“Ten Nights in a Bar Room” by the Boston Amateur Dramatic Troupe: Theatre in 1880s Southeast Colorado

The Boston Amateur Dramatic troupe reproduced “Ten Nights in a Bar Room” at the Murray hall last Friday night.  The weather was intensely disagreeable, and the crowd correspondingly small.  There were not more than 150 people present.  The troupe made a marked improvement over their first effort. The Citizen (Trinidad Colorado) 13 Jan 1888

The play “Ten Nights in a Bar Room,” is based on an 1854 novel, “Ten Nights in a Bar-Room and What I Saw There” written by American author Timothy Shay Arthur

The play “Ten Nights in a Bar Room” was used to promote prohibition to large audiences. In the 1850s, sales of this book were second only to Harriet Beecher Stowe‘s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Ten Nights in a Bar-room was a financial success for Arthur so the novel transferred to play format. The play based on the novel continued to be popular even after prohibition in the United States, although it was often presented as a parody.

Ten Nights in a Bar Room was also a part of the history of Old Boston, Colorado.  This footnote in the history of old Boston has gone mostly unnoticed and might seem a little odd given the sometimes excessive consumption of alcohol in some of these Wild West Towns such as Old Boston.  Sitting in southeast Colorado fifteen miles from Kansas and fifteen miles from the neutral strip (now the Oklahoma Panhandle) Boston was a far bigger draw for riff raff and outlaws than for culture and civility.

The establishment of the Boston Amateur Dramatic Troupe is another attempt by the Boston town founders to build a civil and cultured existence in an environment that seemed to produce anything but civility. A play with a storyline of temperance, is not one you might expect from the rough and tumble characters assembled in the town of Old Boston. Their attempts at taming the “noted burying ground” as it was described in the following news clipping seems like a futile exercise as we look back with 20/20 hindsight. 

Finney County Democrat (Garden City, Kansas) 15 Dec 1888

The novel version of Ten Nights in a Bar Room is presented by an unnamed narrator who makes an annual visit to the fictional town of Cedarville. On his first visit, he stops at the new tavern, the Sickle and Sheaf. The proprietor, Simon Slade, is a former miller who gave up the trade for the more lucrative tavern. The business is a family affair, with Slade’s wife Ann, son Frank, and daughter Flora assisting him. The narrator also observes the town drunk, Joe Morgan. The father of a loving wife and family, he meets his moral downfall when introduced to alcohol. Morgan becomes an alcoholic and spends most of his time at a bar. One day, his daughter begs him to return to his family. He ignores her desires until she is hit in the head by a flying glass as she goes to retrieve her father. Slade had thrown the tumbler at Morgan so, to a degree, her death is on his hands. On her deathbed, the daughter begs Morgan to abandon alcohol, to which he agrees. The novel progresses through the ruinous fall of more characters all at the hands of hard drink and other vices (gambling becomes another major reform notion in the text). Shay spends some time discussing corruption in politics with the corrupt “rum party” candidate from Cedarville, Judge Lyman. The narrator notes how even the drinkers in the story call for “the Maine Law“ which will prohibit alcohol from being so temptingly available. The novel closes with the death of Simon Slade, already mutilated from an earlier riotous sequence of murders and mob mentality, at the hands of his son. The two had gotten into a drunken argument and Frank strikes his father in the head with a bottle. In the final scene the narrator sees the post with the once pristine and now gross and rotten Sickle and Sheaf totem chopped down after the town’s moral fiber showed itself in a series of resolutions that led to the destruction of all the alcohol on the premises.

Illustration from an 1882 edition of  “Ten Nights in a Bar-Room and What I Saw There” 

Several news clippings discuss the theatrical production of Ten Nights in a bar room put on by the Boston, Colorado amateur dramatic troupe.   Examples are shown below, 

The Boston Amateur Dramatic Troupe played “Ten Nights in a Bar Room” at Vilas last Tuesday night.  The proceeds were about $18.  They will give the same play at Richfield next Thursday night.  The troupe is making itself quite famous.  –The Citizen (Trinidad Colorado) 18 Jan 1888 

In the news clipping below, Boston Banner Newspaper Editor, George Daniels, plays the part of Simon Switzel, however as there was no character with the name Switzel, they are likely referencing the character, Simon Slade.

The Leader-Democrat (Richfield, Kansas) 28 Jan 1888
The Democratic Principle (Syracuse, Kansas) · Wed, Dec 14, 1887

The most interesting reference to the play is in the January 4, 1888 edition of the Trinidad Citizen newspaper.  Ten Nights in a Bar Room was the play the Boston Dramatic Troupe was putting on after the shooting of Henry Savoie, in the streets of Old Boston, by Prairie Cattle Company Regulator/ Deputy Sheriff Big Bill Thompson.  The Citizen tells us,  

Excitement now about subsided since the burial of Savoie. William Thompson and Ben Darnell left here for Vilas this morning.  They have softened public feeling to a considerable extent by their amicable conduct while here.  Their statement and explanation were very different from Savoies’ They came in on Saturday evening and rough time was expected on account of several rumours which had gained credence since they left several days before for Trinidad.  One of them was to the effect that the editor of the Boston Banner would be brought to terms for publishing Savoie’s ante mortem statement with comments.  The play  “Ten Nights in a Bar Room” was being acted when they arrived and about thirty well armed deputy marshals were placed in the hall to quell any riot which might arise.  Word was repeatedly sent to the editor that he would be shot on the stage (he was playing the part of Swiehel.) Nothing happened, however, and at last the people are getting down to business again. The Citizen (Trinidad Colorado) 4 Jan 1888.   NOTE:  Swiehel was likely to reference the Ten Nights in a Bar Room character Simon Slade. 

Other towns in the boomtown era such as Wilde, Springfield, and Holmes City played on the wild nature of towns such as Boston, Minneapolis, Vilas, and Carrizo when recruiting homesteaders and investors. They included statements in their town advertisements such as the following:

“WILDE A PROHIBITION TOWN. While Colorado is not a prohibition State, there are a number of noted towns like Manitou Springs, Greeley, etc., which have adopted the method of inserting a clause in all deeds forever prohibiting the sale of intoxicants, and wherever this method has been adopted and adhered to on the part of the town projectors, it has proved eminently successful. Manitou Springs is noted as one of the most cultured, refined and moral cities in the United States, whether east or west; and it owes it to the one thing of prohibition, which has excluded the whiskey element, and attracted a class of people in favor of temperance, schools and churches. The three town companies of Wilde, Springfield and Holmes in joint meeting adopted the prohibition plan for all three towns, for which are facetiously called dry towns, cognomen* the projectors are only too willing to adopt.

Boston did not appear to have such an inclination to limit alcohol consumption…or did they?  The production of Ten Nights in a Bar Room, a prohibition play,  is another event which seems contrary to the often wild events occurring in that town.  The town’s  documented efforts at civility and culture with a community theatrical troupe, a community baseball team  and a community band led by Freeman Jess Newton and Jennings were admirable. However, it seems the town founders efforts at bringing civilized behavior to that place fell short.  Maybe a couple different twists of fate and Boston, Colorado could  have become the mecca of the plains the founders dreamed about.

As a Side Note…Forney Jennings aka Al Jennings later went on to star and  consult in many early silent westerns.  Check out the following blog post: Al Jennings 1908 silent western: “The Bank Robbery'”

To see a map of the 1880s boom towns mentioned in this post click here: Boom Town Maps

This post was originally published in the Plainsman Herald (Springfield, CO) Spring 2020

Indianapolis, Colorado – Est. 1887.

In the 1880s Americans were moving in droves to the Western frontier. Waves of migrants were inspired by the promises of cheap land and riches, Following the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in 1869, the journey west became considerably easier. Many entrepreneurs and private town  companies began heavily advertising real estate, investment and tourism opportunities in the West.  Indianapolis, Colorado was one of those places.

Sam Konkel, editor of the Boston World 1887-1889 and the Springfield Herald 1913-1930 mentions Indianapolis, Colorado several times in his 1918 -1919 Springfield Herald articles.  It appears from his writings there was a fairly close connection to the Boston Town Company, of which Konkel was a part. What do we know about Indianapolis?  Most of the town residents were from Meade, Kansas.  Three town blocks were reserved for churches and two for public schools.

It had a newspaper, the Indianapolis Journal which Konkel mentions. 

It had one citizen, Catherine Colver Williams who was a proponent of Women’s Suffrage.   

Evening Star (Washington, District of Columbia) 10 Jan 1889

It had some troubles, as was common in those old towns. 

June 18, 1887 Minneapolis, Minnesota Star Tribune

Most references to Indianapolis, such as the one below are from Meade, Kansas.

Meade County Democrat (Meade, Kansas) 25 Jun 1887 
Meade County Democrat (Meade, Kansas) 25 Jun 1887 
Meade County Democrat (Meade, Kansas) 3 Jan 1890. 

What I really didn’t notice until now that Indianapolis was another town the Boston Town Company was hoping to become a county seat along with Boston, Carrizo, Albany and Brookfeld. The town is usually mentioned in listing of new towns starting up in 1887 similar to the one Konkel shares with us in the paragraphs below which are extracted from. 

“Persons, Stories and Incidents of Old Boston and the Old Days.” Springfield Herald, July 5, 1918.

The Town Building Fever -It is a cold day when some new town doesn’t start up in south-eastern 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.  Konkel also provided the following: Mr. Konkel editor and proprietor of the Western World published at Boston Colorado, visited Indianapolis last week.  We were very much pleased to meet Mr. Konkel who is a gentleman of culture, education and experience, and a valuable man  for Boston. While here he was a guest at the Aultman hotel of which he spoke of in the highest terms, he further said Indianapolis was the best town for its age he had saw in the west –Clipping from the Indianapolis Journal in Western World, October 1887.

The item is a little shy on grammar, but, laying modesty aside, the facts as we remember them now were about as stated.

Indianapolis was located about thirty miles west of Carrizo, something like ten to fifteen miles west and south of the present Kim, having the Black Mesa frowning at it from the east and Mesa De Mayo looking down at it from the rear.

Do you know, we’ve been out in that country several times in the last few years and looked for that old town site and couldn’t find it, nor could we find anybody out there that ever heard of it. 

We would say there were about two or three dozen houses at Indianapolis when we were there.  The hotel was two story. For the reason that Boston fathered the town we have a special interest in it.  

The object of Boston was to make counties about the size of those in Kansas — about thirty miles square, hence Boston, Carrizo and Indianapolis were to be county seats of three counties carved out of Las Animas, and Albany and Brookfield of two counties carved out of Las Animas, Prowers and Bent counties. 

All of these towns were promoted by the Boston Town Co.

As there was no settlement of any kind left in that country, we are presuming the houses were pulled down to the Cimarron, though some of them may have followed the example of Elijah and have gone straight up along with their newspaper, the Indianapolis Journal.

The ad below is from the Meade Globe (Meade, Kansas) 9 Apr 1887.  NOTE they reference the San Luis Valley as the location.  We have transcribed the text in the box following the ad. 

—Ho for Indianapolis. Is everybody going? It looks that was as quite a number of our citizens have been to see and say that the that the San Louis valley, in which Indianapolis is located, is the finest they ever saw, and hun-dreds more are going even from this our lovely locality, to get homes and and make money.   Indianapolis was located about the 13th of March, 1887, by a company of gentlemen from Meade and Seward counties in what is known as the San Luis Valley, 31 miles east from Trinidad, Colorado, where coal is worth from 80 cents to one dollar a ton, flour $2 per hundred, lumber $5 to $16 a thousand and every thing in proportion, and where you are in plain view of the snow caped Rocky Mountains, plenty of timber, water and building stone. The valleys are surrounded by skirts of timber and abound in running streams, where the finest soil for farming purposes was ever under the sun. The Company is composed of gentlemen of the first class under whose management Indianapolis can’t help but prosper and grow fat. The capital stock of the company is limited to fourteen thousand dollars, by its incorporation, divided into 280 shares of $50 each. The stock being worth its face value, and no doubt every share could be so disposed in Meade Center, but that the company refuses to dispose of it as they are quite jealous of their new enterprise. Never before in the history of the west has emigration reached the proportions it is at present assuming. 

The (mostly unreadable) town ad (below)  for  Indianapolis was in the Boston World (Boston, Colorado) Thurs March 8, 1888. 


Boston World (Boston, Colorado) Thurs March 8, 1888. 
See more Boom Town maps here:

Theatre in 1880s Southeast Colorado: Ten Nights in a Bar Room

A part of the history of Old Boston, Colorado  which might go unnoticed is the attempt by the town founders to build a civil and cultured existence in an environment that seemed to produce anything but civility. Their attempts at taming the “noted burying ground” as it was described in the following news clipping seems like a futile exercise as we look back with 20/20 hindsight. 

Finney County Democrat (Garden City, Kansas) 15 Dec 1888.

Still, some of their efforts with a community theatrical troupe and a community band led by Freeman Jess Newton and the Jennings were admirable. The storyline of the play discussed in this narrative is of temperance, which you might not expect from the characters assembled in the town of Old Boston.  

Other towns in the boomtown era such as Wilde, Springfield, and Holmes City played on the wild nature of towns such as Boston, Minneapolis, Vilas, and Carrizo when recruiting homesteaders and investors. They included statements in their town advertisements such as the following:

“WILDE A PROHIBITION TOWN. While Colorado is not a prohibition State, there are a number of noted towns like Manitou Springs, Greeley, etc., which have adopted the method of inserting a clause in all deeds forever prohibiting the sale of intoxicants, and wherever this method has been adopted and adhered to on the part of the town projectors, it has proved eminently successful. Manitou Springs is noted as one of the most cultured, refined and moral cities in the United States, whether east or west; and it owes it to the one thing of prohibition, which has excluded the whiskey element, and attracted a class of people in favor of temperance, schools and churches. The three town companies of Wilde, Springfield and Holmes in joint meeting adopted the prohibition plan for all three towns, for which are facetiously called dry towns, cognomen* the projectors are only too willing to adopt.”

Other towns such as Boston didn’t seem to have such concerns about alcohol use, but they at the same time entertained with a play whose primary theme was prohibition.

Several news clippings discuss a theatrical production produced by the Boston Colorado amateur dramatic troupe. The play “Ten Nights in a Bar Room,” is based on an 1854 novel, “Ten Nights in a Bar-Room and What I Saw There” written by American author Timothy Shay Arthur. In the 1850s, sales of the book were second only to Harriet Beecher Stowe‘s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Ten Nights in a Bar-room was a financial success for Arthur and the novel transferred to play format, so it was used to promote prohibition to large audiences. The play based on the novel continued to be popular even after prohibition in the United States, although it was often presented as a parody.

Illustration from an 1882 edition of  “Ten Nights in a Bar-Room and What I Saw There” 

We see the play mentioned several times in Boston related articles, such as this excerpt from The Democratic Principle (Syracuse, Kansas) · Wed, Dec 14, 1887, 

The novel is presented by an unnamed narrator who makes an annual visit to the fictional town of Cedarville. On his first visit, he stops at the new tavern, the Sickle and Sheaf. The proprietor, Simon Slade, is a former miller who gave up the trade for the more lucrative tavern. The business is a family affair, with Slade’s wife Ann, son Frank, and daughter Flora assisting him. The narrator also observes the town drunk, Joe Morgan. The father of a loving wife and family, he meets his moral downfall when introduced to alcohol. Morgan becomes an alcoholic and spends most of his time at a bar. One day, his daughter begs him to return to his family. He ignores her desires until she is hit in the head by a flying glass as she goes to retrieve her father. Slade had thrown the tumbler at Morgan so, to a degree, her death is on his hands. On her deathbed, the daughter begs Morgan to abandon alcohol, to which he agrees. The novel progresses through the ruinous fall of more characters all at the hands of hard drink and other vices (gambling becomes another major reform notion in the text). Shay spends some time discussing corruption in politics with the corrupt “rum party” candidate from Cedarville, Judge Lyman. The narrator notes how even the drinkers in the story call for “the Maine Law“ which will prohibit alcohol from being so temptingly available. The novel closes with the death of Simon Slade, already mutilated from an earlier riotous sequence of murders and mob mentality, at the hands of his son. The two had gotten into a drunken argument and Frank strikes his father in the head with a bottle. In the final scene the narrator sees the post with the once pristine and now gross and rotten Sickle and Sheaf totem chopped down after the town’s moral fiber showed itself in a series of resolutions that led to the destruction of all the alcohol on the premises.

Ten Nights in a Bar Room was the play the Boston Dramatic Troupe was putting on after the shooting of Henry Savoie, in the streets of Old Boston, by Big Bill Thompson.  The January 4, 1888 edition of the Trinidad newspaper, The Citizen tells us,  

“Excitement now about subsided since the burial of Savoie. William Thompson and Ben Darnell left here for Vilas this morning.  They have softened public feeling to a considerable extent by their amicable conducted while here.  Their statement and explanation were very different from Savoies’ They came in on Saturday evening and rough time was expected on account of several rumours which had gained credence since they left several days before for Trinidad.  One of them was to the effect that the editor of the Boston Banner would be brought to terms for publishing Savoie’s ante mortem statement with comments.  The play  “Ten Nights in a Bar Room” was being acted when they arrived and about thirty well armed deputy marshalls were placed in the hall to quell any riot which might arise.  Word was repeatedly sent to the editor that he would be shot on the stage (he was playing the part of Swiehel.) Nothing happened, however, and at last the people are getting down to business again.  – The Citizen (Trinidad Colorado) 4 Jan 1888.   NOTE:  Swiehel was likely to reference the character Simon Slade. 

In the above news clipping, Boston Banner Editor, George Daniels, plays the part of Simon Switzel, however as there was no character with the name Switzel, they are likely referencing the character, Simon Slade. The Leader-Democrat (Richfield, Kansas) · 28 Jan 1888.

Old Boston was as Wild as They Come, but some of the related stories almost humanize the characters who attempted to create this town on the Southeast Colorado plains. Stay Tuned for more….

Tributary Towns

As a continuation of my look at Southeast Colorado Boom towns (1886-1889) I thought I would toss out an interesting town ad for Lamar. Almost all of the towns which popped up during that era had an advertisement that was placed in newspapers “back east” (usually Kansas) to encourage settlers to come west. This is one of two which I have found for Lamar. The biggest carrots presented to those potential citizens were usually free land and transportation to said free land. The ad presented below was in the March 17, 1888 edition of the Garden City Daily Sentinel. The term “Tributary Town” was used for all of the towns to the north and the south of Lamar. Because of the railroad, many came to Southeast Colorado via Lamar. This is the only time I have seen this term “Tributary Town.” Because of the small ad print I have transcribed the primary ad text for easier reading.

LAMAR ADVANTAGES
Lamar is known far and wide as the most successful new town in the west. It grew into importance in a single day. It has the United States land office and is the center of one of the richest tracts of agricultural lands in the wide world. The town will not be two years old until the 24th of next May. and yet it has first-class public schools, good society, fine churches, a live city government, fine and costly waterworks, a first-class fire department, wholesale houses, and all the appliances of a city of importance.

TRIBUTARY TOWNS.
Lamar is the railroad center for Springfield, Boston, Minneapolis, Vilas, Albany, Wilde, Mulvane, Brookfield, Atlanta, Carrisso and Holmes City, all booming towns on the south. Some of these towns have already a population of from 500 to 800, and are growing rapidly, On the north are the towns of Sheridan Lake, Chivington, Eads, Galatea. Arlington Springs and Cheyenne Wells. These are all good towns and consume a large amount of goods, purchased at Lamar.

STAGE LINES.
Daily stages run from Lamar, both north and south, and these lines are doing a large business, even in the dull season of the year. The stage lines are well stocked and the stages comfortable. Parties who wish to reach any of the points north or south of the Arkansas river, should in all cases buy tickets to Lamar.

GOVERNMENT LANDS.
The Bent land district, the land office of which is at Lamar, is the finest body of government land yet vacant. There is abundance of land yet open for settlement, which is located under the irrigating ditches. This land is already very valuable and can be made to produce large crops the first year. It is safe to say that in no country in the world can a farmer get a productive and paying farm under cultivation at so little expense as right here under the irrigating ditches of Lamar. There is room for thousands of farmers, and those who come first will get the choice lands,

THE IRRIGATING DITCHES.
There are a number of irrigating canals, both on the north and south side of the Arkansas river, and these furnish an abundant supply of water. The Arkansas flows with nearly full banks at this point during the entire growing season, and the irrigating canals are constructed of such capacity as to insure water on all lands under the system. Under this system of cultivation there can be no failure of crops, but on the contrary an acre under the Lamar treating ditches will produce nearly or quite double the crop that can be produced on the best lands of the east. Those who get the government quarter sections in this part of the country now, may consider themselves fortunate. The lands under the ditches will become very valuable within a few years.

Boston, Lamar, & Sam Konkel’s “An Outlaw in Lamar”

There are many connections between Lamar, Colorado and the 1886-1887 Boom towns of Southeast Colorado. If you have not familiarized yourself with those boom towns click here to see a map.  The news about migration to Southeast Colorado and those new towns was often reported in newspapers such as the following from the March 24, 1887 issue of the Buena Vista Democrat.

Also from the same March 24, 1887 issue:

Boston probably more than any of the other 17 towns sprouting up on the Southeast Colorado prairie in 1886-1887 made an effort to connect to various communities, including lamar.  The following reports provide examples of said efforts.

Bent County Register (Lamar Colorado)
May 28, 1887 Page 2 Library of Congress

In 1887 many of those little towns which were started had a band.  The Boston, Colorado Cornet band was apparently a very talented group with the leader of the band, Freeman Newton, leaving Old Boston for a job with the Topeka, Kansas Orchestra just a couple of years after the establishment of the town.  They were talented enough for an invite to play on a float which was entry number thirteen (see below) in the May 24, 1887 parade celebrating the first anniversary of Lamar, Colorado.  


Bent County Register (Lamar Colorado) May 28, 1887 Page 2 Library of Congress

More on the Boston band and another parade is provided in the second clipping below on Lamar’s 36th anniversary in 1923.

The Garden City Herald (Garden City, Kansas) · 08 Jun 1922.

Many other clippings note residents of the towns passing through Lamar on their way to other destinations.

Bent County Register (Lamar, Colorado)
12 Nov, 1887 Library of Congress.

The Taloga Star (Taloga, Kansas) · 16 Dec 1887.

In 1918 and 1919 the Springfield Herald had a regular series called “Persons, Stories, and Incidents of Old Boston and the Old Days,” written by Springfield Democrat-Herald editor Sam Konkel.   Each issue looked basically like the one below with the only changes being the subtitle.

Konkel was the editor of the Boston, Colorado Paper 1887-1889 and then the Springfield paper from 1913 -1930.   Many times these editors would visit other newspaper offices and the note below shows Konkel darkening the doors of the Bent County Register in April 1887.   

Bent County Register (Lamar, Colorado) April 2, 1887

Many of these articles provide the  foundation for the historical account of Boston, Colorado which I wrote, “Old Boston: As Wild As They Come.”   

There were a few other tales Konkel provided in this series. This puzzle piece in the history of Southeast Colorado is provided in the January 17, 1918 issue of the Springfield Herald. Several times in his writing Konkel mentions Judge Doughty. Doughty ran an ad for his law practice in many issues of the early Springfield Herald such as the one below.

Springfield Herald, Dec 31, 1897.

An Outlaw at Lamar

One day last week a man prominent in Lamar gambling circle cut off the Marshal and his deputies with a nickel six-shooter, after having tried the heads of some of those citizens with it — World, June 21st 1888

It was the afternoon of the day that the incident occurred.

We don’t know whether it was a breach of confidence or a breach of promise or of etiquette or some other breach the culprit was guilty of, but there was sure a breach in the ranks of the agressors when the said disgressor turned his shining six shooter on the official mob that was wanting to put him in limbo.

Lamar at that time was in the primer of its history. There were only frame houses then and they were unpainted and somewhat unpretentious.

The sidewalks were something like old Boston had in those days — boards. And the street looks something like the road down this way before they were shipped.

And out in the middle of the street stood this gambling knight, like some wild animal at Bay his eyes flashing defiance, and his shining nickle-plated peacemaker in his hand — and the minions of the law, with their bravery at stake wondering what to do next.

Once and Twice and Thrice the chief defender of the faith—the same being the the city marshal essayed to engage the wary knight errant in private converse, and each time the defender of personal liberty turned the speaking end of that nickel shiner down on them and the said defender of Lamar’s holy ordinances faced about and return to the sidewalk.

As we remember it now, the man who wanted not to be interned was finally given his way about it and walked back to the saloon and the show was over for that day.

The Judge Doughty tells it after the marshal had been bluffed into good behavior, the august mayor of the pompous city—to be, shoved his hands down  into his jeans pockets, and said a short prayer and crossed himself, and then ambled unconcernedly towards the  bad man talking about the weather, and started in on the future greatness of the imperial city, when the gun was turned the ugly weapon down on him with exclamation —

“Throw up your hands you blankety-blank”

But the mayor having said his prayers and crossed himself knew that whichever way he went whether up or down — provided the daring man got him he would be in a better place than Lamar anyway, jerked his hands out of his pockets with a plug tobacco in one of them and remark that —

“By___ I’m going to take a chaw of terbacker — if it’s the last act of my mayoral administration.”

And the outlaw left actually laughed at the mayor with his hand still Skyward kept right on walking and talking, saying to the personal liberty man to have a chaw with him — regular old fashioned  Sweet Navy that our fathers and mothers used to chaw on”  etc. etc.

And then he begin to admonish the bad man to put up his gun became peaceable and  law-abiding and to join them in the great missionary work of saving and reformation and to the end that he might live happily ever after, etc —

And the outlaw to avoid being further punished by the mayor’s religious exhortation told the mayor he was a damn good feller and turned around and walked off.

Whether the bad man then turned from the error of his ways, afterwards joining the Saints or the Holiness people or becoming a great salvation captain,  Judge Dougherty has not advised us; but we are presuming he finally died with his boots on and went down to plead with the old Nick for the other Lamarites when they came down that way.

In conclusion, by the way of an explanation as both the  writer of these old-time historical sketches and Judge Doughty are  conscience is on veracity, and sticklers for moral uprightness, and as there is a slight variation in the observations taken at the time. —

Therefore is our idea to the set personal liberty defender, to the special delectation of Judge Daddy and others, pulled off the second matinee and that moral and upright town and hence the entertainment seen by us were on different occasions.

Next time again

Konkel often closed the series articles with little phrases such as the one above.  Here are a couple of other ways he would close.

“Ditto Next Week”
“Next Week Again”
“Something Else Next Time”

On occasion the closing was something like the following:

“Right at this point we find we have “overdrawn” on our space account, so we will squirt some embalming fluid into the rest of the yarn to keep it from spoiling, and will give it to you the next time.”

FINAL NOTE: This issue of the Springfield Herald, which contained “the article “An Outlaw in Lamar” has both the date and the year  scratched out and penciled in with a different date. This is shown in the image below and I am not sure what was intended.   It doesn’t appear to me the sequencing of that issue was wrong.

An 1887 Letter from Judge Jennings

Many of you are familiar with Judge JDF Jennings who was Vice President of the Boston or Atlantis (Colorado) Town Company from my book “Old Boston: As Wild As They Come.”    The Judge aka Judge Jennings aka John D.F. Jennings was a former plantation owner, an attorney, and a physician.  He served the Confederacy during the civil war as a surgeon. He is also often noted as the great “Orator” He was the father of Al, Ed, John and Frank Jennings. The following letter from the December 9, 1887 Trinidad Daily Citizen will provide a few more details about the Judge and daily life in Old Boston.

Header from letter written by Judge Jennings in the December 9, 1887 Trinidad Daily Citizen
Judge JDF Jennings

In the great rush of events time passes more rapidly than any of us imagine. It is nearly a month since I had the pleasure of listening to your goodly counsels, and yet it seems as only yesterday.

While i am writing the old winter King is on quite a tear. For the past few days the driving blizzard has howeled around our cottage homes, and our valleys and plains are enshrouded in a vast winding sheet of snow. Cold and blustering as it is, there is something in the falling snow and the hazy atmosphere around us that that reminds one of the winter among the grand old mountains, where you and I were born, and where we used to chase the fox and the swift footed deer.  Those were happy days brother.— free from care, free from  fear and with many bright visions floating before our youthful minds.  Have you any ideas that you and I will ever be as happy again?

Well Boston—the peerless—the beautiful—the law abiding, peaceful and quiet town that it is, is still growing, spreading and booming.  On the 24th ult. We celebrated our first anniversary, and a grad success it was. Just as daylight was peeping, something like the thunders of an earthquake shook the earth beneath us and caused us to spring from our beds in alarm.  We soon ascertained that the boys were on the rampage with dynamite bombs, which they exploded throughout the day and far into the night. I could not help thinking that those explosives were but the harbingers of Boston’s future; and that they would go thundering down the corridors of time until she shall become the great rival of our much loved sister — Trinidad.

From all points of the compass we are receiving cheering news of an enormous influx of home-seekers in early spring.  To day 128 lots changed hands, and some most excellent men from Kentucky have settled in Boston. They are all “A No. 1 Democrats.”

Judge Jennings Far Right

The surveying corps of the B.T. & G. W. railroad was driven by the cold snap, but will resume their survey as soon as the weather settles. They have completed their survey within 25 miles of Trinidad, and report that they have found the finest grade in Colorado; and 17 miles the shortest route ever yet made from the Kansas line westward.

W.O.P. McWorter, from Albany, Clinton county, Ky., purchased 14 lots in Boston to-day, and two shares in the Town Company.  His acquaintance say that he is worth a half million dollars. We are pleased to have such a man among us.

Our people are all standing the winter well, and are very hopeful of the future.

Our farmers are getting good ready for large crops the coming season.  If you will pay us a visit next fall you will find us all as happy as clams, and as game as fighting cocks.

I thank you kindly for the home thrust you gave those canting hypocrites who forced Dr. Kelley to recant his defense of Emma Abbot.  Kelley was right in the first instance, but showed himself a coward in the end.

All our people esteem the CITIZEN very highly, and if you will appoint Capt J. B. Parrot your agent in Boston, I have no doubt he will send you many subscribers.

A.Hughes and Mr. Houser started to Mexico to-day, with the foul intent of killing deer and buffalo meat, but we now have an abundance of venison.

There is no new town in eastern Colorado that esteems the people of Trinidad more highly than do the people of Boston.

With many good wishes for your future, I remain your friend.

“THE JUDGE.”

References

Photo’s Courtesy of the Oklahoma Historical Society.

Trinidad Daily Citizen, (Trinidad, Colorado) December 9, 1887

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,

“Com.”

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 

The Sidewalks of Old Boston

The Springfield Herald had a regular series in 1918 called “Persons, Stories, and Incidents of Old Boston and the Old Days.”  The episode author is listed as “The Writer” who is actually Sam Konkel.  

Left: Sam Konkel   Middle: Sam Konkel 188ish   Right Sam Konkel 1930ish

Photos courtesy of Zaylan Konkel

The October 19, 1918, edition of the series was titled “Sidewalks”.  The thing that’s interesting about Sam Konkel to me is was in Boston as the publisher of the Western World during its entire existence. It is noted in this article he left the country in 1889.   The 15-year return to a ride through Old Boston corresponds to his return in 1905 to run the Springfield Herald which later became the Democrat Herald.  I bet the silence he mentions up returning was amazing as he was there during its wild lively days.  His recollections are very important to the history of Old Baca County as his was a first-hand account of those days.    This story goes as follows:

Now we will have the sidewalks – see ordinance. This time the city has the contract and will put down the walks if the citizens fail to do so. Sixty days and we will be the only new town except Lamar in Eastern Colorado, with complete sidewalks. We will have another Jubilee then — World August 2nd, 1888.

Jas. D. Newton Saturday brought in the first load of native lumber that has found its way to our town. Dr. Brown ordered the lumber for sidewalks. It’s made from hard pitch Pine about 10 miles south of Troy and sells there at $18.00 per thousand feet. — Western World August 19th, 1888.

To have real sidewalks in those days or something the holler about.  The town wasn’t 2 years old so the sidewalks were really a wonderful achievement, and Boston, of course, is pretty well “blowed up” over it.

The walks we believe were 8 feet wide and extended 4 blocks on Main Street and 2 on 9th Avenue.

The city put down the sidewalks. We presume some of the lot owners paid for the walk collected as payment on that lumber.

In case the parties were to wait for their money till collected as taxes, on the lots, we are not presuming the lumber was ever paid for, as the town and the whole country went to the dogs the next spring, the good people not stopping about such little things as paying the taxes before going.

The writer left the country in May of 1889.  At the sidewalks were still there — as standing (laying or lying) monuments to the industry and enterprise of the good new town; or shall we say as a satire on the stranded hopes and ambitions of those who just a few days before had seen the star of their destiny in the west and had moved to carve an empire out of the country to which the star led them.  And of course old Boston was all there at the time.  

Fifteen years later the writer rode down the Main street of old Boston and do you know, the first thing we thought of was those sidewalks — and they were gone — everything was gone.  

On Nov. 1887, the Boston city council solemnly ordained an ordinance entitled — “To prevent Removal of Town Property.”

But here in the face of that ordinance, solemnly ordained, all the hooks, ladders and buckets belonging to the town were gone, the sidewalks were gone — and the whole durned town was gone.  

What had become of the hooks, ladders and buckets? What had become of the town? And the people — where were all the people?

The thing that probably impressed us most as we rode into and stopped in the center of that old town — was the awful stillness.

Of course we knew before riding into the town that everything was gone, but the feeling of that awful stillness in the center of that town was as if the good people of that good old town had met with some nihilating world catastrophy, and all it’s people were then sleeping beneath what was once it’s lively thoroughfares.

But the sidewalks — bless your sweet life, we never did learn will let them rest.

Something else next week.