Flood of ’64 – “Fierce as ten furies, terrible as hell”

—by O. J. Goldrick. First published on May 25th 1864 in “The Commonwealth”, six days after the Denver flood.

Higher, broader, deeper, and swifter boiled the waves of water, as the mass of flood, freighted with treasure, trees, and live stock, leaped towards the Blake street bridge, prancing with the violence of a fiery steed stark mad:

“Fierce as ten furies, terrible as hell.”

Great God! and are we all “gone up,” and is there no power to stem the tide was asked all round. But no; as if that nature demanded it, or there was need of the severe lesson it teacheth to the citizens of town, the waves dashed higher still, and the volume of water kept on eroding bluffs and bank, and undermining all the stone and foundations in its rapid course.

The inundation of the Nile, the Noachian deluge, and that of Prometheus’ son, Deucalien, the Noah of the Greeks, were now in danger of being out-deluged by this great phenomenon of ’64.

Denver Flood of 1864 - Larimer Street Looking West
Denver Flood of 1864 – Larimer Street Looking West

Continue reading “Flood of ’64 – “Fierce as ten furies, terrible as hell””

Silas Soule, Assassinated

Captain Silas Soule in 1865. Courtesy of Byron Strom.
Captain Silas Soule in 1865. Courtesy of Byron Strom.

Rocky Mountain News
April 24, 1865 p. 2 c. 1

The Homicide Last Night

Our city was thrown into a feverish excitement last evening by assassination of Captain S. S. Soule, of the Colorado First. The sad affair took place about half past ten o’clock, and was evidently coolly and deliberately planned, and as systematically carried out.

For some time past the Captain had been in charge of the provost guard of the city and neighborhood, and his duties in that capacity had, as a natural consequence, created many enemies. Threats against his life have been freely and frequently made – so we are informed – and no longer ago than yesterday he said that he was expecting to be attacked.

In the evening he and his wife were visiting at the house of a friend and returned home between nine and ten o’clock. Shortly after, a number of pistol shots were fired in the upper part of the city, evidently to decoy him out, and the Captain started to ascertain the cause. Whilst passing along Lawrence Street, Near F, and directly in front of the residence of Dr. Cunningham, he seems to have been met by the assassin, and the indications are that both fired at the same instant, or so near together that the reports seemed simultaneous. Probably the Captain, expecting to be attacked, was in readiness, and when the other man presented his pistol, he did the same, but the intended assassin fired an instant soonest, with but too fatal effect.

The ball entered the Captain’s face at the point of the right cheek bone, pressing backward and upward, and lodging in the back part of the head. He fell back dead, appearing not to have moved a muscle after falling. The other man, from the indications, was wounded in the right hand or arm; how severely is not known. His pistol was dropped at his feet and he immediately started and ran towards the military camp in the upper part of the city, leaving a distinct trail of blood where he passed along. When the shots were fired they were standing about four feet apart, face to face.

Within less than a minute after the fatal shot, one of the provost guard and Mr. Ruter reached the spot. The Captain was already dead, and his murderer had disappeared. They alarmed Dr. Cunningham, and a guard was sent for. A number of persons, soldiers and civilians, soon gathered around, and after a few minutes the body was removed to the building occupied by the officers of the Headquarters of the District.

The excitement this morning, when the facts became generally known, was intense. Hundreds of citizens visited the scene of the tragedy, and it has formed the burthen of conversation throughout the city all day. Patrols were dispatched in every direction, and it is hardly possible that he will escape more than for a day or two.

Probably he will be overtaken to-day. Of his identity we shall at present refrain from speaking, though there is scarce a doubt but it is clearly known. The cause is said to have grown out of an arrest made by the Captain in the discharge of his duty as Provost Marshal.

Captain Soule was highly respected by his brother officers, and beloved by the men in his company. He was married in this city on the 1st inst., and consequently leaves a young wife to mourn this terrible and untimely fate. It is the hope of all that his murderer and his accomplices will be speedily brought to judgement, and a punishment meted out to them such as the base crime deserves.

B50 Note: Silas Soule was assassinated in Downtown Denver (on Lawrence Street, between what is now 15th and 16th) on the evening of April 23rd, 1865, just three weeks after his marriage to Hersa (Coberly). Silas Soule is best remembered for his presence at the Sand Creek Massacre, where he refused to allow the men of his company to fire on the peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho encamped there. He was also present at the Camp Weld Council, where he was photographed with Black Kettle, White Antelope, Amos Steck, Ned Wynkoop, and others.

Though no connection was ever proven, Ned Wynkoop maintained that Soule had been murdered in retaliation for his testimony against Colonel John Chivington in the congressional inquiry regarding Sand Creek. Both Silas Soule and his wife Hersa are buried at Riverside Cemetery in Denver.

For more biographical information on Silas Soule, visit Byron Strom’s site, silas-soule.com.

Drive By History, Part 2: Camp Weld

It says thusly:

This memorial is the property of the State of Colorado

This is the Southwest corner of
Camp Weld
established September 1861 for
Colorado Civil War Volunteers,
Named for Lewis L. Weld, first
Secretary of Colorado territory.
Troops leaving here Feb. 22, 1862
Won victory over Confederate Forces
at La Glorieta, New Mexico. Saved
The Southwest for the Union
Headquarters against Indians 1864-65
camp abandoned 1865

erected by
The State Historical Society of Colorado
The Mrs. J.N. Hall Foundation
and by
The City and County of Denver

B50 Note: This monument is located at the corner of 8th and Vallejo Streets in an industrial section of Denver criss-crossed by highways and overpasses. Check out the “Drive By History” series of unnoticed monuments in Denver.

On September 28th, 1864, the Camp Weld Council was held at this location. At this meeting, territorial governor John Evans met with Cheyenne and Arapaho Chiefs, including Black Kettle and White Antelope. The Arapaho and Cheyenne left the council believing that if they returned to Fort Lyon (in what is now Southeastern Colorado) they would be able to live in peace with the white settlers. Two months later (on November 29th, 1864), their camp at Sand Creek was attacked and many were massacred by Colorado Volunteers under the command of Colonel John Chivington.

A transcript of the meeting is available on Kevin Cahill’s very informative site, kclonewolf.com. This photograph was taken following the Camp Weld Council, and includes many of the participants (photo courtesy of the Colorado Historical Society).

Camp Weld Council, September 28th, 1864. Standing L-R: Unidentified, Dexter Colley (son of Agent Samuel Colley), John S. Smith, Heap of Buffalo, Bosse, Sheriff Amos Steck, Unidentified soldier. Seated L-R: White Antelope, Neva, Black Kettle, Bull Bear, Na-ta-Nee (Knock Knee). Kneeling L-R: Major Edward W. Wynkoop, Captain Silas Soule.
Camp Weld Council, September 28th, 1864. Standing L-R: Unidentified, Dexter Colley (son of Agent Samuel Colley), John S. Smith, Heap of Buffalo, Bosse, Sheriff Amos Steck, Unidentified soldier. Seated L-R: White Antelope, Neva, Black Kettle, Bull Bear, Na-ta-Nee (Knock Knee). Kneeling L-R: Major Edward W. Wynkoop, Captain Silas Soule.

St. John’s Church in the Wilderness

— by Donna Altieri

Driving up 14th Avenue, you pass St. John’s Cathedral. You might have noticed it on your way to the Botanic Gardens, or seen its towers while waiting in line at the Fillmore. Maybe you are one of the lucky ones to have walked around this magnificent church or attended a service inside. St. John’s reflects the history of Denver, the nature of Colorado, the story of the Episcopal Church, and the architectural styles of multiple decades. The highlights of the Bible are carved in wood, blown in glass, and etched in stone. St. John’s has been an integral part of Denver’s history for the last 150 years.

Like some other institutions in Denver, St. John’s Church in the Wilderness, as it was first called, started off holding services in a tavern on Larimer Street between 14th and 15th street. While drinking and shopping in Larimer Square, close your eyes and conjure a service from 1861. The first cathedral church (at 20th and Welton) burned down in 1903; the cornerstone for the present Gothic masterpiece was planted in 1909, and so began dozens of great adventures for St. John’s.

Enter through the front doors and see a real Tiffany Window saved from the 1903 fire, stained glass dedicated to a child who had died. While in the narthex, you can examine a stone from Canterbury Cathedral; I like to pretend I’m on a mini trip into the world of Chaucer. Enter from the east doors and view a stained glass window hanging by chains, three angels playing musical instruments; it’s dark and gloomy color reveals smoke damage from the Welton Street church fire.

The stained glass windows of St. John’s rival the glass of European churches. Take a good look at the first window of the west aisle, “The Entrance of Sin,” a portrait of Eve in the Garden of Eden ready to make her fatal mistake while a “very English” lion stares at her. She started out as a naked blonde beauty, a clone of the Dean’s wife. Unfortunately, the prudish Edwardian congregation soon installed long golden locks and a rose bush obscuring her “loveliness.”

If you ever get to climb the spiral stairs to the choir loft you’ll see a window that World War I brought to Denver. It was finished in London in 1914, moved by boat, train and oxcart up to this north portal. In one corner, a miniature St. John’s in glass is a dollhouse dream, and the inscription “This great window finished and fixed in the year of the great Armageddon of the Apocalypse” – the first year of the Great War – sums up this glass “Last Judgement.”

Here are just a couple more treats from St. John’s: the carvings on the altar choir pews, a real walk in Colorado’s woods, from squirrels to deer to bears, and in St. Martin’s Chapel, often used for Sudanese and Somalian services, there’s an Art Deco altar that showers the church with eclecticism.

Next time those massive front doors are open, and the flags are blowing, treat yourself to a spiritual, beautiful experience.

This SimpleViewer gallery requires Macromedia Flash. Please open this post in your browser or get Macromedia Flash here.
This is a WPSimpleViewerGallery

B50 Note: Contemporary images are courtesy of the author, historical images are courtesy of the Western History Department of the Denver Public Library. The author wishes to thank David Rote for his enlightening tour and to “Saint John’s Church in the Wilderness” by Robert Irving Woodward for it’s bounty of information. St. John’s Cathedral is currently raising funds to the restoration of the 1938 Kimball organ that has given the Denver community so many great concerts.

The First Mayor of Globeville

William H. Clark and the cabin he built in 1859 at 5041 Pearl Street.
William H. Clark and the cabin he built in 1859 at 5041 Pearl Street.
Photo courtesy of Wilbur F. Stone, ed., History of Colorado, Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1918.

William H. Clark was a natural choice for the first mayor of Globeville, for he been there from the very beginning. Twenty-three-year-old Clark was one of the hoards of fortune seekers who descended on the territory when gold was discovered in Colorado in 1858. He traveled with a party of fourteen men across land that belonged to the Arapaho and Sioux, arriving at the collection of tents and shacks that would become Denver on October 28, 1858.

Clark built a small cabin in an area north of Denver, farming, prospecting and hunting wild game to survive. His neighbors were native Americans and a few other settlers. With other pioneers, he formed a “claim club”, an organization that held and protected the land on which they “squatted” until it was surveyed. He was able to purchase his property, about 40 acres, from the government for $1.25 an acre in 1863.1

Homesteaders continued to move to the area, and Clark was active in the growing community. He served on the first school board, which was responsible for a little country school built in 1873 at 51st and Washington, which later became the Globeville School.

Clark had lived in the neighborhood 20 years when the region’s first smelter, the Boston and Colorado, was built in an area now occupied by Denver’s “Mousetrap” interchange. Two other large smelters, the Grant and the Globe, were constructed in 1882 and 1889, followed by railroads, brickyards, foundries and meat packing plants. Clark witnessed the evolution of the district from a rural outpost to an industrial area. He also observed a change in the area’s population from native-born homesteaders to that of Eastern-European immigrants. When the population voted to incorporate as the town of Globeville in 1891, Clark was chosen as the first mayor.

After his mayoral term ended in 1894, Clark returned to farming. He was known to everyone in Globeville as “Uncle Billy” and, at 59 years, was an old-timer by the standards of the day, recognized as a pioneer. Clark enjoyed receiving visitors and would share his memories with anyone who had time to stop and listen.2

A January 25, 1920, issue of the Denver Post proclaimed “‘Uncle Billy’ Clark, pioneer, still lives in squatter cabin” and is “hale and hearty at the age of eighty-four years.”

On June 26 the following year, he was found dead in his cabin of “advanced age” and laid to rest under the auspices of the Society of Colorado Pioneers and the Pioneer Ladies’ Aid Society at Fairmont Cemetery. There is no marker on his grave. A street sign between 47th and 48th Avenue in the Globeville neighborhood is the only known tribute to this pioneer.

-Mary Lou Egan

Clark Place and 47th Avenue in Globeville
Clark Place and 47th Avenue in Globeville

1 The Denver Post, January 25, 1920, “Uncle Billy” Clark, Pioneer, Still Lives in Squatter Cabin
2 Denver Post, June 27, 1921, “Uncle Billy” Clark, Pioneer of Pioneers, Dead in Rude Log House He Built in Days of ‘59”.