BELOW-CHILDREN OF JAMES HARRISON PIERCE SR.
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DESCENDENTS OF JAMES H PIERCE SR
James H Pierce Sr. History and Notes
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North Ga and the
settlement of the Rocky
Lacking sufficient capital to continue mining in Georgia once its rich surface (placer) gold deposits were exhausted, in the late 1850s North Georgia miners began spending the warmer months of the year looking for gold in the Rocky Mountains. A Georgian was the first to discover placer gold in Colorado. Another Georgian was the first to find lode gold. Both Denver and Helena, Montana grew out of a settlements established by Georgia gold miners.
Denver's roots lie in a settlement founded by Georgian William Greenberry (Green) Russell, whose discovery of the first placer gold in Colorado set off the nation's third gold rush. Shortly thereafter another Georgian, John H. Gregory, discovered in the nearby mountains Colorado's first lode gold. (Placer gold is flakes of gold washed from veins or lodes of gold in the mountains to the beds of streams in the valleys below them.)
Russell's family emigrated to Georgia from South Carolina in 1822, when Green was two years old. Like his father James, who had migrated from Pennsylvania along the foothills of the Appalachians looking for gold, Green and his younger brothers, John Riley, Joseph Oliver, and Levi Jasper, became gold miners. Not long after arriving in Georgia the Russells settled in Hall County not far from Auraria. When James died in 1835, Green became the head of the family, but he was not the only brother who had to go to work to support the family. Nine-year-old John, for example, went to work in a mine for 16 cents a day. Green promised his brothers that when they grew up they would get rich mining gold.
Word of the gold found at Sutter's mill in 1848 in California came to Georgia via a woman from Georgia who cooked for Sutter's crew. Because Green had both friends and relatives who were part Cherokee, it is not surprising that when he heard about the discovery of gold in California, he organized a party of men that included Cherokees and his brother John to go to California. Other Cherokees, under the leadership of Lewis Ralston, also made the long trek across plains, barren desert, and the rugged Rocky Mountains.
A very unpleasant task of Green�s youth concerned the Cherokees. Green was assigned to help round up Cherokees for removal to what was then called Indian Territory (Oklahoma). Ironically, in 1877, shortly before Green died, his brother John, who had settled in the Indian Nation to escape post-war hardship in Georgia, talked Green into joining him there. Unhappy with life in the Indian Nation, Green decided to return to Georgia once the weather was cooler. However, before the weather changed, he died.
In order to avoid the fierce Plains Indians, Green returned to Georgia from California by taking a ship from San Francisco to Panama. After crossing Panama by foot, mule back, and canoe, he took a ship to New Orleans. From there he took a steamer to Memphis, making the rest of the trip home by land. When he got back to Georgia, he delivered the first California gold to be minted to the U.S. Mint in Dahlonega. John bought land with gold he found in California and gave up mining to become a Lumpkin County farmer, merchant, and state representative.
The following year Green took his younger brothers to California via the sea route. To avoid disease in New Orleans, they returned to Georgia via Havana and Key West. When they got back home Green�s brothers announced that, like John, they were going to settle down. Green, too, settled down, purchasing from the Palmour family a plantation called Savannah located between Palmer and Russell creeks near Dawsonville. Levi enrolled in the Philadelphia College of Medicine and Surgery, a school which in that day trained many of Georgia's physicians. After he graduated, he returned to Georgia to practice.
Green's resolve to settle down was short lived. Finding himself financially pinched by the panic of 1857, he and Oliver took their cousins James Pierce and Sam Bates to Kansas, where they acquired land in its infamous Pottawatomie County. Leaving the other men there to put crops in, Green contacted some of his friends in the Indian Nation about organizing a prospecting expedition to the Pike's Peak country. The inspiration for organizing this trip was the fact that Lewis Ralson's Georgia relatives had told Green that on their way to California the party of Cherokees he led, as had Green, found gold in that region
Green and his party arrived at Ralston Creek in what is today Colorado, but was then the western edge of the Kansas Territory, in the spring of 1858. Most of the 104 men in the party were Georgians, Cherokees, and Kansans. The Cherokees quickly became discouraged and homesick and left. Subsequent desertions reduced the group to a mere 13. Included in this small band were Green, Oliver, and Levi Russell, their nephew Billy Odum, and their cousins James and Robert Pierce and Sam Bates.
Soon exaggerated stories spread by a passing trader about how much gold they had found at Cherry Creek set off the nation's third gold rush. As a result, when they returned from a foray to Wyoming, there were already several tents and Indian lodges at their Cherry Creek camp site. Leaving Levi to supervise the construction of the first white man's permanent dwelling in the Pike's Peak country, Green and Oliver returned to Georgia to purchase more equipment.
They were surprised on their trip back to meet a large number of people headed for Cherry Creek because winter, which was fierce in the Rockies, was coming on. Although prospecting in the icy, forbidding Rockies during the winter was dangerous and supposedly fruitless, in their absence another Georgian, John H. Gregory, tentatively located load gold in what was soon to be known as the richest square mile on Earth. He confirmed his find on May 6, 1859.
In contrast to Green Russell, John Hamilton Gregory has always beena man of mystery. Until recently here was no known photograph of him, and nothing was known of him after 1861. According to Colorado historian Caroline Bancroft, "he might very well have ridden into the Territory on the tail of Donati's comet in 1858 and ridden out again on the caboose of the Great Comet of 1864, for these years more than cover the certified record of the man." Green, it has been said, knew him in Georgia. In Colorado, he and Green sued each other. One of Green's descendants claims they did not like each other because Green was a Democrat and Gregory a Republican whose family fled to Indiana after the War broke out. The author concluded that Gregory was not the John Gregory, age 36, listed in the 1860 census in the Auraria District of Lumpkin County who it was claimed long ago in an article in The Georgia Historical Quarterly was the Colorado gold miner. The author concluded that he was probably the John H. Gregory, age 29, listed along with his wife Christina and two children, Frances and Sis, in the 1850 Census of Cherokee County.
In 1999, many years after the author of this article had published an article about Gregory in The West Georgia Review, members of a Gregory family began contacting her because they believed he was a member of their family. Eventually the Gregories provided strong evidence that that the Cherokee County John H. Gregory was the Colorado gold miner. The author's belief that he was the miner was largely based on the fact that the husband of a possible sister had the name of one of his partners, and another Cherokee Co. man living nearby also had the name of a Colorado partner. The author wondered if he might have been killed in the War Between the States. It turned out that, contrary to the Russell's belief, he had enlisted in the Confederate Army and had died in a prisoner of war camp. (The Russell's claimed Gregory was a Republican and fled to the North!) In June 2000 the author received a copy of a picture of John H. Gregory! You can click to a link at the bottom of this article to read one provided by a member of the Gregory family that contains the information about him that his family has unearthed, including the picture.
Named after John H. Gregory in Colorado were a point, a gulch, a street, a district, a hill, a creek, a canon, a hotel, three lodes, a diggings, and two mining companies. Gregory was known as the king of the little kingdom of Gilpin, home of Central City: "the richest square mile on Earth." Like the Russells, some have claimed he was from Auraria, Georgia. However, the Rocky Mountain News once reported that he was from Gordon County, Georgia. Some contemporaries said he was born in Georgia. Others said Alabama.
The Omaha Nebraskan reported that on October 17, 1860 that he had passed through on his way to Georgia. The Rocky Mountain News reported on April 3, 1861 that, "we had the pleasure of again taking by the hand our old friend John H. Gregory, the discoverer of the Gregory mines. He has just returned from his home in Alabama to spend another season in our mines." Did the outbreak of the War, as it did for Green, explain why he left Colorado, leaving valuable assets behind? (He also left unsettled a claim against Green.)
By the time Green and Oliver returned to Cherry Creek, several communities, complete with stores, had sprung up in its vicinity. Reporting on the goings on in these communities was a new newspaper, the Rocky Mountain News. To facilitate trade, a form of money called script was in circulation.
Green soon located his own gold lode in a gulch about three miles from Gregory's. Because water, which was in short supply, was used in mining, Green formed a water company. Levi became the secretary of the Auraria town company, the first of several town companies formed around Cherry Creek. Between it and neighboring Denver an intense rivalry soon sprang up. However, by 1860 the towns were merged under Denver�s name, and the young City�s star was rising fast. The same was not true of its Georgia residents.
The prospects of the once esteemed Georgia miners were fading because the rift between the North and the South caused "the Georgia miners," related Bancroft, "whose prestige had always been the highest because of their knowledge of gold," to be "shunned more and more. Gregory and Russell ceased to be venerated. They and other Southerners, fearing attack, remained close to their claims and worked quietly or began to skip away from mountain towns, unannounced."
The Russell's water flumes were cut several times at night. They were subject to threats, and once they had to call the marshal when their property was taken over. As a result, they decided to sell as much of their Colorado property as possible and go home.
By the time they were ready to leave, returning home had become quite difficult because militarily the tide had turned against the Confederacy in the Far West. After a string of victories, Confederate troops under General Sibley had suffered a defeat at Glorieta Pass in New Mexico which destroyed the South's dream of acquiring the Rocky Mountain gold fields and Pacific Coast ports.
The first disaster to strike the Russell party on its way home was smallpox. The second was being intercepted by a group of Union soldiers and Comanches, who had to be dissuaded from killing the Southerners. The Russell party was held captive by Union troops for four months. Then, after they took an oath of allegiance to the United States, their gold was returned to them, and they were released. Subsequently they slipped through Unions lines and returned to Georgia, where they switched their allegiance to the Confederacy.
Both Green's house and the nearby house his wife, who, like John's wife was one-eighth Cherokee, lived in after his death still stand. Beside Green's house are the graves of several members of his family which can still be identified, including those of his mother, wife, and son Thomas. (When Green returned home from Colorado in 1859, he found that three of his sons had died during an outbreak of dysentery.) According to Arch Bishop, a local amateur historian the author interviewed a few years ago, a grave marked only with a stone with an "X" cut in it is that of Green's part-Cherokee cousin, Sam Bates. Buried next to Bates, claims Bishop, is his girl friend. Nearby in another grave without a tombstone lies Green's nephew Billy Odum.
[Text and all but first picture above copyrighted by Carole E. Scott, 1996]
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|THE HISTORY OF THE GEORGIA COLONY
The following has been transcribed from a document photocopied from microfilm. The photocopy is of poor quality. The original document was bound, causing the first two or three letters of the first words of each sentence to be cut off.
Handwritten notes on the photocopy read:
"C. W. A. Interviews Huerfano County Pam 363"
"THIS IS THE BEST COPY AVALIABLE OF WHAT MAY BE AN OLD OR POSSIBLY DAMAGED ORIGINAL"
Transcribed (with all good intentions)
By Nancy Christofferson
February 11, 1997
[How this story is connected to the C.W.A., or the Civil Works Administration, is unknown. The C.W.A. was one of Franklin Roosevelt's programs to employ those affected by the Depression. However, Benton Canon, himself a prominent Huerfano County pioneer, died in December 1927, several years before the Depression began.]
The History of the Georgia Colony
By Benton Canon
The history of the pioneer colony which moved from the state of Georgia to Huerfano County, Colorado, in the early days, is a thrilling story which dates back to the boyhood days of William Green Russell and Joseph Decatur Patterson. These two men were boyhood chums, and set sluice boxes and washed the golden sands of their native state together before the Centennial State of Colorado had been staked out, or its name written on the page of history.
Joseph Decatur Patterson, known from boyhood as Kate Patterson, had heard glowing accounts of the Pikes Peak country in the Rocky Mountains from Green Russell, who had trekked over the old Santa Fe trail and across the Rocky Mountains to the California gold excitement in 1849. In 1852 Green Russell had com back to his Georgia home with $20, 000,000 worth of gold dust which he had worked out of the golden placer fields of California.
Mr. Russell prospected the Pikes Peak country as he went through to California in 1849, and also in 1852 on his way back home, and he predicted at this early period that it would, in the near future, make one of the richest gold mining countries in the United States, if not in the world. He knew that he would never be satisfied until he returned to the Pikes Peak region and made a more thorough investigation of its mineral resources.
In 1858 and 1859 Kate Patterson accompanied Green Russell on his mining expedition to the Pikes Peak country. In 1858 they brought with them from the state of Georgia a small colony of Cherokee miners, composed of about thirty men who had learned the placer mining business in their native state. They brought their shovels, picks, and pans along with them for the purpose of testing out this mountain country for gold.
One of the best miners in this colony was James H. Pierce, cousin of Green Russell, who had the credit of panning the first gold colors on dry creek, near where Denver now stands. Green Russell was near by and said: "Give me your pan and let me try in here," and he got ten cents of gold.
In 1859 thrilling reports of the discover of gold in the Pikes Peak country were circulated far and wide, and mining men from all quarters of the world began to come in to these new gold diggings. In that year Green Russell and Kate Patterson brought another colony of about two hundred experienced mining men from Georgia. These men honed [?] out the first roads and trails into Russell gulch. It was claimed that some of the richest placer beds ever found in the Rocky Mountains were found in Russell Gulch.
It was the discoveries, made by this Georgia Colony, in 1859, that bought Horace Greeley from the office of the New York Tribune to Rocky Mountains. Horace was a conservative man and "wanted to be shown" so he came out from New York City at this early period to see for himself and help to spread the news through the columns of the New York Tribune.
He reached Denver in the early spring months when the streams were running high. It is said that upon his arrival at Denver he promptly bartered a mule, bridle and spurs, and took the trail to the new gold diggings on Clear Creek and in Russell Gulch. He got along nicely for a few miles until he came to the crossing of Clear Creek, and found the old pioneer, Jim Baker, building a toll bridge across this mountain stream.
The creek was running bank full and Jim Baker warned Mr. Greeley that there was danger in crossing mountain streams when water was running high. Horace Greeley was not the kind of a man who could afford to wait, but used his spurs on the mule vigorously. Man and mule plunged in to the water and went under the waves. Jim Baker and his men fished them out. Mr. Greeley's old white went under the wild waves and was seen no more.
Jim Baker finally helped Mr. Greeley across Clear Creek, and he reached the gold diggings in Russell Gulch in due time. Here he met Green Russell, Kate Patterson and their Cherokee miners at work with pick and pan, shoveling golden sand into the sluice boxes. He also watched these pioneer miners make their daily "clean up" of gold dust and gold nuggets, taken from the sluice boxes and placed in buckskin sacks. He acknowledged that he "had been shown" and that he was convinced that this Pikes Peak country had a wonderful future as a mining district.
In 1860, while the Georgia boys were busy working their claims and sacking their gold dust, they heard rumors of war between the north and south. In 1861, President Lincoln called for an army of seventy five thousand soldiers to fight the southern states and war was declared against their country. Members of this Georgia mining colony began to lay down their shovels, picks and pans, clean up their sluice boxes, and quietly prepare for a journey back to their native state, to help their folks at home fight the battles of their country.
They held frequent meetings during the winter of 1861-1862, and one night [?] Green Russell and Kate Patterson, with their group of miners started back to their Georgia home to enlist in the southern army.
The company was well supplied with covered wagons, camp equipage, guns [?] and ammunition to defend themselves against the Indians. They went down California Gulch, near where Leadville now stands, without informing the public where they were going or what they proposed to do.
Early in the fall of 1862, they trekked over the old emigrant trail to Pueblo, and camped, under the big cottonwoods on the south bank of the arkansas river. Here they met a number of men to whom they explained, in a quiet way, the object of their expedition, making some valuable additions to their company.
The next camping place was at the Hicklin Ranch on Greenhorn Creek, which was in what was then Huerfano County. Zan Hicklin was a noted character in the early days of Colorado. He was a friend of Green Russell and Kate Patterson. He was also a "dyed in the wool" Missoure [sic] Democrat, and his sympathy was with the South. He skilfully [sic] played both sides and the middle in the Civil War controversy, but his firends [sic] could always rely upon him. His ranch was a typical Mixican [sic] hacienda, and was operated with Mexican labor in true Mexican style.
When these pioneer miners saw the corn that was grown on the Hicklin ranch, in the fall of 1862, they were amazed and favorably impressed with Huerfano County, as will be noticed later in this narrative. They were charmed with the majestic beauty of the old greenhorn mountain, the Sangre de Cristo Range, and the historical Spanish Peaks, all of which were in Huerfano County and in close procimity [sic] to the old Santa Fe Trail, leading from Pueblo to NewMexico, over which this company was travelling to reach the Pecos river and ultimately the border of Texas.
The writer of this narrative can give only an incomplete list of the names of the members of this Georgia cavalcade, as follows: William Green Russell and Joseph Decatur Patterson, the promoters and managers of the expedition, Dr. Levi J. Russell, J. Oliver Russell, both brothers of Green Russell, and James H. Pierce, cousin of Green Russell. These five men were gentlemen of the true southern type- and no pioneers, in the early days of Colorado, stood higher in the communities where they lived and were known- than these men.
Others [sic] members of this historic band were: Samuel Bates, Isaac S. Roberts, (alias Sam Jack), William Wisher, John Wisher, Robert Field [?], Mr. Rippie, Mr. Demsey, John Glass, and the Joshua P. Potts family, composed of father and six children-Miss Martha M. (about 20), William (about 16), Melissa and Malinda (twins about, 10 ), Matilda (about 6) and the youngest daughter, Mary.
Late in the fall of 1862, the objects of this expedition leaked out, and the military forces at Denver were ordered to pursue Patterson Russell and their followers, overhaul them and march back to Fort Union, New Mexico, to be held there as prisoners of war. In the meantime they had been advised of the Government's action, and at once the company was put under "whip and spur", along down the old Pecos River trail, which was leading this unfortunate caravan into the jaws of death-at the hands of the Comanche Indians.
Meanwhile, rumors of war with the Comanche Indians came from all directions, and some members of the expedition weakened and turned back, but the brave southern men whose names are mentioned above, were determined to stick to the trail and fight their way through the savage Indian country.
Presently it became apparent that fate had decreed otherwise- and marked the expedition for failure. They were overtaken with an epidemic of small pox in this wilderness. Josh[u]a Potts died, and his remains committed [sic] to mother earth-and left to sleep alone in that desert country. The passing of Mr. Potts left a family of six orphan children and brought sadness and sorrow in to the camp.
The expedition had to go in to permanent camp and care for the sick and the afflicted. Had it not been for Dr. Russell, who gave them medical attention, death would have called many more of the company. During this trouble, a detachment of Government troops arrived on the scene and arrested all members of the company. As soon as the sick were able to travel, they were all marched back to Fort Union, and held there as prisoners of war.
The commanding officer took possession of the personal property of the miners also of their buckskin sacks, filled with gold dust and nuggets from the placer mines of Colorado. He furnished the prisoners comfortable quarters for the winter, looked after the sick and disabled, and treated them well in all respects.
While Green Russell and his companions were sadly disappointed and humiliated at the result of their adventure, the army officer at Fort Union, who was in close touch with the Indian situation, told these Colorado pioneers that there was not one chance in a thousand for them to have got [?] their way through the Indian beyond the Texas border.
Afterwards, the members of the party themselves concluded, that instead of their failure being a misfortune, it was really the utmost good fortune- that fate did not allow them to cross the Texas border into the hostile Comanche country. It was considered a certainty that the little company would have been attacked by the redskins: the men would have been murdered, and the women and children would have been taken into captivity and subjected to a torture-worse than death.
Early in the spring of 1863, the prisoners were released on parole, and allowed to go their way. Green Russell, his two brothers, and James H. Pierce, his cousin, returned to Denver. Later, Green Russell went from Denver to the Indian territory and worked his way back to his family at their home in Lumpkin County, Georgia, where he had left them in 1859. His two brothers worked their way through to Texas, and lived in that state the remainder of their lives. Dr. Levi J. Russell died at ___gle, Texas, March 23rd, 1908. Joseph O. Russell passed away at his home in Menardvillle, Texas, October 28th, 1906. Green Russell died in __arto__, Indian Territory, August 24th, 1877.
The story of Green Russell's last journey to Colorado in 1870, was told by the late Thomas J. Quillan [sic], in a series of letters to the writer of this narrative. Mr. Quillian was a member of Green Russell's company
In the Russell caravan, which set out from Georgia in the spring of 1870, were Parson Asbury H. Quillian and family, Anderson Graham and family, Sam Bates, a boy whom Green Russell had raised. Russell settled at the foot of Greenhorn Mountain, his ranch being at the head of Apache Creek.
Green Russell was a natural hunter and miner. The writer feels that it was a privilege to know this distinguished '58er, and to be with him on his annyal [sic] fall hunt a number of times. Russell did some placer mining in Grayback Gulch, west of La Veta. It was said that Mrs. Russell had a sprinkle of Cherokee blood in her veins, and so every one of the Russell children was entitled to several hundred acres of land in Indian Territory. There were three boys and three girls. The eldest son, John, was a mining man; he lost his life in a mine accident near Leadville. The oldest daughter, Mary, married a man by the name of Howard in La Veta.; they moved afterwards to the little town of Mears, west of Salida. The writer remembers another son, named Henry. Green Russell washed out gold dust to the value of tens of thousands of dollars. He gave away money freely to the needy and unfortunate.
It has been said that there are two kinds of men born in this world. One kind lies down when they see trouble approaching their way. The other stands pat and fights it. Joseph Decatur Patterson realized that he and Green Russell were defeated in their undertaking to reach their Georgia home and join their friends and relatives in the ranks of Lee's Army of the south, but Kate Patterson did not lie down and consider himself down and out.
While in Fort Union, he had met many noted men of the Rocky Mountain country. Among them were Ceran St. Vrain, Richens L. Wooten [sic], Lucian B. Maxwell, Kit Carson, Governor A.C. Hunt, Governor Gilpin and others who used their influence in having the Georgians released. St. Vrain urged Mr. Patterson to take his little colony and settle in the Huerfano valley. After mature deliberation he concluded to go back to Huerfano County and settle there.
Mr. Patterson first unfolded his plans to Miss Martha M. Potts, the oldest of the unfortunate orphan children, and invited her to join his proposed colony for settlement in Huerfano County, Colorado, and also to become his wife. After some consideration she accepted both propositions, and they became engaged while they were still held as prisoners of war. When this engagement was announced, the officers and soldiers at Fort Union made up a purse of three hundred dollars, and presented it to Miss Potts as a wedding present. The gift was highly appreciated and brought happiness to those orphan children in the wilderness.
Mr. Patterson and his bride-to-be journeyed to Huerfano County and were married there in the spring of 1865. They located a ranch near the historical Huerfano Butte and adjoining the home of John W. Brown and family, who was the first American with a family to settle in what was know as the upper Huerfano. Mr. Patterson developed a valuable place, and lived on it for thirty years, selling out in 1895. He moved to Mancos, Montezuma County, where he engaged in mining in the La Platte [sic] mountains.
In 1865, after the civil war had ended, Kate Patterson began to receive letters of enquiry from his relatives and friends in Georgia, concerning this western country. In 1869, he arranged with his father, Samuel Patterson, Sr., and his cousin, James L. Patterson Jr., to guide [?] a trip to southern Colorado and investigate the country, with a view of moving a colony of home seekers from Georgia to Huerfano County.
In the fall of that same year these men rode over the fertile landscape to the east of the Sangre de Cristo range; they recognized the vast resources of the county in coal mines, and they saw opportunities for farming and stock-growing on the public domain. Returning home, they induced some of their friends to move to the land of promise. A number of Georgians settled here in 1869; others came in 1870 and 1871. There were about five hundred newcomers from Georgia and the Carolinas, most of the emigrants bringing their families. Nearly all of them located in the Cuchara and Huerfano valleys.
The chief credit for this emigration belongs to Joseph Decatur Patterson, James L. Patterson and Green Russell. This movement from the south to Huerfano County lasted for years after 1871. The Pattersons are gratefully remembered, for they were pu[b]lic benefactors. The arrival of these Southerners added hundreds to the population of our county in the early seventies; they were a good class of people- industrious and thrifty. The Georgia colonists, as they were called, are to be found in many neighborhoods of this county.
Herewith is and [sic] incomplete list of Southerners, who settled in Huerfano County in the seventies, or not much after:
John Alexander and family
William Kimsey and family
Charles Anderson and family
James Kincaid, single
Hiram Baker and family
Joseph Kincaid, single
Homer Barnard and family
Jasper Kirby and family
Virgil Barnard and son
John Kirby and family
Sam Bates, single
Leander Kirby and family
John Brown and family
George Kitchens, single
Jasper Bruce and family
Andrew McAdams [?] and family
Charles Carroll and wife
Pinkey [sic] McLain, single
Samuel Carroll and wife
John McClure and family
Abner Chastain and sons, Elisha and Worth
Benjamin Chastain and family
Andrew McClure and family
Berry Chastain and family
John Medill and family
Thompson Chastain, single
Martin Moore and family
John Denton, single
Columbus Moss, single
A. J. Dodgion and family
Mrs. Harriet Ownby and family
C. L. dogion and family
J. D. Patterson, single
J. P. Dorsey
James Patterson, single
James Erwin and family
Nathan Patterson and family
Uncle Johnny Erwin and wife
Robert Patterson, single
Thomas Erwin and family
Albert Phillips and wife Rachel
William Erwin and family
Isaac Prator and family
C. F. Estes and family
Asbury M. Quillian and family
Pink[n]ney Estes, single
Robert A. Quillian, brother and sister
James Garren and family
Green Russell and family
Jesse Garren, single
Lycurgas A. Sallee
George Sutton and family
Esekiel Gribble and family
Jesse M. Walker and family
James Gribble, single
Marshal Wilburn, single
Dr. John Gribble and family
John Harris and family
Perry T. Kimbrel, single
T. J. Quillian was in correspondence with Benton Canon during the years 1922-1923. Mr. Quillian's letters contain much historical material, but as his sketches are rather jumbled, it becomes necessary to divide them and place each presentation in its proper category.
Only the few items, relating to the Georgia Colony, will be given a place in this chapter. Tom Quillian writes:
April 25, 1922
Mr. Benton Canon
Grand Junction, Colorado
Dear Mr. Canon:
Enclosed you will find a short sketch of father and mother, also the names of their children; this job of writing is not very well done, but maybe you can use it, after all, it is not the specific act that counts, but rather the reason for having done so��.
Green Russel [sic] in Huerfano County
Thomas J. Quillian
"The spirit of adventure is the mot--- of commonwealths," so one has remarked, now [?] this is of Colorado. The story of the coming of William Green Russel and other adventurers to the Rocky Mountains in 1858, has been told again and again. The story of his last trip to Colorado, in 1870, is not so well known. It is told here by a man who was one of the party. Although he was then only eight years old, he vividly recalls the circumstances and jots down his reminiscences in the hope that they may be of interest to others.
Smiley's History of Denver, p. 453, contains a letter from Green Russel's daughter, Mrs. Martha Marshall. According to her, Green Russel came to Huerfano County in 1872. She is mistaken the trip was made in the year 1870.
It was some time in 1869 my father, Asbury H. Quillian, began to bring Green Russell home to dinner. We were then living in Auraria, Georgia. When he called father and mother talked and talked about Colorado. Mr. Russell held the view that this country was about perfect. The climate was the best, the soil the richest, the water the purest, and the game most plentiful. He told us of a region called the "Huerfano County", and that he regarded it as an ideal place to live. Compared with the red clay hills of a worn out mining country, impoverished by war, the region of the Huerfano, undoubtedly looked good to my parents. Russell talked to other men and painted in glowing colors, the many advantages of the Rocky Mountains region. The men were impressed�and finally concluded to "go West".
On a beautiful day in 1870, May 1st, we all met at the appointed place, near Auraria. There were four families and two single men, Sam Bates and John Odom. Russell's family travelled in wagons drawn by ox teams. Anderson Graham and family travelled in a tar-pole wagon, drawn by a span of mules. My father and family travelled in a tar-pole wagon drawn by a yoke of oxen. Another family started, but did not reach the Mountains.
One thing became apparent very soon. Mr. Russell was in no hurry. It was a very leisurely journey, taken partly for his wife's health. He wanted her to enjoy the ride. Some days the wagons covered only ten miles. Mr. Russell took life seriously, and yet he wanted t get some enjoyment as he went along. He had six fox hounds for hunting, and hunting occupied a good share of the time of these emigrants.
While Russell was rather quiet, thoughtful man, he liked a joke. Once in Mississippi, where the people seemed particularly busy building houses and planting crops, a man asked where we were going.
"To Colorado," responded Russell.
"Why don't you stop here-there's plenty of work," observed the man.
"We are not hunting work," Russell replied laconically.
The man was noble. Father's money was almost gone, his oxen were played out, and he began to look out for a place to stop. Russell bought a magnificent yoke of oxen. One was named Big and the other they called Tom. Then he came to father and said to him: "Parson, I want to buy your oxen. I will give you eighty dollars for them and loan you Tom and Big to drive to Colorado." So father did not stop, but drove Russell's fat oxen to Colorado.
At Bentonville, Arkansas, we bought supplies to last us across the plains. In this town lived John Russell, a brother of Green Russell. We drove on through the south-west corner of Missouri, thence into Indian Territory. That was when I first began to chase Indians. Father never liked to travel on Sunday, but when Russell moved-the rest followed. We had been watching [?] the tribesmen going to church. Along came five young bucks, mounted upon prancing ponies. The red men all had pistols. And I was scared. I was driving the loose cattle in the road. I shied to make way for the Indians Instantly they whirled about us they passed me and let out some unearthly yells. I ran for the wagons. To say that I was running, is putting it mildly. I beat the ponies to the wagon where father had stopped-and was standing with a smile on his face. I have always doubted the sincerity of the worship of those Cherokees that Sunday.
Green Russell's wife had a little Indian blood in her veins. Russell himself, had many acquaintances among the civilized Indians�and also among the wild tribes. Just how long we were in Indian Territory I do not remember. It was a hunter's paradise. We saw thousands of prairie chickens and some deer.
We crossed into Kansas near where Coffeyville now is. We continued north to Fort Scott, a Government post. One day an army officer rode out to meet us and asked if we wanted an escort. Graham, who had been a captain in the confederate army, answered "No"!
From Fort Scott we travelled northwesterly to the Great [?] Pacific Railroad. We were in the buffalo country. We saw thousands and thousands of buffaloes every day. Men shot them from the windows of the trains. Hundreds of bison lay on the ground where they fell. They were not even skinned. It looked like a sinful waste.
The people we came across on the plains supplied us with buffalo meat, and we gave them of [sic] fresh milk. We never saw an Indian on the plains. One night we camped on sand creek, the scene of Colonel Chivington's massacre. There were great numbers of arrow heads and cartridge shells every where on the ground.
We crossed the Arkansas at Rocky Ford; then we drove along the river on the 22nd of September. It snowed. We saw great flocks of ducks and geese. Father shot a goose. We travelled over the country to the Huerfano river, passing the Craig and Doyle ranches. Ou[r] last camp was at the place where Apache creek empties into the Huerfano. That was some time in October. Russell had at last reached the spot that was in his mind � the [gar?] den of the world, wood and water being plentiful, and the grass in abundance for his little herd of cattle. Nearby was Greenhorn Mountain, full of wild game, ready for the hunter.
Russell suggested that father take his family to the [hom]e of Mr. J. W. Brown, and this pioneer settler entertained us royally. Father soon found work at one dollar a day; he boarded himself. After a while mother got over the ague. In the winter she was employed to teach school.
Before long father was preaching. In the spring of 1872 we moved to Beulah, then called "Maes' Hole". He planted some crops and did ----ers work at odd spells. Russell was still living on Apache creek. He left in 1874 for an old Spanish placer mine in Costilla County. The grasshoppers had destroyed his crop, and he was getting pretty low financially.
He seemed somewhat discouraged. I saw him only once afterward. I remember hearing him say that they were just about making ---res. It must have been in the late summer of 1877 that he started back to his old home in Georgia. He died, August 24th, 1877, somewhere in Indian Territory. His family went to their farm in Georgia.
In the spring of 1875 we again had planted a crop, and again the grasshoppers harvested our grain. Then we moved and settled in Huerfano creek, this time, near the mountains on Williams Creek, rather homesteaded it, and later, when I became of age, I also homesteaded along side of the place. There we lived until father died, in 1899. Father preached all the time except for two or three years before his death-when he was no longer able to travel."
It appears that some one had accused Green Russell of [in] fidelity of the United States Government, or of having taken up arms against the northern army. . .
Relative to this accusation, Tom Quillian writes, under date of May 7th, 1922,:
"As to Green Russell having taken the oath of allegiance-when he was turned loose at Fort Union, I don't think he did. I think he was paroled and worn [sic] not to taken up arms against the United States Government. I remember very distinctly of having heard this thing talked of many times, and always heard that the Russells, at least, were paroled."
"As to Green having organized a company of soldiers, there is not a word of truth in it. Green Russell was not a warlike man-he was a man of peace. No doubt, he had had many adventures, but he never boasted, The only time I ever heard him speak of having taken any part in a fight, was to speak of having seen a man holding another man by the collar, pushed him against a door, whereupon he drew back and struck a powerful blow at the man's face, which Russell parried by striking the fellow's arm-so that instead of hitting the poor man in the face-he struck the door jam with his fist.
"I know Green Russell never had any idea of taking up arms against the United States Government; to begin with he believed in the [un]ion, as a great number of the mountain men of Georgia did; neither did he believe in slavery. Russell was firm believer in the dignity of labor; he worked himself, and tried to teach his boys to work."
"Had he ever taken any part in the war, I would have heard it. He was a brave man and not ashamed of what he had done during the war, neither were any of the other Georgia men, that I have known, ashamed of their war records. The reason they came to Colorado, was because they were [no]t altogether in sympathy with the majority of the residents of Georgia. They had been loyal to their state, and fought bravely in the confederate army, but after the war was over a lot of them wanted to get away from the [state?]; they clearly saw the fallacy of human slavery, and these men and their descendents, are standing today for human liberty and the dignity of manual labor".
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It is generall[y] conceded that Kate Patterson and his father, "Uncle Sammie"- did more work in "moving" the Georgia colony to Huerfano County � than any other one man connected with the enterprise.
"In fact, as Mr. Canon writes, "Samuel Patterson made it the ---ing work of his life, and the descendents of the Georgia colonists, should ---e to it that a suitable monument is erected to this public benefactor, who did so much towards the settlement of our County."
Benton Canon continues, and further writes:
"Joseph Decatur Patterson was born in Union County, Georgia, in October ??th, 1836, and died at the town of Mancos, Montezuma County, Colorado, January 9th, 1910. His noble wife, Martha M. Potts-Patterson, was born near [Na?]shville, Tennessee, April 14th,1846, and died at her home in Mancos, in 1, at the age of 76 years.
"The Pattersons were the second American family to settle in Huerfano County in the early spring of 1863, and no family was better known, or more loved by the early pioneers of southern Colorado, than these good people. The latch st[r]ing to the door of this early pioneer home always hung on the outside, and was free to use by all who came that wa[y]."
"Mrs. Patterson's life was tragical from childhood days. Her father trekked across the plains with his family in 1861, and cast his fortune with Green Russell and Kate Patterson in Russell Gulch. In 1862 they moved to California Gulch, where the mother died. In the fall of that same year her father joined the Georgians to work their way back through New Mexico and Texas to Georgia � in order to enter the southern Army."
"Mrs. Patterson's only brother, William, was murdered by the Indians on north veta creek in 1866. The writer was living in the Patterson home at that time�and was the last white man to see Billy Potts alive. He came to the door of my ca[b]in, showing me his gun and pistol, and also his [pon]y, saddle and bridle. He was very proud of them. He told me that he had another horse in the mountains, near north veta creek�and that he was afraid the Indians would get it. I warned him of the danger, but he was determined to go. Two Indians were seen later in the day�with the head of my friend, Billy Potts, tied to one of their saddles. His body was never found, nor any of his trappings.
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