Names of Springfield Residents of 1889 Disclosed in Letter this Week…


The names of those who lived in Springfield and community back in the year 1889 disclosed in a The Democrat-Herald (Springfield, Colorado) 25 Jan 1935. — clipping from the Springfield Herald, the predecessor to The Democrat-Herald.  This is a reprint of a February 25, 1889 letter written from Springfield, Colorado and reprinted in the 1935 Springfield newspaper describing life in 1889 Springfield.  The names of early day residents is integrated in pun form into the text of the article entitled, “O Pun ion Letter.” I bolded the names to make it a little more readable

Tom Oxenreider, who lived north of Springfield, provided the clipping which had been carefully preserved for many years to the paper. When posted they stated, “We know that old timers will enjoy reading it and newcomers will gain an insight into what appeared in Baca County newspapers at that early date.  The paper then was but one-year-old, having been established in 1887.

So much has already been written about Springfield, that my weak and pushy efforts in that direction may fail to interest, but having been requested to write a short article, I trust that those who read it may not do so without some profit.

The rapid hardy growth of Springfield is the wonder of the surrounding country.  It is an accepted fact that since the time of Alexander or we might even say since Adam’s day there has not been witnessed so remarkable a growth.  Some doubting Thomas may say, “What are you Garvin us?” but we ask you to the facts.

Although less than a year old, it Greives our neighbors to see what clingers we are, and with good men at the helm and all our armor on.  We still intend to keep Cohenn (going) until Wheeland at the top, and our enemies bray their loudest, they will soon be compelled to Neil and acknowledge our superiority.

We do not rely sole-Lee on our unsurpassed location for success, altho that is one of the most picturesque in southeastern Colorado: For those who have leisure, our surroundings furnish manifold diversions.  They may scale thee Cliff, ford the streams and climb the Knowles, which dot the prairie, or it too industrious for such pastimes, they may find the sawing the Halling of time a profitable occupation/

As a town, we furnish a most pleasing picture to the artistic eye, each building being painted in White, Gray, Brown and various colors, according to the taste of the owner.

Our inhabitants are refined and industrious and peacefully follow their various occupations of Gardner, merchant, Fisher, Carter, Smith’s etc.

Away from the hurrie-bury of city life, we Love and Haight, and are found Eaton and drinkin’ as in other places.  Ours is an agricultural country as the abundant Kropps of last year witness and we expect the field of cane, millet, Korn, oats, wheat etc. this year, to be sill Moore convincing to the skeptical, and we hope also to see an interest taken in agriculture the coming summer as the addition of pansies, sweet Williams etc. will add much to the beauty of our town.

The Cole mine is in operation northeast of town and is in a flourishing state, the supply being abundant and of excellent quality and we have reason to believe that we will soon have a Silver mine in full blast.

We have one thoroughly organized Church, a good school and post office, and our prospects are in every way brilliant and Sparkling.

We have every assurance that in a very few months, one or more rail Rhodes will be running through our town and we urge all who are seeking Homes in the west to visit Springfield, each individual, whether rich or poor, will find Friends, and we would Barr none from entering our midst.  Whether you be a,Walker or equestrian, or Oxenrider, or whatever your mode of conveyance hither, we bid you welcome.

I think I hear querry “Kinn-a-man still secure a claim hear in your town?”  We reply, “You can.”  But come at once or Maybe you will be disappointed.

There has been found none willing to Willis an interest in his claim, notwithstanding the many hardships of the winter just past.

It is not necessary to bring to Bevil to get the corners and lines of your claim, as a claim is not laid out with oblique angles.  You will find efficient locators to aid you in the selection of a suitable claim with not even a Stump to mar its level beauty.

We desire to keep the Kett-lee bling and invite the daughters of the east (Anderson, also) to come and assist us in heaping on the fuel of energy and perseverance.  And, if the fire Burns us, can we not endure a little sMartin for the sake of the reward in store in the near and glorious future?

Then let us lay aside petty jealousies and prejudices, and unite our efforts in the success of our adopted city.



A 1907 View of the Santa Fe Trail.

We have had several conversations about the portion of the Santa Fe Trail which crosses Baca County.  Most recently we posted Jim Womack’s “Ruts of the Santa Fe Trail, The Aubrey Trail Cutoff.”  The following article in the Springfield Herald (Springfield, Colorado) May 31, 1907, is attributed to the Syracuse Journal, but no specific issue.  It briefly provides the account of a Syracuse Judge A. L. Martin who in his younger days would have traveled across present-day Baca via the Aubrey Trail.  Additionally, it briefly discusses Major Aubrey, the cutoff’s namesake.

The Old Santa Fe Trails

Syracuse Journal: The committee appointed to determine where the Santa Fe trail crossed what is now Main street (Syracuse, Kans.)  have performed their duties with a promptness and exactness that is commendable.  In a signed report made to Hon. H. N. Lester, chairman of the local association, they say:

“From the original field notes of the survey of this territory and form our own personal  knowledge we have located said trail on Main street just south of the Fort Aubrey irrigation ditch and 875 feet south of the center of the main line track of the Santa Fe railroad 101 degrees, 46 minutes, 12 seconds west longitude and 37 degrees 59 minutes, 25 seconds north latitude.

At the spot indicated two deeply worn, grass-grown wagon tracks come together and they are certainly scars of the old trail.  The spot is a good one for the stone and will be set with suitable ceremonies.

Ex-Probate Judge A. L. Martin, in conversation Tuesday with the writer about the Santa Fe trail, said he made the trip from Fort Leavenworth to Sante Fe in 1848 when he was about twenty-one years old, his twenty-first birthday occurred on the 19th of October of that year when his wagon train was on his return trip.

His train consisted of sixty wagons and sixty-five men and they left Fort Leavenworth June 22d, and returned on Christmas day six months later.  After they left the vicinity of Council Grove they did not see a white man’s habitation until they came to Fort Mann, near where Larned is now.  They crossed the Arkansas river about where the town of Ingales is now and from there to the Cimarron river was a stretch of dry country called  Horn Alley because of the bleached bones of an ox train that had been killed by the Indians.  The old trail took them by Point of Rocks in Morton country and here one of their men died and was buried on the return trip.

They met Major Aubrey while he was making his famous ride from Sante Fe to Independence, Missouri, on a wager of $2,000.  He says Aubrey was a slim dark-complexioned man.  They saw him first in the distance coming toward their camp on a gallop, riding one horse and leading another.   When he came up he dismounted, asked for a bite to eat and to be given a place to sleep a certain number of minutes.  They woke him as directed and after drinking a cup of coffee he again mounted one of his horses and left on a gallop.  Mr. Martin’s recollection is that the terms of the bet were that Aubrey was to cover the distance between the two points, about 800 miles, in seven days, and that he won the bet and had six hours to spare.  It was on this ride that Aubrey was deflected from his route by the Indians at a point that is now in Morton county and this caused him to strike the Arkansas river near where he afterward built the government fort which was named after him.  Major Aubrey afterward built the government fort which was named after him.  Major Aubrey afterward engaged in freighting and established a regular trail southwest from Ft.  Aubrey.  In going westward Mr. Martin’s train left stores of provisions at Fort Mann, which was, in fact, nothing but a few small buildings enclosed in a stockade of posts send on end with portholes to shoot through, and they ran out of grub three days before they returned to Ft. Mann, where they found their supplies as they had left them.

Mr. Martin says the grass was fine all over these prairies and especially in the river bottoms where the buffaloes did not graze. Buffaloes were more numerous than cattle have been since and they grazed on the shorter grass of the uplands.  With their formidable outfit, they were not disturbed by the Indians.  The commerce wagon trains to Santa Fe in those days amounted to about seven millions of dollars.  Mr. Martin says they made aobut twenty five miles a day with their ox teams.

Sam Konkel’s take on the Al Jenning’s “Fishy” Autobiography.

In Old Boston: As Wild As They Come we tell the story of many of the characters of the that short-lived (1886-1889) and wild Colorado Boomtown, Boston, Colorado.  The key resource for this story are the 1918-1919 writings of Sam Konkel, who ran one of two newspapers in that town.  Konkel told us much about the Jennings family before they gained a bit of fame and notoriety in Oklahoma.  Konkel would tell you the Jennings were talented, but of low moral character.

In 1913 a seven-part series was written and published in the Saturday Evening Post by a journalist, Will Irwin along with  Al Jennings, of that Boston family. Telling the tales of Jennings and the Jennings clan. I have noted their time in Boston is but a couple short paragraphs in both the “Post” series and the book.  That story then became a book by the same name “Beating Back” in 1914. Below is the first page of the series which became the book as well as the cover of the book. Also please note the illustrator of the book, who was non-other than the famed western artist, Charles Marion Russell.  

Per a 2014 Saturday Evening Post story which recalls the 1913 Jennings series,

“The storyline in the Jennings’ story had all the qualities of popular melodrama. A proud young man turns outlaw after his brother is killed and the law does nothing to bring the killer to justice. He becomes a fearless train robber but remains chivalrous and fair-minded. Eventually, he is betrayed, shot, captured, and tried. Sentenced to life imprisonment, he refuses to be intimidated by other prisoners or prison officials. His fearlessness and quick wit earned him the reputation of a man who can be trusted. Then a high-ranking politician befriends him and helps him obtain a pardon. Returning to the West he starts life over, and runs for office—the bad boy who makes very good.”

In 1913 Sam Konkel purchased the Springfield Newspaper and became the biggest promoter of the most southeast county in Colorado until he sold the publication in 1930, just prior to the beginning of the 1930’s Dust Bowl.  

Konkel gave us other bits and pieces of the Boston story throughout his tenure as the publisher of the Springfield paper.  Many others have mocked Al Jennings as the most incompetent train robber ever. I think Konkel would disagree with the incompetent part as he always complimented their talent and their courage.  However he also always stated that the troubles they encountered were of their own making as a result of low moral character and a continual state of looking out for no one than themselves.

In the Sept 19, 1913 issue of the  Springfield Democrat-Herald Konkel notes the Jennings being featured in the “Saturday Evening Post,” but seems very skeptical of the Jenning autobiography with statements such as the following,

There are over two pages of the prologue, and in an early issue it is promised the real story as told by Al (Forney of Boston) will begin. Not much comment at this time is required.  In the prologue Al claims to have run away from home when eleven years old, and to have drifted into Colorado and New Mexico and become a full-fledged cowboy.  The Jennings were identified with old Boston and went out penniless as did many others.  During the time they were there no one, as far as the writer knows, ever heard of Al’s cowboy experience, or his having run away from home.  They all told of their show experience, in which they were sometimes a foot and sometimes horseback; and also of Al’s cadet experience, which probably had a duration of one or two years. The most of Al’s story, as presented in this prologue, is fishy.  However, the Jenningses were talented, and while their morals were of a low order, there wasn’t any questioning their courage.The old judge was not only a lawyer and a doctor, but he was an orator whom it is doubtful if the state of Colorado at the time had a better.  If his life had been along moral lines he would have been a potent political factor in any place he would have cast his lot.

In January 1914 Konkel says,

As to Forney’s autobiographical sketch in the the Saturday Evening Post, there was a basis for all he says, but you would have to scrape the face-powder off to find it.”

The Saturday Evening Post series did bring together a couple of Bostonians to swap stories of the old days.  One of the first stories in the Democrat-Herald (Sept 19, 1913) was after the publication of the Saturday Evening Post Series,

Register Whitaker and wife came down from Lamar Saturday and visited among the Springfielders over Sunday.  Gene is an old timer of the old-timers, having been an inhabitant of the town of old Boston during the hog-killing days of its wild and woolly existence along with the editor of this paper, having practically fought, bled and died in the interest of that famous town.  Of course, Mr. Whitaker called to talk over those red letter days, brought up incidentally by a reference to the Jennings family biography recently published in the Saturday Evening Post. Naturally, for two Bostonians to get together is like the meeting of two old war vets — they can talk about it hours at a time, either sitting down or standing up and enjoy it just the same as if they were acting and living it all over again.

“Beating Back” by Will Irwin and Al Jennings is in the public domain and part of the Google Book Digitization project if you want to read the Autobiography of Al Jennings click here to access the free copy. 

It is also available from the Saturday Evening Post by clicking here.  

You can learn more about Al the rest of the Jennings clan in  Old Boston: Wild As They Come which is available on Amazon.  If you want to support this project so that we can keep more historical books coming, check out our website for information on ordering signed copies of the book and historical shirts such as the one below from Boom Town Gear.


Sam Konkel’s Map of Southeast Colorado Stagecoach Routes 1887-1889

A couple years ago I found a copy of Sam Konkel’s Southeast Colorado Stagecoach map in terrible condition.  The quality was so poor it was basically useless and it led me to the development of the 1886-1889 Boom Town map located here in a previous blog post. However,  in my last visit to Baca County, I stumbled upon the best copy of the map I have seen.   I will post here a few pieces of the stage line puzzle I have pulled together and the map (below).

March 5 1887 Bent County Register

There were at least two stage lines between Lamar and Springfield in the 1887-1889 time frame, the W. H. Harris Stage and the Cal Ferguson Stage.  Cal Ferguson was part of the Windsor Town Company that started Springfield and represented Springfield in the Colorado legislature during the fight for the county seat of Baca County.

There was also a stage coming from Syracuse, KS headed southwest into Baca County ( click here to read the story of how they built a plank road to get the stage out of the sand in the Arkansas River basin to the flat solid prairie).  There was also a Stage Line from Richfield, KS. to Boston, CO.  We have the following artifacts:

“Stage Line. W. H. Harris stage leaves Lamar Tuesdays and Fridays, at eight o’clock in the morning, for Farmington, Springfield and Boston.  He will run a daily line in a short time.  32tf.”
Bent County Register (Lamar Colorado) Jan 29 1887 Library of Congress

“Daily stages are how running from Lamar and Granada (to Boston)”
The Leader-Democrat (Richfield, Kansas) · 26 Feb 1887, Sat · Page 3

“C.S. Reed has purchased the Boston and Richfield stage line and is now running hacks regulary, tri-weekly.”
The Leader-Democrat (Richfield, Kansas) · 05 Mar 1887, Sat · Page 3

“Arrangements have been completed for a stage line from West Plains, Meade county via., Richfield to Boston Colorado.”
Ashland Clipper (Ashland, Kansas) · 12 Apr 1888, Thu · Page 1

“News reached here this evening by the driver of the Ferguson Stage Line that Boston, a new town of 500 inhabitants, 100 miles south of here and 85 miles of the railroad and telegraph line, had been taken possession of by a gang of outlaws.” (YES, IF YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE YOU HAVE TO BUY MY BOOK)
Medicine Lodge Cresset (Medicine Lodge, Kansas) · 18 Apr 1889, Thu · Page 2

“Ed. Allen came in from the East Monday and loading his sample cases on eastbound stage flew out on Wednesday. On this trip, he will go to the end of the road and then follow the furrom for 50 or 100 miles until he arrives at the new town of Corriso in Colorado.  Ed has an interest in the new town and will help boom it.”
Medicine Lodge Cresset (Medicine Lodge, Kansas) · Thu, Mar 17, 1887 · Page 3

So with all of that as the lead…here is Sam Konkel’s Stagecoach map of early Southeast Colorado (1887-1889) from the January 8, 1915, Springfield Democrat-Herald.  Enjoy!

I have added lines to emphasize the stage routes.

The Leader-Democrat (Richfield, Kansas) · 05 Nov 1887, Sat · Page 1

If you want to support this project so that we can keep more books coming, check out our website for information on ordering signed copies of my books. The books are also available at Thanks for Reading.

Reading Old Time Newspapers: A Primer

It feels great to find interesting tidbits in old newspapers—for me it has been part of researching my book, for others, it may be finding an obituary, marriage announcement, or other types of notice. But sometimes historical newspapers used abbreviations and terms that are no longer common, leaving some of us scratching our heads.  

Let’s say you are looking through an old 1887 issue of the Ashland Kansas newspaper and It says that Boston, Colorado celebrated her first anniversary on the 24th inst.  


Inst. = Instant = Current Month.  Inst. is an abbreviation for instance, which refers to the “present or current month, The phrase, “Boston celebrated her first anniversary on the 24th inst.” alone doesn’t give us enough information to know which month it refers to. We need to know when this report was published.  Since it appeared in the November 26,1887 issue and since “inst.” refers to the present or current month.

Ult. = Ultimo = Previous Month Ult. is short for ultimo, meaning “of or occurring in the month preceding the present.” Like inst., we can’t know which month it’s referring to unless we know what the “present” month is.

Communicated is another term you might see as shown in this October 1887 edition of the Trinidad Citizen. 

You may see either the word communicated or its abbreviation, com. It can occur at the beginning of an article as shown above, but often will be abbreviated and placed at the end of an article as,


The term indicates that the item was written by someone other than a staff writer, and “communicated” to the newspaper for publication. A notice at the beginning of the newspaper article will often look like the sample above. 

Whenever you see the term communicated or its abbreviation com., look for more articles in other newspapers. The first article you find may or may not be complete—often it has been edited from the original, and various sources indicate if you find that original article it may contain more history than the edited version of the article you found.

Terms such as those above are spread throughout historical newspapers.  Here are more of the most common abbreviations and terms:

    1. Proximo (Prox.) – Essentially meaning “next,” this is used in newspapers to indicate the upcoming month. So “12th prox.” in a December newspaper would mean January 12th.  In my book “Old Boston: As Wild As They Come” you will see this term more than once.  Here is a sample,
      “It has been a year the first prox. since these old time write-ups started, and it will probably be another year before they are brought to a final wind-up and maybe then some.”
    1. Relict – This term is used to describe a surviving spouse, often a widow. It comes from the Latin term “relictus,” meaning “relinquished” or “left behind.”   A sample is below:

      Smith County Pioneer(Smith Centre, Kansas) · 01 Jan 1891, Thu · Page 3
    1. Née – This term is French and means “born.” It is used to indicate a woman’s maiden name.
    1. Ultimo (Ult.) – This refers to the previous month. A December newspaper that says “12th ult.” is referring to November 12th.
    1. Twp. – Township
    1. Messrs. – used as a title to refer formally to more than one man simultaneously
  1. Name abbreviations – Name abbreviations are common in old newspapers. Some abbreviations are merely the first few letters of the name followed by a period, while others are contractions (the first part of the name plus the final letter). Some abbreviations are derived from the name’s Latin equivalent, which makes them a bit trickier to decipher.  Below are some common name abbreviations:

Wm. – William

Chas. – Charles

Geo. – George

Jno. – John

Jas. – James

Thos. – Thomas

Ches. — Chester

Free. — Freeman

Newt. — Newton

Slang and alternate spellings

There are also many alternate spellings and slang terms in old terms in old newspapers that may or may not have meaning.  Many times in my book you see the term “Billyard” instead of “Billiard” In the write-ups about Boston, Colorado, frontier newspaperman Sam Konkel uses the alternate, “billyard” spelling.  Maybe the answer is as simple as he ran out of letters on his printing press. Because advertisements in his papers for saloon and billiard parlor is spelled “Billiard.”  Slang terms of the day such as “mummixed”  are common. 

Old Fashioned Typos

There are many typos in old and new newspapers.  The grammar Nazi’s amongst us get exceeding amounts of joy from pointing out these, so I guess we’ll just roll with it and let them have their fun.  In some cases, while reviewing old newspapers, I haven’t been sure whether it is a typo or different use of a word from the old days. On page 19 of my book, the phrase “smell a mice”(shown below) doesn’t smell right to me, but as shown in the original below that is what was stated.  Is it a typo or a phrase from the era? I am not sure.

From the book   

From the original article

Hopefully, this conversation about some of the terms and abbreviations is useful to you! 

If your interested in old west history, check out my book, “Old Boston: As Wild As They Come” on Amazon 

Baca County Festivals and Fairs: Part 1

I will probably work at adding to this in pieces, maybe in the form of a timeline, but I thought it would be fun to start looking at various festivals and fairs held in Southeast Colorado/ Southwest Kansas/ Baca County through the years.  Sam Konkel mentions an 1888 fair in Boston, Springfield, and Minneapolis, but there isn’t a whole lot of detail, so I am going to start with one of the earliest events; the 1888 Taloga fair, then add a notice from  the 1923 fair, and then throw in one from 1930-31 just for fun.   I have to include both Southeast Colorado/ Southwest Kansas as there was quite a connection to our Kansas neighbors in the early days especially before the formation of Baca County.

The first evidence I find for a Southeast Colorado fair or festival is in the September  6, 1888, Topeka, Kansas Farmer which tells of a coming fair.

Sam Konkel provides a few details as follows in the January 24, 1919 edition of the Springfield Herald.

The advisability of holding a town fair this fall was considered Saturday night in a meeting called for this purpose.  All were in favor of a fair, and a committee was chosen to report at the next meeting a plan of organization, Capt McCoach, Thos. Hambric, R. W. Whitaker were chosen for the committee.  –Western World Aug 30, 1888

The Procession was the biggest part of the fair at Boston that year.  Every bushel of any kind and every trade was in line, in addition to a few hundred wagons, buggies and other rigs making displays of crops.  The procession was probably a half mile long.

The towns of Minneapolis and Springfield both had fairs that year – we presume making about the same showing that Boston did; and that was the last of the fair business until the county fair was started in 1914.

In the neighboring town of Taloga, Kansas, a joint Kansas / Colorado fair held.  If you are not sure where Taloga is, please refer to my  1886-1889 Boomtown map of Southeast Colorado.












Fairs and festivals in Southeastern Colorado, usually broomcorn festivals have always been a time for friends and family to gather and celebrate the hard work of the summer.   In the early days, I think it was even a bit more.  The events were held to prove to those a little further east that crops could be grown in the Great American Desert as described in The Taloga Star (Taloga, Kansas) · 12 Oct 1888, Fri · Page 3 clipping below:













The Taloga Star (Taloga, Kansas) · 12 Oct 1888, Fri · Page 3

Colorado towns participating in the 1888 Taloga Fair  were as follows:

Activities and Prizes for the Joint Morton / Las Animas County Fair

…and more activities,

Potential Crops and Exhibits for the 1888 fair,

Started again in 1914, the fair had become an annual event when this notice in the Johnson, KS paper (Johnson City Pioneer and Journal-News (Johnson, Kansas) · 07 Sep 1923, Fri · Page 1) was printed: 

Next, we are going to head down the road a few years to 1930-31  and talk about one of the early Broomcorn Festivals.  I am not sure if this was the first one, but it seems likely.  The Opportunity (Garden City, Kansas) · 01 Jan 1931, Thu · Page 14  shared the following,

WATCH CAMPO GROW! Opportunity: Below find pictured a float, which took first prize at the Broomcorn Festival” held at Springfield, Colorado, on October 11 and 12, 1930. The float represents a large market basket with fifty-nine farm products and one hundred two varieties. We also took first prize for the best bale of broomcorn which weighed 458 pounds. Campo, Colorado is located in the heart of the agriculture belt of Baca County. It is mid-way midway between Boise City, Oklahoma, and Springfield, Colorado and is on the prospective railroad from Amarillo, Texas to Las Animas, Colorado, which is being constructed by the Santa Fe Railway Company and has been practically completed between Boise City, Okla., and Amarillo, Texas. We feel assured that this road will be extended from Boise City, Oklahoma to Las Animas, Colo., in 1931. Campo, Colorado is also located on State Highway No. 59 which we understand has recently been made a Federal Highway. Campo is surrounded by a very fertile soil and offers wonderful opportunities to good substantial farmers and home seekers. Watch Us Grow! This entry was sponsored by the Campo Community Club. W. F. Gump, President.


It is Given to Few: by J. Ralph Jett

Reprinted from the June 1929 Issue of the Western Empire Magazine:

Nineteen years ago there came into the little town of Two Buttes in Baca County, a suffering, and broken man. Upon his graying head sentence had been passed, and he had no thought but that his doom was sealed. Great Men of the medical fraternity had said to him” you have but one year to Live. use it as best you may.”

Dr. Verity, himself a noted surgeon, stricken with dropsy, hoped that perhaps the Great West, to which he had sent many others, would offer him also some needed relief. He turned his eyes to the setting sun, and here, under the blue sky in nature’s great sanitarium, he found out only relief, but life and a partial return to the robust health he had once enjoyed.

In his new found strength came the call to begin where he had left off, and looking about he found himself in a homestead community — the people poor, coming here to grasp at their last opportunity to own a home. No hope here of great reward for efforts, and no thought of it. Rolling up his sleeve, he said, “so be it” and set to work.

Perhaps God, In his infinite wisdom, saw it to spare Dr. Verity, to minister to these, his humble us children. As Christ, the greatest healer went amongst the lowliest of men, so did Verity, his servant go among the lowly homesteaders giving them cheaply many times gratuitously, the same full-service he had rendered in the homes of the wealthy for large fees.

Perhaps doctor Verity sensed the intercession of Divine Providence, in the motive therein, for though made many flattering offers to use his talents elsewhere, he remained true to his trust in his modest little office at Two Buttes, while the world made a pathway to his door.

Dr. Verity is a humanitarian in every sense of the word. Not merely does he deal with the afflictions of the multitude, not only does he bring into the world dozens of little Baca County folks, but he seeks also as best as he may to guide their destiny to become good men and women. His good works are legion and his further ambition unappeased.

We will cite but one instance of Verity’s surgical skill. This was featured in Rollin H. Ayers the Heights of Manhood.

A little Baca County girl of four summer’s stood in a farmyard watching with interest the efforts of her brother, a year older manfully swung a large ax to cut the day’s kindling supply. Something attracting her she suddenly stooped over in the path of the ax, and it crashed into a skull, penetrating the brain.

That night she lay in the office of Dr. Verity. her little life wavering on the brink of eternity, the spark kept alive through the supreme effort of the tight-lipped old surgeon, who grimly held on and said, “She shall not die.” Particles of bone were removed from the brain, and those present wondered and marveled at the great hands which held such delicacy and mastery.

The fight was won, and the little girl of poor parents, having nothing to amuse her in her convalescence was showered with gifts by Dr. Verity and his friends. When well, she attended school at Two Buttes and ranked high in her classes.

Perhaps the most interesting thing to Dr. Verity is the Two Buttes Band of which he is the founder and sponsor. He purchased the instruments for this band two years before he was able to organize it with sufficient members. Then a capable director was secured, and the band is now one of the finest in the southwest. In 1927 it won third prize against hard competition of large bands. The referee was John Philip Sousa, the old master.

Asked how he came to start this band, Dr. Verity said when I was a small boy in the hills of Wisconsin, I used to hear the martial music of the Civil War bands, as they marched at night. That beautiful music floating on the air imbued me with a firm resolve to someday my life to have a band and to be the drummer. So Baca County benefits by the dream of a small boy many years ago, and we suspicion that Dr. Verity experienced the thrill of his life when shaking the hand of the greatest band leader in the world.

Dr. Verity was born near Oshkosh Wisconsin, and grew there into manhood. He attended Rush Medical College of Chicago, long a famous Institution. He early became interested in fractures and devised the splint, known as Verity Suspension Splint, new and unusual at the time but in common used today. He is quoted on special fractures, by Nicholas Senn, professor of surgery, Rush Medical School in his book, Practical Surgery. His work in the field has garnered much acclaim. In fact, in 1885 he wrote “The Treatment of Compound Fractures by Drainage and Wiring”. This pioneering piece was published in the 1886 Journal of the American Medical Association. Dr. Verity’s next ambition is to erect a building for his community, where domestic science can be taught to girls and useful arts to the boys where they can be enjoyed all the social activities in the community.

So after ordinary men have passed the age of usefulness, this venerable physician carries on, his stamina and his power seemingly unimpaired, looking towards the future in which he may further serve.

Is leonine head and beetling brows suggest sternness, but one looks closer and sees the twinkle of blue eyes, a consideration, and indulgence for all mankind.

I can see Dr. Verity, when he answers his final call, at the portals of the Great Beyond. Around his massive shoulders are the arms of the Greatest Physician, and I hear the words —

“It is given to few to be of service to many. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, my children, ye have done it also unto me. Welcome home, thou good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25-40)

Dr. Verity’s Invention

Dr. Verity’s Invention

In a recent Facebook thread, Ted Burhenn asked about the history of music in Baca County.  I mentioned the Old Boston Band and after a couple other comments; I dug in a little to see what I could find.  There are a few things on Baca County music I am pulling together which includes info on Dr. W.P. Verity’s Two Buttes band.  In the process, I stumbled upon a little background prior to his time in Two Buttes.  Let’s provide background on Dr. Verity for those who may not know….

Born in Wisconsin on March 1, 1853, Dr. W. P. Verity grew up on a farm.  He attended Country School, graduated from high school and attended normal school for one year to prepare for teaching. After teaching a year he studied medicine by borrowing money from his father.  He graduated from Rush College of Medicine and served as an intern in Cook County Hospital which enabled him to pay back his father. Later he became a member of the staff of that Institution and a renowned surgeon.

No matter his professional prowess, sickness encroached on him.   By the early years of the 20th century, great men of the medical profession already passed a death sentence upon him declaring he only had a year to live. Just as he sent many other people west for their health he followed suit. The climate suited him as his health returned and he served the people of Baca County many years 

Much of the narrative surrounding Dr. Verity discusses his invention transformed the surgical and healing arts.  Until today I had seen no specifics on his invention, Verity’s suspension splint.  Much is written of this medical device in the early 1880’s.   Verity published multiple articles in medical journals during this time. The examples include the Chicago Medical Review of 1880 which discusses his invention. See the clippings below.  This is all the content I have organized for now.  I will keep hunting for more. 



The Digital Campfire of Social Media and How it Sparked a Book Project

Greetings from an unseasonably mild but windy Casper Wyoming.  I have a little bit of reflection and a couple of messages related to a local history blog, social media,  and the sparks that lit a book project about one of the wildest little towns of the old west.   Four years ago,  I launched  At that time I stated,

Maybe this project stops with a few blog posts and a couple of tall tales, or maybe we can transform the content into an update of the big brown Baca County History book from the early 1980’s.  

Here we are four years later with a great collection of blog posts from multiple folks.  In conjunction with this blog is a realization on my part of how powerful social media can be for recording and sharing local history.  The primary social media tool I am speaking of for this post is Facebook.  Over the past few years, an ever-increasing number of members in two different Facebook groups have provided a continual stream of memories about the place where I grew up, Baca County, Colorado as well as surrounding areas in Southwest Kansas, the Oklahoma Panhandle and the Lamar, Colorado regions. Those Facebook groups have been a primary catalyst for more than one of those blog posts

I usually end up coming back to some technology angle since my day job as the Computer Director at Casper College, usually pushes me that direction.   I must say that beyond the sharing of  history of the county where I grew up, the technological application and interaction of the Baca County Facebook community and its members fascinates me to the “nth degree”  

On the negative side
Social media and digital social networking isn’t for everyone. However, it is such a massive part of all our lives; whether we embrace or reject the media, it is not to be ignored. I don’t want to get too much into the negative aspects of social media other than acknowledging they are there and that I sometimes can’t believe what I see,  Usually, on the negative side I am thinking….”What is wrong with these people?”    

On the positive side
I have grown to think of our Facebook groups as a digital campfire. That descriptor was given to me by Technology/ Geek Rock Star and friend Wes Fryer.  For a moment assume a digital campfire is a gathering place where a whole lot of folks who are in a whole lot of different places in life have found common ground.  The fire is a place to gather together and swap a few tales and warm up before having to get up go out and face that cold, cold world.  If this is true, then the folks where I grew up have found a digital campfire with Facebook.  To them, all I can say is….”you all have done good!” 

On the positive side I find it fascinating that it’s entirely possible to have hundreds of friends on Facebook. They may not be friends I know on a personal level and spend time with in the real world on a daily or weekly basis. But they’re friends nonetheless. Some are childhood friends, some childhood heroes, and some college acquaintances I have reconnected with.  Some I spent a whole lot of time with, and there are several people I consider friends who I have never met face to face— some I probably will never meet  — but that doesn’t lessen the connection we have made these recent years thanks to social networks.  

I waffle back and forth on whether face to face contact to the phone might be better for conversation but the true advantage of how we are connecting on these Facebook groups is that we can use these tools on our terms.  As individuals or time is stretched to greater lengths by work and family commitments. However, social media offers a chance to communicate speedily and efficiently.

With a phone call, for example, you can’t just say what you want to say and then hang up. That would breach phone etiquette and be seen as downright rude. Instead, with a phone call you have to swap pleasantries before saying what you want to say, and then swap more pleasantries before the conversation comes to a close. Sometimes we may describe it as cold, but it certainly provides some efficiencies that allow for interaction with more people than maybe we were able to in the past.

Facebook has allowed us to share interests with others who have those same interests, such as a shared county history.  Facebook, does for example when preparing to connect us asks you to list interests. This makes it much easier to find common ground with other users.

This release of info does require the sharing of information, and in the process giving up a degree of privacy, which is cause for some people to reject social media outright. Keeping key personal information private is necessary, but sharing likes, dislikes, interests, thoughts, and views contribute, it could be argued, to an open society.

As with most things in life, there are pros and cons.  When used in moderation, with checks and balances on how younger people, in particular, are using them, social networking sites are just a tool.  What is our hearts often is what comes out, so we all need to be wary of how these tools are used.  

So what is the book that has been sparked?  For me personally, the journey is not yet a Baca County History book update (although I still think it is a good idea) as was originally thought four years ago.   But instead it has become a more focused book  I am calling, “Boston: Wild As They Come” with a two-part goal, which is first, to tell the story of the now extinct town of Boston Colorado and second to celebrate frontier newspaperman Sam Konkel who has given us a great historical treasure 100 years past its the original publication.  He wrote a series of newspaper articles which provides us what he remembered of those old days.  One social media conversation led to another and another and then a trip to the Baca County Museum and then……Yes, this project really is a new real-life tale about the old west in 1886 Southeast Colorado.  And to answer your question…no it is not historical fiction.  It is those actual events and people of that old time town.

I am not sure I would have gotten involved in this book project without social media, but at this point, we are on track for a late spring 2018 launch.  I have several angry stabby editors blazing away at the narrative and hopefully, I’ll be ready soon to tell everyone when pre-launch sales will open. It has also sparked a couple of side projects that could easily develop into another book or two.    To provide a bit more of an idea about what I am doing with this book project,  I have provided the book cover, a brief description of the story and my Table of Contents as is stands today, (February 2018).

Boston 1886
On the eve of November 15, 1886,  four members of the Atlantis Town Company stopped on the Southeast Colorado plains preparing to stake out and establish Boston, Colorado.  Though short-lived, (1886-1892) Boston was home to personalities ranging from common homesteaders, flat earth advocates, cowboys, and outlaws including the Jennings Gang before they became famous in Oklahoma.  Frontier newspaperman Sam Konkel joined the joined the town company to promote Boston and described it as “The Utopian City of the Plains.” Old Boston was built to catch the railroad and support commerce and agriculture in southeast Colorado but it quickly became one of the wildest little towns on the American old west frontier.

Book Cover

Click the book cover to purchase on Thanks.

Draft Copy of Old Boston Table of Contents February 2018

Note: This post is cross-posted at my tech blog

The Town Boom Years in Southeastern Colorado 1886-1889: A Map

Sometimes it is hard to understand old forgotten towns.  Especially since we don’t always know where they are located in relationship to present day landmarks and towns. The map in this post contains the towns which popped up in the area as well as towns that were connected.  For example, many settlers rode the train to Granada or Lamar and then rode the stage south to get to the communities in what would soon be Baca County. I believe every single community on the map below is mentioned at least once by Sam Konkel.

Kansas towns of Hugo (now Hugoton) and Woodsdale greatly influenced the early development of Southeast Colorado as the infamous County Seat wars of Kansas, specifically the “Haystack Massacre” was a symbol of the bloodshed in Kansas.  Those moving into southeast Colorado wanted to avoid much of what occurred in Kansas.

In 1887 Sam Konkel wrote,

It is a cold day when some new town doesn’t start up in southeastern Colorado.  In the short space of four months, there have been seventeen towns laid out south of the railroad and east of Trinidad.  They are in the order of their ages —

Boston, Albany, Vilas, Carrizo, Springfield, Minneapolis, Humbar, York, Farmington, Wilde, Holmes, Indianapolis, Athens, Bloomington, Brookfield, Plymouth, and Randal — Western World, April 21, 1887.

Note:  You won’t see Athens or Randal on the map.  I may change the map when/and if  I get confirmation of their locations.

For those who don’t know the location of a particular place it should be useful when I find and post clippings such as the following from the  Xenia Daily  (Xenia OH), Gazette September 3, 1887 which tell about a former resident settling on the banks of the “Butte River”.  Yes, if you are from Baca County you will understand why this is in quotes.

In 1936, J.R. Austin wrote,

“Had the old towns of 1887 continued to exist, the interest in them would not be as great as it is today. There’s something about a lost chapter in the natural procession of events that tradition loving Americans like to preserve as a treasure.  The element of mystery makes it attractive. Early events in Springfield and Vilas do not excite the popular imagination; the towns that are here today, many of the old landmarks are still extent, the past has gradually merged into the present, and tradition has become a thing of common knowledge.

But with an old, forgotten town it is different. How entrancing it is to stand amid the ancient stone ruins and lose oneself in reverie to picture in the imagination the scenes that belong to long ago. Tran-scribed there on the lonely plains are the symbols of its past. The long spacious Main Street is still in evidence, the lone cross street begins boldly in the center of the town only to melt away into the plains as the ruins of the buildings no longer confined it to its course. Here the people rode into town, walked across the street greeted their neighbors and friends, they commented on the current topics of Interest. The long rows of stones on the corner may have been the proudest store in town. Another less imposing, may well have been the place where the transient patron sat for meals and dreamed of the places far away.  There, goods were sold and precious money taken by the hard fisted proprietor in exchange.  Still another place may have been a saloon where the stern faced bartender disposed of his wares and kept a steely eye on the more suspicious looking characters who frequented the place.  How many quarrels may have started and ended here?   Lastly, and most important of all, are the little dugouts partly filled with stones where there once were homes.”

I hope these maps are useful.

Here is a July 2018 update to the Boom Town Map.  I added another crazy aka “Trail City”, Holly, Coolidge and Syracuse Kansas and Beer City, Neutral Strip (also a crazy).

Map 1 is the newest version (February 19, 2018) and includes Clayton, NM and Mineral City, Neutral Strip

Map 2 is the original map I post.  Not sure if it is still useful, but thought I would leave it here for now.

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