Anna’s GL Pyrography Art

Grandmother Anna’s GL Pyrography Art

The family’s cottage sits about halfway down the south shore of Grand Lake on Jerico Road. My grandparents Anna and Earl Batty purchased the property from Jay and Mamie Adams (Adams Falls) in September 1908. It is my best guess that the duplex log cabin was constructed the next summer and they probably first used it in August of 1910.

The cabin was very basic. It was constructed of D logs, chinked with horsehair oakum and still has much of the bark on the exterior side of the logs. The interior, flat walls were covered with 1909 Denver Post newspapers. Tacked over the newspapers was colored burlap, a common practice in D log-built structures. When my father returned from WW 2 the summer of 1946, he found that Uncle Harry had one electric lightbulb installed in each room. Sometime in the late 40s or early 50s, dad turned the dining room into a bathroom and enlarged the kitchen area. I’ve never known the cottage to not have running water and electricity.

The one item that is still there from the original cabin is a mirror installed in a large wood-burned frame. The frame is covered by strange-looking sea creatures, in particular a couple of squid-like ones.

One summer I was attending the local estate sale of an old summer lake cottage, soon to be replaced with a modern year-round structure. When this happens, I try to save something from the cottage. This time there was a wood-burned wall hanging so that is what I chose to save. Now I have several of them hanging on my walls. During the summer of 2018 I discovered one that had an elk on it and the initials BPOE burned in on it. Since it was in one of Clyde Eslick’s outbuildings on my town property, I assumed it might have been his. In the Kauffman House there is a photo of the three Kauffman girls in an old wood-burned frame.

During the summer of 2021, I being the curious type, started researching wood burning back when my grandmother Anna Stewart Batty (1880 – 1919) might have decorated the cottage mirror frame and discovered an interesting history of the craft.

Decorating wood, leather, and gourds by burning them with hot pokers, wires, electric woodburning tools and lasers goes back about 2000 years. Some say it started in China, others in Iran and it’s even been discovered in Peru.

Originally heated metal pokers would be used to burn art into furniture, wall hangings, and gourds. Finer detailed items were burned with metal-tipped pen-like instruments or wires.

In 1875 a Frenchman invented a gas cauterizing apparatus for closing wounds and blood vessels. Ten years later another Frenchman adapted the small benzene gas machine to be used with a platinum-tipped pen-like instrument to create wood-burned works of art (Vulcan wood etching machine). The name given to the, now home craft, was pyro graphics or pyrography (writing with fire).

It soon caught on as a home hobby for decorating homes and burned art sold to others less talented. It first spread over France and Belgium, then to Germany and Austria. From there the craft made its way to England and across the pond to America. One of the features of this craft tool was that electricity was not needed. Much of rural Nebraska and Colorado did not get electricity until later in the 30s and 40s. I feel with considerable certainty that the two pieces of pyrography I have of grandmother Anna’s were both made at her home in Alma, NE or Grand Lake without using electricity.

From what I could find, one of the larger suppliers of the pyrography kits and wood burned art in the US was the Flemish Art Company of Brooklyn, NY. From that company could be purchased the Vulcan wood etching machine kits, basswood, frames, handkerchief boxes, wall hangings, finished and raw wood with the outline traced on them. To learn more, go online and Google “pyrography”, “wood burning” or check out eBay to see all kinds of the new and old art. You can also stop by the Kauffman House this summer, 2022 to view their pyrography display.

Below are some images which might help you understand what things looked like around 1910.

Flemish Art Company, Brooklyn, NY about 1910
Basic Pyrography Kit
Advertising material for “The Arts of Fire”
Example of pen like tip
Photo of Anan’s handkerchief box.

Here’s a link to a site with lots more detail on the subject

Eslick BPOE pyro-art

Another Gibson Girl pyro art

Here is one of the youtube videos I discovered while searching “Charles Gibson”. You can also search on youtube for “Gibson Girl”. My grandmother drew a Gibson Girl which also hangs on a bedroom wall.

Poinsettias were a frequent design in pyro art.


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Saving an Old GL Summer Rental Cabin

The Village of Grand Lake, (GL) was a pretty difficult place to live after the three silver mines that spurred its existence failed in the early 1880s. Those who stayed to tough out the harsh winter weather eventually found themselves living in an early summer tourist destination. When the first train arrived in Granby in 1905 from Denver, the three-day trek from Denver to Grand Lake turned in to one long day. What a boost for the GL area. Then, once the road was improved over Berthoud Pass and automobiles grew stronger, even more tourists started arriving. So much so that P.H. Smith and his son-in-law Clyde Eslick built the first motel. Now referred to as the Cottage Court

Summer of 2020 view of the Cottage Court with 1929 model A Ford.

To accommodate the additional interest in GL, individual small log cabins were starting to appear. They were pretty basic. Mostly, they were equipped with a small pot bellied stove, a bed or two, table, chair and when water came to town they were developed into summer water only cabins. Their plumbing consisted of a sink with one cold water line in and the wastewater running out on the ground outside. If there was a group of cabins located together there usually was a shared wooden privy somewhere near. 

The story I’m going to recount is about one of those old summer rental cabins located at 829 Park Ave., just one block north of Grand Ave. 

Front view of the old, summer water only, rental cabin on Park Ave.

I had been interested in the old full log cabin for years. It was unique because it had a green and white metal roof on one side, with all five windows and two doors screwed and nailed shut. As fate would have it, on a June 2019 day the owner/developer called me wondering if I might like to have the building, for free. I drove over and found the rear door open so I took a look inside. It was chuck-full of old building materials and junk. I realized right away it was too large for my little house in town at 721 Lake Ave. but decided I probably knew a person who would love to have it and could even, with a little help, move it himself. 

I called Travis at his Winding River Ranch and told him the situation. Travis and I got together later in the week and I gave him a look. He agreed it would be perfect for his dude ranch and would move it. The owner had told me it needed to be gone by the first of August that summer. Travis agreed to the timetable. Well kind of, you have to remember it is mountain time and very few things in GL happen on time. 

I spent my spare time during July hauling out anything I thought might have value and putting it in front of the cabin. Eventually, much of the stuff disappeared except for the 12 used bathroom sinks. During the first week of August I conscripted some of my family to help empty out the remaining junk and put it in a large trailer supplied by Travis. As a reward I took my family to the Jump Start Coffee and Tea Shop for sweets and drinks. Since it only took an hour of time I think it turned into a fun time for all. 

The trailer was full when we left to celebrate at the Jump Start.

On August 9th I posted on Facebook account some photos of the work detail loading the junk into the trailer and described what the family was doing. The next day, Don left a comment saying that Meredith had lived in that vacant cabin when she worked for the Grand Lake Restaurant in the late 60s. Well, I know Meredith, and her family has had a summer cottage on the south shore of GL since the early 1940s.  Later that month, while driving down Jerico Rd., I noticed her car parked at their cabin.  I stopped and found her and a couple other women in the gazebo making a quilt. 

I told Meredith about Don’s comment and she said she had lived there during the summer of her 21st year, 1968. It appears that Phebe had been living in the cabin and when she moved out Meredith had moved in. Because the doors were nailed shut entry was through the front window.  Also, the outhouse was down the block and used by other cabin renters. When I asked Meredith why she lived in town and not at their beautiful 1900 lake house, she replied. “The house rule was, if you worked in town you lived in town”. Meredith mentioned that there was no electrical power to the cabin. She thought it had a bed, maybe a table and chair, cold running water in the lean-to and no wood stove. Pretty basic living conditions. To see the complete Facebook page for the above photo click here.

At the end of August, there were a few damp days so, one morning, when he could not be cutting hay, Travis and three or four friends showed up with their heavy equipment and a couple of ladders. In four hours they taken off the metal roof, removed the large lean-to on the back of the cabin and had it all loaded on trailers ready to be driven to the ranch when there was less traffic at night

Travis and crew who performed their magic on the old rental cabin.

From owning one of these old summer water only rental cabins I knew how to identify them by where the one water line came in and one out plus the cover in the ceiling where the pot bellied stove pipe went into the attic. 

This rental cabin had the galvanized water pipe still on top of the ground but hidden in the tall weeds. The sink and stove had long disappeared like they had in my old building. 

A few other discoveries made the project fun for me. 1) My first treasure was finding an old kitchen table. When I turned the table on its side to get it through the door I noticed the name P.H. Smith stenciled on one of the boards. In the old days anything valuable transported into GL was put in a wooden crate with the name of the recipient stenciled in black ink.  Another fact is that P. H. Smith and this son-in-law; Clyde Eslick built the Cottage Camp motel.  

2) Written on one of the inside walls of the lean-to was, “I have slept in better cabins but I don’t know when, Paul Kernodle, Grandview MO, Write me! 1953 age 16.”   I was able to find some facts about Paul from his 2008 obituary that is associated with “find a grave” website. Paul was born in September of 1937, he earned his private aircraft license when he was 16 and his instrument rating at age 18, graduated from U of MO in 1960 followed by three years in the US Army then flew for Ozark and TWA airlines. I had hoped to be able to communicate with Paul since he was only 9 years older than I, but it was not to be. He died in KC in 2008. Note: If Paul was there in a summer month and not late September, he was actually only 15. I can see him wanting to have it say he was older and able to drive.

Paul Kernodle’s message written during his stay in 1953.

3) There were two names I was able to track down. One had become a schoolteacher in Texas but like Paul was deceased. I was also able to find a third young lady but then the leads disappeared. 4) On a couple of the logs in the larger building, there were several more invitations, by what were probably young girls, leaving their names and the small towns they were from. Their young ages kept me from finding them using the US Censes. The latest censes data is from 1940 and the 1950 censes will not become public until April of 2022.  

5) The last treasure was not uncovered until the morning that the rental cabin was moved. After the remaining usable lumber was removed, the front page of an old Denver newspaper seemed to magically appear on the wood floor. The only thing I remember about it were the large head shots of President Harry Truman and his running mate Alben Barkley making it a 1948 newspaper. It seemed strange that the old newspaper was the only thing stuck to the floor planks and survived all those years. My guess is that there had been rolled linoleum protecting it just like in so many old summer rental cabins I’ve come across in GL. 

1948 Denver Post

One of my joys, at this time in my life, is researching and writing about GL history. Unfortunately, this one now has a sad ending.  It happened on October 21st, 2020. As the east troublesome fire roared east then north into RMNP, it completely consumed the Winding River Ranch and all the old building Travis had saved over the years.

Winding River Ranch before the East Troublesome fire in Oct. 2021.
Winding River Ranch after the East Troublesome fire on Oct. 21, 2021

Just knowing a few things about Paul Kernodle, like where he lived in 1953, I was able to locate the following information. 1) because he was born before 1940 I knew he would probably be in the 1940 US censes and he was. I used to locate his family along with his 1954 High School year book with photos. 2) Using I found his headstone with his obituary.

My search for Paul all started from finding his pencil message left behind from 1953.

Copied from a heading above the following yearbook photo.
Oliver Paul Kernodle’s 1953 Senior Class photo,
Dec. 4, 1979 Chillicoth Constitution Tribune
A view from the north east showing both structures.

The larger of the two parts of the building is a full log structure with milled ends while the lean-to was built with rough cut true dimension 2X4s and sided with slabs with the bark still in place. That style is referred tp as “Colorado Rustic”. I find this interesting. I’m guessing, but back when the lean-to was built, that was a by product from milling dimension lumber and the least expensive way to side structures like this one, privies sheds. My thought is that the lean-to was was hauled in and attached later. Because the two sections do not match in construction or width, it is my opinion that the lean-to was originally a stand alone structure. As to which came first, it will always remain a mystery.

The windows in the two parts are not the same. The one over head light fixture electrical wiring in the lean-to is of the earliest type. It’s call knob and tube. It consisted of a ceramic knob and two separate wires for the hot and cold wires. All the full log portion had was a single strand of romex wire with a surface mounted plug-in-box.

Knob and tube wiring from old cabin, knobs are missing in this photo.

The photo below shows the two holes in the lean-to wood plank floor where the cold water line came into the sink and the other was for the sink waste water. It was town water and was only turned on during the warmer months. To have year round water the piped need to be eight feet below the surface so they don’t freeze during the winter months.

This final section contains a collection of photos taken the day the building was made ready to move to the Winding River Ranch.

The metal roof was first removed and neatly stacked.
The lean to was separated and loaded on a separate trailer.
One of the crew taking a photo of the old 1948 Denver Post.
Front page of the 48′ Denver Post.
Moving crew member reads what kids wrote on log wall.
Gettin the machines into position.

They cut the apex of the roof then lower the east side then west side to make it a box with a top.
The term, moving crew was not accurate. It was the moving Team who performed the miracle.
Location is now an empty lot. At present (5/21/2021) the lot is supporting two new houses.
Some where in this pile of Winding River Ranch rubble, you might find a remnate of the old GL summer water only rental log cabin. Photo taken May 2021.

A rather sad ending to a great effort to save a small piece of Grand Lake history. 5/21/2021


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Reflections from Point Park

PP-sign     A Special Place On the Shore of Grand Lake, Colorado

Researched and written by Steve Batty

My family has been coming almost every summer to Grand Lake since 1908 when Jay Adams invited the Battys and Keesters, from Jay’s former home in Alma, Nebraska. That first fall, the Battys, and Keesters purchased two adjoining lots on the south shore of the lake and had a duplex log cabin built by local craftsmen the following year.

I’ve been spending some part of almost every summer at the family cottage since I was a year old. I’m now 72 and usually refer to the Grand Lake area as “My Mountain Paradise”. This includes the area from Mount Baldy to the Rabbit Ear’s Range (now named The Never Summer Range) on the west side of Middle Park.neversummer-range-sm-1

Now that I am in the fall of my years, I actually stop to smell the wild roses in June while walking parts of the lake shoreline. As a child and young man, I was more concerned with the destination than the journey, particularly the journey around the lake.  Now, on my walks from the family lake cottage to town for coffee, I stop at Point Park and marvel at the beauty of our Mountain Paradise. I invite you to join me sitting on one of the many park benches or the large rock with the Bureau of Reclamation marker in it. bench-point-park-sm

From there, looking east, you will see Baldy flanked on the left by Mt. Cairns and the right, Mt. Wescott. At some time after Reverend Craig purchased land from Joseph Wescott, Baldy was officially named Mt. Craig. As a note of interest, at the west end of the lake, Cairns owned lakeshore on the left, Craig in the middle and Wescott on the right. The same as the mountains named for the three men.

The old-timers knew the south shore of the lake as Echo Mountain before being renamed Shadow Mountain sometime in the 1940s.  My father frequently referred to it by its original name. He once told me, he and cousin Dorothy used to row the Old Mary-Ann out from shore and shout at the mountain just to listen for the echo. One of the favorite summer past times of the early Lake guests and cabin owners was to walk the path around the lake. The lakeshore owners eventually built benches where the walkers could stop, rest and visit. Now, most of the walking path is gone, except from the end of Jerico Road to the footbridge over the east inlet.  It also went from Grand Lake City, across the footbridge to what is now Point Park and into Grand Lake Village. So, if you are now in the Park, you might be standing on or at least very close to where the County Commissioners walked to their death that fateful day on July 4th 1883.

Some of the special natural events, which happen on the lake, are best viewed from the park. For some reason, the finest red morning sunrises seem to happen in September and early October. I have many beautiful sunrise photos where both the east sky and water between are the deepest most vibrant red you could imagine. baldy-calmwater-cissy-sm                 Above photograph by Cissy Fry Wilson – Reflections of a mountain paradise

Sunrise photograph below contributed by Rebecca Hofmeister. HM-sunrise-sm-1

Another early morning event are the little spiffs of clouds, which seem to be escaping the lake. According to “The Legend of Grand Lake” written by Joseph Wescott, they appear to represent the spirits of the dead Ute squaws and papoose Indians who drown in the lake during the battle between the Ute braves and the combined Arapaho and Cheyenne war party. spirit-cloud-2-sm

As summer afternoon rain showers begins to wane, frequently can be seen a rainbow to the east stretching from the north shore across the lake to the south shore. If your timing is good, you might see a double or even a triple rainbow.rainbow-kup-sm-1                                       Photograph contributed by Dr. Robert Wilson

Some of the other early morning visitors to the park might be a lone black bear heading south to his hiding place on Echo Mountain or a large bull moose munching on the tall moose-in-lake-sm2.jpggrass on the south side of the outlet. And, if you are very still and quiet you might even glimpse a beautiful red fox slinking along the edge of the lake looking for breakfast in the tall grass of the meadow to the west.

One of the old Indian names for the lake is Red Lake. This appears to be caused when there are clouds just above the Rabbit Ears Range to the west a few minutes before dusk. This beautiful early evening event is best seen from the front porch of the Grand Lake Lodge. What you see from that vantage point are two pink lakes, Grand Lake and Shadow Mountain Lake.

For additional photos associated with Grand Lake’s Point Park click on the associated name.

…………… ……..NOW FOR THE REST OF THE STORY ……………………..

point-park-trail-sm Let’s take a look at who either inhabited the Point Park area or claimed ownership to it over the years. The first would have to be said were the Native Americans and in particular the Ute. There is a ton of information out there about the Ute tribes.

Febr. 2020 – Here is a wonderful Ted Talk by a Ute telling their story of the creation of the earth and all it’s people, including the Ute. The Ute did not have a written language so all history was passed down by storytelling. Ute Wisdom, Language and Creation Story on Ted.

Another native American tribe who used to come to the Grand Lake area during the summers were the Arapaho. They were primarily plains Indians on the east side of the continental divide.  The Arapaho would have traveled by foot then horseback over Flat Top Mountain, down the North Inlet to Grand Lake. There were probably three important reasons for their annual move from the Front Range to Middle and North Park. 1) The temperatures were much more moderate in the summer, 2) the abundant game for hunting and fishing, and 3) the hot mineral and therapeutic water pools at the present day Hot Sulphur Springs. Here is a good article I discovered later in my research.  1914 Treck through RMNP with two Arapaho braves. Another interesting document of sacred sites and more in RMNP.

Next would have been Spain followed by Mexico claiming the land and waters but never settling the area. Middle Park, including Grand Lake, was not part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 from France. It did not include any land west of the Continental Divide. I have not been able to pinpoint exactly when the area west of the Continental Divide was claimed by the United States but I’m guessing it might have been associated with obtaining California from Mexico.

According to the poem “The Legend of Grand Lake” written by Joseph L. Wescott following a talk with an old Ute Indian brave, this story starts around the time Wescott was born in Nova Scotia in 1838. He eventually migrated to the United States in 1850 at age twelve. He might have heard of the great gold rush to California in 1849 but was much too young to get involved. In 1859 gold was discovered on Clear Creek west of Denver and in this one, he could find his fortune.

I have not found any record of his entry into the territory of Colorado but he did enlist in the Colorado Infantry/Cavalry regiment sometime after July 1st 1861. In November of 1862, the infantry regiment became the 1st cavalry regiment. The regiment’s one major Civil War battle was in New Mexico at Apache Canyon also called Glorieta Pass New Mexico March 28th, 1862. After that battle, most of the regimental battles were with the Indians in Kansas and Colorado. The records show he enlisted as a private in the 1st Cavalry Company G in 1862 but that does not mean he was not in the Colorado Territory volunteer infantry until the formation of the Cavalry in November of 1862. It does imply that he owned a horse.

Another important date in 1862 was on May 20th when President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the Homestead Act to encourage the migration of settlers into the western states and territories. This law allowed settlers to homestead 160 acres of public land for a small fee and residence and improvements on it for the following five years.

Sometime after Wescott was mustered out in late November of 1865 he needed to travel to Hot Sulphur Springs, in hopes that the hot mineral baths might cure his rheumatism. It appears that his attempt to homestead in the Hot Sulfur area was thwarted so he traveled to Grand Lake and settled in an abandon log cabin at the west end of the lake in 1867. In the 1880 US Census (Colorado’s first as a state) he listed himself as a miner. I can only guess but I’m pretty sure he also fished or trapped fish, hunted the abundant animals, prospected for gold and cut, chopped and split lots of firewood.

In 1881 a meander survey was accomplished all the way around the lake. That same year, a second meander survey was done of the land around the lake. In 1882 Wescott filed with the land office for a quarter section (160 acres) of land at the west end of the lake on either side of the Grand River. After five years he proved it up in 1887 and was given the original patent for the 154.32 acre plot. At some point in time, he subdivided his land into lots and named the area Grand Lake City.

A few side notes. The only “Main Street” in the area is from Jerico Road east to the original center of Grand Lake City on the west end of the lake. It was also very common in those times to add the word “city” to the original name of the town to make it sound larger, i.e. Lulu City, Grand Lake City, and Teller City. Also, the standard lot width at that time was 25 feet. That standard had been established years before in NYC. Check it out in the town of Grand Lake. Most older buildings on Grand Avenue are on 25 foot lots or multiples of 25 feet.

As GL City began to grow, a couple hotels (Adam’s Grandview House, and the Lake View House) were built, a general store along with a few permanent residential log homes. At some point in time, newer residents decided they wanted to have their stores and homes on the more sunny and warmer north shore of the lake.

The first US census to include the new state of Colorado was taken in June of 1880. That census shows that Grand Lake had a total of 32 residents residing in 9 dwellings. Most of the men were listed as miners, as was Wescott, with a logger, stonemason, farmer, sawyer, a couple of housekeepers, two hotel keepers, lawyer, fisherman, and a retail grocer. The 1890 census was mostly destroyed and no data is available for Grand Lake.

By 1883 the prospectors and miners realized the gold and silver ore grades were too low per ton. The area was not going to be getting a railroad or reducer located nearby because the one county commissioner supporting the projects had been killed in the July 4th, 1883 shootout. After all the commissioners were killed, the miners packed up their few personal belongings and left and the towns soon became ghost towns. Following the miner’s departure, the only mining support town left was Grand Lake. If it was going to survive, it needed to make the transformation to a summer resort destination. For a short 1895 view of Grand County history follow this link – Early Grand County History.

In July of 1893, Wescott sold to Reverend William Baird Craig a 20-acre tract of land on the north side of the Grand River (outlet) along the west shore of Grand Lake. In October of that same year, Wescott sold to Jarvis W. Davies approximately 2.5 acres of land north of the Grand River along the west shore of Grand Lake now known as Point Park. In 1908 Reverend Craig sued Davies for his tract of land saying that he had a prior claim to it. Davies hired Hot Sulphur Springs attorney David P. Howard to represent him in court. The case drug on until it was finally settled in 1921. By that time both Joseph Wescott and William Baird Craig had passed. I’m not sure why Wescott died but it could have been due to a hard life and age. Craig, on the other hand, was killed in Denver in an auto accident.

A couple more reason why it took thirteen years to finally settle the suit could have been the fact that the District Court in Hot Sulphur was only held twice a year. If one of the parties asked for a continuance it was another six months before the court was held. The poor roads and snow could also have been a serious factor in delaying the decision. The district court finally settled in favor of Craig and Howard appealed the decision but lost again. I’m not sure just how long this went on but Howard finally asked Ralph W. McCrillis, a Denver attorney, to lead the charge.

In 1921 the case was finally settled in favor of Jarvis Davies. Davies told his two attorneys they could have the property because he did not have the funds to pay their fees. The three finally agreed on a 50/50 split. Davies retained half ownership and the two litigators split the other have. Eventually, McCrillis bought out Howard’s share.

For a more complete version of the litigation between Davies and Craig go to this online document, From Summer Home to Public Playground: The Evolution to Point Park, Grand Lake, Colorado by Michael Weeks Ph D. This document has many old photos and maps to help explain the McCrillis/Davies property and litigation.

For the next twenty years, the Ralph McCrillis family and Jarvis Davies were blessed to enjoy their Mountain Paradise on that little triangle of land now called Point Park. Ralph’s son Edwin or Ed has written a short brief titled Ed’s Grand Lake Tales, telling of many of his adventures at Grand Lake throughout his youth. I found it a joy to read. You too can share in Ed’s tales by clicking on the above title.

The future Point Park area was the summer home for the McCrillis family and Jarvis Davies until the Colorado-Big Thompson project started in 1938. A good source about the project can be found by clicking on the project name above. The effect the project had on the McCrillis/Davies lake property was that the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wanted some of their property. See Michael Weeks’ document about the Park to see the area the BLM wanted. In short, McCrillis and Davies sold their property to the Feds in 1944, and never returned to the lake.

On your next visit to the Lake, be sure to find your way to Point Park and take in its beauty. During the summer months, it is covered with blue lupine. In September, as the lupine seed pods are popping, the aspen will be showing their golden colors. If your timing is just right you might get to witness the red sky in the morning or glass-like lake surface reflecting the mountains and clouds. No matter what time of the year you are there, take a few minutes to revel in Our Mountain Paradise.






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Short History of Early Grand County

Taken from A History of the State of Colorado 1895


Middle park—taken from Ute Indians—a famous hunting ground—general


Grand County, which takes its name from the Grand River, was created by an
act of the territorial legislature, approved February 2nd, 1874. It was severed
 from the northern part of Summit County, and the seat located at Hot Sulphur
Springs, on Grand River. It is now bounded on the north by Larimer, south by
Clear Creek, Summit and Eagle, east by Gilpin, Boulder, Clear Creek and Larimer, 
and west by Routt. Its area is 2,100 square miles, and, by the census of 1890, had a
population of 604, an increase of 187 in the preceding decade. Originally, this 
county embraced both Middle and North Parks. In 1877 the western part was
segregated and Routt county organized. The Middle Park, or the present county,
was the favorite home and hunting ground of the northern Ute Indians. In 1868,
 by treaty previously concluded, these lands were relinquished. The Utes parted
 with this country very reluctantly, and it was only after a long struggle that they
were induced to relocate on a reservation provided for them on White river. Prior
to the invasion of the Park by white settlers, quadruped and other game abounded, elk, deer, mountain sheep, antelope, buffalo and all varieties of bear, including
grizzlies; grouse, sage hens, ducks, geese, turkeys, etc., whereby it will be readily
understood that the savages were extremely averse to its abandonment. It was, in
reality, the best hunting range in all the mountain region. It is watered by Grand 
River, a large and noble stream, fed by many strong tributaries; a beautiful and 
picturesque basin well grassed, and the mountains which surround it on all sides are heavily timbered. It is a lovely place in summer, and the winters are not rigorous except upon the ranges; there the snows fall to great depths. But one of the
principal attractions to the Indians was the large hot sulphur spring, to which
they resorted for the cure of various ailments: a broad circular pool of hot
steaming water, strongly impregnated with sulphur, soda and other minerals. It
’s fed by a constant flow from smaller springs in the neighboring hillside. The
temperature is no degrees Fahrenheit. Trout swarmed in all the streams, and
Grand Lake, in which Grand river takes its rise, contains thousands of these beautiful fish.

In the melting seasons, Grand river runs full to the height of its banks. The
Park being a sheltered retreat, well nigh inaccessible to their enemies, the Plains 
Indians, and possessing all the advantages which an Indian desires, it is not surprising that the Utes should have made vigorous efforts to retain it. When the
Pike’s Peak immigration came, and towns and trading posts were established, they brought out the furs and skins of animals they captured to exchange for coveted 
goods. Nevava, a brave and wise old man, was the chief of these tribes.

The valley of the Grand is very fertile, a fine grazing region, but not well
 adapted to agriculture because of the altitude, shortness of growing season and
 cool nights. Yet in certain quarters considerable tracts have been put under cultivation, ditches having been taken out to irrigate them. In 1889 there were about
 1,500 acres in grain and vegetables, wholly for local consumption. The Park is
 approximately fifty miles wide from east to west, by ninety miles in length north
to south, embracing, in addition to agricultural and grazing lands, large deposits
of iron, coal, petroleum, lime, granite and sandstones, with considerable belts
of lodes bearing gold, silver, lead and copper, with some extensive placers.
On all the mountain slopes are immense forests of pine and spruce timber. No
 part of this region has been touched by a constructed railway, though the Burling
ton & Missouri River company have surveyed and partly graded a line along the 
Grand Valley. The first railway line surveyed and located in the Territory of 
Colorado was by engineer Edward L. Berthoud, who, in May 1861, began at 
Golden City, twelve miles west of Denver, passed up Clear Creek, or Vasquez river,
to Berthoud Pass, down the western slope into the Park, and thence to Hot Sulphur 
Springs. During the same year he ran another line, but practically over the same
 route, to Gores Pass, thence to Bear and Snake rivers, to Williams Fork and on to 
Salt Lake City, as more fully set forth in the history of Jefferson County, Volume III, page 503. In 1865 General Bela M. Hughes partly constructed a stage road for
 Holiday’s Overland Express from Salt Lake, via Green river to Middle Park, but 
it was never occupied, indeed never completed.

Grand county unquestionably is the better-unoccupied portion of Colorado
for railway purposes, including local traffic. It forms the shortest route front
 Denver to Salt Lake and Ogden. When penetrated by steel thorough fares, it will 
become one of the great centers of production. The fact that it has no connection 
with the outer world, no outlet for its native resources except by long and rugged
 wagon roads over lofty ranges, has prevented multitudes from settling there. The 
main tributaries of Grand river are the Troublesome, Muddy, the Blue, Williams 
and Frazier. As already stated, the Grand heads in Grand Lake, a large sheet of
 pure, cold water, situated in the northeasterly part of the county, and, flowing
 southwesterly, unites with the Gunnison at Grand Junction in Mesa County.

As early as 1859 the hot sulphur springs were located, and in some sense
 claimed by William N. Byers, founder of the Rocky Mountain “News,” who still
retains them. In future time when the Park shall be traversed by railway trains,
 it will be made one of the chief sanitariums of the state. Mr. Byers has covered
 the main spring with a stone bathhouse. It is a superb fount of health-giving
 waters, where many remarkable cures have been affected. In 1866 Bayard Taylor
 made a pedestrian tour of this region and thus describes it in one of his letters:

“The sun came out, the clouds lifted and rolled away, and one of the most
remarkable landscapes of the earth was revealed to our view. The valley of the 
Blue, which for a length of 30 miles, with a breadth ranging from five to ten, lay
under our eyes, wore a tint of pearly silver-gray upon which the ripe green of the
 timber along the river and the scattered gleams of water seemed to be enameled.
 Opposite to us, above the sage color, rose huge mountain foundations, where the 
grassy openings were pale, the forests dark, the glens and gorges filled with shadow, the rocks touched with lines of light, making a checkered effect that suggested
cultivation and settlement. Beyond this were wild ridges, all forests; then bare
 masses of rock streaked with snow, and highest, bleak snow pyramids piercing the 
sky. From north to south stretches the sublime wall of the western boundary of Middle Park, and where it fell away toward the canon by which the Grand river goes forth to seek the Colorado, there was a vision of dim, rosy peaks a hundred miles distant. In the breadth of effect, in airy depth and expansion, in simple yet most
majestic outline, and in originality yet exquisite harmony of color, this landscape
 is unlike anything I have ever seen. There is a great vertical grandeur among 
the Alps; here it is the vast, lateral extent which impresses you, together with 
atmospheric effect occasioned by great elevation above the sea.”

Blue River, a magnificent stream, it may be observed in passing, rises under 
the shadow of Mount Lincoln, in the extreme south end of the Park. For twenty-
five miles its tributaries are numerous, among them the Snake, Swan and French
on the right, and Ten Mile on the left. The latter and the Snake empty into the 
Blue opposite one another, twenty-four miles from its source and ten miles below 

The first officers of Grand county were: Clerk and recorder, C. H. Hook; 
treasurer, W. N. Brown; county judge, David Young; sheriff, John Baker;
 assessor, Charles Fuller. The other offices were not filled.

A great belt of gold and silver mines, a few of which have been opened, are 
situated in the Rabbit Ear range, northwesterly from Hot Sulphur Springs. Some
 gold placers above Hahn’s Peak, now in Routt County, have been worked with 
very profitable results in past years. The silver mines on Rabbit Ear, especially 
the Wolverine, Endomide and a few others, have been sufficiently developed to 
demonstrate the strength of the veins and the value of the ores. These mines,
 however valuable they may be, can not be made profitable until facilities for reach
ing markets by rail shall have been supplied, and the same is true of all the other

William N. Byers and a trapper named Charles Utter, a bright, handsome
 and rather lively little fellow, known to all the early residents of the territory,
 were among the first to build cabins on Grand River. John S. Jones, whose family 
resided at Empire, owned some land near Utter’s place. Byers built a small log
 house at Hot Sulphur Springs in 1859. Another pioneer named J. L. Wescott went
 from Empire to these springs in 1865 and has ever since made Middle Park his
home. He built the first cabin at Grand Lake in 1867.

We are now impelled to record a series of events filled with contention, bloodshed, and horror. In approaching the subject I am aware that no account, how
ever accurate, written at this late day, will be accepted by all parties as a true
 narrative of the appalling tragedy, owing to the irreconcilable divisions of public 
sentiment that led up to it, traces of which exist to this day although many, indeed 
most, of the surviving actors, have removed from the county.* Nevertheless, the 
particulars following will be found correct in the main.

In 1874, when the county was created, Hot Sulphur Springs was the only
 settlement, and that a very small one. There were some herds of cattle and
 horses and a few widely separated cabins along Grand River below the springs.
In that year, however, a prospector, named Sandy Campbell, discovered a belt
 of excellent gold and silver mines in the Rabbit Ear range. From these developed,
in due course, a considerable degree .of activity which lasted a few years, then, because of their extreme isolation, died away. Rumors of Campbell’s find brought 
numerous accessions to the population. Among the residents at this time were
 Charles W. Royer, Charles H. Hook, Wm. S. Chamberlin, and John H. Stokes.
 Among the later arrivals were William Redman, his brother, Bass Redman, Cap
t. J. Dean and others.

The personal feuds, political and factional disturbances 
which led to fearful disorders and finally to wholesale murder began in 1877 
 and raged with constantly increasing bitterness until after the closing act in the awful drama, July 4th, 1883. In 1879 certain parties conceived and executed a 
plan to establish a rival town at Grand Lake in nearer proximity to the mines.
 Among them were William Redman, a savage, brutal character, John H. Stokes
and others who were not especially interested in the town of Hot Springs. The
 location of the new town became a fresh cause of malignant dissension. In the 
year last mentioned, eastern capitalists purchased the Wolverine mine, whose development gave promise of great value, and, in 1880, E. P. Weber came out as 
their representative and manager. He also bore a conspicuous part in hastening
events to a tragical issue.

Out of the mining boom came the founding of the 
town of Lulu on the North Fork, 12 miles from Grand Lake, which ultimately
 became a strong ally of Grand Lake in the contest against Hot Springs. Meantime, the town of Teller had been established in North Park, on the west side of
the range six miles westerly from Lulu, the seat of a mining district with a 
considerable population. It may be stated in passing, that both Lulu and Teller, 
as well as that of Gaskill, are now almost wholly deserted.

The Grand Lake people now felt strong enough, numerically, to change the 
county seat from Hot Springs to their town. The question was brought to a
 vote and carried in their favor by a small majority. Hot Springs, humiliated and 
embittered by the act, appealed to the courts, which decided against it The 
records and offices were removed to Grand Lake early in 1881. About this time
 E P. Weber entered the lists as an aggressive factor, when he and his friends came 
into violent collision with Bill Redman and his clan, through a dispute over a mining 

Joseph L. Wescott, the first settler, claimed 160 acres of land as a homestead 
but was not permitted to file upon it for the reason that the township had not been 
surveyed. The claimant of the adjoining section, a Mr. Anderson, had sold his
 improvements to Mrs. M. J. Young. Weber attempted to jump a portion of
 these claims, causing Wescott and Mrs. Young great annoyance, which, with other
 aggressions, rendered him extremely unpopular in the town, and he was equally 
out of favor at Hot Springs.

Among others to settle in the mining town of Teller was John G. Mills, a
brave but reckless man who had left Mississippi because of the killing lie had
 done there. He had been well educated, possessed much ability as a writer, had
studied law, and served some time as an editor. In 1880 the North Park was
claimed by both Larimer and Grand counties. In the election of that year a majority of its votes were cast with Grand, and Mills, being a candidate for county commissioner, was elected. In 1881 a factional quarrel split Teller into two distinct
parties, a very large majority being hostile to Mills. His adversaries, supported
by the North Park “Miner” published at Teller, and the only newspaper in the
county, fiercely attacked him and a wordy and threatening war resulted. Grand 
Lake, however, was almost unanimously favorable to Mills, which created intense
feeling between the two towns. In 1881 a general political disturbance occurred.

In the county election, Grand Lake came out victorious, re-electing Charles W.
Royer, sheriff, W. S. Chamberlin, treasurer, both Democrats and Lew W. Pollard
 (Republican), clerk. The superintendent of schools, the county judge (Hoyt) and
one commissioner also resided there. Royer remained at Hot Springs and ap¬
pointed Bill Redman undersheriff. Soon afterward the North Park “Miner” blazed 
with charges of malfeasance, speculation and mismanagement against the Grand Lake
 officials. This induced the latter to establish a paper of their own the “Prospector”
edited by Bailey & Smart, who took up their defense.

From the beginning of the
 campaign of 1882, the factional disturbances grew more and more violent. Hot 
Springs hated Grand Lake because of its rivalry, and Teller hated it through the popularity of Mills in that quarter. The balance of the population were about evenly
divided in sentiment. This year a commissioner was to be elected, and also two delegates to the Republican state convention. A mass meeting was held at Grand
Lake which nominated J. R. Godsmark, of Lulu, for commissioner, and J. G. Mills
 and Charles F. Caswell for delegates to the state convention. As will be remem
bered, Henry R. Wolcott was brought forward for the governorship by Senator
 N. P. Hill and his friends, and was opposed by Jerome 5. Chaffee, as the leader
 of the Republican party, and chairman of the central committee, consequently 
E. L. Campbell, of Lake, received the nomination after a heated contest Mills
 and Caswell favored Wolcott Shortly after the mass meeting just mentioned, a 
small number (only seven), it is said) met at Grand Lake and nominated E. P. Weber
 and Capt. T. J. Dean as delegates to the Republican convention. Being anti-
Wolcott, they were admitted to seats. During the discussion of the Grand county
 contest, Weber made a speech in which he charged Mills with being a murderer
 and a fugitive from justice. This was one of the direct causes of the impending crisis in which both lost their lives. Other personal and political outbreaks occurred in which most of the principal characters were involved, but it is unnecessary
to dwell upon them.

In January 1883, that fateful year, the board of county commissioners consisted of John G. Mills, chairman, Wilson Waldren, of Grand Lake, whose term
 was expiring (and in whose stead H. B. Rogerson had been elected), and Barney 
Day. The latter had been appointed in December to fill a vacancy caused by the 
resignation of John Kinsey. In January 1883, Rogerson resigned and E. P. Weber
 was appointed in his place. This was a severe blow to the Grand Lake faction, 
which had no love for Weber. Matters went on from bad to worse, until public 
feeling reached a very dangerous stage.

At length, a report was sent broadcast 
that Weber and Day proposed holding a special meeting for the purpose of ousting the county clerk and treasurer, upon an alleged insufficiency of their official 
bonds, but without notifying chairman Mills. The meeting was held next day
 but a discussion arose between Weber and Pollard, the clerk, as to its legality,
 the latter finally refusing to produce the records or to act as their clerk. Weber
admitted the informality, and it was at length decided to fix a date for a special 
session, and the clerk was instructed to advise Mr. Mills thereof. Again the two
 newspapers broke out in charges and counter-charges; other events occurred to 
inflame the public mind, some arrests were made, etc.

On Monday, July 2nd, 1883, the full board of commissioners met in the
office of the clerk at Grand Lake. Many people had arrived from neighboring
 towns. The clerk (Pollard) being absent, his duties were performed by his deputy, Mr. C. F. Caswell. The room was crowded with interested observers. The
session passed off quietly.

At nine o’clock next morning (3rd) the board re¬
convened. Mills, however, stated that Mr. Caswell and himself had been retained
as counsel in a divorce suit to be tried that day before the county court, and asked 
that they be excused. Mr. Weber, who had met while being chairman, assented,
 saying that he and Day would merely look over the assessment schedule and make 
notes of any matters they might consider necessary to be brought before the full 
board. Weber and Day, in company with Capt. Dean and E. M. Harman, who
 acted as their clerk, spent the day in consideration of matters before them. About
 dusk, an order was handed to Sheriff Royer directing him to appear before the
board and show cause why his bond should not be declared insufficient. This
was the first intimation of bad faith on their part, and naturally led to great excitement among the factions. This was increased when it became known that
 orders of like import had been prepared for service upon the county clerk, treasurer and judge, with certain precinct officers, for it then became only too apparent
 that Weber and Day and Dean had taken advantage of the absence of Mills and 
Caswell to accomplish their long threatened purpose. Everyone realized that
 nothing but a miracle could prevent bloodshed.

We now come to the final act, and, in order that it may be made entirely clear
to the reader, quote the description of the battleground and the events of the
 tragedy direct from the article in the “Sun” here to fore mentioned, because it is
correct in every essential particular: “Grand Lake is, in shape, nearly elliptical. The townsite is situated on the north shore. From the shore the land rises moderately, forming a ridge, and
descending again extends into a flat expanse. This ridge extends around the
 west shore of the lake to within about 200 yards of the Fairview house, at that 
time the leading hotel, owned by Mrs. Young. It was situated on the property
which Weber had endeavored to jump. At this place Weber, Dean, Day and many
 Teller and Gaskill people were stopping. The distance from the hotel to the courthouse is about three-fourths of a mile.

On the townsite the ridge mentioned is
 situated between the road and the lake, but, on turning to follow the western shore, 
the road crosses the ridge and lies between it and the lake. It has been said that 
this ridge ends about 200 yards from the Fairview house. It would be perhaps
a better description to say that the ascending shore gradually grew more level,
 thus obliterating the ridge. In consequence, in traveling from the Fairview house 
toward the town, at a distance of about 200 yards the road began to descend into 
a hollow, and at an equal distance farther the traveler finds on his left a wooded
ridge, and close on his right the lake. On the summit of the ridge is a mass of
 rocks, and from that rocky point the hotel and surroundings are in full view. At
 that time in the hollow by the roadside, and touched by the waters of the lake 
during the spring, was an old claim cabin used as an icehouse.

“The Fourth of July, 1883, dawned bright and clear at Grand Lake. It was
 one of the most beautiful days ever seen in the mountains. Before and after breakfast the guests of the Fairview house were indulging in much revolver shooting
 in honor of the day. The cracking of cartridges was also heard from all other parts 
of the lake. Consequently, when, about nine o’clock, a sudden fusilade of a dozen or 
fifteen shots was heard, it created no comment until a man rushed up to Deputy
 Sheriff Max James, of Teller, who was at the Fairview house, and exclaimed that
Weber had been shot. Just where the road commenced its descent Weber was
   found lying on his face. He had been shot through the right lung. Further on 
in the hollow Dean was found lying in a pool of blood. He had been shot in the 
bridge of the nose, the ball lodging in his head; a second ball had completely shattered his hip-bone. In addition, his head was badly cut by blows from some instrument, probably the butt of a revolver. At the corner of the ice house, with his
head in the lake, was the body of Barney Day. He had been shot through the 

In the center of the road was a second corpse, afterward recognized as 
John G. Mills. He had been shot through the head and the brains were oozing
 out into the road. The mask covering his face had been burned by the shot that
 killed him. By his side was a single shot Sharpe’s rifle containing an empty shell.
 His clothing was covered with a suit of ducking, the coat being so fastened by pieces 
of rope that it would have been impossible for him to get at his revolver which was
 strapped to him under the ducking. A flour sack with holes cut for the eyes and
 mouth was drawn over the head and fastened around the neck with a piece of rope.
Behind the rock on the ridge was found a rope, and the indentations in the soil 
showed that several persons had been standing or kneeling there. A trail of blood
was found and followed for about 300 yards to the outlet of the lake, where it was
lost. In following the trail a second mask, similar to the one on Mills, was picked 
up, and there were evidences that a horse had been fastened there.

“The bodies of the dead men were removed to town and the wounded taken
 to the Fairview house. Dr. H. F. Frisius, an able physician and surgeon, happened 
to be at Gaskill, and he was sent for. Weber never spoke after being placed in 
bed, and sank steadily till about midnight, when he died. Dean made a strong fight for his life, but the severe wounds he had received were too much even for his
 undaunted pluck and strong constitution, and he died on the 17th following. Soon 
after the shooting, nearly the entire population of Grand Lake and the visitors were
 on the scene. There was one notable exception, Undersheriff Redman did not

It was afterward made clearly evident that the sheriff, Charles W. Royer,
had been with the assassins and had taken part in killing Barney Day. “A messenger was immediately dispatched to Hot Springs with the horrible intelligence,
 which created the wildest excitement.” From a resident of Hot Springs, I learn
the following details. Charley Royer immediately after the murders rode to the 
springs and had been there an hour or more before the messenger reached the
 place. He stopped at the house of Walker McQueary, four miles above the springs,
 and when he rode up to Walker’s door his horse was literally reeking with perspiration, showing that he had been urged to his utmost speed. Royer talked with
 McQueary, who asked him whence he came in such hot haste, referring to the distressed condition of his horse. Royer said he came from Grand Lake. McQueary then inquired: “What news from that section; what are the county commissioners
doing?” He replied that there was no special news, everything was quiet, the commissioners were holding a meeting, etc. But through it all, he exhibited great nervous excitement. After resting his horse, he rode on to the springs, where he
answered similar questions in about the same manner. An hour or so later came
 the messenger from Grand Lake, bearing the details of the fight, which set the town 
in a fearful uproar. Royer at first endeavored to discredit the report, but soon 
after became sullenly silent, refusing to talk about it.  Another messenger proceeded across the range to Georgetown and there telegraphed the horrible in
telligence to Denver, where it created an intense feeling.

“At the coroner’s inquest very little light was thrown on the affair. Dean 
made a statement to the effect that the three had reached the ice house when a shot
 was heard. Weber exclaimed, ‘I am shot,’ when Day and Dean caught him and
 were lowering him to the ground when they also were attacked by three masked
 men, and the fight became general. Day’s revolver showed four empty shells and 
Dean’s one.”

Royer, in his anxiety to conceal the facts, gave a number of theories as to the 
manner in which the killing was done. All the circumstances indicated that there
 were from six to nine men in the attacking party, although only three took active part 
in the shooting. It was also among the theories that Royer stood near the ice 
house, and that when Day, after being shot by his assailants, ran in that direction,
he was finished by a shot from Royer’s rifle. Charles H. Hook was charged with 
complicity in the murders, but he was in Denver at the time, hence the charge
 was without foundation in fact. That the wounded man whose trail had been strewn 
with blood was Bill Redman no one for a moment doubted. Long afterward,
 from information furnished by detectives and others who followed his traces in the
 hope of a large reward, it was made known that Redman fled to the mountains
 and was concealed in a prospector’s cabin about four miles northwest of Grand
Lake, and that his wounds were dressed by a doctor who had been taken from the
latter place by Redman’s friends and kept there until his patient was able to travel.
 He was then taken by his brother, Bass Redman, through Middle and Egeria
 Parks to a hiding place on the northern foot of the Flat Top mountain, where he 
remained some time and then went further west into the edge of Utah, where an 
unknown man was killed or committed suicide (which, was never known), and his
  body left to represent that of Redman. There they left one of the saddles that had
been taken away from Grand Lake on the day of the murders, and also a worn out
 pony. Written in the sand with a stick was the name “William Redman,” and the
 same, scrawled upon a scrap of paper, was pinned to the saddle. After careful 
investigation, the body was found to be that of a man who had wandered to the place had either been slain by others or by his own hand, and Redman, passing that
 way, used it to check further search ior himself. He was next heard of in a
hiding place between the Yampa and White rivers in the southwestern part of
 Routt County, where he spent a part of the following winter. In the spring he
 went north to the Sweetwater mining country in western Wyoming, and thence
 south through western Colorado and New Mexico into Arizona. His brother, Bass,
returned to Missouri.

Although some attempts were made by the district attorney and the courts to
 develop all the facts of this frightful affair and bring the guilty to punishment,
nothing ever came of them.

On the 16th of July, eleven days after the massacre. Sheriff Royer, being in
Georgetown, committed suicide by shooting himself through the head, making the
 fifth victim of the tragedy. He was not a bad man at heart, and was generally 
popular in both communities. Redman, on the contrary, was a large, muscular 
man, six feet tall, “with a great deal of the savage in his nature. He was faithful to
 his friends, but his hatred of his enemies was of a type that caused him to commit 
the most brutal deeds when an opportunity for revenge presented itself.”

Such is the story in brief of one of the most terrible crimes that has reddened the records of our commonwealth. Three county commissioners and their clerk
 assassinated in the broad daylight of our national anniversary, the sheriff slain by
 his own hand, the others immediately concerned in the plot fugitives from justice,
and all the result of political animosities that might easily have been adjusted by
 the ordinary exercise of rational judgment.

On the 19th of July, Grand county being virtually without officers, a deputation 
of citizens from that section, composed of L. C. Pollard, W. S. Chamberlin
 and C. H. Hook with Wm. N. Byers, waited upon Governor James B. Grant to
 suggest the names of parties for appointment to the vacant offices. In due course
 the governor appointed Samuel Moffett in place of J. G. Mills, G. W. Hertel in place
of E. P. Weber, and T. Webb Preston in place of Barney Day, and these commissioners were authorized to select a sheriff.

The county seat was removed back to Hot Springs, December 16th, 1888,
as the result of a vote taken at the November election of that year.

In 1890 the total assessed valuation of taxable property in Grand County was
 $432,707. In the schedule then returned to the auditor of state there were 27,867
 acres of agricultural land, 1.843 horses, 9,973 cattle, and 2,208 sheep.

The school census of 1890 shows a total school population of 129, with an enrollment of 59. There were six school districts and five buildings, the latter valued
at $2,025.

The officers for 1890-91 were: Clerk, J. N. Pettingell; treasurer, Wm. P.
 Farris; county judge, David Bock; assessor, N. N. Buttolph; sheriff. Walker
 McQueary; coroner, John O. Feltcrs; superintendent of schools, Oliver Neidham;
surveyor, L. D. C. Gaskell; clerk of the district court, David Bock; commissioners,
Henry Lehman, Frank M. Smith and Frank S. Byers.

The principal route to Middle Park is by a wagon road from Georgetown via
Empire and Berthoud Pass. It was commenced July 16th, 1874, and the first stage
passed over it to Hot Sulphur Springs November 18th following. It was built
by a company of which W. H. Cushman was president, and Thomas Guanella,
 secretary, nearly all the funds being furnished by residents of Georgetown.

Here is the URL to the book History of the State of Colorado published in 1895 by Frank Hall. Early Grand County part of document is on page 136.



Posted in Grand Lake Stories, historical | Leave a comment


Prologue – I first met Ed and Betty McCrillis the summer of 2005 in Denver as they were having a family reunion there but primarily in Grand Lake. The reunion portion to take place in Grand Lake did not happen. When Betty became ill in GL she was taken to Denver where she passed away. I stayed in touch with Ed through email since he lived in Wichita Kansas. Mostly. I sent him jokes for his happy, half hours with friends at the retirement home where he and Betty had been living. Over the next several years Ed and I wrote and talked on the phone until we became good friends.  He had written the following booklet with photos and shared them with me. He also gave me permission to share it on one of my web sites. So, now I’m sharing his story in this blog.


As I grow older and older, I become more and more thankful for my boyhood summers at Grand Lake, Colorado. It was probably the summer of 1921 when Pop first took Mama, Lucille and me to the cabin.mccrillis-cabin 2
I was not yet three years old. That would have been shortly after he had won a lawsuit that restored the ownership of property to his client, Jarvis Davies, and resulted in a 50% interest in the property for him.

The site of the property that made these “Grand Lake Tales” possible consisted of a on a roughly triangular plot of ground fronted by 300 feet of lakeshore, plus 50 feet to the middle of the Colorado River, then 750 feet northwest through the middle of the river to intersect the north boundary, then 405 feet east to the eastern boundary to the high water line of lake covering an above water surface in excess of two acres.

I have many stories to tell. I shall start with the history of property rights and the legal proceedings. The following is what I remember from what Pop told me, together with what I have extracted from his files and court records.

About 1908 and before David P. Howard joined the law practice of Ralph W. McCrillis, Howard defended and lost by judgment in the Supreme Court of Colorado, on January 11, 1919, an action through which the plaintiffs, William Baird Craig and William B. Craig, claimed the property which Davies had purchased from Joseph Wescott.

Howard sued the Court with a Writ of Error. Howard, who then felt the need for a stronger link with the legal community of Colorado, contacted Pop and they became partners. (Captain Howard, as Pop always referred to him, was the only partner he ever had). Howard explained the Davies case and suggested that if Pop had the time, he might enjoy becoming involved. Howard was convinced that Davies was honest and had the right to possess the property. Therefore, Pop traveled by rail to the Pacific Northwest and, in an attic trunk of a surveyor’s widow, located field notes of the original meander survey of 1881 around Grand Lake. The parties then agreed to treat the case under the statute concerning lost or disputed boundaries and the court ordered two commissioners to retrace the original meander survey. Their report favored Davies. The attorneys for Craig and Craig objected and the court appointed another commissioner, who agreed with the former report. Finally, after considerable testimony, the court on July 5, 1921, reversed the judgment of January 11, 1921, and ordered that Davies be entitled to possess the property. Further, on December 4, 1921, the court ordered that Davies recover his costs. After the case was won, Davies said to Pop and Howard, “The property is yours because I cannot pay for your services.” They said “No, but we will accept a 50/50 partnership.” Pop bought Howard’s 25% share for $2,600.00.

During the period of litigation, Davies told Pop that Rev. Craig had suggested he build a cabin on the ground being litigated to pay off a $1,200.00 loan. Pop’s advice was, “Let him build it, if we win the case you will at least have a roof over your head.” Timber and stone from the property became a split log cabin having a large living room, a large granite fireplace and two bedrooms at ground level. Above was a single large room entered through a door from the roof of an add-on kitchen accessed with a ladder. The walls and floors were never sealed. Security consisted of a front door with an inside latch and a skeleton key to unlock the kitchen door. Water safe to drink was obtained with buckets carried from the lake outlet (the headwaters of the Colorado River). Candles and kerosene lamps provided night lighting. Wood burned in a fireplace and a small flat top stove provided heat. There was an outhouse. Pop said, “It is better than a tent.” He named it “Wind Whistle” because of the good ventilation. I loved it.

Through the years that followed, Pop spoke frequently of the proceedings described above. He was convinced that Preacher Craig and “Judge” Wescott were in cahoots and manipulated data from two early surveys, both of which were conducted in 1881; the original meander survey, which was retraced; and the other, which plotted original lot boundaries. The field notes obtained by Pop were the key to solving the case and exposed the fraud. Upon every trip to the lake, Pop determined that the altered concrete monument representing the correct and disputed property corner was visible. The original marking was either VIII for eight or LIII for fifty-three. The manipulated data based upon the mutilated closing cornerstone required the finding of a missing cornerstone that the retrace survey located under Wescott’s pier.

There is a warranty deed from J. L. Wescott to Jarvis W. Davies transferring property for the sum of $900, paid in full, recorded October 9, 1893. The Abstract of Title, prior to Davies purchase, shows fourteen instruments involving Wescott. The first two in 1880 and 1885 appear to be a clearing for a third in 1887 as a patent from the U.S. to Wescott for 154.32 acres, homesteaded. The other eleven instruments show Wescott’s wheeling and dealing with parcels of the 154.32 acres. How the Craigs became the plaintiffs against Davies is an intriguing question because there were many with the name Craig who owned large tracts of lands north and northwest of the Davies property. A letter from Davies to Pop, dated January 1, 1945, describes many crooked deals by Wescott and indicates Rev. Craig wised up to Wescott. Davies’ letter does not say when. It is also interesting that while both Wescott and Rev. Craig were alive during the early part of the court trial that ended with a Writ of Error January 1919, Wescott testified by deposition and corroborated testimony that later proved to be incorrect. The court documents further show conflicting field notes from the two surveys conducted concurrently in 1881.

It is abundantly clear to me, after having reviewed all of the documents, that Wescott was the master schemer. Mary Lyons Cairns, in her book “Grand Lake: The Pioneers,” published in 1946, writes about both Craig and Wescott. Wescott was reported to have been the first white settler at Grand Lake, arriving June 1867. The Reverend W. B. Craig was a minister of Central Christian Church in Denver and conducted many services for the pioneers at Grand Lake. His last service there, according to Cairns, was September 4, 1884. In addition, Dorothy O’Donnell O’Ryan, in her book, “Sailing Above the Clouds,” states that the Reverend Craig had been Chancellor of Duke University for five years before coming to Colorado. He became involved with the Grand Lake Yacht Club as Fleet Chaplain. He was known to have a desire and a skill for acquiring land and offered to donate land for the Yacht Club boathouse. He was a popular member of the Grand Lake community. Therefore, even though Pop had valid reasons to believe that the Rev. Craig was in cahoots with Wescott, it is possible that Wescott deceived even the Craigs for his own gain after having regretted the fact that he had sold prime property to Davies. Further, as the court records show that sometime between 1908 and his death in 1914 at age 76, Wescott gave testimony which told of his presence and participation in both of the 1881 surveys. Therefore, the Rev. Craig could well have been convinced that he owned the Davies property. Ironically, for Wescott and Craig, they both died before the case was closed.

Pop described Jarvis Davies as a self-proclaimed woman hater, a Seventh Day Adventist, a vegetarian and a self-educated geologist. His letters to Pop, written with excellent penmanship, proved that he was intelligent and had strong survival instincts. My guess is that he arrived in the mineral area along and above the North Fork of the Colorado River as a prospector. He spent winters in the Southwest and southern California, with trips to Colorado in the summer. His income was always meager; how he had $900.00 to buy the property in 1893 is a mystery. His mode of travel mostly started and ended on two feet. I got to know him during the summers between 1929 and 1941 when his bed was on the north side and mine on the south side of the cabins’ upper level. He was a good talker and told many interesting stories. He was a gentleman to all. I liked him.

How many times we went to Grand Lake while Mama was alive, I do not know, perhaps only once. I do remember that she boiled water and let it cool for drinking. Our brother Albert was born in 1922 and died in 1926. Mama died at 1:00 a.m. on May 27, 1928, at age 42, one hour after the close of Lucille’s eleventh birthday. Lucille has pictures of us as a family at Grand Lake in 1924. We all enjoyed the five-mile hike around the lake and several times went up the East Inlet to have a picnic at Adams Falls. On at least one of those outings Pop frequently carried Albert. Therefore, the possible years for Mama to have been at the Lake were 1921, 1923, 1924 and 1925. I remember being at the Cook ranch with Mama after Albert died. I also remember Grandma McCrillis being at the cabin at least once, possibly 1927 or 1928 or both. She died June 2, 1929. Between the deaths of Mama and Grandma, I had pneumonia, which left me rather puny and Pop further depressed.

Fortunately, Pop had a friend, Joe Pender, with whom he fly-fished and hunted. In the spring of 1929, he invited Pop, Lucille and me to his cabin on the lower South Platte River to trout fish. Pop bought two new fly rods, one for him and one for me. When we arrived at Pender’s place, he placed Pop and me on grass for casting lessons. He was an expert and taught what was known as “the twelve o’clock stop.” 1929 was the first summer that Lucille and I spent a large part of the summer at Grand Lake. Sometime prior to our arrival, the ladder leading up to the second level had been replaced by an outside staircase. That was a blessing for all. Our colored lady housekeeper, Lulu, was with us. Pop commuted from Denver arriving Friday evening and leaving Monday morning.

I had the use of a borrowed rowboat, which I faithfully used to regain my strength.

I also spent many hours standing on the footbridge practicing the fly-casting technique taught by Pender. In time, I was able to cast the entire length of line spooled on the small reel. Therefore, by the time school started that fall I was fully recovered. By the next summer, I was catching trout, especially when Pop was there, and we would drive to beaver dams below Columbine Lake or to the meadows up the North Inlet.

One evening, shortly before sunset, during the third year of my fly-fishing career, I was on the footbridge over the outlet. I made a last cast downstream to one of the prime pockets. Immediately, I had a good strike and realized that I was connected to the largest trout I had ever hooked. The trout had the advantage because there was no way to lift such a heavy fish to the footbridge without having the leader break. In addition, I had to let the fish have enough line to become exhausted enough to handle. Somehow I managed to maneuver it through the rocks to the shallows of the south shore. By that time it was almost completely dark and as I considered the risk of jumping from the bridge, I heard a girl’s voice just as she netted my “monster” fish. Together we rushed to the cabin and with light, I had my first view of a German Brown Trout. The girl’s name was Gladys Schultz. That was our first meeting even though I had seen her several times fishing from the bank. The dry fly that attracted the German Brown was a number fourteen Yellow Body Grey Hackle.
The next day I removed my prize from the icebox, made a profile tracing for the wall, and walked to the village for a weigh-in. I do not remember the result, but because conservation had not yet been practiced, any trout then over one pound from that water would have been rare.

Relatives with whom we shared good times at the lake included Aunt Ella, Uncle Harold and cousin Elita, as well as Aunt Cora and Carolyn McCartney. When Aunt Ella and Elita were there, Uncle Harold commuted with Pop. Of course, my dog, named Mysty because of his mysterious lineage and origin, was always with me. Porcupines were a menace to Mysty, whose mouth and snout had to be dequilled several times. One day, when I was chopping wood, a porcupine in the large high tree above me made his presence known. When I went for Pop’s 22-caliber rifle, Aunt Ella became very annoyed. However, I prevailed and solved Mysty’s problem. Aunt Cora liked to chop wood and was a great help to me.

Pop and I spent many hours sitting together on a pine stick bench between two trees that Davies constructed. We talked about many things and gazed upon Mount Craig (Baldy)
with its symmetrical round shape, the west face of which appeared to be a vertical cliff. We also gazed upon Flattop Mountain and Hallett Peak as viewed across the lake up the North Inlet from our vantage point. He fascinated me with stories about his early days in Colorado and especially an adventure that had to have been before 1906. He graduated from East Denver High School in 1903 and from the University of Michigan with a law degree in 1906. During one of the summers, while in either high school or college, he hiked with two friends from Estes Park over the Continental Divide on an Indian trail, part of which Trail Ridge Road now crosses several times. They camped one night at Pouder Lakes and climbed Specimen Mountain the next day before proceeding down the North Fork of the Colorado River to Grand Lake.

At Grand Lake they found sustenance and rest at the Langley Hotel and caught many large trout from both the lake and the outlet. They also spent some time with the Cook family (not relatives) in their cabin on the rock on the south shore, and had a sailboat ride. That Cook family was among the very early settlers at Grand Lake and owned the first cabin built at Grand Lake in 1886 by Jay E. Adams. I also visited there with Pop, perhaps with descendents of Pop’s former friends. Access to the cabin, until recently, was only by foot or boat. Pop and his friends returned to Estes Park by leaving Grand Lake on the Tonahutu Creek (North Inlet) Trail to the top of the pass (Continental Divide), climbed Hallett Peak, 12,713 feet, and then descended probably to Bear Lake. At that point, they would have still been about twelve miles from Estes Park. Perhaps they hitched a buggy ride from there. By mapping the route that I presume they traveled, their round trip would have been a distance of approximately sixty miles.

Pop’s stories excited me and while he was aware of my adventurous spirit his restrictions were few, and provided appropriate freedom. Therefore, one day Mysty and I climbed up the ski jump hill on Shadow Mountain and bushwhacked through dense and fallen timber to the top at 10,155 feet, where a Fire Lookout Station provided a panoramic view over long distances. It was the ranger’s lunchtime, and he shared freshly baked muffins and other offerings. He then invited me to climb the ladder to the enclosed viewing platform and use his binoculars. By his suggestion, we bypassed the three-mile trail down the southwest side and descended the cut in the timber through which the phone line was strung. I do not think we were missed back at the cabin. When I told Pop what I had done, he did not, to my surprise then and now, scold me. I was only eleven years old and to me it was not a big deal. Apparently, it was not to Pop either.

The next summer I told Mysty to stay and I took the trail leading to Lake Verna, to a spot north and above Adams Falls to begin the ascent of the West Face of Mount Baldy. Instead of a sheer face, I found terraces that provided good hand and foot holds. After watching a deer in the valley to the south, I was soon on top at 12,007 feet. Under the cairn I found the Colorado Mountain Club Register contained in a bronze weatherproof cartridge anchored with a metal cable. After signing, I descended the north side through a couloir to Lake Verna. From there it was an easy trail walk of seven miles back to the cabin.

The following year Charlie Thomas wanted to climb Mt. Baldy, which we did via the longer, but less steep route, ascending and descending the couloir above Lake Verna. Later, I made a third ascent with Don Jones with whom I had been on several JCMC trips. That time we followed the route of my first climb.

We did not own a boat, but because sailboat racing had been popular for years, some well-established families, whose grown children had moved away, wanted their boats rigged and entered into the Annual Regatta competition for the Lipton Cup. Therefore, I was welcomed to join the task force composed of teenagers from the Thomas, the Wilkins and the O’Donnell families. Each fall the boats had to be either de-rigged and beached or housed well above lake water that freezes to depths of three feet. Then the most time consuming work begins early the next summer. Mrs. O’Donnell owned one of the oldest boats, the “Dorothy II,” which had not been in the Regatta for several years. She and her daughter Dorothy wanted it entered, perhaps for the last time, in 1936. I was invited to sail the “Dorothy II” with Dorothy. It was well known that a boat of such ancient design deserved a good handicap, even if in mint condition, which it was not. With lots of help, we caulked, sealed, painted, repaired rigging, patched sails, etc. It was fun, and all were happy that “Dorothy II” participated. Charlie Thomas suggested that after its last race, the “Dorothy II” be set afire at night for a glorious ceremony. Recently, while talking with Dorothy O’Donnell O’Ryan, I learned that the event occurred and that “Dorothy II” found her well-deserved rest on the bottom of the lake.


Before spring vacation of 1936, Charlie Thomas and I decided to go to the cabin and talked about a skiing tour to Lake Verna that would have to depend upon weather and snow conditions. Transportation would be by rail through the Moffat Tunnel to Granby, and the mail truck to within ¼ mile of the cabin.

On day one we scouted out enough firewood for the fireplace and cook stove, shopped for grub and were ready for the tour to Lake Verna. However, because Pop had told me he wanted to take a day for a drive to the cabin, and because the weather was very favorable, we expected Pop that day and waited for his arrival that did not happen. That evening we had dinner in town and told of our plans for the next day. After dinner, Charlie and I sat on the shore in front of the cabin to observe a full moon rise over the top of Mt. Baldy. It was beautiful; no wind, but cold.

Skiing across the frozen lake at daybreak went well, as did the first few miles up the east inlet trail. However, as full sun began melting the snow, breaking trail became more difficult and my supply of wax was soon exhausted causing snow to stick on the ski bottoms. I stopped breaking trail and suggested that we stop. Charlie did not agree, and he started breaking trail. I followed a short distance under protest, but soon realized that Charlie would not quit as he talked about digging into the snow for the night at Lake Verna, which we reached about sunset.

Finding firewood was difficult because of the deep snow; and because there was not any clear ground, the fire that we accomplished melted the snow and extinguished the fire. We waited for moon light to illuminate a safe downhill return. Being in a canyon with Mt. Baldy blocking the moon, it was a long wait.

The trail through heavy timber on frozen snow was hard to see even with moonlight. I led, making short runs and telling Charlie how to maneuver. When he fell, he wanted time to rest, and three times I climbed back to arouse him. We reached Grand Lake about daybreak and reached the cabin at sunrise.

We took off our boots, gloves and jackets and crawled into our sleeping bags. About an hour later, there was a knock on the door and the local Forest Ranger walked in. He told us that Pop had looked for us the day before and had consulted with our friends in the village to learn of our plans. He asked about snow depths along the trail and said he would phone Pop. Charlie and I went back to sleep.

About an hour later Pop, Mr. Thomas and Lucy Thomas walked in. Pop saw my frozen leather jacket upright in the corner and said, “Get up, we will take you back to Denver.” Fires were started in the fireplace and kitchen, and Lucy prepared breakfast. Packing up and getting into Mr. Thomas’ open touring car did not take very long. But the ride back to Denver was cold, weather-wise and attitude-wise.

Later I learned that Pop’s trip to see us was with his client Mrs. Lester, and before leaving our friends in the village, he had asked that a rescue party be arranged and established a telephone exchange. Because he had no good news around daybreak, he called Mr. Thomas and told him he was going to return immediately to Grand Lake. Mr. Thomas said, “I will pick you up and drive.”

After Pop listened to my account he was more concerned about the frostbite on my fingers. I was not grounded, but Charlie was. The news of our adventure spread quickly around high school with mixed comments, especially with my friends of the CMC. Soon thereafter, when peace and harmony prevailed again, Charlie credited me for saving his life. Even though that may or may not have been true, I would not have deserted him. And my arousing him did not compare to his heroism when he saved my life later on Lindbergh Peak.


Charlie told me he wanted to climb Lone Eagle Peak (Lindbergh), which when viewed
from the ground to the west of the west face became famous through photographs for its beautiful symmetrical spiral. Climbing that face is extremely technical. However, I was aware that the peak had been named for its beauty instead of height, and the CMC register had been secured at the lower end of a ridge that extended from a greater elevation not visible from the vantage point of the scene for which Charles Lindbergh is commemorated. I also knew that the southeast ridge route was technical, but less so than the west face.

Therefore, using the Thomas family car, we drove to Monarch Lake and beyond as far as possible from where we climbed to the top of the ridge. I began a straddle decent to a point that required a reverse straddle and soon realized that my legs were not long enough to reach the lower level. Charlie was able to climb down and around me to where he crouched on all fours in a back raised position that reached my hobnailed boots and permitted me to reposition myself without risking a fall from either side of the knife-edge ridge. We soon found the register, signed it and scrambled down without further incident. I credited Charlie for saving my life in a much more heroic act than was my keeping him awake on the trail from Lake Verna.


Charlie also wanted to climb some fourteen thousand foot peaks and I remember very well that together we climbed four; Lincoln 14,286 feet, Bross 14,172 feet, Democrat 14,148 feet, and Quandary 14,265 feet. When, I do not remember, but probably all four were in 1936, on two separate trips. I had not climbed Quandary, but had climbed Lincoln, Bross and Democrat easily one day with the JCMC.

What I remember very well is that Charlie told me that he had heard of an easy route up Quandary. Even though I did not have with me at Grand Lake, my CMC Route Guide Book, I knew that all four of the above-listed peaks were in the Mosquito Range; and it seemed reasonable to anticipate an easy climb on Quandary. Therefore, we drove to the top of Hoosier Pass at 11,542 feet. We could see Quandary north across the valley through which we had driven. The idea was to drive up the ridge to the west as far as possible (which we did) and then continue on the ridge visible, first west, than north, then east to the top of the mountain. We left the Plymouth and began the horseshoe traverse. Upon reaching a low point west of what looked to be the final push to the summit, we encountered many deep cuts difficult to negotiate and consumed valuable time. We finally reached the last of many false summits and duly recorded the time of our presence.

The obvious descent was on the east slope to the road some 3,000 feet below, which we reached at nightfall. Now, under starlight, we trudged up the road another few miles to regain the top of Hoosier Pass. At that point, I reclined with my sheepskin vest and enjoyed the stars while Charlie hiked the distance to retrieve the Plymouth. We then drove to Fairplay and had dinner in a café bar with sheepherders and miners. Either before or after the Quandary climb, Charlie and I climbed Lincoln, Bross and Democrat, retracing my previous route.


Because topographical features affect climate greatly, land areas east of the Rocky Mountains receive less precipitation than areas west of the Rockies. As populations grew, organized irrigation occurred in northeastern Colorado about 1860. Water diversion projects with high elevation ditches and tunnels under the Continental Divide followed. In the spring of 1935, the Bureau of Reclamation allocated $150,000.00 for surveys that became the Colorado-Big Thompson Water Diversion Project. Pop and Davies had been following the politics of the irrigation needs of northeastern Colorado for years because the possibility of diverting water from Grand Lake had long been considered. Therefore, when a family in Denver offered to buy the property for $15,000.00, Pop and Davies had a dilemma, but declined the offer.

I became very interested in the project and collected much published information. Earlier Pop had been told that the project would inundate most of our property. But because I knew the elevation of a benchmark on the property and had reviewed the published design, I was confident that we would not be adversely effected except for construction equipment access.

Pop received a letter from the Bureau of Reclamation, dated August 24, 1944, with an

offer to buy the land with improvements for $5,500.00. He wrote to me (envelope dated 8/25/44) in Middleport, Ohio with the news and a plat of the property. Davies had previously written to Pop (7/14/44) giving him full authority. Another letter from Davies (8/28/44) says, “Let them have ALL of it.” A Land Purchase Contract dated September 25, 1994 conveys the property to the United States fee simple for the sum of $5,500.00.

Pop’s file from which I obtained the legal information and letters from Davies is in my two-drawer file. I found the correspondence very interesting. I hope present and future family members will also.

For many years, I was very disappointed that Pop and Davies had not accepted the option of retaining that portion of the property that would remain above the high water line upon completion of the project. During the family reunion in 1948, it was obvious that the engineering design that I studied had been followed. Subsequent trips also showed that the shoreline was not being eroded and the ecology of the property had recovered. Therefore, I decided to make an effort to regain the property.

In October 1963, Betty and I visited Washington, D.C., and conferred with key officials in the General Services Administration, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Department of Interior. We were well received and a conference telephone call was made to the Bureau of Reclamation in Denver setting up contacts. I then hired Fletcher Thomas to explore further. He did great research, but because his investigations proved the effort hopeless, I stopped the effort. On subsequent short trips to Grand Lake, I have been extremely pleased to observe the natural beauty and tranquility of property not threatened by the abuses that were feared by Pop and Davies. Later I learned from Dick MacCornack that he had also tried unsuccessfully to purchase our former property from the Bureau of Reclamation and had to settle on buying from the City of Grand Lake a piece of land that bordered downstream and west over which had been our access. If Pop and Davies had decided to keep the higher portion, Lucille and I would probably have sold to MacCornack. That would have threatened the perpetuity of the natural quality I prefer. I am very happy. Thanks be to God and Pop.

ED McCrillis Obituary
McCrillis, Edwin, age 96, passed away Monday, Oct 5, 2015. He was born Dec 12, 1918 to Ralph and Olivia McCrillis in Denver, Co. He married the love of his life, Betty, Nov 15, 1947. He graduated from the University of Colorado in 1941 with a Bachelors of Science degree in Chemical Engineering. He launched his career in 1941 with General Chemical and was assigned to a TNT plant during the war. In 1951, he became the Plant Manager of Frontier Chemical in Wichita. In 1967, he was a founder of Racon Inc, where he retired and stayed a consultant. He was a long-time member of St. John’s Episcopal Church, a founding member of Venture House, the first Captain of the University of Colorado ski team, a licensed mountain climbing guide and loved to ski and fly fish. A memorial service is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. Saturday, Nov 7, 2015 at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 402 N. Topeka. Survivors include: daughters, Joan (Patrick) Lafferty and Marilyn (Glenn) Nichols, both of Lenexa, KS; grandchildren, Cory (Amy) Lafferty, Amber (Thomas) Lambert and Kristin Nichols; gr. grandchildren, Molly and Charlotte. He is preceded in death by his parents; wife, Betty and sister, Lucille Ryland.

Obituary for Betty McCrillis who passed in July, 2005, Denver Colorado.

Posted in Grand Lake Stories, historical, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Max K Fraughton aka Barney McCoy


This project began as I was reading Nell Pauly’s book, The Day Before Yesterday one fall afternoon while sitting outdoors at The Hub sipping a cup of coffee. It was a beautiful September day with the aspen in full color. The temperature was perfect and Mia, my springer spaniel, was foraging for crumbs and handouts at the other tables.

Nell’s book is about Who’s Who in the Grand Lake Cemetery and is copyrighted in 1972 and can be purchased in the Kaufmann House Museum. Nell (1905-1981) also credits much of the material in her book to her one time mother-in-law Josie Kalsay Young Langley, who for forty-six years was proprietress of the Rustic Inn, on the west shore of Grand Lake.

The story I read that day delt with the life of Little Bill Lehman, his cousins Big Bill Lehman, Art Lehman and friend Barney McCoy.

Nell’s description of Little Bill went something like this. Little Bill was born aboard a ship while his mother was on her way from Germany and spent his childhood traveling between the several Lehman families living in Grand County. He was slight of build compared to his two cousins and struggled at making a living, performing menial labor jobs in the Grand Lake area. He was very shy with women and as he grew older his temper grew with him. When you did see Little Bill he usually was caring his small .22 caliber rifle.

National prohibition had started in 1920 but that did not curb a man’s thirst for liquor. Eventually Little Bill found his niche making white lightening and distributing it in the county.

His two larger cousins teased their smaller, younger cousin terribly. To make matters worse, after he had strained the bugs out of his hooch and bottled it, his cousins would make off with it and have themselves a good night of drinking with friends.

Eventually Little Bill threatened to shoot cousin Art if he took any more of his product. Of course, that did not stop Big Bill, Art and Barney. In June of 1932 Little Bill’s stash of hooch once again disappeared so he went looking. He knocked on J.B’s cabin door with rifle at the ready. When Art opened the cabin door, Little Bill fired. He missed Art and managed to shoot poor Barney McCoy in the heart. He died there on the spot. Little Bill fled and hid out in the snowy hills north of Grand Lake but eventually turned himself in to the law. Little Bill was tried, found guilty and sentenced to life in prison for the criminal insane at Canon City State Prison.

In Defense of Barney McCoy, page 139
US Military – 1st World War 1884-1932

“Barney McCoy and his wife Josephine came to Grand Lake in the early 1930. No one ever knew just what brought them. It was widely speculated that they were running from something.”…… During their initial stay they spent time with different families and even rented from Nell and Jake Young for three weeks before renting their own little place along the Tonohoota Creek Trail. Nell and Jake found them to be a very delightful couple, congenial and friendly.

Once the couple was established in their own place they started associating with Art and both Little and Big Bill Lehman. Because Art and Little Bill were into bootlegging whisky it was assumed that Barney was too. Then that fateful day in June 1932, when Little Bill came hunting his cousin Art for stealing his hooch, stopped by J. B’s cabin to do him in but missed and drilled poor Barney through the heart ending his life. Barney went to boot hill and Little Bill to prison for life.

After Barney’s demise more bad rumors started going around town and it seemed that Barney had been the cause of all the crimes in town. Jake and Nellie defended Barney since they had known him as a good, kind and gentle man.

At the funeral, and most folks had left, Jo McCoy, looking lovely in a black satin gown, bent down, kissed Barney on his large white brow and said “It was wonderful while it lasted, Darling.”

Some years later a new marble headstone arrived and replace the worn out white wooden cross, which had marked his grave.

I had been intrigued by Nell’s story of Little Bill Lehman, Barney and Josephine McCoy. It became a personal challenge to me to see if I could learn more about Max K Fraughton aka Barney McCoy. So, as I usually do in mysteries like this one, I went online, typed in and away I went.

First I went looking for Max. In the 1920 US census it showed him living in Heber City Utah with his mother, Eliza and two younger brothers and had been born in 1895. His father was born in English Canada and his mother in Sweden. He was a laborer and worked for wages on a farm.

The next entry indicated he sailed from New York City on June 28th 1918 on the ship Justicia for France and that his service number was 1640081. He was an automatic replacement draft – Artillery. Then a little further down on the list it showed he departed St. Nazaire, France on June 20 1919 aboard the ship Pocahontas bound for Fort Hill, Newport News, VA.  Other document shown on were 1) War Service Questioner (with a wrong birthdate on it), 2) Military Service Card showing he received no wounds and was not in any engagements (did not see action), his 3) WW I Military Draft Registration card indicated he was medium build, medium height, light hair and blue eyes. His family shows up in the 4) 1910 Federal Census but his name was Mode Graughton but all the other facts about him match the 1920 census. The 1900 US census showed him listed as Mode Fraughton, same family and to show he was born in 1894 or 95.

Then I went searching for Barney McCoy and Josephine. What appeared first was the 1929 Denver City Directory and – McCoy, Barney (Josephine) cook and they resided at 4845 Irving St.. They also appeared in the 1930 US Census records for Grand Lake, CO with a few notable exceptions. He gave Alabama as his birthplace, age 40 and both of his parents were from Ireland. Josephine was born in Washington and her parents were Canada – English.

So I surmised that the two were hiding out under the alias of McCoy but why choose the name, Barney McCoy? So now I switched over to google search for the name Barney McCoy in the 1920s. And after over looking all the still living Barney McCoy names I found an entry titled “Ernest Stoneman & Uncle Eck Dunford-Barney McCoy – YouTube.” When I clicked on the link I was listening to an old song by the two men. The original song was written in 1881 and now in 1925 was making a come back. It was about a couple of young lovers wanting to migrate out of Ireland and the young lass needing to choose between leaving with Barney or staying with her family. It rather sounded like what was happening with the Grand Lake Barney and Josephine. My thought was that they just used the information in the song to hide themselves in the Denver City Directory and the 1930 US Census in Grand Lake.

I attempted to use to locate a news article that might indicate what crimes Max had supposedly committed. The only newspaper articles I located on Max had to do with is being in the Utah National Guard during the war to end all wars.

It looked to me that my search for Max K. Fraughton, aka Barney McCoy, had come to an end. Well, I might have been a little hasty in my conclusion.

Several months later, I was using to do some of my own family research. I was using the information I found to make my Family Tree when I searched Max K. Fraughton and found a LifeStory timeline on him.

It showed that he had married one Mattie Josephine Whitworth and they had a girl child by the name of Cleo McCoy. In the timeline it stated that they had married in 1913 in Somervell, TX. All of the information in his timeline was correct except for Cleo and his marriage to Josephine. It was all confusing to me until I stopped by the SWN Genealogy Society office in McCook.

It was explained to me that LifeStory timelines were manufactured by from entries found on family trees. Some how Mattie Jo and Max were shown as married. A computer program did the rest.

In further searching I found that Mattie Jo had married Barney C. McCoy in 1913 in Somervell, Texas. They had four children then divorced. She had moved to Wichita, Texas and died in 1961.

I was able to learn the owner of the family tree that contained Max and his family. Thinking she, the owner, might have additional information on Max and Josephine I could use in this article, I tried to contact her. I was even able to find where she and her husband are living but no phone number. I’ve emailed her four times and written her a snail mail letter with no replies.

So, I’ve decided there might be two possible ending to his story. The one about how they used the song to come up with aka Barney McCoy. And the one where he actually hooked up with Mattie Josephine Whitworth McCoy and used her ex husbands name to hid under.

The choice is yours. At this point in my investigation, I can believe either one but at this moment I’m leaning toward them borrowing her ex’s name.

Little Bill Lehman eventually died at Canon City State Penitentiary in 1951 and is buried under a rusty metal marker showing his location.

Along my journey to learn more about Max K. Fraughton aka Barney McCoy I found lots of material using and I would like to share some of my findings as jpg images:

Note 1) I shared this blog with Jane Kemp and here is her reply.

“Great story! Here’s an interesting note about Billy Lehman which I found in our safe. There is an affidavit signed by James Cairns, my grandfather,  that the still which the Sheriff found on his North Inlet property did not belong to him and that he had no knowledge of it. There is also an affidavit signed by Billy Lehman that the still belonged to him and that James Cairns had no knowledge of it.”

James Cairns was an early Grand Lake settler, land owner and business leader. I believe he owned a quarter section up the north inlet surrounding Tonahutu creek. James Cairns died in 1925 so the affidavits had to be dated prior to is death.

Note 2) The 18th Amendment to the US Constitution prohibited making, transporting and selling alcoholic beverages. The Volstead Act spelled it out and law enforcement began in 1920. The 21st amendment to the Constitution repealed the 18th Amendment.  The Volstead allowed Little Bill Lehman to go from laborer to entrepreneur. It was too bad for both Barney and Little Bill that he could not have kept his anger in check for another eighteen months.

Note 3)ADDED 2/22/2020
The following letter was received from Barney’s’ or should I say, Max’s’ grandnephew the summer of 2019. Evidently Josephine McCoy had written it from Lusk, WY and mailed it to Max’s brother, whom she believed was the sheriff of Heber City, UT. According to what the society learned there has never been a Fraughton who was the sheriff of that town.It looks like Max might have assumed his Barney McCoy alias from the song after all.

I called the very small town of Lusk, WY but they had no record of her living there and the 1940 census did not include her name in the WY census. I also looked for Mrs. Aster in the GL 1930 US census but did not locate her name.

Lusk, Wyoming
August 1932

Mr. Fraughton
Sheriff, Heber City, Utah

My dear Mr. Fraughton

Tonite I received a phone call from Mrs. Aster at Grand Lake informing me that you had been in Grand Lake checking up on your brother.  The man I have been living with as his wife since December 24th, 1928.  I knew him as Barney McCoy.  But I knew little of his history.  He was fair to me in so much as he told me McCoy was not his correct name.  Before we decided to make our arrangement permanent, he told me he had been in a “jam”, and that he was an escaped convict.  But that made no difference to me.  I never pressed him for particulars because I knew the horror he had of having to go back, and if I didn’t know his name or the location in which his crime was committed I couldn’t ever tell, and cause him any trouble.  He told me tho, that he did not commit the crime that he plead “guilty” to.

I don’t know what the people of G.L. said about us, the way we lived or anything else.  But I am sure that if you could have known our home life you would have seen that we were all to one another.  He made me happy, and I know he was happy with me.

During the years we were together he spoke some of his early life, and told me disconnected things about his war record.  Last winter, as you have probably been told, we were snowed in at the cabin we called “Trails End”.  Perhaps some one took you up to our little home, I hope so.  He spoke so much of Utah and the Mormon people this winter.  He also, I planned a trip over there thru that state and he said he would gather up the threads, and then I would know all about him.  Also he said we would be married in “his” church.  But something bigger than we were stopped all that.  He died so suddenly.  One thing he always told me to remember and get his finger prints if something did (happen to him.)

I asked the corner to make a list of all the marks of identification anywhere on his body, together with his fingerprints, but when I asked for this I was told the original had gone in thru the American Legion to the War Office in Washington, D.C. and that there was no duplicate or copy.  You see I had no money and my job here was waiting.  I couldn’t stick around and wait or fight.  So I had to be content with writing what I know to the genealogy Dept of his church and wait for the Legion to make their investigation.  I imagine you have been told how the whole business as the time of Barney’s killing was messed up.  When I got to the morgue 36 hrs after he was killed his face hadn’t even been washed.  Then I couldn’t have any of the things he had in …..  (maybe half of the page was not recorded)

…a sherriff somewhere but never said where.  He said you were like his father.  Big – not a little runt like him.  He also spoke of a sister who had some pretty children.  I thot someway that you lived in Wyoming.  Barney told me that the place he escaped from had “contract labour” and he had to work in a shirt factory.  I knew Wyoming had such an arrangement in Rollins.  I made inquiries at Cheyenne for a sheriff by the name of Fraughton, but Mr. Carroll said there had been none in any county by that name for the past 12 years.  I found Barney scribbling “Max K Fraughton” over and over on a piece of paper one day, and when I asked him what he was doing he said “Just writing a name I like”

You know I suppose the identifying marks on his body – if not I can send you a list.  He had M.K.F. on his left leg just above the knee and he once told me that was the oldest of his tattoos.  That’s what made me connect the name he had written with the initials.

Now I was and am very anxious to make a contact with any of Barney’s people, and naturally if I am entitled to any govt. compensation I need and want that, but I would rather do without a dime from that source than to drag his name thru the mud, and blacken it by going thru the Dept of Justice to establish his identity.  I suppose everyone told you about his…. Know and understand that he was not a drunk.  He was the kindest and most loving and considerate man that ever lived.  All ways doing something for others.  I spent nearly six years of complete happiness with him.  We loved one another.  We never had a baby.  Once we thot we were, but the good God thot otherwise.  I was terribly sick and we lost it.  Mac was brokenhearted over it.  But as things are now it must have been all for the best.  The last 2½ years Barney had not been well.  Last summer he had a cancer removed from his jaw, and he never was the same.

Yes, he did everything they told you he did.  Illegal trapping and bootlegging, but he was not physically able to work.  And we had to live.  He made me a living and looking back on our life with each other I realize that our six years together mean more than some married people 60.  For he had no outside activities or interest, and I gave up any and all of mine, and he more than made up in his love for me.  We were happy – But he had that dread of something that kept getting bigger all the time and he wasn’t well; he was afraid of another cancer.  The shell-shocked condition of his made him brood over these things more all the time.  Brother mine, I have seen him lie with his eyes shut and the tears dripping from under the closed lids.  When I asked him “why”, he used to say “I am no good to myself and a …………………….

….thru Sunday nite Aug 22 at 9 o’clock and I’ll be at the phone office.  I do wish I could have met you.  But I have not the money to make the trip to Heber City.  I am going to G.L. with 5 people that want a weeks’ vacation, and they are paying my expenses for the use of my little cabin for 9 days.  I have to be here in Lusk, Wyo on my job the 1st of Sept.  Its only board and room, but thats something in this day and age of the depression.  Perhaps we could set a place midway of GL and Heber City, where we could meet and talk “our family” over.  Did you see the place where I put him?  Isn’t it beautiful?

If you have succeeded in establishing Barney’s identity, I suppose the next thing is to establish mine as his wife.  We lived as man & wife since 12 – 1928 and the couple that were with us that nite we claimed we were such for the first time, can be got at, and are more than ready to sign acknowledgments.

Its queer to think McCoy as a name does not belong to us.  But names don’t matter after all.  He was a man, the man that brot heaven nearer to me than it ever ever came before.  My own Barney –

This letter is long and disconnected but I want you to understand I’d rather never have a dime as long as I live than to think the memory our friends have of him should be replaced……….


Posted in Grand Lake Stories, historical, Historical Information | Leave a comment

Short Stories from Grand Lake’s History

The following are Grand Lake Area Historical Society Newsletter articles I’ve written over the last few years. The first one was the 2015 article.
To view a larger image of a page, use the zoom feature under your view tab on your browser.

The next story is from the 2016 GLAHS annual newsletter.

To view all the Gol. blogs, click on the following Link; My Col. Gimperling Journey.


You can listen to the song “Tenting on the Old Camp Ground” song” by clicking on title.

To view the entire newsletter click on the following text => 2017 Draft Newsletter


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My Col. Gimperling Journey-part 12; Mystery Solved

On February 18, 2017 I received the following email concerning the blog I did way back in 2011.
—– Original Message ——-
From : Cynda Eades
Sent : 2/18/2017 4:37:00 PM
To :
Subject : RE: Need info on Anna’s Place
”Actually, I am contacting you in hopes that you are the Steve who wrote the blog about Col. T.N. Gimperling. If so, please reply. He was my great-grandmother’s
brother, and I may have an answer to one of your lingering questions.
Cynda Eades”

And here is my reply to her identity question about the author of My Col. Gimperling Story:
“On Saturday, February 18, 2017 11:13 PM, “” wrote:
”I am that Steve. I had a wonderful journey researching his life and family. Along the way I learned much about our US history, I did not know. I look forward to learning what you have to share.

So what was my lingering question? It was contained in my blog posting on November 27, 2011 My Col. Gimperling Story – Part 10 – The Rest of His West Point Story. You can go back and read the second half of that blog to understand what I’m writing about. The basic story is that in Dec. 1903 “The Gimp” was caught trying to have some liquor smuggled in to him and he was caught, eventually charged and found guilty of violating ten cadet honor code rules. The results of the court martial ( it’s all spelled out in blog 10) was that it was recommended he be dismissed (booted out) of the USMA at West Point NY. Well, he was not. The President reversed his prior recommendation, and he was to graduate with his class of 1904 in June but would remain at West Point until he had completed his disciplinary tours. The Gimp left the Point in August to eventual end 

“Dear Steve,
Here is what I can add to your research on Col. Thomas N. Gimperling. My great-grandmother, Eleanor Gimperling (MacGregor), was Thomas Gimperling’s younger sister. She always told the following story of how she saved her brother’s military career, and I believe it answers your question as to how he survived the court martial.

As you know, he was found guilty on all charges and was originally sentenced to dismissal. “Miraculously” his sentence was commuted and his career was saved. Well, here’s the rest of the story, which also tells how President Teddy Roosevelt got involved. Apparently Thomas’ sister Eleanor decided to take matters into her own hands. She traveled to Washington, DC where she went to the White House and demanded an audience with the president. She refused to leave and sat waiting all day until Teddy Roosevelt relented and agreed to speak with her. We will never know exactly what was said, but in the end the president was so impressed that he agreed to intervene on her brother’s behalf. Thomas was allowed to have a long and successful army career.

My mother always said her grandmother (Thomas’ sister) was “quite something.” I know Thomas’ classmates really liked her, including Douglas MacArthur who had a crush on her at one time. And given how Thomas’ career developed, he must have been equally likable. Unfortunately, he died before I was born, so I never got to know him except through family stories.
I do have one token of his life. I will take a picture with my iPad and send it in a separate e-mail. It is a Red Cross medal awarded to Thomas for his work as attaché to the Cuban embassy in the 1930s.

I can’t thank you enough for posting your research on line. It let me know how well respected Thomas Gimperling was. For me, he was always just “Nana’s brother Tom” who fought in the Spanish-American War and then went to West Point and got into trouble. I had no idea he impacted so many lives.
I do, however, think his experience at West Point caused his sister to have a negative attitude toward military academies because she refused to allow her own son (my grandfather) to attend the Naval Academy when he graduated high school. But I think my grandfather may have had a bit of his rebellious uncle in him. He ran off and joined the Coast Guard instead! When his mother protested, he went to college but joined the Navy during WWII and served in both WWII and Korea, eventually retiring as a captain.

This may be more information than you needed, but it tells a bit about Thomas’ family relations as well as his military career.
Cynda Eades”

So what did this career saver look like? On her passport application dated April 14th 1905 she made from Berne, Switzerland she was 5’6” tall, high forehead, blue eyes, small nose, regular mouth, round chin, blond hair, fair complexion and an oval face. Sounds pretty nice to me. I can understand why Douglas MacArthur might have been interested in her at one point.  Cynda thought Eleanor might have looked something like this in 1904.


From her passport application it appears she had left the United States on 15 November 1904 and was presently staying in Lucerne, Switzerland. How she was able to travel in Europe without a passport is a mystery to me.
In the May 1903 Colorado Springs City Directory Eleanor and her much older brother John Jr. were both residing at 1431 N Tejon in that city. She was listed as a boarder. So did she travel from Dayton or Colorado Springs to Washington D.C. to change President Roosevelt’s mind about her brother Tom’s military career? I guess we will never know.

In order to give this lengthy account of Col. Thomas N. Gimperling’s life closure, here are a few remaining items.


Here is a testimonial written by Dennis E. McCunniff USMC class of ‘13 on Tommy Gimperling. It’s a short but well-written story about his military career.

If you click on the head stone above you will be taken to the “find a grave” site and the Col.’s headstone. You can also then search for some of your family’s headstones too.

In 1969 or 1970 (you will find both dates) Gretchen Tritch Singles died. She had married 2nd Lt. Gordon Singles USMC class of 1931 on July 7th 1931 at Ft. McKinley, ME. Probably Gordon’s first duty station after graduation.

Here is the testimonial for Col. Gordon Singles USMC class 1931. Gordon, like his father-in-law was a good person and a great soldier.

image  image

Eleanor Gimperling MacGregor died in 1977 and here is her headstone from “Find a Grave”.


I’m sure if I kept looking I would find more information on Col. Gimperling’s life and career. It seems each year I find more information on the Col. as the data on the Internet becomes more robust. One of the side benefits to my research on the Col. has been all the side trips I’ve taken. And to think it all started from one tag on an old padlock from the Gimperling boathouse.

I thank Cynda for finding my blog and sharing a little more history about Tommy Gimperling with me. It certainly filled in the missing piece.

Thanks to my good friend Bob Jackson for his gift that fall September day so many years ago when he gave me that box of padlocks.


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Mia’s Story

In June of 2012 I adopted Mia, a three year old black and white female English Springer Spaniel rescue dog. When I went to pick her up from her foster family in Denver she was so frightened of me the foster dad had to put her in the cab of my pickup before I could drive back to the family cottage on Grand Lake.


It wasn’t just me whom she was frightened of, but everyone in which she came into contact. Mia was born in a  Missouri puppy mill farm then became a puppy producer, missing a normal puppyhood. She had been in the rescue system for a year but due to her fears she had not been adopted. I felt I might have the answer to her overcoming her constant fear of the unfamiliar and unknown.

On July 4th 2013, Mia and I walked down the lake trail to attend a luncheon with some friends. I was the first guest to arrive so we sat on the boat dock until the other guests began to arrive. I left her on the dock while I asked Marlene if I could bring her in. When I went back to the dock to get her, she was gone. I asked the two grand children on the dock if they had seen which way she had gone. They had not seen her go.

I walked the foot trail both ways for a short distance calling out to her but, no luck. I reasoned with myself that she only knew the trail we had walked and I would probably find her at the cottage, so I stayed for lunch. When I walked the trail home, I called her name. Once again, no dog came. When I arrived at the cottage she was not there either. Once again I started back down the trail to Marlene’s calling her name. I continued past Marlene’s house and to the nearest neighbors but no Mia. Each day that week I drove down to the east end of the lake, walked the area calling her name and talking to the few residents in the area. It was a guilt ridden week for me. I did not understand the panic she experienced when I came up missing to her.

A week later I received a call from Kay, the owner of the first house east of Marlene’s, telling me that Mia was on their property and to come retrieve her. I did and the moment I whistled for her, she came bounding down the mountain side to me. We were both happy to see each other.

I discovered that Mia also had separation anxiety and would not leave my side. I could not leave her home alone. She would stay in my pickup for hours but not home. In her panic one time she jumped onto the toilet in the lower level bathroom and right out through the window screen. Then, trying to get back into the cottage looking for me, she destroyed both wooden screened doors. My solution was to just take her wherever I went and leave her in the pickup with the windows down.

Not much changed that summer and Mia spent lots of time with me and alone in my blue Ford Ranger pickup. In October, we returned to our home in Southwest Nebraska. About the only change in her behavior prior to returning to Grand Lake in late May was that I could change the inflection in my voice and she would not cower. That meant we could roughhouse on the floor. She learned that there were safe places for her to go in the city park with me.

In late August of 2014, when things slowed down around the  town of Grand Lake, I decided that she should be around people more and maybe she would learn that people were not something to fear. I would take her with me to the coffee shop, The Hub with an outside eating area with several round tables and chairs. I would sit and read The Brain That Changes Itself while she lay next to me. Eventually she became curious and went looking for dropped bits of food and crumbs under the empty tables. Finally, she started looking under tables which were occupied by eaters and drinkers. Occasionally someone at the table would reach down and pet her. Over time she came to realize that people were safe and she could forage for food scraps and not experience fear.


The summer came to a close and she would actually allow some dog lovers to pet her away from The Hub but she still had not barked as most dog do.


By this past summer, 2015 her whole world changed. Instead of us being outside we started having coffee in the morning with a couple of old geezers, like I am.  Mia grew into the unofficial greeter at The Hub. When someone or group would enter, she would walk up to them and request a pat or good head rub. She even started barking when she saw another dog approaching and on several occasions played chase with them. I now consider Mia a normal dog. We take walks without a leash, she comes when I call her and she barks when she hears the doorbell ring or someone knocks at the door. I can also leave her home alone and not find the door or carpet next to it destroyed.


At the time I did not understand the brain mechanics associated with Mia’s fears and transformation. Now that I’ve studied more on the mind and the brain, I understand what happened.

This past summer, 2019, Mia and I had a great time together. She had developed dysplasia in her right read hip and needed help getting into my Ford Ranger. Over time and lots of walks and trips up the cottage steps to the parking lot she improved and also learned now not to lead with her right rear leg.

Because the Hub coffee shop was still closed for remodeling I started having morning coffee at the east end of town at a place called the Jump Start. On the drive through town to the Jump Start we had to pass the new “Lulu City Doughnut and Coffee Shop“. Each morning at 0700 hours there appeared a box of yesterday’s doughnuts called Doggie Doughnuts. Mia and I would stop and she would get treated with one. Eventually it dawned on me to use the stale doughnut to train her to learn new activities (tricks). Here’s Mia waiting in anticipation for her training doughnut.

Eventually she learned how to shake with either paw depending on which hand I held out. She would sit/stay and I could walk several business away down the board walk and come on command or the drop of my up raised hand. She would come running, then stop and set in front of me until I dropped a small portion of the doughnut above her head. She would, most times, catch it and anxiously wait for another treat to drop.

When the doughnut was gone, we would return to the pickup and I would open the passenger door for her. She still was so entergetic from getting her daily doughnut she would jump in without my assistance.

In October, on the drive home from Grand Lake, I learned that my eyesight had deteriorated so much that  it was going to be my last trip. From now on I will go to and from Colorado on Amtrak. I knew that day would arrive but was hoping it would be later than sooner.

Because of some additional reasons I decided to find Mia a good home. So, in December, I had a good friend drive Mia and me halfway to where Ann and Jim live in east central Colorado and handed her over to them. Mia knew them well and had stayed with them many times over the years when they lived a short way east of McCook. She is doing fine but it took me several weeks before I stopped talking to her when I got up from my computer to walk upstairs.

I’ve had many pet dogs over the years always with the anticipation of getting another with the loss of one. I can’t say that now. Mia was my last one. It’s kind of hard to admit that but I’m also on my last car and truck. For a while longer I can still safely navigate around McCook and Grand Lake during the daylight hours but my night driving has to be  left to others.

This new chapter in the dimming twilight of my journey will be the first time in my life I have not had a dog as my sidekick. I have lots of good memories from my canine friends over a lifetime. I thank each and everyone of them for the joy they brought me. Good by my old friends.







Posted in neuroplasticity, power of fear | 1 Comment

Outing with Jonah to Gaskill, CO–An old 1880 Mining Town

On Wednesday, July 16 Jonah and I set out to learn about old mining towns and dowsing graves. Our first stop was the the North Fork of the Colorado River at the old Betty Dick cabin inside RMNP. Here’s a short video of the river at Betty Dick’s.

Our next stop just north across the river is the picturesque old horse barn. Just click on the photos to see a larger view.


Jonah posing for me in front of the barn door.


Jonah next to the funky old tree stump approaching the Gaskill mining camp.


Jonah holding an old discarded lead sealed can from the time when the miners inhabited the area.


Short video of the lead sealed can.


Here Jonah is pointing to a rusted very large cook pot or your best guess. He found it in the root cellar where once a cabin must have stood. It was tool large and buried to be able to pick it up.

Next I took him a short way to the west where I thought the stone formation looked like it had to be a grave. It was also next an old root cellar/cabin. What is dowsing?

Next I pulled out my trusty Garmin digital GPS navigation tool and followed its direction finder to the last remaining structure in the old mining camp of Gaskill, the assayers office. I say office because there is no root cellar visible.

All in all it was a super outing for the both of us. The only draw back was that we didn’t apply mosquito repellent before starting our short hike.


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