Monday, July 22, 2019

FASCINATING HISTORY

Post by Doris McCraw
writing as Angela Raines

Photo property of the author
In 1879 the city of Colorado Springs was a growing place. According to the city directory as of August 20, 1879, the population was five to five thousand five hundred people living there. They added there was probably another thousand who were making a temporary home for 'health' or 'pleasure' purposes.

What fascinated me was the business. Again according to the city directory ... "at the end of July 31, 1879 lumber, grocery, flour, feed, grain, dry goods, boots and shoes, hardware, drugs, etc. etc. were sold to the amount of $2 million. In addition to this about $175,000 worth of wool was marketed here. El Paso County, of which Colorado Springs is the capital, now stands at the head of the wool-producing counties of the state. Probably 200,000 head of sheep are now pastured upon its luxuriant grasses. The wool clip from these past seasons aggregated over 800,000 pounds. Seventy-seven individuals and firms are engaged in wool growing in the county, most of them residing in, and all drawing their supplies from Colorado Springs. This is also the center of a large trade in horses and beef cattle. There are six liveries and three banks one of which is a national and two private banks also in the city."


Photo property of the author
As I've perused this early city directory I've found a lot of pieces of history to dig into. As stated above, wool and cattle were a side by side growing concern. Of the wool growers, two were women, Mrs. Sarah B. Reed, and Mrs. R. Gamble. Mrs. Gamble was also involved as a stock grower.

Out of twenty physicians in town, three were women a fourth was in the nearby town of Manitou Springs. All four women were married and doing well in their chosen field.

There were four stage lines, four printers, two plumbers/gas fitters, three sewing machine agents, and eight music teachers.

It is from these gems, along with historic newspapers, that characters and stories arise in my writing. Both fiction and non-fiction.

When I started my 'spicy' story "Duty" for the collection in "Hot Western Nights", I thought of these women who were working in what most think of as a man's job. Being surrounded by these pieces of history and military installations created my hero and heroine. It is a wonderful gift to have so much inspiration close at hand.

Below is a short excerpt from the story "Duty".

Riding toward the ranch house, as evening approached, Dan took in the corals, barn, and bunkhouse. Everything appeared in even better shape than it seemed when he looked it over before riding down. Like a small town with a road through the middle, with gates at each end. But it was quiet, too quiet. For a second time today Dan called out, as he closed the gate behind him, "Hello?"
He heard a door open at the side of the house. Turning that way, he saw someone step out. The sun broke through and Dan was greeted by a vision in a worn gingham dress. Her hair draped across her shoulders and down her back. Her stance showed no apparent fear.
She was tall, but not overly so. She stood quietly. So taken by her unexpected appearance, Dan failed to see the rifle barrel sticking out the window.
"Yes, may I help you?" came Miranda's rich voice as she spoke to Dan.

"Pardon ma'am, I was riding through and wondered if I might water my horse and pick up some supplies before moving on? I'll pay for the supplies if you have them to spare?" Dan asked as he shook the water from his hat.

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What inspires you? What kind of stories do you enjoy reading or writing? Are you like me and fascinated by those little tidbits of history?

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet








3 comments:

  1. Doris, thanks for the info about early Colorado Springs. Knowing what businesses were there is helpful in my writing. Thanks.

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  2. Doris, I have never thought of finding such details in a city directory. Thanks for the research tip.

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  3. Now I have to investigate if my city has an historical registry like this with such detailed information. I haven't been in one of the banks lately, but for years it had a huge wall hanging of all the local brands each rancher used for his cattle. I so enjoyed reading about Colorado Springs as I've been hooked on the tv series, Homicide Hunter and see modern-day glimpses of this interesting city. You always entertain as you inform, Doris.

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