Tag Archives: Cripple Creek Colorado

John Nixon and the Terrible Thanksgiving Turkey

Turkey and boyc 2015 by Jan MacKell Collins

For those who have occasionally suffered through a quite memorable yet hardly endearing Thanksgiving holiday, take heart. Even historic and quaint Cripple Creek, Colorado is not safe from the perils of a good dinner gone bad. Take for instance, John Nixon’s own Thanksgiving in 1912.

What a lovely memory, the Cripple Creek Thanksgivings of old. Gazing nostalgically down Bennett Avenue, especially in the weather of late, it is easy to paint a vintage picture. Imagine watching one horse sleighs pulling passengers bundled in warm furs and frilly coats. The delighted faces of loved ones as they greet long-absent family members. The loving preparation of a giant turkey feast, with recipes passed from generation to generation. Is it possible, revelling in retrospect, to imagine a more grand picture?

Such wonderful pictures were no doubt travelling through John Nixon’s mind as he made his way down Bennett Avenue the day before Thanksgiving. A cozy room, permeated with the smell of delicious food, was an attractive alternative to crowded and cold downtown Cripple Creek. As the wind bit through his wool coat, John gathered his scarf and lowered his hat. Quite possibly he wished he had collected his Thanksgiving turkey earlier, when the day was still sunny. Now here he was, tired and chilled, scampering to purchase that which was most important to tomorrow’s dinner.

This Thanksgiving promised to be the best in many years, for this time, Mrs. Nixon asked for a live turkey to obtain the freshest meat. Ever anxious to please his wife, John Nixon had agreed to butcher the bird at home. Now, as hurried down Bennett, John hoped his wife’s prediction was true. He hated to think the task before him was actually for naught. He wasn’t much for working harder than he had to, and his resourcefulness at easing the work day was something commented on by the Missus.

John smiled at these thoughts as he paid the butcher for his bird and produced a large flour sack from his pocket. In the interest of convenience, the sack would serve as ample transportation for the turkey’s trip home. John deposited the turkey, head first, into his flour sack and bid the butcher a happy Thanksgiving.

Sadly, it was not long before man and bird had a misunderstanding. The turkey, who did not necessarily find his position comfortable, began giving forth a terrible squawk. Within a matter of seconds, the bird was making such a racket that people on the sidewalk were staring. Being a respectful sort with regard to unnecessary noise and courtesy to those around him, John Nixon made a split-second decision. In one swift move, his fingers groped the outside of the bag until they located the turkey’s neck. Grasping said neck firmly, Nixon succeeded in squeezing it until the bird was quiet.

It seemed the logical and polite thing to do, and John complimented his decision silently as he proceeded down the road. But if John Nixon thought his actions were justified, a nearby Humane Officer did not. Almost immediately, the officer appeared at Nixon’s side and demanded, “What are you doing to that bird? Are you choking that turkey?”

Now John Nixon, already weary of his burden, began to rethink his actions. That bird was making a fuss! Something had to be done! Deciding once more he was in the right, Nixon replied defiantly, “I am not choking the turkey, but I will if he doesn’t shut his chop!”

Apparently Nixon’s answer was less than satisfactory to the officer, who next wanted to see the turkey. The unhappy creature was obligingly brought from the flour sack. Upon examination, the officer assessed the turkey’s neck was “dislocated” and arrested John Nixon for none other than animal abuse.

The sight of the Humane Officer with John Nixon in one hand and a flour sack full of disgruntled turkey in the other must have been startling. A small crowd began to follow the trio, uttering hurried whispers and pointing fingers. The unusual spectacle was accompanied by even louder squawks as the turkey made his position clear.

So loud did the gobbles and squabbles become that even the Humane Officer began having trouble concentrating. In fact, so terrible was the noise that upon reaching a hardware store, the officer instructed Nixon to wait while he went inside. The officer returned with a borrowed axe as more people gathered to await his next move. They didn’t have to wait long. According to the Cripple Creek Times, “the crowd was treated to a real interesting execution right on Bennett Avenue.”

If the crowd was surprised, they must also have been relieved at the sudden quiet which followed the turkey’s demise. While they were exchanging glances and looking from the officer to Nixon and back, a lone yellow dog appeared at the front of the group. Without so much as a look of guilt, the mutt took up the turkey’s head and headed for a nice, quiet spot. It was an exclamation point at the end of a long, confused statement.

When he finally managed to avert his eyes from the departing dog, the officer gazed uncertainly at the crowd. The accusing and bemused looks he received in return made him weigh his next step carefully. Since the object of his concern was no longer among the living, there was no longer a legitimate crime in progress. And since it was, after all, Thanksgiving Eve, what harm would come from letting Nixon go home to his family? Before the amused crowd, the Humane Officer released Nixon from custody. The thankful man gathered his expired turkey into his flour sack and once again made for home.

If there is a moral to this story, the reader must come to his own conclusion. Perhaps it has something to do with a bird in hand and letting feasting dogs lie. Were John Nixon here today to relate the tale himself, he likely might say that nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.

McCourt, Colorado: Founded by Baby Doe Tabor’s Brother

c 2015 By Jan MacKell Collins

Peter McCourt's luxurious home in Denver.

Peter McCourt’s luxurious home in Denver.

Biographers of Colorado silver king H.A.W. Tabor and his second wife, Elizabeth “Baby Doe”, have been exploring the scandalous Tabor family for decades. What most of them have missed, however, is the tiny part Baby Doe’s brothers, Peter and Philip McCourt, played in the history of the Florence & Cripple Creek Railroad and the Cripple Creek District.

Eizabeth, Peter and Philip were born into a family of seven children in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The McCourts were not a wealthy family; Elizabeth’s marriage to a local boy named Harvey Doe was probably welcomed as a way to ease the financial burdens on the family. Harvey and Elizabeth moved to Colorado in 1877, where Harvey tried his luck as a miner. The McCourts saw the marriage as a good sign: one less mouth to feed, with opportunity for success in the family.

The rest is well known Colorado history. The Does initially settled in Central City, but Baby Doe wasn’t the type of gal to settle down as a miner’s wife. Ultimately she took a trip by herself to Leadville, where she met and eventually married the millionaire Horace Tabor in 1882. The relationship was scandalous even by today’s standards as Horace left his wife Augusta and their son, Maxey, in favor of the delightful and gorgeous Baby Doe.

Some of the McCourt family, including Baby Doe’s parents, a sister and her brothers Peter and Philip, accompanied the new couple to Washington D.C. for the marriage. Later, Baby Doe used her husband’s riches to move the family to Denver. The McCourts were given lavish homes and other extravagant gifts. Peter, Baby Doe’s favorite brother, was bestowed with the job of managing the Tabor Grand Opera House in Denver. Philip was hired as treasurer.

For the next several years, things were grand for the Tabors and McCourts. Tabor and his bride were the epitome of eccentricity, shocking high society with their outrageous lifestyle and unbridled spending habits. Baby Doe’s family took full advantage of her wealth. Peter was especially a familiar sight at the Tabor Mansion, holding court over weekly poker games with comrades from other elite Denver families.

One night, in the midst of the party, Baby came storming into the room. She was rightfully upset, largely because the wives, sisters and daughters of Peter’s poker buddies were in the habit of snubbing the Tabors and their over the top behavior. Peter’s embarrassed guests quickly left, and the two siblings had it out. They made up later, but it is said their relationship was forever changed.

When talk of the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act—wherein the federal government had standardized silver coinage—started, the Tabors were so lost in their own wealth they hardly blinked. In fact, the couple was well known for their lavish spending habits—including buying diamond-studded diaper pins for their babies, and once even purchasing 100 peacocks for their daughter’s birthday party. So much money had indeed made the couple downright giddy with power, and out of touch with reality. For Tabor and his bride, there seemed to be no end in sight.

In 1893 Peter and Philip McCourt, aware of the ramifications the Sherman repeal was about to bring, began scouting for safe investments. True to everyone’s predictions, the government stopped buying silver and the value of the once precious metal plummeted. Horace Tabor lost everything nearly overnight. Among his assets to go were the Tabor Grand. Peter was out of a job, but had wisely managed to save his money. Baby Doe appealed to Peter to help the falling Tabor empire, but Peter was unsympathetic. “I haven’t any money to spare,” he told her, “and even if I could, you’d only throw it away on some silly extravagance.”

Possibly to escape the woes and shame of his sister, Peter decided to check out the Cripple Creek District, which was in the infant stages of a gold boom. Amongst the developments in the district was the Florence Free Road, established in 1892 by Thomas Robinson. The road, which ran through today’s Phantom Canyon, was to eventually reach the Wyoming state border. Soon after the Salaman Stage Line debuted on the Florence Free Road, plans next began for the Florence and Cripple Creek State Line Railroad. Peter McCourt arrived in about 1893, where he was immediately inaugurated into the Elk’s Lodge. The move is not mentioned in most Tabor biographies, and information about Peter’s correspondence with the family is scant. It is known, however, that Peter soon developed an interest in the railroad coming up Phantom Canyon, then known as Ute Canyon.

Work on the Florence and Cripple Creek Railroad began in late 1893. Within the year Peter was establishing a small railroad station, supplemented by a nearby quartz mine staked by himself. His partners were brother Philip, C.A. Bass of Denver, and Dr. John Whiting of Cripple Creek. Plans were in the making to erect a small stamp mill. There were also two placer claims covering the water in Ute Creek, now known as Eight Mile Creek.

McCourt Camp was located at an altitude of 6,483′, situated 13 ½ miles from Florence and 20 miles from Cripple Creek. The F & CC tracks had passed McCourt by March of 1894. Within a few months they had extended as far as Wilbur a few miles up Phantom Canyon, and regular passenger service began. Upon arriving at Wilbur, passengers were transferred to a stage for the remainder of their trip to the Cripple Creek District as the railroad continued extending towards the District town of Victor.

Just a few months later, the railroad was nearing completion with several stops and two tunnels along Phantom Canyon. Upon leaving Florence, the train would pass a reduction works later called Cyanide, Russell (originally called Alabaster), McCourt, Adelaide (originally known as Robinson), Glen Brook, Wilbur and Alta Vista. The next stops were Victor, Eclipse, Arequa, Anaconda and finally, Cripple Creek.

No sooner had the F & CC been completed when a flood in August of 1894 washed out a good bit of the railroad. The southbound train had just passed through Glenbrook when a flash flood came crashing around the corner behind the train. The train raced the flood for the remaining 13 miles to Russell. Behind the train, stations, bridges and tracks were washed out. At Adelaide, two men and a woman drowned in the flood waters.

McCourt Camp was not affected by the flood, and the railroad repaired the damage at a cost of a million dollars. More stations, namely Vesta Junction and Wilders, were established along the route, but Peter McCourt had enough. By all indications, he closed up the Western Union telegraph office at McCourt, forgot about his claims and returned to Denver. There he leased the Broadway Theater, which he ran very successfully for many years. Philip apparently tired of riding his brother’s coat tails and eventually pursued a career as a professional gambler.

Little else is known about McCourt. Some years after the camp was abandoned, a nearby prospector was delighted to find good ore in Ute Creek. It was only after he staked his claim that he discovered the ore was the result of a derailment of the railroad, during which the ore spilled into the stream.

There is nothing to suggest Peter ever returned to the Cripple Creek District, but he did continue to make the occasional headline. After Horace Tabor died in poverty in 1899, Peter was known to send money to Baby Doe’s daughters, Elizabeth and Silver. When Elizabeth tired of life at the Tabor’s depleted Matchless Mine in Leadville, Peter willingly paid her way to Oshkosh.

From then on, Baby appealed to her other daughter, the flamboyant Silver Dollar, to write her uncle when they were in need. Peter accordingly financed some trips to Denver, where Silver Dollar and her mother could spend the winter in warmer quarters than at their shack at Leadville. Eventually Peter bought Silver Dollar’s way out of Colorado forever, mostly in an effort to keep her safe from her own crazy mother.

Unfortunately, Silver Dollar Tabor led a life more scandalous than Baby Doe’s. In between bouts with alcohol and failed relationships, Silver Dollar met President Theodore Roosevelt, published a novel, tried her hand at songwriting and worked briefly as an actress for Alexander Film in Colorado Springs. In 1925, she died from an accidental scalding in Chicago. Her sister Elizabeth refused to claim the body, but Peter sent $300 from Denver for a proper burial. Newspapers in Chicago and Denver jumped on the benevolent act. “Saves Girl From Pauper’s Grave,” blazed one of them, “Silver Dollar Tabor’s Body to Be Cared For. Uncle Pays Funeral Bill.”

When Peter died in 1929, his passing was hardly recognized by society. Baby Doe Tabor died six years later, and this time it was Philip who paid for his sister’s body to be brought from Leadville for burial in Denver. If Peter had been alive, would he have helped? Maybe. When he passed away, Peter included Baby Doe in his will, but she refused the bequest. Her comment at the time was probably more prophetic than she knew. “Living, he forgot me when misfortune came;” she once wrote, “dead, he can give me nothing.”

Wild Times and Wild Women: (Old) Colorado City’s Shady Side

c 2015 by Jan MacKell Collins

Laura Bells house 1990s

Laura Bell McDaniel’s last luxurious bordello as it appears today.

Portions of this article first appeared in Kiva Magazine.

When it was first established west of Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1859, Colorado City was every bit of a notoriously rough western town. Long before Colorado Springs came along with its anti-liquor laws and elite citizenship, Colorado City sprouted as a thriving supply town. All the required elements were present: ramshackle houses, churches, a school, hotels and saloons. The place was a virtual melting pot for easterners who swarmed the state in search of gold. Accordingly, Colorado City’s population grew to include enterprising merchants, faithful families, hopeful miners—and prostitutes.

It could be said that prostitution was a cornerstone of any town. Like any other industry, “red light’ districts made healthy contributions to the local economy, especially the courts. The difference was that, unlike any other industry, prostitution was frowned upon even as it helped these cities thrive.

There is no doubt that the soiled doves who flocked to Colorado City saw golden opportunities everywhere. Trains and freighters stopped daily on their way to the gold fields, initially bringing lots of single and lonely men. In those early days, the business was hardly regulated and permitted these women freedom to work and live where they chose.

By 1880 Colorado Springs was booming, but Colorado City was still not much more than a village with a few streets and no visible red light district. That is not to say that some women did not ply their trade in the city limits. There were no more than four saloons in 1884, but the numbers began to grow as Colorado City’s population surged to 400 souls within three years.

Much of Colorado City’s new commerce was generated by Colorado Springs, located just a few miles away. Founder General William Palmer forbade alcohol within his city limits. It stood to reason then, that Colorado City should excel in that area. A variety of activities, from prize fighting to prostitutes and drinking to dancing, swarmed at all hours around what is now the 2500 block of Colorado Avenue.

As of 1888, Colorado City’s population had allegedly escalated to 1500, some of which supported sixteen saloons. Business was booming as shootouts, drunken brawls and “good ol’ boy” fights became common sights. Horse racing up and down Colorado Avenue was a popular pastime. In the midst of the foray, a number of single women were living on Colorado Avenue. Their occupations are all unclear, but for one lady. Her name was Mrs. Bell McDaniel, better known as Laura Bell McDaniel.

Laura Bell first got her start in Salida, where she first appeared in 1882 as Belle Dale. With her was her daughter, Eva Pearl. Although she was married, Mr. Dale was apparently not on the scene. The two were likely divorced, for in 1887 court records note that Miss Laura B. Dale married one John Thomas McDaniel. The two had been close for some time, as evidenced by their trip to Leadville during the winter of 1886-87. In their absence, Laura Bell’s house burned but she was heavily insured. She received a large settlement, despite the fact that a man named Morgan Dunn was suspected of setting the fire for a percentage of the insurance money.

A month after her marriage to McDaniel, Laura Bell reported to her new husband that Dunn had tried to kiss her.”Why didn’t you kill the son of a bitch?” Thomas retorted. That night, after several heated words, McDaniel would later claim Dunn said, “We might as well settle it now as any time,” and placed his hand on a hip pocket. McDaniel fired five shots at the man, killing him.

Employees of the nearby Arlington Hotel heard the shots and ran over. The scene was unnerving. Thomas was standing in the front door, with Laura Bell and her mother clinging to him and screaming. Laura Bell’s mother was exclaiming, “Oh Tom! Oh Tom! Why did you do that?” McDaniel coldly replied, “He had no business in my house.”

Thomas McDaniel was acquitted of the murder, but the shady elements surrounding the case made the couple uneasy. The two lost no time in departing from Salida and in fact parted ways, for Laura Bell appeared to be alone when she surfaced in Colorado City. Within a year of her arrival, the enterprising woman had access to twenty four saloons and only a handful of competition. Laura Bell’s sisters of the underworld included Miss Belle Barlow, Miss Daisy Bell, Miss Fernie Brooks, Mamie Maddern and Emma Wilson. The list continued to grow, so much in fact that a new city hall was constructed in 1892. City authorities boldly built the new structure at 119 S. 26th Street, just around the corner from the red light district.

The surge in prostitution at Colorado City during the 1890’s alarmed city officials, as well as the media. The Colorado Springs Gazette pounced on every chance to report on the goings-on in the district. When Bell Barker died of a morphine overdose in 1893, the paper reported how her Colorado City friends buried her “in good style”, but that Billie Huffman, “the tin horn who was living with her”, had left the country. Similar sentiments were expressed for Minnie Smith, a sometime gambler and madam throughout Colorado, including Creede and Denver. When she committed suicide in Cripple Creek, her body was brought back to Colorado City for burial.

The Women’s Christian Temperance Union, better known as the WCTU, was waiting for chances such as these. In 1894, the WCTU submitted a petition to impose hours of operation on all saloons, bowling alleys, halls and “other resorts”. Only 152 people signed it, but city authorities had just begun. A widely publicized raid (the sting only netted two girls and their tricks) in 1896 was followed by a series of ordinances: “Keepers of disorderly houses shall not refuse to admit officers. Officers may break doors and arrest with or without warrant.” Getting caught in the act of prostitution was a $300 fine, with additional punishments for visiting opium joints, houses of prostitution, or dance halls. Music was not permitted at houses of ill-fame or saloons. Still the girls came, and many stayed. Both Ida Anderson and Elizabeth Franklin moved to Colorado City in 1896, staying as late as 1900 and 1906, respectively.

By 1900, it was said one could buy twenty drinks down “Saloon Row” on Colorado Avenue and never have to drink in the same bar twice. Despite this promising statistic, city authorities charged ahead and managed to prohibit gambling in 1901. By then, the shady ladies of Colorado City were running amok. Throughout the year, more and more girls showed up to ply their trade. Some left, some didn’t. Business flourished as even more saloons and gambling halls opened. Even girls like Georgia Hayden, who had been in Cripple Creek since 1893, came to try their luck. Among the new girls were veterans like Laura Bell and Mamie Majors, who had come to Colorado City in the 1890’s.

Indeed, Laura Bell and Mamie Majors were the epitome of the “whore with a heart of gold.” Both ladies ruled over their respective kingdoms with grace and finesse. One of Laura Bell’s employees and best friends was Dusty McCarty, a blind man who made his way by bartending. Even after employee Carrie Briscoe married in 1902, Mamie Majors paid for her funeral when she died of tuberculosis in 1906. Both madams paid their monthly fines to the city on time, subscribed to newspapers and donated to schools, churches and other charities.

In the mode of the day, the good deeds of the red-light ladies were unreciprocated. City authorities sought to make an example out of Mamie by arresting her for maintaining a house of ill-fame in 1905. The arrest was neither her first nor last, and despite her three attorneys, Mamie was sentenced to six months in jail. The decision was followed by a barrage of letters on the desk of Governor Henry A. Buchtel, who in turn reduced Mamie’s sentence to thirty days. Buchtel’s action brought a two year run of accusing hate letters by newspapers and churches. The fight escalated to ridiculous proportions as it was insinuated that Buchtel in effect pardoned the madam. Buchtel’s heated retort was eagerly published, reading in part, “I did not pardon Mamie Majors. Please fix that in your mind. I would like to say it over and over about 10,000 times, I DID NOT PARDON MAMIE MAJORS.”

Beginning in 1906, a new ordinance required bars to close at midnight and Sundays; another ordinance prohibited use of side doors. In February, there were a series of busts resulting in jail time, fines and warnings. The police were egged on by local newspapers. The Colorado City Iris reported on seven brothels where liquor was sold without a city license. A monthly fine of $600 was suggested. Other newsworthy items included questioning city council for failing to close bawdy houses on Sundays. By March of that year, some girls had enough. Two brothels closed, leaving seven houses. “One of the gangs went to Cripple Creek,” tattled the Iris with satisfaction. The city pounced once again, this time on Jacob Schmidt for permitting women in his bar. Schmidt argued he had a sign up barring “prostitutes or fast women” from entering. He was dismissed with a reprimand.

As of November, the number of prostitutes on the Row had slimmed down to twenty four girls and eight madams. Things began quieting down and there was talk about annexing Colorado City to Colorado Springs. The red light district was falling out of the limelight until a respectable boy named Tucker Holland died at Dolly Worling’s brothel. It seemed 24-year old Tucker was terribly sweet on Dolly, whom he had been spending his wages on for at least six months. When Dolly’s ex-husband, a foul mouth by the name of Frank Shank showed up, Tucker was ousted from the house one last time. Upon returning the next day, Tucker had it out with Dolly. According to Dolly’s later testimony, Tucker was sitting on the bed playing with a revolver while she looked out the window. Below, a small boy pointed a toy pistol at Dolly’s dog. “See, Tucker,” she teased, “he’s going to shoot my poodle.” In answer, Holland shot himself neatly through the head.

This time, Mayor Ira Foote had enough and notified the girls of the Row they had ten days to leave town. The point was emphasized by a series of mysterious fires beginning in January of 1909. The first fire burned five or six houses on the south side of the red light district in a one block area. A second fire on January 8 destroyed the rest of the south side. Within hours, even a police watchman could not stop a third fire, which mysteriously originated in the same area. This time, the flames threatened the business district before being put out. The last fire, although blamed on a vagrant, took out Ridenhour & Rettigers livery stable in the 400 block of West Colorado. Forty three horses died, including Mayor Foote=s steed. Fourteen carriages and two other structures also went up.

Whether this last conflagration was related to sweeping the red light district clean will probably never be known. But retaliations of such proportions continued throughout much of 1909. Just a few days before Christmas, former madam Blanche Burton succumbed to burns received when a flaming curtain set her clothing on fire. The accident was typical for the time. Still, no one could explain the man seen running down the street near her home, nor a fire eighteen months before which burned her barn and killed a horse and two dogs.

In the wake of the 1909 fires, most of the madams’ insurance policies paid off and the district slowly grew up again. As the ladies of the district struggled to regain their composure, the Colorado City Iris continued to complain. Various exposés revealed new construction and accused the police of “dividing their ill-got gains with the city each month…” City authorities hustled to comply to the wishes of the WCTU and the Iris. In 1911, yet another ultimatum was issued to the prostitutes.

Nothing the authorities did seemed to sweep Colorado City clean of its soiled doves. When the WCTU succeeded in voting Colorado City dry in 1913, the red light ladies were hardly phased. They and their liquor-selling counterparts simply moved the brothels and bars to an area outside city limits. They christened their new town Ramona, and accounts of the ensuing battle with city and county authorities resemble an episode of Keystone cops.

Not everyone moved to Ramona. Mamie Majors gave up the ghost and went quietly away. Laura Bell McDaniel stayed right where she was, discreetly advertising herself as the “keeper of furnished rooms”. But inside, the business was the same, as court records show. Throughout 1917, Laura Bell paid her fines and minded her own business. Then fate dealt a final blow to Laura Bell and the red light district of Colorado City. Just a year before, the State of Colorado had outlawed liquor in anticipation of nationwide prohibition. Liquor became illegal everywhere except in private homes. Only city clerks were allowed to dispense alcohol, and strictly for medicinal purposes. In conjunction with the new laws, Colorado City annexed to Colorado Springs in June. The scene was devastating. Saloon kings like N. Byron Hames lost their fortunes and left town. Long time bar keeper Jake Schmidt committed suicide. Colorado City was almost clean, and it was no surprise when stolen liquor was found within the unmoving confines of Laura Bell’s.

In court, it was none other than Laura Bell=s blind and long time friend, Dusty McCarty, whose testimony revealed the true fiends. Two men, he said, stole that liquor from a Broadmoor home and planted it at Laura Bell’s. The good woman was framed! Much to the court’s chagrin, Dusty’s testimony held up and the case was dismissed on January 24, 1918. The very next day, Laura Bell set out for Denver. With her were Dusty and Laura Bell’s niece, Laura Pearson. It is said the latter two were very close, and that Laura Bell was teaching “Little Laura” to follow in her footsteps.

The threesome took off in Laura Bell’s spiffy Mitchell Touring Car, with Little Laura at the wheel. Near Castle Rock, the car inexplicably left the road and overturned. Little Laura died instantly, and Dusty was knocked unconscious. Later that night, 56 year old Laura Bell succumbed to massive internal injuries. She was buried in the lot she had already purchased at Fairview Cemetery, and the incident was forgotten. It was the perfect crime, but for certain Colorado Springs authorities who happened to witness the accident. Regardless of their suspicious presence, the accident was ruled just that.

That was the end of Colorado City’s den of prostitution. A scattering of girls continued living in the area, losing their identities as Colorado Springs continued to grow. Pearl Livingston, who arrived in 1903, was still here in 1927. Mamie Dedrick, in the profession since 1896, was living in the brothel she worked in when she died in the 1940’s. By then, the place was an apartment house for the elderly. Likewise, Laura Bell’s last brothel is now part of the Mountain View Care Center. Other brothels have found new life as private homes and even churches. The rest of the neighborhood is home to a park and a small Mennonite community. The occasional old-timer of Colorado Springs’ charming Westside might remember stories about the past. In the present, Laura Bell’s old haunt has melded into a quiet, comfortable historic place. At last, one of the west’s wildest places has a fitting end.

For additional reading, see Brothels, Bordellos & Bad Girls: Prostitution in Colorado 1860-1930 and Red Light Women of the Rocky Mountains. Both books are available at http://www.unmpress. Ms. Collins’ 3rd book on prostitution, Wild Women of Prescott, Arizona, is available http://www.HistoryPress.net.

“Quote me as saying I was misquoted”: Groucho Marx and Cripple Creek, Colorado

GROUCHO AT 15

Groucho Marx at age 15, the year he began performing on the road.

C 2015 by Jan MacKell Collins

Portions of this article have appeared in the Colorado Gambler magazine.

Once upon a time nearly a century ago, there was a young boy named Julius who embarked on a show business career. He was the third oldest in a typical immigrant family of eight in New York City at the turn of the century. His parents, Minnie and the former Simon Marrix, had several children. Among them were Julius, Leonard, Adolf, Milton and Herbert.

In 1895, five year old Julius began singing at the urging of his Aunt Hannah. Little did he know that his performances were the ticket to his career at the time. The year 1903 found Julius leaving the 7th grade—and school—forever. His mother thought, as they did in those times, that Julius was better off supplementing the family income than learning things he probably would never use.

Julius’ first job was scrubbing wigs with kerosene at Hepner’s Wig Factory in the theatrical district of New York. Laboring in the hot and flammable atmosphere of Hepner’s had its benefits, however, and Julius patiently waited for his chance to perform before a live audience. In the summer of 1905, he finally spied an ad the New York Morning World newspaper. “Boy Singer wanted for Touring Vaudeville Act,” the ad read.

The job paid $4 a week, which was nothing for a young performer to sneeze at in 1905. Julius lost no time in applying to a man named Gene Leroy for the job. For his audition, Julius competed against several other boys by singing “Love Me and the World is Mine.” The audition was a success. “[Leroy] smiled at me,” Julius later remembered, “and pointing an imperious finger at the rest, he shrilled, ‘Get out!’”

Indeed, Gene Leroy hired the boy, as well as Johnny Morris, or Morton, or Kramer—whichever version of Julius’ story one cares to believe. In any case, Johnny tap danced while Gene and Julius sang. The Leroy Trio was formed; Julius was barely fifteen years old.

Leroy told young Julius the troupe was booked to open at the Ramona Amusement Parlor in Grand Rapids, Michigan. There was also a performance scheduled at the New Novelty Theater in Denver. Julius set out with the men following a tearful goodbye to his mother, who sent along a box of sandwiches and hard-boiled eggs for her son.

Julius would later remember how Leroy and Johnny mistreated him from the very start of the trip. He also later deduced they were homosexual, a most naughty lifestyle for the time. To make matters worse, the opening night of the show didn’t go at all well. Johnny’s shoe flew off in the middle of the performance and sailed into the audience. The venue only paid $60, but the manager fined the act $25 for the shoe incident. The misbegotten trio left town in anticipation of a better show in Denver.

Julius was apparently unaware of the show’s circuit beyond Denver. “From there,” he later remembered, “we went to Colorado to some town where there was an Elks Convention. All the Elks were drunk.” Next the trio traveled south. By chance or because they couldn’t book a show, the Leroy Trio ended up in Cripple Creek.

Details of exactly what happened in Cripple Creek are sketchy. What is known is that the show, if there ever was one, was canceled. Julius woke up one morning to find that Leroy and Morris had left town. “…Leroy ran away with Johnny…They were stuck on each other,” he said. The final insult came when Julius discovered the $8 he had saved up in a chamois sack under his pillow (ironically called a “groucho”) was gone too. “I was stranded,” he recalled.

With the show folded and his money gone, Julius was forced to get a job driving a grocery wagon between Cripple Creek and Victor. “I didn’t know anything about horses except they ate sugar,” he later recalled, “The only horses I had seen up to that time were either on carousels or the broken down ones that pulled wagons on the streets of New York.”

With his limited experience, Julius was no match for a gold camp district. “I was scared,” he would later confess. “I was terrified because I had to go over this mountain and when I looked down, Christ, there must have been a 4,000-foot drop!”

Which road Julius actually took to Victor remains a mystery. But to a city boy at 10,000 feet above sea level, every valley and cliff must have looked perilous. “If I went faster it would be over sooner, I thought,” Julius recalled of his travels, “However, one of the horses went on a sit-down strike in the middle of the road.” According to one version of the story, the horse refused to budge until a new driver came along. At other times, Julius later claimed the horse actually dropped dead, but the truth has been lost to history.

Julius also claimed he lost the job because of the horse incident. His next job was at a store that had been converted into a movie theater. “I would sing to various slides which would be projected on the screen,” he later explained. Thus Julius’ new career was furthered, at least a little. But the wild atmosphere of Cripple Creek proved to be too much and Julius eventually wired his mother in New York. Upon hearing of her son’s desperate circumstances, Minnie sent him money to come back home.

A month after Julius’s frightening experience in Cripple Creek, Gene Leroy was back to performing as a solo act at the Crystal Theater in Denver. Where he went from there is anybody’s guess, but it hardly mattered to Julius. In time, he teamed up with his brothers to form a comedy act that is still some of the most popular wisecracking slapstick the world has ever seen. The five boys from New York christened themselves the Marx Brothers, led by their infamous sibling Julius—better known as Groucho.

After years of working vaudeville, The Marx Brothers ultimately hit the big time in 1924 with a production called “I’ll Say She Is.” Three years later, they even returned to Colorado for another production, “The Cocoanuts”, at the Broadway Theater in Denver.

Sometime after that, Groucho actually autographed a photograph to the City of Cripple Creek. He also recounted his Cripple Creek experience at least twice in his biographies and once on his television show, “Duck Soup.” That’s the story, anyway. It’s at least as plausible as Groucho’s varying accounts of his ordeal in Cripple Creek. And as Groucho himself would say, “Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?”

Susan Anderson, The First Female Doctor of Cripple Creek

Doc Susie

Dr. Susan Anderson with two visitors at her cabin in Fraser. The man on the left may be her father, William.

Portions of this article have appeared in the Colorado Gambler Magazine and Cripple Creek District: Last of Colorado’s Gold Booms by Jan MacKell

c 2015 by Jan MacKell Collins

Professional careers did not come easy to women of the 19th century. If she did not become a housewife, a woman’s choice of vocation ranged from cleaning woman to cook, from laundress to waitress. The few women who were provided a college education could aspire to the position of a clerk or nurse. For most, however, professional positions were out of reach. Dr. H. Susan Anderson, M.D., was a true exception to this rule.

Susan Anderson was born in 1870 in Indiana. When her parents divorced in 1875, Susan’s father William took custody of Susan and her younger brother John. By the early 1880’s, the family had moved to a farm near Wichita Kansas. Living on a farm proved beneficial for Susan’s later career as a physician. She learned to “doctor” the animals around the homestead. Susan’s early knowledge of animal medicine, combined with her father’s encouragement to pursue a career in the medical field, seemed to set her future in stone. But little did Susan realize her determination to become a physician would be challenged in several ways.

In 1890, William Anderson remarried a woman named Minnie who appears to have been jealous of her new stepchildren. Far from being prepared for a ready-made family, Minnie already had two children, and conceived at least two more by William. In her eyes, only her natural children counted as family. Minnie ignored and mistreated Susan and her brother John at every turn, letting them know they were not wanted. This abuse continued through the sibling’s graduation from Wichita High School in 1890.

Two years later the family moved to Barry, later known as Anaconda, in the Cripple Creek District of Colorado. The family first resided in a modest home south of the schoolhouse and William pursued mining interests. It was decided that Susan and John should attend college, serving two purposes: further education would broaden the teens’ minds while getting them out of Minnie’s way.

When Susan left to study medicine at the University of Michigan in 1893, Cripple Creek had eight physicians. By the following year, the figure had doubled. Susan planned to open shop in Cripple Creek upon graduation. But despite her good grades and aspirations, Susan received shattering news midway through her studies. Her father, influenced by the undermining Minnie, was cutting off financial support.

Undaunted, Susan borrowed money from a classmate to continue her studies. John also began working his way through school. With the relationship with her father at a standstill, Susan decided to find her mother. Marya Pile Anderson had remarried, but her heart had been forever broken by William’s sudden departure with the children some years before. During the reunion with her mother, Susan learned her powerful father had divorced Marya quite abruptly, with little explanation. Susan vowed to remain in touch with Marya the rest of her life.

Susan’s father was furious when he heard the news, insisting that Susan cut ties with Marya. The young woman refused. When she graduated from medical school in 1897, none of her family attended. To complicate matters further, Susan also had contracted tuberculosis during her internship. Still, she remained optimistic. A letter to her brother John reveals, “One of my instructors will be twelve miles from Cripple Creek this summer and I expect to see him sometimes perhaps.”

Following graduation Susan returned to Cripple Creek, where she lived with her grandparents. Her relationship with her father was still strained. John was in California, and Susan’s friends were few. She set up shop in Suite #3 of the Bi-metallic Block at the corner of 2nd Street and Bennett Avenue. By then, fifty-five other physicians and ten dentists were also calling Cripple Creek home.

Being the only female physician in town must have been difficult. Her biography notes Dr. Anderson was concerned about the prostitutes working one block south on Myers Avenue. Many were infested with drug and alcohol related illnesses, venereal disease and infections from back-alley abortions. Because of her unusual status as a female doctor, it can be assumed that Susan’s premier clientele consisted of many Myers Avenue residents. Naturally the pay was poor, and she received no financial support from her father. In a letter to John, she wrote “. . . it makes me feel hard and bitter and sour when I have to go in old shabby clothes and scrimp and save and board off Grandma and Grandpa . . . ” Meanwhile, Minnie and “her” children used William’s money freely.

Over the next three years, Susan worked at building her business. Finally, one case established Susan’s reputation as a trustworthy physician in Cripple Creek. A local boy had accidentally blown up some dynamite, breaking several bones. An attending surgeon wanted to amputate his arm, but Dr. Anderson insisted on thoroughly cleaning and dressing the wound first. The boys’ arm was saved, and more people began coming to Dr. Anderson. Within two years she had repaid her college loans.

The year 1900 looked very promising. John had returned to Anaconda, where he worked as a miner at the famed Mary McKinney Mine close to town. Susan was residing next to her office at the Bi-metallic Block. Plans were under way for her to marry an unknown companion identified only as “W.R.” in her diary. Indeed, the future looked quite rosy.

Then, in a mysterious turn of events, William and W.R. had a falling out and Susan was left at the altar. On March 12, she sadly notes in her diary, “Pictures returned by W.R.…” In her misery, Susan hardly noticed the condition of her brother. John had been living at Bolton House, a boarding house located across the valley from his father on Anaconda’s Main Street. Just before Susan’s prospective wedding, John had returned from a trip to California and caught the deadly influenza virus.

By the time William and Minnie notified Susan of the severity of John’s illness, he was delirious with pneumonia. On March 16, just a few days after the devastating end of her pending marriage, Susan’s brother died at the tender age of 27. Susan’s diary reads, “John buried today. He is gone from sight but is not far away…Life seems so useless and vain. No one now cares much whether I live or die. John was my best friend on earth and now my best friend is in heaven.” Susan is the only surviving family member noted in John’s newspaper obituary.

William Anderson, no doubt feeling guilty over his eldest son’s death, moved with Minnie and their children to California. Before departing, he issued a final callous command to Susan, forbidding her to stay in Cripple Creek. But Susan had already resolved to leave, traveling around Denver and working as a nurse in Greeley for seven years. She eventually moved to Fraser, located in Grand County, where she earned the nickname Doc Susie.

Doc Susie stayed in Grand County from 1909 to 1956. There, she gained her rightful reputation as a qualified medical doctor. Friends, associates and clients all came to love her. Although her father visited her over the years, Minnie’s absence is refreshingly noticeable in photographs marking the occasion. Perhaps William finally came to his senses and returned to the child he had come to mistreat in years past.

Dr. Susan Anderson died in Denver in 1960. She wanted to be buried next to her beloved brother John in Mt. Pisgah Cemetery, but the original family plot could not be located and Susan was buried elsewhere. Years later, the family plot was found. It is a grey marble pillar with the inscriptions of John, their grandfather, and a cousin on three of its four sides. Upon its discovery, Susan’s inscription was finally added. Dr. H. Susan Anderson, M.D., has two distinctions in Cripple Creek: She was the city’s first female physician, and she is the only resident of Mt. Pisgah Cemetery with two headstones.

Cripple Creek District: Last of Colorado’s Gold Booms: Introduction

The following excerpt is from the book Cripple Creek District: Last of Colorado’s Gold Booms (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2003), available on Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com and arcadiapublishing.com.

~2003 Cripple Creek District Last of Colorado's Gold Booms best

Who would have thought that a cow pasture could yield millions of dollars in gold and spawn a city so large it rivaled Denver for the state capitol? Bob Womack did, and it is his determination we have to thank for the historic Cripple Creek District we see today.

Upon arriving during the 1870’s, Robert M. Womack’s family established a cattle ranch near what is today Cripple Creek. Wandering the hills daily, Bob’s prior prospecting experience led to his discovery of gold. Womack’s dream of a booming gold camp was finally realized in 1891.

By 1893, the city of Cripple Creek was in a constant state of progress with new construction, new stage roads and a growing population. Telephones, telegraph lines and even electricity had been installed, making Cripple Creek one of the first cities in the nation to have such modern amenities.
Within three years, Cripple Creek’s population had grown to 10,000 residents. Several more camps, towns and cities were springing up in the District. Passengers on the newly constructed Midland Terminal Railroad rolled into a typical frontier town at both Cripple Creek and Victor. Both towns were filled with wooden false-front buildings containing banks, mercantiles, saloons, churches, opera houses, schools, boarding houses, restaurants, mining and real estate offices, hardware and furniture stores, laundries, news stands, drugstores, bakeries, brothels and assay offices. Every imaginable business prospered in the District, and the wise investor stood little chance of losing money.

Fire, an ever imposing threat on boom towns across the country, was inevitable in the Cripple Creek District. Of Cripple Creek’s three early fires, two stand out as crucial turning points in the city’s development. During a four day period in April of 1896, two separate conflagrations nearly destroyed the town. In the aftermath of the first fire, over 3,600 people lost their homes and businesses as 15 acres went up in smoke. During the second blaze, all but two buildings on Bennett Avenue burned, as well as a good portion of the residential District. Thousands more were homeless and seeking shelter in makeshift tents and neighboring towns.

What could have been the demise of any other town was a mixed blessing for Cripple Creek. Within four years a bigger, better city rose from the ashes. The town rebuilt in solid brick and the city lost its rough and shabby frontier town look. A random stroll down any avenue revealed a city bustling with business. Here, one could purchase fine china at the May Co. or the best meal in the state at the National Hotel. A number of saloons, gambling halls, dance halls and parlor houses fairly seethed with life.

The District’s second largest city, Victor, also suffered a fire in August of 1899. In its wake, residents of Cripple Creek and other nearby towns came to the rescue. This time, Frank and Harry Woods hired a variety of builders, including Denver architect Matthew Lockwood McBird. Within just a few months, Victor also rebuilt into a fine working class city. By 1900, investors from around the world were flocking to the Cripple Creek District as mines produced more millions than anyone had imagined.

By the turn of the last century, the Cripple Creek District had become a household word not only across America, but all over the world. Everyone knew where Cripple Creek was, and many yearned to seek their fortunes there. Among those celebrities hailing from the District were boxer Jack Dempsey, travel writer and radio personality Lowell Thomas, Colorado Governor Ralph Carr, and nightclub queen Texas Guinan. Famous visitors to the District included Theodore Roosevelt, Groucho Marx, Lily Langtree, and a number of musicians and movie stars.

Two labor wars occurred in the Cripple Creek District. The first, in 1893, settled in favor of the miners. The second labor war was much more violent. Riots and gunfights broke out as striking miners were deported by train to the state borders. There were deaths, injuries and inhumane acts. At one point, a Gatling gun was temporarily installed in the middle of Bennett Avenue in Cripple Creek as a deterrent to violence. By the time the strikes were settled statewide in about 1907, the mines were thought to be playing out and people began leaving the District in search of greener pastures.

Thankfully, some of the pioneer families who called the District home for decades chose to stay, living in what was left of the District even as it decayed under their feet. Through both World War I and II, the cities and towns continued to shrink as buildings were dismantled for use in reconstruction or firewood. Others simply sank into the ground under the weight of winter snows and age. As a result, only three towns exist today: Cripple Creek, Victor and the District’s third largest city, Goldfield. Each are roughly about 1/5 of their original size. Roughly four ghost towns remain visible to the naked eye, with several others either completely gone or buried forever under mine tailings.

Beginning in the late 1940’s and continuing into the 1980’s, the District evolved into a quaint tourist destination. Then in about 1989, Cripple Creek and other towns like it began considering legalized gambling to save their historic integrity. A century after its birth, Cripple Creek’s rebirth came in the form of limited stakes gaming. Alongside the gaming came the Cripple Creek & Victor Mine, which is currently the largest open pit mine in the state.

Today, fifteen casinos line Bennett Avenue in Cripple Creek, and the city is ten years into its second boom in 100 years. The city of Victor is surviving as a non-gaming tourist attraction with a healthy residential population, while Goldfield has melded into a quiet bedroom community with no commercial businesses. Live music, street festivals and a series of other events take place regularly within the District. Many of them, such as Donkey Derby Days and Gold Rush Days, are traditions dating back as long as 70 years; others are new events spawned out of the need for tourism. True to its heritage, the Cripple Creek District continues to be a wonderful year-round destination for residents and visitors of all ages.

Death, the old fashioned way

c 2014 by Jan MacKell Collins

“How do you like your blue eyed boy, Mr. Death?”
     – Buffalo Bill’s by E.E. Cummings

To say it wasn’t easy to die in the old west is misleading. Actually, dying came rather naturally to an unnaturally high number of unfortunate folks. It was the act itself of drawing one’s last breath and heaving that final sigh that took on difficult proportions.

Death wore many hats in the Cripple Creek District, the high mountain gold mining district on the back of Pikes Peak in Colorado. The ever-present grim reaper could visit under many guises. Frightful sounding names such as Apoplexy, Nepluritis, Gastritis and Enteritis were assigned as causes of death. Other ailments, including appendicitis, pneumonia and “acute indigestion” represent those illnesses we can treat today with fewer fatalities.

Much of the romance connected with the District’s history revolves around the dead. Local funeral records offer a vivid glimpse at real, uncensored death at its worst. Between 1910 and 1913, one mortician recorded 29 fatalities at Sisters’ Hospital (now the Hotel St. Nicholas) and 15 at the County Hospital (now the Cripple Creek Hospitality House). Add that to the many more who died at home or on the job, and here is death running rampant in a frontier town.

Here were typical situations which have since evolved into classic western scenarios. For the gunshot scene we have Rube Miller, the first man killed at Cripple Creek. Miller was shot in the head by Charles A. Hudspeth at the Ironclad Dance Hall in 1892. We also have W.P. Pate, who was shot to death on bawdy Myers Avenue a few days after Christmas 1911. Preceding him was fourteen year old James Truitt, who was shot in the head at Lake George in October of that year. The next year, Walter Irwin suffered a fatal bullet at Four Mile Creek.

Children were most susceptible to a premature passing. Records from 1910 to 1913 record nine stillborns, some of which included death of the mother. From 1913 to 1916, 33 children were recorded by just one of Cripple Creek’s many funeral homes. Measles, pneumonia, scarlet fever and appendicitis were the usual suspects. But there are others: Four year old Carl Olson died near Cripple Creek from an “explosion” in 1912. As late as 1928, twelve year old George Fleetwood succumbed to 3rd degree burns.

The national Influenza Epidemic of 1918 also found a home in the District. In roughly a year’s time, one funeral director recorded 45 deaths. Among them were the Snowden boys, ages ten and fifteen, who died within a day of each other at the District town of Elkton. Their mother died just four days later, leaving a single grieving husband and father.

Suicides were another common malady. In 1916, Charles W. Richards died at his cabin in Cripple Creek. “Poison and alcohol”, notes the record flippantly, “probably suicide”. Emma Johnson followed suit, as did W.W.Holmes. With time, the depression during the 1920’s and 30’s also imposed fatalities on the shrinking district. Witness William Walker, who shot himself in the head at home in 1928. There is Clarence Newman, who made a political point at the Victor City Hall by slitting his own neck on New Years Day 1930. Then there is Eva Drake, who did herself in with a messy bullet in 1936.

By these same accounts, job stress is nothing new to America. We have Arthur Carnduff, a night watchman who killed himself at Vindicator Heights outside of Victor in 1930. Most intriguing is Victor postmaster Dixon Durette Pennington, who literally went postal and shot himself, at the post office, that same year.

Naturally, a wide assortment of mine accidents also kept the population in check. Most fatalities were caused by falling rock, interspersed with more interesting deaths like being crushed by the cage or timbers, falling down shafts, and getting blown to smithereens by misplaced dynamite. Others were run over by trains, and an assortment of grisly head injuries were common.
We even have mysterious deaths like that of Thomas Carter, whose body was found in July of 1912 on Beacon Hill. In 1913, Absear Avery and H.W. Lyal were both killed by lightening. In 1915, an unidentified body was discovered in Cripple Creek. In 1918, watchman Fred Kimpes was found dead at the Kavanaugh Mill. Warren McMann and Gordon Edwards also died when they “came in contact with heavily charged wire”.

What to do with the dead? True to tradition, deaths were reported by the men of the family, who then left the women to prepare for the funeral. Many funeral services and the rowdy wakes that followed took place in the privacy of the home. For those who could afford it, a handful of funeral directors were always on hand to render aid.

Funeral homes capitalized on their thriving industry with an assortment of fancy services. In 1910, the average casket cost from $15 to $350 depending on whether you wanted a pine box or the more exclusive “Fairy Couch”, a favorite among women and girls. Services included embalming at $5 to $50, opening the grave for $5 to $7.50; outlaying the lot for about $4.50 and hearse rental at $10 to $15. Extras consisted of burial robes, hair dressing, candles, flowers and even underwear and socks, which were frequently purchased for the deceased.

Even the poor were subject to the services offered by undertakers. Usually the county or local hospitals footed the bill for burial at a cost of about $15. Upon being hauled to the cemetery, the body was deposited in its proper designated area. At Mt. Pisgah Cemetery in Cripple Creek, African American women like Mrs. Clara Owen and Hattie Whitfield were buried in the “colored” spaces. Others, such as alcoholic Dan Duffy, merited a plot in the “poor” section.

As in the present, families sometimes opted to send the deceased elsewhere for burial. In 1913 Philip Roberts, who was killed in self defense by prostitute Jennie Wenner, was shipped off to Denver. Irvine Pogue, who died of a gunshot wound in 1917, was sent to Boulder. Evelyn Buchanan’s husband even had her body exhumed and exported to Nebraska when he could afford to pay for transportation. In turn, Mt. Pisgah Cemetery received the bodies of James Hamond from Excelsior Springs, Missouri and Bud Johnson of Greeley.

Wherever they landed, most of the District’s deceased were laid to rest with as much ceremony as possible. Peaceful sleep was intended for all, despite the century-old ghost stories and reported hauntings of today. Perhaps Denver’s Rocky Mountain News was wisest when it published this announcement back in 1874: “The News hereby declares its purpose to insert gratuitously notices of no more ghosts. They are becoming altogether too common, and the denizens of the other world appear to be encouraged by the attention they receive in this, to make unduly frequent visits.”10 Mt Pisgah Cemetery Jan MacKell

Mt. Pisgah Cemetery in Cripple Creek is the final home of many area pioneers. Many remain unmarked and unidentified, largely due to a mortuary fire in the 1940’s that destroyed almost all of the burial records.