The Irrepressible David F. Day

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The Irrepressible David F. Day
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The Irrepressible David F. Day
Halaas, David Fridtjof
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Denver, CO
Center for Colorado and the West
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Auraria Library
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Auraria Library
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The Irrepressible David F. Day | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 12:37:21 PM] Home The Irrepressible David F. DayThe Irrepressible David F. DaySubmitted by jainlayconley on 11-2-2010 03:50 PMAuthor: Duane A. Smith Publishing: Lake City, CO: Western Reflections Publishing Company, 2010. Black and white photos, index, 216 pages, 5 x 8, $16.95 paperback. Reviewer: David Fridtjof Halaas Duane A. Smith, the dean of western mining history and Colorados preeminent historian with over fifty books to his credit, now turns his keen eye on David Day, the acerbic editor and owner of the Ouray, Colorado, Solid Muldoon. In The Irrepressible David F. Day Smith takes a look at the man behind one of the most hated and loved newspapers in the nineteenth-century American West. Certainly, Day was prepared to enter the rough-and-tumble world of a wide-awake silver camp. Born on a Ohio farm in 1847, he early showed independence and a strong resistance to parental authority, spending most of his youth wandering about, like Mark Twains Huck Finn, in search of liberty and happiness without benefit of schooling(10). With the outbreak of the Civil War, fifteen-year-old Day enlisted in the 57th Ohio Infantry, thus beginning a remarkableeven astoundingwar record. He fought at the 1862 Battle of Shiloh, where his regiment suffered nearly a hundred casualties; received the Medal of Honor for gallantry under fire in the 1862 siege of Vicksburg; became chief of scouts for General Frank P. Blair, suffering four wounds; was captured and imprisoned at Andersonville prison, escaped, was recaptured, and escaped again. In 1864, Day reenlisted, again was captured, and again escaped. He finally mustered out August 14, 1865, still owed $190 of his $400 enlistment bonus. One final note about Days army career somehow during his military service he perfected his skills in reading and writing. Wanderlust ran deep in this man. After settling in Marshall, Saline County, Missouri, where he met and married Victoria Sophia Folck, Day temporarily left his wife and children at home in 1878 and headed west for Ouray, a silver boom camp high in the Colorado Rockies. By September 1879, Day had become a newspaper editor, telling readers that the word Muldoon came from the Zulu language and meant virgin. More probably he named it for a prominent sportsman of the day, William Muldoon, who was said to be solid and honest. However he came by the title, it served him well and expressed his brand of journalism perfectly. As Smith points out, Day was controversial, opinionated, conflictive, progressive, the lover of a good argument, reformer, promoter, gad fly, and civic minded"(8). But Smiths study is not a conventional biography. Rather, he lets the man speak for himself through the columns of his newspaper. This approach brings to life the people and issues of the timesand Days impressive mastery of camp journalism. Consider this piece, which appeared as General Order No. 4 in the September 30, 1881, Muldoon: It is a matter of sublime insignificance to us what certain inpiduals in this village say about Dave Day and his Muldoon. David runs his Muldoon strictly in accordance with the dictates of his own conscienceruns it in the EXPLORE BY MEDIABook Reviews Photographs Video Biographies New Publications Resource Guides County Newspaper HistoriesEXPLORE BY TOPICLand & Natural Resources Government & Law Agriculture Mining Commerce & Industry Transportation People & Places Communication Healthcare & Medicine Education & Libraries Cultural Communities Recreation & Entertainment Tourism ReligionEXPLORE BY CULTUREHispanic Native AmericanIn 1893, Colorado became the first state in the union to allow women the right to vote through popular election.


The Irrepressible David F. Day | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 12:37:21 PM] Auraria Library 303-556-4587 1100 Lawrence Street Denver, Colorado 80204 In the News Partners & Donations About Us Contact Us interests of Ouray county and that portion of her people who are HONEST. He went on: We declinedto enter into the ignominious work of white-washing schemers and scoundrels, and we shall hardly consent to deprive the rising generation of our example. What we have to say we SAY, and assert it in language that permits of but one construction(33). Smith arranges these clips around broad topics ranging from politics and mining, to Indian affairs, poetry, godliness, baseball, and humor. A staunch and determined Democrat, Day never wavered in his support of favored candidatesor failed to sling mud at Republican opponents. When mining mogul Horace Tabor entered politics, Day fumed, Tabor for Governor! Well wont the Muldoon have a pic-nic. Two more bottles in the back parlor(107). And he fiercely defended Ouray against all comers: Just as long as Montrose continues to harbor tin-horns, pimps and other species of human nuisances, just so long will Montrose continue to find the murdered bodies of her citizens in the rivers and by-ways in and around that village. Ouray has fired them and they will stay fired(77). Although Smith confines his study of David Day to the seminal years between September 5, 1879, through March 7, 1885, Day did move in 1892 to Durango, Colorado, where he renamed the paper the Democrat and continued publishing it until his death in 1914. Still, in those six focus years, we see David Day at his most irrepressible, a man of courage and honor who battled tirelesslyand successfullyto bring order and permanency to a remote boom town. Reviewer Info: David Fridtjof Halaas is former Colorado state historian and author of several books, including Boom Town Newspapers: Journalism on the Rocky Mountain Mining Frontier, 1859 (1981), and Halfbreed: The Remarkable True Story of George Bent (2004). Add new comment