Post copyright by Doris McCraw
Despite the 1859 Pikes Peak or Bust gold rush, the area up Ute Pass and the west side of Pikes Peak had no settlements until you reached Fairplay in the South Park area. The town of Colorado City, founded in 1859, was one of the last stops before heading up to the gold/silver fields on the southern route.
The Fremont expedition traveled through the area between 1842-44 and in the 1870’s there was the Hayden survey. Around 1870 the Costello family moved from Fairplay and set up ranching near the Ute pass route. The Welty family also started ranching in 1871 south of the Costello ranch near what is now Cripple Creek Colorado.
By 1871 the Costello Ranch was a stopping off point and place to replenish supplies for the miners heading further west. Soon the elder Costello had set up a hostelry and general store and in 1873 a post office located there. Costello named the town/post office, Florissant in honor of his home back in Missouri.
This was still an untamed land and the Ute Indians would stop by the Costello’s, sometimes as many as thirty would join the family for a meal. There were still some conflicts, which most tried to avoid, but the clash of cultures was to be expected.
Others had joined the small community almost from the beginning with ranches being located close by. With abundant forest nearby, a sawmill was constructed. One ‘story’ is that Mary Reynolds, knowns as ‘Dirty Mary’, along with a husband, if the history is correct, had a ranch and sawmill, and Mary was also the local mid-wife.
In 1878, Adeline Hornbeck bought/homesteaded the area between Florissant and the ranches to the south. Her property was the first to locate on what is now the National Florissant Fossil Beds, which were created during the volcanic period that created the Cripple Creek/Victor gold mine district. This same volcanic activity may also be responsible for the gemstones located north and a little west of the area. (If you watch the Weather Chanel’s “prospectors”, some of the claims are in this area.)
For more information on Adeline, here is the link to the post I wrote about her: http://prairierosepublications.blogspot.com/2014/10/adeline-hornbeck-early-pioneer.html
This area is the eastern most of the region where my novella, “Home for His Heart” takes place.
Home for His Heart:Will Clara be able to escape her past and can Sam find her before it is too late.
“Sam! Sam, saddle up!” shouted Paul. “All hell has broke loose. Where are you?”
“I’m here, by the barn,” answered Sam. “What do you mean, all hell broke loose?”
“Saddle up and I’ll tell you on the way.”
Riding toward town, Paul explained. “Shortly after you left, this man came rushing into town. How he managed to stay on his horse, I don’t know. He was talking about dangerous men…warning…fire. It was hard to understand what he was saying. He was in bad shape.”
“Any idea who he is or where he came from?” asked Sam.
“No, and that isn’t all. It may be coincidence, but as we were taking him to Sally’s, Fred came staggering out of Clara’s house. Said someone hit him when he went back for his pipe, and Clara’s gone missing!”
“What do you mean, missing?”
“Sam, I mean Clara is nowhere to be found.” Paul stated. “I headed to Clara’s and the house was in shambles, as if there had been a fight,” said Paul.
Sam felt a crack in the fence of the prison he had put around his heart; the heart he had been protecting all these years. If he’d turned around when he thought of Clara, she might still be in her house. She would be safe. Like usual, he hadn’t been there when he was needed.
Paul must have seen what was going through his friend’s mind. “Stop your beatin’ up on yourself, and let’s find Clara,” Paul demanded.
“What about the man who came riding in? Can he tell us anything?” asked Sam.
“He’s out of it. Someone has gone to get Dirty Mary. She may just be a midwife, but the nearest thing we have to a doctor. Hopefully she can help,” said Paul. “I was planning to backtrack him and hoped you could try to track where Clara had gone.”
“Of course,” Sam said. “I’ll do my best.”
“That’ll be good enough, my friend. I know you’ll find her,” Paul said with conviction.
Until next time, see you in the library!