Archive for the ‘Cemeteries and Graves’ Category

We’ve all heard of Wall Street, Boston, Hollywood, London, and Manhattan, but did you know Colorado has a Wall Street, Boston, and Manhattan too? Wall Street in Boulder County and Manhattan in Larimer County were small mining towns in the late-19th and early-20th Century, Boston, in Summit County, was a seasonal mining camp in that same era. London (there were actually two “North” and “South” London) were a pair of camps located a mile apart on Mosquito Pass in Park County, and were inhabited until the 1930s. Hollywood began it’s short life as a suburb of Victor, Colorado in Teller County, and was swallowed up by Goldfield as that town expanded. The names of these tiny communities represented the high hopes of the miners and their families who once called them home- High hopes that faded and vanished when the veins of gold and silver played out.

Wall Street still has a small population and is home to a quaint mining museum housed in the old Assay office. All that remains of Manhattan is a tiny cemetery, high on a hillside, with the graves of a handful of miners killed in an underground explosion in 1892 which spelled the town’s doom. What remained of Manhattan’s structures were burned to the ground by the Forest Service in the 1930s, and only a few photos remain. Boston, high above timberline, surrounded by snow-capped spires of rock at the head of Mayflower Gulch between Copper Mountain and Leadville still has a scattering of cabins, the fragile remnants of the log boarding house, and rusted relics of mining machinery.

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Wall Street, Colorado- Boulder County

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Wall Street

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Wall Street in the boom days

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The monstrous chlorniation mill used for seperating gold from host rock at Wall Street- The first of it’s kind in the United States, and cutting edge technology in it’s day

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Remains of the chlorination mill today

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The “fancy house” at Wall Street, heavily damaged in the floods of 2013 and since torn down

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A glimpse of Boston, Colorado in Summit County, located high above timberline

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Boston

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Relics of yesterday in a miner’s cabin on the trail to Boston

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Boston

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The awe inspiring setting of Boston, Colorado

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Boston

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The boarding house at Boston

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Boston

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Hollywood, Colorado- A far cry it’s more famous namesake!

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Hollywood

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Hollywood

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Hollywood

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London, Colorado

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Boarding house at London

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London

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Mosquito Pass from the inside of the mill at London

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Miner’s cabin at London

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This tiny, hillside cemetery is all that remains of Manhattan, Colorado

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Grave of George Grill, one of the miners killed in the 1892 Manhattan explosion

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Another Manhattan burial

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Manhattan

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A tiny fleck of gold from Manhattan Creek

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Manhattan at it’s peak around 1890

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Manhattan, Colorado in better days

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Manhattan circa 1930

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Manhattan around 1930- It had been abandoned for 30 years by the time these photos were taken, the Forest Service burned the buildings shortly after, nothing remains today

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Manhattan, Colorado

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Photo Blog: Colorado’s High Alpine Mining Camps- What Remains Today

Colorado’s Lost Highway- A Photo Voyage Down Highway 350 From La Junta to Trinidad

Photo Blog: Coal Towns of Colorado- Ghosts of the Southern Foothills

Abandoned Faces of Colorado’s San Luis Valley and Northern New Mexico.

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As Colorado’s past is swallowed up daily by the manic, urban, insanity that has overrun the state, it is easy to forget about those who came before us- But there were thousands of them, and their final resting places can be found tucked away in the trees or in isolated corners of the prairie. Here is a quick look at 25 of Colorado’s forgotten grave sites and cemeteries. (Click on images to expand)  Enjoy!

1. Red Wing Cemetery

Huerfano County, Colorado

2. Sligo Cemetery

Weld County, Colorado

3. Dory Hill Cemetery

Gilpin County, Colorado

4. Tijeras Cemetery

Las Animas County, Colorado

5. Captain Silas Soule’s Grave

Denver County, Colorado

Silas Soule disobeyed orders and refused to fire on the Cheyenne people during the Sand Creek Massacre on November 29, 1864. Soule was assassinated in Denver in 1865 after testifying against Colonel John Chivington during an investigation of the massacre.

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6. Bald Mountain Cemetery

Gilpin County, Colorado

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7. Martinez Cemetery

Otero County, Colorado

8. Gold Hill Cemetery

Boulder County, Colorado

9. Bordenville Cemetery

Park County, Colorado

10. Odd Fellows Cemetery

Gilpin County, Colorado

11. Norton Cemetery

Elbert County, Colorado

12. Como Cemetery

Park County, Colorado

13. Marble Cemetery

Gunnison County, Colorado

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14. Virginia Dale Pioneer Cemetery

Larimer County, Colorado

15. Vasquez Cemetery

Clear Creek County, Colorado

16. Parkville Cemetery

Summit County, Colorado

17. Confederate Veterans Plot

Fremont County, Colorado

18. Russell Gulch Cemetery

Gilpin County, Colorado

19. Sunshine Cemetery

Boulder County, Colorado

20. German Veterans of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871 Plot

Denver County, Colorado

21. Central City Catholic Cemetery

Gilpin County, Colorado

22. Prospector McKee’s Grave

Gunnison County, Colorado

23. Civil War Veterans Plot, Riverside Cemetery

Denver County, Colorado

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24. Idaho Springs Cemetery

Clear Creek County, Colorado

25. Farasita Cemetery

Huerfano County, Colorado

A collection of photos I’ve taken through the years capturing fall colors in various Colorado ghost towns, mining camps, and historic cemeteries. Various Olympus cameras from 7mp to 16mp, at various points in my life over the past decade, even a few taken on my phone.  Featured are scenes from Crystal City, Ashcroft, Central City Catholic Cemetery, Stringtown, Beaver City, Grover, Winfield, Knights of Pythias Cemetery- Central City, Idaho Springs Cemetery, Nevadaville, Ironton, Dayton, Bull Hill and Buckingham.

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Stringtown

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Ashcroft

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Central City Catholic Cemetery

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Near Grover

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Knights of Pythias Cemetery- Central City

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Ironton

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Bull Hill

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Crystal City

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Central City Catholic Cemetery

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Dayton

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Idaho Springs Cemetery

Buckingham School

Buckingham

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Central City Catholic Cemetery

Prize Mine

Nevadaville

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Idaho Springs Cemetery

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Dayton

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Ironton

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Crystal City

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Beaver City

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Central City Catholic Cemetery

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Ashcroft

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Crystal City

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Winfield

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Ashcroft

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Central City Catholic Cemetery

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Nevadville? Russell Gulch?

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Beaver City

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Central City Catholic Cemetery

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Winfield

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Aschcroft

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Crystal City

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Dayton

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Ironton

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Idaho Springs Cemetery

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Central City Catholic Cemetery

Enjoy!

 

 

For those of you who are interested here are links to my 2017 calendars, Colorado Ghost Town Guide Books, and subscription information for “Ghost Towns of Montana and Beyond” magazine which I contribute articles and photos to.

I thank you all for your continued support and once the snow melts I’ll be back at it in 2017!

Also stay tuned for my upcoming book “The Gray Ghost of Colorado” which is the definitive true history of “The Reynolds Gang” a Confederate Cavalry company from Texas which raided the South Park region of Colorado in the summer of 1864. Their story is an intriguing tale of exiled Colorado miners who returned to Colorado on military orders to disrupt Union supply trains and mail deliveries and steal Colorado gold and currency to fund the Confederacy late in the Civil War. The Reynolds Gang left behind a buried horde of stolen gold and paper money worth an estimated $3.5 million which remains to be found today.

The gang was ambushed, and several men made harrowing escapes, and those who were captured were murdered on illegal orders of Colonel John Chivington by members of the 3rd Colorado Cavalry. Many legends have sprung over the years about the Reynolds Gang, but my book is the only true account of events and is based on the cold, hard, facts with the sources and documentation to prove all of the “accepted” versions of the story to be lies. My book will rewrite the history of The Reynolds Gang with irrefutable evidence.

“The Gray Ghosts of Colorado” should be available by May 1, 2017 and I will post updates here.

All 2017 Calendars by Jeff Eberle are $14.99 each+shipping

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2017 Ghosts of Colorado Calendar. Click Here to Order!

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2017 Hot Rods Calendar  Click Here to Order!

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2017 Wildlife Calendar Click Here to Order!

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$15.99 Guide Book to the Ghost Towns of the High Rockies Click Here to Order!

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$19.99 Guide Book to the Foothills Gold Belt Region Click Here to Order!

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Ghost Towns of Montana and Beyond Magazine

One-Year Subscription (4-issues)

$12.00 for U.S. residents

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Make Checks Payable to:

Jolene Ewert

P.O. Box 5188

Bozeman, MT

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Sandwiched in between the Sangre de Cristos to the west, and the Wet Mountains to the east in Southern Colorado, a few miles west of Gardner, Colorado I came across the forlorn and tattered remains of an old settlement about a year ago. (I’m certainly not “on to” something new here, these ruins have appeared in books and in photos across the web for years.) Tucked in close at the foot of a rocky bluff near the Huerfano River, surrounded by ranches sat this little gem with no name. I have searched high and low for information on this settlement and have found a few, vague leads, but no definitive answer as to what this place was called…or if it was ever called anything.

 

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Rito Oso? Archuletaville? Sharpsdale?

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According to Colorado Ghost Town aficionado Ken Jessen, for a short time in the late-1960s and early-1970s the site was occupied by members of a hippie community that named the site “Archuletaville” but the buildings were there long before the 1960s. When the hippies arrived, the buildings were being used as goat pens by a local rancher who agreed to let the hippies live at the site. This is the most recent account of the site’s history.

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Prior to the arrival of the hippies and the establishment of Archuletaville, the site is shrouded in mystery. Many have claimed it to be the ruins of “Sharpsdale” an 1800s era supply stop on the route over Mosca Pass into the San Luis Valley. But evidence suggests that Sharpsdale was located nearby and closer to Tom Sharp’s “Buzzard’s Roost Ranch” which still stands today a few miles down the Huerfano from Archuletaville.

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Another possibility is that the ruins are the site of Rito Oso an old Mexican settlement dating back to the era when Southern Colorado was still a part of Mexico. A walk through the broken and crumbling ruins at the site lend credence to this possibility- Clearly, some of the structures are newer and date to, or have repairs and improvements that were made in the “Archuletaville” era of the 1960s, but a look around reveals a handful of much, much older structures of stone, log and adobe brick at the site.  A rough hewn log cabin without a single iron nail present, it’s logs splintered and dry rotted in a way that only decades of exposure to the elements can produce. Stone pens and sheds for animals. The location- Tucked in at the base of a bluff, on a prominence overlooking the vast plain of the Huerfano- An excellent defensive locale if you were concerned with attacks from roving Indians and bandits. Perhaps the most compelling evidence is the ranch across the road from the site which bears the name “Rito Oso”  but nobody seems to know for sure what the ruins were called or when they date to. Does anyone out there know the facts about this enigmatic site on the Huerfano?

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Highway 12, known as “The Highway of Legends” heads west from Trinidad, Colorado along the Purgatoire River into the foothills. Along this strip of highway from Trinidad to the east base of the Sangre de Cristos are numerous plazas- small communities punctuated by their picturesque Catholic churches, tiny congregational cemeteries, and small clusters of homes. Many of these plazas date back to the 1860’s when thirteen families from Mora, New Mexico settled the area, although the Purgatoire valley had been frequented and populated intermittently long before that by Spanish and Mexican ranchers. The plazas took the name of the founding family such as “Cordova Plaza” and “Parras Plaza.”

In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s coal mining revitalized some of these little communities, and evidence of the coal mining era can be seen along way as you wind westward through the valley. When the coal mines closed, and the plazas returned to their sleepy existence as ranching   communities. Some of the plazas that dot the road are still occupied, a few are abandoned. A trip down the Highway of Legends today gives you a chance to view the crumbling adobe of these early Colorado settlements.

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Church at Tijeras Plaza

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Tijeras Plaza Cemetery with Sangre de Cristo mountains in the distance

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Abandoned home along the Highway of Legends

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A weathered headstone at one of the tiny cemeteries

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Another of the abandoned catholic Churches along the way

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Valdez

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Valdez

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Abandoned cars at Valdez

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Segundo

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Segundo

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Crown of a human skull exposed by time and the elements at one of the tiny cemeteries along the route.

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General Store at Weston

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Weston Elementary School

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Unique House at Weston

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Vigil

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Church at Vigil

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Parras Plaza

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Parras Plaza

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Parras Plaza

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Parras Plaza

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Parras Plaza

Please Note: This is not a commentary for or against any view point, this is the factual history of a man and the events surrounding his life that have been largely covered up and/or forgotten by time. It is not my intent to start a debate on the controversial subject of the Civil War, but to merely describe the circumstances of a man’s life during this troubled period in United States history.

“History is written by the victors.” – Walter Benjamin 1892-1940

As Americans, we have been raised to believe in the power of good over evil. That our way is the right way. In the 20th Century we Americans cheered our Army on as they played vital roles in defeating our enemies around the globe,  our patriotic fervor and unity reaching a crescendo 1945 as our tanks and infantry marched into the heart of Nazi Germany, and our Marines on the beaches and our bombers in the sky dealt a death blow to Japanese fanaticism in the Pacific.  Often, our version leads us to believe that the United States conquered evil singlehandedly. Seldom are our allies mentioned, and never do we read an enemy account of things. We tend not think twice about our enemies.

We read our version of the events of World War I and World War II in our history books. We grew up watching our version of the great battles of our time reenacted on the movie screen or on the TV by celebrities we all loved. We were the victor and the history was ours to write. We are a united country- The United States of America, and damn the German or Japanese (or Iraqi for that matter) version of events.

But let’s look back eighty years prior to our triumphant victory parades of VE and VJ Day in 1945. Let’s look back 140 years before our Abrams tanks rolled into Baghdad and statues of Saddam were toppled. Let’s look back to a time when there was no “we” “us” or “our” Let’s look back to the brutal, bloody, Civil War which divided “us” into two separate Nations between the years of 1861 and 1865. A time when we were either “Yankees” or “Rebs”-  A unique era in our  history when two different Americans- Abraham Lincoln, and Jefferson Davis were called “Mr. President”  and both could rightfully claim that title. A troubling time  when a war was fought by Americans, against Americans, in America- A war that left 750,000 of us dead on our soil.

In the case of the Civil War, how did we effectively and accurately write the history of a war we fought against ourselves?  What do we say of our enemies when they are us? Simply put, we say nothing. It is perhaps the greatest spoil of war that the victor writes the history- omitting, hiding, changing, glorifying and altering in general the events of a particular conflict to fit their ideal and their agenda. Below is the story of one of the men who fought in our war against ourselves. This man was on the losing side, and, subsequently, much of his life story has been erased by the victor. His name was John C. Moore.

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John C. Moore, Mayor, Denver City, Kansas Territory 1860

On August 18, 1832 a man named John C. Moore was born in Pulaski, Tennessee. This man would pass away 83 years later in Excelsior Springs, Missouri on October 27, 1915. He was a politician, and the first official mayor of Denver City, Kansas Territory (you read that right- Kansas.) This is about the only information you will find regarding John C. Moore on the internet today. It seems a rather lackluster and dull description of a man who was elected the first mayor of a wild, then-frontier town that was the gateway to the Rocky Mountains and the great Colorado Gold Rush. Certainly there must be more to John C. Moore’s life than the few lines you find about him in most sources.

John C. Moore was more than an obscure politician in a dusty frontier town. John C. Moore was a respected and intelligent newspaper man who had come to the region to be a part of the excitement following the big news of the Russell Party finding gold in Cherry Creek. Thousands of prospectors, fortune seekers, businessman, prostitutes, gamblers, desperadoes, and any kind of camp follower, thrill seeker, adventurer and drifter you can imagine poured into what was then Kansas Territory in 1859 following news of the gold strike. Among those who came to the region was Moore, a newspaper man and aspiring politician from Missouri. He had found success in Kansas City in the 1850’s as one of the founders, and as chief editor of the “Kansas City Times” newspaper.

When Moore arrived Denver did not exist, rather two separate settlements a short distance apart on Cherry Creek, one called (obviously enough) “Cherry Creek” and the other “Auraria.” As these two small communities grew, they soon became one large community, and the civic leaders of each settlement, John C. Moore among them, convened, and decided to hold a vote on merging the two towns into one. With the successful vote, the two communities became one and adopted the new moniker of “Denver City.” It was also decided that any good city should have a proper mayor, and the fledgling city council voted that John C. Moore was the right man for the job.

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Cherry Creek and Auraria soon to be “Denver City, Kansas Territory”

As John C. Moore took the inaugural reins of Denver City, Kansas Territory, opinions, posturing, and tempers boiled over “back in the States” as Unionists and Secessionists divided themselves between their respective camps based on political and moral ideology. As the rest of the world focused on the debate back in the States, few, other than fortune seekers were concerned with the far western frontier. Denver City was just a distant outpost and the events “way out there” had as little impact on the events in Washington D.C. as the events in Washington D.C. had on Denver.

John C. Moore’s main concern was not the politics back east, but the rampant disorder and violence in Denver City. In his time at the helm, Denver was notorious for its gambling halls, saloons, and bordellos. The majority of those in Denver at any given time were just passing through on their way to or from the mining camps in the foothills to the west. Denver City in 1860 was a place to buy supplies, rest for a day or two, get drunk, chase the parlor girls, and try your hand at cards. The volatile mixture of wanderers, booze, girls, guns and gambling led to the predictable results- Drunken brawls, hurt feelings, gunfights, and generally sloppiness and disorder.

Three or more gunfights a day in between fist fights and arguments was an average day in Denver back then, chronicled by many who passed through the town, and Moore was supposed to put an end to that. Unfortunately, Moore was bit too soft-spoken and complacent. Soon it was clear Moore was not the right man for the task. He was replaced after only five months as Mayor by Charles Cook.

After losing the title of Mayor, and, as the argument between the Unionists and Secessionists continued to rise meteorically towards it’s boiling point, Moore became one of Denver’s prominent voices in favor of secession. As a fledgling, and rebuked, politician Moore found a ready and willing audience among the streets of Denver. At the time, although outnumbered by pro-Unionists among the average citizens, the pro-Confederacy element in the region held the power- All of the major players at the time were from the south- The Russell Brothers who first found gold in Cherry Creek and later near Central City, John Gregory who founded Central City, George Jackson who found his fortune at present day Idaho Springs,  and A.B. Miller, one of, if not, Denver City’s most prominent businessman were just a few of the more famous secessionists living in the territory, and, since these men had the fortunes, these men held the power. Many of the other political and civic leaders in the territory had been appointed to their positions, or had their journeys to the territory funded by southern politicians and families, so their loyalties lay with the south as well. To add to the complex situation in the region, most of the high ranking military officers stationed in the area were of southern extraction, many would go on to become Generals in the Confederacy such as- Robert Ransom Jr. (Ft. Wise 1860-1861), George H. Steuart  (Ft. Wise 1860-1861),  JEB Stuart (Ft. Wise 1860-1861), John Forney (Ft. Garland 1859-1861), William Walker (Ft. Wise 1860-1861) In simple terms, in 1860-1861 the powerful elite and the military in the territory were largely secessionists and loyal to the south, while the “average Joe” was staunchly Unionist.

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General J.E.B. “Jeb” Stuart

It is thought that among the civilian population of the territory in late 1860 early 1861 loyalties north of the Arkansas River among the “Anglo” settlers was split 70/30 in favor of the Union, which translates to about 21,000 pro-Union citizens to 9,000 pro-Confederate. South of the Arkansas River the population was largely Mexican and scattered, but pro-Confederate as well largely due to feelings of resentment towards the Federal Government who they felt stole Mexican land from them in the wars  and following treaties of the 1840’s. These Hispanic secessionist were known as “Confederados.” Clearly, the major issue in the territory, from the Union view point, was the pro-Confederate faction had the money and that translated to “power and guns” and they had a potentially valuable ally south of the Arkansas River if war was to break out.

With Abraham Lincoln’s election in 1860, the subsequent secession of seven southern States which led to the formation of the Confederate States of America, and the skirmish at Ft. Sumter in April 1861 marking the beginning of armed hostilities, the military hierarchy across the United States and the territories fragmented along political and regional lines. The military men named above, and countless others of all ranks tendered their resignations and left the Forts of the region to return to the south and take up arms in Confederate gray. This was a blow to civilian secessionists such as John C. Moore who were preaching the Confederate cause in the streets of Denver.

Abraham Lincoln recognized the immediate danger and quickly named Colorado a new territory, and no longer a part of Kansas. This allowed Lincoln to appoint a “friendly” Territorial Governor in the form of William Gilpin who was rushed to Denver to establish law and order, weed out the secessionist elements, and secure Colorado Territory and it’s gold for the Union- If the Territory went Confederate, the enormous wealth of gold and silver in the region could tip the scales in favor of the South.

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Governor William Gilpin

During this transitional period in 1860-1861, following his removal from the office of Mayor, John C. Moore and  a fellow secessionist named James Coleman established a pro-Confederacy newspaper in Denver called “The Daily Mountaineer” which was published from August 25, 1860 to May 15, 1861 with it’s distinctly pro-southern flair.  Finding an audience, Moore and Coleman played on the heartstrings of their fellow southerners working the gold fields in the new Territory.

Ads were placed in “The Daily Mountaineer” and handbills distributed around town promised top-dollar paid for pistols, rifles, and other equipment to clandestinely outfit a regiment of Colorado Volunteers for the Confederate cause. Sympathetic businessmen, miners, ranchers and farmers in Colorado Territory sold and donated arms and other supplies to the Denver secessionist leaders.  The Union element in town relied on their overwhelming numbers to keep the rebels in check. Fights and skirmishes broke out between the two factions regularly, but no serious loss of life or property ever transpired.

Charley Harrison, another prominent Denver secessionist owned a saloon called the “Critereon” which had long been a hangout for secessionists, outlaws and other seedy elements of Denver’s early days. Soon, the Critereon became the secessionist stronghold and secret recruiting center of Colorado Territory. Although most people at the time knew Charley Harrison and his lot were Confederate sympathizers, few realized the Critereon was being used to funnel men and arms to the south. The arms and equipment raised by the newspaper ads and hand bills were stored at the Critereon. Volunteers for the Confederacy coming from all over Colorado Territory would meet at the saloon, be issued arms and provisions, and then would sneak out late at night under the cover of darkness to head south and join the regular Confederate Army. It is interesting to note that this was happening in early-to-mid 1861 before William Gilpin became governor in the summer of 1861 and raised the Colorado Cavalry Regiments for the Union. So, one can surmise, based on the early accounts, that the first Colorado troops sent to fight in the Civil War were Confederates.

As Governor Gilpin began to take control of the situation, he suspended habeas corpus, thus making it legal to imprison anyone in the territory for an indefinite period of time, without trial for any reason. This action gave Gilpin the ability to pursue “rebels” in the territory based on the weakest of evidence.

The Colorado secessionists would not be bullied, and on the night of August 21, 1861, roughly one month after William Gilpin was named Governor, a wild series of melees and scuffles erupted between Unionists and rebels on the streets of Denver. Shots were fired and several men on both sides were wounded, but no one was killed, probably due to the drunken nature of the brawls. The rebels, outnumbered by the recently emboldened Unionists, retreated en masse to the Critereon and hunkered down for a protracted battle. The effects of the booze eventually wore off, and both sides lost interest in killing one another. Neither side would abandon their positions though, and the stalemate finally ended when the Denver Town Marshall pushed his way through Unionist lines, knocked on the front door of the Critereon and arrested Charley Harrison

Harrison was tried in the Hall of Justice on charges of treason for his secessionist activities, but since Colorado was only a territory at the time, he was technically guilty of nothing other than holding an unpopular opinion. He was acquitted on the charge of treason, but found guilty on the charge of “Obstructing the Territorial Government.” As the guilty charges were read, the presiding justices were informed of a party of 100 well-armed Confederates were waiting outside for Charley’s return, and to protect his well-being. The justices retreated for a short time, perhaps feeling a bit nervous about the posse outside, and returned with the unexpected verdict that instead of the customary jail term for the offense, it had been determined that Charley Harrison should walk free if he paid a fine of $5,000 and promised to leave the Colorado Territory within two weeks, never to return. Harrison agreed to the fine and terms of exile, and left the Denver Hall of Justice a free man to his waiting supporters outside.

With Harrison’s exile imposed, the majority of the Denver secessionists quickly followed suit and fled south to join the regular ranks of the Confederate Army. Among those who left following Charley Harrison’s trial were A.B. Miller (the prominent businessmen mentioned previously) and Denver’s first Mayor John C. Moore. Also leaving Colorado and their fortunes behind were William and Joseph Russell who returned to Georgia and raised their own cavalry unit known as “Captain Russell’s Company of the Georgia Cavalry”, and George Jackson left his riches in Idaho Springs to join the Arizona Brigade of the Confederate States Army.

A.B. Miller’s band of Confederates were surrounded by Union troops while trying to cross south across Kansas to friendly lines in Missouri. Instead of surrendering, Miller and his men, estimated at one hundred in number, simply abandoned their wagons, livestock, and supplies, and disappeared with their guns under the cover of darkness. They changed their route, and headed for Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma) which was home to the Choctaw and Cherokee Nations who were allies of the Confederate States. The next day Union forces were shocked to find twenty wagons and over four hundred cattle had been left behind, but not a single rebel.

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In October of 1861 Union troops learned of a large rebel encampment southwest of Pueblo in a remote valley known as “Mace’s Hole” near present day Beulah, Colorado. Union forces launched a surprise attack and around forty Colorado confederates were arrested, with around one hundred fifty escaping south and linking up with General Sibley’s Confederate Army of New Mexico. Among those captured at Mace’s Hole were Jim and John Reynolds, two of the founding fathers of Fairplay, Colorado. The Mace’s Hole rebels would escape from the Denver City jail with the assistance of Jackson Robinson- A Denver police officer who was a clandestine operator for the southern cause. Robinson, and the Reynolds brothers would reappear in 1863 at Ft. Belknap, Texas where they enlisted in General Douglas H. Cooper’s Third Texas Cavalry Regiment. In the summer of 1864 the Reynolds brothers and around fifty other Confederate cavalry, including Jackson Robinson, marched from Ft. Belknap on orders from General Cooper to disrupt the Union supply trains in Colorado Territory. The return of these Colorado rebels became known as the “The Reynolds Gang Terror” of 1864, and many grossly exaggerated stories and legends were written about the unit.

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Rebels Captured at Mace’s Hole

Denver’s first Mayor, John C. Moore, fled south, and safely crossed into Confederate territory. He joined ranks with General Joseph Shelby, a famous Confederate Cavalry General in the Army of the Trans-Mississippi. Moore went on to serve as quartermaster for the unit, holding the rank of Colonel, then earning the rank of  Adjutant General in the closing days of the Civil War.

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General Joseph Shelby

At the end of the war in 1865 as the Confederate armies across the south and west laid down their arms, General Joseph Shelby and roughly one thousand of his soldiers took a defiant stand and refused to surrender. Remaining in formation, in full uniform, General Shelby and his cavalry crossed the Rio Grande River into Mexico, Union troops in pursuit, pausing briefly to throw their battle flags into the water, proclaiming “It is better to drown our colors than surrender them.”  Among the men in the group was Denver’s first Mayor, John C. Moore. These men became legendary at the time among both Union and Confederate veterans of the war as “The Undefeated”- The unit that never surrendered. (The 1969 John Wayne-Rock Hudson film “The Undefeated” is based on Shelby’s cavalry.)

Once safe in Mexico, General Shelby’s cavalry offered their services to Emperor Maximilian of Mexico, who, politely declined, but as a token of gratitude for their offer presented the men with a land grant near Veracruz where he allowed them to built a colony for Americans.  Two years later the land grant was revoked and many of the men of Shelby’s cavalry quietly returned to the United States, among them John C. Moore.

John C. Moore returned to Colorado. He settled in Pueblo, and returned to the newspaper business as the founder and editor of “The Pueblo Press.” Denver’s first Mayor died with little if any recognition for his accomplishments in life. He was a man born and made of a tumultuous time, like many of his generation. He picked the losing side in a brutal and divisive war that still haunts us today, and the winner wrote the history of that war. John C. Moore’s remarkable life certainly deserves more than the few lines allowed him in most sources, he was, after all, one of us- an American.

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Inscription on the Memorial to the Confederate Dead, Canon City, Colorado – Erected in 1899 by Union Veterans

 

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