Colorado Springs, Colorado that lovely resort town started in 1871. The
founding fathers, with Wm. Jackson Palmer being the primary leader, did not allow the manufacture of 'spirits'. The property
owners needed to be of good moral character. Palmer also donated
land to build churches, having been raised a Quaker. Despite the founding fathers good intentions, both Helen (Hunt)
Jackson and Isabella Bird, upon arriving in late1873, didn't think much of the new town.
|Night closing on Pikes Peak (c) by the author|
The town also experienced a death, in late 1873, that to this day is still an unsolved murder case. Below are the 'facts':
November 3, 1873 W.H. (Judge) Baldwin met his demise by person or
persons unknown. He may even have met that demise by his own actions.
body was found in the well at Green and Stitzer’s slaughterhouse.
After his body was recovered from the well, at 2 PM, it was noted
that his pocket had been turned inside out and the money he that had
been on his person the night before was missing. His horse was tied
to the fence outside and his hat and shoes were found on the floor
about five feet from the well. There was a bruise on his face near
are the facts reported in the local paper about his death. However there are some additional facts which may have some bearing on the his death:
water in the well where the body was about five and a half feet deep
and the well itself about four feet square.
night before Baldwin was seen in town and was said to be intoxicated. Others
said he was only slightly drunk. He told the bar keep in the billiard hall where he'd been drinking that he going home. (This probably meant his sheep ranch north and east of downtown Colorado
Springs in the Templeton Gap area.) He was seen leaving the
Billiard Hall with a man name Blondin. Blondin returned about 2 ½
hours later, alone. Later Blondin was arrested for intoxication, but slipped
away around daylight. (In 1873 the city did not have a jail.)
in late 1873 there was a movement to drive out all the 'liquor
sellers’ in Colorado Springs. One woman after notice of Baldwin's
death, wrote to the paper and said the following: 'Baldwin was
generous to a fault, children recognized him as a friend but was the
victim of a disease.' She also said ” if the vendor of liquor has
sons, when he looks at them, let him think of the sop which was made
unsteady by his hand, of the brain which was crazed, of the struggle
in the bottom of the well… The poor man…was trying to reform”
Root & Reef saloon, one of the liquor sellers, had their court case thrown out on November
22. It seemed the witnesses who testified could not remember if they drank in the saloon or not. (The town was going through some pretty tough growing pains.)
|Evergreen Cemetery, near Potter's field photo (c) by the author|
is some additional information on Judge Baldwin:
He was born in 1825 in Massachusetts. His full name was William H. Baldwin. He was a ‘judge’
by virtue of judging a sheep contest at one of the territorial fairs.
When drunk he would stand in the street and give speeches about
General Jackson, the laws of the Constitution and the rights of man.
After the elections in September of 1973 his new speech was “I’ll
tell ye, boys, I’ll tell ya; I worked hard for ye, accordin’ to
th’ rights o’ man and th’ laws o’ the Constitution. I’ll
tell ye, boys —the New Town’s got it.”
was also the story that he had been scalped while in South America, and
was ever ready to show the scar to anyone who wanted to see it. He arrived in the region in 1868 and started life as a sheep herder. (Sheep were a major part of the early
economy.). Later that same
year he was shot in the leg and head by a band of Indians and left
for dead. About four months before his death he had about 1,000 sheep
but sold them to buy liquor. He also, at the time of his death, had a
ranch worth about $1,000.
this day there is speculation as to what really happened that night
of November 3, 1873. Many pieces of information and facts are probably lost to time. The
town was new and trying to establish itself as a wonderful place to
live. Was it a conspiracy, murder or just an accident? We may never
know, but the story still intrigues those who read it. He is buried somewhere in the Potter's Field section of Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs.
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