October 9, 2015

Leadville personified the wild, wild West in 1882 - The Herald Democrat: Free Content

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Leadville personified the wild, wild West in 1882

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Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 2:39 pm

Editor’s note: The concept of doing a year in review at the end of each year is a long-standing tradition for most newspapers, including the Herald Democrat. To understand what Leadville was like 130 years ago, we’re beginning in this issue a review of the year 1882, printed in early 1883. Needless to say, Leadville was producing a great deal more news back then.


On the evening of Jan. 8, Edward Robbins was robbed of $30 in a bagnio on “Coon Row.” Minnie Himmab was held for the crime. Mrs. Bruin deserted by her husband and daughter. About 1 o’clock on the 7th, Casper Guster, a German, dropped dead on lower State street – deceased had been indulging in a prolonged debauch.

On the evening of Jan. 9, Hon. T.P. O’Connor, M.P., lectured upon the Irish question at the Tabor Opera House. Three burglaries were committed on this date with no clue to the criminals. A mad woman named Christine Carlson, by occupation a laundress, fired into a crowd near the corner of East Chestnut and Hemlock streets and narrowly missed doing serious injury. Charlie Johnson is caught while trying to skip out leaving his creditors in the lurch. Sheriff Peter Becker is presented with a handsome diamond badge by his friends.

It was on Tuesday, the 10th, that news reached here of the action taken by certain parties in Ashcroft, who ordered Mr. B.E. Bruckman to leave that place inside of ten minutes, thus compelling him to walk to Aspen in the middle of the night. The reason was trouble regarding the Tam O’Shanter group of mines, and Bruckman was without doubt treated unjustly. On the afternoon of the 10th, a disgraceful row occurred in the rooms of the county commissioners. Commissioner August Rische, while qualifying, was knocked down by Commissioner Kelly. Rische was drunk and used indecent language. On the same day, the military were reviewed, and a ball was given by the soldiery in the evening.

At half past seven o’clock in the evening of the 11th, Mrs. John D. Monroe, while in company with her two little children, fell beneath the wheels of a passenger train at Salida and sustained injuries from which she died in two hours. Deceased left many friends to mourn her sad death. On the same date a number of shrewd swindlers succeeded in taking in some of our leading merchants by means of bogus ore, said to contain free gold.

On the night of the 12th, a crazy woman escaped from the poor house and wandered to the city. On the same day, a Mr. Jacobs was knocked down and kicked in the head by one of the fire horses, which became unmanageable on the corner of State street and Harrison avenue.

Two accidents were chronicled on the 15th. John Scott, a miner engaged at the Chrysolite, fell down a shaft thereby sustaining serious injuries. Joseph Hennessy, the sawyer at the Morning Star Mine, had his head badly lacerated by falling against a buzz saw.

Tuesday’s column entertained an account of a prize fight on the 14th in Adelaide Park, between two miners, for a stake of $500. Edward Wade was the winner, defeating John Lacy in the 13th round.

On the 18th, Scott, the miner injured at the Chrysolite, died of his wounds. “Dutch Louis” disappeared. Two disreputable women tore up the furniture in a house on lower 3rd street.

On the 19th was recorded an accident to Superintendent Charles of the Virginius mine, who fell down a shaft 180 feet deep but was saved from instant death by his clothes catching on a nail.

On the 21st, Mrs. Joe Ward attempts the death of her husband by use of her little pistol. No damage done.

On the 23rd, the smallpox scare startled the city.

On the night of the 24th, Sam Rosenfeld shot at and narrowly missed hitting Mr. Joe Smith, bartender at the Texas House.

The 25th was a memorable day in the history of the nation, as on that date Charles J. Guiteau was sentenced to death for the shooting of President Garfield.

Lon Spencer, the notorious, was arrested for various crimes on the 28th.


The Herald of Wednesday the 1st chronicles the brutal maltreatment of Police Officer Ledford in the Green Front saloon. He was assaulted and badly beaten by a gang of disorderly thugs whom he was unable to identify. The shaft house on the Vining Mine was destroyed by fire the same day.

On the 3rd, F.H.H. Primrose, agent for the Denver and Rio Grande railway at Robinson, disappeared with $1,700 of the company’s money. John Robinson and Henry Sullivan engaged in a fight over a woman, near the London mine in Mosquito Gulch, and Robinson killed Sullivan with a pick axe.

On the morning of the 7th, Police Officer Charles Hines was called into the Monarch saloon to quell a disturbance and was assaulted and seriously beaten by a gang of drunken roughs whom he was unable to identify.

On the morning of the 11th, the city was visited by a disastrous conflagration which destroyed property in the amount of $6,000 in the vicinity of the depot. Charles J. Davine commits a forgery and deserts his wife on the same day.

On the 17th, George Jacobs, a teamster, skipped out with $800, leaving his wife and partners in the lurch.

The 25th was the date of a serious accident on one of Wall & Witter’s Independence stages, which upset near Twin Lakes, resulting in serious injury to Mr. H.D. Gillespie and Mrs. Knowles.

On the 28th, news was received of a young girl, Annie Bailey, trying to freeze herself to death by staying out all night on the range.


A teamster named Hall had his foot crushed beneath the wheels of his wagon on the morning of the 1st. He will probably be crippled for life.

On the afternoon of the 2nd, Benjamin Howan was found dead in bed at the lodging house at 110 West Second. An accident occurred a short distance from the city near the boulevard on the same day. The South Park train ran into a charcoal team belonging to A.C. Drake and killed both horses, the driver escaping with his life. An attempt at murder occurred at Iron Hill. Samuel Vospar, troubled by the green-eyed monster, tried to kill his wife and Mr. William Bray, but poor shooting saved him from serious trouble. Benjamin Harwin suicided by morphine.

On the night of the 3rd, Mr. McLeod was held up and robbed on Poplar street between Third and Fourth streets. A man named Van Dusen was seriously injured by a rock falling on his head in a prospect above Oro.

The Purim Ball, the grandest masquerade ever held in a city this size, came off on the night of the 5th. On the afternoon of the same day, two men assaulted Jerry Murphy, a miner engaged at the Morning Star, cutting his throat from ear to ear. The injured man recovered.

On the morning of the 9th, William Mods, a miner at the Chrysolite, suffered a terrible death being transfixed by a falling pipe. At about the same time, Foreman Hamilton of Cummins & Finn’s Smelter, was crushed beneath a mass of slag and lead. Both legs were broken and injuries sustained from which he later died.

On the 13th, Sheriff Becker arrived in Leadville having in charge Clay Wilson and Cal Sommers, accused of swindling Mr. Smith by the gold-brick game, out of $20,000.

On the 15th, Albert Walker was found dead in the shaft house of the Heath Life lode, located on the west slope of Mosquito. As circumstances pointed to a murder, Adolph C. Gysen was held for the same.

On the 19th, Frank Terros fell down the shaft on the Last Chance lode and was killed.

Wednesday the 22nd, was the date of a brutal assault against a woman on East Sixth St. She was kicked into unconsciousness by a party of roughs.

Judge A.E. Stone was horsewhipped by an enraged female on the morning of the 27th. On the same date Lon Spencer, the notorious, shot at and narrowly missed killing Paddy Fahy in Mr. Monroe’s saloon near the corner of State St. and Harrison Avenue. It was afterward claimed that a man named Conolly did the shooting. It was on the same day that Mr. W.H. Carter, running on the lead in the Tabor Hose Company, fell and was caught in the wheel of the jumper, fracturing his leg in a horrible manner. He has since partially recovered.

Annie Bailey again attempted suicide, this time by the use of morphine, but was saved by Drs. Whitebillt and Hawkins.

One of the most lamentable occurrences which has ever come to Leadville was the shooting and killing of Constable Sam Townsend by T.C. Early. Early was tried for murder but was acquitted by a Breckenridge jury.


On Tuesday, April 4, news was received of the loss of a gold brick, valued at $9,000, between this city and Independence. It was afterwards found near Everett’s. The same day saw another fatal shooting on Harrison Avenue in front of the Clarendon Hotel. James Kinney, in self defense, shot John Lukenbill and inflicted injuries which proved fatal.

A brutal beating was administered to Dr. Julius Schaffter by a man named Wescott, at Malta, on the morning of the 5th. Mr. Finn, of Cummings & Finn’s Smelter, was thrown from his horse and had two ribs fractured. On the same date, Charles McCullough came in contact with a circular saw in Tennessee park and was seriously injured.

At half past three on the morning of the eighth, the Bennet house, on the corner of Spruce and Elm Streets, was burned and Mike Maddigan met his death in the flames.

John Lukenbill, who was shot by James Kinney, died on the night of the 12th.

On the 15th, Oscar Wilde discoursed to a Leadville audience.

The 17th was the date upon which Billy Nuttall chewed an ear off of Chris Wagner.

On the 19th, an unsuccessful attempt was made by incendiaries to destroy the Rio Grande express office.

It was on the morning of the 21st that General Ward was held up and robbed of $1,700.

On the evening of the 24th, Lulu Sedgwick stabbed Jennie Myers in a house of ill fame on East Sixth Street.

News reached here on the 25th of the killing of Captain John P. Slawson, former manager of the Catalph Mine, by the Arapahoes in New Mexico.

On the night of the 26th, James Farrell bit off the nose of John McGready in a saloon on Stray Horse Gulch.

The 29th was the day upon which Mrs. Nellie Horen suicided by means of morphine. A case of small pox was discovered in the city. The disease failed to spread.


On the third, Gottleib Stanley lost an eye through the premature discharge of a blast at the La Plata Mine. Elle Harvey assaulted Hugh Rapp with a bottle of vitriol.

A crazy woman, Mrs. Marie Payer by name, suicided on the night of the 13th by throwing herself beneath the wheels of a train near the Cottage saloon on the boulevard.

On the 17th, Andy McCoffary seriously stabbed Peter Gallagher, at the Cadillac house.

May 19 will be remembered as the date of the burning of the Hotel Windsor, the most fatal fire which ever visited this city. Arthur Ballou is known to have perished in the flames and one other is supposed to have been a victim.

With the coming of the morning of the 25th, the Grant Smelter was laid in ashes by the fire fiend, thus causing the removal of the company to Denver.

It was on the 31st that Robert Bardmass, while searching for D.W. Feaster, a thief who had robbed his cabin, came upon him on Third street. Three shots were fired – two by Feaster, who commenced the shooting, and one by Bardmass. Both men were killed almost instantly.


The shaft on the Mineral Farm lode was maliciously blown up by giant powder on the night of the 1st.

James Kinney was acquitted, after a fair trial, of the murder of John Lukenbill on the 2nd. William Hargas and J.R. Williams indulged in a little shooting match on the same day and both were more or less mutilated. Williams afterward died. William Johnson was crushed beneath the wheels of an ore wagon near Grant’s smelter.

On the 4th the shaft house at the Mike and Starr was burned.

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