Homepage   A to Z Index  Bibliography  People   Places   Plays   Site Map   About these letters  About EJ Phillips  Chronology  EJ Phillips Facebook Fan Page


Denver, Colorado letters

Colorado Springs, Climbing Pike's Peak, Aug. 1883     Denver 1888   Denver 1890

EJP's Denver Google Map http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=202426891661796490166.0004980c74e21dd9d9eda&z=15
I've never been to Colorado, but it seems to be an important part of my planned transcontinental train trip, recreating EJ Phillips' travels more than 100 years later. I look forward to advice from people who know more about it than I do.

previous: Salt Lake City Sept. 1886

1886 

St. James  Denver Col  [Curtis Street & 15th opposite Tabor Opera house]
Sept 20th [no year probably1886]

My dear Son,

Arrived from Colorado Springs at 12 noon.  Feel tired and want to rest.  Arrived at Colorado Springs at 9 PM on Saturday and gave a performance of Saints & Sinners, pretty tough work for an old woman.  Love and Kisses Mother

A letter from Denver Sept. 21, 1886 describes their train wreck, reported in the eastern papers

St James
Denver Colo. Sept 26th 1886

My dear Son,

I did not write yesterday for I expected every hour to hear that we were to stay here another week, canceling the dates in Kansas City and St Jo, and in that case, I would have telegraphed you.  I remained in uncertainty until  9 PM when Mr. Wm Palmer came into the greenroom and announced that we were not to remain here; but were to fulfill the original programme by going to Kansas City, St Jo and Omaha.  So the S[aints] & S[inners] Cast will leave by train  7 AM tomorrow.    

We play Our Society this afternoon and S[aints] & S[inners] tonight.  There has been a great deal of telegraphing and excitement about our staying, the management here offering a big certainty for our stay.  Wallack had to be consulted about Kelcey remaining.  At last his consent was got, and all seemed to point to our staying, but at the last moment the Kansas City people demanded the fulfilling of the contract with them, and that settled it.  So we have to go.

I enclose you a five.  We shall not reach Kansas City  I suppose before 1 PM Monday.  It takes 30 hours I believe to make the trip.  If we lose time, as we seem to have done on all our trips so far, why we may only get there in time to go to theatre.

Miss Cowell [later Mrs. LeMoyne] is back in her flat 475 [4th Ave, New York] & Miss French who has occupied her flat during the summer has now taken a flat in 471.   I guess [Thomas] Whiffen's flat, or the one above it, as she is to pay 45 dollars.  Whiffen's was 50.  Love and Kisses from your loving Mother

The St James Hotel burned in to the ground in 1895 http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F70A16FA3B5E10738DDDAC0A94DB405B8585F0D3

next: Kansas City

Salt Lake City, Sept, 1888   We leave here after performance tomorrow night.  Expect to reach Denver early Monday morning.  We go to Ogden thence on the Union Pacific to  Cheyenne  & down to Denver  by the  Burlington &  Denver road.  Next week Denver, following week, 8th, 9th, & 10th Kansas City, 11th St Josephs, 12th & 13th Omaha.  Sunday on train to Chicago . 15th  Chicago for two weeks

1890
Los Angeles, Aug. 12, 1890  We leave here again on Sunday Morning, at last turning our faces homewards.  Travel Thursday night to Salt Lake for two nights.  Thence to Denver for two weeks.  After reaching Denver the hardest part of our travelling will be over. 

THE  WINDSOR [18th & Larimer]
Denver,  Col. August 26th 1890

My dear children.

See by paper this Morning that McVickers Theatre, Chicago, burnt down last night.  We are to play at Hooleys.  That will be Aunt Jack for two weeks I guess, and I shall not have to appear.

I telegraphed you yesterday of my safe arrival, but did not write for we were unsettled about our rooms, and indeed are still.  We have been promised better ones, but this hotel, as well as all the others are so full that we had hard struggling to get rooms of any sort. 

There is a new large theatre here called "The Broadway Theatre" [1756 Broadway and 18th]. Opera is being played there, this being the second week.  Lohengrin was the Opera last night.  Denver has grown immensely.  I can see an increased difference in two years, and buildings are being erected in every part of the City.  The lots Mr. [JH] Stoddart bought two years ago at $200 an acre are now worth $500.  Too bad I didn't invest! ahem!

I am much pleased with [almost two year old Dolman grandson] Jack's picture.  He was a good little boy to have it taken for his Grandmama.  I am sorry he caught cold on his journey to M'[iddle]town and has not been a good little boy since his arrival.  I guess he missed the "sad sea waves" and Grandmama Dolman.

I am sure he must like to ride behind the pretty brown horse and have two nice babies to play with, but perhaps he was a little jealous of the attention they would get -- he having been getting the whole without rivalry.

Glad to hear that [pregnant daughter-in-law] Neppie is getting along as well as can be expected.  Sorry her sleep is not good during the nights.  If she took a cold water sponge bath before retiring, it might give her a good night's sleep.  It is worth trying.

I have nothing of interest to write.  What I see of the City is from the upper story of this hotel.  I send love to you all, dear children, with bushels of good wishes and Kisses,  

My muse labors but cannot bring forth anything brilliant today.  Think this long trip from Los Angeles, with the spasmodic stops, made me very stupid and dull, but with a day or two's rest here I shall be roused up from my Railroad lethargy and be myself again.  Until then will say "au revoir".  Once more, love and Kisses to my 5 dear children from their loving Mother

THE  WINDSOR
Denver , Col   
August 29th [1890]

My dear Son,

Sorry Jack has been so cross however, as it seems to have made his Mother nervous fearing it would make Neppie nervous.

Have taken a few street car rides, but walking is out of the question!  Too Hot!  They have both cable cars and electric here, and the City has grown wonderfully and is still growing. The massive buildings will compare with anything in New York for beauty and elegance. 

Our business is good notwithstanding we have at the new Broadway Theatre and Comic Opera at another house against us.  We play Capt Swift three nights next week and the remainder of the week, Aunt Jack. Then on to Kansas City  for three nights, St Joe one and Omaha  two, then to Chicago .

Whether I shall have to remain in Chicago for rehearsals of new plays I cannot yet tell. I believe AMP[almer] is now on his way home, crossing the Ocean and may bring lots of work for us. But as yet I cannot give you any definite news about it.

I should like to pay Neppie a visit as soon as I get back to New York, but do not yet know whether I shall be able to or not.  As per usual with us at this time of year, everything is guess work as to what is in store for us.

The "Dog Days" are over, and I hope you will have some clear pleasant weather of the bracing kind that builds up and makes strong.  With love and Kisses to my dear children I remain Your loving Mother

T H E   W I N D S O R
Denver,  Col  
August 31st 1890

My dear Son,

Was glad to hear that you and Jack were having a good time with each other. Of course he is a "dandy" when he is well, but he is very impatient when the contrary. And I am pleased he got over his irritability before leaving M'[iddle]town so as to leave a good impression amongst his new acquaintances & his Uncle & Aunty.

I have just returned from Morning Service at Dean Hart's Cathedral. The Dean preached a fine sermon from the text, "And who is my neighbor?". The Dean is an old acquaintance of Mr. & Mrs. [Frederic] Robinson and he was tutor to [Maurice] Barrymore in England .  He came and established the Church here at his own expense -- having a large private fortune of his own.  The Church was filled this Morning and he seems to be very popular. Mrs. Robinson was there with a lady friend, Mrs. Pierce who is a member of the church. They brought me to the hotel in Mrs. Pierce's carriage. 

Letters seem to take as long reaching me here as in 'Frisco. Yours is dated 26th and I did not get it until Yesterday Afternoon -- 4 days -- and they used to reach me in five days in San F'co. Yet we took three nights to come from Sacramento here.

Hattie writes she was glad to get the telegram of my arrival here as it was between Salt Lake & Denver we had our accidents -- yes! but it was on the Denver & Rio Grande road. From Salt Lake we went back to Ogden [Utah] this time, coming by Union Pacific to  Cheyenne, and then down to this City.

Were the nights as hot as the days I think we should have to shut up shop, but when the sun goes down cool breezes spring up and we can sleep under blankets. Letter writing has been a task for the last week.  The heat seemed to destroy all ideas.  They say we are a mile higher up in the air than  New York  is, and my brain is not used to being so high up and therefore wanders about trying to find a place to rest. 

We left  San Francisco a month too soon. It has always been in Septr when our engagements ended there, then all those places were much cooler. According to telegraphic news the weather was pretty hot in New York City last week. 

Several of our company have been feeling badly through the heat and change of climate.  Mr. [Percy] Winter did not play for two nights last week. Mr. [HC] Jarrett felt ill and everyone was complaining a little. 

My love and Kisses to daughter Neppie. Hattie wishes they lived nearer to each other, and I wish they did.  They would enjoy each others society, I am sure. I hope you are all together today & you have a holiday tomorrow, and I imagine you, John & Con [Neppie's brothers] will go fishing.  With love to all friends and Kisses for you I remain your loving Mother 

St. John's Episcopal Cathedral, Denver  20th & Welton
H. Martyn Hart, a young clergyman from London, first came to Denver on a recuperative trip to America. After hunting buffalo in Kansas, he passed through Denver in 1872 before continuing on through Utah, San Francisco, Japan, China and India. He made such a good impression on the little church in Denver during his short stay, with his sermons and lecture on "the zoology of the sea," that the Vestry several times asked him to come and be the Rector of Saint John's. Eventually, they won Hart over with the description of Denver as "no longer in the midst of a barren plain," with "cultivated trees," streetcars, gas, "more recently the telephone. ...Hart took Denver by storm. Frequently at odds with Bishop Spalding, with his fellow clergy, with the Denver press (which he claimed never to read), with the purveyors of "Sunday night amusements," and with gun sellers, he was a civic and even a national presence. At one point an angry mob even attacked the deanery! "

Disaster struck. "A miscreant set fire to the old Cathedral on Friday night, May 15, 1903," Hart later wrote. The Dean personally rescued the carvings from the burning Cathedral and directed the firefighting efforts, but the building could not be saved. Hart immediately began planning for the new Cathedral. The congregation was invited to worship on Sundays at Temple Emanuel and did so until the new Chapter House was built on the site of the new and present Cathedral block at 14th and Washington. The cornerstone for the current Cathedral was laid on January 24, 1909, and the first service held within on November 5, 1911. Of the original design, the two transepts, choir and great tower have never been built. Only the nave was completed of limestone with a "temporary" brick chancel. The height of the ceiling in the Nave is 65 feet. It is 185 feet long and 52 feet wide. In the intervening years it has come to contain much artwork of significance, including Oberammergau carvings (many from the 1st Cathedral) and stained glass from the Edward Frampton studios of London and the Charles J. Connick studios of Boston. http://sjcathedral.org/About/History   

The parish was elevated to a cathedral church in 1879, the same year that the Rev. H. Martyn Hart of Blackheath, England, was called as rector and subsequently appointed dean. He, his large family, and household moved to a boomtown. During his tenure as dean, Denver grew from approximately 36,000 to 107,000 people, and became the largest city in the Rocky Mountain west forged by a single generationís fortunes from gold, silver, coal, zinc, lead, and oil. Dean Hart brought the English tradition of architecture to both churches he helped build. The first cathedral, at 20th and Welton Streets, was Romanesque in style, and the third structure built as an Episcopal cathedral in the United States. Arson destroyed this church in 1903, but most of the stained glass and wood carvings were saved and incorporated into the present building eight years later.  from an earlier cathedral history on the web  http://www.sjc-den.org/about/history.html

The Windsor  
Denver , Colo 
Sept 3 1890 

My dear daughter Neppie, 

I suppose by this, you are once more alone in your little home and all quiet and peaceful.  I hope you felt no inconvenience from so much company -- and the extra work which it must necessarily have given you has not fatigued you too much --  makes me think that Sept may see your trial over -- instead of Oct -- [Edward Phillips Nickinson was born on October 7].

I hope you and Hattie formed a sisterly affection for each other, that no change will ever break or mar.  I am sure by her letters she thinks everything of you. She wishes you could be nearer to each other, and in that wish I echo her. 

Yesterday I had a lovely drive through the City -- given me by Mrs. Pierce -- one of the early settlers here.  Her husband surveyed, and they had the first cultivated garden in the place.

And yesterday I received a note from Miss Nellie McTerney of Chicago -- who is visiting as aunt -- Mrs. D. MacKenzie in Boulder  30 miles from here -- inviting me to pay them a visit there -- As I do not play again this week after to-night, I am going to take a 7:45 train to-morrow morning and go see them.

Mrs. MacKenzie is a sister of Mrs. Fays, and her son is in the mining business in Boulder   I hope to see some mines -- and how they are worked.  It was quite a surprise for me to find the family here, although I knew the son Charles MacKenzie was in the business in some part of the West, but I thought it was  Nevada   My love and Kisses to you both dear children. Your loving Mother

Windsor Hotel "When the Windsor Hotel, one of Denver's most elegant at the time, would not let [Henry Cordes]  Brown enter because he was dressed in cowboy attire, Brown decided to build his own hotel, and in the process, outdo the Windsor. In 1888, he retained architect Frank E. Edbrooke to design a new hotel" http://www.legendsofamerica.com/co-brownpalace.html  The still extant Brown Palace opened in 1892.
The Windsor Hotel was at 18th and Larimer.  Razed 1959.  http://denverinfill.com/blog/2007/07/before-they-were-parking-lots-block-039.html
photo http://denverinfill.com/blog/2007/07/before-they-were-parking-lots-block-039.html

Mrs. Pierce John Pierce was the Surveyor General Denver in 1864 http://books.google.com/books?id=q-8GAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA635&lpg=PA635&dq=denver+history+pierce+survey+OR+surveyor&source=bl&ots=LPNlGHo2_O&sig=DWKmKyjEiOxfxxoegf4bPzcrYA4&hl=en&ei=XLI7TfSHI4WClAfc9cjyBg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CCIQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=denver%20history%20pierce%20survey%20OR%20surveyor&f=false  He also seemed to be involved with building the Denver Pacific Railway.  An 1887 Denver City Directory has John Pierce at 1318 California St, which Google Maps puts at 14th St.

next: Chicago 1890

Colorado had been admitted to the Union in 1876.  Harper's Weekly in 1886  described the state as being "ridiculously rich and extremely young" and as having "set about securing for herself a State- house or Capitol building in the city of Denver which shall be, as her people delight in saying 'worthy of her dignity and proud distinction as a Centennial state.'"

Thayer's map of Denver, 1879 http://davidrumsey.artselect.com/perl/frChooseSize?artID=21630&collectionID=4709

Denver and railroads
Denver Union Station, Master Plan and history http://www.denverunionstation.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3&Itemid=4   1870 Four small temporary stations. Original Union Station opened 1881- destroyed by fire March 18, 1894 and quickly rebuilt.

HISTORY OF THE DENVER & RIO GRANDE WESTERN RAILROAD
The Denver & Rio Grande Railway, brainchild of Civil War veteran General William Jackson Palmer, was incorporated by Palmer and his associates on Oct. 12, 1870. Palmer intended to provide a north-south link between the major transcontinental railroads that passed north and south of Colorado. The first trip on the line occurred Oct. 26, 1871, and took passengers (primarily local newspapermen) from Denver to Colorado Springs. While the original plan was to build south to El Paso, Texas, circumstances soon turned the line westward. The Denver & Rio Grande never reached farther south than northern New Mexico. As the D&RG Railway expanded westward, it ran into conflicts with other railroads that also wanted to build in the lucrative mining regions of the Rocky Mountains. The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad was particularly aggressive in this area. A quarrel over the right-of-way through the Royal Gorge escalated into a "war" in 1878 and was not settled by the courts (in favor of the D&RG) until 1880.
Colorado Historical Society Library, Inventory of the Records of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railway 1996 http://www.historycolorado.org/sites/default/files/files/Researchers/Denver_Rio_Grande.pdf

The bold move that saved Denver: Early city leaders engineered rail link to Cheyenne http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-67489156.html  In the late 1860s, some important people thought Denver was history. Indeed, Thomas Durant, vice president of the Union Pacific, pronounced Denver ``too dead to bury.'' The remark, however scornful, was hard to dispute. After all, folks in Denver were dealing with the potentially crushing reality that the transcontinental rail line had bypassed their city.    more on Railroads

Bibliography
Mrs. Frank Leslie, California: a pleasure trip from Gotham to the Golden Gate, April, May, June, 1877 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gdc/calbk.115
  
Chapter V The Garden of Gods, Manitou, Colorado Springs

Colorado Historical Society http://www.coloradohistory.org/
Colorado Railroad Museum 
http://coloradorailroadmuseum.org/
Historic Buildings, Denver, Creating Communities http://creatingcommunities.denverlibrary.org/historic-buildings
Historic Denver http://www.historicdenver.org/
Royal Gorge Colorado train http://www.royalgorgeroute.com/ 
Niederman, Sharon, A Quilt of Words: Women's Diaries, Letters & Original Accounts of Life in the Southwest 1860-1960, Boulder CO, Johnson Books, 1988 
UNION PACIFIC RAILWAY: Colorado Division - Bridges, Buildings and Other Structures, January 1, 1886  http://coloradosouthern.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-dsp-denver-terminal.html
Wickenden, Dorothy Nothing daunted: The Unexpected Education of two society girls in the West, New York, Scriber 2011   This story based on a grandmother's letters is a little later (1916) and a more remote part of Colorado -- but it resonated and encourages me to continue to work on this website.

Telecommunications and other technologies

Last updated Nov 26, 2014

Homepage  A to Z Index  Bibliography  People   Places   Plays   Site Map   About these letters  About EJ Phillips