Posts Tagged ‘William G. Russell’

Day # 13 features Russell, Colorado

Russell in Costilla County is one of three ghost towns in Colorado named after William G. Russell, the man considered by many to be the founding-father of the state- The other two towns bearing his name were Russellville in Douglas County, and Russell Gulch in Gilpin County. Russell’s gold discovery along Cherry Creek 30 miles southeast of Denver set off the stampede to the Rockies that became the Gold Rush of 1859.

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William G. Russell

William G. Russell and his brothers Levi and Oliver were among the first to build permanent structures along the South Platte River at the spot where Denver stands today, and the names of the Russell brothers can be found on nearly every important historic document dating the 1859-1861 era in what would become Colorado (then known as “Jefferson Territory”.)

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Adobe dwelling at Russell town site

In 1862, the Russell brothers, southern by birth, left Colorado Territory and headed home to their native Georgia. Along the way they were captured by suspicious Union troops and incarcerated for several months. Upon their release, the Russell’s continue their journey home to Georgia where they successfully used the money they earned in their Colorado gold mines to raise a Cavalry Company for the Confederate Army.  Captain Russell’s Georgia Cavalry Company spent the remainder of the Civil War patrolling the backwoods of Lumpkin and surrounding counties looking for deserters from the rebel army.

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Russell town site

Following the Civil War, William Russell was once again bit by the gold bug, and following the Amnesty of 1868 which forgave all former confederate soldiers and restored their contitutional rights, Russell began planning his return to Colorado. This time Russell and his party ventured into the southern hills along the Huerfano River instead of returning to Russell Gulch in Gilpin County. At the western foot of La Veta Pass Russell and his party discovered an alluvial plain rich in gold, and registered their claims. A small town sprang up at the site, and was named Russell.

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Russell town site

Russell worked the gravels, making a respectable profit, but nothing compared to his earlier fortunes amasssed in Gilpin County. Around 1875 the United States government passed a law declaring that all Native Americans must live on a reservation under penalty of imprisonment or death. William Russell was part-Cherokee, and his wife was full-blooded Cherokee. Russell once again left Colorado, choosing to abandon his claims in Costilla County, instead of allowing his wife to go to the reservation alone. Russell and his wife moved this time to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) where William Russell died in 1877.  The town site of Russell today is a small cluster of buildings alongside Highway 160 near a wide dirt turnout and Department of Transportation garage.

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After a couple of initial bumps in the road, my book “The Gray Ghosts of Colorado- Book I: The Copperheads” is now available for purchase through the link posted below.

This book is the first in a four book series which will document the suppressed history of Colorado Territory’s southern origins, the secessionist movement of 1860-1861 and its leaders, an introduction to the Knights of the Golden Circle underground within Colorado Territory, and the political with hunt led by Governor William Gilpin and Major John Chivington that saw a large number of Colorado’s founding fathers imprisoned at the end of 1861. Covered in this book is the early history of Colorado from 1850 to 1861. Subsequent books in the series will follow in chronological order.

“The Gray Ghosts of Colorado” series represent the first work to-date, focusing solely on the secessionist/Confederate movement and organization specifically in Colorado Territory. While other texts touch on the subject, no scholarly work has ever been presented on the topic previously, and what little information there is available on the subject is largely false or sanitized based on my seven years of research and analysis. My book presents the facts, as they were in the years 1858-1861, and my research is based off of predominately pre-1920 sources, as later “accepted” sources are riddled with falsehoods and errors.

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