gxdd seekers to go t(j Cali-
fornia was George A. Jackson, a native of Glasgow, iMo. In
1857 he returned east, and while passing tln-ough the Pike's Peak
country was so favorably impressed with the indications that
he determined to visit the mountains and do a little prospecting,
for himself. Accordingly, the following year found him with
three com])anions at the I'ike's Peak mines. Those associated
with him were Tom Golden, after whom the city of Golden was
nametl, Antoine Janiss, and a man familiarly known by the sobri-
quet of "Rlack Hawk." Instead of joining the little settlement
at the mouth of Cherry creek the (piarlet struck boldly into the
mountains. A camji was established on the site of Golden and
the sinumer and fall were spent in prospecting along the Cache
la Poutlre, St. \'rain and Vastpiez forks and on liear creek, where
(hey opened some placer mines. In the winter of 1858-59,
Jackson explored \'asqnez fork, ascending the stream on the
ice as far as Grass valley. Seeing some smoke rising from the
other side of the ridge, he climbed Soda Llill and discovered
Idaho springs, the smoke he had seen being the vapor arising
from the warm water. At the mouth of an affluent of Vasquez
fork, afterward named Chicago creek, he built a fire to thaw
the ground, and with his hunting knife for a pick and a tin cup*
for a pan, he washed out nine dollars in a very short time. Elated
with his find, he hurried back to the camp at Golden and informed
his friends. Nothing could be done advantageously in the dead
of winter, so they waited impatiently for the coming of si)ring.
April ly Jacks(jn, with twenty-two men and a go(;d supply of
l)rovisions, relurned to the place. Tlu' wagi
verted into -luices and within a week's tim^
(Mil near:; I wo thousand dollars. Tln' littl<
by them Cliieago creek, and the name (d" Cli



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ar was



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378 Tim I'RUl'INCJi AND 11111 STAlliS.

fciTcd on llv^ luincs, Inil tlie jflaco .soon Ijccanic known as Jack-
son's digj^ini^s. .Miunt llic lirst of May Jackson made a trip
to Auraria and while there liis movenienls were watched hy some
of the disappointe<l g'okl hunters. When lie went hack to Chicago
har he was followed hy a crowd of anxious miners, and in a
little while the diggings were crowded to overllowing.

\\'^hile at Arapahoa bar Jackson met an acquaintance named
John II. Gregory and invited him to share in the good fortune
promised by Chicago har. Cregory accepted the olTer and a few
days later started for the diggings. At the forks of the Vasquez
he made a mistake, taking the north branch instead of the south.
That mistake resulted in the discovery of the Gregory lode, one of
the richest gold mines in Colorailo.

Another account of the finding of Gregory gulch is that he
first found gold on the north fork of the Vasquez or Clear creek,
in January, 1859, hut that running short of provisions he went to
Denver and made no further elTort to jjrospect the region luitil
"grub staked" in May by a man named Wall. Whichever of
these narratives may be true the extraordinary fortune turned his
brain for a tmie. lie sold his discovery claim to Henderson &
Gritlley for twenty-one thousand dollars, and about two years
later disa])peared from the gidch. What became of him is not
definitely known.

Gold was discovered about the mitldle of January, 1859, in
Boulder county, at the mouth of a little stream that afterward
took the name of Gold run. ( )n the south branch of the Boulder
the lOeadwood .diggings were opened toward the last of January.
The name was suggested by the mass of fallen timber in the
gulch. ICarly in the spring J. D. Scott found gold bearing quartz
on what is now called Gold hill. As a result of these discoveries
the town of Boulder was fountled. Settlements were also made
during the spring and early summer at Golden City, Black
Hawk, Central City, Nevada, Fair Play, Breckenridge, Tarryall,
Mount Vernon, Mountain City, Buckskin Joe and various other
points. Most of these settlements prospered, others perislied.
New diggings were opened at several places, one of the more
important being at Russell gulch, hy W. Green Russell, another
in French gulch near Breckenridge and still another about seven
or eight miles northwest oi i''air I'ki)' by a mounlaineer known
as Buckskin foe. Rich ]jlacers were also discoveretl at Tarryall.
A stampede u-llowed each of these discoveries and by vScptcmber
there were \,'.u.- hundred men at Russell gulch washing out about

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forty dollars per day each, un llic average, while LUickskiu
Joe and its contemporaries were even more productive.

Hundreds had heen inlluenced to try their fortunes at Pike's
Peak through ])am]jhlets puhlishcd and circulated hy D. C. Oakes
and W. N. B\ers. That ])uhlished hy Oakes was in reality a
diary kept by Creen Pussell during the sununer of 1858. Byers
published a "C.uide to i 'ike's Peak" which hatl been widely
distributed. P'ailing to realize the expectalicjus built up Ijy these
pamphlets, ami growing weary of the hardships of frontier life,
many of those at Denver and Auraria wished themselves back in
the Slates. They hesitated about going, however, still hoping
that the wheel of fiirlune would catch them on its upward turn,
and that llie\' wouhl not ha\-e to rLlurn lo their friends at home
empty hautled.

I\\)y\\ 16 a man named Passetl was kilk\l in a (piarrel at Denver.
Several other killings follDwed. That settled it with many dis-
gruntled, homesick- individuals and the)- started eastward, cursing
C^ak'es ami Pycrs as lhe\' went. Without money, provisions, or
the means of transporlaliun, and with a journey of almost seven
hundred miles before them, ihcy kept on, telling their tale of woe
to every one the\' met, and warning immigrants against the hard-
ships, poverty and lawlessness of the Pike's Peak country. The
stories the)- told were as greatly exaggerated as the descriptions
given in the guide books that had induced them to woo Dame
Fortune in the new h^Uloratlo. ?^Iany bountl for Pike's Peak
turned back thankful that they had been saved from the horrors
that awaited those who were foolhardy enough to persist in going
on. h'very one thus turned back added his own story, colored in
his own way, and i)ersuaded others that the newly discovered
gold fields were a bad place to go. Some thousands were influ-
enced by such stories to change their minds and return to the
States. In numerous instances goods were thrown out of wagons,
to relieve the teams, and for miles down the Platte the trail was
strewn with merchandise of all kinds. In the midst of the
stampede came the news of the discovery of Gregory and
Russell gulches, Tarryall, iMench gulch and the Buckskin Joe
mines, and this had a tendency to check the hegira. As the


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Online LibraryWeston Arthur GoodspeedThe province and the states, a history of the province of Louisiana under France and Spain, and of the territories and states of the United States formed therefrom (Volume 4) → online text (page 40 of 53)