people think Colorado Springs, Colorado was always a nice resort town. The
founding fathers didn't allow the manufacture of 'spirits', property
owners needed to be of good moral character, and the company also donated
land to build churches. After all General Palmer was a Quaker, even though he fought in the Civil War (on the Union side) as had been a POW. The town was all of the above and more.
Jackson and Isabella Bird arrived in late1873. Neither had an
instant love with this new town.
Around the same time of the arrival of the two illustrious ladies, there was a death that to this
day has not been solved. Below are the 'facts'.
November 3, 1873 W.H. (Judge) Baldwin met his demise by person or
persons unknown. He may even have met that demise by his own actions.
body was found in the well at Green and Stitzer’s slaughterhouse.
After his body was recovered from the well, at 2 PM, it was noted
that his pocket had been turned inside out and the money he that had
been on his person the night before was missing. His horse was tied
to the fence outside and his hat and shoes were found on the floor
about five feet from the well. There was a bruise on his face near
one eye. Those
are the facts reported in the local paper about finding the body.
are additional facts which may have some bearing on the Judge
Baldwin's death: The
water in the well where the body was about five and a half feet deep
and the well itself about four feet square.
night before Baldwin was seen in town said to be intoxicated Others
said he was slightly drunk. He said he was going home, which he may
have meant his sheep ranch north and east of downtown Colorado
Springs in the Templeton Gap area. Baldwin was seen leaving the
Billiard Hall with a man name Blondin, but Blondin returned about 2 ½
hours later. Later Blondin was arrested for intoxication, but slipped
away around daylight. (In 1873 the city did not have a jail.)
in late 1873 there was a movement to drive out all the 'liquor
sellers’ in Colorado Springs. One woman after notice of Baldwin's
death, wrote to the paper and said the following: 'Baldwin was
generous to a fault, children recognized him as a friend but was the
victim of a disease.' She also said ” if the vendor of liquor has
sons, when he looks at them, let him think of the stop which was made
unsteady by his hand, of the brain which was crazed, of the struggle
in the bottom of the well… The poor man…was trying to reform”
Root & Reef saloon had their court case thrown out on November
22. It seemed the witnesses who testified could not remember if the
drank in the saloon or not. This was a contentious time in the growth
of the new town.
is some additional information on the deceased. He was a ‘judge’
by virtue of judging a sheep contest at one of the territorial fairs.
When drunk he would stand in the street and give speeches about
General Jackson, the laws of the Constitution and the rights of man.
After the elections in September of 1973 his new speech was “I’ll
tell ye, boys, I’ll tell ya; I worked hard for ye, accordin’ to
th’ rights o’ man and th’ laws o’ the Constitution. I’ll
tell ye, boys —the New Town’s got it.”
was also the story that he had been scalped in South America, and
was ever ready to show the scar. He arrived in 1868 and started life
here as a sheep herder. (Sheep were a major part of the early
economy. I'll write more on that in another post). Later that same
year he was shot in the leg and head by a band of Indians and left
for dead. About four months before his death he had about 1,000 sheep
but sold them to buy liquor. He also at the time of his death had a
ranch worth about $1,000.
this day there is speculation as to what really happened that night
of November 3, 1873. Many of the facts are probably lost to time. The
town was new and trying to establish itself as a wonderful place to
live. Was it a conspiracy, murder or just an accident. We may never
know, but the story is a fascinating one.