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Seth of Colorado : a story of the settlement of Denver

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Title:
Seth of Colorado : a story of the settlement of Denver
Creator:
Otis, James
Place of Publication:
New York
Publisher:
American Book Company
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
147 p. : ill. ; 19 cm.

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Source Institution:
Auraria Library
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
Copyright [name of copyright holder or Creator or Publisher as appropriate]. Permission granted to University of Colorado Denver to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Resource Identifier:
3399372 ( OCLC )

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Seth of Colorado
i
A Story of the Settlement of Denver
BY
JAMES OTIS
NEW YORK CINCINNATI CHICAGO AMERICAN BOOK COMPANY


JAMES OTISS PIONEER SERIES
ANTOINE OF OREGON: A Story of the Oregon Trail.
BENJAMIN OF OHIO: A Story of the Settlement of Marietta.
HANNAH OF KENTUCKY: A Story of the Wilderness Road.
MARTHA OF CALIFORNIA: A Story of the California Trail.
PHILIP OF TEXAS: A Story of Sheep Raising in Texas.
SETH OF COLORADO: A Story of the Settlement of Denver.
Copyright, 1912, by JAMES OTIS KALER.
Entered at Stationers Hall, London.
SETH OF COLORADO.


FOREWORD
The author of this series of stories for children has endeavored simply to show why and how the descendants of the early colonists fought their way through the wilderness in search of new homes. The several narratives deal with the struggles of those adventurous people who forced their way westward, ever westward, whether in hope of gain or in answer to the call of the wild, and who, in so doing, wrote their names with their blood across this country of ours from the Ohio to the Columbia.
To excite in the hearts of the young people of this land a desire to know more regarding the building up of this great nation, and at the same time to entertain in such a manner as may stimulate to noble deeds, is the real aim of these stories. In them there is nothing of romance, but only a careful, truthful record of the part played by children in the great battles with those forces, human as well
as natural, which, for so long a time, held a vast
3


4
FOREWORD
portion of this broad land against the advance of home seekers.
With the knowledge of what has been done by our own people in our own land, surely there is no reason why one should resort to fiction in order to depict scenes of heroism, daring, and sublime disregard of suffering in nearly every form.
JAMES OTIS.


CONTENTS
PAGE
How I Came to Write my Story ... 9
Who I Am....................................10
My Great Loss ..............................11
My Worldly Wealth.......................12
Plans for the Future........................13
The Gold Fever..............................15
My Great Disappointment . . . ... 16
Cured of the Gold Fever . . . . 17
My Opportunity .............................19
How I Might Work my Way .... 20
Keeping my Part of the Bargain . . .22
At Pueblo...............................22
A Welcome Time of Rest . . . . *25
Another Outbreak of the Gold Fever . . 27
An Opportunity for Money Getting . . 28
Mr. Middleton Agrees with Me ... 29
Mr. Middletons Proposition .... 30
A Settlement of Gold Seekers . . . .32
Land Claims.............................33
Our Ranch . . . . . . . -35
Building a Dwelling.....................36
Corn and Gold...........................38
Dreams of a Harvest.....................40
5
\


6
CONTENTS
PAGE
Disappointed Prospectors ..... 42
Returning Evil for Good . . . -43
Striving to Save our Corn .... 45
Defending our Own ...... 46
A Council of War ...... 48
An Interview with the Enemy .... 49
The Missouri Miners Make Sport of Us . 50
How to Collect the Debt . . . . 52
We Take Possession of the Cattle ... 53
The Night before the Battle . . . -55
A War of Words ...... 55
The Prospectors Try to Kill Us . -56
A Real Battle ....... 57
A Truce ........ 59
Trying to Make Terms of Peace ... 60
The Enemy Surrenders . . . . .62
The Prospectors Depart ..... 64
The Growth of our City . . . . -65
Farming or Mining ...... 67
My Share of the Harvest .... 68
Mr. Middleton Goes on a Journey ... 69
Auraria and Denver . . . . . 71
Mr. Middleton Turns Trader .... 72
Mr. Middletons Plan ..... 73
Deciding a Weighty Problem .... 74
I Become Mr. Middletons Partner . . . 75
Preparations for a Change of Homes . . 77
The Arrival at Auraria...............78


CONTENTS
7
The Town of Denver c PAGE 8o
We Hire a Shop. 82
I Regret having Turned Merchant 83
How7 we Transported our Goods 84
Mr. Middletons Advice . 86
The Tide of Emigration . 88
Finding Goods by the Roadside . 90
Gold in Colorado . 92
How the Cities Grew 94
A Post Office in Auraria . . 96
Letters from Home 97
How our Business Flourished . 99
Denver Outstripping Auraria . IOI
Claim Jumping .... IOI
The Claim Club .... 103
The Turkey War 104
The Need of Organized Government 106
The Union of Denver and Auraria 108
What Others Thought of Us . no
The Territory of Colorado III
Striving for Good Citizenship . 113
Civil War Breaks Out . 114
Need of a Jail .... 116
Denver in Flames 117
Our Loss by Fire . 119
Mrs. Middleton Consoles Us % 120
Good Resulting from Evil o 122
Mr. Middletons Honesty . 9 9 123


8
CONTENTS
Rebuilding Denver PAGE 125
The Flood .... 126
The Destruction of the Town 128
In Great Peril . 130
The City Destroyed .
Our Lives are Spared 133
Fears regarding the Future J34
An Uprising of the Indians 136
Begging for Help 139
A Famine Threatens . 140
Horrors of an Indian War I4I
My Duty at Home 144
Beginning over Again 145
My Story is Done I45


SETH OF COLORADO
HOW I CAME TO WRITE MY STORY
It concerns no one but myself if I choose to spend a portion of my well-earned leisure writing the story of how I happened to come into this country, which is now called Colorado, and of how I have grown up with it from the time it was taken possession of by men from the East, who in their eagerness for gold believed, poor, foolish souls, that they had but to dig in the sands for a few days in order to make themselves rich for life.
Some of my friends laughed at me when I told them of my plan, but I am not to be turned from a road, having once decided upon it, and those who have ridiculed the idea that I can make a readable tale out of my
9


IO
SETH OF COLORADO
experiences need not trouble themselves to find out whether I have succeeded or failed.
WHO I AM
In order to start properly, as practiced story-tellers do, I suppose I ought first to give some account of myself, so that in case others chance to scan what I have written, they may in that way become acquainted with the writer.
In the year 1857 I was living in Lawrence, Kansas, with my father and mother, and a happier lad it would be difficult to find, for my home was a most pleasant one. I had as loving a mother as any boy could desire, and my father, while stern now and then, had a warm place for me in his heart I understood this well when, from time to time, without speaking, he would press me closely to his breast, then turn quickly away, as if ashamed of having shown any token of love.
Even then, before affliction overtook me, there was a strong desire in my heart to become a farmer, although both my father and mother insisted that I should do all in my power first to gain an education, with the idea that it might be possible for me to take my place among men of position in the land.
While I was not inclined to any other way of life than that of a farmer, loving outdoor work and finding my greatest enjoyment in seeing the seed I had planted


MY GREAT LOSS
ii
spring up from the earth and bear fruit, yet I was obedient in doing as my parents would have me, believing that they knew best what would be to my advantage.
MY GREAT LOSS
In those happy days when I would have changed places with no lad whom I knew or had ever heard of, the blow suddenly came which left me orphaned. Within one week both my father and mother died of a fever, and it was as if the sun had been blotted out from the heavens. I could see no ray of light anywhere, and young though I was, my one desire was to join my loved parents, for it seemed as if this world held no place for Seth Wagner.
There were many in Lawrence who befriended me in that time of sorrow, and the one who tried the hardest to comfort me was Mrs. Middleton, a dear soul who had boys of her own, although they were younger than I. I believe she was all the more tender to me because


12
SETH OF COLORADO
of asking herself what her little sons would do if, in the short space of a week, they should be deprived of both father and mother.
Kind though she was, and doing her best to lighten the sorrow which hung about me like a black cloud, there was small consolation for me from words; but in time I became accustomed in a certain measure to the loss which had befallen me.
MY WORLDLY WEALTH
To carry out the plan which my father had formed for me, and by gaining an education to take up the
practice of law or of medicine when I was older, had now become an
impossibility.
When all my fathers property had been sold and the debts paid by Mr. Middleton, who did everything in his
power to guard my interests, I had one hundred and sixty-one dollars as the sum total of my fathers estate. With this small amount I must make my way in the world until I should stand on a solid foundation,
<


PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
13
Had there been money enough left to me, I should have bought a farm near Lawrence, and there have set myself to work laying up sufficient of this worlds goods to provide me with the necessaries, if not the comforts, of life.
It may be you will say that a youngster of my age would not naturally look so far ahead into the future as to realize that he must make provision against what people call a rainy day; but bear in mind that grief sometimes ages a lad wonderfully.
When the sharpest edge of my sorrow had been worn away by time, it was as if I had all at once become a man, with a clear sense of all that I must do in order to win a footing in the world. In a night, as it were, I had added twenty years to my twelve.
PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
My first resolve was that my tiny patrimony should be put carefully away, where it might earn me somewhat in the way of interest, and at the same time be kept as a nest egg, so that when I found opportunity for investing a small sum to good advantage it would be ready to hand.
Next came to my mind the fact that I must be up and doing, instead of living upon the bounty of Mr. Middleton, as I had been since that dreadful day when


14
SETH OF COLORADO
I was led away from the last earthly resting place of my dear parents.
It was not practicable for me to find steady employment in the town of Lawrence, eager though I was
for work, and in order to gain sufficient money to support myself, I always stood ready and anxious to turn my hand to whatever opportunities came my way.
Thus it was that during the winter of 1857 and 1858 I worked at whatever was offered me, sometimes sawing and splitting wood, or doing chores around one of the stores, running errands, taking care of cattle while the owners were away from home, and, in fact, acting as jack-of-all-trades until the time came when the townsfolk of Lawrence were attacked with what seemed like a regular fever, because gold had been discovered beyond the western boundary of Kansas, in the unsettled territory which we know now as the state of Colorado.


THE GOLD FEVER
i5
THE GOLD FEVER
It was somewhere near Pikes Peak, as I remember, that our people of Lawrence believed they might find, after a few days search, enough of the yellow metal to make them wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. The entire population, men, women, and even children, talked of gold and dreamed of gold. They seemed, indeed, to have given up every desire in life save the one of taking from the earth vast riches.
It is not to be supposed that I failed to catch this fever. When I heard rumored wondrous tales of those who had gone into that country and found more gold than they could carry away, the thought came to me that here was my opportunity: that I might go out there and after digging a few weeks, or perhaps months, get enough gold to carry out my fathers plans for my future.
Our people of Lawrence were making it a costly undertaking to journey as far as Pikes Peak. They outfitted themselves with huge wagons, drawn by three, four, or even five yoke of cattle, and large enough to carry all their household goods.
For me such an outfitting was of course an impossibility, and for a time I was busy devising schemes by which to become a regular member of one of the companies, believing that there was no other way by which
SETH OF COLORADO 2


i6
SETH OF COLORADO
a lad of my age could succeed in winning his way so surely and so speedily to the goal he had set.
MY GREAT DISAPPOINTMENT
With a heavy heart I saw two of the companies start forth from our town, their faces set toward Pikes Peak,
with the intention of traveling thither by what was known as the Arkansas Valley trail. I am ashamed to say that I shed bitter
tears because of not being allowed a place with one or the other; first, because I was looked upon as too young to do a mans work, and again, owing to the fact that even though I gave up all my inheritance, it would not be sufficient to pay my proper share of the expenses.
As the days wore on, there came straggling back by way of our town of Lawrence man after man, and company after company of the gold seekers, who had


CURED OF THE GOLD FEVER
i7
turned homeward in discouragement, having wasted all they had in their useless ventures.
Their stories of the disappointments of gold digging, and the knowledge that there was no truth in the tales of wealth gained by a few days work, helped to cure me of that fever which I had caught from the people with whom I had come in contact. Finally it became clear to my mind that whoever would set himself to perform honest labor, whatever it might be, would succeed in earning more money than he could hope to gain by gold hunting.
CURED OF THE GOLD FEVER
I realized, of course, that now and again there might be found a man who had been extraordinarily successful and had made himself suddenly rich in a few hours;


18 SETH OF COLORADO
but, fortunately, I had common sense enough to grasp the fact that it was all a matter of chance.
Thus I made rapid recovery from the fever, and no longer indulged in foolish dreams of journeying to that Tom Tiddlers ground of Colorado, where a fortune
could be picked up for the taking; but I resolutely worked at such tasks as came to hand, saving up every penny I earned that was not needed to pay for my food and clothing.
Gradually I had come to believe that all my life would be spent in the little town of Lawrence; that my humble part was to be that of one who earns his daily bread by what the Bible calls the sweat of his face.
One day Mrs. Middleton surprised me by the announcement that she and her husband, with their children, and forty or more of their fellow-townspeople, had made up their minds to journey into the land of


MY OPPORTUNITY
i9

gold, not with the intention of digging, but with the
hope of finding in the Colorado country a better farm
than could be had in Kansas, for a small expenditure
of money. There were in the company, however,
some who were bent only on mining; but, as Mrs.
Middleton made clear, her husband had no such idea.
After having explained, as far as she knew, what
they hoped to accomplish, she ended by saying, in her
kindly way, putting her arms about my neck much as
*
my own mother would have done :
Why not go with us, Seth? You say you want to be a farmer, and with the money which you have put away, I believe it might be possible to buy land enough to be called a real farm.
MY OPPORTUNITY
I replied that such a plan was impossible, because even if I gave up all the money I had, it would not be sufficient to pay my share of the cost of the journey; but at once she went on, showing how long and how carefully she had been thinking out this plan to help me :
I am certain that if you will agree to aid Mrs. Holmes and me in caring for the children, and will do your share of driving the cattle, you can go with us, if you wish, free of expense.
Again the Colorado fever seized me; but this time


20
SETH OF COLORADO
there came with it no vision of sudden riches. The suggestion appealed to me strongly, boy though I was, that in a wild country like that I might be able to buy a fair-sized claim of land with perhaps no more than half my savings, and have the remainder to spend for tools and stock.
Or I might, thought I, venturing far away from the others, at the risk, to be sure, of being wiped out by the Indians, enter a claim of my own at no larger cost of purchase than the government demanded, and thus be forehanded at the start.
HOW I MIGHT WORK MY WAY
It was an absorbing dream which came upon me thus suddenly, and so deeply was I engrossed with it, that I hardly heeded the good womans question, which she
put again and again as to whether I should like to go as helper
CiT



HOW I MIGHT WORK MY WAY
21
Mrs. Holmes and herself, doing my full share of tending the cattle during the journey.
What answer I gave her at last is easily guessed, but for the purpose of my story, I need not go into the details of our preparations and of the journey itself.
For a long time emigrants had been crossing our country on their way to the Far West, and every one of us had become well informed as to what an outfit consisted of, how the journey was made, and what were the hardships or dangers that might be expected.
We of Lawrence, going over the Arkansas Valley trail, would have but a short distance to travel, as compared with those people who had started from the Missouri River to make their way to Oregon or to Cali-


22
SETH OF COLORADO
fornia, yet we realized it would be a laborious journey, tedious and wearisome.
KEEPING MY PART OF THE BARGAIN
Mr. Middleton and Mr. Holmes had, as I learned, already agreed to my going with them as servant, and certainly I lived up to my share of the bargain, striving from early dawn to the late hours of the night to perform more work than was required of me, in order that my employers might not think they had
made a bad trade in taking me.
\
That I succeeded in my purpose, which was to show that even a lad of barely thirteen years of age could do a mans work, was made clear again and again when Mrs. Middleton praised my industry, or thanked me for little acts of thoughtfulness which I had been able to perform.
AT PUEBLO
When we arrived at Pueblo, the first settlement of any size we had come to since leaving Lawrence, I supposed that we had reached our journeys end, and a feeling of disappointment swept over me as I gazed about me, for it was by no means the kind of a country I had expected to find.
Although I could not call myself an expert farmer, I knew that the soil which we had left behind us


AT PUEBLO
23
in Lawrence was much more fertile than the sandy bottom lands about Pueblo, and I began anxiously to debate the question as to how any one could earn a living in such a forlorn place.
As Mrs. Middleton told me, shortly after we came to a halt, this settlement had been established by the Mexicans, who later had prac- | tically abandoned it, although there
were still four
0 r
families living in the less ruinous of the houses.
The buildings were all made of sun dried brick which the Mexicans call adobe, but the greater number of them had fallen into a state of decay. Some of the houses were roofless; the side walls or chimneys of others had tumbled in, and only now and then might one find a dwelling that would come somewhere near to being weather tight.
It was a scene of ruin and desolation, and in despair
1 asked myself whether, after struggling so hard to


24 SETH OF COLORADO
reach this wretched spot, I could do better than to find some means of retracing my steps, long and wearisome though the journey had been.
It was foolish of me to borrow trouble concerning this place, as I soon came to know. The leaders of our
company had stopped there only to decide upon some definite course, for, as I learned then, they had left their homes without any clear plan of action, save that they were all of one mind as to their intention of reaching the gold country.
When we turned our backs on Lawrence I had understood that nearly all the people with whom I journeyed were looking forward to tilling the land, believing that the soil of Colorado would be found to be more gener-


A WELCOME TIME OF REST
25
ous than that of Kansas; but now that we had actually come into the land of treasure I soon gathered that there had been aroused in the minds of many of the men a keen desire to try gold digging, while but few, and among them Mr. Middleton, still held firm to the resolution they had made before setting out.
A WELCOME TIME OF REST
We had reached the settlement, or perhaps I should say the ruins, of Pueblo shortly before noon, and
when the cattle had been fed and I had received my portion of the dinner which Mrs. Middleton prepared in one of the tumbledown shacks, I promised


26
SETH OF COLORADO
myself a good rest during the remainder of the day.
It was indeed a happy change to be able to stretch ones self at full length on the sun baked sand, knowing that one might lounge idling there four and twenty hours, if he wished, without being forced, at a given signal, to plod off by the side of the patient oxen, directing their way; but, even if one dislikes work, which I did not, idleness soon becomes monotonous and wearisome, and hardly more than two hours had passed when I was eager once more to be up and doing.
Before sunset those who were fascinated by the notion of delving in the earth for gold received tidings which were not to their liking. A company of seven men, who had been prospecting, straggled into the village thoroughly disheartened and inclined to believe that all the stories of wealth taken from the soil were falsehoods.
I heard one of them say that during the past three months they had worked industriously throughout nearly every hour of daylight and failed to find traces of gold. Then I reasoned that the would-be gold seekers of our company, hearing such stories told by men of experience, would give up their dreams and join us in tilling the land, if we chanced to come upon soil that gave promise of richness.
Instead of being turned from their purpose, however, all treated the account given by these returned pros-


ANOTHER OUTBREAK OF THE GOLD FEVER 27
pectors as of no value, saying to one another that if the men had gone here or gone there, if they had worked a little harder on a certain day, or done less on another, they might have been successful.
ANOTHER OUTBREAK OF THE GOLD FEVER
It was as if we had but just arrived at Pueblo when the gold fever broke out anew, and our people could hardly wait to make the necessary preparations for going over the same ground and for taking the same chances of dis-
appointment as had the
prospectors j
to whose stories we had listened.
That evening after supper, while the women were doing their best to make some of the ruins habitable, that they might sleep inside four walls instead of on the narrow beds of the wagons, the men began again to discuss the situation.
While they were thus engaged, a second company,


28
SETH OF COLORADO
consisting of four travel-stained, discouraged looking men, came up, and the stories which they had to tell were the same as had been heard from the other party.
Their recital of hard work, baffled hopes, and severe hardships made it appear that there was not enough gold in the earth thereabouts to satisfy the most modest wants of one man.
AN OPPORTUNITY FOR MONEY GETTING
I listened with no very keen interest to the tales of

disappointment, for I was entirely cured of the gold fever; but when I overheard some of the men complaining that they had been forced to pay ten cents a pound for corn, and from thirty to fifty cents a pound for potatoes, I pricked up my ears.
Eagerly I asked Mr. Holmes how many people he reckoned were roaming about searching for gold, and he answered in all seriousness that they might be numbered by thousands, for he knew of many very large companies which had gone into the diggings. It was undoubtedly true, he said, that a steady stream of men had been flowing into Colorado ever since the first reports had been spread abroad that gold was to be found there.
It would be folly for me, thought I, to dream of turning back simply because the soil around Pueblo was not to my liking. There must be other places


MR. MIDDLETON AGREES WITH ME
29
where one could count on getting fair crops. If those gold hunters were so numerous, why might it not be possible, I asked myself, for me to turn their madness to good account ?
I was burning with eagerness to set out in search of some place where I could plant corn and potatoes, even though I should be no more than a squatter on the land. By this I mean that I should be tilling soil which did not belong to me and without the consent of the rightful owner.
MR. MIDDLETON AGREES WITH ME
Late that night, after the unsuccessful miners had finished swapping their tales of woe and had gone to sleep, I confided to Mr. Middleton what I had been pondering over, and clapping me on the
. shoulder in his friendly fashion, he said heartily :
Ah, now you have got at the root of the matter, my boy Did you think that I would wander hither


30
SETH OF COLORADO
and yon over this country looking for gold when I could make a home for my wife and children and find more wealth here than I could gain if I became a sue-
A
cessful miner? Well settle down as soon as we come to a favorable spot, and there you and I will make the beginnings of a town, while we raise corn and potatoes for those crazy dreamers who are shirking honest work, and hope to become suddenly wealthy by some lucky stroke of the pick or shovel.
Mr. Middleton went on to tell me that, after halting at Pueblo only long enough to rest the cattle, he, with four or five of the other men, had already laid plans to push on until they should reach a region where the soil gave good promise, taking care, meanwhile, to keep along the trail over which the gold seekers were coming and going.
Then, without delay, even before spending the time to build houses, we could live in the wagons for a while longer, seed was to be put into the ground.
mr. Middletons proposition
I, thinking only of myself, asked what part I would have in this scheme, and he answered that he would willingly pay me fair wages, in fact twice as much as I could have earned in Lawrence; but if such a plan did not please me, I might go farther and take up a claim of land for myself.


MR. MIDDLETONS PROPOSITION
3i
This last did not appear to me to be practicable, for a lad like myself would not be able, unaided, to do all the heavy work necessary. Besides, I had neither cattle nor tools, and my small inheritance would not go very far toward providing me with the necessary
implements in a land where everything was so expensive, if one might judge by the extravagant prices which the gold seekers were paying for food.
During the greater portion of that night I kept turning the matter over and over in my mind, unable to sleep very long at a time because of excitement, and by sunup I had fully determined to join with Mr. Middle-ton until I should have earned enough money to start out properly for myself.
We remained at Pueblo four or five days, and weary enough were all of us of that desolate place and its few Mexican inhabitants.
SETH OF COLORADO ^


32
SETH OF COLORADO
whence they could go in search of gold, leaving behind them a roof to cover their heads when they returned for an interval of rest.
Here also were small buildings made of sun dried bricks. Two or three were of logs, the roofs formed by covering poles with sods, and an odd sight it was to see grass growing thickly around a chimney base, or waving over what, in a regularly built house, would have been the eaves.
A SETTLEMENT OF GOLD SEEKERS
Then we broke camp once more, traveling in the direction of Pikes Peak until we reached a small settlement
of both Americans and Mexicans.
Hardly more than fifteen people had settled at this place, the greater number planning to use the village simply as headquarters,


LAND CLAIMS
33
We had now penetrated into a section of the country which looked to me more promising, and Mr. Middle-ton was of much the same mind, for after we had been at this place for two or three days, and some of our company had already left for the diggings, he informed me that we were to set off at once toward the Ute Pass, where he and the others who were bent on farming had decided to make their first attempt at a settlement.
LAND CLAIMS
I learned then for the first time that a newcomer into this country was allowed to take up what is called a land claim, that is, he could stake out a given number of acres and enter claim to them at the office of the nearest government land agent, without paying more than the regular fees which, at that time, amounted to about twenty-five cents an acre. The whole sum might be paid by installments within a certain number of years, in case the settler was not able to complete the transaction at once.
The question rose again in my mind as to whether I might not start out for myself at once, venturing all the little money I had in cattle and seed, and perhaps in the hiring of one man, for I could not hope to do all the work without help, if I cultivated many acres.
Once more I decided that it would be better to serve Mr. Middleton, at least until we had proved whether


34
SETH OF COLORADO
our plan of selling our crops to the gold seekers was feasible, for there would be no other way of disposing of them, and I had grave doubts as to whether the prices for corn and potatoes, which we had been told were willingly paid by the miners, would continue to
hold. Our project appeared to me so much like a speculation that I judged it a wise plan to remain under Mr. Middletons wing. It was well I did so, as will speedily be seen.
Out of our entire number, there were but five men who held to the original agreement not to waste their time gold hunting. This small company Mrs. Middleton being the only woman, and her children and myself the only young people set off once more on our


OUR RANCH
35
travels, journeying by slow stages until we came to a river with the odd name of Fontaine qui Bouille, the boiling spring, where all of us believed we had found what we were looking for.
OUR RANCH
The soil was rich and not so heavy but that we could easily dig ditches from the river into our cornfields, for you must know that in this land to which we had come very little rain falls, and if one would cultivate the ground, he must find some means of keeping it well moistened.
If we settled along this river, we could plant many acres and keep them watered at no other expense than that of ditch digging. There was not one of the company who was not hopeful that we had arrived at our journeys end, and when we came to a place where the land sloped gently away from the river bank, and the leading team came to a stop, there was no need of any discussion. Before anything had been done except to turn the cattle loose to feed upon the lush grass, we busied ourselves with staking out claims.
From this time on, until we had a fair acreage plowed and corn planted, there was no rest for any of us during the hours of daylight; meanwhile we lived in the wagons as we had done during the journey from Lawrence. Once the planting was over, Mr. Middleton



SETH OF COLORADO
lost no time in building a house for himself. He took pride in doing so, for, as he said to me, it was his belief that our settlement would grow into a town of
considerable size, perhaps big enough to be called a city,
*
and he wanted to get the credit of having erected the first building.
BUILDING A DWELLING
I had laughed at those houses in the settlement we came upon after leaving Pueblo, with their roofs of green sods, but when Mr. Middleton and I set about planning the family homestead, we were glad enough to use the same humble material for our roof, because it could be put on more quickly than any other.
In order to save the labor of felling and shaping as many trees as would be needed for high, walls, we dug down into the earth four or five feet, so that, as one


36
SETH OF COLORADO
lost no time in building a house for himself. He took pride in doing so, for, as he said to me, it was his belief that our settlement would grow into a town of
considerable size, perhaps big enough to be called a city, and he wanted to get the credit of having erected the first building.
BUILDING A DWELLING
I had laughed at those houses in the settlement we came upon after leaving Pueblo, with their roofs of green sods, but when Mr. Middleton and I set about planning the family homestead, we were glad enough to use the same humble material for our roof, because it could be put on more quickly than any other.
In order to save the labor of felling and shaping as many trees as would be needed for high walls, we dug down into the earth four or five feet, so that, as one


38
SETH OF COLORADO
The roof poles were put on slanting, for it was to be a shed roof, the rear wall of the house being only about seven feet high, and the slope of the top not less than three feet, while the width of the building was only ten. Our covering of sod would serve, on so steep a pitch, to shed water admirably.
In wet weather we did not suffer from the dampness because of our lack of glazed windows, for a blanket
hung up in front of the openings served to keep us comfortable, and it was only occasionally that we had to shield ourselves from the outer air, so friendly was the climate.
CORN AND GOLD
We did not allow ourselves to be so occupied with building that we neglected the land. Only at odd times when there was no pressing work to be done in the fields did we work at home making,


CORN AND GOLD
39
<
and it so happened that on the very day when the first tiny blades of corn pricked up through the brown clods, Mrs. Middleton moved her household goods from the wagon into this shanty which we called a house.
It must not be supposed that we had ceased constantly to hear rumors of finding gold. It had been
reported in Lawrence that the gold fever had spent itself and that the time had come for those who desired homes in the Colorado country to be on the spot; but we were no sooner settled, or in the way to being so, on the bank of the river, than the feverish excitement broke out afresh.
We heard from those who passed through our settlement on their way to the mines, that large quan-


40
SETH OF COLORADO
tides of gold had been located here, there, and one might almost say everywhere, and if you could believe all the wild tales that were flying about, you would fancy the entire soil of Colorado was veined with the yellow metal.
A company of men from Chicago, under the leadership of George Johnson, had come upon what they claimed was the richest find yet discovered, and the mine had been named the Chicago Bar.
We learned of this from the throngs of men who passed us at our work, the greater number of whom ridiculed us for being content with such laborious tasks when we might go along with them and reap an unsown harvest of riches.
DREAMS OF A HARVEST
Time and again did those gold-frenzied dreamers laugh us to scorn because we were content to spend our energies building log shanties when we might be handling pick and shovel, and more than once did Mr. Middle-ton say grimly to me :
Let them laugh! We shall see who has the best of it when autumn comes. The more there are of them, the greater will be the demand for food, and if corn is worth ten cents a pound now, it will surely bring fifteen by wintertime, for some of those fellows, who are counting on taking something from the


DREAMS OF A HARVEST
4i
earth instead of putting anything into it by the way of seed, are likely to go hungry.1'
How carefully we watched over the corn as it came up, and how astonished we were by the rapidity and luxuriance of its growth! Never before had I seen corn shoot up at such an amazing rate, and I was more than ever convinced that the wealth of this land of Colorado lay in the ^ hands of the farmer rather
under the shovel the miner.
We dug ditch after ditch, bringing water down across the land which Mr. Middleton had staked out as his own, until every single square yard of it was irrigated as it should be, and well were we rewarded for the labor, wearisome and severe though it was, by seeing the green stalks springing minute by minute, higher and higher, and stouter and stouter. We had in all six acres covered with the waving grain, and giving promise


42
SETH OF COLORADO
of a yield even more valuable than that from the rich lodes of the Chicago Bar mine.
DISAPPOINTED PROSPECTORS
When the corn was in tassel, the ditches dug and filled, and a breathing space had come when we might wait more at our ease for the returns from our venture, there appeared at the bank of the river a company of nineteen gold seekers from Missouri, who, having failed in their quest, were now bound homeward, worn out and disheartened.
Their cattle were lean almost to the verge of starvation from having hauled the heavy wagons so many miles over rocky hills and sandy plains, and the men themselves looked as if they had been on the tramp half a dozen years.
News of their coming to camp on our side of the river spread quickly, and all our. company, including Mrs. Middleton and the children, went out to welcome them, taking bread and bacon, for we had had experience before of the appetites of disappointed miners.
Hungry ? They were near to famishing, and although it appeared to me as if we carried them plenty of food, every crumb disappeared so suddenly that it seemed as if magic were at work. Even then the travel-worn prospectors looked at us wistfully, their tired eyes asking dumbly for more.


RETURNING EVIL FOR GOOD 43
We ministered to their wants that night to the best of our ability, giving them food which should have been
kept for ourselves, and never thinking of asking a penny in return.
RETURNING EVIL FOR GOOD
I believe that all of us went to sleep happier for having fed the hungry Missourians; but when we arose at daybreak next morning and looked out on our broad acres covered by a forest of cornstalks swaying to and fro in the summer breeze, our hearts were filled first with amazement and then with hot anger.


44
SETH OF COLORADO
Those miners from Missouri, who had come to us almost starving and had had their wants supplied, freely, had actually turned all their cattle into our
cornfields, and there the beasts were feeding ravenously, as they ( f trampled down the stalks.
I was the first out of our shanty that morning, and it was fully two minutes before I could persuade myself that people whom we had so befriended were capable of playing us such a mean trick.
The truth was, however, forced home to me, and I called loudly for Mr. Middleton.
Such an uproar did I make in my anger and excitement, that not only Mr. Middleton but his wife and children rushed out to learn what was happening, and then, like myself, they stood in


STRIVING TO SAVE OUR CORN
open-mouthed astonishment, gazing at the scene of destruction.
Suddenly we heard distant shouts of anger from up and down the river bank, where the neighboring homesteaders had their fields planted, and, roused
from our trance, we all set about trying to drive the

hungry beasts from among our growing corn.
I
I
STRIVING TO SAVE OUR CORN
' I
It had been many a long day since the poor cattle had come upon such rich fodder, and they were, of course, unwilling to leave it, doubling back and forth when we attempted to drive them along the furrows, and trampling down hill after hill of the stalks in their efforts to remain in so bountiful a pasture.
If we had been astounded at seeing the beasts ruining our fields, we were dumb with angry amazement when those men from Missouri, discovering our efforts to save our crops from destruction, came up with weapons in their hands, barefacedly demanding that we cease to disturb their cattle.
Our people could not stop to argue with them, for all the time the beasts were devouring more and more of the corn. Then it was that the Missourians loudly threatened that they would shoot us down, if we dared persist in driving out the marauders.


40
SETH OF COLORADO
DEFENDING OUR OWN
It is not possible for me to set down all which was said at that time, nor is it well that I should do so, for the air was thick with anger, and we who were
x
being thus abused were not, as you may well suppose, tender in our words when we reproached those people.
At first a fight seemed unavoidable, for Mr. Middle-ton at least was ready to defend his property with his life,


DEFENDING OUR OWN
47
After having been driven back by four or five of the men, he rushed into the shanty, and I, following and seeing him load his rifle, caught frantically at his arm and
begged him to consider whether we could stand up against so many. It was as if the distracted man had not realized until that moment how strong the enemy was as compared with our own force. There were not less than nineteen of them, while we had but five men, six if you choose to count me, and in case of a struggle what chance had we farmers against so many desperate miners ?
On every other farm in the neighborhood a similar contest was going on, for the miners had told off three or four men to confront each claim holder, so that we might be frightened into submitting to the depredations
SETH OF COLORADO 4


SETH OF COLORADO
of the cattle. Suddenly realizing that he could not safely offer armed resistance, Mr. Middleton bade me hasten and call all our people together into his shanty. Make them come here at once, Seth! he cried furiously. Tell them it is useless for us to resist single-handed. We must join together and form some plan for mutual protection.
A COUNCIL OF WAR
Every moment was precious, for those hungry cattle were making short work of our corn. Breathless with excitement and haste, I ran from claim to claim until I had repeated to each farmer Mr. Middletons message.
It was a full hour before I could bring all the men to realize that it was folly to oppose the miners until we had formed some plan for defense. Finally the task was accomplished, but when our people had assembled in front of Mr. Middletons shanty, it was exceedingly difficult for a speaker to hold their attention, so great was the rage which possessed them.


AN INTERVIEW WITH THE ENEMY
49
<
I was not near enough to hear what plan was first determined upon, for I had been sent to drive our horses farther up into the timber, lest the Missourians seize them; but when I got back, Mr.
Middleton was on the point of setting out for the river bank, where the men from Missouri had gathered.
I followed him, curious to know why he was going out alone and unarmed to confront those who had so plainly shown themselves to be our enemies.
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE ENEMY
The Missourians seemed bewildered at our sudden change of plan, and they waited our coming massed in a little company, watching curiously all that went on, while at the same time they were sure that their oxen were allowed to continue the ravages among the corn.
I expected that Mr. Middleton would use violent language ; therefore my surprise was great when he


5
SETH OF COLORADO
began in a mild tone as if addressing friends, but at the same time he spoke firmly, demanding that they allow us to rid our fields of their cattle, or else repay us for the damage as much money as the corn was then worth. I cannot remember now his exact words; but the substance of it was that he demanded half as much as he counted on receiving for the ripened crop.
THE MISSOURI MINERS MAKE SPORT OF US
He had hardly finished speaking when the Missouri miners laughed long and loud, behaving as if it were
impossible for them to speak for amusement, and all the while Mr. Middle-ton stood calmly facing them, determined, but unable to enforce his demands by so much as a hairs breadth.
Presently one of those fellows we had fed so generously only the night before, swaggered up to Mr. Middleton like a bully, and shaking his fist savagely, shouted that their cattle must have fodder; that they would take as much of our corn as they


THE MISSOURI MINERS MAKE SPORT OF US 51
s
wanted; perhaps at the end of three days they would be off and trouble us no more.
At the end of three days! Long before then every blade of green would have been devoured. He might as well have said plainly that he would go when there was nothing left, and had I been in Mr. Middletons place I would have told him without mincing words that they were thieves.
Mind, you shall pay us for our corn, Mr. Middle-ton repeated calmly. Theprice will be less, if you take your cattle away now; but you will certainly have to give us a fair return for what has been eaten.
And when do you expect to get the money? the leader of the Missourians asked with a rude laugh which exasperated me more even than the mirth of the others.
5SK, ,


52
SETH OF COLORADO
Before you break camp we shall receive our pay, and you are to decide whether the account shall be closed now, or shall run on until we bankrupt you.
HOW TO COLLECT THE DEBT
Again the miners held their sides with mirth, which was their way of showing that they believed us powerless to mend matters, and having said his say, Mr. Middleton turned sharply on his heel and walked slowly away, I following closely behind him, in the direction of our shanty.
I made bold at last to pluck at his sleeve and inquire by what means he counted on getting from the miners, who doubtless had spent all their money, the price of our corn, and he answered with a grim smile, which had in it more of anger than of mirth:
Follow me, Seth, and you shall hear our scheme for collecting the debt, for you must have a hand in putting it through.
As a matter of course, I followed him, and at our cabin door we found the other settlers awaiting our return with stern, set faces. This was ample evidence to me that they intended to resist the Missourians at any cost, even of their lives.
The plan outlined was a simple one; but whether it could be carried into execution was quite another question. It consisted simply in our hovering around


WE TAKE POSSESSION OF THE CATTLE 53
the cornfields, and at every opportunity, when safely out of sight of our foes, driving off their cattle, one by one, until all the beasts had been taken beyond the settlement, where we had a common pasture for our animals.
Once all the beasts were within an inclosure, so Mr. Middleton declared, we would hold them at the muzzles of our guns until their owners had paid for the damage done to the corn.
WE TAKE POSSESSION OF THE CATTLE
Much to my surprise, the Missourians did not keep a very strict watch upon us. They appeared satis-
fied with the assurance that we were taking no direct action to drive the cattle out of the fields, and what


54
SETH OF COLORADO
had promised to be a difficult task proved to be quite simple.
By good fortune I was one of the first to make a capture, and under cover of the standing grain I drove one of the oxen out past Mr. Middletons house and back into the pasture, where three of our men were standing guard with loaded weapons.
From then on, throughout the day, we were kept on the jump, and when night fell we had half of the oxen corralled without the Missourians apparently being any the wiser. The darkness made our task still easier, and by two hours before midnight the fields were cleared of trespassers, although the crops which had promised us so rich a return were sadly shorn of their beauty.
The greater part of our corn had been either trampled down or cropped close to the roots, and I thought sorrowfully that even if we kept the cattle, taking in addition all the wagons and stores these robbers had with them, their value would not be equivalent to as much, or half as much, as we had counted on receiving for the harvested crop.


A WAR OF WORDS
55
THE NIGHT BEFORE THE BATTLE
That night our people slept securely, believing the Missourians would not guess what we had done until daylight revealed it; but you may count it as very certain that before there was the faintest sign of color in the eastern sky, every man, and I reckoned myself as one, stood on the alert, ready to defend his rights.
It was nearly sunrise before the miners discovered how the farmers they had supposed helpless had tricked them, and they remained a full half hour discussing the matter before making any move toward regaining possession of their cattle.
A WAR OF WORDS
As the first broad shafts of light were striking across the fields, the Missourians came on in warlike array, every man of them with a loaded rifle in his hands. Our people, meanwhile, had taken station midway between the cornfield and the


56
. SETH OF COLORADO
pasture where there were trees in sufficient number to afford shelter, in case it should be necessary to fight.
Mr. Middleton checked the advance of the Missourians by stepping out from behind his covert and demanding by what right they were attacking us.
Then began a battle of words, for the prospectors attempted to carry matters with a high hand, and threatened that if their cattle were not allowed to go back into our cornfields without delay, they would open fire upon us, shooting down every man as if he were a dangerous beast.
Mr. Middleton unquestionably gave them as good as they sent, for in reply to this unreasonable and unjust demand he repeated his declaration of the night before, that the cattle would be held until we received fair payment for such of our crops as had been destroyed, and wound up with the bold statement that every one of us was determined to stand to his gun while life remained.
THE PROSPECTORS TRY TO KILL US
Mr. Middleton had hardly finished speaking when one of the miners fired at him point blank, but, fortunately, without taking careful aim. Before another weapon could be discharged, he was behind a tree, screened from view, ready to use his rifle in self-defense.


A REAL BATTLE
57
You may be sure that I had already sought shelter behind one of the trees. In fact, when the Missourians


came in sight I took good not to expose myself to a stray shot, although the idea never occurred to me that those lawless miners would actually open fire upon us, when it was they and not we who were in the wrong.
1
A REAL BATTLE
Within five minutes after the first shot, we of the settlement were engaged in a bloody fight, and although I was as frightened as a boy well could be, I was very careful to make every bullet tell.
Now and then I could hear Mr. Middleton shout out, not only to me but to the men, that we must


58
SETH OF COLORADO
make every missile count, now that we were certain that these lawless men had no other thought than that of shedding blood wantonly.
Strange as it may seem, I cannot set down of my own knowledge very much concerning that battle, which lasted nearly three hours. I was like a person in a dreadful nightmare, not realizing what I did and having always before me the terrible fear that in another moment I would be sent into the Beyond, or be crippled for life by a Missouri bullet.
Everything before my eyes was the color of blood. The smell of gunpowder must have mounted to my


A TRUCE
59
brain, for I did not grasp anything clearly save that the barrel of musket was growing
V
hot from having
f'
been discharged so rapidly, and that m v store of ammunition was nearly exhausted.
z r mb 11^-.
A TRUCE
When I came to my senses, I gathered that during those three hours of worse than needless battle, two
of our men had been severely wounded, and no less
%
than five of the Missourians were much the worse for having dared to face a sheltered foe.
Mr. Middleton declared we had killed two; but of that we had no proof, save as we saw them carrying away man after man either severely wounded or dead.
The first idea I had that the enemy wanted peace was when one of our people shouted to me to stop firing; and when I obeyed, staggering out into the open, hardly knowing what I did, but being possessed with the idea that I must show myself, a certain num-


6o
SETH OF COLORADO
ber of the men from Missouri were fronting us with their weapons lying on the ground before them.
Then I turned to one of our people, asking if the fight was over.
Ay, lad, it would seem so, and none too soon, for we have two disabled, and if those ruffians had stood to their rifles a while longer, we might have been wiped out of existence.
It turned out that the men from Missouri were the first to / show signs of wanting a truce, and our people were only too glad to grant it.
TRYING TO MAKE TERMS OF PEACE
Then came another parley, during which the miners offered to go away, if we would give up their cattle peaceably; but Mr. Middleton held firmly to his demand for payment.
It looked as if we might once more be forced to defend ourselves, for the Missourians flatly refused to agree to anything of the kind, declaring that in a wild country they had the right to pasture famished cattle


TRYING TO MAKE TERMS OF PEACE
61
wherever fodder was offered, but when Mr. Middleton held out stoutly, they decided to confer among themselves, and answer us before sundown.
That was a sorry way in wh'ch to inaugurate the settlement of a new country, and I said to myself that if there was any truth in omens, this town which we had so hopefully planned to build by the river side would prove an ill-fated place.


62
SETH OF COLORADO
It seemed strange to me then, and does now, tnat, after we had cared for our wounded, and while we were awaiting the decision of those Missouri miners, we should have decided to remain where we were and build up a town; and even while the reek of battle still hung thick in the air, we agreed that the place should be known as Fountain City, naming it after the river.
I remember well that Mr. Middleton declared that he would defend his own in the new town against all oppression, that it would in time become a prosperous city, and that we who had fought to save our corn would ever be known as its founders.
At that time all of us believed that we would do as he had said, and yet before many months passed, we came reluctantly to the belief that it would be better to look for another location, even though we had already ditched the land to such an extent that it would bring forth bountiful crops.
THE ENEMY SURRENDERS
We waited until half an hour or more after sunset, when once again the Missourians came toward us; but this time they were without weapons and tried to make it appear as if their intentions were friendly.
They no longer refused to pay for the damage which had been done. Although outnumbering us three to one, they had come to realize that we might be able


THE ENEMY SURRENDERS 63
to carry out our threat of holding their cattle in payment for the injury to our crops, and it was absolutely
necessary they should recover the beasts in order to return to their homes.
They seemed to have only one desire, which was to make the best bargain possible, and until far into the night they haggled over the price to be paid, at first claiming that they were penniless and without sufficient provisions for the homeward journey; but, later on,
SETH OF COLORADO 5


64
SETH OF COLORADO
finding that our people held out stoutly, they admitted having considerable money with them.
Whether Mr. Middleton held out for as much as we had counted as our due, I cannot rightly say, but on the following morning the men paid over for damage to the growing crops five times as much as we could have gained from a bountiful harvest in Lawrence, giving the greater part of the amount in money and the remainder in goods.
THE PROSPECTORS DEPART
When the Missourians yoked up their beasts and drove away, with their wounded in the wagon, the men were no longer swaggering and insolent, but conducted themselves in a fairly decent manner, while I, boy though I was, felt that we had done a great thing in holding our own and forcing them to repair the wrong they had done us.
But now, grown older, I question whether we were wholly within our rights to hold the cattle. It seems to me that we should have been justified in killing the beasts that were trespassing upon our lands, but to seize them and fight a pitched battle, taking the law into our own hands, may not have been right, although at the time we benefited by it, and plumed ourselves not a little in having stood off this force, so much larger than our own, and bringing them to terms.


THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY
65
As soon as our troublesome visitors had departed, we set about repairing the mischief as far as possible,
replanting the hills where the corn had been trampled down or eaten, and otherwise effacing the evidences of the struggle.
'
THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY
As the days wore on, it seemed certain that we might fulfill the prediction Mr. Middleton had made when he


66
SETH OFCOLORADO
said this Fountain City of ours was destined to grow into a prosperous settlement. Well-meaning men joined us who had come into the country to make homes, rather than to seek for gold, adding to our numbers day by day until for a full mile on the western side of the stream, houses such as Mr. Middleton had built stretched far away into the green of the outlying forest. So rapid was the growth of our city during that first summer, that I prophesied that it would within another year outstrip Lawrence.
So, even now, I believe it might have grown and prospered, but for that great curse, the thirst for gold, which seized upon our people at intervals, when miners


FARMING OR MINING
67
coming out disappointed or going into the hills full of hope, told of this lucky find or of that man who, after only two months of labor, had become fabulously rich.
Despite the fact that we were situated as pleasantly as any people could desire, and although the lands were yielding so bountifully that it really seemed as if one need only to thrust in the seed and then lie at ease until the crop was ripe for harvest, yet our people, or some of them at least, yearned to try their luck in the diggings. We might on one day gain four or five new settlers, to lose on the next day seven or eight who had gone suddenly mad in their desire to try mining.
FARMING OR MINING
Surely we tillers of the earth got more wrealth out of it than did those who searched among the hills, or in the beds of the streams. There was a steady sale for everything we raised, owing to the hundreds


68
SETH OF COLORADO
upon hundreds of miners who came through our settlement, and we saw the time before snow came when we were enabled to sell all the corn we had raised for fifteen cents a pound, while potatoes could be disposed of readily at from forty to fifty cents a pound.
Talk about digging for gold !
We who had founded Fountain City were digging it out of the earth by the basketful!
Even the lucky ones ^
who made what was
^ -sn -
called a strike were not averaging for their days labor half so much as we who depended on the honest labor of our hands.
MY SHARE OF THE HARVEST
Had I staked out a claim for myself and planted as much of it as I could have handled, I might have paid for the land many times over from the proceeds of one half the crops. Yet, as it was, Mr. Middleton gave me wages in proportion to the prices he received, so that when the season was ended I had in hand one hundred and thirty-two dollars; besides this, I


MR. MIDDLETON GOES ON A JOURNEY 69
owned a horse which, having suddenly gone lame, had been left behind by one of the miners, but which had grown apparently sound once more.
You will recall that some of the people who journeyed with us from Lawrence had been attacked by the gold fever. Finding it was not possible to gain a livelihood by mining, they had wandered here and there seeking a place for a settlement, until they had come to what was known as Cherry Creek. There they staked out claims to one hundred and eighty acres of land on the east side of the stream, calling the place St. Charles, and believing, as had we of Fountain City, that they were laying the foundation of a great town.
MR. MIDDLETON GOES ON A JOURNEY
When we had harvested our crops and had sold all the corn, save what was kept for our own needs, Mr. Middleton decided to look up our old neighbors, and leaving me in charge of the house, he departed, making use of my horse, and agreeing to pay me a dollar a day for the services of the animal.
In order that the reasons which led us soon after to abandon Fountain City may be made plain, I must go ahead somewhat in my story, and repeat what Mr. Middleton told his wife and me when he came back from the journey to the new town of St. Charles.


70
1
SETH OF COLORADO
It appears that when he arrived at Cherry Creek he found that our people from Lawrence, having grown homesick, or having again been attacked by the gold fever, had deserted their claims, some of
them making for the mountains, and others returning to Lawrence with the intention of coming back in the spring.
At about this time, or it may have been before the people abandoned St. Charles, a company of men from Iowa came into the Colorado country, and decided to


AURARIA AND DENVER
7i
settle on the west bank of Cherry Creek. When Mr. Middleton arrived there and found that his old neighbors were no longer in the vicinity, the new settlement, Auraria, had already taken on the appearance of a real town, and it was such a likely place for a city that emigrants were gathering there rapidly.
AURARIA AND DENVER
Mr. Middleton became possessed of the idea that by settling down in this new town as a trader he might make more money than if he remained in Fountain City farming. While he was turning his new project over in his mind, a company of men arrived from Leavenworth.
Instead of buying land within the limits of Auraria, these people went across to the settlement of St. Charles, which I have said had been abandoned for the time being by those who first staked out the claim, and took possession of it, as a Colorado man would say, by jumping the claim. In other words, although this land had been taken up in due form and several buildings erected, it was not then occupied, and the newcomers gave no heed to the previous owners, but claimed that the land was theirs by right of possession.
Then they renamed the place Denver, in honor of the governor of Kansas.


72
1
SETH OF COLORADO
MR. MIDDLETON TURNS TRADER
After he had explained all this in such simple language that I came somewhere near understanding it, Mr. Middleton broached the thoughts which must have been in his mind for some time, by declaring his purpose of giving up farming. He proposed to leave his claim in Fountain City, and to set himself up as a merchant in one or the other of the Cherry Creek towns, leaning, however, to Auraria.
It seemed to him, as it did to me, that those who had settled in Auraria came nearer to owning the land than did those in Denver, and that it was not unlikely serious trouble might arise when those men who had staked out the town of St. Charles, returned to take possession of it once more.
At first I supposed it was Mr. Middletons purpose to leave me behind and I was half glad that such should be the case, for I said to myself that I would hold his land and house, and thus become in truth a farmer, with sufficient backing to enable me to hire laborers and to put all the acres within the limits of the claim under cultivation.
Mr. Middleton may have guessed the thought in my mind, for he went on gravely, before giving his wife time to express her opinion of his new scheme:


MR. MIDDLETONS PLAN
73
MR. MIDDLETON S PLAN
U
It is not possible, Seth, that we can continue to sell corn and potatoes at such prices as we have been receiving. There are many more people taking up land to make homes for themselves in Colorado than there were last spring, all of whom, learning of our success, are bent on trying the same venture. Therefore I predict that by the time another harvest comes, farm produce will be selling at somewhat near its real value.
Even though that be true, sir, can we not reap a richer harvest, than on any farm you know of in Kansas ?
Ay, lad, if you are inclined to give all your life to farming, it will be possible to succeed fairly well; but I have a notion that he who sets himself up as a merchant now, while people are flocking here by hundreds and by thousands to build up new cities, will have a fair chance of prospering exceedingly. Whoever


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has goods to sell such as the newcomers are needing, will double or treble his money at the cost of less labor and less danger than a bare livelihood can be earned here in Fountain City. You have nearly three hundred dollars in cash; invest it with me, taking such proportion of the profits of the business as your capital entitles you to, and we will set up a store together in Auraria.
DECIDING A WEIGHTY PROBLEM
As a matter of course I was greatly flattered at his offer to make a partner of me; but I was too young and inexperienced to grasp fully the advantages of his scheme.
It seemed to me well-nigh impossible that we could get goods so far out in the wilderness, having them hauled by ox teams such a distance as would be necessary, and sell them at any great profit, because of the heavy cost of bringing them over the trail.
As he went on with the details of his plan, however, and proved that there was small likelihood of my losing the little horde which I was depending upon for my start in life, the scheme began to look more attractive, and when he ended I glanced at Mrs. Middleton.
She, reading the question in my eyes, said quickly:
I do not believe, Seth, that it would be well for you to remain here alone. Even though Fountain


I BECOME MR. MIDDLETONS PARTNER 75
City has grown rapidly, those who know best are not inclined to believe that it will continue to prosper. My firm opinion is, it would be better for you to cast in your lot with us, for I have come to look upon you as one of the family.
I trembled at the thought of venturing my small store of money, for if it should be lost, I would be penniless, and even worse off, because in that new town of Auraria there was little chance I could stake out such a claim as I already had at Fountain City.
Yet because of their friendly urging I agreed to the plan readily, and thus, instead of continuing as a farmer, as I had always hoped to be, I came to be as feverishly eager to adventure in the new business as I had ever been to search for- gold when that fever was upon me, and repeatedly begged Mr. Middleton to make no delay in setting off to buy goods.
I BECOME MR. MIDDLETONS PARTNER
Before he left Fountain City all the details of the partnership between us were agreed upon. I was to surrender into his keeping my precious savings, which amounted at that time to two hundred and ninety-three dollars. In addition, I was to put in my horse at a valuation of one hundred dollars, and instead of demanding from Mr. Middleton the price of a dollar a


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day which he had agreed to pay me for the use of the animal, the hire was roughly reckoned at half cost, or, in other words, I was given credit for the sum of four hundred dollars in this new concern, which was to be known as Middleton & Wagner.
The thought that my name would some day appear painted upon a sign over a shop doorway, as being a partner with Mr. Middleton, made me feel as if I had already attained to a mans estate.
Indeed from the time I learned what the name of the new firm was to be, no one could have persuaded me to keep to my chosen career of farming. I was puffed up quite a bit with pride, and at night, alone in the dark with no one to hear me, I practiced repeating again and again the name of Middleton & Wagner, until I fancied I could read it in golden letters upon a black ground, in some conspicuous place, where every one might see and admire it.
Fortunately, perhaps, I had little time to indulge in dreams, for work was plenty.
Mr. Middleton needed slight urging from me to set off for Leavenworth without delay to buy such goods as could be sold to the best advantage in a new country. When he had gone, it fell to me to move the family with all our belongings from Fountain City to Auraria, where we were to live in the wagon until the return of my partner.


PREPARATIONS FOR A CHANGE OF HOMES 77
PREPARATIONS FOR A CHANGE OF HOMES

If there had been any grief in my heart at leaving our first settlement, it would have been soothed when I saw our neighbors also making preparations to leave; but my mind was too deeply stirred by the excitement of departure to leave place for sorrow.
Two had decided to join the gold seekers, and the
others, learning that it was Mr. Middletons purpose to move to

Auraria, immediately announced their intention of accompanying him. Within a week after the firm of Middleton & Wagner had come into existence, we


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who could rightfully be called the original settlers of
i
Fountain City were making ready to leave it.
Because there were three families of us journeying in company to the new town, I had less anxiety than would otherwise have been the case. Those neighbors of ours, more experienced in such matters than a lad of my age, at once took charge of affairs after Mr. Middleton had left for Leavenworth, and I was called upon to do no more than obey orders, which suited me better than a position of greater responsibility.
Once more we set off on the trail, this time, however, with brighter dreams even than when we departed from Lawrence, and I felt certain that at last the time had come when I could take my place among men as a man and not as a boy.
I shall not delay my story by telling how we fared, sleeping in the wagons at night with no thought of danger, and having with us only as many cattle as could be picketed near at hand, where the grass was so abundant that there was little risk of their straying.
THE ARRIVAL AT AURARIA
It was hardly more than a pleasant summer excursion, and when we came within sight of the two towns of Auraria and Denver, I said to myself, and repeated it to Mrs. Middleton, that we were certainly wise in coming to a place through which must pass all the people


THE ARRIVAL AT AURARIA
79
who were rushing into the country, either in search of gold or of homes.
I thought joyfully that we had found here the one spot above all others in this Colorado country that would prove most to our advantage, and when we drew up the wagons in a circle that night, within a short half mile
from the outermost shanties of the settlement, I was almost too excited to sleep.
Who would choose to be a very successful farmer, when he might have his name emblazoned in golden letters on a signboard proclaiming him, for all the world to see, as one of the merchants of Auraria ?
We were not the only people who encamped about those two settlements. I believe there were at least three hundred wagons in sight when I unyoked the
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oxen at the close of the days work, and within a wide radius on all sides were white tents dotting the plain until it looked as if a mighty army had come up to besiege the new settlers.
THE TOWN OF DENVER
As has already been said; Mr. Middleton and I had decided that Auraria was the settlement in which we would set up our shop, because it seemed as if we stood less chance there of being molested, and yet we made a mistake, as can be told by what I read in print very shortly after the sign of Middleton & Wagner had been nailed up over a building containing a stock of hardware and carpenters materials.
This is what was set down concerning Denver, which was once called St. Charles, copied word for word as Mr. John Cotton Dana wrote it, lest you should think I have been drawing a long bow:
Denver was a rival of Auraria. Her supremacy was settled early in 1859 by thirty wagons which came up the Platte and unloaded their merchandise on the Denver side of Cherry Creek. In the spring of 1859 a large company, perhaps one thousand, were encamped in and about the new town. The Pikes Peak excitement became intense. A new gold fever was on. Mr. William M. Byers reached Denver April 21, 1859, with a printing outfit, and issued the first number of the


THE TOWN OF DENVER
81
first paper printed in Colorado April 23d. On his way across he met the returning tide. Report said one hundred and fifty thousand started that spring across the plains; fifty thousand turned back; one hundred thousand went on to the mountains; not over forty
thousand of them stayed. The early months of 1859 were troublous times ; the foolish, reckless gold seekers, set west on half knowledge, tried to lay the blame for their folly on the shoulders of others. Gold in paying quantities was as yet far from common. Well, of course, we were not able to look ahead to see the day when Auraria would be swallowed by Denver, but settled ourselves on the outskirts of the


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town, looking about for a claim where we might build a store. I took it upon myself to search for a location, and if opportunity had offered I would have bought any piece of land at a reasonable price, without waiting for Mr. Middletons opinion.
WE HIRE A SHOP
Perhaps it was fortunate that I did not succeed, for by the time he came back with information that he had arranged for the hauling of the stock of hardware and general building material, so many new settlers had flocked into the town Denver, as to make it seem the more desirable town.
While we were
still making out to live in the wagons, disappointed prospectors came pouring into the settlement like a flood in springtime, the greater number of whom appeared to have no juster idea of the rights of others than had those people from Missouri who attacked us at Fountain City.


I REGRET HAVING TURNED MERCHANT 83
With nothing to do save care for the cattle night and morning, moving them about from place to place to find fresh pasturage, it was only natural I should hear and see everything that was going on, and that I should become almost a part of those two tides which were surging, one towards the mountains and the other away from them.
I
From the newcomers I heard only hopeful talk of gold which had been found in various localities, or I listened to the threats of these disappointed ones who declared they would take it out of the men who had lured them from their homes.
I REGRET HAVING TURNED MERCHANT
Hardly any one kept a level head, and even though my minds eye could still discern that sign with the golden letters which proclaimed me a merchant and a man of standing among men, I often regretted that we had abandoned the claim at Fountain City where, although we might not have been able to gather in great wealth, we could have lived honestly and soberly. No one had urged us to move from Fountain City to Auraria; there was no reason, save our own will, why we should have done so; but having come, I felt pledged to stand by my decision like a man.
The looked-for day of Mr. Middletons return at last arrived, and we hired a log building, putting up


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over the door no gaudy sign such as I had dreamed of, but a roughhewn plank with the names, Middleton & Wagner, painted on it in the rudest of letters.
Yet I surveyed it with swelling pride, never entering the doorway without stopping for an instant to crane my neck and gaze up at that name which showed without doubt that I had at last attained to manhood.
HOW WE TRANSPORTED OUR GOODS
Mr. Middleton had found it a difficult job to get transportation for the goods which he bought in Leavenworth. All the wagon trains setting out from that place to the Colorado country were loaded with the goods of the emigrants, and so strong was the tide of people setting toward the mines that any one who could not command a team of his own was forced to seek high and low, and end by paying extravagant prices


HOW WE TRANSPORTED OUR GOODS 85
to people who would consent to carry his goods over the trail.
Those crazy prospectors offered to pay almost any price to get their goods hauled, acting more like madmen than like sensible citizens, for it seemed as if they believed that an hour earlier in arriving at the mines would make them rich beyond the dreams of avarice, while by delaying ever so short a time, they might lose all chance of getting their share of the gold which nature had hidden so cunningly.
Mr. Middleton had been able to arrange for hauling only a part of the merchandise he had bought,
trusting that the remainder would be forwarded as soon as might be possible. Thus, when our place of business was first opened, we had only the skeleton of a stock of goods; but yet it made a beginning, and gave me the pleasure of regarding myself as a real merchant.
When I learned that we must wait many a long day


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SETH OF COLORADO
before getting our shop in proper order, it seemed to me that many chances were slipping by us. I had become somewhat like those would-be gold seekers who counted every moment precious; and I might have fretted until I had become a nuisance to those around me, had not Mr. Middleton one day reproved me :
mr. Middletons advice
Take things calmly, Seth, my boy. Weeks, perhaps months, will go by before this vast army of gold seekers will be able to return to their homes. The time is not yet ripe for us to sell our building material, because thousands upon thousands of people now at the mines must come to the realization that gold is not to be had simply by reaching out ones hand, before they will be ready to turn their attention to making homes and settling down to sober employment. When they have once decided to remain here to help build up this land, we shall find our customers. So sit you quiet, Seth, and while we are waiting we must fill in our time with building a home for the family, because we shall not be satisfied to live in a wagon all our days.
Our shop was on that side of the creek which had been named Auraria, and it seemed natural that we should build a home near by; but failing to find any
4
place which could be purchased at a reasonable price,


MR. MIDDLETONS ADVICE
87
Mr. Middleton crossed the creek into the younger settlement of Denver. There, from a friend, he bought sufficient land for a home, a lot nearly two hundred feet square, and although situated in another town, it was not so far from our place of business that we would need spend much time walking to and fro.
Twenty miles away was a sawmill that had been set up by a Mr. Oakes, on the bank of Plum Creek, and
This was well within our power, for Mr. Middleton still owned the four yoke of cattle which had drawn our wagons from Fountain City, therefore I set about working as teamster, while he played carpenter to the best of his ability, hiring now and then to help him a man who, returning


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penniless from the gold fields, had been forced to turn his hand to whatever he might, in order to provide food for himself.
I shall not undertake to set down here how we built this home, the second one set up by us since we left Kansas, for it happened that I knew very little about it.
THE TIDE OF EMIGRATION
The reason for my ignorance sounds more like a fairy tale than sober truth, and yet there is nothing in it which may not be proved by any man who lived either in Denver or in Auraria during the year 1859.
I have quoted already the words of another regarding the human tide which rolled toward the mines and then back again, therefore it is but repetition when I say that no less than sixty thousand men came back from their gold seeking disappointed, and very many hundreds of them, perhaps thousands, had loaded their wagons with goods of various kinds, counting on selling them in the mines, where it was supposed gold would be so plentiful.
Having become discouraged, however, all this vast army, grown homesick, turned their faces toward the Missouri River, or whatever portion of the country they came from, and rather than haul back the goods with which their carts were laden, actually threw the


THE TIDE OF EMIGRATION
89
/
merchandise away on the road. The cattle, neglected to the verge of starvation while the owners were off gold digging, were in no fit condition to haul heavy loads the distance of five or six hundred miles which lay between them and the more thickly settled country.
These people, and there were thousands of them, had become so disheartened and longed so ardently
for home, that their minds had only the desire to get out of the country into which they claimed they had been lured by falsehood, and to accomplish this they were ready to sacrifice everything.
I am telling no more than the plain truth when I say that the trail from the diggings down to Denver was lined with goods of every description which had been abandoned by the owners.


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FINDING GOODS BY THE ROADSIDE
I had had ample evidence of this while hauling
lumber from Plum Creek, and when I had brought in
three loads, which made up sufficient material with
which to close in a fairly good-sized house, I suggested to Mr. Middleton that money could be made by driving along the trail and gathering up this abandoned property.
I proffered my suggestion with some timidity, be-


FINDING GOODS BY THE ROADSIDE
9i
lieving he would call me foolish for imagining it might be profitable to pick up what others had thrown away; but greatly to my surprise he grasped at the idea eagerly, and declared that instead of taking time just then to finish putting up the house, he would join me.
To furnish Mrs. Middleton and the children with shelter in our absence, he bought a canvas tent from one of the returning prospectors, and there we left the good woman and the boys, while we set out on this new venture, closing for the time being our shop with its incomplete stock of goods.
Six times we drove out from Auraria, over a distance of not more than forty miles, and six times did we return with our wagon loaded to its utmost capacity, having picked up from the wayside, without paying a single dollar for it, valuable stuff which would in due time command a ready sale at the settlement.
When the last load had been brought in, by which I mean the last which we could afford to go in search of, because the remainder of our stock of goods had by now been carted from Leavenworth, Mr. Middleton, roughly figuring up the results of our labor, announced that we had at least doubled our capital, or in other words, instead of owning four hundred dollars worth of goods as I had when he made the purchase at Leavenworth, I could count myself as having eight hundred dollars invested.


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It was a handsome profit for a boy of my age, when nothing save the labor of his hands and the use of the oxen were to be balanced against it.
GOLD IN COLORADO
It is possible I have made it appear as if there was no gold to be found in the country of Colorado, and that all who went among the mountains were disappointed in their quest.
This, however, is not the fact, although it is true that the majority of the gold seekers failed of success. Here and there wonderful finds were made, and it was these occasional discoveries which caused the fever to continue.


GOLD IN COLORADO
93
Word would come to us in Auraria that a gold-bearing quartz vein had been discovered, and while this brought luck to possibly four or five men out of two hundred thousand, the story sped eastward until rumor had it that every man had made a lucky strike..
Now and then, at intervals of perhaps a week or ten days, we would get definite word that rich lodes had been found, and then those people who had come back from the mines disappointed, but who still had sufficient money for the necessary expenses, would turn their faces once more toward Pikes Peak,
perhaps only to be disappointed again, or, in very few cases, to succeed finally.
It was the good fortune of the few which kept the general excitement up to fever pitch, while the failure of the many caused one town and another to spring suddenly up, for the wiser ones realized that wealth


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was to be gained in this land of Colorado, even though it could be better won by raising crops than by delving in the earth.
I knew of perhaps half a dozen men who were making themselves wondrously rich through fortunate dis-
coveries of gold, and I saw thousands upon thousands,

who, having spent every dollar they had brought with them from the east, were returning home disappointed and hopeless, declaring that all the tales told about this country were untrue, and that they had been persuaded by false reports to risk their all in a fruitless venture.
HOW THE CITIES GREW
I shall not weary you by any long recountal of the troubles and annoyances which beset the firm of Middleton & Wagner; but rather I shall describe how the country became settled around us.
Let me set down what I have since read regarding our settlement of Auraria, and the making of this country of Colorado.
In his account of the events of this year of 1859 Bancroft, the historian, writes:
Those who returned to the states carried reports sufficiently confirmed by the gold exhibited, to rearouse the gold fever, causing an emigration the following summer equal to, if not exceeding, that of 1859. The settlements already founded were greatly


HOW THE CITIES GREW
95
enlarged, and new ones made both in the mining and agricultural districts. Over six hundred miles of road from the Missouri to the mountains, a stream of wealth rolled in, which was expected to flow back again in a stream of gold dust a few months later.
Fortunately for the prosperity of Colorado at this period, there was nothing to interrrupt the influx
of people or of property. The freight trains of Russell and Major dragged their winding lengths along the Arkansas or Smoky Hill route day after day, bringing cargoes of goods, which were stored at their depots and sold to retail merchants on their own acccount, or carrying the goods of others. Many thousand wagons stretched in a continuous line along the Platte also, from its mouth to its source. Prices were neces-
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sarily high, and likewise high because everybody who had anything to sell desired to become rich out of it without loss of time. Mail facilities were introduced, and more quickly than could have been anticipated, correspondence with the east became established.
A POST OFFICE IN AURARIA
This company which Mr. Russell and Mr. Major formed was got together early in the year 1859 for the

purpose of running a stage line from Leavenworth to Denver to carry the mail. The concern was called the Leavenworth and Pikes Peak Express Company, and it charged, as extra postage on each letter, twenty-five cents, leaving the mail at the post office of Auraria and other towns.


Full Text