Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Serendipity of Research and Writing

Last weekend my family went to Canon City to see our friend, western singer Barry Ward, perform in concert. Barry is a wonderful musician and singer and we had a great time. A local group, Saddle Strings, opened for Barry. During their performance, the lead singer, Dave, mentioned he lives in Howard and runs Bandera's Bunkhouse, where they have cabins and a motel along the Arkansas River. After the concert, I asked Dave if he had heard the story of the cattle rustlers in the Howard area in the 1880's. Not only had he heard the story, Dave told me he could take me to the gulch where the cattle rustlers (Watkins and Christison) butchered the stolen cattle!

Serendipity: "The faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for." (Merriam-Webster's Dictionary)

When I told Barry what had happened, he said, "You were meant to be here tonight!" I e-mailed my writer friend,
Dianne Butts, about it when I got home and wrote, "Can you believe it?" She replied, "Yes, I can believe you found more people to take you further on your book-writing journey. You know why? Because stuff like that ALWAYS happens to you!!! THAT'S what I can't believe!"

For those of you who follow Colorado Reflections, you know this to be true. More often than not, the great finds and contacts I've made have not been diligently searched for, but have been surprises I found when least expecting them.

A few examples:

Photograph of Wilburn and Elizabeth Christison

You Never Know - Discovering a cousin who worked in the same library district as I do

Lynn Monroy, Graphologist - Coming into contact with a woman who does handwriting analysis

Black Mountain - Contacted by a Mulock Descendant

Writing a book is a journey and one that I am enjoying moment by moment. I am reminded of what author
Jane Kirkpatrick told me: "The story wants to be told and will find ways to reveal itself to you." Sometimes I want to rush to finish the book, but I know it will be done at the proper time as the story makes itself known to me.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The 1861 Colorado Territorial Election

Elizabeth Jane and Wilburn Christison

The Territory of Colorado was created on February 28, 1861 when President Buchanan signed the Colorado Organic Act -- almost three weeks after the Confederate States of America were formed with Jefferson Davis as president. President Lincoln appointed William Gilpin as the governor of the new Colorado Territory on March 21. Governor Gilpin was told by officials in Washington to do all he could to save Colorado for the Union, so he set out to organize a strong, territorial government. The first Territorial election was held Monday, August 19, 1861.

This week I discovered a
list of voters in the 1861 Territorial Election on the Denver Public Library website and a Wm. Christison is listed among the Lost Canon [sic] Precinct voters. Lost Canyon is in the same vicinity as Cash Creek.

Wilburn's obituary says he located in Cash Creek in 1861, but this is the first documentation I've found that proves it. The list of voters is on microfilm at the
Colorado State Archives and I'm anxious to look at it. There is a note that there are numerous misspellings in the original list.

Wilburn was a zealous Southern Democrat, so I'm certain he didn't vote for the the man who won the congressional seat - Republican Hiram P. Bennett.

Other Chaffee County pioneers I recognize on the list are John Burnett, F.W. Sprague (probably Galatia), and George Bertchy. 136 men voted in the Lost Canon precinct.