Tuesday, August 24, 2021


 Post by Doris McCraw

writing as Angela Raines

Creede, Colorado, that rip-roaring town where the likes of Bat Masterson, Jefferson Randolph 'Soapy' Smith, and Robert Ford lived for a brief time. Founded officially in 1892, the town was known for its silver mines and was booming until the silver panic of 1893. It was in Creede, on June 8, 1892, that Ed O'Kelley walked into Ford's tent saloon and shot and killed Ford.

Jim Town Cliffs above Creede, c. 1893

But where did Creede get its name? Nicholas C. Creede, who founded the Holy Moses mine, has that honor. Although silver had been found in the area as early as 1869, the extraction of the ore was too expensive. By 1889 all that changed. 

So who was Nicholas C. Creede and is there a mystery? Creede was born on April 4, 1842, in Ft. Wayne Indiana. Records show the family moved to Iowa in the late 1840s early 1850s. From there, according to the "Encyclopedia of  American Biography', Creede, "In 1862 went to Colorado in search of adventure and found it in seven years as a United States scout, holding the rank of first lieutenant."

Nicholas C Creede

According to the Los Angeles, California voter registration, in 1896, Creede is listed as being 5'9" with light skin, blue eyes, and brown hair. 

Between 1862 and 1896 Creede traveled. He was involved in a mine and town along Monarch Pass in Colorado. Founded his mines in what became Creede. He lived in Pueblo, Colorado in 1893. Then that same year he married Nancy Louise White in Las Vegas, New Mexico. 

By 1897 Nicholas C. Creede was dead. According to the newspapers, he committed suicide by taking an overdose of morphine. (The official coroner report lists it as an Accidental Morphine Poisoning.)

The reason? I quote from the Ann Arbor, Michigan, newspaper, the Ann Arbor Argus of July 16, 1897:

Suicide of Creede.

Millionaire mine owner kills himself at Los Angeles.

Wanted to be rid of a wife.

He resorted to desperate means because Mrs. Creede insist upon renewing old relations — both had agreed to separate

Los Angeles, Cal., July 13 — Nicholas C. Creede, the millionaire mine owner, after whom the town of Creede, Colo., is named, committed suicide with morphine Monday evening, at his home in this city, because his wife, from whom he had separated, insisted upon renewing their marriage relations. On Jan. 4 last Creede and his wife separated and agreed to dissolve at once as fair as possible without legal process their marital bonds. Mrs. Creede accepted $20,000 cash and surrendered all further claims upon her husband, at the same time voluntarily withdrawing from his premises. It was understood, after the necessary time had elapsed, Creede6 would institute legal proceedings and begin suit for absolute divorce.

Went to Alabama.

At that time it appeared that both husband and wife were well satisfied that they were not required to maintain relations, and while Mrs. Creede considered that the amount of cash settled upon her was insignificant as compared with her husband's wealth, she left him and took up her home in Alabama. About three weeks to go Mrs. Creede returned to Los Angeles and proposed to her husband a reconciliation. This was much to Creede's distaste, and he endeavored to avoid his wife, but being unsuccessful, he determined to end his life. Monday evening he took a large dose of morphine and went into the garden to die. He was discovered by a servant and medical aid was summoned, but he died two hours later. Mrs. creed was notified of her husband's death, but declined to discuss the tragedy.

So what might be the mystery? Creede's wife, Nancy was married four times prior to her death in 1922. Additionally, it does seem odd that a man who had done all that Creede had done would take his own life. Of course, when you are not there and haven't spoken with the person, you never know. But, to this retired correction worker, it does raise a red flag. At the very least it has all the makings of a good fiction story.

Still, history is full of stories of men and women who carved out lives, wealth and so much more in the expansion of this country. What I've done is find some of the information and shared it. There is an 1894 biography of Creede on the way, it just didn't make it in time for this post. 

Until next time. 

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


  1. Thank you for this post, Doris. It does seem something of an enigma. Did he - didn't he? Or did she? Your biography will be interesting as it would be good to know something of his medical history. Gosh, it's tantalising and could make a good story, as you say.

  2. I'll let you know what I find in the biography. It just became more interesting the further I researched.

    I hope someone will take the story on. Doris

  3. Fantastic post. So interesting. Thank you.

  4. Very interesting, Doris. It does seem that everything is not quite kosher with the explanation of his death. It doesn't seem in character for him. Thanks for the history.

    1. That's what I thought. I hope, once the biography, written before his death, will give some insight.

      You never know what you will find when you go 'hunting in history'. Doris

  5. The fact that his wife married four times leads me to wonder if she's a "black widow"? I look forward to you digging further into this suspicious suicide, Doris.

    1. I could be wrong, sometimes these old papers don't always get the facts correct, but it should be fun trying to find out. Doris