May-June 1861

Peek at the Week

June 19 – June 25, 1861. George M. Pullman left for the States on the 22nd. His friends wished him well, as he had shown himself to be a man of energy and integrity since his arrival in 1860. Pullman had built up numerous business ventures in Central City and Denver, including real estate investments, stamp mills, freighting, haying, and mining schemes. In Jefferson County he platted Cold Spring Ranch near Green Mountain. He remained in the East, returning to Colorado only for a few months in the spring of 1862 and 1863 to straighten up his local business affairs. Upon his return to Chicago in 1863 he embarked upon his biggest venture yet, the construction of luxury railroad sleeping cars–the Pullman Car of legend.

June 12 – June 18, 1861. In a letter dated June 16th, 1861, the correspondent provided a picture of Bradford City and the road from Denver to the foothills, taking the C.O.C. & P.P. coach for South Park. The coach stopped overnight at Bradford, which was making no progress in growth. Cultivation replaced the stakes of the proposed town lots. Heading further west, the coach conductor informed passengers that they would need to use the “Foot & Walker’s line” for the top of the hill. So the passengers complied, walking up the steep ascent west of Bradford to the summit and gazed down upon the plains, with Denver’s white houses and brick commercial blocks visible on the plain. The passengers and coach continued west to the intersection with the Mt. Vernon, Bergen’s Ranche and Tarryall road. Along the way the group met a “runaway” couple heading east to Denver to be married, Mr. William Stone of Bradford, and Miss Molly Adams (daughter of the same Adams who reported Indian trouble just a week earlier).

June 5 – June 11, 1861. Mr. A.B. Adams, owner of the Ohio House on Turkey Creek and the Bradford Road experienced some “Indian difficulties.” Reportedly 160 Cheyenne and Arapahoes arrived at his place demanding whiskey and clothing. Chief Left Hand soon arrived and when Adams opened the door to admit him, the Indians filled the house and carried off everything they could, including rifles. Then the Indians went to the Chicago Toll House and stole more guns and other articles. Adams claimed a thousand dollars in damage. His family took refuge at Bradford City (in present-day Ken-Caryl), and he doubted that they would return to Turkey Creek. A week later Left Hand gave the Rocky Mountain News his version of the story, saying that the Arapahoes had stopped at the Adams house for their noon rest. A white man (Adams) appeared at an upper window and beckoned to a boy, who approached the house. The man came out of the house and proceeded to violently beat the boy, who was not expected to recover. The Arapahoes demanded compensation for the outrage. Mrs. Adams gave them a half-bag of flour, an old gun, and assorted other goods at which time the Arapahoes left the area. Left Hand denied that they committed any other depredations as Adams had alleged.

May 29 – June 4, 1861. On May 29, Gov. Gilpin finally arrived in Denver. As it happened leading citizens had already planned a ball in Golden City for May 30th in honor of William Russell’s visit. Gilpin’s arrival just expanded the festivities. Delegates from Denver, Central City and surrounding areas joined Russell, Gilpin, Gov. Steele, Col. Slough, Col. Albertson, Gen. Larimer, and Mr. Berthoud who all made speeches. Russell departed for the States on June 11 and planned on being back in St. Joseph in 65 hours, almost 700 miles across the “Great American Desert” in a special coach with arrangements for quick changes. The Rocky Mountain Newswas very hopeful of improved prospects in mail, telegraph, and railway as a result of Russell’s visit to the region. On June 13th Russell (then in Leavenworth) telegraphed J.B. Jones, his representative in Denver, stating that the Board of Directors of the Overland Express Company had authorized an exploring party to survey the road to Salt Lake.


May 22 – May 28, 1861. The ominous surety of the impending war consumed much of the day-to-day newspaper coverage across the nation. Citizens of Colorado Territory, remote from their homes in Union and Confederate states, clamored for timely updates and the Rocky Mountain News obliged by displacing coverage of small local events. However one visitor, William H. Russell of the freighting firm Russell, Majors & Waddell, merited notice when he made a flying trip to the area in a last-ditch effort to shore up his business investments in the Central Overland California & Pikes Peak Express and the Pony Express. He visited the mining districts accompanied by business associates Major Robert Bradford and John Jones, and notable local citizens T.J. Bayaud, W.H. Middaugh, Amos Steck, and C.S. Hinckley.

May 15 – May 21, 1861. On May 15, 1861, while surveying up the Clear Creek with legendary guide Jim Bridger, Edward Berthoud discovers a pass leading into the Middle Park (now named Berthoud Pass). By the 17th, reports from the field indicated that the survey for the New Road was proceeding well and that the party had found the ascent unexpectedly easy.

May 8 – May 14, 1861. Ute Indians purportedly crept into Denver City and attacked a small group of Arapahoes, killing Little Raven’s son. The Arapahoes attempted to retaliate, pursuing the Utes down along the Bradford Road. The Arapahoe party returned from Bradford without achieving their goal. The Bradford Road cut roughly southwest from Denver to present-day Ken-Caryl (Bradford City), following at points the alignment of present-day Morrison Road. The following week the Rocky Mountain News reported a unconfirmed rumor that party of Arapahoes attacked a small group of Utes along Bear Creek on the 17th, killed and scalped the enemy, and took their ponies as spoils.

The roads in the area were showing improvement. The cattle carcasses that had perfumed the air along the Golden Gate Road had been removed, a two-ton boiler made it safely up the Big Hill Road, and the new Apex Road was described as good with a nice grade. Of a more significant nature, well-respected Golden City engineer Captain Edward Berthoud set out with a team to survey the upper reaches of the Clear Creek and attempt to find a way through the mountains for the much-desired road to Salt Lake City via Ft. Bridger. Legendary guide James Bridger joined Berthoud in his survey.

Meanwhile, early in the morning of May 13th in Golden City, a long-standing feud took a deadly turn when Benjamin Hamilton called out George Dargen from his lodging house. Dargen responded, striking Hamilton, who then in turn stabbed Dargen with a Bowie knife. Dargen died later that day. Sheriff Green quickly arrested Hamilton, and the trial started almost immediately thereafter. Hamilton was acquitted on the 15th, the jury ruling the incident as “justifiable homicide.”

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