Tuesday, April 24, 2018


When gold was found on Cherry Creek, in what is now the Denver area, the 'Pikes Peak or Bust' rush was on. I've always found that funny, because Pikes Peak is seventy miles away. Still, with the influx of people, you get crime. Added to that is the clash of cultures.

Pikes Peak from the East - Photo (c) Doris McCraw
Southern Colorado was originally settled by men and families from what is now New Mexico. Of course you had the Bent brothers and St. Vrain who had their fort along the Arkansas River, on the Mountain Trail portion of the Santa Fe Trail. But they were here for business, not to necessarily make their permanent home here. There were also other business forts, a topic to be covered in later posts.

One of the early pursuit of marauding Indians was De Anza's campaign against the Indian called Cuerno Verde (Green Horn)who had been harassing settlers in New Mexico. De Anza marched up the west side of the Front Range via South Park and down Ute Pass, near where Manitou Springs/Colorado Springs are now located. From there he pursued Cuerno Verde to an area south and west of present day Pueblo where he caught up and killed Cuerno Verde. For more on this story: De Anza campaign

Pikes Peak from the West - Photo (c) Doris McCraw
In the early 1860s the Espinoza brothers were on a revenge/rampage against the whites in Colorado, killing upwards of thirty people. The brothers were eventually killed, after many tried at capturing them, This chapter in the early history of  Colorado ended in 1863. For more on this bloody chapter in history: Espinosa

On the law side of the equation you have Rankin Scott Kelly, the first sheriff of El Paso County Colorado from 1861-1867. His story is the opposite. He fled west from New England to avoid prosecution for murder he thought he'd committed. Kelly was a good sheriff and eventually left the area and moved to California only to return to Colorado. His story is told by another former El Paso County Sheriff, John Anderson in his book "Rankin Scott Kelly". For additional information: Kelly

I'll end this post with Pat Desmond. An Irishman, with a love of fighting and drink, he made a reputation for himself as a lawman in Kit Carson and Pueblo, CO.  There are those who feel he hasn't gotten the respect he deserved as a good lawman. This may be due to his life after his first wife divorced him. He tried his hand at owning a detective agency, and other businesses but failed to succeed at any of them. He remarried and moved to Utah, where he met his demise. More of the story: Pat Desmond

Until next time.  Also, if anyone is in the Colorado Springs CO area on Saturday, June 9 join us for the Pikes Peak Library District Regional History Symposium. (They also stream the program live.) The topic this year is Remarkable Rascals, Despicable Dudes and Hidden Heroes. 2018 History Symposium

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Member of National League of American Pen Women,
Women Writing the West,
Pikes Peak Posse of the Westerners

Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet
For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Photo and Poem: Click Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here


  1. Doris,

    I've also been amused at the Pikes Peak of Bust slogan...just a tad bit south of Cherry Creek. *grin* I'm so glad you included the information about the 2018 History Symposium in Colorado Springs. With any luck at all, I may be able to attend.

    1. That would be so cool. If you can't, at least you can stream it online. *Smile*.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Doris

  2. Loved reading about the outlaw/sheriffs. It always helps to pick up a bit of history. It makes the place come alive. Thanks for blogging this.

    1. You are most welcome, Agnes. I do love sharing the history of this region. Glad you enjoyed the post. Doris

  3. You are fortunate to live in a beautiful state where, as a writer, you can "mine" an endless trove of history.
    And isn't it interesting that Zebulon Pike NEVER climbed the mountain named for him?

    1. I count my blessings every day. I've always loved the stories in history. To be able to share them with others is so much fun.

      It is interesting that Pike never made it to the top of 'his' mountain. The best guess is he made it to Mt. Rosa, and 11,000+ peak just to the south southeast of what he called "Grand Peak". Doris

  4. This was very interesting to me because I'm going to be visiting Denver next month and we're going to drive out to Pike's Peak and environs! Good to know some history of the area(s). Thanks.

  5. Enjoy that trip. Planning to drive or take a jeep tour to the top? Personally, I love the history here. In my mind it took the adventurer to tackle these fourteeners and the regions around them. I think that's what makes sharing the information I find fun. Doris

  6. Doris, It's interesting to read about frontier lawmen, and how many of them worked both sides of the law at one time or another. Thanks for sharing.

  7. It is, isn't it Michael? The video I included the link for on Kelley is fascinating. What it took to just survive back then boggles my mind, and then to be a lawman...Doris

  8. Doris,

    I live below Greenhorn Mountain, named for Cuerno Verde, I believe.

    Interesting post, I will be looking forward to more historical information about Colorado.

    I happen to know a little bit myself and wrote about it in: Applejack & Bat Masterson: TRINIDAD'S LAW.

    Interesting about the other lawmen you mention.

    1. Yes, the accepted story is those mountains were named of Cuerno Verde.

      I have to admit, Colorado has it's fair share of lawmen and outlaws. Of course you can't say Colorado without Masterson. He even had a residence on Curtis street in Denver for about 10 years.

      Thanks so much for stopping by. I've even driven by the Greenhorns. Doris