Book Signing in Trinidad October 4, 2018

Looking forward to being in Trinidad October 4, 2018.

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“Letters From Colorado: 1880-1889” is coming soon!

So what are you writing next?  That is the most frequent question since I have finished “Old Boston: As Wild As They Come.”  I have answered that the next story I am working on is related to Chapter 12 in that book.   However, the search for information about Boston, Colorado for my book “Old Boston: As Wild As They Come” led me down many paths.  One of the paths was letters written by immigrants and travelers coming west.   While searching for information about Boston, Colorado I found a multitude of letters, reports, and articles from many Colorado places to friends and family back east.  This volume will provide insight to life in the 1880s for places ranging from Denver and Colorado Springs to places like Boston and Mosquito Gulch.  I have compiled this into a format for you to learn about the migration into Colorado in the 1880s.  Yes, Boston, Colorado is the center of the Universe for this project as well and yes this will be a great Christmas Gift for that hard to buy for person in your life.  Below is a sampling of the letters you will read about:

Letters from Colorado sampling

Preliminary Book Cover for “Letters from Colorado: 1880-1889

 Colorado 1880-1889 Front Cover

Sample #1

1880 Hillboro OH Clipping about Colorado


The Highland Weekly News (Hillsboro, Ohio) · 01 Jul 1880. EDITOR NEWS: After a somewhat tedious trip of two weeks, I arrived at this far-famed, life-giving, health resort.  Although I spent several days at Denver, I will leave a description of that “booming” city of the West to a future epistle, and try to give you some idea of this part of the country.

Colorado Springs is 75 miles south of Denver, and 45 miles north of Pueblo, situated almost at the foot of Pike’s Peak, 6 miles from Manitou, (where the celebrated Springs really are) and within a few miles of the famous “Garden of the Gods.”  In fact, the whole region near here is noted for its grand and magnificent scenery.  Just think, within a radius of a dozen miles, we have Pike’s Peak, Ute Pass, Cheyenne Canyon, Garden of the Gods, Manitou and Colorado Springs. Oh! for the pen of________, well, almost anyone, who could do justice to this grand, magnificent and sublime country!  We are here within, plain view of the mountains for more than a hundred miles, many of them perpetually covered with snow, with altitudes ranging from 10,000 to 14,000 feet.

Just at this time the Springs are crowded with visitors, some on pleasure bent, others on business affairs; but by far the greater number seeking, like myself, that greatest of all earth’s blessings, health.  Many unfortunately wait until they are in the last stages of consumption before coming here, when nothing under heaven would do them any permanent good, so they leave, discouraged, with no faith in the climate, mineral-water, etc., but the majority are greatly benefited, and many radical cures have been made by a few months residence in this place.

There is accommodation here for everyone; many fine hotels, plenty of good houses with moderate charges, and numerous “hash foundries,” for visitors of more limited means.  These are frequently tried in succession by visitors, who affect rather too much “style” upon their first arrival, but after a week of first-class hotels, kids, Picadillies, and the usual auxiliaries, they descend to a so-called “second-class” hotel, flannel shirts, walk when they formerly rode, etc., then to the cheap “hash foundry,” clothes “spouted,” and, finally, get out and walk home!  I am told that the walking is good from this point through Kansas to Kansas City, but as I intend going farther west, I will not try it just yet.

But laying all jokes aside, I shall leave here before very long for the great West, possibly California.  At all events, you will, after this, hear from me, occasionally, from the different points at which I may stop.  Of course, a letter from Colorado without something about the great mining interests of the state would be incomplete.  As yet, I have seen nothing and heard but little of the mines, not having penetrated the mountains, where all mines are, but that the precious metals do exist, and in great quantities, is a matter settled beyond dispute, and many are making colossal fortunes, while a great many others fail of striking a paying mine.  It is like buying the winning ticket in a lottery, “very few and far between!”

As to the Agricultural interests of the country, farmers depend almost altogether upon irrigation.  Rain here is the exception and not the rule, and the spring has been so very dry that the ditches themselves have, in some instances, failed, and the farmers are complaining terribly.  Owing to the severe drouth, cattle and sheep are suffering, and some of the ranchmen are driving their stock to the mountains to secure pasturage. This has, however, been an exceptionally dry season, but it is not so every year. In my next letter, I will give you some idea of what Denver is and is like, and until then I am,

Very truly, S. A. McC.

Sample #2

Eastern Colorado clipping 1889

Fowler City Graphic (Fowler, Kansas) · 30 Dec 1886. —  Not wishing to be left entirely behind by the star of the empire on its Western course, we left our possessions in northeast Clark county on Monday the 13th inst. bound for the praised loaded land of eastern Colorado.  Having some business, however, in Newton Kansas, we boarded the eastern cannonball at 4 o’clock a.m. the following morning and were, in on time, and in good shape, landed on the platform of the elegant Santa Fe depot in that city.  While there, having learned in Wilburn the day previous that the Rock Island company had sold its franchise in Kansas to the Santa Fe company, we sought L.E. Steele and Allen B. Lemon, and by them were informed of what we already knew, that the Rock Island was not a selling out the corporation, the report of the Argus to the contrary notwithstanding.  These influential gentlemen, who are largely interested in Fowler City property, informed us further that in the early spring, a number of solid business men from Newton, Wichita and other points would invest in putting up extensive buildings occupying them with large stocks of merchandise, banking paraphernalia &c.   In the long hours of that night the train flew westward our dreams of a great inland city, in the northeast of Meade county awakened in the early dawn of each morning by the cream of the locomotive, enlivened throughout the day by the din of traffic and lulled to peaceful sleep at night the lapsing of the waves of commercial life, or words to that effect.   A tinge of sadness, however, would come over the spirit of our dream, as we thought of poor Wilburn and its Argus.

After 8 or 10 hours ride up the famous Arkansas valley over one of the most perfect railroads in the United States we arrived at Syracuse, our destination by rail.  This town is now in the agonies of a contest over a county seat election.  The contesting party is Kendall, who alleges fraud in the election that seemed to give Syracuse the permanent county seat.  The matter is in the courts.  Great excitement prevails.  The Kendallites refused to give up the records and are guarding them with arms. A county seat war seems among the probabilities.

Taking the “O.K.” stage line south, we were soon among the interminable sands south of the Arkansas river.  The enterprising Syracusans have constructed a plank road 1 1/8 miles long through the worst of the sand.  The travelers over that road regrets that the enterprise did not extend further.  Some six miles south of Syracuse we passed the boundary lines of the sandhills and rolled out upon a beautiful upland prairie which extended with constantly increasing beauty until Richfield was reached about sunset.  About noon, however, the stage rolled into Johnson City, in the center of Stanton county, and stopped for dinner and a relay of horses.  We were met at the threshold of the St. Elmo hotel by the genial landlord, W. H. Shipp.  The house is large and conveniently arranged, is well furnished and is conducted in a most credible manner.  There we also met the Mechler Bros., of the World, the senior of whom has recently fallen heir to a fortune in the shape of a life partner.  Johnson City is beautifully located and aspires to county seat honors when the old lines are reestablished.  Resuming our southward journey after dinner an uninterrupted panorama of the broad level or gently rolling prairie landscape greeted our eyes until we drove up to the Aurora House in Richfield.  A description of Morton county would simply be impossible to give in a short article.  It is said to be the banner county of Kansas.  Of one thing we are certain, viz: that if the glorious “empire of Meade” has a superior, it is Morton county.  The people of Morton county are now in the throes of a county seat fight.  The contestants are Richfield and Frisco.  Each one claims some points of advantage.  They are two-and-a-half miles apart.  The former is the older of the two.  Its designation as the temporary county seat gave it a boom which sent it far ahead of its adversary in the number of its buildings.  On the other hand Frisco is nearer the geographical center, and it snowed at the general election by electing all of the officers, that it was master of a majority of the votes.  An election will soon settle the matter.

On Saturday the 18th, in the company of L. K. McGuffin and Ormond Hamilton of the Farmers and Stockgrowers Bank, Meade Center, and James Wilson also of that city, left Richfield for Boston. Colorado, our objective point.  The country passed through is simply indescribable for beauty, and the further west, the better it seemed to be.

Boston is situated about 35 miles almost due west of Frisco. It was began that is, the first house was started on Sunday four weeks prior to the day following our arrival there. It then had a dozen houses completed, as many more frames up, numerous foundations laid and many contracts for buildings.  The company is a strong one and are determined to push the new town to the front.  Many of them are the men who built Ashland and Richfield.  Mr. Hughes, of the former place, is president, and Frank Jennings an affable young man who resides in town is the secretary and business manager.

Not being able to secure a timber claim near Boston, we joined a party of speculators from Frisco. viz: the Ryan quartette, Ed. White of the Frisco stage line, and Mr. Horn, of Pratt Center and on Monday following drove twenty-two miles northward to Butte City.  The country everywhere was a marvel to us and elicited many interjections from the company, and when we arrived at our journey’s end and saw stretching away in every direction as far as the eye could reach, and much further, a landscape apparently as faultless as the hand of omnipotence could form it, we in concert shouted, Eureka!  For surely we had found the land of promise.  Butte has completed a score or more of houses, including commodious livery barn, boarding house, three real estate offices, a grocery, saloon. &c. &c.  Some of the houses are of stone, others are framed, none of sod.  Many houses are partly built and will be finished as soon as the lumber can be procured.  The finest of building stone exists in inexhaustible quantities within a mile of town, on Horse Creek, a beautiful stream of limpid water fed by living springs.  Abundance of timber for fuel is found on the same stream and on all the streams in that part of Colorado, so that the settler has neither to impoverish his means by burning coal, nor to draw upon his stock of delicacy by burning “chips,” but has only to go the streams and help himself.  Our party all made investments in this new western Eldorado, except our self who as usual, had the best excuse in the world for not doing so.  Eastern Colorado is rapidly filling up.  Already the timber claims are absorbed for twenty miles westward of the Kansas line.  Homesteaders and preemptors are pouring in, and we only predict what is plainly apparent when we say that in another twelve months the westward limit of good agriculture lands, the foothills of the Rocky Mountains will be reached.  Boston and Butte City are both built with a view to becoming county seats and are well located therefor.  Las Animas county in which they are situated is 48 miles in width by about 170 miles in length, and it is evident that it will form two tier of counties extending westward in which case each town will be near the center to the eastern county of the tier.  Both towns will boom in the spring.

Our article is now too long to admit a graceful conclusion so we will abruptly come to a finis.

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It’s now available via #amazon! “Old Boston: As Wild As They Come”

On November 16, 1886, four members of the Atlantis Town Company stopped on the Southeast Colorado plains to stake out and establish Boston, Colorado. Frontier newspaperman Sam Konkel joined the town company and promoted Boston as “The Utopian City of the Plains.” Built to catch the railroad and become the county seat of a new Colorado county Boston disintegrated into one of the wildest little towns on the American frontier. The April 1889 siege of Boston was the end of the Colorado Boomtown era and the little old west town that was as wild as they come.

Book Cover Old Boston As Wild As They Come

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Reading Old Time Newspapers: A Primer

It feels great to find interesting tidbits in old newspapers—for me it has been part of researching my book, for others, it may be finding an obituary, marriage announcement, or other types of notice. But sometimes historical newspapers used abbreviations and terms that are no longer common, leaving some of us scratching our heads.

Let’s say you are looking through an old 1887 issue of the Ashland Kansas newspaper and It says that Boston, Colorado celebrated her first anniversary on the 24th inst.

old newspaper term inst

Inst. = Instant = Current Month.  Inst. is an abbreviation for instance, which refers to the “present or current month, The phrase, “Boston celebrated her first anniversary on the 24th inst.” alone doesn’t give us enough information to know which month it refers to. We need to know when this report was published.  Since it appeared in the November 26,1887 issue and since “inst.” refers to the present or current month, Spurgeon died 3 December 1879.

Ult. = Ultimo = Previous Month Ult. is short for ultimo, meaning “of or occurring in the month preceding the present.” Like inst., we can’t know which month it’s referring to unless we know what the “present” month is.

Communicated is another term you might see as shown in this October 1887 edition of the Trinidad Citizen.

Old News paper term communicate

You may see either the word communicated or its abbreviation, com. It can occur at the beginning of an article as shown above, but often will be abbreviated and placed at the end of an article as,


The term indicates that the item was written by someone other than a staff writer, and “communicated” to the newspaper for publication. A notice at the beginning of the newspaper article will often look like the sample above.

Whenever you see the term communicated or its abbreviation com., look for more articles in other newspapers. The first article you find may or may not be complete—often it has been edited from the original, and various sources indicate if you find that original article it may contain more history than the edited version of the article you found.

Terms such as those above are spread throughout historical newspapers.  Here are more of the most common abbreviations and terms:

  1. Proximo (Prox.) – Essentially meaning “next,” this is used in newspapers to indicate the upcoming month. So “12th prox.” in a December newspaper would mean January 12th.  In my book “Old Boston: As Wild As They Come” you will see this term more than once.  Here is a sample,“It has been a year the first prox. since these old time write-ups started, and it will probably be another year before they are brought to a final wind-up and maybe then some.”
  2. Relict – This term is used to describe a surviving spouse, often a widow. It comes from the Latin term “relictus,” meaning “relinquished” or “left behind.”   A sample is below:
    relict term from old newspaper
    Smith County Pioneer(Smith Centre, Kansas) · 01 Jan 1891, Thu · Page 3
  3. Née – This term is French and means “born.” It is used to indicate a woman’s maiden name.
  4. Ultimo (Ult.) – This refers to the previous month. A December newspaper that says “12th ult.” is referring to November 12th.
  5. Twp. – Township
  6. Messrs. – used as a title to refer formally to more than one man simultaneously
  7. Name abbreviations – Name abbreviations are common in old newspapers. Some abbreviations are merely the first few letters of the name followed by a period, while others are contractions (the first part of the name plus the final letter). Some abbreviations are derived from the name’s Latin equivalent, which makes them a bit trickier to decipher.  Below are some common name abbreviations:
    • Chas. – Charles
    • Wm. – William
    • Geo. – George
    • Jno. – John
    • Jas. – James
    • Thos. – Thomas
    • Ches. — Chester
    • Free. — Freeman
    • Newt. — Newton

Slang and alternate spellings

There are also many alternate spellings and slang terms in old terms in old newspapers that may or may not have meaning.  Many times in my book you see the term “Billyard” instead of “Billiard” In the write-ups about Boston, Colorado, frontier newspaperman Sam Konkel uses the alternate, “billyard” spelling.  Maybe the answer is as simple as he ran out of letters on his printing press. Because advertisements in his papers for saloon and billiard parlor is spelled “Billiard.”  Slang terms of the day such as “mummixed”  are common.

Old Fashioned Typos

There are many typos in old and new newspapers.  The grammar Nazi’s amongst us get exceeding amounts of joy from pointing out these, so I guess we’ll just roll with it and let them have their fun.  In some cases, while reviewing old newspapers, I haven’t been sure whether it is a typo or different use of a word from the old days. On page 19 of my book, the phrase “smell a mice”(shown below) doesn’t smell right to me, but as shown in the original below that is what was stated.  Is it a typo or a phrase from the era? I am not sure.

From the book 

From the original article

from old sam konkel article

Hopefully, this conversation about some of the terms and abbreviations is useful to you!

If your interested in old west history, check out my book, “Old Boston: As Wild As They Come” on Amazon 

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Pre order “Old Boston: As Wild As They Come” now for the July 2, 2018 release date!

The back cover of my book is a 2017 picture from what would have been South Main Street Boston, Colorado 1886-1889. We often think of the old days in black & white when actually the sunsets then were as just as brilliant as ours.  Reserve your Amazon pre-order at the link below to read the story of a forgotten old west town which is as colorful as a Southeast Colorado Sunset

Back Cover of Old Boston As Wild As They Come by Kent Brooks

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Pre sales orders for “Old Boston: As Wild As They Come” will open soon.

Old Boston: Wild As They Come will be here shortly… 

On November 16, 1886, four members of the Boston Town Company stopped on the Southeast Colorado plains to stake out and establish Boston, Colorado. Frontier newspaperman Sam Konkel joined the town company and promoted Boston as “The Utopian City of the Plains.” Built to catch the railroad and become the county seat of a new Colorado county, Boston became one of the rowdiest towns on the American frontier. The April 1889 siege of Boston was the end of the Colorado Boomtown era and the old west town which was…As Wild As They Come

Chapters of Old Boston As Wild As They Come

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