Juan Bautista de Anza, Cuerno Verde and Their Legacy in Colorado

Juan Bautista de Anza, Cuerno Verde and Their Legacy in Colorado
By Bob DeWitt – “ANZANISTA” and Anza Society Board Member

On Sunday, August 15, 1779 the 55th Spanish governor of New Mexico, Juan Bautista de Anza departed Santa Fe along the Camino Real on an arduous 27-day campaign in search of Comanche Indian chief Cuerno Verde, who had been raiding villages and creating havoc across the northern frontier of the Spanish Empire.
To further the research and understanding of Anza and this dramatic event which would forever alter the course of history affecting much of what is now north-ern New Mexico and southern Colorado, the Anza Legacy Project desires to define the route of this expedition to include the location of campsites and battle sites. Furthermore, the Anza Legacy Project desires to establish an Anza / Cuerno Verde National Historic Trail along this corridor.
The historic preservation of this route is vital in a number of aspects. Our Spanish heritage is seldom understood or taught in the primary educational system. Acknowledgment need be given the Native American tribes to include the Ute and Jicarilla Apache who accompanied Anza on this expedition. Additionally, the Comanche are a vital part of this story.
The definition of this important corridor throughout northern New Mexico and southern Colorado will not only create a greater understanding of Anza and our Spanish heritage, but additionally, the interest created can only help benefit communities located along this route resulting in increased tourism.
The Anza Society, Inc. Board of Directors unanimously passed a resolution of support for the Anza Legacy Project and namely Bob DeWitt and John Anderson in this effort. While this project is new in name, it continues to build on the work of past members of the Anza Society to include scholars such as Don Garate, Ron Kessler, Jer Zyberra, Joe Myers, Wilfred Martinez and many others.
Furthermore, Spanish descendants of various research and historical organizations support efforts to promote true history. We know from various records that ancestors of Wilfred Martinez were on the expedition and that Francisco Domingo Anaya was the only person killed in the line of duty on the 1779 campaign.
There is a great opportunity for those wanting to learn more about Anza and the related characters in this colorful and important period of Colorado and New Mexico history. In Colorado Springs, Colorado, (for the first time ever,) the 24th Annual International Conference of the Anza Society will take place September 12-15, 2019. The conference features a rather impressive roster of credentialed presenters and authors from New Mexico, Arizona, Washington and Colorado who will share information on a diverse variety of topics focusing on the Southwest Borderlands and of course Anza.
Things kick off on Thursday afternoon with a Reception and Registration. As part of the reception, there will be a premier showing of a newly developed informational PowerPoint dubbed, “Anza A to Z”. Friday’s bus tour will take in historic sites and museums wrapping up the day with a dinner banquet and programs, to include a keynote address by New Mexico’s state historian, Dr. Rick Hendricks. To further make this event a most educational and memorable one, let me point out a few select Saturday topics. Dr. Joe Myers (Arizona) will start things off with “Spaniards in Colorado Pre Anza”, followed by Jeff Hengesbaugh (New Mexico) on the “Segesser Hide Paintings – New Findings”. Jeff has offered to bring along many original artifacts pertaining to the Anza period of the 1779 Comanche Campaign in Colorado and Northern New Mexico. To see and hear about these artifacts, will be most helpful in the work going forward on the Anza Legacy Project, in the efforts to locate and establish the trail. Two exciting features of this conference will be a couple of Panel sessions. In the morning, the “Descendants of Anza Panel” will share some insight into their ancestor’s past as part of the expedition. In the afternoon, following a presentation, “Zebulon Montgomery Pike’s Legacy” by the Pikes National Historic Trail Association, some of the talented individuals behind the establishment of various historic trails in both NM and CO will take part in a “Trails Panel”. Of course, there will be many other fascinating presentations.
While the full conference rate is very affordable at $185, on a shoestring, one can purchase the Saturday Daytime option to include a full day of engaging historical presentations and lunch for only $30! WOWis this a bargain or what? There are numerous other À la carte options available as well.

For complete conference details including Brochure and Schedule please request an EVITE invitation to RSVP with easily downloadable forms and secure credit card payment link.


South Park City-60th Anniversary Events Calendar-Summer 2019

*Dates as of 5/15/2019

May 2019

  • Open May 15th  (Open 10 – 5)
  • May 24th – Memorial Weekend   Open 9-7 thru Labor Day Weekend
  • June 2019
  • June 7 (Friday) – “South Park City – After Dark” tour – Erin – Time TBA *(Reservations required) 13 and older only
  • June 8 (Saturday) – Human Potential Race from SPC (6:00 a.m.- 8:30 a.m.)
  • June 10th – 14th (M-F) – Film Fest, 7:00PM in Theater  *(Reservations required)
  • June 14 (Friday) – Flag Day – Kids parade with flags  
  • June 15 (Saturday) – “Father Dyer” visit (Don Cummings re-enacting)
  • June 15 & 16 (Saturday and Sunday) – “Faro Lessons” w/Lon & Emma and re-enactors talking w/visitors
  • June 22 (Saturday) – “Dutch Oven Cooking” – Sheila and friends
  • June 23 (Sunday) – Randall McKinnon –music education with guitar and other instruments  – 11am to 1pm
  • June 29 (Saturday) – Laura & Carla Hokanson and Charlease Elgenza – “1880’s Craft Lessons”
  • June 29 (Saturday) – Randy & Carole Barnes Music Education – Pioneer Home Porch
  • June 30 (Sunday) – Drawing for 2020 Seasonal Pass

July 2019
  • July 4 (Thursday) - Independence Day
  • July 5 (Friday) - “South Park City – After Dark” tour – Erin – Time TBA *(Reservations Required) 13 & older only
  • July 6th (Saturday) – Randy & Carole Barnes Music Education – Pioneer Home Porch
  • July 7th (Sunday) – Randall McKinnon – music education 11 am – 1 pm
  • July 13 (Saturday) – “Legendary Ladies” re-enacting history – 11 am and 12:30 pm
  • July 14 (Sunday) – “Father Dyer” visit (Don  Cummings re-enacting)
  • July 20 & 21 (Saturday and Sunday) – “Faro Lessons” w/Lon & Emma and 2-4 GCGF’s talking w/visitors
  • July 27 (Saturday) – Randy & Carole Barnes Music Education – Pioneer Home Porch
  • July 27th & 28th – Fairplay Burro Days  (llama & burro races through SPC)
  • July 31 (Wednesday) - Drawing for 2020 Seasonal Pass

August 2019
  • August 1 (Thursday) – “COLORADO DAY”
  • August 2 (Friday) - “South Park City – After Dark” tour – Erin – Time TBA *(Reservations Required) 13 & older only
  • August 10th & 11th – “ Living History Daysre-enactors, music, and story-telling and much, much more
  • August 18 – Randall McKinnon – music education & more  11 am – 1 pm
  • August 31 (Saturday) – “Tunes and Tales” - Historical presentations and music
  • August 31 (Saturday) - Drawing for 2020 Seasonal Pass

September 2019
        Sept 6 (Friday) – “South Park City – After Dark” tour – Erin – Time TBA *(Reservations Required) 13 & older only
September 7 (Saturday) – Plein-Air “Quick Draw” 10-12
September 14 (Saturday) -  “Father Dyer” visit  (Don Cummings re-enacting)
  • September 30 (Monday) - Drawing for 2020 Seasonal Pass
October 2019
October 4 (Friday) – “South Park City – After Dark” tour – Time TBA *(Reservations Required) 13 & older only

*All events subject to change – Call 719-836-2387 for up-dated information.

The Mysterious Madam – The Life & Times of Laura Bell McDaniel

So very excited! Two very old and dear friends are in the process of telling the story of Laura Bell McDaniel-Madam of infamous fame. I have known Lee Michels and Jan MacKell Collins for years and not only know their quailty of research but their shared passion for Laura Bell McDaniel!

The Mysterious Madam – The Life & Times of Laura Bell McDaniel

Laura Bell McDaniel's amazing life story entwines the threads of intrigue, mystery, wealth, corruption, politics and prostitution into the fabric from which her life was cut. The enigmatic madam proves the exception to the rule about women in the prostitution industry who fought for their cause and won, at a very high price.
Colorado native and living history presenter Lee Michels has delved into Laura Bell’s story, and those of the American West soiled doves, for over 37 years. Ms. Michel's vast and relentless research has led her down the path of the mysterious madam, branching off into portraying Laura Bell with riveting, living history presentations and co-penning her true rags-to-riches story. The host of characters she crossed paths with during her life is astounding and the ending, equally stirring, teases your imagination to this day.
Co-authoring this in-depth reflection on a determined woman’s journey through a man’s world of the Old West is Jan MacKell Collins. Her 30+ years of intensive research about Laura Bell and Colorado City 's red-light district adds true-life dimension to this burgeoning work. Ms. MacKell Collins has written several books, plus literally thousands of articles on the history of the West, with a special attention for the women and prostitutes that helped shape the modern America we know.

Cache Creek Part Deux!

  I find the Cache Creek area absolutely fascinating.  I feel this connection. Like a sense of deja vu. Maybe it is because my family stopped in Granite as they as they traveled back and forth between Buena Vista and Leadville over a hundred years ago. Or maybe the fact  it lies in quiet abandon from its booming days as one of the first gold strikes during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush in the late 1850's.

So many of the gold strikes at that time are now large cities, including our very own state capitol of Denver Colorado.

Cache Creek, however, sits up above the canyon through which the Arkansas River flows. In 1861, the town of Granite,  had a population of over 3000, and held the honor of being the county seat until  1879, and is now, barely a spot in the road.

Our first visit to Cache Creek was this fall, although we drove  past it many times on our way to Leadville,not giving it a second thought.

It is these hidden secrets, these stories untold  I hope to discover and share as I begin my research into this area. I always have to discover as much as I can about an area. I'm never satisfied with just a simple coating of history, no, I find myself immersed in digitized newspapers, digging deeper and deeper until I discover its very roots.

One of the first things I noticed as we walked through this area on our way to the creek, was how clean it was. This area was once filled with over 3000 placer miners looking to strike it rich. Not only were there men, but there was equipment. Large equipment used to blast away the side of the mountains in the hydraulic method of mining used at that time. But as we walked around, it was one of the first things I noticed, there was no trash. No rusted metals, no old tin cans, no old broken bottles in various hues of greens, blue, and purples, as one finds in old glass. It was as if someone had come in and swept the area clean.
I did discover a few remnants of rusted pipes, which I am sure were used in the blasting away of the mountain side.

Cache Creek was at the height of its gold producing when production came to a sudden halt in 1911. This was due to an environmental law suit brought on by those who lived down stream. In fact, this was the first environmental lawsuit in the state of Colorado. Remember this was back in the day when the last thing anyone thought of was the impact on the environment.

 According to an article written in 1903,  for 38 years the Cache Creek Placer ran its tailings through their bed rock flume.  The way Cache Creek is located there really was no other way for the tailings to be disposed of than running them down the Arkansas River which affected the residents of Canon City. At the time of the article, they didn't hold up much hope  their pleas would be listened to, however , in 1911, mining in  Cache Creek came  to an end.


Gold Fever on Cache Creek

Pikes Peak or Bust

The cry of the 59'ers resonated across the country when gold was discovered in the Kansas Territory in 1859, ten years following the California Gold Rush of 1849.

George A. Jackson's discovery along Chicago Creek is today Idaho Springs and Green Russell's found his pot of gold near the South Platte River and Cherry Creek, near Denver Colorado.

 Today, Cache Creek, little more than a bump in the road, was once one of the largest placer gold mining operations in the state. Located west of the town of Granite Colorado, in Northern Chaffee County, Cache Creek operated from 1860 to 1911. It became the first settlement of note in the upper Arkansas Valley. Three hundred people settled along the creek that first year. The following year, the population of gold hungry miners increased to over 3000!

Have not been able to located actual pictures of Cache Creek at this time. This is an excellent example how placer mining was conducted on Cache Creek.

Small independent placer mining first took place along Cache Creek from 1860 to 1863.  Significant increases in production took place in 1884 with the introduction of “booming” and again in 1889 when hydraulic placer mining was introduced. The water was diverted from Lake Creek to Cache Creek by a 16 mile long Cache Creek Ditch. Nearly $3,000,000 in gold is reported to have been produced from the placers. These operations continued until 1911 when the entire operation was shut down in one of Colorado’s first environmental lawsuits.

I wonder if the miners who spent most of their time with bent backs and standing in ice cold water looking for those elusive nuggets ever took the time to stop and appreciate the  natural beauty that surrounded them.

 The Earth Is Pure Muck!

Since major mining operations ended, a slow and natural recovery of the Cache Creek area began.  The Bureau of Land Management recently acquired the land that includes Cache Creek.

 This acquisition was made primarily for wildlife habitat and open space but it is also recognized for its significant mining history.  The Cache Creek Area has been of interest to the small scale placer mining community because placer gold was left behind when major operations were shut down in 1911.

 And Mucks A Good Thing

 The country is rugged but not so rugged we could not carry our pans, sluice, metal detector, back packs etc in a short bit until we found the creek and set up operations.

The Best Things in Life Are Dirty!

My operations consisted more of rock hunting and fish watching than gold panning. Also getting myself lost at least a couple of times, not realizing I was only a few yards away. Note to self, this usually happens and I need to figure out something else when I decide to wander off so I really don't get lost!


Buffalo Soldiers in Colorado

  Celebrating the history of the west is remembering and honoring the unsung  heroes who made our country what it is today.

The history of the Buffalo Soldier laid hidden away in dusty old archives until the first book was written in 1967, which brought the history of these men to the public.

The Buffalo Soldiers: A Narrative of the Black Cavalry in the West, Revised Edition
Shortly after September 11, 2001, we were organizing a miltiary themed walking tour for Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs. I had invited a dear friend of mine who was a Buffalo Soldier reenactor to share this history at the Spanish American War site, since the 10 US Cavalry Buffalo Soliders played an intrical part in the Spanish American War and the charge up San Juan Hill with Theodore Roosevelt.
 Buried amongst these few veterans of the Spanish American War, was George Mason, a member of 10th US Cavalary, an actual Buffalo Soldier. From that day, so many years ago, these men, who in their 70's, come out, dressed in full uniform to pay their respects to the fellow comrade in arms and to pay honor to all the veterans who have payed the price for the freedons we take for granted today.

The Buffalo Soldier played a very important part in the settling of the west and in Colorado itself.  Here are a few places you can visit to learn more about this history

Colorado Buffalo Soldier History


A Sense of Place

 A journey into your family history, is often like opening an old musty book, filled with forgotten stories, and interesting people.

My journey didn't start with the musty old book but a place. A place unlike any other, filled with forgotten stories and yes, interesting people.

The story begins at one of the most beautiful places in Colorado. Along the foot of Mount Princeton, lies what is left of the Friskey Ranch, and where my journey into my family history began.
My earliest memories are of spending many summer days at "Gus's Cabin" named for my great uncle Gus Friskey who built the cabin in about the late 1890's early 1900's. We cooked on a wood burning Majestic wood stove, brought water up from the creek and basically lived as pioneers. There were no hand held games or cell phones, well heck back in that day, there wasn't even the Internet, so we
spent our time playing along the creek, or in the old corrals.

My greatest joy was walking from Gus's Cabin to what we called the "Old House" located a short distance up the road. There could be found broken pieces of worked flint and if we were really lucky an arrowhead or two. Definitely evidence of Native American habitation long before it became a ranch.

For anyone who has delved into their family history, the straight road you thought you were on, usually takes a few twists and turns into unexpected directions.

It was always believed that after my ggrandfather Charles Friskey died in Colorado City (today's westside Colorado Springs) in 1879, his widow, Johannah Sophia Carlotta Friskey and her four sons purchased the ranch in 1880. They do appear in the 1880 census for Chaffee County so we know for sure they were in the area.

The internet can be a wonderful tool when doing research, however, it is usually responsible for throwing in a monkey wrench or two. I was searching for any information regarding the Friskey family in Buena  Vista, and came upon the application that the "Ranch" along with other landmarks in the area, was being considered for a listing on the National Register of Historic Places! Which in and of itself is pretty darn cool. However, the property was listed as the Smith-Friskey Ranch. So after speaking with the firm  conducting the historical and archeological survey, I discovered the Friskey's did not purchase the property in 1879-1880 as always believed, but in 1890-1900. The exact dates will have to be pinned down after going through the abstract of the property.

 Putting this new piece into the puzzle adds a new dimension. Johannah Sophia Carlotta immigrated from Germany (Saxony) about 1870 and did not speak English.  The property is located a distance of a few miles from town. Widowed  with 4 young boys, 16, 14, 4 and 2, how would she support herself and her sons. The two oldest could work, however, they still needed food and a roof over their heads. Back in those days, a person took care of themselves and their families and didn't look for handouts.
Nor did she remarry as was often the case if a woman found herself widowed with a family to care for.
 So on to discovering a missing 20 years in this family's history. I wonder what surprises will be discovered?