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Sunday, February 4, 2018


This is a re-post of an earlier piece from 2010. It concerns a woman who work and life I greatly admire. And of course, someone I portray to make sure we don't forget her.

East of the Great Mountain 

and West of the Sun

Helen’s Colorado Springs 1873

In 1873 Helen Hunt arrived in Colorado Springs. This was ten years after 
the death of her husband in 1863. His death followed that of their first son 
1854. Her second son died in 1865. That arrival and subsequent observations became part and parcel of her essay “Colorado Springs” published in August 
of 1874 in the New York Independent approximately nine months after her arrival in town.

So what was really happening in this town that she wrote about? 

At the time Colorado was still a territory with S. H Elbert as the territorial governor and M.A. Shaffenburg as the United States Marshall.

We know the town had a population of around three thousand. The town
was “governed by the following trustees.”: Matt. France, W. H. Macomber,
C.T. Barton, A. H. Weir and J. T. Wilson. They even had a town herder by 
the name of Thomas Hughes.

As Helen says in her essay “it might be said that three years ago the town 
of Colorado Springs did not exist….that it is also known as “The Fountain Colony””…. Helen felt that The Fountain Colony was a better name for,
“there is not a spring of any sort whatever in the town...” The trustees of 
the Fountain Colony as she stated in the essay, were “men of means,
position, and great executive ability.” (It should be noted the city and the Fountain Colony trustees were separate entities) The Fountain Colony 
Board consisted of: Gen. Wm. J. Palmer, President, Henry McAlister, Jr., Executive Director, Gerald De Coursey, Secretary, Wm. P. Mellen, Treasurer, M.L. DeCoursey, Assistant Treasurer. The Trustees: Wm. J. Palmer, 
Dr. Robert H. Lamborn, Col. Josiah C. Reiff, Col. W. H. Greenwood, 
Wm. P. Mellen and the Chief Engineer, E. S. Nettleton. Furthermore she
states these men are, “enthusiasts in their determination to exert their controlling power in the right direction.” 

One of those directions was in the “contest of wills” between theboard and the 
liquor dealers. This contest appears to have gone on for some time and in
1873 at the time of Helen’s arrival the town was trying yet again to deal 
with the liquor dealers who continued to make and sell their wares despite a ban
against such actions. 

This is the only mention of the area's growth pangs. She then moves
onto a description of the scenery in and around the town. But there was so 
much more going on in the area.

In August of that year there was discussion and later voting on whether to 
retain Colorado City as the county seat or move it to Colorado Springs. 
The results of the voting: Colorado Springs became the new county seat of
the county of El Paso, in the territory of Colorado. This change would
eventually help fulfill the vision of men like Gen. Palmer and others who 
were called by Helen, “enthusiasts in their faith in the future of the region.”

The financial crisis of 1873 also touched Colorado Springs. At the end of 
October of that year the bank of Wm. B Young & Co. had to suspend 
operations due to the drains on the deposits of the bank. This was the 
result of the financial panic in part caused by the failure of Henry Crews
and Company of New York. At the same time the “El Paso County Bank” 
was opened. The men who formed this banking house were: W. S. Jackson,
who at the time was the Secretary/Treasurer of the Denver & Rio Grande Railway, along with Mr. Wolfe, Mr. White and Mr. Goodrich. ( W. S. Jackson became Helen’s second husband.) 

Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region received a boost with the 
Signal Corps deciding o place a signal station on the top of Pikes Peak.
The local paper would print the readings that were taken at the top of the mountain. The Colorado Springs Company also purchased from a Mr. Nat 
Colby the entrance to Cheyenne Canyon, so that “the enjoyment of its
beauties may be assured to visitors for all time.”

Although not mentioned directly in the Colorado Springs essay Helen would speak at length about Cheyenne Canyon. 

One of the last events that happened that year was the death of Judge 
Baldwin. His death on November 3 created a mystery that is still unsolved to this day. (His body was found in a well and the circumstances were not conclusive as to whether it was foul play or accident.) This may have occurred just before or around the time Helen arrived in Colorado Springs. *An added note, the title of Judge was given Baldwin for judging a sheep contest, for he was a sheep man who had a sheep farm northeast of downtown. Sheep were big business in the early days of the town.

Regardless of the events, both positive and negative, as Helen stated in her essay “for those alone whom I might possibly win to love Colorado Springs as I love it, I repeat that it is a town lying east of the Great Mountain and west of the sun." Helen continued to experience and love this city at the foot of Pikes Peak as a place of both beauty and growth for the remainder of her life.

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Member of National League of American Pen Women,
Women Writing the West,
Pikes Peak Posse of the Westerners

Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet
For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Photo and Poem: Click Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here


  1. Doris,

    I'm always glad to revisit any of your blog articles. I learn something new that I missed the time before. *hugs* For instance, I missed it before that "judge" was a title Baldwin received for sheep judging. lolol

    1. I wondered if anyone would catch that. With the big game and the huge mailing at work, well, sometimes you just have to rely something you've already done. *Grin*. Glad you enjoyed revisiting the history. I love digging into the stacks and finding these kinds of things. He also had been scalped and when he was caught again by Indians, they let him hair.

  2. Thank you for sharing this again, Doris. I was not reading blogs in 2010, so it is new to me.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. Sometimes one just needs to make use of the past. This was one of my favorites, probably because it dealt with the world Helen lived in. Doris

  3. I'm glad you posted this again, because I've been wondering who Helen Hunt was when you've posted about her on Facebook. What a fascinating woman! I'm going to have to look her and the scalped and possibly murdered Judge Baldwin.

    1. Thank you Patti. Helen was a very complex woman who once she had a idea, she was like a dog with a bone. She also had no problem with changing her mind, if the facts warranted it. If you want to know more about Baldwin, I'll send you some interesting information. He was quite the character. Doris

    2. Yes,please! When you get a chance. Thanks!

  4. Great blog post, Doris. Always enjoy learning about Helen Hunt.

    1. You are welcome, Kristy. She and my adopted city have such great stories and exciting history. *smile* Doris

  5. Doris, I always so enjoy your blogs. So interesting, informative and food for thought as to writing various characters and happenings, etc. Thanks again for sharing all this with us.

    1. It is my pleasure. I'm always researching something, and since some doesn't fit a project, I must share it. Don't want to waste it, LOL. Glad you enjoy what I find fascinating. Doris