Sunday, August 28, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
Mouth Cave was probably the most known of the in-town holes because it was the biggest. Isn’t that the way of the world? The big mouths are always remembered.
Confucius said that a “man who stands on a hill with his mouth open, will wait a long time for roast duck to drop in.” Maybe so, but the caves of Dolores certainly had other uses. And as a youth, when I wasn’t in the river, I was on the hill.
Perhaps in Mouth Cave, or another part of ‘the Face,’ or ‘Hidden Cave,’ maybe 'Wildcat Cave,' or the ‘Gap,’ on the ‘Shelf,’ or up on top, near the pond. As far as I remember, Mouth Cave’s naming convention was about the only universal moniker out there, with the possible exception of the “D.”
Everything else went by the name used by the person calling it that, at any particular time. It was one of the joys of living near and playing on “The Hill.”
Every generation was afforded the opportunity to name and rename the little hidey-holes, passages, nooks and crannies of the greatest playground on earth.
The term “The Hill,” was in universal usage, however, referring only to the sunny side of the Dolores Valley, as evidenced by certain official titles like “Hillside,” one of the three main streets in the little burg.
Up there, scattered somewhere between the Mountain Mahogany, rattlesnakes, sandstone, Yucca, Pinion and Juniper trees — little bands of neighbor kids would constantly and consistently hone their skills in rabbit tracking, imagination development, and Colorado-style mountaineering.
Development of other more nefarious skills was not out of the question either. BB gun warfare, porn stashing, and activities that may have interested the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms— perhaps gained some juvenile footholds in unsupervised expanse of near wilderness terrain.
“I doubt there are very many old Dolores homeys that haven't stood on that hillside right about there,” says longtime Dolores resident Ellis Miller recently when looking at the above vintage black and white photograph taken from the hill in the vicinity of 8th Street. “It was a good place to grow up, was it not?”
“Me and my buddies were always up there exploring. Wonder if kids do so in this day in age?” says Gary Willett, in a recent Facebook Post.
Miller, also in a Facebook post, remembers the ritual of painting the “D.”
“That was done every year or so by the "D Club" which was that exclusive fraternity of DHS athletes who had lettered in a sport. When I was little, I remember some of the high school students up there with ladders and little scaffold like swings hanging from the trees above the cliff. It was a magnificent ritual, and to my knowledge nobody got killed or maimed.”
Lisa Berry, in another post, comments on the accuracy of the maiming claim.
“When I was a junior or senior, I can't remember, a handful of us went up there and hung over the top with ropes and buckets of tar. When finished, I was carrying the open buckets of tar back down the hill. The little old lady living at the bottom didn't like us crossing in her yard and had set up one of those bird type sprinklers at the bottom of the trail. I was waiting for the sprinkler to go around...wait, wait, GO! I took off running down hill to miss the sprinkler and failed to see the clothesline. Well, I was ‘clotheslined’ and the little ole, mean lady had two buckets of tar spilled in her yard. I also had one hell of a rake mark on my neck. Had a volleyball game that night too.”
From my experience over the years, the territory’s benefit lies in its limitless possibilities.
I recall, up the alley from the house in which I grew up on 7th Street, and over near the hill, there in the oak brush, was an old swamp boat with the big fan that once had propelled it from the back of the boat. Behind Fredrickson’s house, the canvas in most places on the watercraft, was rotting off the steel frame and most of the moving parts were rusted to seizure state, but I don’t know how many hours I spent piloting that rusting and tattered relic through the jungles of Viet Nam, down the Piranha-infested waters of the Amazon, or on through the shark-thick seas of the Pacific Theater in WWII. Neighbor kids, I know for a fact, had similar experiences in the years it resided there and I am sure there were comparable artifacts of enlightenment all along the hillside lengths of the little town.
But the fun was not confined only to humans. I had a Beagle named Suzie that we raised from a pup that would chase rabbits, dawn to dusk, baying at every third breath, up and down on that hillside until someone physically carried her home. Even then, it was difficult to keep her from returning to the prime, rabbit-running locale on her own. She managed to keep up that game for almost 20 years.
Countless fires had blackened the roof of Mouth Cave and thin, powdery, grey-colored, soapy-tasting dust provided the floor. That didn’t matter much though. Because you could stand there at the edge of the cliff, looking out the gaping hole at the view of the town below, and wonder, and imagine, and dream. Waiting for the roast duck to drop in. Just like generations before, and exactly the same as generations that followed. The big mouths are always remembered.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Subject: Cripple Creek
Date: Fri, 15 Jul 2011 14:46:14 -0600
Greetings, I have read your blog posts on Cripple Creek with interest.
In regards to the strikingly different narratives, I would be interested to hear your evaluation of the testimony about the Colorado National Guard's role during the 1903-04 strike by Major Francis J. Ellison (and other related testimony), which seems to have been forgotten about until very recently.
From: Robert Carrigan
Sent: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 9:34 AM
Subject: RE: Cripple Creek
I honestly haven't read the testimony but I'm very interested. Where is it available? I am always scouting for different takes on the labor conflict there and in Telluride as it relates to the WFM. You are correct about different threads of the story going in different directions. That is one of the reasons I find it so compelling. What is your perception? Thank you. ___ Rob
Subject: Re: Cripple Creek
Date: Tue, 19 Jul 2011 12:43:14 -0600
Hi, thanks very much for the reply.
Here is a brief account of Ellison's astonishing testimony:
Further light on the miners' troubles in Colorado (p. 372) alluded to above has been shed by two members of the Colorado militia, one of them a commissioned officer. The officer, Major Francis J. Ellison, has sworn to the following affidavit, made public at Denver on the 29th:
State of Colorado, City and County of Denver—Francis J. Ellison, being first duly sworn, upon his oath deposes and says: That on the 12th day of December, 1903, at the request of Adjutant General Sherman M. Bell, I went to the Cripple Creek district on special military duty, and from that time have been continuously in the service of the State, both in the Cripple Creek district and in the Trinidad district. When General Bell first sent me to Victor I offered him certain evidence in regard to the perpetrators of the Vindicator explosion, which he has failed to follow up, but which would have led to the arrest and conviction of the men who are responsible for the placing of that infernal machine. At about the 20th of January, 1904, by order of the adjutant of Teller County military district, and under special direction of Major T. E. McClelland and General F. M. Reardon, who was the Governor's confidential adviser regarding the conditions in that district, a series of street fights were commenced between men of Victor and soldiers of the National Guard on duty there. Each fight was planned by General Reardon or Major McClelland and carried out under their actual direction. Major McClelland's instructions were literally to knock them down, knock their teeth down their throats, bend in their faces, kick in their ribs and do everything except kill them. These fights continued more or less frequently up to the 22d of March. About the middle of February General Reardon called me into Major McClelland's office and asked me if I had a man in whom I could place absolute confidence. I called in Sergeant J. A. Chase, Troop C, First Cavalry, N. G. C., and, in the presence of Sergeant Chase, he stated to me that, owing to the refusal of the Mine Owners' Association to furnish the necessary money to meet the payroll of the troops, it had become necessary to take some steps to force them to put up the cash, and he desired me to take Sergeant Chase and hold up or shoot the men coming off shift at the Vindicator mine at 2 o'clock in the morning. I told General Reardon that I was under the impression that most of these men caught the electric car that stopped at the shaft house so that such a plan would be impracticable. He then said to me that the same end could be reached if I would take the sergeant and fire fifty or sixty shots into the Vindicator shaft house at some time during the night. Owing to circumstances making it impossible for Sergeant Chase to accompany me, I took Sergeant Gordon Walter of the same troop and organization, and that same night did at about 12:30 o'clock fire repeatedly into the Vindicator and Lillie shaft house. Something like sixty shots were fired from our revolvers at this time. Afterwards we mounted our horses and rode into Victor and into the Military Club, reporting in person to General Reardon and Major McClelland. The next day General Reardon directed me to take Sergeant Walter and look over the ground in the rear of the Findlay mine with a view of repeating the performance there, but before the plan could be carried out General Reardon countermanded the order, stating his reason to be that the mine owners had promised to put up the necessary money the next day, which, as a matter of fact, they did. General Reardon, in giving me directions regarding the shooting up of the Vindicator shaft house, stated that Governor Peabody, General Bell, he himself, and I were the only ones who knew anything about the plan.
One original source is here:
My friend MaryJoy Martin, who wrote the fascinating account of the WFM in Telluride, The Corpse on Boomerang Road, has sent me some news clippings that confirm this history. But i haven't dived into the research yet. Seems rather surprising that this part of the Cripple Creek history had been lost up until just now.
MaryJoy's book demonstrates that the traditional interpretation of these histories can sometimes be entirely erroneous. Indeed, i have a friend in Denver who spent five years researching a book about labor icon Joe Hill, and uncovered a letter that essentially vindicates Joe Hill, offering strong circumstantial evidence that Joe Hill was innocent of the crime for which he was executed. (It will be published in August.)
I'm convinced that there is yet much to learn.
I look forward to discussing this with you further, after you've had a chance to digest this new information.
----- Original Message -----
From: Robert Carrigan
Sent: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 8:53 AM
Subject: RE: Cripple Creek
Thank you. Please tell me more about this testimony. Where has it resided all these years and where is it located now? Why do you think it wasn't part of original narratives and what is its significance today? I have read Mary Joy Martin's "Corpse on Boomerang Road" and have found it very well researched and enjoyable to read. I don't quite agree with all of her conclusions, but nevertheless, find the exploration refreshing in the questions she asks of traditional accounts. I agree with you completely that there is always much to learn and that traditional histories (to some extent, all histories) are subject to error, manipulation and influenced by the whims of public perception and those wanting to shape that perception. I'm very interested in the Joe Hill story and look forward to a new look. Thank you very much for calling this information to my attention. ___ Rob
Subject: Re: Cripple Creek
Date: Thu, 21 Jul 2011 19:41:11 -0600
I've read through the Rocky account of the Ellison testimony at the "secret proceedings."
It appears to be smoking gun material.
The Colorado National Guard not only covertly took the side of the companies against the unions (as even Sherman Bell once asserted), they also engaged in routine beatings, systematic illegal expulsions of strikers, probable voter fraud committed in favor of the Republican ticket, and they coordinated their activities with mobs directed by local Republican leadership.
But the Colorado National Guard had a problem. Major Ellison was a principled officer who continuously tried to do the right thing, even when it must have been obvious that all other officers were routinely committing criminal acts, and that their intent was to prevent him from hindering their plans.
They assigned him to Denver during the general election. But he worked against the National Guard's general officers' schemes during the election. For example, when other National Guard elements were reporting that there was a partisan mob evicting Republican poll watchers and attacking the National Guard elements protecting the Berkeley precinct (in downtown Denver) to which Ellison had been ordered to proceed, Ellison reported that no such mob existed.
The other officers and troopers, equipped with riot guns but in civilian clothing, excluded him from a subsequent action, having filled an automobile so that there was no room for him.
They shipped him back to the Cripple Creek District, where depravations continued, and where he continued to be at odds with other officers.
The National Guard intentionally looked the other way when union men were being harrassed and beaten. They stood down in their barracks in order for such attacks to go unmolested by soldiers on duty. They purposely avoided collection of any information that could have led to the arrest of mobs committing crimes, led by Republican leaders, and carrying out terror attacks from robberies to expulsions to beatings to theft to trashing union cooperative stores.
His testimony is substantiated by others, although i haven't read those accounts yet.
But consider those Rocky headlines: "AMAZING OUTRAGES" that were perpetrated by "Pretended Guardians of Law and Order"
That's strong stuff.
Astonishing that such sensational testimony was somehow ignored by historians and participants. Emma Langdon (The Cripple Creek Strike) doesn't mention it. Rastall (he Labor History of the Cripple Creek District, A Study in Industrial Evolution) doesn't mention Ellison. Elizabeth Jameson (All That Glitters) mentions Ellison, but has only a minor reference to this information, and she has informed me that she is shocked to learn these details. I've got a copy of Bill Haywood's autobiography, and i'll have to check it to be sure. But i don't recall him mentioning any of this either.
Richard Myers email@example.com
----- Original Message -----
From: Robert Carrigan
Sent: Friday, July 22, 2011 9:32 AM
Subject: RE: Cripple Creek
Thanks again. Very interesting indeed. ___ Rob
Re: Cripple Creek
To see messages related to this one, group messages by conversation.
Richard Myers firstname.lastname@example.org
The next step, i suppose, is to ask, what does all of this mean?
Ellison offered evidence on the looting of one of the cooperative stores, which he witnessed. His offer to identify the leaders of the looters was ignored.
Likewise, with several of the whitecappings, beatings, and expulsions.
In one case, he described the troop having been ordered to stand down at the barracks at 10:00 o:clock because trouble was expected. His offer to have horses saddled and ready was countermanded. When word of trouble did arrive at 11:30, the troop saddled up and proceeded to a road junction. It appeared to Ellison that a group of whitecappers, whom they were supposedly chasing, had taken the left fork. In spite of this, Ellison's superior ordered the troop to take the right fork. They met a National Guard patrol on that road which had come from Cripple Creek, from the other direction, and which had not seen anything. Ellison's superior ordered the troop to return to barracks, rather than take the left fork. Ellison later traveled the left fork on his own initiative, and discovered evidence left behind by the whitecappers and their victims.
He also offered evidence or information relating to the bombing of the Vindicator, which killed two company men. This offer was also ignored. Unfortunately, i haven't found any indication of what Ellison knew about the Vindicator bombing.
Peter Carlson's "Roughneck", a biography of Bill Haywood, devotes ten or more pages to how Pinkerton honcho James McParland carefully coaxed Orchard into "confessing" that he was working with the Western Federation of Miners. McParland threatened immediate hanging if Orchard didn't comply, but also dangled freedom and a reward in front of him if he did comply. Having accepted, and working under McParland to write the confession, one can see how probable it may have been for Orchard to falsify his account.
Here's a description of Orchard which i wrote for Wikipedia:
During the Haywood trial Orchard confessed to serving as a paid informant for the Mine Owners Association. He reportedly told a companion, G.L. Brokaw, that he had been a Pinkerton employee for some time. He was also a bigamist, and admitted to abandoning wives in Canada and Cripple Creek. He had burned businesses for the insurance money in Cripple Creek and Canada. Orchard had burglarized a railroad depot, rifled a cash register, stole sheep, and had made plans to kidnap children over a debt. He also sold fraudulent insurance policies. Orchard's confession to McParland took responsibility for seventeen or more murders.
Much of this is "confirmed" in his published confession (subject to how reliable that confession is, of course).
One cannot easily falsify acquired knowledge, however. I'm convinced Orchard was a calculating bomber, because his confession describes experimenting to develop the infernal machine trigger mechanism.
The Steunenberg murder seems a rather obvious foul deed committed by Orchard. Yet that assassination is somewhat isolated from the Cripple Creek doings. The question then becomes, which of the depravities did Orchard commit, and then, under whose orders?
I expect that Orchard probably did commit the Vindicator bombing. Harry Orchard's published account provides a quite convincing description, even claiming that he made an error in selecting the level of the mine for setting the bomb. (Much less convincing is his narrative about who hired him to set the bomb.)
But to me the much larger question is, who committed the Independence Depot bombing, which killed thirteen strike breakers? The information that i've uncovered so far is much more murky. But it could fit into the general pattern of actions by the Colorado National Guard to which Ellison testified. That is, the National Guard may not have committed all of the notorious criminal acts themselves. Yet they may have coordinated their actions in order to allow the criminal acts to be committed, without danger of soldiers shooting the wrong persons.
What may already be available related to the Independence Depot bombing? Some interesting clues. Indeed, there was another "Ellison" during the Cripple Creek strike, and his name was A. C. Cole. This is from the Colorado Labor Wars account on Wikipedia. The "explosion" refers to the Independence Station attack:
A.C. Cole was a former Victor high school teacher and Republican who served as secretary of the Victor Citizens' Alliance, and a second lieutenant of Company L, which fired upon the WFM union hall on the day of the depot explosion. He testified that preparations by the Victor militia had already been underway for the anticipated "riot" in the days preceding the explosion, and that they anticipated the specific date of a significant unspecified event. He had earlier been asked to participate in creating some sort of provocation, and refused. As a result of that refusal he was dismissed from his position with the Citizens' Alliance five days before the Independence Depot explosion occurred.
Cole stated that most of the militia and prominent members of the Citizens' Alliance stayed at the Baltimore Hotel in Victor the night before the explosion. A militia captain exhibited excitement and anticipation when he checked arms and supplies that night before the explosion. Cole testified that "It was generally understood and freely discussed that a riot was to be precipitated." Other members of the Victor militia corroborated Cole's story. Also, a sergeant in the Cripple Creek militia testified that he saw a murder committed by two Mine Owners' Association gunmen to keep someone quiet about the Independence depot explosion. There was additional testimony that the mine owners had plotted the Independence depot explosion, but had not intended to take lives. A couple of individuals stated, in effect, that a change of the work shift had put the non-union workers onto the depot platform at the wrong time.
Tantalizing, but not nearly enough from which to draw solid conclusions.
Re: Cripple Creek
Richard Myers email@example.com
I just received a reply from Dr. George G. Suggs, Jr., who wrote the first modern era book about the Cripple Creek strike.
Wanted to share his email:
Thank you for forwarding that very interesting piece concerning an episode in the Cripple Creek strike of 1903-04. I am glad to know that someone still finds that remarkable occurrence of so long ago still interesting and important enough to continue researching the event. In my work on the strike, I combed through every page of Peabody's Papers located in the Colorado Archives and I never came across the affidavit that you forwarded. Unfortunately, the papers of the Adjutant General Sherman Bell were scanty indeed, which, I suppose, would have been the logical resting place for such a document. Moyers and Haywood--and the general membership of the WFM--were always convinced that the Mine Owners Association employed agent provocateurs for dirty work to blame on the union. The affidavit suggests that what they believed was true and, what's worse, the Peabody Administration was deeply involved but for perhaps a different set of reasons, that is, the ebbing inclination of the mineowners to pay for the military activities in the district during a relative quiet period during the winter of 1903-04. I suppose that the desire to destroy the WFM was so strong that Peabody and state officials and employers, particularly the mine owners, felt justify in using any tactic to accomplish that goal. The affidavit reflects that willingness to smirch the reputation of the state and the Colorado National Guard in order to do so.
I have no idea where this material has been stowed for the last hundred years. I trust that whoever recently published it confirmed the authenticity of it. If it is for real, I would certainly have liked to have had it when doing my dissertation at the University of Colorado--Boulder and the subsequent book on the strike and the state's involvement. Quite frankly, I am not abit surprised at what the affidavit reveals. And you also mention supportive documents. If it is not too much trouble, I would be grateful it you would forward those when you have transcribed them. I am no longer involved in researching and writing about the strike but I am extremely interested in new discoveries concerning the subject.
Thank you again for passing on this extremely interesting information. And good luck in your investigation of the labor troubles. How good it is to know that with all the anti-union, anti-labor activites occurring today, someone continues to think labor an important enough subject to spend time on it.
George G. Suggs, Jr.