History of El Paso County

The first white inhabitant in El Paso County was Jimmy Hayes, from whom Jimmy's Camp takes its name. Here in 1833, Jimmy established himself as trader. A small and lonely cabin was Jimmy's, on the bank of a river of sand. A grove of cottonwood fringed its edges, and in their branches the eagles built nests undisturbed. A spring supplied Jimmy with water, and his grain was ground between two mealing stones -- Indian fashion. The Indians would not harm Jimmy, for when they saw from afar his bonfire, they knew it meant beads, axes, arms, and fire water! Once a year Jimmy departed with his pelts, collected from Indian customers, and toiled across the plains, returning with fresh supplies. One night eleven wandering Mexicans came to Jimmy's cabin. They saw prospective booty and murdered him, his body falling across the bloodstained threshold.

When a party of Indians came to the post their rage and grief knew no bounds. The link binding to civilization and whiskey had been severed. They interred Jimmy within his cabin walls below the earthen floor. Stealthily they dogged the Mexicans' trail, till, as the latter were one night slumbering beneath a Cottonwood, the avengers pounced upon them, and the eleven were hung to as many limbs of the big tree. So perished the first white man who had a home in El Paso. A Kansas party of 1858 camped on the rivulet east of the Garden of the Gods, which has since been known as "Camp Creek." Their camp was submerged in a flood, when they took refuge in the cave at the gateway. Here the curious may find their names scratched on the rock, also the blackened traces of their campfire.

Certain of these searchers arrived from Kansas in July, 1858, under the leadership of John Tierney. Certain stragglers in their wake, under command of O'Donnell, mapped out on paper the magnificent town of El Paso. It never existed off the map, but it should have covered the town site of Colorado Springs. The sole actuality at the time was one log cabin, a number of tents, and some wagons collected near the Monument, on the present site of Roswell, and then called Red Rock Ranch. The tents and wagons eventually drifted over to Colorado City. William Parsons, one of these Kansas pioneers, returning there in the autumn, had much to tell of plains, peaks, climate, mines, etc., and his glowing narratives sent fresh recruits to El Paso.

Many lots in the visionary town were sold even before they were platted. In the meantime another enterprise was being organized, and Colorado City, the first actual town of El Paso, was surveyed. This township occupied a tract one mile wide and two miles long, extending from the neighborhood of Camp Creek toward the Monument. The men prominently connected with the inception of the new city were S. W. Waggoner, L. J. Winchester, R. E. Whitsitt, M. S. Beach, W. P. McClure, Lewis N. Tappan, T. H. Warren and E. P. Stout. In the earliest recorded deed of El Paso County, the Colorado City Company claims 1,280 acres as a town site, dated August 13th, 1859.

Colorado City sprang into being on the 1st of November, 1859. In less than one year it contained three hundred dwellings, and all the stream margins, canons and springs in the neighborhood bristled with stakes of locators and homeseekers. Messrs. William Campbell, Hubbell Talcott, and John Bley built cabins along the Fontaine, and first turned its waters to the aid of the farmers -- the beginning of those "water rights" now so highly prized. Claims, however, could not be legally held in the then unsettled state of the Pike's Peak region, and a primitive and local attempt at government was made in the El Paso Claim Club. It had its president, secretary, etc., a district recorder (H. T. Burghardt), and was empowered to empanel jurors in cases of dispute or crime. There were, as in all frontier settlements, occasional appeals to Judge Lynch, but on the whole, law, order and decency were respected in El Paso.

The Rev. Mr. Howbert, coming into Colorado City to preach one Sunday, found a culprit about to suffer death for horse stealing. His doom had been decided by vote, every man in favor of death standing on a certain spot of ground, those inclined to mercy on another. A solid phalanx lined the guilty side, while that devoted to clemency was empty space. Here Mr. Howbert ensconced himself, begging his hearers not to break the law.  "At least," he said, "hear me preach before you commit this illegal deed." " Oh, no," exclaimed a choice spirit, who voiced the crowd, "business before pleasure. We'll hang the man first and hear you afterward," which they did.

When the Territory of Colorado had been duly organized by Congress and Governor Gilpin duly installed in 1861, El Paso County was recognized as an established fact, becoming one of the original seventeen counties of Colorado. Governor Gilpin had appointed M. S. Beach, Henry S. Clark and A. B. Sprague as commissioners to appoint precincts and arrange for the election of commissioners. November 1 6th, 1861, B. F. Crowell, A. B. Sprague and John Bley were elected county commissioners, and proceeded with the county organization. George A. Bute was the first clerk. Colorado City was later declared the Territorial capital of Colorado, and the old frame council building is still standing in the town in a state of serene dilapidation. Tradition says the primitive lawmakers met in one of its three rooms for official business, slept in the second, and kept a bar in the third. In serious remembrance, however, these men are recalled as earnest, practical lawmakers, to whom is due the grateful recognition of those coming after. They were the first to evolve order out of chaos, and law out of license.

The civil war had rendered the Arkansas or southern "trail" to Colorado unsafe for emigrants, as the border country was infested by bands of raiders and guerillas, so by the South Platte route immigration flowed northward, and business and enterprise were focused in the neighborhood of Denver. As a facetious pioneer of Denver put it in discussing the capital question: "Denver had more wagons and more mules and most whiskey, and so we carried the day."

El Paso contributed her quota to the Union side in the civil war, in the First Colorado Battery which was recruited in Colorado City, and served in Missouri. The officers were: Captain, S. W. Waggoner (the first judge elected in Denver); First Lieutenant Ayres, and Second Lieutenant Spencer. Some fifty or sixty men from Denver, desirous to ally themselves with the Southern cause, crept southward, and supplying themselves with horses from El Paso, continued their flight along the Arkansas. They were eventually captured and brought back.

The capital gone. El Paso withdrew in itself. In 1862 provisions were scarce, famine seemed imminent, and more than one unsuccessful miner sought to harvest golden grain, vegetable in lieu of mineral. In 1863 when surveys were made and farmers began to feel sure of plentiful water supply, and unassailable boundaries, agriculture became the important interest, and great tracts of land were cultivated. Between this period and 1868 three flouring mills were in active operation.

In November, 1863, the First Colorado Regiment, returning victorious from New Mexico encamped at Colorado City, and the slight stimulus afforded by the presence of these soldiers, their purchases of food, forage and horses, brought a semblance of renewed activity to the young settlement. The plains Indians, whose near and nearer approaches caused a feeling of insecurity in all the Colorado settlements, were frequently seen hovering about the settlers' homes, and in order to intimidate the savages, a party of ten volunteers surprised certain .Arapahoes prowling near the Monument, took their weapons and ponies, and carried them away prisoners. In the darkness of the return march the Indians slipped away and made their escape, deprived, however, of all that which had made them formidable. A volley was fired in the direction of their retreat, which, according to the subsequent testimony of a squaw, left none of them unwounded.

In 1864 a party of Indians stampeded the horses of a company of soldiers encamped on the Santa Fe trail. The crops of that year were harvested under the protection of armed men. Company G, mounted guards of the Third Colorado Regiment, under command of Captain O. H. P. Ba.xter, were sent out to bear their part in the battle of Sand Creek.  In addition to Indian alarms, the year 1864 witnessed a terrific cloud burst on  (Cheyenne Creek, the Monument, etc. Thirteen persons perished in the wave, and much property was destroyed, A steamboat might have plied in the waters of Sand Creek.

The year 1865 was "grasshopper year." The scourge is dreadful enough in naturally fertile districts, but here where the "stubborn glebe" had just yielded its harvests after months of assiduous toil and irrigation, -- harvests valued in proportion to the difficulty of cultivation, -- the calamity was dire indeed.  Such was the public depression experienced after the inroads of the grasshopper, that work on the Ute Pass road was suspended. The earliest colonists had felt the importance of a highway between the mining and producing districts, and a road had been opened for wagons along the Utes' trail as early as i860. The pioneers gave their time and strength to the work, and later about $10,000 was expended in improvements on this road.

In 1868 occurred the most serious Indian outbreak in the annals of the county. About eighty Cheyennes and Arapahoes bearing credentials as friendly Indians appeared in the county, and began to make their presence felt by the murder of some Utes in the mountains. Sheltering themselves in the pine woods, they crept back toward the settlement and began operations by stampeding a hundred or so of horses belonging to Mr. Teachout of Edgerton. The whites at scattered points flocked to the settlements for safety, and a stockade fort left standing since the alarm in 1S64, was strengthened and repaired. A party of local scouts consisting of less than fifty men, were surrounded by some five hundred Indians. The whites defended themselves on a mound where they threw up hasty earthworks. This was not far from Bijou Basin, where, on Fremont's Peak, Fremont had in former years been similarly surrounded, and like him, these were without water. "Texas Bill" bravely volunteered to ride through the enemy's lines to summon aid, and succeeded in escaping, though pursued by innumerable bullets. The hostiles, aware that help was coming, grew uneasy and departed hastily, just in time to escape a scouting party from Denver.

Not again did the Indians meet the El Paso pioneers in open combat. The red men continued to hover in the vicinity of Colorado City through the month of September, and watched their opportunity to drive off stock and kill the defenseless. Charles Everhart and the two Robbins boys were killed and scalped -- the last before their mother's eyes. Almost a victim was Judge Baldwin, who had left his scalp with other savages in South America. The old gentleman defended himself valiantly, dealing vigorous blows with his boot, which he had drawn over his right arm. The Indian seized him by his remaining hairs, the knife was lifted -- but the scalp was already gone!  After his two bouts with bloodthirsty Indians Judge Baldwin eventually met his death by accidental drowning in a well. The murders were all committed on the mesa which has since become the site of Colorado Springs. On the Divide the victims were more numerous, much stock was driven off, and a fine farmhouse (that of Mr. Walker) was burned, including his stores and valuables. During the summer about twenty people were killed in El Paso, and five hundred cattle were driven off. So far as known, not an Indian perished. The settlers were not provided with long range rifles as were the Indians.

As cool weather warned the Indians to establish winter quarters, the people crept back to their deserted homes, overgrown gardens and rotting grain fields, and the phantoms of danger faded away. This was the last Indian raid of note, though the region was visited by hunting parties for years. As late as 1878 a large number of Utes made their summer encampment in the Garden of the Gods. -- their last appearance in El Paso County.

Garden of the Gods.  Nearly three miles from Manitou lies this famous tract of ground. Louis N. Tappan and some friends were exploring the tract in 1859, and as these visitors were standing on a neighboring height, one of the number exclaimed; "What a garden it would make." "Yes, but of the gods" was the rejoinder, and thus it was named. The enormous red rocks of the Gateway (the " Beautiful Gates," as the early colonists termed it), three hundred and thirty feet high, are a conspicuous feature of the landscape for miles, and the "Balanced Rock," another enormous mass, weighs four hundred tons. In the intervening area, the rocks have formed themselves into cathedral spires, ruined temples, gigantic mushrooms, gargoyle sarcophagi, prows of ships, peering faces and stone giants, birds or beasts according to the visitor's fancy, and all of the crimson sandstone. The gods had Titanic sport in this, their garden.

Ute Pass Resorts. Where a few years ago the Indian on his tough little mustang came down from the mountain parks to drink from the Manitou Springs, and later a handful of hunters encamped, now glide the Colorado Midland trains carrying thou sands who make this pass the Mecca of their summer saunterings. While Manitou two years ago was the only celebrated resort in this vicinity, the building of the Midland Railroad has created several mountain resorts above these world-famous springs, where the air is yet more bracing, the scenery primitive and wilder, the flora more luxuriant and where one can nearer commune with Mother Nature and she lures us higher and deeper among the mountain recesses.

Cascade Canyon is five miles above Manitou, near the base of Pike's Peak. Surrounded with crystal falls and beautiful glens, lovely parks and health-giving springs, it is a romantic spot. From this point in 1889, the Pike's Peak carriage road was built, by Hundley and Carlisle. One by this road may reach the summit within six hours, and enjoy one of the most picturesque drives in the world.

For a score of years Bob Correy, in the pioneer days, hunted, fished and prospected, here enjoying nature's plenteousness, and happiness, until as civilization's limits came near he sought more distant wilds, and sold his squatter claim to Mrs. E. N. Hewlitt, who, with her son, here started a small cattle ranch. In the summer of 1S86 Mr. D. Severy, a Kansas capitalist, recognized the place's prospects, knew the railroad soon would be built through it, and opened negotiations with Mrs. Hewlitt. This resulted in the organization of "The Cascade Town Company," with Mr. Severy as president, and Mrs. Hewlitt and several wealthy Kansas men as directors. Within a year a town site was platted, cottages built, waterworks put in and sewer pipes laid through the main streets. A large hotel costing $65,000, has been built, and has received successful patronage.

Ute Park, Green Mountain Falls, and Woodland Park (which is also the station for Manitou Park), are on the Midland Railroad, as it darts up Ute Pass, and their history is similar to that of Cascade canyon. Green Mountain Falls is nine miles from Manitou, while Woodland Park lies five miles still farther up the pass, and is twenty miles from Colorado Springs.

Ute Park is a new resort, and its hotel (W. J. Douglas architect) was christened the Ute in August, 1890, when a magnificent banquet was tendered by its proprietors to the press and railroads of the State. Back of the hotel extend twenty-three miles of mountain boulevards, through the pines, and in the valley is a pretty lake with a fountain jet spurting one hundred and thirty-five feet heavenward. Ute Park is a creation of the summer of 1890, combined with natural attractions and capital and energy directed by Louis R. Ehrich, Frank White, J. J. Hagerman and Dr. N. S. Culver of Colorado Springs. The company includes several New York men who are erecting cottages here.

Green Mountain Falls, as well as the other resorts in the pass, may also be reached by carriage road from Manitou. Numerous beautiful waterfalls are in the vicinity of this resort, and a $25,000 hotel was erected in 1889 by a Colorado Springs company, of which F. E. Dow is president, and I. J. Woodworth secretary, treasurer and attorney.

Coal Mining Settlements. -- Franceville is a coal mining town in the eastern part of El Paso, named in honor of Honorable Matt France of Colorado Springs, who has large interests here.

McFerran, five miles northwest of Franceville, is a busy coal mining town, where besides stores, hotels, etc., are well conducted schools.

Name of Mine Company Name

Average Number of
Men Employed

Capacity of Mine
per day in tons

Pike's Peak Pike's Peak Fuel Co. 160 1,000
Patterson Pike's Peak Fuel Co 34  
El Paso El Paso County Land & Fuel Co 76 600
Rapson No. 2 Rapson Coal Mining Co. 40 300
Danville Tudor Coal Co. 13 500
Williamsville Thomas Coal Co. 11 50
Franceville Dan. E. Davis 2 10

Settlements of lesser note in El Paso are, Aroways, Bassett's Hill, Big Sandy, Bijou Basin, Cheyenne Peak, Chico Basin, Colorado House, Crystal Peak Park, Easton, Elsmere, El Paso, Divide, Four Mile, Granger, Gwillemville, Highland, Hursleys, Husted, Jimmy Camp, Lake Station, Little Buttes, McConnellsville, "O. Z." Peyton, Petrified Stumps, Quarry, Sidney, South Water, Suffolk, Summit Park, Sun View, Table Rock, Turkey Creek, Twin Rocks, Weissport, Wheatland, Widefield, Winfield and Wigwam.

Journalism in El Paso. This county, being one of the earliest settled in Colorado, has a respectable newspaper record. Even in 1872, "Out West," published by J. E. Liller, had for correspondents men widely known in church, literature and politics, as Rev. Charles Kingsley and Hon. Wm. D. Kelley. "Out West" was a model of style, editorially and typographically; it was devoted to Western interests. In December, 1872, it announced that a local paper had become necessary, and that it would also publish "The Gazette and El Paso County News," beginning early in 1873, in order that "Out West's" pages might entirely be given to Territorial information. It thereafter soon died, but the "Gazette" grew to be a respected force throughout the country.

In 1874 Judge Price became celebrated all over Colorado for his humorous hoaxes upon Eastern residents in the columns of his "Mountaineer," also issued at Colorado Springs, and an able paper popularly circulated among the people of the county. The pioneer El Paso journal, though printed in Denver, was the short lived "Colorado City Journal," which made its appearance in 1861, under the direction of Benjamin F. Crowell, now a citizen of Colorado Springs. May 1st, 1858, Mr. Crowell came from Boston, a boy of nineteen, in company with A. Z. Sheldon and others. The party had varied experiences in crossing the plains, one of their chief dilemmas being to ascertain each morning before harnessing which was the "nigh" and which the "off" ox. From the days of the El Paso "Journal" till the present, Mr. Crowell has been connected with every important movement, political or otherwise, in El Paso.

Colorado Springs "Gazette" inaugurated the county's record in daily journalism, and ever has been a prominent factor in the building up of this region. It is one of the six papers of the State owning associated press dispatches, prints daily over five thousand words of telegraphic news, and is a four page eight column paper. It has a large job department, fifty men on its pay roll of $600 per week, and is erecting a fine block on a principal avenue. The chief stockowners are B. W. Steele, Hon. W. S. Jackson and Dr. B. F. D. Adams. Mr. Steele has been editor of the " Gazette " for the past several years, and came to Colorado in 1877, from Providence, Rhode Island. He is a graduate of Brown University. Mr. Steele's policy in conducting the "Gazette" has been fearless and judicial. His editorials show a remarkably sympathetic comprehension and prevision of public feeling.

The "Gazette" is about to build a fine new edifice on Pike's Peak avenue, a sharp contrast to its present dilapidated structure of historic fame. The material is to be St. Louis pressed brick with stone trimmings, and basement of stone. Besides the rooms used in the printing and binding departments of the journal, there will be eighteen offices. The building is supplied with fireproof vaults and a crane elevator.

The Colorado Springs "Republic" is the second paper of the county, and was first issued in 1880 (being the regular successor of the "Free Press" and the "Mountaineer,") as a daily evening journal, after as a weekly, and again as a daily under its present direction by Mr. L H. Gowdy. Its interests are mainly local, and together with an excellent job department, it has become a successful property.

E'I Paso's growth may well be shown by an enumeration of the papers now published. While the county boasted but ten papers in 1888, in 1890 we find the list swelled to double the number. The El Paso "Register" is the representative paper of the Divide region, and is published at Monument. The Manitou "Journal" is issued four months of the year as a daily, and began its career in 1886. The Colorado City "News," under the able direction of J. Addison Cochran present postmaster of that city achieved, two years since, first place among the papers of El Paso's manufacturing center.

Other papers issued in the county are: "Pike's Peak Herald," "Saturday Mail," the "Methodist," the "Lever," and "Deaf Mute Index," at Colorado Springs, the last two named being school papers, Colorado City "Chieftain," Colorado City "Iris," Palmer Lake "Herald," Green Mountain Falls "Echo," Fountain "Dispatch," Woodland Park "News," and Crystal Peak "Beacon" (at Florissant).

To the Colorado Springs "Gazette" and "Republic," both of which publish weekly as well as daily edition we are indebted for valuable reports which have freely been used in this sketch.

Railroad Connections. El Paso County's railroad connections reach in every direction. They are remarkable in that she has five great lines connecting her with Denver and Pueblo, Colorado's largest cities, and these lines make El Paso their center of trade between these points, and Colorado Springs the third city in the State. The Denver & Rio Grande gives her connections with the Pacific Coast as well as through out Colorado. The Midland Road closely allies her with the Aspen and Leadville mines, and the mountain resorts. The Rock Island affords direct through connection with Chicago, and combining with the Rio Grande forms a through overland route from Atlantic to Pacific. The Denver, Texas & Fort Worth is a direct outlet to Texas and the Gulf of Mexico, and the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, via Pueblo, also reaches to the East, and gives the county a southern route to California. The Missouri Pacific brings El Paso in line with St. Louis, and the Pike's Peak Railroad, highest in the world, will, it is thought, swell the tide of tourist travel.

Some County Statistics. El Paso County's material progress is proven by comparisons. Her assessed acres and their valuation were in 1870, 66,649 acres valued at $156,206.  In 1880, 250,434 acres, $828,525, and in 1889, 458,750, valued at $1,473,135, while in 1889, 80,000 acres were reclaimed and added to the taxable acreage.

Its property was assessed in 1870 at less than half a million, while in 1880 it was $4,320,000, and in 1889, $9,908,500. The total assessed valuation for 1890, shows an increase over 1888 of over one million dollars.

The agricultural statistics for 1888 (the last prepared up to the time of this writing) are not so encouraging perhaps, as those of earlier years, for the crops of 1888 were seriously affected by drought and early frost, and no fruits were harvested that year except in the Fountain Valley where irrigation was possible. Even on land without irrigation in many parts, the following cereals can be raised in this county which in former times had been thought only suitable for grazing purposes: wheat, oats, barley, rye, corn, potatoes, timothy, clover, alfalfa.

Grown also were 572 bushes of orchard apples, blackberries 150 quarts, currants 5,795 quarts, gooseberries 3.635  quarts. raspberries 2,170  quarts, strawberries 890 quarts, and 59 acres of forest trees.

90,500 pounds cheese and 83,655 pounds of butter were manufactured.  From the 132 beehives in the county came 4,125 pounds of honey.  496,600 pou8nds of wool was shorn.

In 1886, from 2,665 acres 65,805 bushels were harvested; from 1,021 acres over 30,000 bushels of corn; and in that year were grown 18,495 quarts of strawberries; 27,645 quarts of currants; and four tons of grapes.

El Paso's Progress. The material progress of El Paso County has been regular and rapid. T

The water commissioner's report for 1890 gives the number of completed reservoirs in El Paso County as thirty-one, constructed at an estimated cost of $100,000, and four partially completed reservoirs which will have cost $31,100. Sixty irrigating canals are reported of one hundred and seventy-eight miles' total length, by which means 3,000 acres of alfalfa; 4,867 acres of natural grass; 779 of seeded grass, and 3,366 acres of crops are grown.

The county assessor gives the following table as the assessed valuations (for 1890) of the incorporated cities and towns of El Paso County:

Colorado Springs$4,926,930  Palmer Lake$151,530
Manitou667,000 Green Mountain Falls55,410
Colorado City288,105 Monument 48,815