Tuesday, November 26, 2019


Post by Doris McCraw
writing as Angela Raines

Photo property of the author
With all the busyness of the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend, along with the 'storm' predicted for a majority of the country, I thought I'd just share some stories from the papers back in the day.

Those who know me, and my love of research, realize how much joy I get from reading about the lives of the residents of my adopted state from the early days. Most of these clippings are from the 1880s after Colorado became a state in 1876.

Fort Morgan is located in the northeastern part of the state. It was established, by Abner Baker of the Greeley Colony in 1884, on the ruins of Camp Cardwell. Camp Cardwell, established in 1865 to protect travelers on the Overland Trail, name was changed to Camp/Fort Morgan in 1866. The fort was closed in 1868. It was said the fort had nineteen differing companies from eleven cavalry and infantry regiments.

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Fort Morgan Times, Dec 7, 1888

Of course one of my favorite towns in Colorado history was Tin Cup. The town was originally known as Virginia City, but as I'm sure you realize, there was a lot of confusion between the other Virginia Cities in Nevada and Montana. The name was officially changed in 1882 when the town was reincorporated. I love it so much my latest novel "The Outlaw's Letter" has some major scenes which take place there.

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Tim Cup Record November 26, 1881
Of course one always has to include Aspen when talking about historic Colorado. The town was founded in 1879 and was originally names Ute City for the indigenous people who lived in the area. The name was changed in 1880 to Aspen. The town experienced a boom during the time when silver was king. The town, at its height, was home to around 15,000 people.

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Aspen Daily Times November 27, 1890

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Aspen Daily Times November 27, 1890

Of course, one cannot forget the saloons and The Nugget got in on the celebration also.

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Aspen Daily Times November 27, 1890
And of course, I will end with another series of clippings from the town of Tin Cup. Despite its violent history, having gone through seven marshals in a very short time, including Harry Rivers being killed in 1882 and Andy Jameson in 1883, the people of the town made the best of their time there. No train ever made into the area, and the mines played out fairly quickly. It was difficult to get to, especially in winter.

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Tin Cup Record November 19, 1881

I hope you enjoyed some of the stories from back in the day along with the small tidbits of history. I wish everyone a safe and pleasant Thanksgiving week. 

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

Friday, November 8, 2019

It's Thanksgiving Somewhere

November is Native American History Month, and assuming your characters would have come in contact with Native Americans in the Old West, they might have been treated to one of the many Thanksgiving Festivals celebrated throughout the year by various tribes. Nearly every tribe had some sort of Thanksgiving celebration — thankfulness for surviving the Winter, or for a good harvest or hunt. Here are some Native American celebrations your characters might have encountered.
First Nations people marked time by the sun and the moon, and the Full Moon was the most important night/day of each month. Celebrations were often held at each full moon, the type of celebration depending on the particular customs of each tribe. However, the harvest season saw three main celebrations common to most tribes: Green Corn Moon, Harvest Moon, and Hunter’s Moon.
Thus, there were three Thanksgiving celebrations long before the white man even came to the Americas. Europeans, of course, brought their own Harvest festivals, and sometimes they would join their own feasts with those of their Native neighbors.

The Green Corn festival usually lasts at least three days. It’s generally celebrated after the first full moon in August, or sometimes September, when the young corn has reached a certain height and may offer a tender first harvest.  Some tribes that have celebrated this festival include the Iroquois, Cherokee, Choctaw and many Pueblo nations.
Some of the activities your character may have observed include ritual fasting, cleansing, prayers and the building of a bonfire that lasts then entire festival and must not be allowed to die down. There would also be dancing, singing, playing games and participating in a drumming circle. Corn is a major food for this festival, of course, and is eaten roasted, in cornbread,  corn soup, or tortillas. Also featured are various game animals caught by the tribe’s hunters, and local fruits and/or vegetables. 

The Harvest Moon festival is held in September, and features gathered harvests of fruits, vegetables, nuts, corn and other grains, and fish or small game animals. Thanks are given to all living things for allowing themselves to be sacrificed to provide flood, clothing and other items for the tribe. The festival includes lots of dancing and singing, drumming and games. After this, the hunt for big game animals to survive the winter will begin in earnest.

The Feast of the Hunter’s Moon is celebrated in late September or October. It is not as popular today as the other two Thanksgiving festivals, as hunting is no longer as important to many tribes, but your character might certainly have witnessed and/or participated in such a festival. 

Native Americans gave thanks in many ways during the year, so the idea of one Thanksgiving festival was a foreign one. To the First Nations, every day should be Thanksgiving.